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What Five Things Should A Bass Player Know

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ArchBass, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. I am curious to learn what members of TalkBass think are the five most important things a bass player should know to become a intermediate level bass player?

    Wanting to improve!
  2. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    1. Melody - mode and rhythm combinations ("horizontal" aspect of music)
    2. Harmony - chords and chord progressions ("vertical" aspect of music)
    3. Tone Color - Timbre, quality of a sound, sound characteristics of bass
    4. Rhythm - time signitures, accents, tempos, meters
    5. Dynamics - playing hard and soft, etc
  3. Solid Timing
    Clean technique
    Chordal Scale tones and progressions
    At least different 2 ways to accomplish the same thing


    You own individual sound/ tone
  4. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Listening skills

    I find these things in general are lacking from too many players I've known that are concerned with learning flashy stuff. The above is what will get you gigs and keep those gigs.
  5. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    This is the ONE thing that seperates the marks the step up from beginner to competent intemediate.

    Everything else will follow.

  6. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    Amen....this is it all....the written truth right here!
  7. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    whilst I agree with the things everyone else has said, I'd like to weigh in with the following overlapping qualities:

    creativity, individualism, truth, artistry & imagination...

    those kinda things are the difference between being a machine operator and being a musician... most people in the real world will forgive your technical shortcomings if you're saying something that's personal and true to you

    i'm not saying don't learn theory, don't learn fancy techniques... i'm saying use those tools, or whatever tools you have, to express yourself

    you can express yourself on bass RIGHT NOW... this 'learner/intermediate/advanced' stuff is nonsense... make your statement using the tools you have and that's all people (real people, not other bass players) demand from you
  8. I dunno, it's all kind of arbitrary. Why five things? Why not three, or ten, or 500?

    Personally, if someone put a gun to my head (which no one is currently doing, I just have a few spare minutes!;) ), I'd say there are either two things or dozens. The dozens of things would include the excellent suggestions already made, plus maybe some others. The two most fundamental things in my view, however, are (1) to have something to say/play and (2) to be able to hear what others are saying/playing. Every musical tool or skill you acquire has value ONLY insofar as you put it at the service of saying something musical.

    Two-bit philosophy for your Wednesday.
  9. Good suggestions. There are some things that haven't been mentioned specifically that I want to address.

    -- Your right hand is more important (and will turn more heads) than your left hand. What I mean is that anyone can learn to play a thousand notes, but the way you play the notes is really important.

    -- What you DON'T play is as important as what you play. The space around the notes is vital. People can tell you "Less Is More" a thousand times, but until you stumble upon it yourself, you won't believe it.

    -- You are part of the rhythm section, play percussively! This doesn't meand that you have to slap and pop, but propel the song with a percussive touch.

    These should help. I have been playing for 16 years, and these things have helped me tremendously.
  10. #1. Don't loan drummers money.
    #2. Practice with a metronome. Nobody likes playing with a rhythm section out of time. Try it. The more it sucks to play with a metronome, the more you need it.
    #3. Work on ear training. Listening skills seperate the men from the boys.
    #4. Play with dynamics. If you never play quiet, always loud, loud becomes average over time, and avg is boring.
    #5. Play with energy. (combine with #2 and #4, make sure you can add energy without speeding up the tempo or volume). Energy = groove/rhythm/feel
    #6. Whoever said "less is more" is right. Its the notes you don't play that make the band groove. Too many notes=chaos, noise, loss of groove.

  11. Kasper007


    Feb 9, 2006
    I agree with everything said before but right now only one thing springs to mind: RHYTHM

    I played with a guy today who had no feeling or rhythm and I was a bit shocked. I dunno but isn't it stupid to become bassist (musician) when you have no feeling or rhythm?
    I mean this guy sucked you now, he could play some semi-fast Muse riff in a steady rhythm but that would be the kind of thing on wich he practices all day long just to be able to show off with it and save his face.
  12. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    He probably wanted to be a guitar player (perfect for someone with no rhythm ;) ), but sucked doing that too and thought bass would be easier because it only has 4 strings.

    I'd rather play with a guy who's best skill is pumping out steady 8ths than someone who can play a few licks but can't nail a downbeat. Flash don't mean squat if you can't keep the groove movin', the heads bobbin', and the booties shakin'. :bassist:
  13. Playing with conviction and purposefullness is very important also. Playing all the 'right' notes and rhythms means nothing if you don't have some muscle backing it.
  14. 1) What time the gig is
    2) What time soundcheck is
    3) Where the gig is
    4) The set list
    5) How the songs go (starts, finishes, key transitions)

    The other posts are on target, and I am half joking here, but I've played with some really talented guys who could never get all five of these down on any given night. There are a lot of undependable musicians out there.
  15. 1) keep it simple, stupid
    2) time
    3) space
    4) more space
    5) big fat notes
  16. 1. Work with the drummer, become a solid rhythm section.
    2. Tone, make it sound good and make it sound big.
    3. Learn the songs, do your homework.
    4. Show up on time.
    5. Memorize the fretboard, learn scales and how to use them.
  17. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    My Girl
    What's Going On
    Let's Stay Together
    Brick House
    Sex Machine
  18. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    The Audience at your gig couldnt care less about your amazing bass technique, they're at the gig to be entertained (this is mostly geared toward the cover band scene) and they'll "ooooh & AAAA" at the guitar player anyway.

    Slap Bass is wasted on an audience (unless your setlist is geared towards it and the audience expects it ...if you play in a standard rock covers band forget it...and no, slapping "sweet home Alabama" dosent work) and in a live gig unless you have an on the ball soundman and a kick ass rig as soon as you slap the arse falls out of the band

    Learn to sing...even if its just backing vocals ...you'll get a hell of a lot more gigs

    Lock with your drummer...ie you and the drummer need to be tight to-gether or the rhythm section is screwed

    Dont be afraid to let notes sustain...it dosent always have to be synchopated 16ths.

    And yes...Less is more (unless your in a weather report/Bela Flek etc tribute band ;)
  19. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    Fat and solid
  20. thephilosopher


    Dec 22, 2004
    1 - where the 1 is.

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