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teaching self: in need of advice.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MCBTunes, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. Ok, I am picking up the bass after a couple years off and limited knowledge even then. My two good friends are amazing guitarists and I mean amazing. I want to beable to play with them. I can play a few songs intro's mainly... ska and punk... But I think they think I might be a little betetr than I am, I am trying to learn fast so I can get in on the band before they find a replacement. Where should I start?

    My main concers
    1) how do you practice hitting the propper fret on the proper string without looking at the fretboard.(left hand speed/acuracy)

    2) whats the first part of music theory I should learn for the basics to start leatrning the rest... I learnt the C major scale, but I dont quite understand what it means, and how it ties into theory. other than it is all the notes and the next octave

    3)learn to keep time so I can play with them, not to fast or to slow.

    I have a feeling While i start playing with them I will be playing simple rythem. 4-8 beats then move on to the next note or whichever.

    Any help greatly appreciated. I want to improve quick and I am willing to devote good time to learning... I am just so sick of only playing intro tabs to songs.
  2. Eli M.

    Eli M. Life's like a movie, write your own ending

    Jul 24, 2004
    New York, NY
    Hi MCBTunes, welcome (back, I guess) to the world of bass! Here are some suggestions/ramblings on the topics you mentioned.

    1) Accuracy... I’ve been playing electric bass for four years and guitar for about five, but I still look at the fretboard sometimes. Don’t worry - after practicing for a while you won’t need to look as much, it will come naturally. One thing you might do is picture the fretboard in your head. You’ll find yourself hitting the right fret.

    As for knowing what string to hit with your left hand... You should know
    a) how many strings your bass has (let’s say 4 for my example).
    b) how far away your strings are from each other (string spacing).
    c) the width of your fingerboard.

    So once you have a feel for these things, your left hand should be able to tell where it is, in other words, how many strings are above and below the string you’re on. If you’re on the D string, there should be more fingerboard (2 strings) above your finger than below it (1 string). I hope I explained that right. You’ll feel it under your whole hand, not just your finger.

    Sorry if this isn’t helpful at all, I’m just throwing out ideas. I learned guitar first, so my perspective and experience could be quite different. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with looking at the fretboard once in a while.<O:p

    2) Theory... I would say that, as a bassist, you should learn about chords. Do you know what I, IV, and V chords are, and why they are called that? These chords are triads built on the 1st, 4th, and 5th steps of the major scale. You should learn how these, and other chords, function in the context of a song, and what notes of the scale are in the chords. For example, a IV chord contains the scale steps 4, 6, and 1 of the key you are in. (in C this would be F, A, C). After you learn these, you’ll get into inversions, which is basically putting a note other than the root (F in this example) in the bass, and that’s where (in my opinion) interesting bass lines come from.

    You didn’t really mention how much theory you know now, and if you can play by ear. I played by ear, intuitively, for many years before learning theory, and then it was just a matter of putting names to concepts I already understood. But If you know nothing about music beyond the notes of the C major scale, as you said, I may have gone over your head a little. I hope it was helpful, though. Short answer: Learn how chords (typically) function within keys.<O:p

    3) Rhythm... I’m sorry, but I have no idea what to tell you.

    So, good luck with the bass! I hope your playing goes well.

    (edited 2 seconds after posting to fix errors)
  3. every bit of input is good input. As far as the theory part you brought up. no I didnt really understand it.I don't know what the I,IV and V chords are... my musical tehory goes as far as me being able to play the C maj scale, not knowing what it does.. and I know a few things like some octaves and fretboard tricks... 2 strings down 2 frets down gets your same not higher octave etc. At this point I will not take anything as a grain of salt, I want to improve as much as possible.

    I'll figure out what you said eventually :)
  4. 2) I agree, chords are important. They're a good place to start when you want to play somthing other than the root note of the current chord. Also think about what every instrument is doing when you apply theory, not just what you're playing. It may seem obvious, but it's easy to lose track of what sounds good with the rest of the band when you're trying to work in something you've learned.

    3) This will come as you play with them. Don't try to get fancy until your rhyth is solid. Also, tap your foot! That will give you a steady beat so you don't speed up or slow down. Know where you are in the measure (which beat you're on). As long as you know where you should be and know how fast you should be going (If you know where the drummer is at in the measure as well, it's easier to synchronize speeds), then you'll be pretty close to where you should be. Practice is all that will refine it.
  5. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    One thing that you have going for you is that you have some folks to play with that are more accomplished musicians than you, (not better... it is music, not a contest :D )... IMO, nothing prepares you for playing with other people quicker or more effectively than, well, playing with other people!!

    At this point, the simpler the better... Root notes are your friend... I remember reading a quote to the effect that "There are no boring roots, just roots played boringly"... Take from that what you will... One of the most effective basslines that I've ever heard, played by one of the baddest cats ever to pick up a bass, is Sly and the Family Stone's 'Everyday People'... Larry Graham, father of modern slap bass, rides the root note through the entire song... Couldn't be more perfect...

    Basslines built around roots, fifths, and octaves will get you through a ton of situations while you are building skills. Do yourself a favor and get BB King's 'Completely Well'... Jerry Jemmot plays some awesome stuff utilizing these notes... No, it's not easy at first, but shows you what can be done with a few notes, (and a ton of funk!)...

    Rhythm is a main job, and one that will always benefit from good work with a drummer and/or metronome... I don't know of a quick, easy way to build this up other than hard, consistent work... It never ends, but it does get better. Even if you feel that you have no rhythm, or that you have to be born with it, take heart... My son, who I would categorize as the most rhythm-less person alive, recently started drum lessons, and is actually progressing at a rapid rate... If he can do it, you can too!

    Hang in there and keep up the good work. Everyone playing bass on every song you've ever heard was a beginner at one time, the same as you!

  6. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I'm surprised no one has posted this yet, since it's one of the crown jewels of theory introduction here at TB.


    Read the article in this link --> http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=125519

    This article should help you understand the concept of scales and how the different notes relate to each other. This article was greatly helpful to me between the time I picked up bass and the time I started taking lessons.

    If you are serious about progressing as a bassist you should consider lessons to get you started. If you just cannot take lessons and want to learn to play bass then get a copy of "Serious Electric Bass" by Joel Di Bartolo. This book costs $24.95 USD and is worth every penny, IMHO.

    Now on to your questions

    1) The only way to get better fretting notes without looking at the fretboard is practice, practice, practice. Do your scales both in the first five fret region and farther up the neck. Take a look at "Pacman's sure-fire scale practice method" thread that's stickied at the top of this forum. Practice this method while singing note names or scale positions. This will help you get more comfortable on the fretboard and learn where the notes are as well as getting different scale forms under your fingers.

    2) Covered in Jazzbo's article I linked to above. You might want to check out all the articles in the "Reading Room" forum on this site.

    3) Get a metronome. Practice playing at different tempos, and nail the beat. Timing is everything for a bassist. You're holding down the groove, and working with the drummer to create the heartbeat of the song. This is probably the most important skill for a bassist to have.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Ibanezzer


    Aug 12, 2004
    Dayton, Ohio
    i have to say the metronome and learning the scales well enough that you can play them just by thinking of the name (like not reading them off a paper). I started lessons about 3 months ago and learning the scales was a slow process for me, but the pace issue is the biggest thing with timing and thats were the metronome helps in getting that down.