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Taking Bass Lessons From a Guitarist?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassOfDiamonds, Jul 27, 2012.


  1. So I've taken my third lesson with an instructor, but the more I look into his credentials, the more it looks like he's primarily a guitarist (in his bio, there's actually no mention of him playing bass).

    He does seem to play the bass pretty well, at least to my untrained ears, when he demonstrates things to me.

    However, I've seen plenty of people here caution against learning bass from a guitarist (that doesn't focus much on bass).

    If you were in my shoes, would you consider shopping around for another instructor who actually focused substantially on bass throughout their professional/playing career? Or has learning from scratch from a guitarist (and not a bassist or a guitarist/bassist) worked out for some of you?
     
  2. pastorjamesc

    pastorjamesc Cheap Ability, Expensive Taste Commercial User

    Jun 26, 2012
    Waco Texas
    Owner/Operator of Cotten Patch Sound Design. Burns of London Guitars and Basses retail. I do sound design, resetting, and education for churches, organizations, and small venues with no Sound personnel. Studio for "self-produced" rental use.
    I had a similar problem in that there were no pure bassists where I'm located. So I decided to take a chance on a "correspondent" teacher. He sends me lessons every two weeks and I work on them while we e-mail and chat back and forth. I can send him mp3's and/or videos for comment. Etc. I find I'm doing a lot better with a pure bassist...even if he is kicking my butt with theory.

    (FYI, I just returned to playing after a 20+ year lay off and I'm looking at playing for pure personal pleasure. If I gig some fine, if not, fine....)
     
  3. In the time that your teacher spends with you, you are depriving him of imparting his vast experience and knowledge on a potential guitarist. You live in SAN FRANCISCO??? Get a BASS teacher!! Period.
     
  4. Don't yell at me, lol...he was the one advertising himself as a bass teacher.
     
  5. Jazzkuma

    Jazzkuma

    Sep 12, 2008
    yes look for another teacher. Believe it or not Bass is a different instrument than a guitar. It requires different techniques, different nuances, he has to know which bassists you should be listening too, what exercises will fit the bass which might be different than a guitar, the role of bass in an ensemble (locking in with drums, bass line construction...etc). If you live in San Francisco there really is no reason why you shouldn't look for a bassist to teach you bass. You wouldn't take guitar lessons from a bassist either, or drum lessons from a hand percussionist or organ lessons from a pianist. Different instruments require different skills.

    And also makes me think that he is teaching you how to play bass with a pick only? Right hand finger technique is very important.
     
  6. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Nov 17, 2010
    Don't do it anymore. Just walk away...
     
  7. I took lessons from a guitar teacher.. it worked out fairly well. Lots of theory.
     
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I'm self-taught. So I'm not in your shoes. But here's my take:

    Especially if you're a relatively new, inexperienced player, you can still learn quite a bit from this guy - particularly in terms of fretboard knowledge & music theory. You might also learn more about the guitar, which can help your bass playing in future to be more cognizant of the guitar's role & influence, as well as other instruments in general.

    But also be aware of the limitations here: The more you mature as a bassist, the more you can benefit from bass-centric instruction - particularly with regard to composition of bass parts, bass playing technique, and other, related concepts that are unique to the bass.

    Ultimately you will need to evaluate the situation for yourself...and determine for yourself when the time is right to make the transition - whether sooner or later... :meh:

    MM
     
  9. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I think a rookie bassist can perhaps learn some useful stuff from a guitarist who can find their way around a bass. But they'll take you so far and no further.
     
  10. Yeah, you've all convinced me...already have my eyes on a few, and they're pure bassists.

    Very annoying that this guy was/is going around specifically seeking out bass students when he's exclusively a guitarist.

    But it's my fault for not checking out his background more carefully. Now I know better.
     
  11. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Its the quality of the instruction, not the instrument.
    A teacher gives you trust, so you give them trust back....the fact you are here questioning that trust may answer your question.
     
