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Super beginner. Help :D

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TotalJam, Aug 3, 2004.

  1. TotalJam


    Jul 8, 2004
    Ok. Could someone please tell me some basics of bass playing, How to start, What to practice everyday etc. Thanks :D

    Ps: I am getting a instructor soon.
    PSS: Please no "DO A SEARCH!" whores...
  2. Corbis

    Corbis Guest

    Feb 19, 2003
    Wamego KS
    Scales, Scales, Scales.


    Work on reading music, work on reading music, work on reading music. I can not stress this enough.

    Also, a good book to buy would be The Bass Player Book when I was starting out it was my bible (and still is). It has everything from guides to re-stringing you bass, to buying an amp, music theory, and interviews with other bass players.

    And remember practice with a metronome if you don't have one get one it'll be the best $15 you ever spend.
  3. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Get a teacher, j/k you are already doing that.

    IF you just started and have no musical background start by just getting use to the bass. Work on good tone with your left and right hand. As stated already get a metronome...even if you repeat one note play with it and really lock in and learn how that feels. You can play a million notes and so forth, but if you can't keep time nobody is going to care.

    Start with a real easy book...mel bay or something of the sort.

    Good luck.
  4. Get the book Bass Guitar for Dummies, it's a great starter book.
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Gee that sounds like fun. I wish someone had told me too learn scales and stressed how important reading from sheet when I started out ;)

    I'm not saying that's bad advice, I think it's very good advice. I just think if you're starting out you probably want to get a feel for the instrument and get off on playing it a bit before you get bogged down in what is essentially boring scales.

    I'd say get out your favourite records, put them on and try to play along. Try to learn a few simple things by ear. Even if you just learn the melody (the vocal line) or some root notes (root notes are the lowest notes in a chord - more often than not this sounds great on bass and is what many bass players will play).
    Just listen to the record, learn whatever part it is you're going to play by singing it, then transfer that to the bass. Even learning to play a jingle from TV, or a nursery rhyme this way will be great ear training. Make sure when you do this, you learn the right groove, pick something simpel and really work on getting the right feel.
    Try 'another one bites the dust' by queen, or 'hey joe', or 'all along the watch tower' by jimi hendrix.

    Another thing to do would be to put your click on 80pm and play a note (any note, pick one!) on every click - work on getting it as tight as you can and count "1 2 3 4" out loud while doing so.. get used to where that one comes round each time and try to hide the click under your bass note.

    your teacher will get you working on scales and reading soon enough!

    ..and as Corbis said above the bass player book is very good - well worth buying if you can find a copy - a really intersting read and loads of great tips :)

    for now, just try to have fun :)
  6. The Beast

    The Beast

    Jul 19, 2004
    Evil Town
    Listen to bass players you like, and really hone in on everything that they do... learn to get a good groove and feel.

    And scales and reading music. :oops: Boring but very very very worth it.
  7. I used the Mel Bays Bass Method 1 I believe it was called. This is what me and my teacher worked on for a few months. First I learned the basics (how to hold, how to use fingers, etc.) Next I started to learn the notes. Before i knew it i was playing twinkle twinkle little star LOL. Those first few months sucked and i was about to quit a few times, but you got to hang in there. Your muscles will develop, youll get faster, and be able to play songs. But deffenitally get lessons, and i recomend this book
  8. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I agree with Howard K.

    After learning proper technique, jump in and start learning from recordings that you like (preferably ones with bass lines that are prominent in the mix).

    Some learners seem to spend a lot more time sight reading / learning scales than actually playing music.

    Developing your ear is critical - and it cannot usually be done in a strictly academic sense (i.e., cannot usually be learned by reading notes off of a page).

    Listen to songs and jam along with them - musically!
  9. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA

    Hi TotalJam, here's my take. First, there are things you can do "on your own", and things it would be good to have an instructor for. In most cases, the first and foremost thing you want to do "on your own" is to develop your ear. The suggestion of listening and playing along to your favorite records is a very good one. That will help you "find the note" when you need to. That's a basic and very essential skill, that a surprising number of bass players have trouble with. When I was starting out, many moons ago, I used to dial up my favorite classic rock station on the radio (that being the popular music at the time), and try to play along with whatever came up. You don't have to worry about getting it "note for note", just make sure you can identify the "key" (like, once you've found the root note on your bass, then check the books to make sure you know what to call it). Pretty soon, you'll start understanding the relationships between the various chords (like, for instance, the 4 is one string over, the five is one string over and two frets up, that kind of thing). I have a feeling that this effort will keep you busy for a while. It took me about six months to where I could hit the right note on the first try. Just stick with it, and be patient. If you practice this way for at least an hour every day, you'll get real good real quick.

    Then, there are things an instructor can do for you, that would be very difficult to do on your own. "Most" people need a little help with music theory the first time around. But don't let that detract in any way from your ear training. If you get bored of the theoretical part, just put it on the shelf for a while, and concentrate on your ear. The most important thing is that the music continues to be fun. Then, the instructor can also help with "technique", in other words, where to put your thumb so that your hand gets the optimal range across the playing surface, that kind of thing. It helps to learn that stuff "correctly" the first time through, 'cause otherwise you'll have to unlearn your bad habits and then learn the right ones anyway (ie as you get better, you'll eventually reach a point where bad habits can be a limiting factor to further progress).

    And finally, tempting as it may be, try to stay away from getting too deeply into any one particular style. Like, don't learn advanced slapping before you've mastered the basics of fingerstyle. Some instructors will try to guide you down one path or another, and my take (based on experience) is that it's good to have "breadth" of experience before "depth". There are many different playing styles, and each has merit in some way.

