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Learning More about playing Bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by spthomas, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. spthomas


    Mar 25, 2014
    I'm not exactly new at playing bass, and I get by. But I don't know what I don't know and need some direction.

    When I was in High School and college I was a drummer/percussionist. I did learn a bit of theory in college, but playing was drums, tymoani, the occasional xylophone. Then after I settled down a bit I started teaching myself guitar, and I do ok at that. A few years ago I started playing bass, and it clicked. The perfect synthesis of guitar and drums. My sweet spot.

    So I get by, and I can play what I play. I even read, if slowly. So roots root-5th, some scales, I'm there. But I don't know if my technique is good or horrible. And I don't know how to go to the next level. Or even go back and learn what I know the right way.

    What advice do you have for me?
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    It sounds like you've got a decent foundation to build from. There are a lot of resources out there like Scott's bass lessons. He's got a ton of free YouTube videos and a subscription that gives you access to a lot more. There are also books like Bunny Brunel's bass essentials published by Mel Bay. You might also want to find a good teacher and take some lessons. It really depends on what kind of time you have, what your goals and motivation are, and which format works best for your learning style.
    FatStringer52 likes this.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Are there people you can play with? Playing with a band, or something resembling a band, will do wonders for your playing.
  4. Take some lessons from a qualified bass instructor in your area. He/she will be able to evaluate your technique and get you pointed in the right direction based upon what you do and do not know. Just a couple of sessions will get you a starting point and from there you will be able to continue with the lessons or venture out on your own . . .
    SoCal80s likes this.
  5. Fred Pucci

    Fred Pucci

    May 2, 2019
    I think you’d do well to check out Ariane Cap’s “Music Theory for the Bass Player”. It’d be a great refresher on theory - from the perspective of the Bass fretboard, and she is a stickler for good technique. I bought the book and then stepped up to the online course and consider it the best investment I made in myself in a long time. (I am recently retired, and was primarily self taught.) You can find out more here: Steady Track Music Theory for the Bass Player - The Course
  6. spthomas


    Mar 25, 2014
    Thanks all. I'll check out the resources you've mentioned. . And I am playing a couple of times a week so I'm getting live experience (almost all songs I don't know, so good for ear training and improvisation.

    I like the idea of taking Bass lessons. My friend guitarist Matt Smith has a studio called 4 String Ranch in Austin, TX where they teach bass (he also has 6 String Ranch where they teach guitar) . They's having a masterclass soon with Roscoe Beck and Tom Brechtlein. Don't know if I'm ready for that level yet though.
  7. StarAttraction


    May 19, 2013
    If you are unsure about your technique, I'd recommend getting a teacher that can teach you the correct hand technique, and maybe the basics of theory
  8. spthomas


    Mar 25, 2014
    I'm good with theory. I'll start looking for a teacher. The problem is there are so many teachers that don't know theory or proper technique. They just know "do this it'll sound cool".
  9. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    You are correct a good teacher is hard to find. Best way I know of is to ask other bassists that you like the way they play, who they use.
  10. First we have to identify what the next level is. What is your goal? Do you want to play in a punk band? Touring act? Cruise ship? Studio?

    For most of my students, the first answer to getting to the next level is listening and playing. Listen to the genres you like. Learn to play, note for note, those songs you enjoy. Listen and play classics that preceded them. Become an expert on those styles.

    Then, as your musical world begins to broaden, do the same thing with other genres, that may not be your favorite.

    Do this for long enough, and far back enough, and pretty soon, you’re the one they call to reliably pony up the perfect bass line.
    Tad likes this.
  11. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    nothing teaches like on-the-job training.
    Join a gigging band of the best musicians who will have you.
    every time I've done this I've made a leap forward in my playing
    don't worry if you're good enough: Aim high.
    good musicians are always willing to help, and usually very happy to have bassist.
    concerns about what you "should" learn next will evaporate under the demands of upcoming gigs.
    and nothing motivates like a deadline with people depending on you.
    HalfStep and Malcolm35 like this.
  12. spthomas


    Mar 25, 2014
    Thanks all. Maybe I am overthinking it a bit. I'm pretty experienced as a musician. I played in the lab bands in college and was a Music Education major for a couple of years. And I've been a vocalist and guitarist in bands these last 20 years or so. but bass, I just started playing. It was like 'Hey we need a bass player. Can you play bass? I've got one you can borrow', and shazam, I'm a bass player!

    My fear is that I'm in that dreaded "not 10 years experience, but 1 year's experience 10 times over" rut. I can always find something to play in a song, just not sure if it's the right thing. Guess that's sort of up to me! I do play a lot of worship music, and all I hear there are mostly whole- or half-note pedal tones, and I know I can do better than that. But maybe a teacher can help me work on technique, as I totally just started playing and figured that out myself, maybe not the best way!

    Thanks again all for all the helpful hints.

  13. vancamp


    Jan 22, 2008
    I spent a couple months when I started out (earlier this year) working with a teacher, just to make sure that I wasn't picking up bad habits from the start. From that point, I've mostly been learning covers (mostly classic rock) which is a good continuing learning experience to see how the pros treated the bass line integrating into the song.
  14. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    ...which begs the question what are the 'students' getting for their hard-earned $/€/£ ...

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