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Things that all new players should know.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    There's something that's been on my mind for a while that I wanted to share but wasn't sure about how to post it. I think this is the way.

    When I first picked up a bass, I was a guitar player. The bass I picked up was left at my house for a week by my friend. I was very intrigued, and tried to play it. The strings were about an inch off of the neck, and this is what I thought a bass was all about. All the basses I played around that time (when I was 15) were like that. I recently met a woman who had a son who wanted to learn to play bass, and she showed me the bass he was getting frustrated with. It was a carvin semi hollow bodied. The kid thought the bass sucked. He was right, but only because it definitely needed a set up, which I gave it. The bass rocks now.

    My point: Had I known the basses I was playing simply needed a setup, I might have trashed my guitar years before I did and been playing bass a lot longer. There are things such as this that a kid picking up his first bass might not know. I thought it would be good to start a thread to help steer newbies away from things that may either turn them off to bass, or impede their progress bigtime. I hope that made sense. OK. I'll now rephrase my first contribution to the "things that all new players should know" thread.

    The bass strings shouldn't be incredibly hard on your fretting hand fingers. If there's like a half inch between the strings and the neck - you NEED a setup. You can learn to do it yourself, have a more experienced bassist do it for you, or take it to a music store and have it done for about $25.

    I'm sure there's lots of useful info ya'll can contribute here. I'm done for now.
  2. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I was really small when I started playing bass, and my first bass (a Lotus P-Bass copy) was really heavy - around 16 pounds. Try to get a lighter bass if playing is uncomfortable.

    Also, don't buy the first bass a guitar sales person suggests to you. Talk to several sales people at different stores. Make an informed decision, other than taking the first thing you see. I bought the first bass I was shown, and I'm lucky to still be playing today. It was a DOG! Sad to say, many guitar sales people are out to make a quick buck rather than truly serve your best interest. Be aware so this doesn't happen to you.
  3. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    And another thing: CHANGE YOUR STRINGS!!!!! You will be amazed at how much better your bass will sound and feel with strings that are less than 3 years old. Most bassists I know change their strings every few months.
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    And one more thing: Buy a new bass if you can. You can get a good bass new for pretty cheap, and the benefits of doing so far outweigh the few bucks you *could* save buying used. I've seen many, many beginning guitar and bass students with sub-par instruments that they bought used. Squier, Ibanez, Essex, etc., all make a good bass for cheap.

    Avoid pawn shops like the plague. Wait to buy used gear until you know what you are looking for.
  5. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I'm with Joe: proper setup is invaluable. I've played some pretty horrendus setups, and it can really mess with your playing. Worse, you wouldn't know it due to inexperience. I have a pretty gnarly one on my 4 string right now for reasons only half out of my control, and I know if I picked up a bass straight away with a setup like the one I've got on mine, I'd be discouraged. A neophyte wouldn't know know the difference, which could be a real shame.
  6. I think it is important for young players to be aware that what sounds good when playing by themselves isn't necessarily going to sound good when they get together with other players. I'm talking about all the aspects too. Tone, technique and all around approach get compromised when you're really trying to work with other people. This isn't a bad thing, but can be a frustrating thing to realise. People should learn to play with others as soon as possible. There isn't a better way to develop musically than learning in the actual environment that you're training for.
  7. The suggestion is related to 3 finger plucking technique ... not 2 fingers and not picking. I accept that 2 finger plucking is possibly the best plucking approach and anyone who has heard Chris Squire or Andy West will know that a pick can nnot be considered a disadvantage.

    Anyway, my suggestions is that beginners who wish to go down the 3-finger-pluck technique should adopt a STRICT ring-middle-first finger plucking order.

    The emphasis is that the order of your plucking fingers should not be affected by the motion of your fingers in your fretting hand. Try to keep the ring-middle-first finger plucking order as you cross strings too.

    One way of enforcing this is to play a 1 octave scale accross 2 strings and keep an eye on your plucking hand to ensure that the finger ordering remains consistent.

  8. I agree with DaVEPe on the 'drag-the-teacher-along'. Really helped me!

    But probabely the most important thing you should talk about to new players is: listen to decent bass players! A lot of kids out there who want to start with bass think it's as simple as hitting an E over and over again thanks to those crappy bands they have on MTV nowadays. Have them listen to complex basslines, you know: the good stuff. If they still want to play bass after that, you know they don't pick it up because they think it's easy.

    And what exactly is a setup :( ?
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    That you'll never make any decent money playing bass ;)
  10. I thought playing bass was all about the music... :eek:
  11. dedmyers


    Dec 23, 2003
    Amen to Smash
  12. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    There is much wisdom in Smash's post. I also second (third, 4th?) getting a professional setup and watch the guy so you can learn how to do it yourself.

    I played my Squier for 2 months before I had it properly set up (I bought it at Daddy's Junky Music and the best they would offer me was they would ship my bass to New Hampshire to have it looked at). It was like getting back a completely different bass. It was 10 times easier to play and sounded better as well.

    Oh yea, get lessons! I probably wouldn't be playing today if I hadn't taken lessons when I first started playing.
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Yep, and there aint no money in it neither ;)

    I generally agree with you here, except for two things..

