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Self-taught bassists... what bad habits?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by B-NoteCowboy, Jul 20, 2004.

  1. You guys know who you are. No music theory training. Precious little in the way of technique training. You can't read a note of music and you don't use tabs, but you are a good ear bassist who can pick out or make up the bassline on the spot and can jam with almost any situation.

    What bad habits have you discovered that you developed over the years? Something that you work around now and is just part of your individual style. Or maybe something you had to fix to get past a pleateau in your development?

    For me, I think the biggest habit that I've had to try to overcome to be a good showman as well as a musician is not looking at the fretboard. That's now a pet peeve of mine when I go see a band - guitarists and bassists who never look up at the audience and look like they are having fun.

    I also was too tied into some limiting right hand techniques, so in the last year I've really had to develop picking and finger style techniques in order to work up new material the way it was supposed to sound. Not a big deal except I've been playing for 10 years! Things would have been a lot easier if I had learned a few things early on that I didn't.
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    i only look at my bass when im soloing(or improving) and ocasionaly when i have to chage boxes.

    i've had musiccal training for 4 years now. i was always told to not stick my thumb out on top and keep it behind the neck, but i just feel more comfortable with my thumb sticking out a little. over the years, i've brought it down.

    i have a friend who developped a BAD habit of using 2 or 3 finger to press down each note. thats gotta suck.
  3. The thumb over the top of the neck.... guilty.

    Funny thing is.... Hendrix and SRV did that too. :D
  4. During a jam, starting off playing root notes of the rythm guitar and THEN adding in my only little twist to make my line stand out...I need to work on just making the line stand out right off the bat.
  5. danshee

    danshee Banned

    May 28, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Thumb over the top? That's a pretty bad habit, so is the three finger thing. Not very efficient finger styles.
  6. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    My left hand technique could use work. I have a bad habit of reaching with my ring finger when I should just use my pinky; this is if I don't have to go very fast. 16th notes and above, I start using proper technique.

    So I'll do like 5/index, 7/middle, 8/ring on quarter or eigth note runs. After that, though, the pinkl kicks in, and it's 5/index, 7/ring, 8/pinky.

    However, above the 9th fret, I almost entirely do the former, without the proper technique. I try, but I often find myself lapsing.

    (Note, I can read a bit of music, have a bit of theory... 6 years of gleaning things and about 6 months of actual instruction)
  7. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I can copy tunes off CD's pretty well, but suck at making up a Bassline on the spot.
  8. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    im losing this thumb over the top of the neck habit. soon it will be gone.
  9. xcental34x


    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    Bad Habit? Playing the exact same root notes and rhythm that the guitarist is playing. I'm so unoriginal.

    Looking at the fretboard is a must for me. I don't see what the problem with it is

  10. I can't really use my pinky to fret. I dislocated it playing basketball back in college and over the years, the piece of gristle that keeps it from bending backwards had loosened up and now it locks up very easy when I try to extend it. Dr says it could lose a lot of flexibility for normal stuff if I get it operated on, and I've learned not to need it so eh... big deal.

    No big deal really. Doesn't slow me down at all, but it does require more stretching and reaching - making it a little more difficult not to look at the fretboard at times.


    Why not looking at the fretboard is a big deal.... Well, musically it isn't. But from a showmanship point of view, you look a lot cooler when you make eye contact with your audience, and you can see visual ques from your bandmates a lot easier.
  11. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    The thumb over the neck, yea, I've been guilty of that. It took a long time to break it. Like a dummy, I took about a year off from playing and the habit came back. I think it was partly due to my hand strength not being what it was and needing to get my technique back. I'm doing much better now :D
  12. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The looking up thing is easily my biggest pet peeve. As a former band dweeb, I'm constantly looking at other members and signaling them for entrances, turnarounds, etc. (someone has to be a conductor).

    Another one is the inability to count bars and measures. I mean, come on, if you can't/don't want to learn how to read, at least learn to count. To four.
  13. I do the same during a jam or when creating a song, but then I always add in my own little thing to make it stand out.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - they were guitarists!! :meh:

    Seriously, there is a big difference between playing guitar, where your left hand "collapses" across all the strings to fret chords and playing bass, where you are looking to articulate each note clearly and precisely.

    So - having your thumb in the centre of the back of the neck helps you to get the correct hand position for getting the best sound when playing bass lines - so you want your fingers arched and your palms well above the freboard - unlike with guitar!!

    Good left hand technique is essential, both for tone production and for ensuring you avoid carpal tunnel, RSI etc. :meh:
  15. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    +1! Also, I wish I had more knowledge to draw from when making up a bassline. I usually come up with good ones, but only after I've played along with the guitarist or keyboard for a while. I wish that I could get to the "brilliance" a little quicker.
  16. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I see many pro bassists with that thumb issue. Victor Wooten is an example. He doesnt always, but in some positions he puts his thumb over the top too. A slap bass video I have actually says for bends to do it on purpose to provide a better anchor for bending. I have never felt comfortable doing it myself, it feels awkward. I guess I lucked out and didnt develope the habbit without instruction.
  17. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I've seen Larry Graham do it as well. It just never caught on with me.
  18. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    ...as does Sting...

    He also plucks with a flat (non-curved) wrist much of the time.
  19. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Also, "self-taught" does not necessarily equate to "devoid of knowledge of theory". I'm self-taught, but I study theory a LOT and I am constantly striving to improve in that area and in the area of reading.
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I think it's a general point that good left hand technique is about getting your fingers in the right position for articulating bass lines - but there are going to be "specialist fingerings" which guys like Wooten work out and they are experienced enough to pull this off. So I 've seen him using his thumb for chordal stuff, for example.

    But for run of the mill, normal bass lines, it's best to get this right and is the best advice for anybody starting out....