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The harsh reality and acceptance

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by saltydude, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. saltydude


    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    After years of playing there's no doubt in my mind that natural ability plays a huge part in the level of playing you achieve. Yes we all know the old expression there's always someone better out there and it's very true. Despite the amount of time I'll never be able to calculate I can say with confidence I'm a decent player but will only get so far especially at this point in my life. I'm not taking a defeatist attitude. I suppose the point of this post is to convey the notion we should never get discouraged and be happy with what we've done with our playing. Enjoy the music and don't give up on your passion. I think this concept or reality escapes most naturals out there.
  2. There was another thread similar to this.

    I agree that natural talent can certainly give someone an edge.

    But as far as "personal best " goes I think the more musical (plus theory) hallways one walks down the more doors there are that open.
  3. saltydude


    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    I’m sure there is another thread or three. I don’t expect it to go far. This is more of an awareness post for all those hard working players out there that get discouraged, want to quit & sell off equipment. We’ve all been there. You’re right about opening doors. The level you reach has much to do with your own personal commitment..
    Mr.Ace likes this.
  4. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Here is a jazz musician/upright bass player, Dan Berglund playing just mostly roots but not discouraged.

    saltydude likes this.
  5. I've got zero natural talent for music & think I might even be genetically inferior to be a musician.
    My path to joy through playing is to avoid all real musicians.
    928cat, 2112, LYNCHMAN and 20 others like this.
  6. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Ray Brown once said that the key to being a great bass player is to know a lot of songs.

    I suppose “great” depends a lot on how the player chooses to define it.

    There are three primary musical aptitudes that go into how a given player’s voice develops: pitch, tonal memory, and rhythmic memory. On those three, you kind of get what you get; until the day when we learn to alter our genetic codes. There are a couple of physical ones as well, like digital dexterity and working through tools.

    Beyond that, you just have to put time in the shed. I once attended an Edgar Meyer Master Class. When the top player finished his piece, Edgar asked him how many hours a day he was practicing. The guy says 3 1/2 to 4. Edgar shakes his head and tells the guy if he wants to be competitive, he has to be thinking 10 to 12.

    Which, that kind of time needs to be put into learning whatever aspects you choose to master. Running scales and arpeggios and perfecting very difficult parts is required if you want to be a virtuoso player. Learning a lot of songs and playing a lot of gigs is required if you want to know the repertoire. Both of those have value. And there are others as well. Whatever you choose, you need to think about at least two years of that kind of regimen to make progress.

    Natural aptitudes are a great starting point. Most players will at last have some degree of them. But, they are just a start. Jaco got where he was going by pretty much living with his instrument. Sure he had aptitude; but, most of what you hear was hard work. Most players have a difficult time putting in that kind of commitment. I don’t know many players who have actually put in 10 to 12 hours a day for two years on a given aspect of playing. You kind of have to be willing to shut off the rest of your life while you do it. And, even with aptitudes, there aren’t any short cuts; because even the seemingly gifted will eventually run into their equal in aptitudes, who did choose to put the time in.

    What can happen is that a player gets a certain level of capability, after which things get harder. So, it seems like nothing more will be learned. That is far from the case. That is just where things start getting interesting. It’s like you’ve learned to talk or to write, but don’t know what to talk or write about. No substitutes for patience, persistence, and accumulated wisdom. FWIW. YMMV.
    928cat, lowplaces, tedsalt and 31 others like this.
  7. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    Back in 1979, I was a very young bass player.

    Within a month that summer I got to see both Entwistle and Pastorius. Talk about rude awakening, reality check and everything else along those lines. Thoughts about selling my newly acquired bass and amp crossed my mind more than once.

    But I didn't do any of that. Something prevented me from quitting.

    Twenty years later my life took a major tumble and at that point in the game I was pretty certain that I'd never play bass again.

    A couple of years ago one of my twin boys decided to pick up bass after several years of playing trombone and before you could say "Jaco" I was back to playing myself.

    Without going in too deep, I'd say that it was likely the very same "something" which prevented me from quitting back in '79 that brought me back to playing.

    From the standpoint of technique I am nowhere near as good as I was 30 years ago when I played 4-5 gigs a week in three different genres. But in certain respects I enjoy the whole playing experience more nowadays, which may or may not make sense to anyone else.

    My $0.02 only...
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  8. Great thought. Learning contentment is an internal victory.

    I've seen many 'naturals' who are spectacular failures in other areas of their lives. They overcompensate for their pain, insecurity or failures by becoming workaholics, etc. They either turn that into the reason to succeed, or sink into despair.... or sometimes both.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
    desertrider71, wmmj and saltydude like this.
  9. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    If you enjoy playing the bass, there is no need to worry (unless you need to make a living from it) about whether or not you are a "decent" player. Thinking about, and monitoring such things can only lead to frustration.

