Song books, no tabs + positioning/fingering

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by skycruiser, Nov 23, 2022.

  1. skycruiser

    skycruiser Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    Looking for recommendations for song books but I don't like tabs. I would like some instruction on positioning and/or fingering. Since I don't have any particular style in mind, any of those collections of "good songs to know on bass" would work. I've looked through a few and they tend to be Tab oriented. Did I overlook a good option out there?

    I have several of the Stinnett finger-funk books. Those are a pretty good difficulty level for me, but that have absolutely no instructional value in terms of position and fingering. You basically have to figure it all out. But at this point I think I should also learn something useful for some day playing covers. It's hard to get started with a group if you don't know any covers.
     
  2. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    none
    The only tabs I like are Tylenol. If you're going to learn to read, learn standard notation, as the Stinnet books use.

    The fingerboard has a way of teaching you that you could play this here, but it would work better over there. And figuring out the fingering and position is how you learn.

    Covers are problematic for readers in that there are few accurate transcriptions of what the guy actually played, and that's where your ears are crucial to fill in the blanks. Reading alone or ears alone will often short change you:. You have to be fluent with both on some level.
     
  3. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    This might sound unkind, but that's not my intention...
    Isn't the whole idea of learning having "to figure it all out?" It's the old "give a man a fish or teach him how to fish" thing. What's really useful is learning systems of fingering and being able to apply that knowledge to anything you want to play. Although approaching each song as a discrete musical universe may in time result in an integration of knowledge, a faster and more direct approach is to develop foundational skills and use them for everything.

    AFAIK there are only two ways to represent music for bass: Tabs (which I also dislike) and standard notation. You're unlikely to find fingerings in notation outside of pedagogic material. Here is an excerpt from a Simandl etude:
    upload_2022-11-23_12-8-48.png

    Because this is instructional material, you see suggested fingerings except on notes where it's obvious or doesn't matter. You will NOT see those fingerings in noninstructional music, but you may notice a couple of places where I have written in fingerings for myself, even sometimes contradicting the published ones; working out those fingerings is a necessary part of learning to play!
     
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  4. Papageno

    Papageno

    Nov 16, 2015
    France
    ^^^^^ This!!!!

    One you need to learn are principles of good fingering. The key idea is economy of motion.
     
  5. skycruiser

    skycruiser Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    Thanks for all the inputs. I agree and understand that figuring out the fingering is part of learning and I like doing that to some extent. In particular I like doing it with piano music, though I haven't done as much lately. You come across little puzzles that have to be solved to get through a passage.

    I guess what I'm looking for is some amount of guidance on good/best practices in the area of fingering and playing positions. What do people who really know what they are doing do? What choices do they make? I find myself playing down in the lower position (frets 1-4) but find in places I can move up a few frets playing on different strings and get a different timbre that may or may not be better. Or I use open strings when in some cases playing on the next lower string is the better way to do it. A guided and progressive set of songs/exercises would be something I would try out just to learn new tricks or what is considered standard. To learn this while also learning commonly played songs would be a huge bonus. Maybe I'm looking for something that isn't out there. And as suggested, maybe I just have to put the time into learning the basics independent from learning songs, and put them together later.
     
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  6. J Wilson

    J Wilson

    Apr 22, 2022
    An Undisclosed Location
    none
    I double on keys and bass guitar.

    Keyboard is easier in a way (except for those damn black keys adding difficulty . . .) because each note is only in ONE place, and they're all laid out low to high in this nice straight line, and where to play is not a problem and the fingering is no mystery: The only middle C you have is right HERE, and so forth.

    Bass (or most stringed instruments) is trickier as you can play the same note three of four places. This took me FOREVER to wrap my head around, especially on a four-string: You'd start a given figure HERE, then often to finish it, you had to slide or jump to THERE to finish it. Of course, the great thing is there are no black keys, so every key fingers the same.

    Fives simplified this for me in that I could play two octaves across the fingerboard in the space of a few frets, and some of the keyboard's linearity was restored. I just 'see' better on a five.

    I'd also add I've had a teacher or two watch me and remark, 'why don't you try that here instead of where you are? The odds of success are better', as where they wanted it involved very little left hand movement.
     
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  7. skycruiser

    skycruiser Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    I'm sticking with the 4-string for now, so at least it limits my options. But I do find that I sometimes could use that low B string, not necessarily for the extra low notes, but to access those notes in the E-G# range at a higher position.

    On keyboard, if you are banging out chords and basslines I agree, it can be straightforward. My piano/keyboard play was mostly limited to me trying to play accessible (easier) parts of Beethoven and Schubert piano sonatas. Those are my favorite classical works and it is fun to explore them both in the written out music and on the keyboard. Some very simple sounding passages can really take some ingenuity in fingering and position to get through smoothly. I happened to be using a version of the Shubert sheet music that did not have fingering suggestions, and I found it was fun to figure out the fingering myself. I do the same with my bass parts, but at times I wonder if I haven't found the best solution to the puzzle.

