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What best to learn now?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Hedgehog_SBM, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    TalkBass people have been very helpful to me so far. I'm looking for your great advice on the following.

    What should I learn next to improve most solidly and also make good progress?

    Goal: hobbyist, wanting to play well, looking forward to enjoying jamming with family members and friends.
    Play enjoyable classic bass lines, but also attempt to create some and record.

    Styles: Rock, R&B, some country, but would like to learn a wider array of styles and grooves

    Background: Some keyboards, reasonably good music foundation based on this

    What I've done so far on bass:
    - read and re-read studybass.com and am using it as my primary guidance (really great)
    - single octave scales learned as shown on studybass, with some routine fundamental practice (not "advanced" practice)
    - understanding of the importance of chord tones and basic patterns
    - reasonable newbie technique - again based on studybass.com and other online lessons (no personal face-to-face instructor yet).
    - about 20 rock and R&B songs learned fully
    - continuously working to play notes accurately and with accurate sustain and "feel"
    - based on music theory knowledge, am at the point where I can pick up many simpler blues songs and play them "accurately" in about 10 minutes just by ear, and working through the patterns on the fretboard (finding key, I,IV,V chord progression, then finding pattern).
    - written simple R&B songs in Band in a Box and played bass lines appropriate for the chord progression and style.
    - played and recorded several bass covers to listen for mistakes to find out what to improve

    Some things I haven't done so far:
    - gotten lessons from an instructor
    - jammed with other people
    - attempted slap (I want to learn slap - when to start?)
    - learned to read standard notation and play straight from it, never having seen the song (although I do read standard notation - it's *very* slow, and I learn the riffs and remember them - that's how that works so far)

    What I'm looking for regarding suggestions:
    - should I be seeking out an instructor at least to give guidance on technique?
    - what are the best basic books to buy? I think I'm out of the total beginner range at this point. What about a book like Ed Friedland's Bass Grooves?
    - what are critical practice techniques? two octave scales? Scales from different starting notes?

    In this regard - I do see that the simple one octave scales (Major, Minor, pentatonic, blues, mixolydian) might not really be enough. I see that many patterns I'm playing have, for example, the 5th, or 6th notes below the root. How to best practice learning that - would that be two octave scales? What's the best resource for learning that?

    - best practice patterns for technique? Is "the Spider" the end-all of stretching techniques?

    Whoa - lemme stop here. Too much coffee. I guess I just can't get enough of learning the bass.

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

    Best regards

  2. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    What sort of music do you like? Can you narrow down your styles description a little? I'd recommend working on learning some bass lines from your favourite stuff by listening, copying and analysing how what's going on fits the tune, especially in terms of the chord sequence and the rhythmic feel.

    If you tell us what music you like then it will be possible to give you some more specific suggestions and that should in turn generate some more ideas of your own. Keep working on the reading. There's nothing wrong with memorising written stuff in order to be able to play it, as long as you're actually working out the notes and the rhythm from the written part - the more you do of that, the better your reading will get and in time you'll improve at being able to play as you read.
  3. No question you can function as a bassists. You mentioned that you are not jamming, and that is something you want to do. Start. Jamming with out sheet music - with people - will quickly point you to any other specific areas you need to improve.

    Plus jamming is great fun.
  4. First off, you seem to be doing great, so congrats for that. As far as books are concerned, my #1 recommendation is Ed Friedland's Hal Leonard Bass Method. Get the three volumes bound together. Work quickly through the total beginner stuff while listening to the CD, it should be fun (that's what I like most about Ed's book) while teaching you the basics of reading standard notation. At some point, you'll encounter exercises that challenge you some more, and there you go.

    Bass Grooves is a very interesting book, too, of course. I love Ed's books, they're the real deal. (IMO of course. Just a satisfied customer/reader.)

    Oh yeah, and definitely go out and play! The sooner, the better. Have fun!
  5. electroasim


    Jan 25, 2012
    The work you've done till now is great I think and I suggest only two things from my personal experience:
    1)Find the best teacher you can .You are ready for it and you will see options on the instruments you've never imagined.
    2)Find a band and play,play,play.
    Do these two things and in a year from now you won't believe yourself...
  6. Already In Use

    Already In Use

    Jan 3, 2010
    Look at the chord structure, the triads and just play them below the root where you can. You'll see a pattern and then be able to replicate that pattern all over the neck.

    5ths are one string down, same fret. Just scale degrees. same notes...different locations all over the fretboard. Just one example.

    Playing with others, as stated will get you on the expressway to confidence. It helped me immeasurably.
  7. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks to all who have replied so far - as usual, your advice is incredibly helpful.

    Of course, I have some answers, and more questions!

