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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by aljbass91, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. aljbass91


    Mar 25, 2009
    i just recently bought a bass and amp. i always have been attracted to the sound, and have been desperate to know how to play music for the past few years. i am 17, and kinda think i'm too late to be starting out, though i believe music is a lifetime practice that can be taken up at anytime. i'm very intimidated to start out though. i went out to the library and took out a few books about bass method, skills, theory etc, and found them very daunting. they're filled with with crowded notation that looks like japanese to me. the internet is useful i guess, though has much of the same stuff. on top of that, i have no friends who play bass, and i can't afford lessons, as i'm saving money for a car, and college next year. i have NEVER played an instrument, i'm basically at the level of an infant. but i do believe i have the dedication, and especially desire to learn how to play.

    what steps can i take to gradually learn? i want to get good, fast - though i understand that it will take much time. but trust me, i have no problem taking 1-2 hours everyday out of my hectic, teenage life to practice. i just want to make sure that, since i'm pretty much self-teaching myself, that i'm doing it the RIGHT way. do i direct most of my time to scales, arpeggios, and theory? would i be better off learning to play by ear? tabs? EVERYTHING. i want to know it all. basically, i would like to know a good, solid, practice routine, that can help me learn gradually, but at a quick pace if possible. and most importantly, i dont want to be just another kid with dreams of being a rockstar - shattered by intense, hard practice that will discourage me and make me wanna quit. is it possible to work with this routine, but make it kinda fun instead of rigorous?

    any advice, tips, insight or WHATEVER is appreciated. remember, I AM A TOTAL NOOB, so even the most simple or redundant "advice" would help.

  2. GianGian


    May 16, 2008
    A good first step would be learning about steps and half steps and the notes on the neck. You have to know all the notes on all the neck. That will take some time. Also, learn some simple songs, so you won't get too bored.
  3. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Have you ever sung in a choir? In school?
  4. Menace


    Mar 4, 2009
    As the previous poster said, I would learn the basic notes on the neck, at least the first 5 frets. Then play along with songs on a CD.

    The one piece of advise I will offer is this: there are no shortcuts. There is no substitution for time playing. The more you play, the better you'll become. After learning the basic note structure, learning by ear will take you far.

    Don't get discouraged. It takes time.
  5. bassman1987


    Dec 1, 2008
    Denver, CO
    +1, Make sure you learn the entire fretboard, that will really boost your confidence when it comes time to play fills, solos, etc.

    Also, learn to read music, not just tabs. Being able to read will get you so many more gigs down the road, and I've found that sight-reading unfamiliar music has made me a much better player.
  6. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    ime the basic building blocks of bass lines are, in order of increasing complexity:

    the root note
    root + fifth
    arpeggios (major, minor) ie root + third + fifth ( + seventh)
    pentatonic scales (major, minor)

    even when you master the most complex stuff, a lot of what you play will probably be subtle variations on the simple stuff. a lot of great music rocks out on just the root note or just the root and fifth.

    ooo and play with other people whenever possible
  7. jvollrath


    Sep 11, 2008
    Athens, GA
    I started the same way when I was 12. No musical experiance at all.

    My first break through was actually learning how to tune my bass.

    I gradually learned simple songs and learned to play by ear from that.

    From there is when the music reading, theory, scales, and arpeggios came in. You will realize that you already knew how to do all that "stuff", you just didn't know what to call it or why you would play those certain notes.

    Enjoy the learning experiance. Don't rush things. One day something will just click and you'll have it.
  8. Go buy guitar hero and/or rock band.

    Play the heck outta' guitar hero and/or rock band - like 1-2 hours a day. Bass parts if the songs allow.

    Note - this will not teach you how to play bass. This will teach you TIMING.

    Along with your 1-2 hours of guitar hero / rock band, play bass for 1-2 hours a day. Explore the instrument. Get used to the weight and the way the motions are. Figure out what all the little gadgets do. Watch a lot of bass players (names can be found in a billion places on this site).

    Now, after two weeks of that, go find a teacher. Teachers can give you the basics and get your technique started. If you can't afford a teacher, offer to wash someone's car or walk their dog for lessons. Or go sit in your local guitar center and just pester other players to show you stuff.

