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Things I wish people had told me years ago...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by chicagodoubler, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Before flaming, read carefully. If you still feel like flaming, read my additional posts. If you disagree, please reread the subject line. I don't mention you or your career in it anywhere. "Things I wish people had told ME."

    We play the bass. So play the bass line.

    Practice with the metronome all the time. Practice like a drummer.

    Don't waste your time slapping and tapping.

    If you do, learn how to play stuff legitimately. How many cats can play Eruption on the bass?!!! Who here can slap Teen Town. Including the bridge?

    Never spend more time working on double thumping than you do on playing Larry Graham and Louis Johnson lines.

    Learn how to read.

    Learn how to read.

    GO learn how to read. NOW.

    Transcribe. All the time.

    Take lessons. ALWAYS.

    Nobody cares what type of "chops" you have. People care how rocksteady you can be, how many styles you can play well, how well you can read, if you are nice and fun to be around, and if you'll look cool in their band. Period.

    And finally,

    Get off the internet and go practice.

    ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)
  2. Qvist


    Jul 20, 2007
    I'm fairly new at playing bass (been playing for half a year), so thanks for your tips Chigacodoubler :)

    But I've always been told by bassist friends, that practicing with a metronome is a bad idea, 'cause it makes you sound too mechanical in your playing, and if you already know a drummer, I guess that'll do hehe
  3. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    your drummer willing to come to your house and play quarter notes with you for 10 hours? Can I hire him, if so?
  4. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    +1 to all of that, especially learning to read, practicing with a metronome, practicing a LOT, transcribing, and taking lessons.

    I will also add figuring out songs by ear in many styles, even if you don't write them down. It's important to figure out bass lines in styles you're not accustomed to.

    I will also add, to paraphrase Marcus Miller, "Gear is important, but figure it out early and then don't worry about it." A lot of people on this board (myself included) spend too much time bass, preamp, amp, cab, string, cable, speaker, pickup, mic, and strap shopping and not enough time playing the damn thing!

  5. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    i wouldn't really agree with this. I'm not a world class bass player by any stretch of the imagination but I'd say I was competent at worst. I wouldn't say that learning how to slap and tap was a waste of time. I don't do loads of slapping in my band and i do even less tapping, but the sections where i do them wouldn't be the smae without them so i don't think it was a waste of time for me to learn them.

    With double thumping, I'd say the same as above, if you can do it i'm sure you can find a use for it so I'd say it was worth perfecting.

    I can't read music very well and it's NEVER held me back. I'm sure if you're an inspiring jazz/session musician it'll help you but I don't need it for what I'm doing.

    I took lessons and my teacher wasn't great so I stopped and I've come on a lot more on my own.

    I'd say that a lot of where you can get to in music is by reputation, what people say about you and a lot of people saying this stuff will care what chops you have.

    Just my 0.02
  6. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    If you can thump like Oteil and tap like Sheehan, nobody's gonna mind! However, everyone I've ever met with that level of chops can play the meat and potatos bass too! I also disagree that you need "chops" to get a gig. Guys with less chops and more taste than me have beat me out for national tours, cover bands, album projects...


    Regarding reading:
    You immediately miss out on 1,000's of bucks worth of gigs by not reading. Not just jazz and session. Can't tell you how many different typs of gigs I have to read on! Plus, it's the easiest way to learn music besides by ear. Which Dave mentions above, and I include in the transcribing umbrella.

    Also, dude. You're always better off with a teacher. Most of us who earn a living with the bass have had many teachers. I left a school because I didn't like my teacher. Keep trying them out- it's a great shortcut to awesomeness.
  7. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Play with musicians that are more experienced than you.
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Wear ear plugs !! :meh:
  9. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Something I really wish I was told when I was a beginner: Learn to play without looking at the fingerboard.

