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Need some advice...

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by iplaybass, Oct 17, 2001.


  1. iplaybass

    iplaybass Guest

    Feb 13, 2000
    Germantown, TN
    Hi Steve
    I have been playing bass for about 2 and a quarter years now, and i find that I have hit a "wall" of sorts. I can't seem to get any better, its almost as if my creativity has been sapped. When I am playing alone, I usually get bored with my playing and stop... its a sad situation. My theory knowledge is adequate for my two bands, I know enough about how to accompany and embellish the guitar parts well enough to handle most songs. My speed and technique is also adequate, I can't foresee ever having to play faster than i can play now.(I hope that doesn't sound arrogant, I'm just not very flashy.) I was wondering if in your professional experience you have ever seen this happen, and if so, what helped the situation. Someone told me that maybe the bass just wasn't the right instrument for me, but I refuse to believe this, since in my first two years of playing I could barely put the instrument down. Someone also told me that it might be a question of maturity, since I'm only 16. To sum it up, I've hit a wall and I can't get around it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. (I know, I know, I should probably go to a shrink, but I can't pay that kind of money...:p )
    Thanks again
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi,

    first of all, your friend who said that bass isn't the instrument for you is talking out of their arse - every musician ever in the history of musicians has hit a wall on numerous occasions. It's just part of the process. Sometimes it's a consolidation period - you're getting more familiar with that which you already know and so don't see any improvement but your musical instincts are being honed, so that you react quicker, hear things better and play the stuff you can already play but with more control.

    Another thing that happens is a loss of motivation - if the band your in has fairly modest limits, then it may be that there's little room for you to develop within that context, and if all your playing has been in a group context, suddently finding that you have to explore stuff on your own is a bit of a sideways leap in terms of how and what to play.

    So, suggestions - well somewhere we need to inject some new ideas and a new destination into your playing regime - this can come from a number of sources -

    1) - try forming another band. Could just be a duo or a trio, but a group that has no gigging aspirations just a desire to explore and expand. Get together, set up and start playing - see what comes out. If you've never played with these people before, it's got to be new music of some sort, and you'll probably stumble across some gems as you play. It's also great fun, and good experience to work with other drummers.

    2) get a book - there are loads of great books with solid musical information in them. If you can read music (treble and bass clef) then you can get anything you like - cello music, orchestral scores, melody stuff, books on jazz theory (Mark Levine's 'the jazz theory book' is a great resource, though pretty heavy going.) If you go with a bass book, get one that's heavy on substance and light on spurious pictures of Sting and Jaco... :oops:) Ed Friedland's books are well worth getting, as is the Improvisors bass method by Chuck Sher. Carol Kaye has numerous fantastic books of solid reading material. Videos can also be very cool, and don't have to be bass videos - I've got loads from watching videos by John Scofield, Joe Pass and Tuck Andress.

    3) take up a new technique - how's your chordal playing? if you're not too hot with chords, have a go and working some out - take a simple tune and try harmonising it in a solo piece. start simple and let the music guide the technique rather than the other way round. Get together with a melody instrument player and try duets with you playing the 'guitar' role, comping chords and playing fills and stuff...

    4) buy a looping device!! The single most revolutionary thing I've done to my playing in the last 10 years was buying a JamMan - it completely changes the way you play and think about music. Start to work out solo pieces where you record the chords or bass line first and add stuff. Also worth getting into is the E-Bow, especially if you play fretless.

    5) get some new CDs, or even better go to some inspiring gigs. Depending on where you live, ask around and get some recommendations for players to go and check out. Often there are local guys that are amazing and undiscovered, who you can go and see three nights a week without paying a fortune.

    6) take a few refresher lessons - find a cool teacher with a good imagination and get some ideas one on one.

    7) retune your bass - try tuning it CGDA and see how you get on... :oops:)

    8) form an all bass band - trio is a good start. and see where that leads.

    9) transcribe the Seinfeld music.... :oops:)

    hope that all helps

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  3. iplaybass

    iplaybass Guest

    Feb 13, 2000
    Germantown, TN
    Thanks a lot Steve, I got up today and tried some looping with my multi-fx pedal... not the most advanced looping system (only 6 seconds of memory), but it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be! I am also planning to go to the bookstore today... assuming I can find some money. Your professional experience is greatly appreciated.
     
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    ah, you've got a BFX-708, yeah? There's loads you can do with that to get you started in looping - one student of mine even used two of them in his final performance for a University degree, and he passed! :oops:)

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk