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Looking to find that 'click' to help me play better

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by tyadams2006, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. tyadams2006


    Jan 2, 2012
    I posted part of this comment in another topic but wanted to post it as a whole new thread to get a wider response to it. Also I wasn't sure which area to ask this in so I put it in here.

    The 'click' I am asking about means the light bulb goes on over my head and I get how to play and could jam/improvise with others even if I didn't know a song. Like saying, "playing music just 'clicks' for you". Remember in the movie Back to the Future where Marty gets up on stage in 1955 and plays Chuck Berry yet the other musicians have never ever heard the song (because it didn't exist yet) but they still played along because Marty told them it was a blues riff in B and to watch him for the changes. That's how I want to be able to play and the 'click' I am looking for. I feel like I haven't gotten that 'click' that other people have that enables them know how to pick up and just simply jam along with other players even if they don't know how to play a particular song or are just improvising/playing whatever comes to mind.

    I have learned the basics and some fundamentals like scales and chords (although I am not sure I'm doing the chords right buts a start) and I know the notes on the guitar/bass. I know how to keep a rhythm. Not the greatest at counting while playing. Basically I rely on feel to get me there. I know the three chord progression I-IV-V. Well for guitar I do, not sure if it is the same deal on the bass. Another thing, I can't read music for guitar/bass. I can for other instruments such as piano/trumpet/trombone, ect. But I can read tablature. For me just learning songs doesn't really help because honestly I know a bunch of rock and metal songs or at least parts of them and I still don't feel like I know how to play better or play like the pro's. I need more in depth teaching or something I can learn that will help me to be able to play good enough to be able to pick up and jam with other players and not play like I don't have a clue what I am doing. Ya know many of the pro bass players or guitar players that we hear today did not start out as the pro guys they are now. But they learned their instrument and basically had that 'click' and they could play well enough to jam with others and play a few songs and get them started. Over the years they have developed their playing. a little example, Eddie Van Halen can't count in music to save his life, Yet he knows how to play very well and play with a band. He found that 'click' that allows him to play even if he can't count or read music, ect. I need to find that same 'click' and so far no one has been able to get me there. If anyone can get me there I'd be really appreciative of it.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    The reason Eddie can shred is not because of any "click", but because he internalized countless patterns from other tunes, by practicing not just blues and rock but classical and other genres, over and over.

    Any time a person picks up their part in a jam, they are recalling other similar parts they have played before.

    In order to do that, you need to do a lot more than just learn a bunch of rock songs. Try learning some jazz, some classical, some Afrobeat, some gospel. The more of that stuff you practice until it is internalized, the easier you will find it to "click".
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    If you want to jam, start jamming with your CD's or videos from the Internet. It's not necessary that you know the song - after awhile you can jam a song you have never heard before. Yep, not a step for a stepper.

    Yes you have to know the key. Not a big deal. Walk your G string, when what you are doing and what the song is doing sound good together you've found the tonal center, aka the key. Look down and see what note on the fretboard this happened on. That's your key. In a circle the key is called out, you do not have to walk the G string.

    Yes you gotta know the chords. Not a big deal. Assume a I IV V7 or a ii-V7-I and you will be close. In jamming close is close enough. In a circle the person calling the song may say something like; "It's in A with some D's and a couple of E7".

    OK, but, when do I change chords? Watch the rhythm guitar's hands and change when he does. The 12 bar blues progression is safe for more than the blues. Grab the 12 bar progression and hang on. Does not take long until you will feel the changes coming up. Most Country and Rock will have a complete V-I cadence in the first two lines of the verse, then this is repeated in the 3rd and 4th lines. If it sounds like you need to change chords, change....... Safe bet the verse starts with the I and ends with the I. The IV comes active toward the last of the first line and then continues into the second line where you introduce the V7 near the end of the second line, then quickly resolve with the I chord. Do the same in the next two lines of the verse. Is that cast in stone? No. But, it'll be close.

    You already know what to do - do what Marty said to do. Now all you have to do is call up some video and jam along. If you have not picked up on it yet, jamming is not exact, you do the best you can and have fun.

    Relax and give it a try. Find jamming circles in your area and sit in. I bet there is a jamming circle that meets in your area on a regular basis - plus - it will have real musicians jamming. Who are more than willing to help you and answer your questions. Like right here: http://mineolabuzz.com/BUZZ/TX/MINEOLA/music-on-main-street/ Look at the people involved in these circles, just regular people that love music. I'm the old guy, in the blue shirt, playing rhythm guitar at the hole in the wall. We meet every 3rd Saturday. It's all acoustic with no drums. Low key and fun for all.

