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Reading Tips

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Pattycakes31, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. Pattycakes31


    Aug 21, 2007
    Fairfax, Va
    So i've been playing for about a year and a half and my teacher has been trying to get me to work on reading music and knowing the letters of the frets and all that janks, but I've been more interested in techniques. Any tips on how to go about learning the fret names and how to read sheet music?
  2. Uncle Ernie

    Uncle Ernie

    Mar 10, 2007
    After 18 years playing I finally got myself to get a teacher and learn how to read. He had me reading walking bass lines and I've made good progress in a couple of months. I'm tackling some latin bass lines now to figure out notes that do not fall on the beat... to me, easier by ear than reading, but that's the whole point!
  3. On learning the fret names I would suggest something simple, just say the notes as you play them. Say you're playing an F# (first fret of E string) just say F# out loud as you play it. Not that hard.

    As for reading music, I used a method to remember the notes on the lines and on the spaces. For the lines it is Good Boys Do Fine Always.

    The spaces are All Cows Eat Grass.

    The bottom line on the bass clef would be a G as it is the first letter of the phrase. The next note would be B.

    The bottom space would be an A because it is also the first letter in the phrase. The next note would be C.

    I hope my advice helped and will make reading music easier as it is not an easy thing to do.
  4. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Pitches aren't that hard to get used to reading the hard part is reading rhythms so get a book or two that just focuses on rhythm. A couple I recommed are:

    Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass by Josquin des Pres. It does get into pitch towards the end and has a good playalong CD to test yourself with.

    Then the classic Louis Bellison book Exercises in 4/4.

    Get a metronome and clap all these rhythms before playing them on your bass. I idea is to look at a rhythm and know it the same way you look at these words and know them. Sightreading is a lot about training your eyes to look at the page. To see where the beats are, to recognize rhythmic patterns, to recoginze scale fragments, chords, intervals. Sightreading isn't about quickly figuring all this stuff out and then playing it. Good sightreader (and it take time) usually read ahead of where they are playing typically they read a measure or two at a time. Just like reading a book to someone, you see a group of words then look at the person while speaking, then look again for another group of words.
  5. jweiss


    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
  6. tswd


    Jun 20, 2007
    Reading music is no different than reading English. You get better at it by doing it. Find a sheet music store, buy a bunch of bass music, and have at it.

    When first starting out, I found it was helpful to use something like Guitar Pro to transcribe the tabs. It has a playback feature, so you can try to play it, then have the computer play it and see how you did.

    Transcribing the tabs helps you translate from the sheet music to the fretboard, which is what sheet music lacks. Eventually, you'll just look at a note and know all the different places on the fretboard you can play it. Takes time, though. You're not going to be a good sight reader in the next month or so no matter what you do.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    How I memorized the fingerboard:

    1) memorized open strings EADG
    2) memorized the "dots" up to the octave (double dot):
    3) After that I just used the dots for reference to find the other notes. within a year I had the whole neck memorized.
  8. deckard


    Apr 4, 2003
    I've been fortuante enough to have had an excellent ear as far back as I can remember; however, I recently decided to force myself to learn to read after years of limping along being able to actually read only chord changes and rests from Real Book charts.

    My advice, which I see over & over again here on TB:

    you have to do some reading every day.

    Like any other language, you'll make the most progress by doing it every day, even if it is only for 15 minutes or so.

    It can & will be slow, painful and frustrating - but if you persist it "will" get easier over time.

    Make yourself do it.

    I'm using a book I've never seen mentioned here:

    "The Evolving Bassist" by Rufus Reid.

    Although on the surface it may seem to be mainly for URB players, it has direct & obvious application to bass guitar as well - Rufus even says so. ;)


    Edit/caveat: one thing Rufus makes you deal with is dotted notes, something most of the reading books I've perused somehow manage to avoid for some reason.

    Go figure... or, go tear your hair out like I did trying to make sense of a dotted 16th coupled with a non-dotted 32nd. Yikes! ;)
  9. Pattycakes31


    Aug 21, 2007
    Fairfax, Va
    Thanks to you all, I'll see what I can do with your tips.
    Thanks again.
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    +1 Read lots everyday.
    A lot of music stores have bargain bins where you can get stuff like Hits Of The 80's For Trombone for a couple of bucks. The public library can be a good resource too.
  11. IAmTheDood

    IAmTheDood Shake and Bake

    Dec 15, 2006
    Waterford, MI
    Good tips ..

    but first fret on E string is F, not F# ... E - F is a half step, not a whole one. ;)
  12. Along the same lines, are there any songs that you can find the sheet music to that are beginner level? I've got some advanced stuff (Wooten) on sheet music but if I tried to learn to read on it I would get discourage in a hurry...Any suggestions?
  13. Silas Martinez

    Silas Martinez Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Another source for sheet music is Guitar Pro.

    It has the option to turn off the tabulature, which leaves you with the written music to practice reading from.
  14. tbone409


    Feb 17, 2007
    kenosha, wi
    building walking bass lines is a good book that not only hones your reading skills but also helps you develop thought and movement through chord changes. reading music hasn't been a real problem for me because i played trombone for 4 years before even picking up a bass. That book though really helped me get to know the fretboard.
  15. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    NYC vicinity
    1. First and foremost, you really need to make the decision that learning the names of the notes on the fretboard and learning to read music is IMPORTANT. If you do, you'll be far more likely to actually work on it. Knowing your fretboard by its musical note names is ESSENTIAL. You may not wish to learn how to read music, but personally I believe learning to read music at least a little benefits anyone.

    2. Your teacher ideally should be using a bass method book or other instructional materials to help guide you with these goals. If he isn't I can recommend an excellent bass method book that you can virtually teach yourself with:
    Hal Leonard Electric Bass Method (second edition by Ed Friedland) Vol. 1 (of 3 volumes). You can order it from Amazon.com or Musiciansfriend.com.

    3. You have to make the commitment to WORK on it on an ongoing basis! Sorry, there really aren't any shortcuts, or we'd all be using them!
  16. chuckee


    Jun 9, 2005
    Norfolk, VA

    Dial up http://www.musictheory.net on the olde computer and use its interactive instruction as an aide. Among the lessons, you can find instruction for learning bunches of good stuff on bass, guitar, keyboard, and brass.

    Particularly user friendly (for you) among all its contents is the interactive approach to learning the notes of the fretboard.

    And ITS ALL FREE!!:hyper: :hyper: :hyper:



  17. I highly second this book, but would go further and just recommended getting the collected edition that has all three books plus the CDs, all spiral bound (MUCH easier to keep open when playing). Terrific book. I've been making my way through it off and on and it's great for sight reading, technique development, etc. Even if you have an instructor there's a ton of good note reading exercises in there.

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