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Ok hot shots, how do you play the bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TheFrizzleFry, Jun 18, 2001.

  1. TheFrizzleFry

    TheFrizzleFry Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Stinktown, Pa, USA
    I notice a lot of you get pissed because some people use tabs. "Figure it out by ear" you shall say unto them. If these people haven't been playing long and are trying to figure out something that's weird (I dunno, Primus, some Mudvayne) how are they suppose to figure it out. I just don't understand how you figure stuff out. I've only been playing a little over a year, but all I can figure it is really dumb stuff (Theme songs, Salt N' Pepper, etc.). I'm a big Primus fan and all I could figure out was "Southbound Pachyderm". Man, I shouldn't post messages when I'm really tired. I sure hopes this makes sense because I know their is some logic behind it. To sum it all up, HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT STUFF BY EAR THAT IS CRAZY OR JUST IN GENERAL REALLY COMPLICATED?

    P.S. The ravioli fire may be fueled by the escaping gas caps, but that doesn't mean you can wear that fish like this is an arabian skunk movie.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well, this discussion has been done to death, but anyway...

    The point is that if you are just starting out, then Tabs don't actually teach you anything. It's sort of like - put your fingers here. But why, what does this tell you?

    It gives you no idea about how to apply this to anything else and doesn't help you learn about music at all. All you know, is that at one point (vaguely) in a particular song, that bassist put their fingers there.

    If you ever want to create music of your own, then you have to know about why you are doing this and have to have some idea about how music is constructed - tab won't help you with this one iota - so all the time spent with tab is just wasted time - putting off the point where you have to learn something about music - so why not get started as soon as possible?
  3. i don't think it's case of wasted time if it's fun, and coupled with theory.

    when i learn something by tab, which is very rare these days, i can't be arsed to get it of the net, i always question" how is this made up, what shape or pettern does it fit around, what notes am i playing, am i playing a scale, what kind, minor major,

    D dorian, C major, mixolydian, a triad, pentatonic

    and so on, i've not been playing bass for an exceptionally long time, but i feel, if i am to play competantly i must know what i'm playing and why it works, if you can't read bass cleff, i know mines rough, then use the tabs, but don't put it off, if your having trouble with even contemplating reading, use the tabs, but work on scales, triads, chords etc.

    don't feel as if theres a trick to learning by ear, that comes with time, and as far as tab goes, i agree with Bruce it doesn't teach you anything, but when your starting out you just want to play, and thats what it allows you to do, theres no point being a wealth of musical knowledge, but don't have any practial experience

    i'm into Jazz in a big way, and just learning jazz riffs from my bass teacher has helped but i always question why it's played that way, now jazz is a vast and exspresionistic musical form but it's taught me how to ecorporate having fun, playing and learning a bit of theory on the way, if you like jazz learn it, its the best thing i ever did

    have a go at Miles Davis's 'so what' or something by Charlie Parker, but take it slow

    and thats all i have to say about that :)
  4. How do i learn stuff by ear ?
    very simple..

    When listening to music, you automaticly " filter " out the instrument you want to hear... A drummer always listens to the drums, a singer listens to the vocals, a guitarist listens to the bass and ofcourse ( Duh ! :D ) the bassplayer listens to the bass..

    In some songs it's pretty hard to seperate the bass from the rest, but if you listen to the same song over and over again, you'll filter it out eventually...

    And the more often you listen to songs, the easier it gets..

    I also use tabs, as a reference...

    - AdX -
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Actually I suppose the real answer to the question is that you don't start with the really complicated stuff - you start by working out simple lines or whatever you can and build up your skills and your ear gradually, over time. There are no instant fixes and nothing substitutes for experience.

    But, the more you learn about theory, the easier it becomes to work out what a bassist is doing. So if we are listening to something by Les Claypool or whoever -they are going to be using chords and scales that they have learned and worked on over time - all music is built from simple theory and applied in a new way.

    If you learn scales, modes,different rhythms and how they are notated, chords and functional harmony etc. - then it becomes easier to spot what other bassists are doing and play this yourself - or even better make up your own lines influenced by this. But anyway - it's a lifetime's work not a few months not a year, but a continual development of your musical knowledge.
  6. bobaweeka


    Jan 2, 2001
    I agree that tabs don't make you a better musician, but I can see when there would be times that they could help. I mean if you have a gig and somebody in your group springs a song on you the day before or sooner, tabs can tell you what to play, <b>assuming</b> they're correct. If something like this happens you may not have the time figure the whole song out by ear. That's about the only case I can see where they could help you out.

    Oh yeah, some guys buy equipment to replay and slow down songs and pick out the bass parts. Assuming you got $$$
  7. Dallins_gurl


    Jun 11, 2001
    Utah USA
    Hey i have a really bad ear and had the same problem but i found out that my cd player has a balance adjuster. Turn it all the way down and the drums and bass stand out better, that and I have a super bass button that makes them stand out. Or get in your car (If you have a cd player or whatever) There should be buttons or slides that raise and lower treble and bass levels turn the treble all the way down and the bass all the way up and see how that works out for ya
  8. Sure, tabs won't really teach you that much, but if you just want to have fun, what's the harm of that? I'll usually try to figure it out myself, but sometimes I'm lazy and want the shortcut. As for learning by ear, I'd say the first thing to do is figure out the key signature, and then the chord structure. Then once you know that you can figure out the more complicated stuff.
  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Figuring out bass lines by ear is one of the best learning methods you can use! That's how I learned how to play, for the most part. The important thing to remember, when figuring out crazy lines, is to figure out what the bass is really doing;)

    A lot of this simply comes with experience. It was suggested above that as a bassist, you learn to "filter" out the bass guitar. This couldn't be more true! It's called ear training. What it teaches you is how your bass line is structured, how it interacts rythmically and melodically (or harmonically) with other instruments (or voices) in a band situation.

