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Man I just don't know how to get any better... anyone out there to help?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by petchimps123, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    I've been playing bass for about 2 1/2 years and I still feel like im not good enough. I can't really improv that well even though I know the scales that I learned in the Bass Guitar for Dummies book. I only know riffs to songs and when I try to play along with even the simplest songs I have trouble following along.

    I used to be in a band but I got kicked out eventually because I didn't have a steady rhythm. I tried playing with the metronome but it just frustrates me. I have learned how to fit in when jamming, but I usually end up only playing one or two different notes for the whole song. The hardest song I probably can keep up with while playing along with it is Phantom of the Opera by Iron Maiden.

    My question to you all is, how do I improve? I am very discouraged since I got kicked out of my old band and I'm thinking about giving up music since I'm not good at it. I see most of my friends in all these high school bands and it frustrates me that I'm not good enough to play live. Maybe college will have more music oppurtunities...
  2. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    More specifically, I'm looking for ways to improve my rhythm and I REALLY want to improve on improvising on bass by learning more scales. I mean, the pentatonic scale doesn't do anything for me. The notes are very limited.
  3. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    My friend-

    Do not despair. You can and WILL improve. The most important thing that is going to get you there is not going to come from a book, or from a riff, or from continuing to try and get there on your own. What you really need is a great teacher who can recognize your skill level and help you address those things that are holding you back.

  4. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    I mean I've had a bass teacher for a solid year and a half since I started bass then I kept going on and off with him. The fact is, I didn't really improve with him besides the fact that my finger technique is flawless.

    Plus my parents had problems with them taking our money just because we would be late to a lesson or two, so they've stopped me from going.The only way I can learn is by myself or trying to jam with people again.
  5. lanceropolis


    Mar 10, 2009
    So. Cal
    Yeah, you do need a good teacher, and also you need to mellow out on yourself bro. I think anyone that plays on a high level knows that there is an element of letting go, and letting the muse take over. You have natural things inside your mind and fingers that will eventually come out. You just need to keep at it. The metronome frustrates you? Then keep at it. Just close your eyes and make the click dissapear. It will happen. It sounds to me like a bit of mental blockage going on too. Just mellow on yourself a bit. Have fun. That's what it's all about.
  6. TimXSweeney


    Nov 7, 2007
    Do you know about Tab? this is a bit of a controversial topic but, Tab is a VERY EASY way of writing music for bass or guitar. If you google seach Bass Tab then it will pop up huge librarys with all of your favorite bands. This is personally how I first started paying bass. I would read these tabs and play with the song over and over until I sounded just like the recording. The really important part of improving on bass or any instrument is this... YOU HAVE TO PLAY IT. I have had many students who come to me saying I want to be better but they dont practice and they dont even play. My best advice is to learn every song that is on your IPod!
  7. lanceropolis


    Mar 10, 2009
    So. Cal
    Just as a side note, if it indeed was flawless, the metronome would not be as much of a frustration. I am not saying it isn't good, I have no idea since I have never met you nor played with you, so take that for what it is.
  8. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    I guess I know what your saying lanceropolis. I mean I just don't really know how to organize a good solid metronome exercise by myself. I hear people saying to use a metronome all the time and I just don't know how to use it. What bpm should I put it on and what should I play? Those are the questions that run through my head. How long should I play? That's another question.

    BTW, I know what tabs are haha, that's where I learn all the riffs I know. I guess your right about playing along with the songs, but it just discourages me when I realize that I can't even stay along that well with the easiest songs out there.
  9. ampeg_turtle


    Mar 22, 2009
    concord, nh
    Lonnybass...you speak truth.

    The important thing to remember is why you started playing...to have fun. Don't worry about how "good" you are, music is completely subjective. Just try to hook up with some other musicians around your skill level and jam. At first it'll probably sound ugly, but eventually you'll learn to move through the music togeather. In my opinion that's the most important thing to learn. I've watched people play amazing riffs at the music store but can't mesh with live players to save their lives.

    As far as becoming rythmicly diverse I might offer what I did. Listen to the drummer, you two are the driving force to the song. Pick out his kick pattern a focus on that for starters. Then get more technical if the music calls for it... sometimes less is more.

    Feel good about any progress you make, at one point it probably felt strange to even hold a bass. Don't stress about it. You'll never wake up and feel like you've mastered the bass... If you do then there's a problem. I've been playing for 10+ years and I'm still learning techniques that make me feel like a noob.

    You can find some great tutorials by Victor Wooten on youtube.
  10. Montsegour


    Apr 1, 2008
    Put Phantom the opera on winamp or whatever and play along, do that to all of your songs / learn more of them and listen to the beat all the time, when you get lost listen and get in again, same goes for your band problem..
  11. DaveF


    Dec 22, 2007
    New Westminster, BC
    I have some tips for you:

    1) Get your bass set up really well, with good action and nice new strings. (About $50 for the set up)

    2) Get a cheap drum machine to play along with!!! Way more fun and beneficial than a metronome!

    3) Watch youtube videos for bass covers of famous songs. Type in *Song Name* Bass Cover in the search field and watch how they play. It will really inspire you!

    4) Play along with every CD you can get your hands on, not just the ones you think are "fast" or "easy". You'd be surprised!

    Hope that helps,

    Your brother in bass,
  12. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    would u guys recommend playing along with guitarpro? What are some good improv scales that I could jam to?
  13. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    1. Already have a Ibanez SR500 with new DR strings. It is probably the most comfortable bass I've ever played and that's why I spent my summer savings on it.

