1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Memo to myself, a year late

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bruiser Stone, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    I’ve been on a quest to learn bass for over a year now, and I’ve drawn up a “you should have done this” memo to my myself. For the beginners reading this: I’m still relatively green, so consider the source. To more seasoned bassists: feel free to correct my conclusions as this is as much an asking exercise as it is an offering.

    1. Stay away from pedals. I have one special pedal I’m very glad I lucked up on in my quest for a certain “tone,” but I reflect on how much time I’ve expended searching for them, twiddling with them when I have them, and then listing them when I’m done, and for the most part, it has been a wash. I really haven’t had that many, but they are a noodling-multiplier, and until some of the other things on this list are mastered, I really didn’t need to mess around with them.

    2. Forget endlessly practicing scales, play actual songs, BUT while learning standard music notation. I have several scales automatically programmed in my fretting hand, and while it’s helpful, I would have been better off diving into song books learning things I like (and discovering songs that I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed until playing them), and developing a better sense of syncopation, building confidence, and most important, learning to read actual music. This is currently my most frustrating weakness: the inability to sit down and read so that I can play ANYTHING. Tabs are great to a learn a particular song, but they are not very useful in learning to play generally.

    3. Don’t practice over an hour at a time (ok, maybe two once in a while). You would think long hours in the early mornings and late nights would equal advanced development, but nothing develops the way it ought to if you are worn out. Sleeplessness has a trickle-down effect on all aspects of life, including the ability to focus and learn music. Sometimes I need the extra time to nail a particular riff, but usually the extra hour or more is spent noodling. And when I wake up the next morning and I can barely flex my fingers, I’ve overdone it, and that negatively impacts the next time I pick up my bass.

    4. Buy the best bass for you within your budget. Not everyone can afford a $2000 instrument, but the enjoyment of playing doubled when I found a really nice P-Bass that sounds pleasing to my ears and feels great in my hands. Maybe I could find something just as nice at half the cost, but I know I have a winner in my possession. I don’t agree with a rigid “good for a beginner” mindset. If a $150 bass feels and sounds good to you, that’s great. My first was a Squier PJ, and while it in no way compares to what I have now, it gave me a point of reference. Six months in, I debated whether I should upgrade, and after I did I felt guilty for a bit (pig in a Lexus complex), but I’m now glad that I moved onto something nicer. It’s pure joy to play, and when the time to find something nicer comes along (and you can afford it), think of it as an investment in yourself. P.S. try it out before you buy it...when it comes to the instrument itself, reviews are only subjective guideposts. I’ve had two T-40’s: they sound AMAZING, but the neck (not the weight) forced me to trade them off. They’re not right for me.

    5. Be eager to play with others, but choose wisely. I haven’t been burned on this one, but I can see how, if I wasn’t careful, this could be a major source of disappontment. I have one of the nicest, easygoing worship teams anyone could find that has invited me to come and play/learn in a relatively stress-free setting. The music is nice (albeit a little slow for my tastes), and I’m not a fan of worship music in general, but I couldn’t have found a better place to be initiated to the invaluable experience of playing with other very talented people. If I insisted on my first experience being what I really want to play (metal, punk, blues, etc), maybe I would have the same luck, but maybe not. It could be a really depressing thing to land as a first-timer with the wrong crowd. I know it’s inevitable if you play with enough people that you’ll encounter duds, but early on the quality of folks surrounding you means more than the genre.

    And since this is long enough, I’ll cap it at 5. Again, I welcome the gentle rod of correction if I’m in error.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  2. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    My 2 cents? If I may
    1. You are right. Learn some songs.
    2. Instead of just scales, understand chord tones and how the Nashville numbering system helps you decide what to play, and how to move your hands.
    3. My one pedal (tech21 vtbass) gives me great tone, even when playing a ragged old peavey amp.
    4. WWW.Talkingbass.NET -- mark's lessons and philosophy are "to the point", without subscription cost.
    4.5 Make sure are comfortable playing the bass (hand comfort, etc.) Basshappy has a nice bit about this.
    5. Playing with the right people... You're right.. adds so much.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  3. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    I believe you meant www.talkingbass.net. Correct?

    - John
    reddog likes this.
  4. Play with others as soon as possible and as much as you can. I know several bassists that became very proficient within their first year because they were in a gigging band. For personal practice: learn scales and chords, play with a metronome, and learn to read sheet music. I would also advise playing with both fingers and a pick right from the beginning. Write some original songs. Most of all have fun. For me that included experimenting with lots of cool pedals and amps early on. To each his own.
    baSfo and Bruiser Stone like this.
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006

    OP....to add to your list...

    6. Be aware of the long term benefits of using safe right and left hand technique.
    baSfo, Bruiser Stone and Nashrakh like this.
  6. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Pedal flipping has certainly been fun and a learning process, even if it hasn’t been entirely related to me developing my abilities.

    As for development by playing with others, I’m freshly 40, a professional with a wife and 4 kids, and though I live only 2 hours west of Nashville, it may as well be 6, because we live in small town, rural southern America. The music scene seems close-knit, the music mostly country and Skynyrd, and demographically, perhaps I’m not the ideal new band member. Any tips on breaking the ice as a middle-aged newbie?

    Caveat: There’s a medium-sized public university 30 minutes north of us, and I’ve considered feeling out the surrounding scene, but again, people half my age with more experience....

    I have a couple of definite musical ideas/goals, I just don’t know how to implement them here.
  7. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    Bit of a dumb question, but how do you find others to play with?

    I found a meet-up group online and we get together every now and then, but I'm wondering if others have tips on how to actually get out and play.
    Bruiser Stone likes this.
  8. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    See my post #6 above: I’ve tried posting on Facebook and Bandmix without any success, but I’m in a small town 2 hours outside of any metro area. I think where I live, it’s more word of mouth.

    Even though I’m not a religious/spiritual bloke anymore, I’ve been attending a local progressive congregation for over two years. Their associate pastor/bass player (and my first instructor) took another job, and so they asked me to play. I jumped on it. I’m hoping the experience leads to more opportunities, and considering where I live, it’s probably the best place to begin. But I’m very hungry for more.
  9. braindead0


    Feb 7, 2004
    Reno, NV
    Hit or miss. I played for a while with a guitar player I 'found' on CraigsList wife playing drums. He's joined a local punk band, so no time for playing. I found a drummer who we're hoping to jam with later in the year.... right now I'm on my own again ;-)

    If I get desperate there are a few places in town that host weekly jam sessions... I'm not a big fan of bluegrass but could work with it....

    Have you tried talking to people are local music shop(s)? Maybe try to start a weekly jam at a local bar/music shop... park.... get creative..
  10. DuckSoup


    Dec 20, 2017
    I haven't tried talking to folks at a music shop, but I have found a meetup group that gets together every couple of weeks to play some songs. It's something, and I'm hoping to network through that. Plus out of about 12 guitar players, I'm the only bass player. :-D

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.