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Self-taught back to self-studying

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BullHorn, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I've been at this bass thing for a while now, forever-self-taught. Mostly just picking up basslines from hearing.

    Every year comes a time when I decide it's time to learn some proper chords/modes/scales but quickly give up. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

    Is it too late or can I still be saved?

    p.s. my technique is quite terrible as well but that's a story for a different day...
  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    it's never too late. I took up music at 65 when I retired in 2000. Banjo, rhythm guitar, electric guitar and keyboard stuck, then clarinet and fiddle came and left quickly, after that 4 string bass came into my life. Very happy with my bass, I think it will take me the rest of the way. IMO if we want to stay productive we should be learning something new all the time.

    You need to get with a band, jamming circle, or something that gets you with other musicians. They will help and force you to focus on your music.

    I think from your post focus is what is missing.

    Good luck.
  3. AgressivePassiv


    Feb 3, 2011
    I'm entirely self taught too. The most useful course I found for learning and implementing the modes was Stu Hamm's Fretboard Fitness on truefire.com. Did a lot for my ear, technique, improvising, soloing etc. I think there may be a DVD version of the course now too.
  4. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I'm 39, been playing bass since I was 16, and started on guitar at 14. I'm self-taught. Some of my friends consider me to be pretty good. But I still buy method books and work through them, and I still get a lot out of them. Sometimes even books that someone might consider to be for a beginner.

    My favorite books are from Ed Friedland. This started maybe 5 years ago when I decided it was high time to learn to play jazz. I bought a Real Book, but quickly found myself clueless as to how to walk basslines through much of it. Ed's "Building Walking Bass Lines" straigtened me out, and I've bought a few of his other books since.

    Sometimes it's hard for us older self-taught cats to break some bad habits. I found that out when I decided a few years ago to kick up the slapping game, and bought Alexis Sklarevski's classic instructional video. But persistence pays off, and you don't stop learning at 20, contrary to popular belief.
  5. Yes, playing with other people will do you wonders in terms of developing new skills. This is simply because you need them in order to flex around the changes other people throw at you, and will in turn want to learn scales, modes, chords, etc so you can throw ideas back at them. I'm very glad my teacher taught me modes early on, because they come in massively handy for trying to produce different kinds of sounds.

    I learned the modes of the harmonic minor scale last year, and while they're not ingrained as well as the regular modes, it just gave me a few extra tools to experiment with. You only need to hear some cool new scale played a couple of times and used to make a neat tune once, for your mind to want to know what's going on. From there, it's just a matter of playing the new pattern over and over, then playing in a few different ways, until you start to understand what it's made out of. I guess what I mean by that is, you'll start remembering how it feels AND sounds as one form of intuition, so don't have to start on the root note and rattle the whole thing off to be "using" it.

    A little bit of inquisition, followed by quite a lot of repitition is the key. That's how you pick up a new idea and make it usable.
  6. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I've been playing with the same band ever since I picked up a bass for the first time. We play really boring rock where I was never required to do much and when I did try to do something new, the general opinion usually was 'no, just play 8th notes'...
  7. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    You aren't doing anything wrong you enjoy playing the bass and you are having fun you would be suprized how many of your music heros don't know a chord from a scale. I'm self taught also I'm a good bass player I don't know the proper modes or scales I play by ear and if I run into trouble I grab a tab to check out. I play bass to relax if I were a professional musician I would take the time to learn all of the technical stuff and God bless all of you who do I just don't see a need for myself.
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Never too late. Your poor technique is probably due to poor fingering.
    I was self taught for the first 5 years, turned myself in to a Berklee
    teacher (John Repucci ). He had me work thru the Nanny Method book
    with emphasis on proper fingering. Can't stress scale knowledge & proper fingering enough.
    Turned my playing around 100% in one year.


    May 3, 2010
    I have learnt a lot from a site called `songsterr`, it is a great tool for learning new songs, you can isolate the other instruments and have the bass tab only when you play through a song, very good .
  10. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 I agree great site I signed up for the pro version it really helps somebody told me it was cheating? I said I'm just playing music and having fun doing it I'm not taking the bar exam if the OP wants to further his musical knowledge I fully support him but I don't want him feeling like he's not as good as someone who knows the technical side of music.
  11. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    Ed's "Building Walking Bass Lines" is a bit much for me, I have to learn to read and memorize notes' location on the neck. It's unbelievable I'm at it for 6 years and haven't bothered with that yet. :\

    I'll keep trying...
  12. Fatsimon96


    Jan 31, 2013
    We are all one way or another self taught , and all weird ,if not we wouldn't, be bassists ,and bullhorn , quit you band and you will find you will improve very quickly ,
  13. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    We all know it's hardat first but it becomes so much easier with a bit of practice and routine. Just keep at it!

