One really useful bit of advice for young bassist starting out

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Jaygetsreal, Jun 20, 2022.

  1. Please keep this thread sensible - it could become a useful resource for young folks.

    If you were to give a young bassist starting out one bit of really useful advice, what would it be?
    e.g. to help them
    - work successfully in a band
    - save time learning to play well
    - not be hurt or ripped off out there in the big bad world
    - etc
    Dust2Dust and fhm555 like this.
  2. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    Practice your scales. If you learn the scales well it will stay with you forever. If you can learn to site read sheet music.
  3. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Trust no-one.
    Especially folks claiming to have gigs/tours/record deals lined up.
    Drzejzi, jemerpi, Carl320 and 16 others like this.
  4. cxcxcx


    Mar 8, 2019
    Too big of a subject to have only one answer - just indulge me here. Nobody will thank me for this……… but you’ll thank me.

    - Learn songs. Much more important than theory in the beginning. This continues its importance as there’s no audience that will pay to hear modes and scales.

    - Find good gear that works all the time and sounds great. Stick with it. You can’t learn anything about how this instrument works in an onstage situation if you’re changing something every two weeks.

    - If you can’t be a team player, just get out now.

    - Listen twice as much as you talk. Be teachable, and be open to suggestions and working parts out with others that externally process things. You will have to accept that most people out there are going to think they play bass better than you and can come up with better parts than you. Humor them.

    - Cool it with the fast licks, Wooten stuff, and lead bass schtick. Unless you were playing under your own name nobody wants to hear that in an ensemble. If you get a reputation for that stuff you won’t get hired by bands. Many forumites will howl with disagreement with what I just wrote here, with the “creativity” and “who says the bass can’t…” stuff. All I’m asking for you to do is to respectfully consider my point.

    - Be nice to everybody on the way up because you’re gonna see them on your way down.

    - If your locale allows it, find someone who is more experienced, successful, and better than you at what you’re trying to do on the instrument. See if you can study with them, befriend them and ask them advice, or at least model their behavior. This person is called a “Rabbi” other fields of endeavor and is actually quite common.

    - Learn how to listen deeply.

    - 90% of the opinions, assertions, and observations you hear are going to be from people that literally have no clue. They’re more about ego and agenda than actual knowledge. Learn how to discern what is the truth and what makes sense.

    - Network, network, network, and meet people. This business is entirely about knowing the right people and having the right connections. There is also a metric ton of luck involved, so don’t get too disjointed if the planets don’t align. Also don’t mention the “luck” thing to any famous player. Except in rare cases, it will always piss them off.

    - Don’t be jerky.

    - If you look the part, do your homework, are reliable and show up on time, aren’t creepy, play well enough to sound confident, maintain hygiene abd are mostly sober and seem to be a figure that a band or artist can use to further their goals, you’ll do okay.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
    Zonked, Afc70, just_chill and 63 others like this.
  5. Rests are as important as notes on bass.
  6. prowla


    Aug 19, 2004
    What I wish I'd done is learned to read music.
  7. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Don't be a jerk.
  8. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Suspended

    Feb 16, 2011
    As a mostly self taught individual, my first advice is before you buy a bass, find a good reputable instructor (with verifiable references) and sign up. They can save you so much frustration when trying to figure out what bass to buy and how to properly evaluate it’s performance before you lay out the cash.
    In addition, they can teach you good technique, theory, and reading. I taught myself some awful technique then reenforced those bad habits to the point when I did try to correct those bad habits, success was middling at best. Had I learned it right the first time i would be a much better, more well rounded player.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Work hard individually but be respectful of others, everyone is on a different path. Playing in a band at any level means being a member of a team.
    fhm555 and joelns like this.
  10. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    Eventually you are going to want to be in a band, and chances are your bandmates will be inexperienced too. Great, have a good time. But! go to the local jams and play with people better than you. It is the best, fastest way to improve.
  11. Bonafide

    Bonafide The Adventures Of Fusion Chicken Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    Central TX
    Play. Play anything that lights you up at the moment. If it makes you want to pick up the instrument and lose yourself in it, play that. If you get life force from Wooten, Pattitucci, Jaco etc, listen and stretch for that. Follow the excitement. If your joy lies in simple pop, or playing with a pick, or rock and roll then follow that inner hit. It's not permanent, but it is path opening. Lessons, ensembles, etiquette, gear etc will all follow along right next to you as you progress. But you need to play.

    Bottom line, there are no rules just a few guides and some of them less relevant than in the past. Experienced players giving advice are doing it from hindsight and personal value hierarchy, even teachers. It's valuable, but it is only as relevant as the ability to receive the transmission and understand it.

    Early on, play and play and play as much as you can. As soon as you have a question or interest, there will be a long line of available resources today to respond to your unique and personal situation.
    just_chill, ELG60, Nashrakh and 4 others like this.
  12. oaklandthumb

    oaklandthumb Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2014
    @cxcxcx really nailed it!

