Things any good bassist should be able to do.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Waytootrue, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Waytootrue


    Jan 19, 2018
    I'm preparing for a college audition this fall, and I've been thinking a lot about technique. In particular the things that makes a good bassist stand out above the average player. Similarly, what is essential to be considered a good bassist?


    You tell me!
    CandyAppleASAT and Bassbeater like this.
  2. InternetAlias


    Dec 16, 2010
    To be on time, first and foremost.

    A lot of people show they aren't really good at keeping time once they're isolated in an audition. You should see their faces when I play their tracks back to them in the studio and they get to realize how terrible their time is.
  3. beaglesandbass

    beaglesandbass Think first, then post? Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    Not overplaying
  4. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Solid groove phrasing. Consistent rhythmic details.
  5. Coolhandjjl


    Oct 13, 2010
    Run the PA :roflmao:
  6. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Deliver a pizza.
  7. MG Wolf

    MG Wolf Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2014
    Due East
    Whoosh (Sparingly) :cigar:
  8. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Does your audition involve reading music you've never seen before (aka sight-reading)?

    If so, that would be the one thing I'd want to be prepared for. Good time, as mentioned, is essential. I figure creativity and originality are pretty low on the list of priorities if you need to perform a prepared piece. But what will really set you apart is being able to play anything someone puts right in front of you, there's the red light, it's go time. I don't know if colleges think the same way, though.

    What is expected of you in the audition in the first place?
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  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Timing. If you can't hold a good groove, you will fall through the cracks.

    Technique that fits the music. If you are playing multiple genres, you may need multiple techniques.

    Understanding your job. I have always seen my job as a bassist as being sort of a door between two rooms. The rhythm is in one room. The melody is in the other. Neither can get to the other without going through me. I have to be an open door so each can get to the other freely.

    As for the audition... The best you can do is find out everything you can about what they are looking for.
  10. Technique? Yes. Definitely.
    Creativity, performance, originality? Aren’t requirements, but are sure good skills to have. To pass a college audition (I have experience on both sides of the audition desk), I’d say you have to:
    1. Read music well.
    2. Sightread proficiently.
    3. Know your basic musical building blocks, like all major and minor scales, and arpeggios.
    4. Know how to perform your prepared pieces without making a mistake.
    5. If there is a theory exam, you should know the order of sharps and flats, all key signatures of major and relative minors, chord spelling, and altered extensions.
    6. Be early.
  11. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    A good bassist should be able to do what the gig requires. For a college audition, you ought to be able to play with solid feel and tempo, conveying some reasonably schooled sense of basic and extended rhythm and harmony. You should also have your reading chops together.

    *But* what exactly is non-negotiable and what is unspoken-but-valued will depend on where you're applying. For example, when you are able to select your audition pieces, some programs will want upright chops and will prefer if you lean on orchestral or jazz audition pieces. Some programs will be fine with electric bass and musically literate rock or pop audition selections. (Berklee, for example, advises that you audition on what feel to you like your strengths; so don't try to hit them with a baroque fugue on doghouse if your whole thing is Wooten style slappery.)

    If in doubt, ask (not us, but the program to which you're applying).
    Daniel Piper likes this.
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Someone near and dear to me just went through the college audition process. ;)

    If at all possible, don't go this alone. Do you have a teacher? At least on the classical instruments, most students auditioning for college have teachers who are familiar with that process. Also, all college music programs have their audition requirements posted online, and indicate whether they accept electric bass students.

    I doubt that they are looking for exceptional originality or uniqueness -- you will completely re-develop those things while in college anyway. I don't know of students being told by their teachers to showcase exceptional uniqueness. Instead, they're evaluating your level of musical education and motivation to see if you are likely to be successful in their program, and to function in ensembles. Can you prepare a recital piece? Play in a few different styles? Can you sight-read? Are you ready for the coursework?
  13. Beetfarm615


    Feb 15, 2017
    Sight read!
  14. pglaser01


    Mar 19, 2013
    St. Louis, MO
    If only I were that good....
    Helix likes this.
  15. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    They will:
    1. Expect you to have a prepared audition piece. Often they provide a piano accompanist. They usually like jazz and classical.
    2. Expect you to sight read something jazz, or more likely classical.

    I wish I had known this before showing up with a original composition I didn't have charts or sheets for. I somehow got in anyway, but they acted like i was stupid for not knowing. Disclaimer :25 years ago
    IamGroot, Alik and TheReceder like this.
  16. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    If you were auditioning for a band I'd say help the drummer load out drums.

    If you're talking about academia... that's the realm of a lot of odd people. Coming from a bass player... that means they're really odd. I'd say the ability to read, improvise, and basically play the heck out of bass for the audition. And once you get with them... as someone stated earlier... don't overplay.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
    Morrighan and Bottom Hammer like this.
  17. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I hate to be a downer, but I think my best piece of advice is don’t get yourself deep in debt with student loans and expect playing bass to make ends meet. It is possible, but also very difficult.
  18. DanAdams

    DanAdams Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2013
  19. higain617


    Sep 12, 2013
    Haul the other guys' gear since the singer is at another bar.
    bkbirge likes this.
  20. BillyBA


    May 17, 2017
    Atlanta, Ga
    bass face is the hardest technique to master
    bassboysam, whero, Rickter and 3 others like this.