    1) My musical interests: very broad in scope, but to pick two key styles, they would be rock and R&B. Also, I like funk a lot, so want to learn slap, but I thought it would be best to leave that until I had a better understanding of the instrument (e.g. I don't want to just beat up on the bass!)

    2) Favorite songs learned so far: What I've done is picked songs that follow the basic patterns that are given on studybass.com. I figured this way, I could learn the patterns in real songs, so not get bored by 8 or 12 measure lessons. I think that now that I have done this, I'm ok going back to some of the non-musical lessons.

    Some songs learned:
    (i) Rock/pop: Birthday (Beatles), Suffragette City (Bowie), Lady Marmalade (Labelle), Down on the Corner (CCR)
    (ii) R&B/swing: You Got What it Takes (Benton), Tumbleweed (Montoya), Walk Real Slow (Hoopsnakes)

    3) About Friedland's book on the Hal Leonard Bass Method - I hesitated to buy that so far because I've read that it teaches three finger fretting, and I've been learning four (as per studybass.com). Will that mess me up? Is there another book suggestion equal to this one, but that teaches four finger fretting?

    I did order Friedland's Bass Grooves book.

    4) So many people have suggested finding people and jamming. Here's a key question - how do you find the right match? More specifically, I worry that I haven't learned enough yet - that I'll find a group and they'll ask me to play something and I'll have no clue. If they ask me to play a I,IV,V chord progression in F, I can do that, and I can play more than just the root notes (e.g. some simple R-3rd-5th, or R-5th-7th even or swing feel). But my knowledge of grooves is pretty narrow at the moment.

    Do I just talk it out with the person, or people, to decide if I'm going to bore them, or not?

    5) Not jamming with humans yet, the near-term substitute has been Band in a Box. With "Real Tracks", you can pretty easily compose a whole band to play just by writing the chords. It's pretty amazing, and the "Real Tracks" sound great - because they are real audio recordings of artists. I set up the chords for some R&B songs I like, mute the bass line, and play over it. I find it better in some ways than a standard "bass cover" since there is no bass line at all which normally would tend to cover up one's mistakes while playing.

    The reason I bring this up at all is to hear your feelings about playing with humans rather than practicing with a computer (even if the computer sounds great). What do you get from jamming with other musicians that propels you forward so well? (Very sorry if that sounds like such a dumb question.)

    Thanks much.

  8. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    To: Already In Use

    Thanks for your reply. I understand your meaning.

    Let me explain a bit more about what I mean. I guess like many other people, I can remember the basic single octave scales very well. I printed out a chart of the patterns, and I run through them as a warmup - starting high on the fretboard, going low, coming back high to stretch. The exact pattern I mean is a four fingered fret pattern, with root on the second fret of the four, and notes increasing in pitch from there - uses three strings.

    So, for example, I just learned a relatively simply R&B song, slow tempo, which is basically I,IV,V chord progression, key of E, and R-3rd-5th. That's probably the most fundamental riff in the universe.

    I started playing this with the usual major scale pattern I mentioned above. But then I realized that I could simply play the I and IV chords each on the E and A string alone. That sets me up better to play the V chord higher on the fretboard, and since the tempo is slow, it's very easy. So, I guess you learn this type of thing just by experimenting? Or, is it wrong to do this, and stick with just one form of "pattern" to play a triad? For instance, it might get very confusing later on to play a pattern three different ways. Or perhaps once I fully learn the notes on the fretboard (I partially know them now), this all becomes moot?

    Thanks again,

  9. Here is a video of jamming - as done in my home town. Nothing planned, the town allows acoustic jamming on the street and people show up on the week-ends. About the safest place to be - no one gets upset with newbies - as long as they are trying. Watch it and see if this is something you would like. See for yourself Music on Main Street | Mineola Buzz - Mineola Texas
  10. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    To: Malcom

    I checked out the link - wow, Texas is so cool.

    I'm figuring that I'll have to find people around here by asking around in the local guitar center, looking people up on the internet, or perhaps the local paper. It will most likely be a situation where I have to cart a small amp around, and once you show up, the group either works, or it doesn't. I can see people being very helpful, but I guess my concern is that without feeling a bit more confident about technique, I might drag others down.

    Well, I'm not a shut-in, so I'm not shy about speaking to people to find a match.