    I'd recommend first sitting down and trying to filter out the bass line. Once you understand it, try to sing the bass line along with the song. See if you understand the structure of it. Then, learn to apply the aforementioned sung bass line to the actual bass guitar. Play it. Get to know it. See if you recognize any patterns, such as scales, the groove, chordal patterns (in no particular order BTW).

    Then, as you get to know the bass line better, you'll begin to understand what you're doing correctly and what doesn't sound quite the same as the original bassist did. You can adjust your bass line accordingly, or realize that the recording bassist played someting that just simply doesn't fit with the song. It DOES happen;)

    If you keep some of these ideas in mind when trying to learn bass lines, your playing will develop even farther:D
  10. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    excuse me... the guitarist listen to the BASS?? i thought they listened to guitar players only and ignore us :) j/k
  11. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    the only harm that i can see is that, after spending months or even years with just tabs, you come back and make a post saying "ok hot shots, how do you play the bass?"

  12. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    I know this subject has been "done to death", but personally, I'm real happy to read this thread. I still have some time yet before I'm able to fund my first bass, and have been wondering about the value of tabs as well as a variety of other things as well.

    I don't know that I'll ever want to create music of my own, but I agree with Bruce's views on the importance of learning theory too, regardless of how anxious I am to just "play something". On the other hand, Tyburn's comments hit close to home too. I'm the kind of person whose motivation is largely affected by his successes and/or progress(perceived or otherwise) and I'm likely to feel a sense of progress if I'm able to produce some reasonably good sounding bass lines early in my learning. And to me, this=fun, so, in addtion to my underlying passion for this instrument, it's more motivation to continue to practice and learn.

    I suppose there's a fine line here involving discipline too, which obviously differs with each person. I'm guessing tabs could actually become a crutch, and at some point interfere with my learning, but as long as I recognize that, I feel somehow enabled to avert the predictable. Nevertheless, I still believe they're a valuable resource.

    Fortunately, I'm blessed with three boys having musical interests, (sax, keyboard, guitar) so hopefully they'll be able to keep "The Dad" on track.

    Ok, I'm rambling now.... Thanks to all for a lively thread.

  13. TheFrizzleFry

    TheFrizzleFry Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Stinktown, Pa, USA
    Ohhhhhhhh :( , if that wasn't true I'd be pissed. :)

    Well thanks for the help, I suppose, and all I have to say about songs that are hard to listen to just the bass is... METALLICA! Well, I suppose I should maybe lay off the Claypool and Geddy Lee for a while and figure out some easier stuff. Maybe some pop rock, because we all know, you don't need talent to be in a pop band :)
  14. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    don't lay off of it, go look for transcription books. there are a bunch of songbooks with _notation_ of practically every rush song.

    i can't emphasize the value of these books enough. grab one and check out how the bass lines and the guitar lines work together.

    learning a cover tune is pretty much worthless if you don't learn something about music in the process. think about it - these songs that your learning, you dig them right? well, learning how these songs are made will help you learn how to make music that you like. standard notation will do this for you - it's got it all there, waiting to be learned - key info, time sig, the various melody and rhythm parts - those sheet music books have it all.

    worked for me :D.
  15. One thing I tell my students.... you have to approach learning with the right attitude. If you start off convinced that it is too difficult, it will be. Take it a step at a time. Don't peek at the last chapter before you've learned the lessons from the 1st. It's easy to become disillusioned if you do it that way. You can't learn to run if you don't know how to walk... and, by the same token, running won't seem like such a daunting task if you know how to walk.
  16. TheFrizzleFry

    TheFrizzleFry Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Stinktown, Pa, USA
    But once again I bring up the point that I am poor, heh, no buying any fancy shmancy Rush Books for me. But something that I can't wait for, this fall I get to go to college and I plan on taking some music courses. I saw something on joining a jazz band and was like, "I need to take this". So the real cool thing about that is, they will teach me the things I know my lazy tab reading ass should know by now. Reading sheet music, a few more scales, and since it's jazz, I'm sure I'll learn more about walking basslines, etc. So I'm pretty happy about that.
  17. You'll be amazed at how much material is available on the internet (for free) that will get you started. Just use the search engines.
  18. TheFrizzleFry

    TheFrizzleFry Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Stinktown, Pa, USA
    Material? Such as "How to read sheet music" or what? Another plus with a teacher is there is going to be someone to say, "HEY YOUR DOING IT ALL WRONG", so that's a plus.
  19. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I think we can boil this discussion down to this:

    Why play by tabs when you can play by ear?

    How do you play by ear?

    (Here's the tricky part...)

  20. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

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