Self taught bassists???

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Philip71, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. Philip71


    Jul 23, 2004
    This is only for the bassists who taught themselves how to play.....How did you teach yourself to play???...I am just wondering because I have bought several books and seem to be learning more from them than I am in my weekly half hour lesson that costs if anyone can give me any tips on how to teach myself please I would greatly appreciate it.

  2. i've learned guitar,bass,and several other instruments w/o lessons...God blessed me with a good ear for music so I can pick up stuff easily....The only downside is that I can't tell you the difference between scales,modes,etc....but I can play em...I really wanna study theory to help me further my abilities...and I'm wanting to go to Regi Wooten for technique lessons for tapping and slap

    I would always just throw on a cd and play along with it, also I would go to websites like to look through their online lessons (really helpful!)

    I hope to take lessons from Regi, but aside from technique help I think I'm fine with online tutorials and stuff of that sort for theory

    have fun and just practice as much as you can...
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    When I started out on electric bass, there really weren't any instructional materials dedicated to electric bass at all. I was taking guitar lessons at the time but The Ventures had vinyl LP's of their songs where pages inside the album covers included tabs of their songs for each instrument. They were called "Play Guitar with the Ventures."

    That was one way. The other was to just play along with LP's as best you could. The upside was that the lack of materials forced you to be very creative. The downside was that your basslines were horrid if you didn't have an ear for the instrument.

    Just because you have an instructor doesn't mean squat. What you need is an instructor who sets mutual goals with you. My guitar instructor didn't. He was giving me homework to learn to read notation to such crap as "Red River Valley" and what I really wanted to learn was how to play "Walk Don't Run." I know those song titles are probably foreign to you, but the difference is like learning to play something by Celine Dion vs. Velvet Revolver.

    Bottomline - see if you can find an instructor who is dedicated to the goals you have........but don't be P.O.'d if a lot of boring things like finger arching/positioning are included. Those fundamentals are dull but can pay off big time later when the music gets more complex.
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I taught myself.

    The techniques I used, and continue to use, include a teacher, college level courses, books, learning tunes, playing in dozens and dozens of bands, gigging like mad, peer review, Talkbass, transcriptions, networking, and many many more I can't possibly remember.
  5. Learn the basics early. Like major, minor, and blues scales. Learn when to use them. The modes of the major are important too, but tackle them after a good understanding of the major and minor scales (which are 2 of the modes of the major scale anyway). I use Mixolydian alot as well. Its just like a major scale except for a lowered 7th.

    The website has helped me alot. Bass Guitar for Dummies gives a good introduction. Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book and Gary Willis' Fingerboard Harmony for Bass are highly recommended. Also try to play with other musicians as much as possible so you can apply what you are learning.

    A good understanding of functional harmony is necessary as well (see the Levine book).

    Not sure about your teacher, but a good teacher can really help.
  6. I taught myself, too. Just use your ears and read a lot of online lessons.
  7. damo2576


    Aug 9, 2004
    I'm currently teaching myself...from books, vids, online course and my ear.
    I mix it up a lot, spend time practicing fingering, scales, lessons, tabs, reading music, learning the fretboard and playing by ear.
    I've only been playing 2 weeks or so and feel i have done loads better than if i'd had a teacher and 2 lesson as I've covered a much wider range of stuff on my own.
    I will take the odd lesson soon, mostly to check my technique, ask questions etc and get shown stuff. I'm not bothered about having stuff laid out for me - i know what i want to learn.
    Will also take lessons when i want to learn slap as so far I cant figure it out.
    i guess it depends on the type of person you are.
  8. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I taught myself basic theory through books in the very beginning. I'm afraid that's all those "Learn Bass Now" books are good for. You could lock youself up in a cell and practice 12 hours a day for 10 years with those books and you're still gonna suck when it comes to playing with people. Then I started playing along to songs with tab. Get away from that quick though, tab is the enemy. I eventually started learning music by ear by recognizing scale tones.

    Learning songs by ear is by far the best solo practice you can do IMHO. That's how I did it.
  9. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Piano for 11 years.. Trumpet for 7

    I just picked up the bass, and worked on it.
  10. I taught myself- I played along to every song on the radio and in my collection by ear, after a year corrected my right and left hand technique using guidelines in the "Electric bass guitar" book.

    I tried learning theory from books and magazines but didn't really understand it at first- later on when I could visualise and remember the different patterns I was playing (and my ear had got better) the theory rules tied in.
  11. Desire


    Jul 4, 2004
    Right now I'm just learning to play. All my life I've wanted to play and just two months ago I went out and got "Gloria". It's a black Ibanez SR300DXL. With some recommendations from a couple of buddies of mine I also bought a small 6 channel mixer and I piped the computer into it and my bass and from there into my stereo. Took a week or two to get used to the feel of "Gloria" and listening to the music carefully and finding now that I can pick things up rather quickly. When I was in Winnipeg 2 weeks ago I heard a song on the radio and as soon as I got back to Toronto I went and got the CD, this particular song it took me about 1/2 hour to figure out the notes and then 5 one hour practice sessions to tighten up the timing to get it down. I should mention that with my setup I use headphones because I live in a shared apartment. I spend on average about 2 hours everyday on my bass and loving it totally. Ocassionally when nobody is around I'll hit the speakers and crank it ;) . Right now I'm 43, happy and having a BLAST!!! I thank God for the ear(s) He has given me and the desire to go "live". My buddy keeps on me to practice scales which is a good thing. The reason I chose the bass is because in music I'm usually listening to the bass. BTW I forgot to mention this is my first post here! :hyper:
  12. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    transcribe music. stuff that you know will be challenging. always try and play with people better than you and try to learn from them as much as you can. for the mechanical part of playing, watch as many players in your area that you respect and see how they play the instrument. what hand positions and technique. see what you can incorporate to improve your own playing. record yourself playing so you can go back and be honest about what you hear. check for progress and compare feel to players you would like to emulate. read books. investigate theory. you dont like jazz, so what. pick up a beginner abersold book and start learning why things work and connecting names to the things you do.