    Get started at home with videos and hunt for ways to go public.
  4. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Sounds like OP is looking for some kind of secret thing to practice. There's no secret, the ability you're trying to acquire is gained through first having an idea of how song forms work, and what notes are appropriate in what context. That's the practice side of it. The other side, which people forget about or amateurs have no experience with, is playing with TONS of different people, all the time, playing stuff that's familiar and unfamiliar. Working through those kinds of situations gives you that ability to pick things up.
  5. Sethbass


    Jan 4, 2013

    It's like a fat man (say, like me) saying he wants to lose weight by laying in bed eating ice cream and big macs. I used to be really obese, but I decided to eat right and work out every day!!! It takes work and effort there is no magic "it" pill ...I wish there was, It's what distinguished the pros from the weekend warriors. Dedication to perfecting your craft, working as has been said, tirelessly with anyone you and everyone you can!
  6. tyadams2006


    Jan 2, 2012
    Not looking for the magic formula or the "it" pill as you said Sethbass. I am simply trying to learn in such a way that hopefully it will click and I will get how to play. Kinda like taking a math course in school and not being able to do division or count money a certain way or do algebra or whatever. You can be taught by any number of teachers and none of them can make it click to where you understand it. But one day you find that certain person to teach you in a certain way and then it clicks for you and you understand it. That's what I am looking for. A certain way of understanding how to play where when I find it and it clicks, I'll be able to pick up and go even if I don't know the song or know how to play it or am not all that great. I know it takes hard work and practice and effort.. but if you don't know what your doing, you could be doing it all wrong and then the hard work and effort will have been for nothing. Also, I have played with different people before but and only one was willing to teach without being frustrated that It was difficult for me and I didn't exactly know what I was doing. Most musicians that I come across and play with want you to know what your doing or they are like "don't come back till you know what your doing". Plus that I don't know anyone where I currently live to be able to play with anyone. So I have to go it alone. Which is why I have to learn all on my own. It sucks and is not the ideal way to go but its all I got right now.
  7. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    Practice and improvise for thousands of hours, train your ears to recognize pitches and intervals for a few thousand more.
  8. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    In music, this cannot come from someone else. A teacher or a book can teach you harmony, melody, the mathematics of constructing bass lines, etc. A GOOD teacher can teach you life lessons about being a pro and give you a heads up. But your ear has to come from YOU. No one else can develop your ear but yourself, and the only way to develop it is to practice (for years), listen, and above all play lots of music with other people. There is no way around this.
  9. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    When I'm at home, for the most part one of my basses is always in my hands. I'll play with TV commercials, youtube videos, an old song in my head from memory. What I'm trying to imply is that I'm very familiar with my axes. They are like an extension of me so when I just go jam, it's just like talking to some one. The notes are right there at my fingertips. I just know where everything is because I'm constantly visiting them. I'm an older guy so my background involved a lot of ear training. I pay attention to pay attention if you get my drift.
  10. I'd just start getting familiar with all kinds of music. I can play several albums start to finish all done by ear, and it's made me a MUCH better player when it comes to jamming along to a track I've never even heard before.

    I was able to jam along to songs Id never heard at my band tryout due to the simple fact that I'm just familiar with the instrument.

    I can hear a part, and almost already 'know' what's coming next never hearing the song before. I think most of this comes down to experience with your instrument. I've been playing every day for about 7 years now, at least an hour a day.

    I don't think the music can just 'click' in the sense that you're looking for, but I think that over time with practice you'll start to develop a good ear (try singing along, or humming along to the bass lines of the music that you listen to daily,) and then try to transfer them to your bass playing.

    That's mostly what I've worked on as a bass player without lessons. I know there are guys that can play circles around me, no doubt about it but with dedication and passion for the instrument it'll come in time.
  11. +1

    Your ears are almost as important as your fingers!
  12. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010

    also-i actively listen to songs and try to figure them out without an instrument. very quickly you will be able to hear the distance between notes and hear different pitches
  13. Storts


    Jan 4, 2013
    It's been mentioned already, but I think the best single thing you can do to learn improvisation is to play along with recorded music. Think of how we learn to speak. Before we know any of the rules about grammar or spelling, we listen to other people and imitate them.

    It's also good advice to expose yourself to a lot of different styles of music, but I'd suggest starting with some of your favorite albums. There's something really inspiring about playing along with a song you love. Don't worry if you can't play the whole part. Just listen to it over and over and try to match notes and rhythms wherever you can. Get used to the feeling of locking in with a drummer.

    Eventually, you'll want to move up to playing with other people. I grew up with a group of people who were all learning to play and improvise together. We started with bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Grateful Dead and moved into jazz, blues, and other styles.

    Improvising with other people is a bit like getting out on a dance floor: It requires a leap of faith, but once you get into it and get over the self-consciousness, it's amazing.

    If you're all completely improvising the music, meaning you're not playing a song with changes that anyone knows in advance, it helps if you get it started by playing something really simple (say, two or three chords over and over) so everyone can get locked in. Listen to them and respond to what you hear.

