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Nooby starting to play bass. Please help!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by aznb0y1113, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. aznb0y1113


    Dec 5, 2011
    Hello, guys. I'm new to the forums, so I don't know the layout of everything and whatnot. I'm also new to playing the bass, and I don't know where to start! I hope that fellow members, teachers, and awesome players can give me some advice for me on what to work on.

    About myself
    Previous instrument: ex-piano player who played for 7+ years (not very well, though. I just recently learned all my scales and how to play correctly/cleanly)
    Current bass: Left-handed Fender Mexican Jazz Bass, 4-string; played for a couple of weeks
    Occupation: A pre-med student in a university, so I don't have much time to dedicate for the bass.

    Knowledge of music theory
    Scales: I know all of the major/minor scales and their key signatures. I haven't applied all of them on the bass yet (Doing my major scales for the time being, about to move onto F# major).I don't know what "dorian" or "myxolyodian" are and how/when to start them, and how much time that I can dedicate to them. I have no idea what modes are and how much time that I should spent on them as well.
    Chords: I have some slight ideae on what a E#7 (and augmented, diminished, etc.), but I don't know how many chords that I should learn in a day and in what order.
    Style: I only know classical pieces from piano. I kinda lack the creative thought of improvising but am trying to work on it. I never played jazz or blues before.
    Notes: I can read notes, piano keys (you guys ever heard of Synthesia?), and tabs very well. I cannot read chords.
    Ear-training: I AM TERRIBLEEEEEEE at it. This is my biggest regret in piano; I wish that I started with my last piano teacher when I was young. So far, I'm resorting to good-ear.com for ear-training, but if you guys have any other tips, please give me your advice.
    Terminology: I know basic terms, like Adagio and Vivace, for piano, but I barely know guitar terms, like hammer-ons, etc. Is there a nice dictionary/lesson plan to learn these terminologies?

    Other accessories:
    Amp: Have a basic amp.
    Strap: Don't have any.
    Metronome: Don't have any. Should I get one?
    Suggestions: Please give me suggestions on what accessories/equipment that I should get to make me better.

    My daily schedule for piano was like this:
    Practice my piano finger (Czerny) exercises and all major, minor, minor harmonics, and minor melodic scales (around 1-2 times each; going up and down and sometimes doing variations of them) and my piano finger exercises for 20 minutes.
    Then, worked on different pieces (usually 2) and dedicated about 20-40 minutes each for them (depending on how many pieces that I'm working on).

    That's my hour per day at my peak of piano in high school, but I might have to condense my practices to 30 minutes per day, now that I'm in college. Do you guys have any suggestions on my schedule? So far, it takes me about:

    20 minutes to work on scales and finger exercises on bass.
    40 minutes working on singing and playing bass at the same time. If you guys have any advice for practicing in singing, please tell me! I know that sight-singing is a very valuable skill and requires some ear-training T^T Please give me your input and knowledge of your experiences. Thank you!

    I'm not really sure what direction that I should go for bass. Should I buy a bass learning book? Do you guys recommend any?

    (Also, for extra information, I'm returning to parent's house in winter break, so I'm going to be jamming with the piano and might play around with my brother's guitar).
  2. Scales are great for knowing how to get around on the fretboard and being able to identify a good sound from a bad sound, however, scales are primarily for melody and the bass is an accompaniment instrument. In a band setting you will not be getting solo breaks for quite some time. My point; Do your scales and modes as an exercise, but, concentrate on chord tones into muscle memory right at first. Picture is worth a thousand words. Norah Jones - Cold Cold Heart - YouTube Sounds like some generic chord tones to me.
    As mentioned above, chords, and chord tones are what we play from 80 to 90% of the time. So you need to be able to know what chords you will be playing under. Which brings up what sheet music will you be using? 1.) Standard notation bass clef. 2.) Fake chord or lead sheet, or, 3.) Guitar/Bass tabs. That depends on the style of music you will be playing. With Rock, Country or Pop finding standard notation bass clef is sometime almost impossible, however, fake chord and or lead sheet music is rather easy to find. Problem here is neither show the bass clef, they do have the chord name listed - so you need to be able to see the chord name and then know what notes are in that chord - Chord Formulas It's not rocket science, a major chord will have the 1-3-5 scale degrees aka chord tones and a minor chord will have the 1-b3-5 chord tones in it's makeup - so you can use those notes in your bass line. What's a bass line? The Birth of a Bass Line
    Building Walking Bass Lines - Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, Ed Friedland - Google Books Which brings us to the next question.
    Here is a dictionary of terms. Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary I do not use Synthesia, I do, however, play "chord piano accompaniment" which looks pretty much like Synthesia. Tabs I use only to see how a specific phrase can be made, I look at (or assume)what chord is being used and then develop a bass line from the chord's notes. As for the rest of your question, you've got a lot of fundamentals to get into your gig bag before you need to worry about most of them.
    You'll need a strap and an electronic tuner, a guitar stand and a music stand come in handy. My music is all Country and Country has lyrics (vocals) so my metronome is the vocalist or the drummer. IMO my job is to augment the vocalist, i.e. she/he sets the rhythm, I adapt to the rhythm they set and then I keep them on track with a steady beat. That is not the way it's supposed to work, but, that's the way I do it.
    Sounds about right. Scales and Chord tones into muscle memory is a good warm up then two songs make since.

