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Recently started bass...questions!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by FootAJ, Mar 18, 2008.


  1. FootAJ

    FootAJ

    Mar 17, 2008
    Hey all! I'd like to start out and thank all the members of this forum for providing me with hours upon hours of reading and information. This place is filled with so much information it's crazy. So thanks!

    Anyways, I recently picked up bass by borrowing a bass from a friend who no longer played it. I used to play guitar (if you can call it that!), so I caught on pretty quick. Within 2 weeks I decided the bass was for me. This weekend I picked up a Ibanez GSR200 (new) and a Behringer Ultrabass BX1200 (used). I'm really enjoying both but had a few questions.

    - I've read a lot about changing the action and in turn it makes it easier to press down on the strings and prevents "rattle". Right now, I need to press down on the strings pretty hard or else I get a loud "rattle" and the note doesn't ring as loudly. Is this something that could be fixed by changing the action, or is this me just needing to work on my fingering?

    - When I'm playing, I slide my fingers/hand along to move to different positions along the fretboard. This creates a "scraping" sound along the strings that doesn't sound good and it really ruins whatever I'm playing. Is this again just my technique that needs to be worked on? Is there some special "tip" on making it so when I move my hands I don't get this nasty noise?

    - I've been working on my scales to build up some finger endurance and my pinky is particularly giving me trouble. It seems I can't push down "hard enough" on the string with it. My other 3 fingers are fine when I push down hard, but the pinky seems to be the weakest. Are there any exercises that can help build up my pinky?

    When I played guitar I had horrible form which is why I didn't stick with it for too long. I decided now that I'm taking bass seriously I want to correct my form as early as possible!

    Once again, I look forward to learning from all of you and becoming a part of this community. Thanks!
     
  2. shatterd

    shatterd

    Feb 24, 2008
    A lot of what you are describing sounds like poor technique. I was experiencing the same, but has been getting better with practice. Just keep working and the technique will get better. Lots of times when you lower strings, that will increase buzzing. Have your bass checked out and let a good bassist play it. They will tell you if your bass needs adjusting. Again, I was having very same problem and it is getting better even though I have made no adjustments. My technique is improving. Also, do a good warm up. Lots of time your technique will be bad when your fingers are cold, but gets better as you warm up.
     
  3. mothmonsterman

    mothmonsterman

    Feb 8, 2006
    1. Take the bass into a shop and have them set it up, it only costs 15 dollars on average depending on if you want new strings or not. When he's done with a basic setup he should have you try it out and make adjustments accordingly. I wouldn't suggest having a "good bass player" tell you how your bass needs to be set up. Technique also has alot to do with fret buzz sometimes so practice.

    2. Very annoying I'll admit and frustrating to get rid of. First thing you can try is adjusting the EQ settings on the AMP, usually you can get rid of alot of it that way. Again it'll get better as you practice and develope your own techniques tio get rid of it, not sure what i learned to do to get rid of it so i'm not much help, it just sort of went away as a got better.

    3. Scales are probably the best thing i can suggest to build pinky strength. No better way to teach it how to play than playing. Force your self to use one finger per fret, per position.
    G-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------0----1----2----3----4
    D---------------------------------------------------------------0----1----2----3----4
    A-----------------------------------0----1----2-----3----4
    E----0----1-----2------3-----4

    Using OPEN, INDEX, MIDDLE, RING and PINKY for each note, and apply this form to everything you play scales songs and goofing off.
    Working on my pinky skills as well.


    Hope this helped and any one can feel free to correct mre if i'm wrong.
     


  4. This video runs you through some basics.

    Also, with that spider tabbed out for you, come back down the nexk as well 4-3-2-1. And change it up like 1-3-2-4, 1-2-4-3 etc. Up and down the neck. And say the notes as you go. Work with a metronome on a slow setting, and increase speed as you improve.

    Doing this will give your pinky a good workout, help with fretboard memorisation and teach timing. Also, look at Pacman's sure fire scale method.
     
