Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mike roman, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Ive been playing about 4 years i know about 50 songs by reading tabs (some note for note some only parts of songs) ,i know a little bit of scales a few chords and nothing else, teachers say practice one hour a takes longer to cover all this.What and How should i practice (specifically which techniques,songs,patterns) ? i notice i forget alot of songs i 1st learned when i go back to them.Thank You
    Huw Phillips likes this.
  2. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    My recommendation would be to find a bunch of blues songs to work on. Either a Blues channel on iTunes Music, or equivalent, or Blues playlist on Spotify or just find a Blues channel on youtube and try to play along with whatever comes on. Do some research and find out exactly what a I-IV-V progression is all about- that'll decode about 80% of what you're hearing, and see if you can figure out what key the songs are in. Research, research, research. Tabs are not your friend, at least at this point.
    (BTW- all my kin from my maternal grandmothers side of the family are from Paris, TN! One of my great uncles was the county clerk there for decades. And I spent a wonderful two weeks there before the 8th grade! Small world eh?)
    Whale guy and mike roman like this.
  3. Thanks for Advice sir.I moved down here from Mich.about 10 years ago Its great here.
  4. Sean150


    Jul 18, 2018
    I have been playing for 2.5 years and recently addressed the same issue. I have found the following works

    #1 - Make a practice log. This allows you to make sure you aren’t gravitate to one specific thing or group of songs. I also keep a list of all the songs I know and check them off through the week.

    #2 - Set goals for what you want to achieve and add the tasks to your practice log.

    #3 - Focus on chord tones first as these are what make up most bass lines and therefore will help you understand how the songs you play work, not just memorizing tabs.

    Scott’s Bass Lessons has a pretty good video on how to practice better and, if your a member, you get a list of suggested courses that cover each practice area.

    FWIW I have found his harmonic layering class that was suggested from that video incredibly valuable and has improved my playing in just a couple of months. I’m sure there are many similar courses that cover the concepts if your not a fan of Scott’s.
    Andy V. and filmtex like this.
  5. If you've been playing 4 years and only know 50 songs, that suggests to me, you're choosing songs that are too difficult for your current ability level. Try choosing easier songs, that you can learn in 1 practice session, without TAB. This will give you a feeling of confidence and forward progress. Gradually, your skills will increase, and you can learn more and more difficult songs.
    bassista6 and fearceol like this.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    As has been mentioned, I would advise dropping tab (or use VERY sparingly). Instead train your ear by playing along to simple songs and working out the bass line yourself by trial and error. Yes, it is hard work and takes longer than tab, but in the long term the benefits are huge.

    As for practicing and for how long: regularity is more important than duration, as is WHAT you practice. Half an hour a day EVERY day is better than three or four hours at weekends.

    As for WHAT to practice. Go to the study guide in the link, start at the beginning, and slowly work your way through the lessons as they occur.
    Study Guide | StudyBass
    red_rhino, Andy V. and jallenbass like this.
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Drop the TAB.
    Get a teacher.
    Learn to read chord charts to help
    with learning song forms.
  8. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Yes move away from tab. It's good for learning a specific lick or run, but, not for a whole song. Why? I never could remember all the tab for 35 songs. Yes you will need 35 to 50 songs in your gig book/bag.

    I did not get paid for my music, so it is/was a hobby. It's OK to bring a music stand on stage if they are not paying you. We -- every hobby band I ever played with -- played from fake chord sheet music, with a music stand on stage. So move away from tab and give fake chord a try.

    Google can find most any song you may want with these search words; chords, name of the song.

    The Blanks - Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Chords)

    Follow the chords and play notes of the chord. I know, which notes? Normally the 1-3-5 plus the 7. The 8 and 6 are a safe bet.
    C = 1-3-5
    C7 = 1-3-5-b7
    Cmaj7 = 1-3-5-7
    Cm = 1-b3-5
    Cm7 = 1-b3-5-b7
    And the ole 1-5-8-5 will always be safe except under a diminished chord, and how many of those do you really ever see?

    Fake chord will give you the lyrics so sing the song under your breath so you are in sync with the vocalist, who you are providing a bass line (harmony) for. Getting started roots to the beat will get you asked back for most good ole boy bands. Yes add more chord tones into your bass line as you progress.

    Roots to the beat will play a lot of music. One more point, no one is going to tab out a selection for you, but the director will hand out fake chord sheet music to everyone in the band. We take that and turn it into music.

    Even the keyboard gets fake chord - and he follows the chords, faking the tune.

    Good Luck.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
    mike roman likes this.
  9. Sean150


    Jul 18, 2018
    I wouldn’t say to drop tab entirely. It is a really useful tool if you are learning note for note and need ideas for fingering; however it is just a tool so you should also know why You are playing what you are playing. You should be able to play off of chord charts, TAB and standard music notation (bonus points for reading both bass and treble clefs).
  10. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    Get in a band and play out. 1 gig is worth 6 practices.
    lfmn16 and Bunk McNulty like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Talking Bass and Scott's Bass Lessons both have excellent theory sections. Take some video lessons on scales and chords. It will open up the language of music for you and unlock your fretboard.

