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!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

What do you use to learn songs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jaxom, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. jaxom


    Aug 31, 2008
    New Castle, PA
    I seem to have a hard time learning songs (hearing what is being played). I have a horrible ear. I am currently playing my ipod through my practice p.a. What do you guys use to play the song?
    Any advice on a better way to learn/here the bass lines?
  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I find the bass line can become indistinct on mp3s or youtube clips. I hear it much better on a CD. YMMV.
  3. jad


    Aug 29, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I've used youtube bass lessons sometimes, although many are bad and they don't exist for anything other than the most obvious cover songs. I used Youtube covers of songs by other bands if the baseline sounds right and can be heard more easily than the original recording. I use bass tabs if there is a part that is tricky, hard to pick out, and too important to gloss over. I've used guitar tabs or chord sheets as a point of reference. But most of the time I can get close enough just by listening to the song a few times and jotting down notes on a lyrics sheet. I use my normal home practice set up for this, which is a Korg Pandora into a small Yamaha board feeding some pretty crappy Sony headphones. All of the music is played off of my smartphone through the board.
  4. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Try a Tascam BT-1 or the new GB-10
    Best investment you can make for learning and playing along with songs.
  5. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Get the best quality MP3 you can on your computer and play it back through a decent set of speakers. Got to get the bass where you can hear it. A subwoofer on the stereo can help.

    Get "audacity" (freeware) on your computer and load the mp3 up in it, and you can select part of the song and play it back in a loop.

    Sometimes if I really can't hear the bass part in a song I make one up. What else ya gonna do?
  6. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    I use a Line 6 input device and play along with mp3s or vids through headphones.
    The biggest problem with this method (other than sound quality issues) is the difference in level from one recording to the next.
    Nothing is balanced it seems, you always have to adjust relative instrument/recording level for every song.

    Audacity is great for changing pitch and tempo to match what your particular band is doing.
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I usually play a CD either through my truck's system or a little player I have that I can run through the accessory jack on one of my bass amps. Then I just use my ears, provided the part is distinct. Harmony-wise, I can mostly tell what the changes are and what the bass is doing. It's from studying theory and ear training over the course of a lifetime.
  8. I use headphones with a mixer. Everyone's right here, MP3's seem to come somewhat compressed and the bass can get lost. For particularly hard passages, I look for tabs and try out different ones to see which one is actually right or closest.
  9. Stephent28

    Stephent28 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    C470, CO
    First try to get the song as anything other than an MP3....wav files or flac files are best.

    If I have a hard time hearing the bass line I will usually load up "Amazing Slow Downer" on my computer and set the eq controls to boost the bass and then slow the tune down to about 50-60% (keeps the pitch original) and go from there.

    A couple of other programs that do essentially the same thing are Riffster and Song Surgeon (although the support and updates from Riffster are poor at best).
  10. I use Best Practice on my computer ran through a Digitech BP200 and Sony MDR-7506 headphones. Works great and I can practice when everyone in the house is sleeping.

  11. satellite4


    May 23, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Way cool! thanks for the link =)
  12. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Sheet music, tabs, and an OS X app called "iRehearse."
  13. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I use a Tascam GB-10 Guitar and Bass Trainer. It has an SD card so you can save songs to it and can also record. You can change the key without changing the speed and change the speed without changing the key. It also has a built in tuner. I play it through headphones. Its a great tool and small enough to take with you wherever you go. It costs around $100.
  14. MrFrancis


    Oct 30, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    If you have an iPhone I use this app called Djay by algoriddim. Pretty much I load my mp3's on there of any dog I want to learn and you can loop a specific part. I don't slow it down or anything but just keep repeating and try to understand because I think its a challenge that builds my ear. Learn a chunk perfectly ten move on to the next and everything comes together. it's for iPhone but I'm sure they have for android or PC/Mac versions. I'm currently working on learning sheet music but I can read enough to learn easy songs.

    Or if I'm feeling ambitious take out the old vinyl and keep bringing tht needle back :)
  15. PrietoBass

    PrietoBass How does he do that?

    Apr 16, 2009
    Another vote for Best Practice. I also use Transcribe! and Amazing Slow Downer on m iPhone.
  16. If your iPod was an iPad, I'd suggest the Songsterr app. It's flawed, some songs aren't completely accurate (Thin Lizzy Jailbreak for instance), but it's worth whatever I shelled out for it.
  17. Youtube is great. I can usually find someone playing the song just about note for note.
  18. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I usually just use iTunes on my iMac, but if I need it slowed down or the key changed I use software called Transcribe!, available here:


    It lets you slow it down without changing keys, loop a section, and change keys (handy when the song is recorded 1/2 step down and I don't feel like retuning).

    For most people learning by ear takes practice, few have perfect pitch so you usually have to develop an ear. Don't give up, just keep at it and it will get easier.
  19. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    Good headphones made a huge difference for me in regards to learning covers.
  20. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I use the program Transcribe! to learn the songs, you can highlight sections, slow them down while retaining pitch, and loop them. The easiest way to do it.

    As far you having a hard time hearing everything, how is your ear? I encourage all my students to learn their intervals, not just the sames but the actual sonic distance between them. Once you can recognize your intervals transcription will become exponentially easier and far more useful than any program or tool.