  5. fearceol

    fearceol

    Nov 14, 2006
    Ireland
    It's invaluable to get your technique right at the start, thus avoiding bad habits before they start. The best way to do this IMO is to find a good teacher. He/she can correct you if you go wrong, where a book or the net cant. :)
     
  6. Even a handful of lessons with a respected teacher should take you a long way toward clearing up your beginning technique questions. Aside from that (and I'm not exactly an authority on this subject) I would suggest:

    1) Get your bass professionally set up. It should feel different. You will get an idea of how the instrument can play.

    2) Read the truss rod sticky in the setup forum and learn as much as you can about the basic mechanical how & why of the instrument. I think that being able to set up your gear how you like it really helps you to focus your practice on technique and tone rather than fighting against the bass.

    3)Do the previosly outlined excercises, or variations on them, a whole bunch. Do them all over the fingerboard. Move up and down the finger board as well as between strings. If what you're doing is hurting badly, take a break, think about your technique, come back to it when it feels better. The worst thing you can do at this point is to injure yourself, nothing will slow down your progress more.
     
  7. Traver

    Traver

    Sep 25, 2007
    Don't know about question 1, but the others:

    2) What the others have said is basically true, the right EQ can remove some of, and proper technique can remove some more, BUT (in my opinion), it's nigh impossible to get completely rid of, and most pros you'll ever see has this sound as well. In my opinion, this exact sound is part of the charm of an instrument's sound. Listen to solo artists, and you'll often hear this sound when they change position. In band settings, however, it's mostly drowned out by the rest of the band, anyway (especially if you're playing louder genres). In many modern-day recordings, they edit out this particular sound in post-production.
    So what I'm trying to say with this wall of text is that even though you should try to adjust your technique so you can avoid this sound, you could also try to utilize it as part of your sound.

    3) The pinky is generally the weakest finger for anyone starting out on any instrument. Simply make sure to use it whenever possible, instead of resorting to "easier" fingerings. The exercises mentioned above would be good for strengthening it. But really, it's all about using it when you can, and it'll naturally strengthen, but if you want it to be strong ASAP, try doing exercises that uses the pinky a lot.
     
  8. chasfr

    chasfr

    Jan 4, 2005
    Good suggestions all. One note on string noise--changing to flats (i.e., flatwound strings) will cut a lot of the noise. They also give ya a great bluesy thump, if that's the kind of music you like...

    Beyond that, play every day, and give yourself permission to make mistakes. Make enough mistakes, and eventually you'll get it right.

    Have fun!
    Chas
     
  9. FootAJ

    FootAJ

    Mar 17, 2008
    Thanks for all the advice so far guys, it's really helpful. I bought my bass at Guitar Center, but they have a guitar repair man come in twice a week for 4 hours a day. There's a local shop I've been trying to get a hold of, and hopefully they can "set it up" for me.

    As for the warmups and exercises, the more the better! I've been learning my basic scales (Major, Minor, Maj/Min Pentatonic, Blues) and I've been teaching myself the basics of reading music (starting with learning all the notes on the fretboard). After wasting all my time playing guitar the easy way (bad fingering/technique, no theory, going straight to the "hard" stuff) I decided I can't go that way with the bass.

    Do any of you guys recommend a single book for a beginner? I hesitate to say beginner because the guys I play with admit I picked it up very fast and I practice for atleast two hours a day. I have no problem learning the basics over again, but I'd rather get a book that would help reinforce the old as well as teach new stuff. However, you all know better than me so whatever will set me on the right path, I'll do it!
     
  10. shatterd

    shatterd

    Feb 24, 2008
    If you are willing to spend a few bucks on lessons, check out workshoplive.com. They have some awesome bass courses up there. I am using them and making good progress with it.
     
  11. 1. Probably needs a good setup.

    2. Lift your fingers before shifting them. No lazing around on top of the strings when moving your fingers around. That's for proles playing flatwounds. ;) (Just kidding, folks. Don't get huffy over it.)

    3. Just keep using your pinky, or try to. Strength will come the more you use it.

    Rock on. :bassist:
     
  12. ryco

    ryco

    Apr 24, 2005
    97465
    As a guy startin' out you may want to check out 101 Bass Tips by Gary Willis.

