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What did you all do when you were a beginner?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MarshallNole, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    I've been playing for about 3 weeks now. I've been going through the lessons on studybass.com. I've learned a little bit. I've also looked at Scott's bass lessons. There's only so much time in a given session I can devote to doing monotonous exercises without getting bored. Trying to play any of the songs I want to learn (from Tool) simply leads to frustration. The only song I can play at length is Otherside by RHCP, although I still don't have the bridge down.

    What should I be doing? I am looking into bass lessons around here, just trying to find the best place to go. Sometimes I find myself sitting my my room picking randomly at the strings because I don't know what I should be doing.

    What did you all do as a beginner? What should I be doing? Does it all click one day and you just find it easier to learn the songs you want?
  2. Dmwphoto

    Dmwphoto what does this light/\ do?

    Nov 27, 2013
    Richmond va
    I am still a beginner. I use in home music teacher .com
    Once a week I have an instructor come to my home for a 45 minute lesson. It is working very well for me. The instructor is fantastic and my progress has been very good because I have specific things to work on as well as he helps me with songs I ask for.
    Good luck to you. I have played rhythm guitar for a long time but never took any lessons or theory.
  3. kikstand454


    Sep 28, 2012
    Sorry to say, but its going to be quite some time before you can just randomly pick a song and be able to transcribe- then play it. Well.....depending on its skill level. Tool is not beginner bass.
    If you want to jam with actual music while you're learning, choose something simpler, like some three chord rock, a ballad, some AC/DC stuff.....things that have loud, uncomplicated lines. And then work those songs into all the scales and fretwork studies you NEED to do to break up the monotony.

    Playing an instrument is very much like learning a new language. You can learn a word or phrase fairly quickly....but it takes practice and repetition to carry on a conversation - and even more to eventually speak the language fluently.

    If it was easy, everyone could do it.

    Good luck and stick with it! Be patient but passionate.
    When I first started learning an instrument (guitar) back in high school.....its all I did. All day. Every day. 5-6 hours a day during the week, 8-9 hours a day on the weekend. More or less.
  4. zcwilkes

    zcwilkes Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2002
    Barboursville, WV
    I've been playing for 26 years now but when I started out I played along to tapes and CDs in my room all the time. I didn't play Heavy Metal or anything, I started playing Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix stuff. That's just the kind of music my dad got me because that's the stuff he liked I guess. I feel fortunate but my dad was a musician too. After a few years I started with lessons and I worked through The Evolving Bassist and got into Stanly and Jaco. I ended up playing in the Jazz Ensemble in High School and College and I was a Music Major. That's sort of the short story to my progression. I went through a lot of musical phases too.

    I think I am a pretty solid well rounded musician and my advice is to be patient and just plug away learning songs for awhile. I honestly think the best thing I've ever done in learning is to just play with other people, all kinds of people and every genre you can depending on what your goals are.

    I've learned more about music playing with other musicans (preferably ones that are better than you) than anything I learned in College as a music major.

    Play along to records/CDs/Mp3s and move to playing with other people (music).
  5. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Hi and welcome to Talk Bass. :)

    Three weeks is a very short time to be playing. At that stage some people are still getting used to the feel of the bass itself, never mind being able to play well.

    Getting a teacher is a great idea. You will learn more and faster this way. In the mean time, you have got off to a great start with "Study Bass". You said you learned a "little bit" from it. Believe me, there is a lot more than that to be gleaned from this site. The great thing about Study Bass is that the lessons are in chronological order, i.e. the lessons build on the information gleaned from the previous ones. Here is the list in the order that they should be taken :


    Spend say a half an hour on this site every day going through the exercises. Then afterwards you can "reward" your self with some fun by trying to play along to some simple songs. If you attempt more complex ones you will become frustrated. You have to crawl before you can walk.

    Some general advice :

    First, be patient with yourself. Learning the bass is a life long pursuit. So slow down and take things in small bite size chunks. Your bass idols did not become as good as they are, overnight.

    Practice every day, if even for just half an hour. This is better than putting in three or four hours once a week.

    Dont get too hung up on tabs. Instead, develop your ear by listening closely to a song and then trying to imitate.

    Some practical things to focus on at this early stage are :

    Learn good left and right hand technique. Search You Tube.

    Learn the notes on the fretboard. Say/sing them out loud as you play them.

    Learn the major, minor and pentatonic scales for a start, and how chords are derived from scales.

    All the above information is contained within "Study Bass".

    Another great tutorial is the book "Bass Guitar for Dummies". Never mind the "D" word. It is a great book and comes with a CD. Your local library might have it.

    Yet another book that gets a lot of recommendations here on TB is "The Hal Leonard Bass Method". It comes in three volumes. It is possible to get all three volumes in one spiral bound edition. Each book has it's own CD.


    The ideal situation IMO would be to buy the "Bass Method" book(s) and work through it with a teacher.

    Best of luck with it. :bassist:
  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I came over to the bass from the 6 string acoustic guitar where we played from fake chord sheet music.

    I brought the fake chord sheet music over to the bass and belted out roots on the first beat. When I could do that I then added a 5 for R-5-R-5. When that flowed I added an 8 for R-5-8-5. That kept me busy for several years.

