Third time's a charm? Should I try again? Tips?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by ski_rush, Sep 28, 2021.

  1. ski_rush


    Oct 2, 2016
    I am considering trying to pick up the bass again...but, this would be my 3rd attempt. A few years ago I bought a good beginner bass (Ibanez GSR 200) and even had 1:1 lessons. The lessons were okay, but it got expensive for me. Honestly, I didn't get too far. I was pretty much just practicing scales. I ended up selling the guitar after it sat for a few months.

    A year later, I bought another beginner bass and tried again, but this time on my own. I figured I'd practice more since it was during the shutdown. Unfortunately, I didn't. I sold this one too. I regretted it, but I also didn't love the bass. It was an off brand (Mitchell) and didn't produce good sound.

    Here I am again...wanting to try again, but also a little embarrassed since this will be my third attempt. My wife will likely laugh a little at me.

    Anyone have a similar story? Any tips on sticking with it?
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  2. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I originally had a bit of trouble but after watching the following motivational video, I was able to press ahead and get to the next level.

  3. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Nothing wrong with trying again; we're glad you're here.

    As far as "sticking with it" is concerned, I believe that setting achievable goals is the key. So what do you want to do with the instrument? Figure that out and then chop it down into achievable pieces. This is the model my best teacher used to get me to a place where I can hold my own in a jazz trio. (Personally, if I was just playing scales purposelessly, I'd lose interest in minutes. I have to know what it's leading to.)

    Given the choice I'd want 1:1 lessons but that's spendy. I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses recommending online lessons. Whatever works for you.

    Good luck.
  4. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    First, it's very important to pick out the right bass, something you can really bond with. Many beginners have given up in frustration trying to bond with the wrong bass.
    Second, frame of mind.
    It's all about attitude. It's even more important than practice, practice, practice. Don't just play the bass, be the bass! When you plug in, nothing should exist but you and the music. Think about method acting. A method actor doesn't just play a character, he becomes the character, sometimes even staying in character off the set. Attitude! Once I changed my attitude, everything else fell into place.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
    CallMeAl and comatosedragon like this.
  5. Tendril


    Sep 28, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Nothing to be embarrassed about. I would recommend spending a bit more dough on a bass you really bond with, and not selling it if you fall out of the mood. A good bass you like is really a one-time investment that can last for literally decades. The other thing is, give yourself a goal. Then break that down into a whole bunch of little steps. After you reach that goal, set another.

    The previous posters pretty much beat me to the punch. Lol. Do what they said.
    El_Charro and CallMeAl like this.
  6. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    There are as many teaching styles out there as there are learning styles. If you’re gonna give it another go , success lies in finding one that clicks with you, imho. Whether it’s in person or online, find what makes the most sense to you and feels most joyful. You may have to shop around.

    As mentioned, a nicer bass might make a difference. get a setup with a local tech and/or have a musician friend look it over. It makes all the difference.

    I’d be curious to hear what you approach was, and what resources you were using on your second attempt.
  7. ski_rush


    Oct 2, 2016
    For my second attempt, I tried to learn by practicing the scales that I learned the first time. And, I tried to play songs using Rocksmith for my xbox...I know that probably sounded super lame, but that's what I did. I don't think it worked well for me because I didn't feel like I was actually learning to play. I felt like I was faking it.
  8. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Get a good teacher. If you were just practicing scales, you likely didn’t have a good teacher. You find a good teacher through referrals.

    Get a good bass. You can get a Squier VM for about $300 used. Then have it set up by a real repairman, not a GC hack.

    It’s more fun playing a nice instrument with goals in mind.
    comatosedragon likes this.
  9. ahbradot


    Dec 14, 2019
    I can only tell you how I fell in love with playing bass guitar. Back in the 1970s jamming with other kids became my social life throughout middle school, high school and beyond.
    Playing bass was a way of connecting with like-minded people. Perhaps you will bond with a bass by finding someone to share your passion with. Once you sit down with another it becomes exciting thump away and create a melody together. Please do not overthink it or become frustrated. Keep it simple and it will be fun as you start to learn more and more and connect with others. It’s never too late to enjoy and create the gift of music.
  10. Timmah

    Timmah Supporting Member

    May 19, 2011
    1. Find a bass you like playing. One you think about when you’re at work and look forward to coming home to play.
    2. Get a teacher who will give you goals and real musical application for what he or she is teaching you. When I was a beginner that meant that my teacher would teach me a simple song- sunshine of your love, or seven nation army, or whatever- and show me that there were a few places to play it on the fretboard, and use that as a segue to teach about scales and the notes on the neck etc.
    3. If a teacher is too expensive (and good ones aren’t often cheap), consider online lessons, especially if you’re someone who’s self motivated and good at sticking to goals. Scott’s Bass Lessons is a popular one, among lots of other great resources.
    4. Don’t forget to PLAY! Don’t just run scales or do what the teacher tells you! Make stuff up, even if it doesn’t sound good. Put your hands on the bass and see where it takes you. That’s what it’s all about, right?
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Story of my life, although I finally got it together and have now been gigging for 40 years.

