Transition From Piano to Bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tida, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Hello!

    Just wondering how difficult it would be to make a transition from piano to bass. I've played piano for 15 years. I've been toying with the idea for quite sometime because I just love to listen and watch my BF play. (I knew him before we dated as a bass player for 3 years.) The fact that I've recently begun a hunt for the perfect bass as a gift for him has fueled my own interest in playing one myself.

    Sorry if this issue has been covered. If so, a link of reference would be great. However, I really tried searching for this all over TB.

    Furthermore, would it be reccomended that I begin on fretted or fretless? I know this issue has been addressed, but I ask because of my experience with intonation as a piano player.
  2. Hi, welcome to Talkbass.

    Piano is a great place to start theory-wise, and chances are you have a good ear for music. Still, bass is a very different animal. However, I think you'll have a certain facility that non-musicians may not have. Our keyboardist, classically trained pianist of 11 years, picked up guitar a year ago and he's already very good. Technique may take some time, but once you feel quite comfortable on the bass, you should be able to quickly apply theory to it. Get your boyfriend to show you positions for scales, etc, but chances are with a bit of experimentation you can find your way around it pretty easily. I would say fretted is a good choice for simplicity, but if you feel you have a good ear and feel comfortable with fretless (basically, fretting at the right place, which might mean extra stretching and may be too much of a hassle for your interests), go for it. 5 year olds learn the violin, which is fretless, so it's not too far a stretch to pick up fretless at first. Good luck!
  3. FUNKonthewall

    FUNKonthewall Nailing The Groove

    Sep 29, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    Endorsing: Fodera Guitars, Aguilar Amps, Dunlop/MXR Accessories
    Stu Hamm played piano before he played bass. Go for it!
  4. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    You won't have a problem. Musically, you have much more
    bas(s)is than many aspiring bassists have already.

    A good teacher will help by providing you with an appropriate set of
    finger exercises and scale exercises to make the transition.

    Once you have mastered basic scale techniques on a fretted bass, the next step to a fretless will not be that difficult. I would recommend
    one transition at a time.

  5. Thanks for the responses and info. I love piano, but I've always had an affinity for bass too. That and violin. My brother taught me the basics on how to play violin - about 5 years ago. It was hard to practise that quietly without annoying someone. I still remember most of it, but can't play it without sounding like a mass murder of cats.

    I know I strayed off topic. I just love learning of all types of musical instrumets. I learned to play bamboo flute and a thai Saw-oo when I was like.. 10. Didn't really like it though, not much variety. If I could I'd learn every single one out there I would. That would be a bit strenuous though.

    I could do this all electronically on a keyboard, but i despise the keyboard feel.

    Is it safe to assume that playing any stringed instrument is similar? Like vioin, guitar, bass guitar, cello? I've heard Les claypool play on a variety of instruments.
  6. I suggest fretted bass for starters. I mean, you could definitely learn fretless to start out if you have a good ear.

    Playing stringed instruments are indeed similar, but not THAT similar. For example, it's a whole new issue playing with a bow with a violin.
  7. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    A friend of mine (trumpeter) is teaching herself violin right now. She tried to learn guitar a while ago, but apparently she finds it easier to play fretless instruments rather than fretted ones (and I know she has a good ear, so she doesn't have bad intonation either).

    Playing violin or cello might be different, if only for their tunings. Both violins and cellos are tuned in fifths (GDAE and CGDA respectively). Otherwise, the transition shouldn't be outrageous. Personally, I love playing both fretted and fretless, but I'm going to suggest you at least try a fretless for your first one. They're fantastic fun, and I (and many other people, including several actual SUCCESSFUL solo bass players like Steve Lawson and Michael Manring) have the opinion that fretless is also more conducive to solo playing -- which is something you're probably used to as a pianist.