    Here is what fake chord looks like.
    From here I cheat a little more. Songs in D. so I change the sheet music over to Nashville numbers. This will help. http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-c.html

    D- Em-F#m-G--A--Bm-C#m-D

    So my A's are now 5's, the E's are now 2's and the D's are now R or roots.

    Remember chords are listed as Roman numbers, I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-vii. Upper case Roman numbers are major chords and lower case numbers are minor chords. The notes themselves (within those chords) are listed in Arabic numbers, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 The 1 of often listed as the R or root. and then if you use Nashville numbers all chords are shown in Arabic numbers.

    Why in the World would I do that? Take a look at the major scale box pattern I give below. That puts everything into generic patterns and makes my job a whole lot easing. Use as much of this as you like. I do suggest you copy and paste it some where you could find it later on.

    As a warm up I would run my scales. Why? So my fingers could get used to the bass and my ears could recognize the good notes from the bad notes. I would recommend you spend time running your scales and you chord tone arpeggios (R-3-5-7-5-3-R) Get to the point that when you see a chord name your fingers already know what will be expected of them.

    I used the major scale box, ran my scales and built simple bass lines. Fake chord calling for the Cmaj7 chord, just the C note on the first beat will get you started. Next chord showing as a Dm7 chord, here again the D note on the first beat --- and 3rd beat will work.

    Here is the cheat sheet I grew up with.
    Eat this monster one bite at a time. Enough to satisfy your hunger, but, not so much at one time that it makes you sick.

    Good luck.
  7. thunesBARROW


    Apr 12, 2010
    Long Island/NYC
    Endorsing Artist: Farfisa organs
    +1 to getting a teacher. A good teacher will help you improve much more rapidly. Aside from that, listen, listen, listen, and keep practicing! There is already a lot of great advice here on what to practice. And most importantly, make sure you are enjoying yourself.
  8. TroutPlayer


    Nov 11, 2013
    I posted in this thread. ;)
  9. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    I don't really understand that.
  10. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I thought you might say that. ;) It is natural that you would not, after only three weeks.

    You have a bit to go before you will be able to understand Malcolm's chart. It deals mainly with intervals. Again they are all in......yes...you guessed...Study Bass. You will come across intervals as you work through the site. Then Malcolm's chart will make a lot of sense.
  11. atticpenny


    Jan 5, 2011
    Lots of good advice here. I will certainly +1 to getting a teacher (and sticking with lessons, even if it doesn't make sense right away. the pieces will fall in place over time).

    You didn't mention your age, but I'm guessing you are still pretty young, so I will add this:

    Join or form a band with other musicians in your school or neighborhood that are around your skill level (or preferably a little better, a little more experienced).

    Learn as many songs together as you can, as best that you can. The important thing is to have fun with them. Playing with other people beats the "practice boredom" every time. 20-30 years from now you will look back on that time very, very fondly.

    Beyond that, it is simply: practice, practice, practice. Good luck and enjoy the ride!
  12. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    How fortuitous. I am on the intervals lesson now. I plan to look at it tonight.
  13. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    Unfortunately I am not young. I am 30 years old. I have no desire to start a band. My only goal for the bass guitar is to be able to sit in my house and play all of my favorite songs almost PERFECTLY. This is just a hobby.
  14. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Good for you !! :cool:
  15. Dmwphoto

    Dmwphoto what does this light/\ do?

    Nov 27, 2013
    Richmond va
    I suspect I am the oldest student my music teacher has.... I am 59
  16. Find a friend that plays guitar and have him play a song calling out the changes. Start by playing the root and once you have that down start adding the 3 and/or 5. When I started I had the same problems you state. What kept me going is playing with other people. I got my first bass and was in a band a hour later. I learned to play the "L", 1-4-5. In the 60's you could play hundreds of songs with that pattern.
  17. Doctor_Clock

    Doctor_Clock The Moon Machine Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I find that playing with other people especially a one on one teacher/lesson situation is the best way to learn. Even the "boring scales" and exercises can be fun if you know where they are going to lead to. When I first started playing (23 years ago) I had a great teacher that would make the "boring" stuff fun by using what I call the "Mr. Miyagi Method" he would find a scale or a mode or some sort of drill to have me work on, then when he felt I had it down he would say something like, "okay now play it in eighth notes and lose the 4th and the 7th" and bang! I would be playing a bass line from a song I knew.
    I wish that back then the internet was as helpful as it is now. I would have use what he was teaching me and extended it to online lessons as well (Which is what I do now all the time). I use a lot of online methods now especially to bone up on theory which I tend to forget when not practicing it all the time. After 23 years I still try to take lessons when I can, because the one of the best things about playing any instrument is that you can always get better and there will never be a point when you have learned it all.
    Practicing is only boring and annoying when you don't want to do it.
  18. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

  19. atticpenny


    Jan 5, 2011

    Ah, I see. Well, in that case, I would head on over to Youtube and start searching for "bass lessons" of your favorite songs and playing along. Lots of good song-based bass lessons on there. Just be careful, as there are a lot of bad ones too. :) Hell, I've been playing for almost 30 years, and I do that myself when I want to learn tricky bass lines! :) I wish youtube was around when I was just starting out. Would have made my life a LOT easier!
  20. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    It is never too late to start. I started at aged 50 and I know lots of fellow TB's started late too.

    The advice to play with others is good, but the main thing is to learn and have fun doing so.