    Bought my first bass while in the Army, 1973. Shipped out to South Korea without it, bought another one in the PX but never understood how to locate other people to play with so I floundered through books and learned a bit but wasn't really playing much at all. In 1977 after the Army I took lessons for a few months but they didn't take. In 1978, I met a harmonica player in the audience at a blues show and I started jamming with him and some local players in his garage, nothing serious...more of an excuse to drink and smoke dope for everyone but the two of us...though it led to my first public performance at a party where we were stiffed on pay. In 1979 while in college I ended up rooming with a banjo player, so I learned how to play bluegrass from him. Joined a bluegrass band with some other students and did my first paid gigs. Graduated in 1981, got married and started lessons again. I also bought a DB for $300 and started working on that. Took some DB lessons, just enough to get me in trouble. Started playing with local country bands (mostly terrible) and then blues, cajun and contradance bands. It was when I was asked to play DB in a blues band that I started lessons again. After a year or so, dropped that and just gigged until one day I was unhappy with my playing so went back to my last teacher and worked on specific technical issues like string muting and exercises to develop a stronger sense of time. About a decade later went back one more time to yet another teacher to work on walking lines for jazz for about a year. Total time spent in lessons over 48 years? Maybe 5 years total.

    So here's the takeaway:

    -- I didn't understand that what was really holding me back was my own laziness and lack of discipline to just do the work. I'd get frustrated and quit rather than sticking with it.

    -- I did not start jamming with people for about 5 years after getting my first bass. Why? Because I didn't know any musicians and didn't understand how to find them. Looking back, I wasted a lot of time. I remember a few people I met in the Army that I could have asked to show me stuff but for some reason never followed up on it.

    -- Playing with others is the biggest incentive for me to get better.
    JRA likes this.
  12. Learning scales is great and necessary, but it should not be the only thing you do when you practice. You have to throw some fun stuff in there.
    Whatever it is that makes you want to play the bass should be a big part of your practice time. Learning favorite songs or parts from favorite songs. Experimenting with techniques and tone. Learning your instrument, how to re-string, intonate, set-up, etc.
    Get a bass you love. Don’t skimp on the amp. The better you sound the more you will want to play. Experiment with effects if that is an interest.
    Pick up your bass everyday. Make it a rule to practice at least 15 minutes a day. 30 minutes a day is better than 5 hours once a week. Also, I can’t tell you how many times I picked up a bass to play for 15 minutes and ended up playing an hour or more.
  13. akukulich

    akukulich Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2007
    Low Country, SC
    Lots of good advice here. I'd suggest:
    - Figure out what it is that you want to learn...what interests you.
    - Find a teacher who will help you work toward those goals, but who also has a curriculum of things he knows are important to learn (e.g., reading might not be on your list, but a good teacher will want you to at least understand the basics of reading).
    - Learn and practice songs. If all you're practicing is scales and arpeggios, it's very easy to lose interest. They're exercises, not music. I think it's important for beginners to start playing music very early on. It's the music that captures your interest. Playing all of the major scales through two octaves ascending and descending is great, but that's not the goal. It's a means to the goal of making music.
    - Find a bass that makes you want to pick it up. If you don't dig your bass, that's the first thing you're going to think every time you look at it. It won't take long before you stop looking at it. Get something you like.
    - As soon as you think you're ready, get out and play with people. Find a jam session that is friendly toward beginners, or look for a band. You can better appreciate the role of the bass once you're out there doing the job.
    - Take a basic harmony course at a local college. Understanding some music theory is a tremendous help.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i gotta ask: why? why do you want to play the bass guitar? :) TIA
  15. beatmachine pro

    beatmachine pro

    Jun 13, 2021
    playing bass by yourself is not the point of playing bass, its a disincentive
    your kinda sounding like you have classic symptoms of procrastination

    theres hope; i learnt bass around 16 and put it down around 26
    i picked it up around 8 months ago and it was like riding a bike, hurt

    so basically you have to mindlessly plow through the physical dexterity challenge
    untill you can play songs in different keys

    its definately like a year of frustration before it starts coming together
    theres a lot of joy in being able to rock out though

    i definately hope to play with other people otherwise its like playing tennis against yourself
  16. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Pretty much sums up why I barely play anymore. :(
    WI Short Scaler likes this.
  17. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    IMO, there are different types of musicians. Some can plan anything some can only play some things. I was a trumpet player, switched to tuba, picked up bass (having a bass background with tuba) while self teaching piano..

    Skip ahead many years I wanted to learn guitar, lead style. I have tried several times but cannot do it. I always start playing bass rhythms.

    If you already play something get really good at that or branch out. If you play guitar pick up mandolin and work on bluegrass.
  18. Lessons or no lessons, totally a personal choice.

    I was a drummer for years before the bass and didn't accomplish much of anything for the first couple years. But what worked for me to finally apply myself a little was making a couple decisions.