    2. This isn't a bad idea, I'm just don't know anything about drum machines and I'm not willing to spend alot of money.

    3. Yeah I've been inspired by alot of covers, but then it fades away when I try to actually play the song.

    4. Play along? You mean just listen by ear and play on bass? I have great difficulty with that... :(
  14. the blast

    the blast

    Jan 6, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I think a great teacher can help you as well. It's important to build a good foundation. Scales & the like are important for helping to truly know your instrument & for going to sometimes for ideas. Practice them a little every day but don't make this your only thing.
    That being said.......

    I think a great way to learn music is to learn as many songs as you can. When I started, I started playing to Led Zepplin, RHCP, Motown & anything that I liked, felt good & sounded melodic. I'd sing to everything I could (this also helped my ear). I didn't learn the first thing about theory until later on. In hindsight I wish I would have focused a little more on it but I don't regret it. I think this REALLY helped my ear & mold me into the player that I am today. I'd listen to smooth jazz (I know, it's cheesy from a popular/rock music stand point) & just try to solo over it until I found little grooves & melodies. I'd learn Beatles songs. Every few years I'd take some lessons & advance my theory a little. Since I could already play so many songs by ear, I'd be able to see how some of this "theory" actually related to my bass. I just kept it fun, no matter what. After all, it's only music.

    Just keep doing it. Play at least a little every single day. Learn to play songs that you like. You will learn & progress. It may not be overnight but just play, play, play! Most importantly, have fun & relax in the fact that you know that you will improve if you really try & truly put forth the effort.

    This is just one guys opinion & not meant to be take as THE ONLY WAY. ;)

    Hope this helps,
  16. Start learning tunes by ear.

    Work on your sight reading.

    Start jamming out with everyone that will play with you.

    Practice with a metronome everyday.

    But most importantly, and above all else, have fun. :D
  17. UnderTone


    Mar 22, 2009
    Tucson, Arizona
    if you already have guitarpro, either look for tabs that have drums or just make up beats to listen to through the headphones and play with it.
  18. rokkitt


    Jun 7, 2007
    bronx, nyc
    Time for tough love!

    Quit cryin, and think of all the good things and skills you have already---

    And, those things you hate? That's where you are weakest, and I see why---

    You have trouble keeping time, but you hate the metronome

    You have trouble with solos, even though you know scales-- cuz you have little feel-- metronome again-- and you have little "ear" cuz you have been learning by tabs and not picking things up by ear off of cds and mp3s---

    So-- play along with the TV, to music in your head, ad jingles, x-.as songs nursury rhymes--- now, sounds crazy, but when you can take a somg from you head to the instrument, that is improvong your ear. Hey, play happy birthday or the star spangled banner. If you can say it, you can play it! So, find those notes on the bass, and match them to the notes in your head.

    Metronome? Start at 70 bpm for 5 mins doing 1/4 notes. Boring! But you will be better, even after 5 mins. Get a digital timer or use your watch, time yourself.

    What to play? Play an open A string. Or, play a G note on the the E string. Single note. Again and again!

    Then move to C-scale, 3 different fingerings.

    Do that. Then, play your favorite grooves. Slow them down. Speed them up.

    You will be amazed how much better you will become in justa week with metronome only playing. Try it! Don't play songs for a week. Just 'nome!
    Then play a song--ah ha! Better!

    And record yourself too!

    That should keep you busy, and then look at yourself in a week and doing this stuff for one hour per day. Or 5 mins a day. But pick up your bass every day!

    Get a notebook and write down your progress. Even if it is just a little bit.

    And, if something is hard to do, slow it down. But watch, ttoo slow on the metronome will be REALLY hard.

    And , check some ideas below--

    You can do it, just tear yourself down to build yourself back up!


    1. Already have a Ibanez SR500 with new DR strings. It is probably the most comfortable bass I've ever played and that's why I spent my summer savings on it.

    ---but is it set up right? Intonation correct? That could throw off your ear, and if the instrument is not intonated, it won't "sing" like it should-- the harmonics and the wood vibration won't be as strong-- just cuz its comfortable doesn't mean its correct---

    2. This isn't a bad idea, I'm just don't know anything about drum machines and I'm not willing to spend alot of money.
    -- drum machines are used on CL for 50 bux. Or search a free drum download on the 'net

    3. Yeah I've been inspired by alot of covers, but then it fades away when I try to actually play the song.
    -u lose inspiration cuz you can't play the song because of your timing and your ear--not cuz of your speed. So, pick a slower, groovier song, and make MUSIC---be in time, with feeling, and KEEP trying--it will come.

    4. Play along? You mean just listen by ear and play on bass? I have great difficulty with that...

    Keep playing a song over and over, or loop a section of a song, (computer programs) and try diff notes, you will find the right ones! There are only 12 note choices, right?

    Hope that helps! Good luck!
  19. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    You might want to take a look at the link in my sig. Might be something there to help you out.
  20. +1 get a drum machine- there are some multi bass FX pedals w/ drum machines built in. Play along with the radio- develops yr EAR enables U to pick up things quicker by ear- not needing/ having any music/chord charts
    Even one of those Fender B-DEC amps- they have a "band" in 'em so U can programme chord progressions & play along..... SO many learning methods these days. In MY day- I sat in me room, & played along with the radio.. now I can virtually play 90% of popular music straight off......
    You'll be able to also- eventually. Patience!!

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