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Newbieeee bass player

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bassenit, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. bassenit


    Jan 21, 2014
    Funen, Denmark
    Hey guys :)
    I'm a beginner-bass player, which means I've played the bass since september 2013.
    I really enjoy it, and I have a teacher.
    I started playing bass together with one of my friends, who also plays the piano and has done it for years, and he also started playing the guitar last year. So of course, he is already a big step ahead of me, because I've never really played instruments before, except the guitar, but not for very long, as I never found the guitar that interesting. But I like the bass.
    My friend, he improves. FAST. Also because he has much more time to play, than I do. He doesn't care that much about school and he doesn't have a job, like I do. I attend every class in school (he often stays away, he's a bit lazy, haha) and I do my homework and assignments, so I use a lot of my time on school and my job.

    I would really like to improve myself, I feel like I'm standing still in this process, and he just keeps getting better (of course I have a lot to learn, since he knows a lot more about music, than I do), but I don't know how.

    What are your tips to improve? because I really need them, thank you so much :)
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA

    Music can be frustrating if you measure your success compared to other people. It is depressing to think of all that talented musicians in history who were already dead by the time they were my age. ;) Better just to learn at your own pace and judge your progress by your own goals.

    My advice to a new player is simple: Learn as many songs as you can, in your favorite style(s) of music, using your ears.

    Players who take this approach, and are willing to put in the time/effort, almost always make progress toward becoming better musicians. Good luck! :)
  3. bassenit


    Jan 21, 2014
    Funen, Denmark

    Thanks! and yeah, I know, but I keep comparing myself, which is really dumb, especially when I'm a beginner :) do you eventually have any suggestions for songs, which are good to practice with?
  4. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    Dude, first, don't be too hard on yourself. Learning an instrument can be a bit overwhelming. I started playing bass when I was 14 and played in the school rock band (we learned covers for choir to sing over) and I used to get grief as to how bad I was. I still remember playing with some kids and trying to cover Sweet Home Alabama, which has to be the easiest 3 note bassline ever, and them telling me I was terrible. It's 11 years later, I'm 25 and most shows I play I get told I'm amazing at bass. Just stick with it. It may seem rough, but one day it will start to click, then bam. You're Flea. Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but one day it will click.

    When I started, I found I grew the most by playing with other people. Sure, you may be nervous at first, but that is the only way to really grow IMO. To get ready for that, start learning some covers from your favorite band. If you want advice on which bands to cover, I remember starting off with bands like green day and blink 182, as they were big 10 years ago and the basslines were easy. I would also suggest trying to start playing with your fingers as early as possible too, even though the bands I just suggested are played with a pick. I would learn them via bass tabs, which you can google, as those will show you which frets to play on which strings without you needing to know your notes or anything. While you are doing this, learn how notes work, which notes from A-G have sharps and flats, and what order those are in, that way when you jam with people you aren't clueless when a guitarist tells you to play A, G and C#. Eventually, once you have that down, you can expand into learning about keys (which notes can be played with which and still sound good). Once you feel good enough and have learned some covers, try and get a friend that plays guitar and a drummer friend to learn said covers, and play them in a live band setting. Or even learn a bass and piano cover, like some Ben Folds five with your buddy. Most of all, learn about the bass and why it's so important to a band. Don't ever think the bass is "easier" or lesser than any other instrument. Read about the different roles the bass plays in the style of music you want to play, read about different types of basses and amps, and learn more about the bass players from the bands you like and what gear and style of playing they incorporate. Good luck!
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Best place to start is songs you already know how to sing very well: nursery rhymes, holiday music, TV theme songs, etc.