    Walking bass is about the best thing you can do for both fretboard navigation and chord knowledge. I would also recommend Magnussen's 'The Art of Walking Bass' which starts off easy and got some nice exercises for chord inversions (indispensible knowledge for walking) which also cover a lot of the fretboard.

    Once you're starting to feel comfortable with walking, you'll notice it'll spill over to 'regular' playing, making you more confident in note choice and melodic phrasing.
  14. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    Going back to basics. Is there a particular way I should try to learn the fretboard? Or just keep trying to walk with Ed's book?

    Most tutorials and lessons tell you to practice 1 note per day and progress in the circle of fourths or fifths. Choose a note and find it all over the fretboard?..
  15. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012
    I started playing at around 12-13. I knew how to read from being a band geek on various instruments, but all my bass playing was self-taught from playing along.

    When I think back, I'm kind of impressed at some of the things I could play. I preferred playing fingerstyle after watching Steve Harris, and I could do a convincing job of playing slap. My only memorable flaw was that I only fretted with my strong fingers (pinky in the air), and I never played in position, I was all over the neck.

    I stopped playing for about 11 years, until a coworker got me back into playing. I watched his guitar playing and was impressed. So, I made sure that I'd start out again with at least basic knowledge of different modes, playing in position, doing a lot of chordal playing, etc. Made playing a lot of the older songs I used to play a lot easier (and less impressive, lol).

    Never too late, IMHO.
  16. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    For scales, try scott devine on that. He teaches scales in different fingering positions so you don't just learn a scale in one octave but all over the fretboard. Don't quite know the web address off the top of my hat.

    Start with c major, say the notes while you play them. It should click really fast (after a few days you'll make tremendous progress ime) and it gets you covered on all the natural notes. Scott says afair that learning one scale/key/whatever you learn is best done in weekly intervals, meaning you learn the **** out of one and then move on to the next after a week.

    I would recommend doing so with walking bass as well which is basically the same exercise but with chord tones (this is where inversions come in handy). For a bit of a twist might as well start walking over a basic blues progression or a II-V-I right away.
  17. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    How I learned the notes was to print off a copy of the fretboard with note names. I learned all the natural notes to fret 3 first, then to fret 7, then to fret 12. I took the page everywhere with me.
  18. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I'm trying to make sense of stuff and learn the fretboard.

    I gathered that:

    The Circle of Fifths has 7 'sharp' keys: C, G, D, A, E, B and F#.
    The order of the sharps are introduced into the keys in this order: F, C, G, D, A, E, B

    So a key of C has 0 sharps. A key of G has 1 sharp, an F#. D has 2, F# and C#, etc.

    That's cool but how do I apply this to the fretboard-learning? How can I make this useful?
  19. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    The circle tells us a lot of things, but, where the notes are on our fretboard is not one of them. Which scale has flats and how many and then which scale has sharps and how many come into the picture when you need the notes of the A major scale you have to take into account that with the A major scale the C, F & G notes/chords will be C#, F# & G#.

    How the notes are arranged on your fretboard IMO does not enter into my thought process based upon the circle of 5ths. The circle of 5ths can be used as a memory peg to remember that when playing the A major scale I have to look for the C#, F# & G#. But, has little to do with how the fretboard is laid out.

    If you are looking for something to tie how the notes appear on the fretboard I'd point you to the chromatic scale.

    That said. Let's look at how you play, do you use standard notation, tabs, fake chord or lead sheet music? Reason I ask what you play from has a lot to do with where on the fretboard you gather your notes. You may not need - right now - to know where the notes are on all your strings and frets. I like to eat the elephant one bite at a time.

    • Standard notation. First position first. That means you need to know where the notes are on all strings up to the 5th fret. Right at first, later on you can get into placement playing.
    • Tabs. Not a problem with tab you just look for the string and fret number.
    • Fake chord. If you use the box pattern you need to know where the notes are on the 3rd and 4th string up to the 12th fret - so you can place your box's root note. The box then will place the correct notes under your fingers for you. Or know the notes on the 3rd string up to the 12th fret. Place the root note of the chord, or scale, on the 3rd string and the 4th is up a string same fret, and the 5 is down a string same fret. The 2 is on the 3rd string up two frets, the 3 is, well you get the picture.... Place the root note and the other notes in the chord/scale are relative to where the root is.
    • Lead sheet. Depends on what you are looking at, treble clef and if so then standard notation applies, chord name then what you do with fake chord applies

    Sure, never hurts to know where all the notes are, but, you can function just knowing the above. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. If you play from fake chord and the box know how to gather your notes for that. If you play from standard notation, well that is a little different, know how to gather your notes for that.

    Have fun.
  20. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I use none of these. I can read/write tab but I usually just learn from hearing. I also found Pacman's sure-fire scale practice method - is that a good way to learn the fretboard?