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Need Info about learning bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Dipietro76, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Dipietro76


    Jan 17, 2012
    Hello all, I am a 35 year old drummer and in recent years I've been really enjoying pocket/ groove drumming. I grew out of trying to show off with non stop drum fills and enjoy locking in w/ a bass player. In doing so I've grown a real appreciation for bassists and I really want to learn how to play. I feel it'll make me grow as a drummer in addition to growing as a musician. My problem is a little fear. I am a self taught drummer, I naturally always had rhythm and just had to gain my motor memory and I was able to learn by listening to albums. So I know little of reading music, notes etc.
    So my question is will my self taught music experience hinder my learning and how difficult is it to learn the notes and know them well enough so you can just know what key a song is and flow with it.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Twospot


    Jan 1, 2012
    Toms River,NJ
    I am a drummer to bass convert myself. I just started. Pickup Hal Leonard Bass Method book 1 and start there. It is very non-intimidating and you learn to read right from the get go. However I urge you to just not try that. Get tabs of songs, etc. However the HL book really gets you going. You obviously know a bassist that you can also work with to help you.
  3. By already having the meter and groove in your system, you're a third or half the way there already. I would suggest a two part attack. First, pick an easy song or tune, get your bass in tune, then just work out where the notes are. Very easy to do these days with CDs. We used to have to do it with 45rpm vinyl records! :p I would suggest Green Onions or Time is Tight both by Booker T and the MGs. These songs will get you used to the physical aspect and provide a springboard to many other songs. Learn them s l o w l y .
    Second, download a chart of the fingerboard and learn all the notes. Learn the C major scale (all this stuff is all over the interweb) and recite the note names as you play them. This will get you learning the scale and the fingerboard at the same time.
    When you have the first song down, move to another.
    When you have the first scale down, move to the F major, then the Bb.
    By this time you'll be getting a pretty good grip on it. Learn stuff real slow and only start speeding up when you can nail it at a given tempo. Dont use a metronome, learning the notes and getting them smooth is the goal, and you probably already have a good internal clock ticking away.
  4. You could get quick practice going to I-IV-V blues jams...
  5. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    Keep in mind that most rock tunes are going to be in a key that is easily played on the bass. Those would be E, A, D, G (sound familiar?) Sometimes C, sometimes F (not as often).

    Don't skimp on your amp. Bass is about the thunder. Learn to love the thunder. I always tell people starting out that your sound is important, because enjoying it and loving the sound you make is a big part of gaining confidence on the instrument.

    The notes are all between a-g. There are not that many. Put little stickies on your neck (it is certainly big enough to fit them).

    Learn a major scale. C is a good start. Learn G major too. if you can play those scales, you know the patterns for all other keys. You need two more patterns to be able to play a major scale from every note on the fretboard, and those are the patterns for the key of E major and F (as they are the zeroth and first frets off the E string).

    That's four patterns. All you really need to know to be conversant in bass (not fluent, not virtuosic, just conversant).

    I never rehearse with a metronome. I have a drummer!
  6. As you pointed out in your post you already have a feel for rhythm and the pocket and on bass that's as important as the notes. I frequently tell beginners that a bass is really drums with pitch control.

    If you're going to be self taught on bass too you'll need a good ear. Listen to tunes you're familiar with focusing on the bass line and how it sounds. What notes are being played and the timing of the bass line. Have your bassist take you through some fundamentals like hand and wrist positioning, fingering notes with your fretting (left assuming you're right handed) hand and how to pick or play fingerstyle with your right hand.

    A beginners book to take you through major and minor scales, tuning, and other fundamentals will help. Just like drumming the bass line is always moving and helping to propel the song tieing the melody and chord progression together. So just like drumming you'll need to develop some endurance but with your hands and fingers rather than wrist and arms.

    I think it's great that you want to pick up bass. Conversely bassist should spend some time learning to drum. Knowing time signatures and where accents may go have always helped me tie in closer with the drummer. The last thing I suggest to beginners is to enjoy yourself. It's just one note at a time, no chords to play (at least not initially) and it's really a fun instrument to play.

    The added benefit is that the bassist always gets the hot women, always, trust me. ;)
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    If yer married, forget the hot women, lol.:atoz: (But you can see them better at gigs without cymbals in the way:D).

    Hey, have some fun with your bass, too. Get tuned and just make something up that pleases you. It doesn't matter what it is.:bassist:
  8. I can't reccommend highly enough the Online Bass Lessons at StudyBass.com website developed by Andrew Pouska. Go there and learn from the ground up. He'll have you up and running in no time to the point where you can go do a blues jam without embarrassment.

    A fantastic resource for bootstrapping into bass.
  9. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Even if you aren't looking to be a chopsmeister, you'll need good technique and that may be the most frustrating part of learning. Getting a punchy sound is easy but those big, round notes that lay the foundation for the music (along with the drums) take some doing. Even if you're mostly going this on your own, take a few lessons from a jazz guy-it'll be a GREAT investment.
  10. Dipietro76


    Jan 17, 2012
    Wow thanks everyone for all the great advise and tips. I actually spoke with my bass man tonight and he thinks it's cool that I want to do that. My next question is what is a good bass to get to get going? My bass player mentioned he would bring a couple over to let me try them out, but I was wondering if I should go the starter pack route or just get something mid range so i don't have to upgrade later? Or is a fender squire starter pack good enough? I know back when I was starting drums I wasted money on a beginner drum set that I grew out of in 3 months and then went up to the next stage and grew out of that until I bought my Yamaha's for gigging and my vintage Sonors for home And recording.
  11. The bass in the Squier starter pack is not the greatest. However, the Squier Vintage Modified or Classic Vibe lines are a solid choice. You wont go wrong with one of these.
  12. wiscrna

    wiscrna $hitty Bassist With Decent Gear

    Oct 29, 2010
    Southeastern Ohio
    This thread rocks! A lot of great info for us newbies.

  13. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    For cheap basses, you can't beat those Squier Vintage models. I have for most of my playing career had Rickenbacker or Spector basses -- mid-range instruments, high quality.

    Those Squiers have amazing tone, and the two I have feel like slipping on an old pair of jeans -- they are quite comfortable to play. For under $300, they are hard to beat. And you get a very genuine Fender sound out of them. My '70's VMJ was on the wall next to dozens of other Jazz basses, including a Geddy Lee. I noted the close resemblance, and to play them side by side they sounded and felt almost like the same bass. They're that good.

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