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So which "note" to play ??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JDHolmes, May 7, 2010.

  1. JDHolmes


    Jan 6, 2010
    How do you decide which "e" note to play?

    For example, the "e" on the lower ledger bar is in the song, followed by the "e" in the space between the 3 and 4 ledger lines. There are many "e"'s on the fretboard, how does one determine which to play?

    I ask this because I've been working on Autumn Leaves with my bass teacher and because of 1/8th notes and distance on the fretboard, he's said "just play that note in another area." I practiced that section of the song, making it easiest for movement on the fretboard.

    Is there some guideline other than "as long as it sounds good." I've had this dilemna in other songs where attempting to remain in the same position (1st or 2nd) required huge jumps quickly making it extremely difficult FOR ME to play the song at all, let alone play it well.
  2. Thinking ahead is what my instructor used to stress to me.

    If I'm right... in Autumn Leaves you go from an 'Em' to either a 'F#' or an 'A' depending on where you are in the song. So just put yourself into a position where you transition to the next note as easily as possible.
  3. DrVenkman


    Jan 22, 2010
    Pacific NW
    So when you can play the same note in multiple places, which one do you pick? The short answer is whichever one you want!

    Generally, the first consideration is ease of fingering. Based on what note you're coming from and which ones are coming up next pick the spot on the fretboard that's easiest to get to and sets you up best for the next notes. Think economy of movement - whatever results in the least motion on your part is usually the best choice.

    That handles the vast majority of cases. Sometimes there's an additional consideration. For example even though the E on the 2nd fret of the D string, 7th fret of the A string, and 12th fret of the E string are all the same note, they create different sounds because of the thickness of the string and other factors. Once in a while one of those choices may sound better than the others for a particular use in a song. But again, in the vast majority of cases I'd just think about what's easiest to finger and leave it at that.
  4. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    You really do have to make sure your hand can be where the note is when you're hitting it. However, I often found when playing written music (which I rarely do anymore as my band plays all originals) that the composer had actually thought it through and all you have to just figure out what position s/he intended you to play from.

    Otherwise, if I'm playing the 2nd-octave up E on a bass and I want a fat tone, I play on the 12th fret E string. If I want to double it or alternate it with my low E, I usually use the 7th fret of the a string. And when I want it to be twangy and slightly less fat and punchy, I hit the 2nd fret of the D string.
  5. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    You shouldn't be making these decisions if walking jazz lines are unfamiliar to you. Your teacher should write out perfect walking lines for you to practice, not memorize, not learn by next Monday, but practice. P.S. Don't memorize anything in academics. Ever! it isn't necessary to do this! It's only necessary to practice. I hope that I helped. Regards, Jeff Berlin
  6. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    The low E on the stave is played as the open E string or 5th fret on the low B (if you have one).

    The E on the staves is played at the 12th fret of the E string, 7th fret of the A string or 2nd fret of the D string.

    The E on the ledger lines above the staves is played at the 17th fret of the A string, 14th fret of the D string or the 9th fret of the G string.

    When playing a line (Bass or Melody) it is best to look over the piece before you start playing to get a feel as where on the neck most of the notes are concentrated and this will dictate as to which position you will be playing in. You also should be looking for the highest and lowest notes of the piece to get an idea of any long movements you will need to make.

    Once you have that figured out you are good to go.
  7. JDHolmes


    Jan 6, 2010
    My "bass" teacher actually doesn't play bass but guitar. He doesn't write out any walking jazz lines or write out anything. the times he was going to, he forgot. (finding another teacher is really not part of this discussion though it's been on my mind).

    Basically, I've "learned" modes in C and he plays guitar as I play a mode or combination of modes. This song, Autumn Leaves, is the first I've worked on with him.

    Thank you all, you've given me much to think about
  8. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    Staying in the same position basically is a good way to go. If you need huge jumps, try to start the tune from another position.

    The trick is to find logical spots where you can shift position, preparing for that far away note you will be playing 2 or 3 bars later.

    Like Mr. Berlin said, this you can only learn through practice.

    IMHO, it is done best playing from sheet music.

    I don't think your teacher needs to write out that stuff for you, because there are fine books on walking bass on the market, like the two books by Mr. Ed Friedland.
  9. squirtle


    Feb 11, 2010
    Just a beginner here...let's say my teacher say's to play a major triad closed, then open, 1st inversion closed and open, second inversion closed and open, around the key cycle. When I do it, I make sure to say the note names before playing each note so I'm learning notes on the fretboard and the inversions and not just letting my brain and fingers remember patterns. Are you saying not to memorize the notes as I play them? Because it's a lot easier for me to just run the patterns!!!
  10. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    you play the same e. the lower ledger line (keep in mind kids, string bass / electric bass music is transcribed an octave above what we actually play) is always your open E (in piano music thats actually E2, but a bass's open E is an E1). the one in the space of the staff will always be one octave above that (2nd fret D string, 7th A string, 12th E, ext, E2, but written as E3 for electric bass)

    you might want to read about octave numbers, perhaps on musictheory.net if they have a lesson on that. thats basically what your question is about. (in short- every new octave starts on a C. the A and B below the first low C on a piano are numbered zero (A zero), then thats C1. at the next octave is C2, middle C is C4, ext.)

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