    Most of all, have fun, and good luck with your endeavors. :)
  10. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    scales & theory etc are obviously important, but I would agree with some of the other guys that one of the best things you can do is listen to a LOT of music and try to work out as many bass lines as you can - all styles

    not only are you working your ear and putting some (probably relevant and usable) technique into practice... you're also getting used to things like song structures and how bass traditionally functions

    it's also potentially more likely to keep the interest of someone starting out, than just bashing out scales with a metronome

    but if you're gonna practice scales, there are plenty or ways you can spice it up... one thing I try and do to cement my knowledge of the fingerboard & also my ear, is to play a little random lick (4 or 5 notes), then try and run it up and down the scales... transposing it to the appropriate mode as you go... i.e. if the lick (in, say G major) is G-D-E-F#-B (which is I-V-VI-VII-III), then i'd play it starting on A, changing the tones to major/minor etc as I went along as appropriate... e.g.


    then, make it a bit harder by mixing up the order you go up the scale... i.e. start on G, then on B, then A, then C etc...

    if you THEN start playing the notes in a different order... then maybe throw some passing tones in there to connect the chords up, you've got something that's virtually indistinguishable from music... :)

    there are a zillion ways to explore those kinds of things, but the thing you need to always be striving for is to find practical ways to extract something musical out of your practice

    also, I always try to keep in mind that a huge part of making something interesting is phrasing and 'character'... although phrasing is sometimes seen as a bit of an unspoken mystery... it's nothing much more complex than sitting down and developing the technical control needed to make your notes as loud and as long as you need them, with the appropriate tone, and with the appropriate timing (all easier said than done)

    and character... well, probably the only thing you really need to do is to try and find your own voice on the instrument... some of my favorite musicians are horribly limited by their technique or sense of harmony etc, but will make up for it by having a sound and style that's recognizably their own... people generally want to hear someone expressing themselves, whatever that entails... :)
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Amen... although imagine how good those favourite musos would be if they werent limited by poor technique?! (debatable, but let's not bother ;) )
  12. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I find it fascinating when seemingly lousy musicians somehow manage to make interesting music... some of my favourite bands, The Clash, New Order, Oasis, contain some of the worst musicians ever to pick up an instrument :)

    however, i've frequently been knocked sideways by how they managed to make something interesting (to me anyway) and appeal to lots of listeners...

    e.g. Noel Gallagher from Oasis could write a decent, traditional, melodic rock song or two, but his band could only ever produce a sedentary kind of 8th-note plod behind them... but because it was so basic and so radically undynamic for a rock band, it ended up being a distinctive style in itself...
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    It doesnt surprise me at all. Having something to say and having good artistic technique are completey independant of one another.
    ..and remember the most powerful and wide reaching messages are nearly always those made using the simplest terms... "enjoy coca-cola"
  14. damo2576


    Aug 9, 2004
    I've only been playing a week but whats worked for me so far is having a few things on the go at once. This keeps me interested and stops me getting bored.

    The things I do:

    Scales, major, minor and pentatonics
    Lessons from 2 sources: Fast Track Bass (a book) and www.gigajam.com Both of these make you sight read.
    Tabs of my favourite songs
    Stu Hamm vid on slap and tap.

    I switch between things and do whatever I feel like doing. Nothings forced. except I always try to use correct fingering, use my pinky etc.


  15. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Some of this has been said already, but...

    1. Work on left and right hand technique - this is where the rubber meets the road in terms of your tone.

    2. Learn the fret board (NO CHEATING, EITHER)

    3. Work on your timing using a metronome or drum machine

    4. Start off learning the major scale - first a one octave scale, then move to a two octave. You will ultimately need to learn both how to move horizontally (up and down a string) as well as vertically (from one string to another and back). Learn all the various fingerings you can use to navigate the scale. Learn to sing the major scale (which helps your ear training). Say the names of the notes out loud as you play them as well as the numbers associated with each note. Play the major scale along with a metronome and lock with the clicks - slowly at first, then faster (amazingly, I find it more difficult to play it slowly than quickly). Play the major scale in every key. Make sure to start the scale with the lowest note in the scale, not with the lowest root (except in E of course, where the root is the lowest note of the scale - on a four string anyway).

    5. Print the following article - make sure you have one copy to keep with your bass and look at it every time you play, especially reading again the sections that you don't yet understand. Put a copy on the back of every toilet in your house. When you go to the bathroom, you know what to do. Put a copy under your pillow at night - I'm not sure if it works, but you never know. Seriously - it is very very good.

    Introduction to Chord/Scale Theory, by Jazzbo(article)

    6. Practice every day - and I mean really practice, not just goof around. Practice the stuff that is particularly challenging. It is easy to sit and play what you know. Don't take the low road and get caught in this rut as it will stunt your growth faster than anything.

    7. Play in a live band setting as soon and as often as you can. You will make mistakes - if you are going to make a mistake, be sure to play it loud and with confidence. This is better than playing the right notes, but sounding tentative and timid. Over time, you will play fewer and fewer wrong notes.

    8. Learn correctly - too many people want to learn a bunch of fast and flashy licks to impress someone. There is time for that, I suppose. But leave it to the professionals. Learn to groove instead.

    9. Don't quit. You will get frustrated. You will get bored. You will hit a plateau. Suck it up.

    10. Listen to as much music as you can from every genre you can stomach. Try playing some of it on bass.

    And a bonus one: PROTECT YOUR HEARING! You may think it is cool playing loud and blowing the doors off the place. I think it is cool, too - wear earplugs. Tinninitus sucks and once your hearing is gone, it’s gone. Game over...

    Oh, yeah and get a really good instructor too...