    if you feel like things are progressing and you are getting better, maybe you can cut it without a teacher. if things arent coming together on your own theres nothing wrong with trying different teachers. someone else might fit your learning style better than your current instructor. i havent studied with a teacher but thats not the course for everyone. i personally also wouldnt ever rule out studying with someone, it just hasnt happened yet.
  13. Diowulf

    Diowulf Guest

    Aug 4, 2004
    San Rafael CA
    I have also taught myself. I mostly just study scales, and just mess around and play what sounds good to me. I also jam with my brother (guitarist) and a friend (drummer). I feel very fortunate to be able to have this experience early, because I believe you can learn all you can from books, but jamming is just...different. :)
  14. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I've been playing, self-taught, for about 3 years now. I haven't even looked at books or anything like that, I just looked up some tabs for songs I liked and practiced everyday until I got them right. However, I do make frequent trips to Counts Brothers (local sound shop). Often, this REALLY good jazz bassist (in his 30s, I think) is there playing and I'll watch him. Once, I guess he noticed I was watching him, so he asks if I play, and I say yes, so he asks to hear some of my playing. Since then, we've become fairly good buds and he'll give me some tips and show some techniques.
  15. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    So many different approaches! I enjoy seeing how everyone's "self-taught" paths can be so different and yet so similar...

    I just want to add one thing that I think is so important, but easy to overlook, and that is developing the ability to keep time.

    In all my playing -- no matter how silly or casual -- I always thought it was important to keep in time with "the beat" (which could have been a drum machine, or just the pulse of whatever we were playing). So recently when I started playing in a more serious band (my first, after 15+ years of playing for fun), I found I could keep reliable time with the drummer, and that is the one skill I am most relieved to have developed! And it's the one thing I think every bassist -- especially the self-taught -- needs to keep in mind at all times: you're part of the rhythm section! If you can't keep in synch with the drummer, your fat tones will disrupt the song in a very painful way. That doesn't mean always being in lock-step with the beat, but the bass and drums have to work together. So if you're playing along with an album, make sure you're on time. If you're practicing other techniques or scales, try to have a drum machine or metronome to play along with.


  16. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I've been self taught for 7years running on electric bass, and have even picked up the double bass in recent months. There's alot of good things being said here, from both the self-taught bassists and from the trad cats. What comes through as being universal is the dedication to the craft of being a functional bassist: one who holds together the tenuous threads of melody, harmony, and rythmic aspects of whatever music we play. Someone who wields a pick their whole carreer playing punk should uphold the same principles that a trained, well schooled musician would playing say, Jazz. You should have excellent time, you should understand how the notes that you play end up affecting the entire sound of the group your playing in, and most importantly, you have to love every single second of it.
    That being said, I was very dedicated to teaching myself the solid fundamentals of playing. Here's a hard excercise for beginners that still challenges me to this day: play every major, minor, modal, wholetone scale that you can learn about in any number of bass books, and play them in two octaves with the metronome at 60. It's a hard task, and there's a difference in being able to do it, and being able to master it. Maybe someday I will.
    I also had the good fortune of playing lowbrass in high school and all through college as well, which gave me the opportunity to sharpen my theory through the courses that were offered. However, when it came to the bass, that was an intimate world of two, me and my bass guitar as Vic once stated.
    Anyways, I would be happy to go on and on about this, but in short there are no shortcuts to being a competent, solid musician. Practice and love everyminute of it, or go and learn how to do something else.
  17. The thing I'd add - and it's the way I started learning stuff that was a lot more advanced than I thought I was capable of playing; and has helped me to this day - is playing with musicians who are a lot better than you. You might not think this constitutes lessons but just like any occupation - it's all very well learning stuff from text books and Videos - but nothing beats doing it live and interacting with 'real' musicians.

    Even if you're not as advanced theoretically or technically as some musos you might see, as long as the skill gap between you and them isn't too huge, get with some guys or girls (!) and get jamming. This is <i>obviously</i> not to be done without practicing all the scales, technique and harmony stuff as well, but I can guarantee you'll be forced into making your own technical leaps to keep up - and even though it can be scary and at times embarrassing - in the long run you will be a better musician for it.

    Good luck

  18. I studied Classical Guitar before I found the Bass, so I already had fingering and technique down. I have also had a very musical life, so it comes naturally to me. I've never used any instructional books for bass, but I have used a few small tutorials to figure out how to slap, ect..

    I know there are some great books and movies out there, but if you have the cash for lessons, get yourself a good teacher. There are some things that books and movies can't teach, and they won't correct you if you do something wrong. Get a teacher that knows how to teach you, and be willing to learn. If you feel that your current teacher is a waste of 22 bucks, maybe you should practice more of what he tells you and less of what is in the books you buy. If that doesn't work, maybe hes just not the right teacher for you.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Same for me - when I started there was nothing and the first book I ever saw that even had a bass line written out was "Led Zeppelin Complete".

    It was just a case of playing along with records and trying to play what the bass players did! Then joining bands as soon as I could.

    I must say that I never even knew there were such things as teachers of bass guitar at the time and never thought about a teacher until I wanted to start playing Jazz. If I wanted to know anything, I would ask other musicians - like guitarists I knew - about chords and things like the circle of fifths.