    Too bad my area isn't as cool as Mineola Texas, where you can just walk around, meet people, and jam. That's too cool.
  11. Actually, the book teaches both fretting systems---one finger per fret (OFPF) is introduced as soon as the student reaches the fifth position. In my opinion, it's quite smart to have the student strenghten her/his fingers with the three finger system, octaves, and various box shapes before graduating to OFPF and universal fingerings. I like both techniques myself.
  12. Already In Use

    Already In Use

    Jan 3, 2010
    You can play what ever sounds good at any point in time. Position 1, 2 or 3 and beyond...above or below the root note. The experimenting aspect to learning is crucial IMO. As far as "patterns" the chord structure will establish a pattern..as long as you are in key and on the right chord you change up a bit to approach the next root...simple walk. As you know the fretboard better you'll be able to pick which position you want to choose to play...again the experimenting thing. After a bit you'll develop your style implementing your favorite note picks.

    I'm into 3 years of getting reacquainted with the bass after a long break. These guys here helped a lot...a whole lot. I'd say count on em!:bassist:

    PS..my first real teacher taught the 1, 2, 4 finger system...Learn to use all 4 fingers...it's harder after the fact...just my 2 cents on that!
  13. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Timo and Already - thanks again much for guidance.

    I want to buy the suggested book. Timo - you say that it's taught somewhat later in the book, and Already - you say to use all 4 fingers from the start. That's what I'm doing now.

    So, Timo - could I simply use 4 fingers from the start when using Friedland's book, or would that be really confusing?

    If I can get a bit more positive guidance on this, I'll purchase the suggested book by Friedland immediately. People - please weigh in.

    Why am I being so careful about this? When I first experimented with bass in my 20's, I was told to learn scales, and I bought a book on scales (that I still have), and it basically caused me to quit. Now, after using studybass.com as my guide, I see how that old book was really quite bad in many ways. It used many tens of pages that I basically learned by using just one diagram from studybass.com. So, I don't want to make a similar mistake again. Practicing has gone really well so far this time around. I don't want to mess it up. :)

    Thanks *much*!

  14. My answer would be a guarded yes. It's true that the book uses 3 fingers at the beginning, but you have to keep in mind that the subjects are accordingly presented in a specific order, and of course the beginning of the book is about stuff where it makes sense to use 3 fingers.

    I'll take an example: octaves. In my opinion, the best way to play octaves is with 1 and 4. Using 1 and 3 often leads to excessive tension (usual symptom: an upward-pointed pinky) and is therefore a bad habit as far as I'm concerned.

    So, yes, you could play the first exercices with 4 fingers, but try to be smart about it. Ed Friedland has obviously given this matter a lot of thought, and my instinct would be to trust him on this.

    On the other hand, I realize that many players use 4 fingers exclusively, and I respect that also, when it's done correctly, without excessive tension. So I guess it's up to each player to decide what's best for him.

    But in any case, I think that all this is a moot point for you, Hedgehog. Since you've already learned the total beginner stuff, you would be jumping in at a point where the book already uses 4 fingers (OFPF).

    Ouch. It's true that music education used to be terrible. But it's getting better.

  15. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    To Timo and others:

    Thanks much. This is very clear guidance. I'll get the bass method book as well as Grooves that was ordered.

    Last night I learned another fundamental R&B bassline by learning the song (Everything I Do) Got to be Funky (Maurice John Vaughn), and also wrote my first tab to help a fellow talkbass player with a song (Lene Lovich - Lucky Number) - my first tab written from scratch. Helped me learn the song as well.

    Well - thanks again. Perhaps I'll post again on this subject in a few months and ask "where do I go from here", and you will all point me in the right direction once more.

    Best regards,

  16. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Hi All,

    Ok - I received the books. It's a good feeling that I know a lot of what's in them already. The Bass Method book i think will help me most in learning to read standard notation quickly and play from it, which is a goal of mine. I have to say though that I was a bit suprized that there was no mention of the Circle of 4ths and 5ths in there. I learned *so much* from studybass.com in that area. To newbies who haven't see this - go and read that now! I can't believe how much you learn and remember about notes position of fretboard, the number of sharps and flats in each key, and what notes are sharps/flats in each key. So cool.

    Question - another thing that I thought I'd find were (all of the important) extended scales. I know that I should just write them myself in diagrams, but it's easier to cut and paste. Can anyone point me to a website that has these?

    Here's what I mean. On studybass.com, there is a collection of the key one octave scales, written generally starting from the root note. This collection is priceless to me. It propelled my understand so far forward compared to "scales" books - and SO quickly. I've copied these one octave scales onto one sheet of paper, and I go over them all the time in practice. That is so helpful.

    However, there are times when I want to go either above, or below the one octave range. What I'd like to see is a wider range of notes on the diagrams - perhaps two octaves. The Bass Method book has one or two examples, but not all of studybass.com's important scales.

    Can anyone point me to a website that might have these diagrams, so that I can copy/paste them for a wider range of notes? If there's a "pocket guide" like this that was either a card, or a small spiral bound book, that would be awesome - I'd buy that for sure.

    RSVP, and thanks,


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