Reading Question.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by 216, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. 216


    Oct 25, 2005
    I hope im posting this in the right spot.

    Im learning to read music from a book right now but there's something I dont understand. How do you know which staff or gap to switch strings? I play a 4 string and sorry if im not useing correct terms. Im pretty sure I understand which note to play, the timeing, and the number of beats. But I have no idea which string its on. The book doesnt really explain it either maybe im just stupid :(

    Any help would GREATLY be appreciated!
  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Go for the most convenient place. If you are learning to read you don't want to make big jumps if you can help it. Worry about timbre later.
  3. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    ^ What he said.

    Try a couple of different ways (or fingerings) - see what is most comfortable - see what leads to the next section easiest - think a little bit ahead to where your gonna want to be on your fretboard (up higher? drop lower?).

    Hope this makes sense
  4. Nevermoore


    Nov 6, 2005
    Let me start off by saying that I may not be the best person to answer your question. I am relitively new to the bass myself, but I do know a little about music. I've been a keyboard and piano player for years. This is one of the things I foud so daunting about the bass. What makes this so difficult is the fact that you can play the exact same note in several different places on the neck. I have a 24 fret bass so there are four places on the fretboard I can play the same E. Choosing which one and on which string for me right now is a matter of conveniance. I generally play whichever one is easiest for me to reach within the piece I'm playing. However I do try to avoid playing open strings as much as I can, I find that not only does it sound better that way but it helps develop technique. While you can have the same note on different strings I have found that the tone is a bit different in each location. If you want a chart of the notes on the neck as the relate to the bass cleff I'd be happy to e-mail one to you. Hope this helps a little...
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well I've been playing a long time and I am qualified to answer this question, and I, pretty much word for word what the other guys here say.
  6. 216


    Oct 25, 2005
    But if I do it whichever is the easiest way then the octaves wont be the same if im trying to play a song correct? How would I fix that later on?
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The specific pitch of the note is in a few different places on the fingerboard. So (as others have said) you have to look at the totality of the phrase you are playing to decide how best to finger it. It may make sense to start on the first finger, it may make sense to start on the 4th finger. It may make sense to play it all in one position, it may make sense to do a couple of position shifts.

    the octave stays the octave no matter what. Where you play it (the position) may change, but the pitch doesn't change.
  8. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    ... and there's a couple of different ways to finger octaves as well. Experiment - have fun - do what feels or sounds good to you.
  9. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    I suggest working frets 1-5 on all strings plus the open strings first. Include 5th fret on the G string - Middle C. You can play 90% of your bass playing down there. After this is comfortable work only frets 5-8 on all strings. This will take you up to Eb above middle C. After you master these two sections the rest will come as needed, but this is the area where most anything you read will be located at. When I read I will usually start in one of these positions as a starting place. If the line is ascending you will naturally work vertically up the fretboard. The more you stay centered in one position the less you will need to take your eye off the page. When the line forces a shift make it and then stay there until the line gives you reason to shift again. Most of all read, read, and read. Pretty soon you will get very good at shifting without needing to look very much at all.

    Hope this helps. All the best,
  10. What this guy said :D
  11. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I started out on upright bass, which caused me to want to play everything as close to the nut as I could. If I were you I'd take this oppurtunity to avoid being caught in the same problem I was.

    Learn the music in as many different positions with as many different fingerings as you can, even if one is obviously better than the others. Then choose which makes the most sense.
  12. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    And if you really want to get wierd about it, you may see music written for double bass with the bass clef, tenor clef, and trable clef, all in one composition.

    They do this to avoid using ledger lines.
  13. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I've never seen bass music in tenor cleff (granted I don't play much classical bass music), but it's great to be able to sight-read both bass and treble cleff, especially if you play jazz.
  14. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I'm getting the impression 216 is not clear what notes are notated in the music (not choosing between the different location(s) to play the notes). Is this correct, 216? If so, most method books will have a key that will show the note on the staff along with the note's name and which string and location they want you to play it (G note, bottome line on the staff in bass clef, E string, 3rd fret, etc.) The old Mel Bay method book I got years ago had a picture showing you where to play the notes on the bass. The lines of the staff where the note is written don't have anything to do with the strings on your bass. I've had some students come in with method books and, maybe because they're used to tabs, thought that the lines on the staff represent the strings on the bass. They were confused about what to play with the notes in the spaces. :)

    A lot of good advice already given if the problem is finding the right notes/positions to play the notes. I think bassline knowledge really comes in to play a lot of times when reading things like bassline transcriptions. Sometimes you can just tell by the type of line where the transcribed player played the line based on your knowledge of other basslines.

    I generally discourage students from using tabs but, if the tabs are correct, sometimes it is interesting for the sake of seeing exactly where someone has played a line in a transcription. Of course, even when using tabs it's nice to have them below the actual music notation.
  15. 216


    Oct 25, 2005
    I think you pretty much got it, I got a few books by Mel Bay also. Mine shows the Tab under the music notation. I was just wondering which string to play without lookin at tab is all. I havent exactly solved the problem yet but im sure I will in due time so im gona worry wit it later.

    Thanks again to everyone for tossin in their 2 cents.