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New Bass Player

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Thulsa, Jun 21, 2001.

  1. Hi everyone! As the subject says, I'm a new bass player. In matter of fact, this is my first instrument. I was lucky enough to have a friend with a Washburn RB2000 (I think thats what it is) that he wasn't using. So I borrowed it and his spare amp.

    I started taking lessons, and I'm currently still getting the basics down, practicing major chords and scales now. My timing is coming along especially well, but the theory still has me baffled. My friends are anxious for me to start playing with them as they are in dire need of a bass player. They have been playing for over 20 years, so I am nowhere near the level they are.

    I am curious as to the best way to get going. Should I just continue on with my lessons and just do the finger work, or should I download some tabs and start playing along with some songs between lessons? Problem with that is sometimes I just can't figure out from the tabs the timing, and some songs it's just so hard to hear the bass line. My friend thinks I should just be able to listen to a song and start playing along with it. I think he is crazy as I have no idea how to take the music and transfer it to the fretboard. Is it only me, or do I just need to learn the theory first. Or perhaps I just need to develop my ear.

    I am very serious about learning to play as I have always loved music, and being 41, I figure I can't waste much more time. I practice between 1/2 and 2 hours 4 or 5 days a week on top of my lessons. While I don't want to rush myself and end up getting discouraged. I also don't want my friends to think that I'm not really serious about learning. Any recommendations to a complete beginner as to how to go about this? Thanks everyone, and I'll definitely keep you posted on my progress.

  2. I think you should learn notation while you are still learning, so it can become second nature. Tab isn't worth much if you don't know the timing, but notation is. Also learn how to slap, play with a pick, play major, minor and pentatonic scales, and try to learn some simple songs to develop your ear, toodles!
  3. yar.. taking lessons is a smart move..

    i've been playing bass for almost 5 years now, but i just recently started my first lesson, in order to master my instrument 100 %
  4. fisk


    Jan 3, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    Thulsa, our stories are so close, its scary.

    I too am a newbie, i've been playing about 7 months now and i'm 35 yrs old. I'm also taking lessons and have been since I started. The guy i'm taking lessons from is very into theory. For the first couple of months, all we did is practice scales, modes, learn the fretboard and other non-fun, non-jamming type stuff. I totally agreed with him that I wanted to learn the right way to play to become a musician, not just some root-note jockey that has a bunch of tabs memorized. So we started out with from the beginning with the basics.

    I posted an ad on a local musicians forum a few weeks ago and was lucky enough to hook up with two guys (both guitarists) who jam in their garage for fun. Both are very good and way, way over my skill level. I know its a learning experience, but I feel really inadequate when they are ripping off solos and i'm still trying to figure out what notes to play. I also have no abilities to just "listen to the music and groove with it", at least not yet.

    So here's my solution. I talked to my instructor about changing our lessons. We are working on songs that my new "band" is playing so I can learn them. He is also showing me how the bass lines are constructed (I, IV, V progressions, etc...), along with learning how to actually play the song. Also, assuming your doing covers, having the songs themselves on CD's to practice along with is invaluable.

    Good luck, and keep me posted on how things are going.

  5. Hello Thulsa and welcome to Talk Bass. Our stories, too, are not that far apart.

    I believe there are three ways to learn a musical instrument.

    One: is 'by ear' - usually by being self taught by listening to music. Two: is by being taught by someone else. Three: is a mixture of the two.

    I reckon three is the best. I've never had a lesson in my life and I reckon I've missed out on a vast amount of music and musical education as a direct result.

    Experienced 'by ear' players will almost certainly pick up a tune very quickly. But don't get upset if you can't do it....yet. You will.

    Stick with the lessons and take every opportunity to learn from listening, too. Yeh, download Tabs. Learn to read musical notation as well ('wish I could). Visit www.activebass.com because there's loads of lessons there. Visit your local library for instructional videos. Just keep practicing the bass.

    Just stick with it. You'll make it, don't worry.

    Rockin John
  6. fisk


    Jan 3, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    I hope so. Right now, I cant even imaging being able to just listen to a song and be able to just fall in with the music. The guy i'm taking lessons from can easily do that. It really irratates me too. :rolleyes:

    Maybe someday........

  7. B-Note Cowboy

    B-Note Cowboy Guest

    Jun 13, 2001
    Tulsa, OK
    Thulsa, are you from Tulsa? That's where I'm from.

    Anyway, to your post. Lessons are a good idea, but I'm going to go against the grain and say they aren't AS important as developing your ear for pitch, timing and chord changes as you listen to songs.

    I reccomend that you listen to some basic blues or country music and concentrate on finding what note it is based in. Most of these songs are basic three chord progressions of some sort, and once you recognize that, walking techniques and riffs begin to become a lot less mysterious. Of course, technique is where a teacher can be most helpful to you.

    If you have some basic technique and warmup exercises, really work on that ear. THAT is what will allow you to just fall in with most any music.

    NOTHING is as big a rush to me as being able to nail the bassline for a song I have never played, while playing requests for a live audience. And you cannot do that without developing your ear. Tabs will really become a crutch if you depend on them too much.

    Also, you may have a favorite type of music, but try to expose yourself to as many bass styles as possible and try to emulate them. This is how your own style will form - through the influence of what styles you play.
  8. Thanks for all the input and encouragement. I will definitely stick with the lessons as I feel theory is very important, maybe not as important at first, but once you get to a certain level. I have started downloading tabs and trying to learn them. I am fortunate to have a pretty decent sized music collection (about 350 cds). So I always can find something to practice with. In matter of fact, I often just play music and play along just working on my timing, I'm hoping that this will help me lock in to my drummer better. Next week my drummer gets back from out of town and we plan to start practicing together, most of which, for the time being, will be for timing. Fortunately he is patient and encouraging.

    B-Note, sorry I'm not from Tulsa. Thulsa has been my online handle for about 5 years or so, back from my online gaming days. It is a character by Robert E. Howard.

    Once again everyone, thanks for all the encouragement, and I'm looking forward to all the valuable advice I will be able to pick up here in the coming years.

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