    Can you play: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, your country's national anthem, the Olympics theme (hooray Sochi 2014!!!), the Simpsons? [that last one is extra credit, there's a tricky part in the middle ;)]

    Beyond that, the important thing is to pick music that YOU like, so you will be motivated to practice and learn. If you go to the library or music store, you can get songbooks for your favorite bands/albums. Sometimes these books have bass lines; sometimes they are just vocal/guitar/piano, but that is OK too, you want to learn about chord/melody as well. So you can listen to the song and try to figure out, "Okay, what key is it in? Sounds like D minor. What about the progression? I am hearing a 'bridge' section in the middle that goes to G Major." They you can look in the book to see if you are correct. That's a great way to learn! [Warning: Sometimes these books are not 100% accurate, or it could be in a different key, for example. So always trust your ears and make the necessary adjustments.]
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Welcome. :)

    I don't want to sound like I'm picking on you right off the bat, but your friend doesn't sound "lazy" to me; it sounds like he's got different priorities for how he uses his time. Cutting school to play video games would be lazy; cutting school to practice an instrument, not so much. That said, it sounds to me like you're taking a much smarter course of action than your friend, so I think you should stop berating yourself for all the musical progress he's making that you're not (yet).

    Have fun with it, and get a teacher.

    Oh. Well in that case, just keep doing what you're doing. ;) (Be patient: it takes time... and perseverance.)

    I've been playing for almost 25 years now. When I started, almost EVERYONE made progress faster than I did. But one by one, most of them stopped playing. And today, I can truthfully say that although I am neither a celebrity nor a virtuoso, I do get respect on my local scene as a guy who can play well.

    Trust me when I tell you this: perseverance counts for WAY more than natural talent ever will.
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Be consistent and make the time. Touch your bass every day. Fifteen minutes a day will help you more than a three-hour marathon once a week. You need to find where you can carve out the time each week. Victor Wooten talks about playing bass while he's watching TV. I got my first bass on a whim and my wife was skeptical of the cost, so I had to justify it by really focusing and getting as good as I could. To make the time, I started getting up earlier every day - 5:00 am - and practicing with headphones while my family slept. That was over four years ago, now I pop awake at 5:00 every day without setting an alarm.

    Split your practice time between exercises and scales, on the one hand, and learning songs, on the other. The exercises make you a better musician. Learning songs you like builds your confidence and lets you enjoy playing. Both are important.
  8. Zephrant


    Dec 10, 2013
    Spokane, WA
    I'll second setting a time each day to play. First thing in the morning give the world less opportunity to intrude, and I find I have the energy and high interest.

    Keep up the school work first- you'll never get another chance to get good grades in school, and their impact can drastically affect your life.
  9. bassenit


    Jan 21, 2014
    Funen, Denmark
    Thanks for all your advices! Maybe I should try the morning thing :)

    Can you recommend using books for learning songs or just plain theory? Have you had experience with that?

    By the way:
    You're right, maybe I took the wrong word-choice! He lives very close to our school and I don't, I have to take a bus (which drives once every hour) 10 kilometres to get home, so I'm also a bit jealous, that he is able to do that! But yeah, I couldn't really find another word. :)
  10. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    hRodbert696 summed it up well.
    Just keep playing.
    Stay in school.
    Do you assignments, this discipline will help you study music also
    and have fun.
  11. Reddog01


    Nov 3, 2013
    Georgetown, TX
    When I was majoring in music in college (back when the Earth was still cooling) I quickly found that the piano players were the best musicians among all of us. Just about all of them had great ears, and they had the ability to read multiple parts at the same time. You have compared yourself to someone that has a leg up on most of us. Stay with the program, keep taking lessons, and continue to practice, and you will make the gains. If most of us were to chart our progress, we would find that many times we sit at plateaus and then we will make gains.
  12. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    Welll.....what I would do is:-

    1....learn the major scale finger placements on the fret.

    Learn the C major scale starting at the 8th fret on the E string (using the E, A and D string). The finger positions used for this are the same finger positions for any key started on the E string.......except Low F and "open" strings.
    For starters.

    As Carol Kaye said :- "Scales are for fish".

    IMO you don't need to spend the next five years learning all the different types of scales.
    Learn the major scales yes ...but.....