    A "natural" player, though he/she may have a head start on the rest of us, still has to put in the hard graft necessary to stay on top of his/her game.
    MordBass likes this.
  10. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    Brilliant post, man. TB hall of fame quality and deserves to be a stickie.
  11. lbbc


    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    Each of us are ONLY limited, as musicians, by the amount of time we dedicate to our craft. With that said, I have been told that I am a very good bassist (who also sings lead and back up vocals, but definitely not a "natural"). I only practice about 10 hours a week because I balance family, work and music...in that order. I subscribe to a few bass lesson sites and have improved, but it's all about knowing my limitations and setting goals for learning new techniques and styles of playing (although I still can't slap...and that's my harsh reality).
  12. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I played and toured with a virtuoso guitar player for several years. He did a lot of workshops when we were on tour (the band followed along), and used to do his best to teach a room full of enthusiastic guitarists the art of playing several guitar parts at the same time. I was dumbfounded by the guy's ability to do this, as was everyone else in any of those workshops. None of them could follow him. They'd just look on in amazement at how this guy was able to do what he was able to do.

    At first I thought maybe he was just showing off, but after a bunch of discussions that turned into arguments I was certain he completely believed that anyone could do what he could do. If they couldn't, the only reason they couldn't was because they were lazy.

    People could NOT do what this guy could do. I still have yet to meet anybody who could play like this guy or do even half the things he can do.

    That being said, I have my thoughts about this regarding bass players - and they might not be nice :).

    I can't play like Jaco, Wooten, Sheehan, or half the people on Talkbass. I do love bass enough however to want to be able to land the best gigs I possibly can till the day I die. And I will. But I think it's important for me, with that goal, to make sure I keep some things priority. And work at them always.
    • My timing is pretty good, but I still continue to work on it and being the tightest bass player I can possibly be.
    • I work on listening as closely to what others are doing as I possibly can, always.
    • I work on being part of the group, not a great stand out, hey look at me, in your face bass player.
    • I work at putting my entire body and soul into every note I play - that is a challenge.
    • I work on expanding my knowledge and playing skills always.
    • I work at being as professional a player as I can possible be. For me that means showing up early, being completely reliable, learning and knowing my parts impeccably, and doing my job so that nobody in the band has to ever think about or be concerned with what I'm doing. I work at being as easy a person to get along with as I can possibly be, too. I've learned lots by being the opposite, a smart guy a strong opinion. Smart guys I learned know when to keep their mouths shut, and when to open them.
    The part that I said might not be nice above is this. First, I think anyone can get work at and get better at any/all of those bulleted points, it doesn't take natural ability. If someone is UNWILLING to work on the above, then I think they best understand their place as a hobbyist in the bass world. Or just quit playing and find something they really enjoy and WANT to do. I believe if someone wants to be successful though, the above is stuff that's real important (dare I say critical) to focus on. Ya don't have to be Jaco - but you have to keep at it and keep putting your best foot forward. If ya want to be successful :). And not have a life full of band drama....

    Bla, bla, bla... and bla blu blu, too.

    Last note - I think it's important too to work on keeping a positive attitude, as difficult as that may be at times. Grumbling about how little opportunity is out there for a good bass player is never helpful, IMO.
  13. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I've always compared being a musician to being an athlete. Both take dedication and practice. They also require natural ability. If it was just a matter of practice, everyone could be a great musician or great athlete.
  14. Hand slap

    Hand slap

    Feb 14, 2016
    I have been playing along time, 30 years, I am not a natural, in my town, of about

    I have been playing about 30 years, I am not a natural, and I think I should be a lot better,IMO I am a decent player, my best ability IMO, is to play well with a band/drummer. BUT, in my area I am not, or never have been in the top "10" , I live in a town of around 250,000 and there are a few players, who are SMOKING HOT! These guys do all the choice gigs, they are great Jazz players, some excellent singers too, and some of these guys are teachers too, most are full time musicians, and they are really world class players. I have always worked to improve my playing, and have always known, there is always some one better. Enjoy where you are at.
    Mr.Ace and saltydude like this.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    When I played guitar in a trio the bass player took lessons, practiced diligently, did everything he could to get better. He was a competent player, but no more. I didn't see any improvement in the 4 or 5 years we played together. Not everyone can be a great player.
    JimiLL, Groove Doctor and Mr.Ace like this.
  16. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    There is a difference between "better" and "successful," and much of that comes from one's own perspective. Ringo Starr continually makes the claim of being the greatest drummer of all time -- and in many ways he is. So, it's just a matter of you knowing what makes you a great bassist.
    Mr.Ace likes this.
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Having the best chops seldom means you will be the best choice for a band.
  18. Mr.Ace

    Mr.Ace Bass players rule!

    Sep 8, 2015
    Pompano Beach FL
    Endorsed by Fusion ( maker of killer gig bags)
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  19. StraffordMike


    Apr 25, 2015
    For me it was a life of being a mechanic, no amount of practice is going to make my fingers ,especially my right middle, bend at the 1st and second knuckles. Forget about hanging on to a pick!
    Mr.Ace likes this.
  20. jaymelewis


    Jan 6, 2010
    Fillmore, CA
    100% this.
    ObsessiveArcher, Wfrance3 and Mr.Ace like this.

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