1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Transitioning from mandolin to bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Huda, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. Huda


    Dec 15, 2007
    Hi all,

    I am a mandolin player, and I just bought my first bass.

    How do I transition from mandolin to bass?

    How do I think in fourths, as opposed to fifths?
    How do I focus on rhythm, as opposed to melody?

    Any advice?

  2. I feel qualified to reply as i play (50%/50%) both electric bass and violin (traditional italian folk style) (and you know that a violin is tuned the same way as a mandolin).

    You don't have to "transition": they're completely different "things" :)
    Just learn to play bass as if you started to play again, from scratch (IMHO).

    You won't go wrong in this, if you "start again from scratch".
    You will have, after some practice, different mind maps when you play different instruments.

    This, in my opinion, is the real tricky point:
    you will learn only by playing and listening. You will learn how to groove if you learn to "push" the rhythm from below .......
    Don't know how to explain it better .... :)

    Just remember, though: when you'll play bass, probably you will have a supportive role, in the rhythm section. So, don't think "mandolin". You will need to be supportive (also in the number of notes per second :) ).

  3. Huda


    Dec 15, 2007
    Thanks, Marco.

    Can you explain this sentence a little more?

    "you will learn only by playing and listening. You will learn how to groove if you learn to
    "push" the rhythm from below ....... "
  4. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Melodic bass isn't bad at all.

    Sir Paul comes to mind.
  5. Given that i was imagining a bass played as a supportive and grooving instrument, i meant that someone who is used to be a soloist should concentrate (when playing a supportive instrument) on the right rhythm, and "to be supportive" towards other players (in the good way....... that does not mean playing in a simple way.... ) ......
  6. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Excellent and very interesting post.
  7. Ranger Nessy

    Ranger Nessy

    Mar 29, 2011
    I play mandolin and bass. You probably don't have to play as much on bass (i.e. fewer notes), and are more likely to focus a little more on rhythm and carrying the music from underneath rather than playing the melody atop a song on a mandolin. Also there's a lot more sustain on the bass, you obviously won't have to utilise tremolo picking as much (if at all).

    As for focusing on rhythm, you tend to get a feel more this the more you practice; I suppose listening to and focusing on the rhythm/percussion section of a band/artist/ensemble etc. allows you to develop this in relation to your right hand (applicable to both fingerstyle and picking).

    5ths vs. 4ths tuning just means you have to learn new hand positions etc. It is a different instrument, but having played violin (same tuning and roughly same scale length as a mandolin) for 13 years before I picked up a bass, I found transitioning a learning process but not completely foreign; they're both stringed instruments and require certain degrees of finger dexterity.

    All of this is purely dependent on what music you play and how you play it. Given I play six string bass, sometimes it's more fun to play melodic high bass lines (and even chords) and use the mandolin purely as a rhythmic instrument (which of course it sometimes is). This advice also comes from someone who mostly plays a 4 string electric mandolin over an acoustic, and who uses it for alternative rock, not for the genres typically associated with the instrument (blues, country, folk, jazz, bluegrass, etc., although I do occasionally play classical); I can't claim to be an expert on mandolin playing styles. (This does sometimes make me wonder why I actually play mandolin...)

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.