    Learn chord scales and chords as well.

    That is FOR EXAMPLE:-

    learn C major:- C,E,G notes......
    ""''' C minor
    learn C 7th

    There are certain chords that are very common in pop music.........for instance if you break down a lot of Motown hits you will find they basically used the same chord prog in
    a multitude of hits.

    when you learn these kinds of chords in C ( 8th fret on E string).....you can play same finger positions for other keys
    on the neck.

    The grid patterns on the fret/neck repeat themselves all over the place for different keys.

    Learning chords and the KEY notes that make them sound like they do will get you playing songs a lot faster than just learning scales or any scale by itself.

    Many of the instructional videos on Youtube , are , to me a waste of time as the posters are big on talk,talk,talk, and short on actual instruction...

    Listening to a guy spout off about triads, modes, inversions,
    fifths, flatted 9ths, or Myxolidian scales is all gobbledegook to a beginner. And most of it isn't necessary to get a guy started playing.

    If you can get a basic piano book of chords (the ones that show finger placements on the keys) just find the basic structure notes of the most popular chords and find them on your bass.

    Once you know the structure of, say....a C-major chord, it's pretty easy to start fooling around with different rhythm beats for it..

    same thing for any other chord .........

    Just learning scales all day long and nothing else is IMO the long way home........
  13. KellyM


    Jun 11, 2006
    Lynnwood, WA
    The best way to get better is to play with people who are better than you. It sounds like you have that built-in right now. Listen, learn, and be grateful. A lot of people never get that opportunity.
  14. aggrokragg


    Dec 18, 2013
    Welcome, and congratulations on becoming a bass player!

    First, definitely stay in school and stick with the lessons. Hopefully being a bassist is something you'll continue to do for the rest of your life, so there is plenty of time to improve as long as you stick with it.

    The best advice I can give when it comes to playing with others who are better...

    Most bands I joined (especially when I started out switching from guitar) the other musicians were more skilled I was. Like others mentioned, this is a good thing and it will make you better.

    However, I get that you can be discouraged, because it happened to me. Until I figured out a little trick. Stop comparing yourself to your friend, and focus on comparing the quality of the music you're playing.

    If you guys pick a song to jam to, keep practicing and see if when you play it this week if it sounds better than when you played it last week. That way you can focus not only on yourself getting better at playing, but you'll also be focusing on improving your ability to play with other musicians (and "playing to the song")


    Also, do yourself a favor and check out http://scottsbasslessons.com or look up "Scott Devine bass lessons" on Youtube. He is a great teacher, and his videos are just one more thing you can watch and absorb to gain some knowledge along with your in-person lessons and practice. I have been playing for years and still like checking out his videos. They are informative and entertaining.
  15. Dug2

    Dug2 Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    if you say your friend is better/further than you, maybe ask him to bring you up to his level. i mean, that makes sense to me. also, wat ^ they said!
  16. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    Lots of great advice on here already, but just to drive the points home further...

    Play (well) with others!
    The better they are, the better you'll become. Their skill will make it easier for you to play confidently and improve your own chops. If they're nice enough they might even show you some of their own tips & tricks for playing better, faster, tighter.

    Play with the greats
    Finding a song you love and playing along with it is another great way to improve. You have a full supporting band, and a professional bass player to help fill in the gaps. It also helps to develop your ear and musicianship. Inevitably there will be parts in the song where those internet tabs "just don't sound right" and sorting fact from fiction will make you better.

    If you haven't already head over to Scott's bass lessons and learn about wood shedding. It is essential and useful no matter what level player you are.

    Small Bites!
    Another thing Scott repeats a lot, but it's true. Instead of multi-hour marathons do a little bit here and there. When I first got my bass I bought 4 guitar stands. 1 for the living room, 1 in my practice area, 1 in my bedroom, and 1 at our practice space. Everywhere I went I took my bass. If I had a few minutes I'd grab my bass and noodle, or work out lines, or work on technique. Doing this little bit here and there gave me a huge boost when I was first learning to play.