    Lotsa info on all aspects of playin' bass from actual playing and practice ideas to soloing to setting up your bass to learning about your gear to gigging.
    A little bit of basic theory.

    The cool thing is you can go anywhere in the book and start reading. It's not necessarily a book ya gotta sit down and read cover to cover.
    Each page contains an item or two.

    Very interesting and well written in a casual style. Wish it had been around when I started!!
     
  13. Love the attitude! You want it, I wish I did when I first started playing.

    To even throw another twist to the fingering practice pattern above...here's one that I was shown many many moons ago that not only increased my pinky strength, but did wonders for fingering in general.


    E string : 1-2-3-4
    A string : 2-3-4-1
    D string : 3-4-1-2
    G string : 4-1-2-3

    Then do it back down starting at the G string. Work the pattern up and down the neck, at least to the 12th fret, naming the notes.

    Now change the starting postition up one string:

    A string : 1-2-3-4
    D string : 2-3-4-1
    G string : 3-4-1-2
    E string : 4-1-2-3

    Keep switching the pattern up one string.

    Don't worry about how fast you can do it, just try to do it smoothly...the speed will come in time.

    Good luck!
     
  14. JMGunslinger

    JMGunslinger

    Mar 21, 2008
    If you bought your bass at Guitar Center, I'm pretty sure they'll set it up for free. Just bring in the receipt and tell them what's up.
     
  15. I'll second that emotion! It's a great book with a truckload of tips you won't normally find elsewhere. As a matter of fact I learned how to intonate my bass with it, I never realised the intonation was so far off. That alone was worth the price of the book.
     
  16. Aaron Mc

    Aaron Mc

    Jul 28, 2006
    Avondale, AZ
    +1 on finding a teacher, you will learn so much in a short time if you apply yourself.

    You mentioned you have to press down pretty hard or else you get a rattle. When I first started playing I had a similar issue; I was pressing so hard but I still heard buzzing and the note sounded weak. I was killing my hand pressing so hard I am surprised I did not put grooves in the fretboard! My instructor took one look at my technique and told me to press my finger up close behind the fret, that it is less about pressure and much more about finger placement and subsequently flexibility. The following link has a much better explanation:

    http://www.studybass.com/lessons/bass-technique/fretting/

    This might not be your problem as you played guitar and know about fretted instruments. If your technique is not the problem then a setup will reveal what is.
     
  17. FootAJ

    FootAJ

    Mar 17, 2008
    Thanks to everyone who gave advice. In the past few days I've been using the tips and exercises recommended and I've been getting exponentially better!

    I called the local music shop and they said that usually it costs between $20 and $50 for setting up a new bass with the action, neck, strings, and so on, depending on how much work is needed. I figure I'll bring it by this week and ask about lessons since I know people really like the instructors there.

    However, a new problem has come up! I've been watching some videos and have begun not bending my right wrist. I know letting my elbow drop is bad, so I've been having that picked up and I notice that I'm able to play a lot cleaner. However, my shoulder muscles KILL! I have a feeling part of this is my strap, since the area that's the most sensitive is the area where my straps rest. Touching the muscle area is pretty damn painful, so any tips on preventing this? If it's from how I've been wearing the bass, is there a specific "method" on how to hold it when using a strap/not using a strap?

    Thanks guys, and as I said, all the help thus far has been appreciated!
     
  18. playinpearls

    playinpearls

    Apr 1, 2008
    Atlanta
    This fingering is great, but one thing my old bass player showed me was when you play this 01234 progression, move your fingers one at a time, that is, dont lift your other fingers off the other frets until its time to use that finger again. It is hard as crap for me, but he said he did it for years, and it helped him a lot.:D
     
  19. pedroims

    pedroims

    Dec 19, 2007
    Michigan
    +1 , doing that your working in the independecy of your fingers in relation with each other, you do not want to move your pinky or ring if you only need to use your index to press the string, keep your fingers close to the fretboard,
     

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