    I mean, it's not that you shouldn't look at it, but it's just about not depending on that for playing 100% of the time. I think it's a very valuable asset when you are in a sight-reading situation. Sight-reading is "easier" for someone who plays a wind instrument because he/she has everything there. No need to shift positions, just know the correct valve/key combination to get the needed note. Instruments like guitar, bass or piano are a different story because of shifting. And if you MUST look the fingerboard or the keys for making a shift, you'll certainly lose track of the sheet music when try to put your eyes back into it.
  10. Vengoropatubus


    Oct 28, 2006
    wind players don't need to shift positions?
  11. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Well, I mean, they have everything at their fingertips with no need to move their hands to different places in their instruments (trombone is the only exception I can think of right now).
  12. chriss


    Apr 27, 2007
    Buy a good stereo. If you are trying to learn songs from a boom box or worse yet an mp3 player you aren’t hearing everything there is to hear in a song. Also by getting a good play back system it gives you an opportunity to develop your listing skills. There are good yet affordable amps and CD players available from companies like NAD and Rotel. Even if you just get a good head phone amp and a set of headphones you will be ahead of the game. There is a lot of nonsense in the world of HiFi but there is a lot you can learn as well. Also consider a turntable. If for no other reason there is a lot of good cheap records available. It is particularly true if you play classic rock. Which would you prefer, a 1.00 dollar record or 15.00 cd.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
  13. I'll take it that you never played a wind/brass instrument. Sightreading is equally as hard. You'd be surprised to know how difficult it is to press those 3 valves and buzz that mouthpiece to music youve never seen. :)

    Also, a thread like this came up a few months ago. I wish I could find it to link it to this so we can have even more info to add to this.
  14. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    You're right, man. That's why I put the word "easier" between quotation marks. Not that it's "easy", but at least you don't have to deal with "distance calculations". :)
  15. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Oh yeah a couple more.

    BE NICE.

    Nobody likes an arrogant bassist, and the fact that you can play some dumb little slapping licks sure as hell doesn't make you the best bassist around.


    Treat everyone with kindness, and realize the gig is our office. Politics are such a big part of what we do, and the first time you are late to a gig or get caught smack talking someone, you build a negative reputation that you may never fix.
  16. He he!! Not one of the Beatles during their very productive recording career ever read a note of music. They all wrote, transcribed and played several instruments each. Their records were a template for all pop music at that time and completely changed how things were done in the studio. They composed and did everything entirely by ear.

    I agree: slapping is pretty much a waste of time. Never been in band yet that ever asked for any of that style. Its just a bassist showing off in my mind. I liken slapping to a Macintosh.. Although 'legit'.. pretty much a "niche" thing.

    Definitely: practice, practice, practice and practice some more

    Totally agree: be NICE. Network, be interested in other people's lives and be helpful. A winning personality goes a long way in small performace circles. Musicians with volatile and unpredicable personlities provoke a sense of mistrust in people around them.
  17. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Hey Rattman

    You're really close on the Beatles. One of them actually read music extensively, wrote orchestral arrangements for their music, and was a big name in orchestral recording prior to their partnership. His name is Sir George Martin, and it's hard to imagine the Beatles without him... There are several great books on their studio process, and it's amazing how involved he was in their music. For before and after comparison, look at Twist and Shout vs. Something. Harmonic vocabulary blossomed after working with Sir George, as did instrumentation, rhythmic concept, arranging, etc.

    Given, there's tons of great guys who never learned to read, from Chet Baker to Oteil. However, if you want to make a living on the bass these days, you gotta either be stunningly awesome and in a kick *ss band, or be able to read.

    Speaking of which. Better go shed before my gig with my kick *ss band.

  18. questhe


    Jul 17, 2007
    mesa, az
    Well, alls I can say here, is that *I* can tell who's full of it and who want to contribute knowledge to the community.

    I am worried that some other less experienced players get the wrong info, but I won't wade into the flamimg pit.

    So, let me say that when someone makes a point, and then backs it up with reasons, that counts a lot more than a vague disagreement, or worse, a personal attack.

    I learned to read when I was about 8 years old. I read music through my 20's, but the I quit playing bass to be an engineer.

    Now that I am older, and playing again, I don't feel much need to read music. I am playing in casual bands, and learning songs by ear, and some chords/keys, and some tabs. How much am I missing?
  19. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    questhe- for those of us who are old, or at least older... :), we mostly are doing what we're going to be doing from now on. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, eh? I just wish someone had pushed me more to read when I was a kid, so I could have excelled at jazz quicker, gotten better paying gigs while in college, etc... I started reading seriously my senior year in high school and it was an up hill battle, all the way! By contrast, my students who start reading early figure it out so quickly...

    The definitive argument for me when it comes to kids learning to read is that there is nothing in the world to lose by reading. Whereas not reading can be a different story...
  20. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    People have given me plenty of good advice through the years.
    I just wished to hell I would have listened!
    Still have this problem - I chalk it up to being a double Taurus

    ps> I always listened to my music teachers!

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