    Check back in a month for more advice.
  9. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Focus on getting a feel for the instrument first, co-ordinating your fingers, playing across strings, learn some punk songs, search some beginner Youtube stuff to check your left and right hand technique (or just take 2 or 3 lessons to start)...Honestly Guitar Hero is not a bad idea either...It really does force you to have killer timing and as it gets harder you really have to learn to feel the song in order to hit some of the riffs.

    After that if I where you I would do something from each of these categories every week...

    1) Patterns/Scales/Arpeggios (arpeggios are chords played one note at a time) Play these 1 a week until they are burned into your brain, do not learn more than one a week, the idea is to drill each one many times. Play them bottom to top, top to bottom, up and down, down and up. You should be able to find fingerings/tab/notation for all of these easily...I know they have a scale/arpeggio finder at http://activebass.com

    a) Major chord, Minor Chord, Major 7 chord, Dominant 7 chord, major 6, Minor 7, Diminished chord, Augmented chord...later you can do inversions (once you know what they are ext.)

    b)Major pentatonic scale, minor pentatonic scale, major scale, minor scale, blues scale, all the modes.

    2) Learn a Song Learn some songs, from tab or sheet (Bass Tab White pages is a 20 dollar book with 101 bass tabs/sheet music in it) You can also just scour the internet or buy album books by your favorite players (Rage Against The Machine has a bass book out there that I loved to play when I started at 17). Also you don't have to memorize, just be able to play it with sheet/tab. Also try to pay attention to the song structure and chord progression (once you understand what that is).

    3) Learn some theory

    a) Learn all the notes on the neck and how they repeat (Ie: I can play an A on the 2nd string open, the 1st string 5th fret, the 3rd string 7th fret, the 4th string 2nd fret...ext. This will naturally start to make more sense when combined with scale and chord practice.

    b) Learn how to count/read rhythm (its just simple fractions, there are tons of books that will help you). Start slow.

    c) Learn to read notes (not as hard as it looks, again plenty of books and websites http://teoria.com You need to know the notes on the neck before you can read though.

    d) buy a theory book and start learning about how scales and chords are formed, what intervals are, what inversions are, what a chord progression is. you can also take a theory class in HS or college that will teach you to read music as well as basic music theory.

    4) NOODLE! take the scales and chords you are working on and start trying to use them, give them rhythm (rhythm is the difference between an arpeggio and a groove, there are only 12 notes there are infinite rhythms), go crazy and try anything. Try to play with drum tracks for inspiration, keep it simple and fun. For me noodling is the time when everything else clicks into place. Eventually noodling will turn into jamming with other musicians and it will still serve the same purpose, only you'll learn a whole lot more real fast.

    Also check out http://studybass.com It will cover a lot of the basics, how to write a simple line, parts of the bass, role of the bass, and some of the scales and chords you need to know.

    Also if you can join your school band or choir or both do it...They will teach you to read music for free, and some music teachers will give you the basics on how to play as well.
  10. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have a totally different viewpoint than what most have said. I started playing when I was 19, about 3 years ago, in much the same situation as you. I completely taught myself to play. I have no knowledge of musical theory, don't know the notes on the fretboard, but I've been told by many people that I have great ear training. I started learning simple song tabs, playing along with them on my computer. Rage Against the Machine is a great start, as the basslines are awesome but usually very simple. If not for RATM may have given up right from the start. Continued learning songs, slowly moved away from tabs and started tabbing songs out on my own by ear. Then just started putting on Zeppelin live bootlegs and jamming on 25 minute Dazed solos and whatnot.

    Once you get technique and ear training down, you can start jamming with guitarists and drummers and your skill rises astronomically. Thats my 2 cents, I'll probably get bashed for not having any technical or classical knowledge of music, but whatever. I feel like I have a better feel for the music the way I trained myself.