  12. Bonafide

    Bonafide Rodney Gene Junior Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    Austin
    Artist for: Nick Silver Pickups, Free The Tone Effects, Carr Amplifiers, PG Music BIAB, Ethos OD +
    +1

    You will have many teachers in your career if you are a serious or dedicated student. As a bass player, many of those teachers will not be bass players. There is just too much to learn, absorb and integrate as a musician to isolate it to bass.

    You didn't mention if you were learning and enjoying the lessons. If so, you have the right teacher for your current level of understanding. Obviously if you want to learn certain 'techniques' you will find a teacher who can teach those and so on.

    I taught both bass and guitar professionally for a long time. I had a great deal of experience with both instrument although bass is my 'professional' instrument.

    All is well if you are learning and enjoying yourself.

    Asking whether this person is a bass 'player' or not is not the right question. Ask whether you are learning what you signed up to learned. As mentioned above by Fergie, it is the quality of instruction that matters, not the instrument. :)

    Enjoy the process! It is all you have!

    Respect and Blessings!
     
  13. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    That was my experience. Luckily for me, at the same time I was thinking I needed to find another instructor, my instructor told me that he's done about all he could do for me and recommended finding an instructor who could take me further. He even helped me find my current instructor.

    I give him a lot of credit for being more concerned with me getting better as a musician than just taking my money.
     
  14. coyote1

    coyote1

    Mar 23, 2012
    Some of the most interesting bassists have been folk that started on, or were masters of, other instruments. Think of it this way: Remember Mel Torme? He was an awesome pianist, awesome drummer, and great at other instruments... as well as being an amazing singer. If he were still alive and put himself out there as an instructor on ANY instrument, I'd pay for the lessons.

    There is far more to be gained from learning overall musicality and applying it to your instrument than there is in being narrowly instrument-focused IMO.
     
  15. ChetChetney

    ChetChetney

    Apr 25, 2012
    Oklahoma City
    I would try to find a true 100% bass player/teacher. I played guitar for 12 years and recently switched to bass; these 2 instruments are completely different animals with unique techniques. I found a true bass player to teach me and the new things I learn every week are outstanding. A guitar teacher cannot teach you the intricate techniques needed to play phenomenal bass lines.
     
  16. Bonafide

    Bonafide Rodney Gene Junior Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    Austin
    Artist for: Nick Silver Pickups, Free The Tone Effects, Carr Amplifiers, PG Music BIAB, Ethos OD +
    While I understand, this is not the same scenario. After 12 years of playing guitar, you were already thinking / feeling like a musician. Finding a 'bass' teacher was rightly the best choice for you. You need to begin to think / learn like a bassist which is (for awhile anyway) different.

    After 12 years of playing you are generally considering many other components of music such as songs, musicianship, composition, tone variation, playing/integrating with other instruments etc.. when you play. These elements are not even in a beginners consciousness. The 'best' teacher in those cases is the one who can transmit those qualities with clarity and enthusiasm. 'Instrument' preference has no relevance.
     
  17. bunkaroo

    bunkaroo Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I am largely self-taught but early on when I was 13 I started out taking lessons from a guitarist for a couple months. I use a pick (my decision not his) and he taught me some basics about alternate picking and scales and keys. I took that and started learning as many songs by playing with recordings as I could.

    If I had the desire to be a fingerstyle player or a slap/pop player then I would have almost certainly sought out a true bass teacher, but the way my playing developed I was able to figure things out on my own.
     
  18. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    If you've got the scratch Kai Eckhardt teaches in Oakland. If I didn't have such a full schedual I'd volunteer my services.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J
     
  19. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Kudos, we're very glad you decided to make the move to another teacher. It's true he can teach you some stuff, but I think the most important benefit you will get from a bass-centric teacher will be your right hand technique. This guy might know how to pick and pluck a little, but he may be totally lost if you decided to get your feet wet in pop/slap or double-thumbing. Again, good decision on changing teachers :)
     
  20. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    just because you play bass doesnt mean you can teach. if this guy can teach, dont worry about what you hear here. one of the guitar players i play with plays bass better than most bass players i know. my student load contains of primarily guitar players. my students are always surprised to find out i gig on bass. if they went to someone else in the area because they wanted a "guitar player" for a teacher they wouldnt be getting as good of instruction.
     

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