Newbie needs help

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Wee_AL, Mar 19, 2002.

  1. Wee_AL


    Mar 17, 2002
    Durham, UK
    I recently bought my 1st bass after wanting to learn for so long.

    I am looking for any kind of help, hints and tips anyone can offer me. Mainly i'd like to know things i should be practicing, warm-ups and such. Anything to do with chords as well cos i dont really understand.

    I've been self taut for just over a month and aim to get lessons as soon as my new job pay comes thru. I have been learning to play songs by looking at tabs and have very little music experience. i can play basic songs by fairly bad and simple bands (Korn feature alot in stuff i can play cos Fieldy is oh so good that even somone liek me can repeat stuff he plays).

    I have tried sites for lessons and stuff but some of it goes oevr my head and i feel the personal touch may be what i need untill i get my lessons. Any help anyone could provide would be greatly apprciated.

    Moderators feel free to move this post as i was un-sire of where to place it.
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    You're going to get lessons, and that's probably the single most effective step you can take in your musical development. Lessons from someone who is experienced are CRUCIAL to a beginner, because it's very important to get off on the right foot. A teacher will help you with all the things that can't be taught over the internet, such as posture, left and right hand fingering, etc.

    If I could offer one piece of advice, it's to start breaking away from tabs. If you start your reading skills NOW, you can have them well-developed in a relatively short amount of time. The extra time you take to learn standard notation is well worth, as I'm sure you'll find. A great site for learning to read is There are bunch of other sites for beginners that I'm sure other posters have to offer.

    Good luck!
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey there. welcome to bass guitar :D what an exciting time you have ahead of you :) .

    check out - there's some great lessons over there, even for beginners.
  4. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    That, and find some other people to jam with as soon as you can. Playing with others tends to give the learning curve a bit of an upward push.
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    This is a copy of the reply that I gave to someone else who asked the same question a couple of weeks ago:

    It seems to me like you're coming into bass with the right attitude. Excellent. It's important to know what to avoid and how to start off right. You're creating habits right now that will be so hard to break in the future if they're bad habits.

    The "essentials" would probably be:

    1. Get a Teacher. I know, I know. Money and time. That seems to be the most common argument people give for not getting a teacher. Obviously, I don't know your situation, so it may be impractical. But my advice to you is to make every single effort to get private, one-on-one, lessons as often as you can. First let me talk about the reasons. A teacher can open up whole new worlds for you. This is so critical when starting out. A bass is not like a guitar to learn, in that left and right hand techniques are so critical. Sure, it's important in guitar, but because of the physical demands of the thicker strings and the larger frets, you risk injury much easier having poor technique. Injure yourself, and you're not going to be playing for a long time. Also, a teacher is interactive. They can directly respond to what you just played, or to any direct question you have.

      Finding a teacher is difficult, but not impossible. Don't let the difficulty deter you from trying. Call as many teachers as you can in your area, (check music store listings, the internet, newspapers, friends, etc.). Have a list of questions prepared to ask each one. (How much do you charge, Where are you located, What are your hours, What is your approach to teaching, How long have you been teaching, What will you teach me, etc). Have a conversation with each one. Some teachers may offer a discounted first lesson. I encourage you to get one lesson with at least 2 teachers, but maybe more. Feel them out. See which one works best for you. (Conversely, respect their time. Be on time, be prepared, give 24-48 hours notice if you have to cancel, etc.).

      Now, you mentioned time as an issue. This is the point to where you need to decide how important this is to you. Is there something you can cut out of your life for just one hour a week. Maybe you can do lessons every other week. (If you do this, stay focused. Often, not having the thought that your lesson is around the corner may make some people procrastinate on practicing). Often, teachers will work with you on scheduling. Remember, the time you get on lessons now will save you time wasted in the future on mistakes or lack of direction.

      You also mentioned money. This is also a point where you need to decide how important this is. Can you cut something out of your life. Do you buy 10 CDs a month? Could you cut that down to 5? Do you eat out 5 times a week? Can you cut that down to once? It's all about prioritizing. Also, explore teachers of other instruments, especially piano. Please don't think that a piano teacher cannot help you out. I mention this only because many piano teachers in my area are considerably cheaper than bass teachers. Explore your options. Do your budgeting. Make it happen. Even two one hour appointments a month is better than nothing.
    2. Get a teacher.
    3. Buy a metronome. I don't know if there's anything more important to a bass player than a time. You simply must have good time. A teacher will help you explore drills you can do with the metronome to become proficient with time. You need to internalize that feeling of time. Get it in your head, your hands, your feet. You need to spend a lot of time with the metronome.
    4. Buy a tuner. You gotta be in tune.
    5. Listen with HUGE ears. Listen to everything out there you can. Listen to the great bass players, in whatever genre, not just the one you're interested in, but all genres, it will open your mind. (Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Jaco Pastorious, Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, Nathan East, Jerry Jemmott, Geddy Lee, Michael Manring, Jeff Berlin, Adam Nitti, and so many others.) Listen to how the bass interacts with the drums. Feel the rhythm section.
    6. Learn the proper and correct spelling of the word "Rhythm." Note that it is not spelled, "rythm," "rhithm," "ryhthm," nor "rithym." This is important.
    7. Get a teacher.
    8. Learn some theory. Click Me. Start here. Ask questions. Lots of questions.
    9. Go to shows.See live performances as often as you can.
    10. Avoid Tabs. Learning songs from Tabs may stifle your ear and ability to interpret pieces based upon a knowledge of harmony or melody. They undermine respect for effort.
    11. Learn to sight read. You might be thinking right now about how you want to rock! You don't need sight reading. Maybe not, but any great bass player has always had a diverse number of influences help create what they hear in their head. One way to open yourself up to a plethora of melodies and harmonies, is sight reading. Learning how to sight read enables you to communicate clearly with all other musicians, to share your ideas and to hear theirs. You open yourself up to every musical idea ever conceived.
    12. Find others to play with. It doesn't matter your skill level. Surround yourself with others as often as possible. I encourage you to find others at a level slight above yours. This helps push you and encourages you to excel. There's nothing like working with the dynamics of others.
    13. Record yourself. I record all my practices, my lessons, my rehearsals, and my gigs. I listen to them constantly. The tape doesn't lie. It will pick up things you didn't know about.
    14. Maintain your sense of humor. Be passionate about what you do, but be able to laugh at yourself.
    15. Do not be afraid to play the "wrong note." There really is no wrong note, it's just played at the wrong time. Don't be afraid to experiment. This is a constant journey, there is no finish line.
    16. Have fun. Focus. Maintain discipline. Be dedicated. This is how you grow. As you grow, your mind will expand, your path will broaden, and you will be able to express yourself on your instrument. Have fun with it, this will make the journey more productive.
    17. Get a teacher.

    Like anything worth doing, time and energy is needed. You will get out of bass exactly what you put into it. While my list is long and extensive, and may seem daunting, it is not meant to be undertaken in one day, one week, one month, nor one year. These are things to keep in mind as you continue on your journey.

    Hope this helps.
  6. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Welcome to the beautiful world of Bottom End.

    I suggest, that you get yourself a good qualified teacher as soon as possible, as stated they will be your biggest asset. I also highly recommend the use of method books and instructional videos as well. The combination of these 3 things will help you to become a competent, well rounded and educated bassist as well as musician.

    There are also quite a few people here that are as sharp as a tack when it comes to theory, Ed Fuqua, Pacman, Gard, Jazzbo, and JT, just to name a few. Dont be affraid to ask questions.