    Edit: I re-read what I wrote and realized it sounds rather amateur. I'm at a level now where I can pick up a jam in rock, blues, funk, reggae, or metal, all by just listening to those around me. A guitarist can play a riff and I can pick it up by ear within 20 seconds, and know which direction to go in when the jam changes. Its all in the ear training, and though Ive wanted to do serious theory study, I just dont have the time/commitment (I'm a fulltime college student, work 2 part time jobs and try to jam at least 2 nights a week with people.) I was inspired to play bass by more eccentric and nontraditional players like Les Claypool and Flea, and various videos by them (Flea's Master Sessions on YouTube is great) have inspired me to take this approach towards the instrument. When I try to study theory it turns into work; playing bass is pure joy to me.
  11. aljbass91


    Mar 25, 2009
    thanks this is all good advice, and i do play rock band. lol

    i was wondering if anyway had any suggestions for an hour long practice routine? like how should i divide my time for different parts of practicing? half an hour theory, 15 mins song learning, 15 min physical exercises? etc. thats not my own suggestion, just an example.
  12. Hour long practice for a beginner, I would focus a half-an-hour on hand coordination (scales, licks, exercises), and half an hour on learning songs.

    My other advice is not to get caught up in the hype of advanced techniques - tapping, slapping, popping - there'll be a time for that.

    Get your timing down, train your ears and your mind, master the fretboard, learn some songs... then you can worry about the other stuff.

    (oh yeah - and buy guitar hero... it works, I tell ya... It works!)
  13. faiz0802


    Mar 24, 2009
    London, UK
    1) Learn the basic notes. The natural notes are A,B,C,D,E,F and G. The accidentals are the sharps and flats. A#(pronounced A-sharp) is higher than A and lower in pitch than B, and is also called Bb(Pronounced B-flat). Same goes for C#/Db, D#/Eb, F#/Gb, G#/Ab.
    Not that there is no accidental between B-C and E-F. You don't have to learn flats at this point, but it always helps to keep a mental note. So, the final order with sharps and flats resp. is:

    A - A# - B - C - C# - D - D# - E - F - F# - G - G#
    A - Bb - B - C - Db - D - EB - E - F - Gb - G - Ab

    1) Learn these notes on the bass. The 13-24 frets are relatively the octaves of the first 12(open strings are 13th fret's octaves and so on). The bass is perfectly symmetric, so if u notice a pattern between octaves, ie, the same notes on the fretboard, that pattern's going to be repeated everywhere on the fretboard.

    2) Use a metronome. It helps keep a steady time and builds good timing as well. Start slow, make sure you're playing clean and consistently. Increse the pace as you get better.

    3) Learn the intervals in a scale. A major scale has the pattern WWHWWWH (W= whole step = 2 frets, H = Half step = one fret)
    That way a C Major scale would be:
    C <W> D <W> E <H> F <W> G <W> A <W> B <H> C

    Play this on one string, then 2, then 3 and then four. This will not only help u learn the scale build familiarize u with the fretboard as well. There is no dictated rule as to how a scale can be played. Once again, if u notice a pattern repeating anywhere, it will symmetrically repeat itself all over the fretboard for other scales as well.

    Once u get the hang of this, you can apply this to all the other 11 notes and get their major scales. There are patterns for other scales as well, but all that is for later.

    3) In due time, find a drummer and jam. The only thing better than having a drummer to jam with is the whole band. [;)]

    Hope that helped. Cheers.
  14. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    The first thing you have to realize if you want to be serious about learning is that there is no fast track. There are no short cuts, only time and discipline. Sorry, wish there was a faster way, but there just isn't. Putting in the time is what separates the artists from the wanna-be's, so choose your camp.

    I've been a drummer for many years but just picked up the bass about 9 mos. ago and I've recently been working out of an excellent book.

    It's called "Bass Method" written by Ed Friedland and published by Hal Leonard. It's got three sections and starts things off very easy and takes you through the learning process in a very efficient manner. This book has helped me immensely and I can't say enough good things about it. I highly recommended it.

    Here's a helpful study hint: Don't move past any exercise until you have fully mastered it. Once you've got it completely down then move on to the next one but not before. If you do this for the entire book you will be amazed at your progress by the end, I guarantee it.

