What is your most difficult challenge in playing bass.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Neil Folkard, Mar 5, 2020.

  1. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Since I play both fretless and upright, I focus on intonation. I find that intonation is a decent indicator of my overall technique, and a way to identify specific problem areas to work on. Also, it's the one thing that will make me cringe if I listen to a recording of myself.

    In close second place, tone.

    I'm lucky to play in a big-band, so I get lots of reading practice.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
    Chad Michael likes this.
  2. Claymore


    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    I have "comfort zone" rhythms and note selection and whenever I try to steer away from it, I can feel myself veering towards these familiar shapes. I would like to not have any comfort zone whatsoever and just play more freely.
    juggahnaught and HumanLarvae like this.
  3. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    I hear you on that one man. I came across a technique that Steve Harris uses. Volume/Gain up, and just barely tap the strings with your plucking fingers. Allows you to play faster and without straining yourself at all. Good Stuff.
    StevieMac, baileyboy and bbh like this.
  4. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    Tapping, especially while trying to play a separate low end line with the left hand. It's rubbing your belly and patting your head type stuff. Why I could never pick up drums or keys! The other thing I get frustrated with is using the same fills and motiff's just naturally. I have to think to do something different. Finally I would say writing bridges/breakdowns... I can do verses and chorus all day long, its the breaking them up that is a pain. Though diving into theory has helped with this a lot.
  5. 10cc

    10cc Inactive

    Oct 28, 2013
    Time to bass

    everything else is easy
  6. Scoundrel1680

    Scoundrel1680 Stingray Fan Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2020
    Orange County, CA
    finding time, and not having other musicians to jam with.

    It's getting harder to learn every day!
  7. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    Yup that is super frustrating. As creative as I can be, going back to the same stuff is just annoying. I figure I need to start learning some chords and how to integrate them better.
    Claymore likes this.
  8. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    Good thread.

    I have a lot of challenges in terms of knowledge, technique, execution, all this stuff. I can play decently well, but I can't play the way I'd like to be able to.

    The most difficult challenge for me on bass is truly expressing myself on the instrument. I can play songs by ear, I can fall into a groove, I can do a lot of stuff - but at the end of the day, I just don't sound the way I'd truly like to sound, and often, I can't seem to translate what's in my head to the instrument in real time. (Sure, sometimes it works, but I've been put on the spot to solo and I can't express a line I want - or worse, I just don't have any ideas and the solo just sucks. Or sometimes you want to be able to nail that slick two-bar gospel fill - and you do, but you miss the landing! Ouch.) I'm decently proficient, I understand theory, I have a good ear and I'm playing out....but I dunno, I just feel like I'm not all that good.

    I think there are things that I can practice that will definitely help me get better - better fretboard knowledge, deepening my understanding of theory (especially jazz-related theory, like chord extensions and "exotic scales"), acquiring new techniques (integrating chords into my regular playing more, using tapping as part of fundamental lines), improving fundamentals (bought Bass Fitness; used to do exercises like these but I stopped a while back, time to start again), and just playing a lot more. Those are challenges in themselves. But I feel as though making the instrument my voice is going to be a lifetime goal, and I don't know if I'll ever be as good as the other bassists that I hear. It's definitely difficult.

    That's my struggle.
    Neil Folkard likes this.
  9. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Guest

    Mar 25, 2018
    So switch to guitar or singer if you want to be in the limelight. It is what it is.
  10. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    I'm with you on all of this stuff, except I am not great at copying by ear. Playing what I hear in my head, definitely struggle with that. Sometimes it comes out, other times it doesn't. Sometimes it doesn't come out, but it is still something workable, and I use it anyway. I think all players (at least those with any degree of modesty) don't think they are as good as they can be. Comparing yourself to others is a hard too. I totally get that. When I saw Victor Wooten in concert in San Francisco I kind of thought about quitting bass! I was like, "ok, I'll never be able to do that, so what is the point?" But there is a point. While I can't think of a bassist example very well (Maybe Nikki Sixx) what about people like Dave Grohl? He isn't by any means the most skilled singer, guitarist, or drummer, but he still brings a LOT to the music world. Just because the songs he writes aren't the most technically impressive pieces doesn't mean they aren't really good. While I am not comparing my ability to Grohl, I am a riff factory, and make tons of lines that groove well and are interesting. Lots of the songs my band plays came off of bass riffs I came up with. There are different types of ability I guess I am trying to say. That said, I still strive to improve my technical playing.
    juggahnaught likes this.
  11. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Bay Area
    Keeping the ladies at bay
    HumanLarvae and Frans688 like this.
  12. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    Ummm... I thought this was a bass forum? Sure you aren't a guitarist?
    LowEndBuzz likes this.
  13. Frans688


    Sep 11, 2019
    keeping inspired and having fun, not make a big deal, for a beginner like me & lead with the frustration
  14. fishdreams

    fishdreams Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification and and Martin Keith Guitars
    Finish what I started
  15. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    Just find a style you like and try to learn it. Nothing keeps you going like finally pulling of that song, riff, or technique you were trying to learn. For me it was double thumb. Practiced it like crazy but could NEVER pull it off. Then one day it just clicked. While I am not a master at it, I can utilize it well enough to even put it into songs I write. Just find that thing and keep at it till you get it.
    Frans688 likes this.
  16. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Finding a drummer you can bond with.
  17. Finding an actual band where I can play bass... I’ve done so many gigs on drums that it’s taken me forever to find the confidence to say I can play the bass well enough to join a quality band on something other than drums. And while I get positive feedback from bands when I audition, I’m finding it hard to find one where the fit is right. It’ll happen.... eventually.
  18. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    My biggest challenge is that I don't have nearly the same "playbook" that so many other guitarists and bassists I know have.

    My musical background is kind of odd; when I started playing bass at 13 (in the early 1990's), I joined a band right away; and while we played covers for a year (learned out of guitar magazine transcriptions), we started writing our own music right away. I spent my teen years writing and playing original music, then went to college for jazz, and post college, started playing in bands writing and playing original music. I missed out on years of playing along to music, which so many other people I know did in their formative years. I've got a pretty good ear, and can create a bass line on the spot for pretty much anything, but unless it's in my relatively small book of tunes that I know, it's not going to be the bass line people are expecting.

    I've been working over the past few years on transcribing bass lines from my iTunes library at random, and so that's helped expand my knowledge and skill set, but if i'm at an audition or jam session and somebody calls out something that is a rock standard for everybody else, I'm learning it on the fly.
  19. HumanLarvae


    Mar 5, 2020
    That is a cool skill though. I mean, there are two schools of thought on it I guess. Personally, I don't like traditional bass lines. I like the unconventional. I will play what is conventional, but nothing wrong with pushing the envelope. In some cases though, it just doesn't work. I can't for the life of me play classic country (like Johnny Cash) or rockabilly, but I also tend to find the bass lines kind of boring.
  20. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    As a singer (lead&backup) as well as a co- frontman I must really work hard to sing lead and play bass lines to more difficult songs like I’m Your Captain/ closer to my home it is a challenge and that song we did last night for the first time in my trio there were a few bumps but not a train wreck by any means
    So to answer your question
    Singing and playing bass is my biggest challenge
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