    Hard to play melody and sing melody at the same time. Easy to sing melody and play simple harmony. How detailed is your bass line going to be. Right at first be happy with simple. Roots and Root-Five Roots And Fifths. Sing under your breath and try to keep up with the music. When you can - sing out loud. Good luck, this is going to take some time.

    Get a teacher. With your piano experience sitting with another bassist for a couple of weeks - to get how to hold your instrument, how to tune it, etc. should be enough. Course the more time you spend with an instructor the faster it will come. Spend some time with Online Bass Lessons at StudyBass.com and the book Bass Guitar for Dummies will have value.

    Jamming is great fun. Simple bass lines right at first. Follow the chords and be happy with root on 1 and 3. Google some fake chord sheet music for the chord progression, i.e. Google - (guitar chords, "name of the song").

    Have fun.
  3. Mattosaur


    Jan 21, 2011
    A metronome is absolutely essential. Practicing to a metronome is a key component of developing your internal rhythm. I'd say a metronome is the second most important piece of gear a practicing bass player can own (after the bass, before the amp).
  4. Play around with stuff you like, its what I've been doing for two years, building technique, muscle memory and timings, now starting up with my final school years of music. :eek:
  5. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
  6. niels125


    Aug 11, 2011
  7. finfrocka


    Jul 12, 2005
    San Diego
    For me personally, I learned a lot about chords through Ed Friedlands "Building Walking Basslines". The book is geared toward walking the bass over chord changes (playing quarter notes that follow the chord and lead you to the next chord) relative to the 12 bar blues (in a jazz setting) and over some jazz standards. While you might not be into either jazz or blues, all of the information in this book is applicable to all music. This book will also help you with modes and how to choose a mode to use while playing over any given chord.

    Once you get comfortable with the neck and start seeing where the notes are I think this would be a great book, especially since you can already read bass clef.
  8. aznb0y1113


    Dec 5, 2011
    Thank you all for your help. I am truly grateful for all of this information! I do have some questions, though.

    What exactly are fake chords and lead sheets?

    I don’t have money for a teacher (and my parents won’t invest in one), so are Study Bass, Bass guide for dummies, and other books enough?

    Lastly, if anybody played classical bass, what book is good to buy? I'm planning to also continue to play by music notation.
  9. Dude, just Google the TAB for your favourite tune and start rocking.

    Buy a metronome and a strap.

    Play everyday.

    Have fun.
  10. finfrocka


    Jul 12, 2005
    San Diego
    The fake books are a reference tool for jazz standards. For jazz players, if they don't know a song from memory the fake book outlines the most basic version of the song.

    As per the books you listed I haven't checked anything out. With your piano training I don't think you will NEED a teacher. But a basic beginners book will get you familiar with the physical aspects of playing bass which are important. Such as keeping a straight wrist on your fretting hand, proper fingerpicking techniques and the like. Also a beginners book can help you get acquainted with the notes on the fretboard. I learned out of a mel bay book for the basics. It was a highly boring book but it had a plethora of essential knowledge that is easier to have it presented to you rather than correcting bad habits/figuring things out on your own.

    The biggest thing that gets overlooked though is that you need to just sit down and play A LOT. Nothing is going to help you as much as playing frequently and jamming with others.
  11. Fix it...and +1 :D
  12. Personally, I like the Hal Leonard books done by Ed Friedland. They will teach you how to read music in the bass clef too. There is a DVD that you can get to suppliment the book/CD set and it seems to be pretty helpful to show you how things are done if you want to actually SEE a teacher demonstrate things and explain them to you.

    I'm not affiliated with Hal Leonard or Ed Friedland but I have used study materials that Ed has written and I find him to be a very good teacher.

    As the others have said, buy a metronome and use it. :bassist:
  13. aznb0y1113


    Dec 5, 2011
    Thanks, again, for your input! I'll look into Ed Friedlands' (his name seems to pop up a lot so far) books and other online material to learn how to bass.

    Regarding ear-training, are there other options to practice besides good-ear.com? It is quite difficult to learn by ear for me, especially when the bassline is too low and blends into the background music.

    I like to address this statement. I know that practice and fun makes perfect and motivation, but googling tabs is not going to help me much :/ Some tabs are either too easy or too difficult for me to play. That's why I ask for others' advices to know where to start off.
  14. You asked what are fake chord and lead sheet.

    Fake chord
    Cold Cold Heart by Hank Williams - guitar chords, guitar tabs and lyrics - chordie
    Just the lyrics and the chords used under the lyrics. Basic bare bone information that the musicians pass among themselves. From that you are expected to fake it.

    Lead sheet
    Musicnotes.com: Unsupported Browser or Operating System
    Treble clef is added and you now have the melody for your lead solo.

    Neither have the bass clef so you have only the name of the chord that is active. How you take that information and compose a bass line is left to you.
  15. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
  16. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Simandl "wrote the book" on classical bass method. It's double bass /bow focused stuff, but great for reading practice.
  17. Mambo -- your picture. Are you playing a harmonica?

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