    If you find yourself getting burned out on the theory/book study then turn on some music and jam. Alternate the two to keep yourself fresh and interested in process. Once the pieces start to come together it will all be worth it and you'll be glad you did. Have fun!
  15. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I can't believe nobody has mentioned the 2 other crucial pieces of gear he should get:

    1.) a Metronome -accurate tempo is necessary, and this is the best way to develop your internal tempo, tho not as fun as rock band...
    2.) a Teacher -I realize you want to be self taught, but you also seem dedicated, and ought to realize that nothing on Talk Bass will compare to being face to face with a knowledgeable instructor, who can observe your and correct your technique, answer your questions directly, and help you learn both what you want and what you need.

    other than that, I'd say find people to play with, especially superior players willing to take you on : the best learning experience is on the job, right?
  16. faiz0802


    Mar 24, 2009
    London, UK
    ^Er... i already mentioned a metronome dude, but yeah, i missed out on the teacher part. I'm self taught, so i wouldn't know... does having bassist friends who play better n offer guidance once in a while count?
  17. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Check out the link in my sig. Read/study the newbie section.

    Try to learn to play some songs. Play music. Keep a positive attitude. Most of all, have fun.
    But you do have to put in time. More time=more learning=more improvement. We've all been there.

    Many TBr's own a Tascam Bass Trainer that allows you to slow down songs, repeat sections and other features to help with learning. You may want to check it out.

    If you stick with it, you'll be able to get on stage soon.
    You'll love it and never look back.

    17 is not too old. Age is just a number.
    Just get going 'cause none of us is getting any younger. ;-)

    Good luck.
  18. aljbass91


    Mar 25, 2009
    yeah i want to invest in a metronome. i've never used them before and dont really know how they work. i have $80 to spend on one, what kind do you recommend?
  19. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    It's gotta be fun!
    If you are like me, just hitting the books and trying to understand all of the music theory stuff, Sucks! It is important sure, but there has to be some cool rocking involved or it just gets old and boring (like math class).

    My advice (for what it's worth):

    Get a tuner and learn how to use it, nothing is worse than trying to figure out something on an out of tune instrument.

    Work out some easy songs that are burned into your brain (happy birthday, twinkle twinkle little star, ect).

    DO, RE, ME, FA, SO, LA, TI, DO . Everybody has heard that! - Figure it out everywhere on the neck. (It's important, believe me!) just do it, you will thank me later.

    Check out bass covers on youtube, watch how those guys play it, and try it on your own.

    A Tascam bass trainer is pretty cool for learning songs. It Boosts bass so you can hear what's being played, loops sections so hear them over and over, and has some other features that are fun to play with.

    Instead of buying just a metronome, I would consider a cheap multi-effects processor like a Digitech BP50, BP80, BP200. A pretty cool gadget that makes your bass produce different sounds. they also have some pre recorded drum beats that you can play along with, a metronome, and a built in tuner.
    I like them because they are fun to play with, and keeps things interesting. Because really... if you ain't into it, you ain't going to do it!

    Like everybody else has said already - nothing beats putting in the time playing. Whatever makes you want to keep your bass in your hands longer will make you better .

    Start with simple songs first. Trying to nail YYZ right off is going to be frustrating and discouraging (IE: sucks). Same for Wooten, Claypool, Flea, Geddy ect.. None of those guys started off where they are today, they all had to learn to walk before they could run. You are going to have to too!

    Check out the website: www.studybass.com ! The fretboard diagram will show you notes, chords, scales, in a pretty easy to figure out format. Play around on that site for a while, there is really some good stuff on there.

    Whatever else, keep it interesting and FUN! otherwise...what's the point, Right?

    (what kind of music are you into right now?)
  20. SmittyG


    Dec 24, 2003
    Texarkana, Texas
    It's too early for the metronome. I would use that money and buy some one on one time with a qualified bass instructor to get your basic mechanics off on the right foot. Otherwise, you are going to spend 1-2 hours a day mastering poor technique and then have to go back and clean the stuff up later. (And I'm speaking from experience on this one. And it was NOT fun unlearning two decades of slop.)

    As for your age, I didn't pick up bass until I was 18. I have a student who just started playing a few months ago--he's 56. There is no such thing as "too late" as long as you are still above ground.

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