Hey all, looking for some guidance on the skill set needed to be good at quickly picking up songs when playing at a jam. I first got the itch to pick up a bass when I was photographing bands as a sideline. I would go to jams and take photos, building up my clientele by giving them free samples of my work from jams they played at. Listening to the players on stage gave me a real appreciation for the skills it took to be able to get up there and lock into an unfamiliar song after just a few bars. After I got a bass and knew enough to be dangerous (15 months after starting to play), I managed to get into a band. A year after that, I was in two bands, both doing classic rock covers. But, four years after starting with the first band, I still have a desire to go to jams and improvise my way through a set of songs I don't know. I have been going to a jam recently, to try and ease into the scene as a player, and my shortcomings are really apparent. Some songs I can lock into almost immediately and play with confidence, but others are just painful. I can't get the groove, I don't know the right note choices... then, I get some eye-rolls from the guys on stage and I start feeling like I shouldn't even be up there. Here are some of the skills I think I am lacking: I need to have a better understanding of theory, in order to know what note choices are appropriate in a given key. I need to have immediate recall of the arpeggios for various chord types. If you have to think about it, it's already too late. I need to have more songs under my belt, so that I can draw from them to improvise with unfamiliar songs that are similar to ones I know. Between picking up songs on my own and playing with the two bands, I have probably 200 or so songs I am familiar with. My ear needs improving, so I can know the key changes as they come, since some folks expect you to keep up without them calling out the changes. I need to have a better understanding of where to play the same notes on the fretboard. I am not bad at this, but too slow to be able to react and improvise real-time to a song I'm not familiar with. So, for me, it boils down to more time in the shed and more time studying/learning... I would like to try and prioritize and focus on the areas that are most important. What other skills are valuable to players to allow them to be good jammers? And, what are the more valuable skills? Where does theory fit in the ranking of important skills to have? Or, should I just suck it up and throw myself on the stage, knowing that I am going to be 'that guy' for a while until I get my poop together?