    I played with a singer song writer who knew about 20 guitar chords, pretty much just major and minor triads. She could strum chords and that was about it, but she had an amazing singing voice and wrote fantastically good, yet ever so simple acoustic songs.
    There was nothing I could learn from with regards to technique, chord progressions, song writing, etc, because it was often incredibley obvious changes, melodies and progressions that have been working in pop music for decades... but that doesnt mean it wasnt fantastic music and wasnt worth playing.

    "if possible join existing bands rather than wasting time developing a band from scratch"
    As someone who's played for a few years now I know that starting a new band is easier the better the players you have at your disposal and that starting a new band as a beginner, well it's gonna be hard work!
    BUT, it's also part and parcel of enjoying music. We've all been in some dreadful school/college bands that we started with friends and that was part of our development... it also gives us some great anecdotes and experiences that I wouldnt trade for anything! It's what gives us all an affinity with the mighty Tap... "listen.. to the what flower people say"
    So I'd say: set up a band with your mates AND get in a ready formed bands with some player sbetter than yourself! Bother are important and hopefull good fun.

    Basically, I think I'm saying that the pressure to become a "great musician" is often quite significant and one will often feel that pressure as thought it comes from external influences., but the only pressure that exists really comes from yourself and - above all- the most important thing is to enjoy making music! In comparison, nothing else really matters.

    H :)
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    ditto on everything smash said, especially the tuner thing. it is essential. only thing i personally disagree with, but just my preference, is the used bass thing. as a beginner you may be more prone to buying someone else's problems - and there's something that i really like about being the first one to touch a bass. maybe it's an ego/virgin type thing, but i love newness.

    More suggestions - concerning performance....

    -get on a stage as soon as you possibly can. even if you're not entirely ready. one gig is worth at least 10 rehearsals. when you hit the stage the first time remember that everything, and i mean EVERYTHING, is going to be different. this is where you need to really work on skills.

    things you might expect to feel or be different when you're on stage:

    -the sound may very well suck, you may not hear your guitarist, vocals, or self. the mix may sound like total crap. you need to learn to work with it so relax and know that you'll get better, and get more accustomed to not hearing the band sound the way you're used to hearing in in your comfy basement or studio. it's a good idea to elevate the guitar amp (if it's a combo) on a box or chair, and tilt it slightly in your direction. everyone will hear it better.

    -your drummer, if also inexperienced may very well race through every song. cut him/her some slack - they're drummers. trick (if there isn't a soundperson and everything isn't miked): throw a mic in the kick drum and set the volume so you can just barely hear it coming out of the PA. the kick drum gets lost in a lot of mixes, and bands wind up sounding horrible without anyone really knowing why.

    -you're strings may suddenly feel as if they've doubled in size and tension. your hands may become really stiff, depending upon how nervous you are.

    -if you're absolutely terrified, ready to pass out, trembling, think you're going to puke, etc. - this is not a bad thing. it's a GREAT thing. it's a ton of energy you have that you WILL learn to work with if you don't let it scare you off the stage. some of the greatest performers have the absolute worst stagefright.

    -falling on your face on stage is not a terrible thing. it's almost necessary so don't go too hard on yourself. it's all about learning to do it gracefully :) .

    -practice from day one not acknowledging any mistakes. if anyone messes up, don't even look at each other. this is an art that needs practice.

    -no matter how you feel about the performance keep your mouth shut until you're alone with your band. saying you sucked to anbody else is only annoying to everyone, and makes you suck even more. better to just smile and say nothing, nomatter how great or bad you were.

    i'm just remembering that i think there's a similar thread in the performance section. i may be wasting bandwith here. oh well. just a few more rando thoughts here. have fun!
  15. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    You haven't ever worked in guitar repair, have you Smash?


    Most of the repairs I see (about 90%) are people bringing in used instruments they just bought that weren't worth the money to begin with. They thought it was a good deal; it wasn't. Most times people who don't know what they are looking for buy something terrible, and spend almost as much as getting a new bass.

    Like I said, used is a great way to go if you know what you are looking for, or have a KNOWLEDGABLE person looking with you (Uncle Bob who used to play 20 years ago does NOT count). You'd be surprised at how many people think they know alot about buying instruments, and they only end up misleading kids into getting the wrong thing.
  16. yep.
    it bugs me when guitarists tune up onstage without muting.
    in this respect, I can't do without a Zoom pedal- silent tuning in any quiet point of the set to make sure using a Hipshot detuner hasn't put the E string out etc.

    amen to that-for all musicians.
    a lot of the time the sound on stage is just something to put up with and make the best of and get through in a professional manner.
  17. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    Good thread, Very good advice SMASH! :)

    I'm going to split this thread with setup.
  18. Gentlemen, I think most of this thread belongs in Misc. since it definitely isn't about "Setup" and all things , er...setting up.

    So, off it goes...
  19. The tone is in the fingers, not necessarily the bass. Some people like spending thousands on basses, and that's all good. But an aspiring bassist should stick with a bass that gets the job done and spend more time practicing. Get something that sounds good and plays well, and spend the money you saved on lessons, not gold hardware and fancy maple tops. Save that for when your band actually starts gigging and making records!
  20. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    Don't be like me and think you can take apart anything and adjust whatever you want. Well I can't help it it's who I am but ...... I warned you!!!

    Take lessons. I went a year with out them and when started I became a king.

    Jam with everyone.

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