    This may be where a good instructor would come in handy, but so far I haven't taken that step.
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I was once told by a published author that a book with tab outsells a book with just notation by about a 4-1 margin. So for that reason, it’s become rare to find them with just notation.
     
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  9. I learnt how to play guitar to improve my bass playing. Be careful, though, it took me nearly 40 years to get back into bass. Has it improved my Bass? Not sure about that, but, at least, I know my way around the fretboard now.
     
  10. The boring answer: find a teacher. Even one via Zoom. There is no book in the world written specifically for you, at this stage, with this exact set of experience and unique areas to improve upon. Only a real person is going to be able to look at your playing, hear your questions, and give you tips, guidance, and answers that perfectly match what you want.

    If that's not an option then you are going to have to challenge yourself to learn these things from books by filling in the stuff that isn't written down. You'll have to ask some questions and find the answers on your bass. For example, let's say you read a song with the following chords (one per bar): C // Am // Dm // G7

    You can start by getting out a sheet of paper, drawing your fretboard, and mark every position where you could play a C. 3rd fret A string, 8th fret E string, etc. next you can do that process for the A. Then, compare the two and look at every possible combination. You'll find some fingerings that are natural and some that don't feel or sound good.

    From there, repeat from the A to D. Again, you'll find patterns, and after you've done it for all 4 chords the fretboard itself is going to lay out a few positions and say "You can easily access all these notes by planting your hand HERE or HERE."

    If you haven't done so already, invest in learning your fretboard. Everything else is so much easier after you know how to read the fretboard without searching around for the note(s) you want.
     
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  11. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    skycruiser likes this.
  12. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    If you want songs without tab, like rock, blues, etc, you probably aren't going to find those easily. The only way to get something like that would be to buy Guitar Pro 8, download the Pro version from Ultimate-Guitar.com and then print or save as PDF the music without tablature enabled. Super easy after you've done one or two. Guitar Pro 8 is around $80 and you'll need an ultimate-guitar.com membership to get the Pro files. Send me your email and a random song you like and I'll send you a PDF and you can decide if it's worth it or not.
     
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  13. I also was thinking Simandl but thought It's Upright instruction I'm glad you posted your opinion
     
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  14. Nebraska

    Nebraska

    Jul 25, 2021
    Nebraska
    Does Guitar Pro import pdf files??
     
  15. ProbablyTooLoud

    ProbablyTooLoud

    Aug 1, 2020
    Atlanta
    Learning how to play songs in closed position helps me, which I picked up from TBer on the DB side, and applying the horizontal concept - which I read in a Ron Carter book that actually does have some great position advice, but not too many songs - also helps me a lot. This is a cool topic - it kinda sits at the intersection of many of the challenges of learning bass.
     
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  16. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    No, it’s not a sheet music organizing program
     
  17. skycruiser

    skycruiser Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2019
    Here's a simple example of the type of tips I think would be helpful in song books. Starting on measure 15, I think you have better control and matching timbre if you don't use the open D string. I play this at the 2nd position (index finger on 2nd fret) and play the D with my pinky. But in measure 18, I use my index finger for the 3 C eighth note (why stretch when it's not necessary). But this is just what seems best and is comfortable for me. Would an experienced player do the same thing, or is there a good reason to do it differently? I'm not trying to answer that question here, but it's an example of the questions I have when I work these things out for myself.

    upload_2022-11-26_17-36-0.png
     
  18. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    Tri-state
    The only bass guitar specific examples of what you're looking for are Carol Kaye's transcription books. There's so little interest in bass-clef-only song collections that I really don't even think they exist. For such a small niche, the rights to the material would be prohibitive. That's why tab is prevalent, and those god-awful piano + voice song books that are wrong, in the wrong key, and are impossible to read due to having strange layouts and bad fonts. And yet singers print these off a paid service, hand them to musicians, and expect a good result.

    I think that your best option would be to study with a teacher. A lot of full time players/teachers, myself included, have amassed tons of charts and transcriptions, self-generated or otherwise. This kind of personal library would be impossible to publish both because of the copyrights, and the fact that the genres and artists covered don't follow any kind of marketable theme.
     
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  19. Benjamin Earl

    Benjamin Earl Commercial User

    Dec 31, 2008
    Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
    Fretboard Visualization Author
    I don't recall ever seeing position suggestions in a song book. I teach position shifting suggestions with scale exercises that are based on the modes. I use notation and TAB to show the position shift. I feel like these lessons translate to playing songs after you are comfortable with the technique.
     
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