    -I realized I missed playing out and was tired of shlepping all the drum gear
    -I picked out a couple songs I liked that sounded easy and learned them by ear
    -after that I picked up pointers where I could and really watched how others played

    But the biggest motivator was a friend was in a band and their bass player had quit. They had a keys player who wanted to go without a bass but he was outvoted. Keep in mind I was terrible at the time but they asked me to come over and try things out. After we realized we all got along pretty well I learned the songs both by ear and some things from the keys player. The deal was I had to be ready to play my first gig in 6 months, and it was a gas.

    Bottom line, find a motivator that "ups" your interest. Whether it be one song, one album, one artist, whatever works. If you have fun you'll remain interested and growing as a bass player. :thumbsup:

  19. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    For me the biggest motivator was finding the right people to play with. It can be challenging to motivate yourself. Do you know any beginner guitarists or drummers?
  20. El_Charro


    Aug 11, 2020
    Idk if this qualifies as a strat up similar story to yours, HOWEVER this was how I overcame similar hurdles to what you’re describing…

    I tried to play guitar and failed miserably at it…

    This kinda haunted me for many years and I was always disappointed with myself bc I always wanted to learn to play…

    I was always tempted to pick up a bass and tried a few over the years, but never really could get over the mental block of feeling like I had failed at guitar…I later realized that they are completely different instruments and even though I sucked at guitar, bass just felt more comfortable for me to play ergonomically speaking…

    When a friend lent me one I let it sit a while, but ended up getting it out during the Pandemic and finally decided to commit an hour a day to it 6x a week no matter what…

    I’ve been playing about 14 months and finally starting to see some ROI on my time…

    Here’s what’s different for me this time (and hopefully this will help you):

    1) I HATED listening to myself play guitar bc I was f-ing TERRIBLE and could stand to listen to myself screw up…Also-It was all about playing scales and trying to be “perfect”…Teacher wasn’t much good from a motivational standpoint even though he was a good player so it didn’t stick bc I didn’t wanna practice…If you like the sound of bass just try to focus on that for now…Even if you don’t know the notes it’s pretty easy to find the rhythm/groove of a song and just play an open E…

    2) I took a few bass lessons (3 or 4 maybe???) to learn the fretboard, however I VERY quickly realized that while music theory and learning chord patterns is important, it was completely sucking all of the fun out it for me…I just went to GC so the teacher wasn’t a virtuoso or anything, but good enough to help me understand I’m playing for myself first and not to play “right” or to impress other people…Yes, lessons can help, but only if you are open to the approach…

    3)I can’t stress this enough…PLAY THE MUSIC THAT YOU WANT and don’t worry so much about following a program per se…

    Realizing this gave me a LOT of freedom bc when I tried to play guitar I was so busy trying to figure out “easy” songs that I ended up playing things I didn’t enjoy playing…I mean-Every one has to start somewhere but I felt like there wasn’t really a road map for playing so this time I just focused on trying to play songs in lieu of scales or structured practice…

    I’m a total Metal Head, so trying to get me interested in playing Brown Eyed Girl or Beatles songs hold ZERO appeal to me…

    If people like that music (or any other genre I’m not referring to here), awesome…I’m not knocking your musical preferences, I just know what mine are and if I “had” to play those songs to learn, I’d struggle to stay interested…

    I ended up trying to learn AC/DC and Black Sabbath bc I knew it would be a good foundation for the music I love that’s harder to play…

    4) Maybe just play along with songs you enjoy whether that’s starting with tabs or just playing along to songs on Pandora and try to have fun…

    The last sentence there may seem super obvious, but having fun should be your #1 goal IMO…

    I don’t think I realized that for a while bc I was so worried about learning the “right” way that I forgot for a bit that the whole point of playing is to have fun…

    Seriously, that’s why it’s called “playing” the bass (bc play should be fun)…

    Maybe just tell yourself that you’re going to pick up the instrument for 30 minutes or an hour a day and as long as you’re trying to play and you have the instrument it still “counts” towards learning…

    It’s not like the bass or the music police are gonna show up at your door if you’re “doing it wrong” <—-I would argue there really isn’t such a thing as doing it wrong bc just attempting to play qualifies as some form of progress in my mind…

    Of course you can always take lessons later as you progress…

    One last thing…

    Find an instrument you want to play and you’ll be more likely to practice…

    There are basses out there for every genre in every color imaginable…Find something that “speaks” to you even if you just think the bass looks cool…

    Yes, looks have nothing to do with sound, but it’s a lot easier to wanna play something that looks good and feels right in your hands…

    I thought I wanted an Ibanez but ultimately realized I didn’t care for the neck and I wanted something more substantial in the neck…LOTS of choices so try to play as many instruments as you can in your price range…

    It sounds like you really wanna play you just haven’t found the right axe…

    It’s out there for you somewhere, just be patient and my advice would be to play as many basses as possible while you look…

    If you like certain things about an instrument like pickup configurations or the neck width just make a mental note of it bc eventually you will narrow your search to bases that have certain things in common spec wise…

    Best of luck to you…

    Thanks! \m/
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