    As a working bassist for many years now, the two most critical skills that have allowed me to play all manner of gigs have been:

    Learn songs: this teaches you how to groove, where the notes are, the fundamentals of styles (very important) and after years can lead to a large catalogue of songs you can pull out at a moments notice. If you're playing corporate/ cover/ restaurant jazz, this skill is invaluable.

    Learn to read: Yea, I hated it too. At least be able to read jazz charts and chords symbols. Take a couple of years to practice on your own and take gigs that require charts. I started off by marking every note name above the staff and just memorized the rhythms. Eventually you won't have to do that (I still mark ledger lines more than 2 above the staff though). This is where learning style comes in, as often times the bass line written out is just "in a style" and aside from rhythmic hits or unison lines, you can make up your own line in the style that often works better than whatever bassline the arranger slapped on last minute after spending more time on the other instruments.

    Take criticism gracefully, know when you're the weak link in the band, note your deficiencies and always try to fix your mistakes between gigs and rehearsals. Oh yea, play as much as you can with bands. If the gig seems out if your comfort zone, take it, put in the work to meet the standards and you'll be better for it, even if you just barely survive the gig.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
  13. sleddogn


    Sep 8, 2013
    Love My Dogs
    maybe avoid a TB membership....20 years will zoom by..:roflmao:
    Pdaddy1978, Krizz, Hectobar and 10 others like this.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I will keep collecting until I have 40 basses
    retslock, TyBo, Eli_Kyiv and 8 others like this.
  15. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    If you're doing originals at all (even if at the moment you're not writing yourself) learn everything you can about music publishing, copyright, licensing, etc.
  16. BillyRay


    Jan 20, 2008
    Learn to read if at all possible. Invaluable for rhythm and for memorizing the fretboard : I've never been fluent enough to just read any piece of music put in front of me at will, but the years I spent playing trombone in my early teens taught me rhythm and at least a basic grasp of reading that made navigating the fretboard pretty easy. At least easier than just memorizing a zillion fretboard patterns. There are so many shortcuts out there that end up taking more time and effort than just learning how to read, especially now in our world of clickbait youtube videos.

    Have a practice schedule and put the dry/dull stuff first. This is something that I've not always done. I've spent years just learning tunes to add to sets when I was gigging but just picking up the bass after a decade and having a rigid schedule, I feel that my technique is probably better than it ever was, altough I lost of lot of on the fly phrasing or improv sense (which is normal). But it is getting better every day. If I was just noodling around or pulling songs of youtube to learn with no tangible goal since I don't play out anymore, I feel my progress wouldn't have been as fast.

    Always play to a metronome or backing track if at all possible. A lot of people have faulty/bad rhythm when they start out and the faster you can drill that into your system the better you'll be.

    Play every day, even if you only have a few minutes. There's no point in having a 8 hour marathon on Saturday and then not touch the bass for a whole week. Music is a language and you need to practice it or you'll lose it.
    just_chill, 75Ric, dpaul and 2 others like this.
  17. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2020
    Niskayuna, New York.
    Alot of real good advice here that I wish I had years ago. Let me add or expand on a few things.
    Learn why certain notes or patterns work, and sound good. This will involve basic theory. You can ask a keyboard player the difference between a major third and minor third, or how a 6th can be used, or application of a scale in moving between chords. Then, apply that learning.
    Second, listen to recordings of skilled players - they will serve as signposts of where you want to go. And you might pick out certain parts that you can use.
    Finally, you have this vast and deep resevoir of knowledge and experience here in TB. Folks are happy to help with just about anything you throw at us.
  18. Odinbass


    Dec 6, 2006
    Cleveland, OH
    Another vote for ‘learn songs’.
    Pdaddy1978 likes this.
  19. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Don't look at playing bass as a career because you love doing it so much. Find a career that provides you the income to meet your needs, the needs of your future family (if you go that route), allows you to save for retirement, provides good health benefits, and enables you to afford the equipment you desire.

    Then, you'll be freed up to enjoy playing the bass whether you earn any income from doing so or not, and it will continuously be a source of pleasure in your life (hopefully - and I'm sure many who do see it as income enjoy it still).

  20. P-Belly Evans

    P-Belly Evans

    Mar 11, 2021
    What advice could an old codger like me give to a young bass player with access to all the lovely and cheap gear available these days. I know, learn on a POS bass (like I had to). That makes me feel so much better and not bitter at all.

    But really, if you want to develop your chops, stamina and muscle memory asap, a POS bass is your best friend.....for a year or two anyway. Then get GAS and buy 10 good basses which you really don't need but can now play like a badass coz of that POS you sold or traded on the happiest day of your musical life so far......

    You are very welcome....

Share This Page