    Your playing could be "next level" in a matter of a few months.
    joshmmorrison and mike roman like this.
  12. I highly recommend an app called Yousician. You learn at your own pace, and can start at whatever level you feel comfortable with. They teach reading music with notation, & tablature and teach theory for bass, guitar, keys, uke and vocals. You can learn by studying popular songs or scales and theory. Or all of it at once. You can use it 10 minutes a day for Free, until you decide if you want to subscribe.
    mike roman likes this.
  13. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I've been playing 45 years. I can tell you a couple things.
    - Practicing without a goal is wasted time.
    - Goals don't have to be impressive. Maybe just increasing tempo 5%, or a new scale/key. Or a middle part of a song.
    - Private teachers are worth it. IF... you realize that a private teacher works for you. Don't try to find a teacher that will 'motivate' you (if you aren't motivated to play bass or play music, do something else). Don't waste your time with a teacher who is a showboat and tries to impress you with some fancy thing they can do (most of that stuff is just party tricks anyway).
    - Time is the backbone of everything, every style, every technique. There is no such thing as 'the right note at the wrong time'. Tone will never make up for bad time. Time is everything. Music with bad timing is like viewing the Mona Lisa in total darkness.
    - Making a small bit of progress every day is WAY better than doing something once a week.
    - Get goal. Work for it.
  14. All good advice given so far, but I especially agree with what fearceol said, "Half an hour a day is better than multiple hours on the weekend."
    This is how I practice: I try to practice for at least 20 minutes to more than an hour almost everyday.
    I say almost everyday, because I find that if I practice four or five days in a row, then take a day or two off, my playing seems to get a little better after the break.
    And, I play the same boring portfolio of songs until I get them perfect.
    I've been at songs like, "The Lemon Song" by Led Zeppelin, and, "Spain," by Al Jarreau.
    I also practice some standard Blues and Jazz patterns until I want to scream, but I keep at it for two reasons: I love music, and playing, and I read that as a person ages, two things that help keep the mind sharp are, crossword puzzles and playing a musical instrument.
    Next on my list: I'm going to try, "Rhythm Stick," by Ian Dury.
    One of the hardest and fastest bass lines I can think of.
    Keep at it, and never give up.
    Give yourself a break every now and then.

    Good luck. :thumbsup:
    mike roman, JRA and fearceol like this.
  15. baileyboy


    Aug 12, 2010
    You didn't mention if you gig or not. If you are just learning/practicing to improve your skills, I recommend practicing scales, patterns, etc. Take regular lessons from a pro and/or go online and see what others have to offer that can help you improve.

    I do gig regularly, and so here is my fail-safe routine... my practice routine is very regimented. Set list songs are in plastic sheaths laid out alphabetically in a binder. I practice no less than 5 songs daily (sometimes more), each song given equal time, even if I've played it a million times. When I get through the binder, I start over. No noodling, no wasted time, 20-25 minutes daily. Sound boring to you? My end goal is to get through gigs playing the songs well, with no mistakes. So far this method has worked well for me.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Huw Phillips likes this.
  17. I had a teacher who gave me six categories every lesson:
    • Ear training
    • Reading
    • Repertoire
    • Rhythm training
    • Technique
    • Theory
    This worked great for me.

    Maybe figure out what each means to you and divide your practice as such.

    Good luck!
    elberon, lfmn16 and mike roman like this.
  18. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    You should avoid tabs like the plague... you will learn absolutely nothing from them. Instead, learn songs by ear. And if you don't know how to read music, find a music teacher (not necessarily a bass teacher). Good luck.
    mike roman likes this.
  19. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    All good advice. The only thing I would add is that if a teacher wants to just teach you songs, run like a rabbit. They should be teaching you how to play the bass. Once you can play the bass, you can teach yourself how to play songs.
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  20. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I have a pretty different take from most of the replies. Caveat - there is no right approach, just what works for each person and their goals. I hardly ever work on learning songs. For me, that's the easy part - look up the part (notation - I hate TAB, it takes too long and is often wrong), play along with the song, make sure that I am really familiar with the tune before I play it. Most of my practice is on fundamentals - scales (2 octaves, various forms and tempos), arpeggios, lots of time reading music. Hand strengthening exercises. Lots of exercises from various method books. I mostly play upright bass these days and its much harder so most of my practice time is on the upright. For me, its worked out to be much more important to have solid chops and a thorough knowledge of the fingerboard.

    For learning songs, I depend on chord charts. There's too many songs in a band repertoire to know them all by heart. Sometimes (most of the time) all that I need to do is glance at the chart as a reminder. But I can learn a song really quickly if I have a chart to use to play along with.

    I rely on some internet learning sites, but mostly as supplemental material. I prefer a method book that I can work through methodically. I find most of the online stuff to be either too disjointed or not detailed enough. When I was playing mostly electric bass, I spent alot of time with a book called "serious Electric Bass" by Joel Bartolo. Hard stuff but I worked at it. A few pages a week was all that I could do.

    On your post - in my opinion, an hour a day is plenty of time for practice. But for me, maybe 5-10 minutes of that would be on songs, the rest on technique.
    mike roman and 31HZ like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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