    Don't obsess over wrong notes. There are only twelve different notes and any chord you're playing has about six notes that always sound good, with three to four that are actually part of the chord. Focus more on rhythm and locking into the groove. It's amazing the note choices you can get away with if they're part of a cool rhythmic idea.

    When improvisation is happening, it's like a very loud conversation, but one where everyone gets to talk at the same time! Enjoy!
  14. disclaimer:i got lazy and skipped a lot of posts.....

    for me, i'm completely self taught. in my experience, the biggest light bulb moment i had, was learning how to make scales musical. at first, everyone said learn your scales! i was like, ok, now what? but it was learning the scales and knowing how to apply them.

    other than that, it just takes time. keep practicing and jam with others at every opportunity. that's what will make you better.
  15. tyadams2006


    Jan 2, 2012
    Just so everyone here knows. I am hearing impaired. I have almost no hearing in my right ear and I wear an aid in my left ear. So learning songs by ear will not work for me. Its hard for me to hear the bass in most songs. I can hear it sometimes if I listen through head phones or on live tracks and in some studio songs but if you gave me a metal song with a lot of distortion from the guitars, more than likely I will not be able to hear the bass. Up to this point all my learning has come from learning songs by tab and I learned some scales like the blues scale and the major and minor scale and I think penetonic scales. But just as mattbass6945 said I have a hard time applying them musically. I play the scale but can't figure out how to make it musical. To me I kinda feel like there is little purpose to a scale yet I know it has a huge purpose. I have also learned some chords like the major and minor chord patterns. These chord patterns have really opened me up a bit but I still feel like I am closed up in a small box.

    Honestly, and I don't know if you guys feel the same way when you play but, I feel like I play the same notes or same pattern style all the time. For example. take the A string and play the 5th fret and 7th fret and then move to the D string and play the 5th fret. I feel like patterns like that are played more often than I'd really like. Also I tend to play around the 3rd, 5th, and 7th frets most often and rarely play up higher on the neck. Also I rarely play on the G string. I stick to mostly the E,A, & D strings. I don't know if this is a common issue with bass players or I am just doing something wrong or stuck in a rut musically.

    I really appreciate all the help you guys have given me on this thread. I have been trying to search around and learn some more scales and walking bass lines and whatnot. I'm just trying to open up my playing so that I can be free of that box I keep putting myself in. If anyone wants I can post tabs of some stuff I have come up with to see what you guys think.
  16. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I may get flamed on for suggesting this, but you REALLY should check out Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop DVD. In terms of improvisation and that "click" you're looking for, it has some very very useful information about blending in and learning to make a conversation with the other musicians as you improvise. I seriously thought it was all about timing and notes, but there is a LOT more that goes into locking in with others. Definitely expanded my understanding and horizons when it comes to playing with other musicians in general.
  17. it helps to play guitar or at least understand what the guitarist is doing. the simplest thing i could say to start off, for example, if the guitarist is playing a g major, play with the notes in that scale. start on the root, add the 5th and the octave. after you do a little of that, you might start to "connect the dots" a little.

    i hope that wasn't too "dumbed down," and you may be past that point, but if not, it's a good starting off place. it works well for rock and country...i say that because i don't know what style you're playing in or how you want to apply scales.

    disclaimer:i'm half sick and a little out of it, i hope the above made sense!
  18. I have the secret you're looking for.....ready?

    Hours and hours and hours of focused and directed practice.

    There's no substitute.

    Just read your response about hearing impaired, you know what you need? Ear training that ties in with your instrument. Yeah I sound like a Gary Willis fanatic,I'm sure, but this book does just that: http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Ear-Training-Guitar-Bass/dp/0793581567 and could be what you are looking for. It will teach you to "hear" the sounds with your hands, in other words you'll more easily be able to associate intervals on your instrument, patterns with what they actually sound like.
  19. tyadams2006


    Jan 2, 2012
    Mattbass6945: I mostly play metal and hard rock. I have been trying to do some blues and rock. I know the blues scale so I've been trying to apply that to some of the music I do. Right now I am trying to learn some Jazz to broaden my playing and learn even more. I've been learning and re-learning some scales and chords and ways to apply them. Worse comes to worse I can play the chord patterns and play them in a I-IV-V-V blues pattern and do just fine. Of course I can modify and play the chord pattern in a different way each time so as to not make it boring by repeating the same thing over and over. I have learned the minor and major chord patterns that can be used for any note. Now I'm still learning the relationship between the chord patterns and the scales.
  20. i am by no means an authority, just trying to approach this from as many angles as possible. ok, we know we all need hours and hours of practice. i think what the tyadams needs is to know how to apply that practice to useful real world situations.

    that said, maybe go back to learn some covers or some covers you already know and break them down. see what the bassist is playing in relationship to the guitars and then ask yourself, why did they choose to play that? it has helped me before in the past a couple of times. i'm an average bassist at best and i'm out of ideas! hope it was at least somewhat helpful!