    Keep things in perspective
    When I first started I would hit up youtube and watch guys crank out crazy slap rhythms and insane covers and think I was hopeless (I still am, but that's a separate matter). But there was an important detail that it took me months to learn. All of that stuff looks great, it's really impressive, and downright maddening to try and learn... but if you listen to the radio the bass lines that you'll hear are simple, elegant, almost understated. I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to play as fast and intricately as possible. But I didn't become a "good" bass player until I settled down and learned how to play clean, clear, and within the spaces my other band members created. The bass (typically) isn't meant for flash, it's meant for foundation. If you can make a rock solid foundation everyone you play with will be better, and your music will sound better. Plus, when you do throw out the occasional fill, or mini-solo it is much more noticeable and "cool".

    (Chaos) Theory
    This is somewhere I have a lot to learn as well. I haven't found any great solutions that are "fun". But for now I'm trying to learn all the standard chords guitar players use. It's a little dull/tedious, but once you know all the individual notes within whatever chord your guitarist is playing it makes it much easier to work around them musically, and avoid playing root notes all the time. I wish I had better advice here, but for me theory is dry, and it's the closest thing to "work" I've encountered in my learning process. But I think that, much like any other "dry" skills (math, computers, etc) once you finally get it down it opens up a lot of possibilities.

    And finally... keep at it.
    Learning an instrument is a journey, not a destination. Try to find ways to keep it fun and interesting. Set little goals for yourself as you go so you can get a sense of accomplishment. There will be times when you get discouraged, just don't let it keep you down. Sometimes the thing that helps me most when trying to work out a new line is setting down my bass and leaving the room for a while. When I come back I'm refreshed, my head is clear, and my hands move better.
  17. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    Most of the time people take up an instrument because they want to play like somebody or play a particular song. Either way it can be frustrating because it doesn't just happen.

    I took up drums at age 10 and didn't even notice how I got better by the time I was in a garage band at age 16. The next instrument I went at in starts and stops over maybe 10 years before I was decent. but limited.
    Now many years later I know taking up bass I may never get as good and I may want to be and I'm ok with that. I'm enjoying how it's going.

    You have time to work this out. I will say it's better to learn to play music that it is to learn one song after another -- just to see the patterns and how songs are constructed. You have a teacher. You're way ahead of most right there.
  18. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    I hated the piano players at my college. Piano players are dorks and showoffs. Bass players get more chicks by a mile. Who cares how good you are! Just keep at it. Seriously, you like it (compared to other instruments) so it WILL become natural and easy. How could you not like it! Its a BASS...oh MAN what could be more awesome?

    Don't rely too awfully much on teachers. Bring things to him/her, don't wait for their take on things. Don't stay with one teacher too long. Theory eventually sucks. Learn to feel.
  19. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    Yeah you say that, and then your friend becomes a professional gamer and who's laughing now uh? who's laughing now?

    Anyway when i started i didn't have access to teachers and i didn't have the patience for theory, i just played the damn thing, made up my own exercises (which looking back were really not that bad...i mean i immediately understood that i should try to make use of all my fingers, that i should try to get used to playing any string in any order and that i should try to get comfortable with the whole of the neck and my exercises focused on all these things, they just didn't teach me theory but who needs it at first when your hand muscles are still are a mess of uncoordination anyway)

    Then i also almost right away started picking songs up by ear and playing along. It was probably lucky the music i liked had proeminent basslines that also happened to not be that hard (well that's relative but you know) and it is possible i was born with a decent ear (though a few months in i realised that some songs i thought i had right, id been playing some wrong notes all along..which means that my ear actually had improved...) I actually did that for some years...that was kinda all i did in fact. And...i think it taught me a lot. If you cant be bothered to learn theory, just copy other people long enough and you'll learn the theory they did! You just wont have a name for it....:p