Need some tips and advice on the first couple months of playing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Smith_brc, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. Smith_brc


    Jun 17, 2013
    Hello everyone! So I've been playing for about 7 months, haven't had too many jams (like 5) and I know how to play some bass lines and know some of my scales and I was having lessons my first two months from this guy at a music shop and it helped and I was going to continue with him but he ended quiting so ive been solo for awhile. but yesterday was my first jam in like 4 months. I wasn't too great. My tempo was poo and it was off of improvisation am they had to tell me where to go alot. And I was just wondering, does this happen in the starting months or am I just really doing something wrong and not practicing enough? And is there any tips or some exercises? Thanks!!
  2. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    Seven months isn't that long and often the excitement of the moment in a jam makes it hard to play as well as you do at home when practicing.

    It sounds like you could benefit from learning and practicing the diatonic arpeggios in every key. First learn the basic shapes for the Major, minor and diminished triad.

    Then choose one key say C Major and play the C Major triad (CEG), d minor triad (dfa), e minor triad (egb), F major triad (FAC), G Major triad (GBD), a minor triad (ace), b diminished triad (bdf) and then the C Major again an octave higher. Work slowly and stay in one position as much as possible going up like CEG, dfa, egb etc. then reverse and go down.

    Once you have one key down try to work this way in all of the others.

    There are myriad exercises, but in my experience nothing improved my ability to hear and respond to chord sequences more than this.

    Good luck!
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Marcury's diatonic exercise above, is a great one. If you dont know where the notes are on the fretboard, that would be another worth while thing to learn.

    Play along to music you like and try to work out the bass parts without relying on tabs. This is great for developing your ear.

    "Study Bass" is a great all round site. Working your way through the lessons here is well worth the time and effort.

    Seven months is a very short time to be playing, so be patient with yourself. Mistakes cease to be so, if you learn from them. ;) Jamming with others, as you are doing is one of the best ways to learn.
  4. Jamming this quick -- not expected that you would do great in a jamming circle this early. Keep at it, it will come.

    Improvisation - forget that for now. Concentrate on playing bass line accompaniment to the chord changes.

    Fake chord will give you the lyrics and chord changes on just about any song you would like to be playing. Google these words; guitar chords, "name of the song". The comma and quote marks help with the search.

    Google will also give you a video of someone playing that song. Armed with the chords play along to the video.
    Google video, "name of the song". There is that key thing, if you do not know how to transpose just use the key the fake chord is in.

    Ask questions here on what you are having trouble with.

    Good luck.
  5. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    Everybody goes through this. You're off to a good start. I would say to emphasize two things.
    1. Learn songs.
    2. Play with other people.
    A LOT.
    Good luck
  6. Milestones

    Milestones Guest

    May 28, 2012
    There's no reason to forget about improvisation right now. Just improvise more simply. Try rhythmically varying the bass line or inserting rests into it. Don't worry about playing brilliant melodic ideas yet, but the process of improvising is important. You will get more comfortable playing if you get used to taking the risk of improvising and sounding bad. The stakes are low anyway, nobody cares what you sound like as much as you do.

    The way I look at it, there are basically three ways to improve your playing: dedicated practice by yourself, studying theory and the intellectual aspect of music, and gaining experience playing with other people. Each of those approaches improves a different aspect of your playing. What you want is to find a balance of all those methods and focus on the area you're weakest in. If you've been playing bass for 7 months but only played with other people 5 times, then I'd say you need more experience playing with other people who are better than you. Keep up the practice routine too, of course.

    Don't feel like you're not ready yet or not good enough to play with somebody. Just make sure that if someone who is a truly great player gives you advice, listen to them. Always practice your weaknesses. Since you're a beginning player, you have a lot of weaknesses which means anything you practice will probably help you to improve and you will improve rapidly. Since you know you need to work on your time, that might be a smart thing to work on for. Just keep in mind that there are some things you learn about time that can only come from years of experience on the bandstand.

    You're doing all the right things man, so keep it up and good luck. And like fearceol said, start trying to learn things by ear from the recording, it's how ALL the best players learned to play. Do yourself a favor and start with really easy stuff or it will seem like an impossible task.
  7. You haven't been playing that long, so don't sweat it. Just keep learning.

    Get your basics down.
    Develop your ear.
    Learn songs.
    Keep jamming where you can.

    I would also say that many styles of music, particularly blues and blues based, have many fairly generic, pattern based lines that work in a wide range of songs. Learn those patterns and the theory behind them, and you can tackle a wide range of situations with just a few tools.

    As your skills and confidence increase, you can even do more with them.

    The Bass Guitar for Dummies book has great info on that kind of stuff(and IMO is a great learning and reference book), and I have one called The Blues Bass Handbook that covers the blues patterns pretty well.You might consider looking into those.

    Overall, just relax, learn, and enjoy!
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Get another teacher. Call your local college's music department and ask if they can give you a recommendation for a good teacher who uses jazz concepts to teach. If you want to improve fast, nothing better than learning music concepts through jazz, even if you do not like jazz.
  9. tbz


    Jun 28, 2013
    Jamming with more than like one person, after playing bass for 7 months with only 2 months of lessons is usually not going to be a successful endeavor. IIRC my first whole band jam session on bass happened about 4 months after I got my first bass, but I was taking lessons the whole time, and had been taking guitar lessons for 2+ years.

    Even then, as people have pointed out, I didn't do much melodic improvising. I actually got some compliments on my rhythmic improvisation, but man I was just holding onto chord root notes for dear life.

    Get another teacher if you want to get up to speed sooner than later. Look at it this way, worst case you just jam with a teacher for 30 minutes, while getting pointers the whole time.
  10. Milestones

    Milestones Guest

    May 28, 2012
    Forgot to mention this. Playing along with recordings is a good way to emulate playing with other people. It's not the same but it gets you accustomed to keeping up with a band in real time.