What to Practice?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ducehands, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. Ducehands


    Feb 17, 2010
    Good morning fellow bass players.

    I am relatively new to the bass an I am having difficulty defining what to practice. I have read bass guitar for dummies and use study bass website, but other than practicing scales and chords I do not know what to practice. I hear that you should practice at least an hour a day, well after performing the scales I am done within 15 mins. Please assist me in defining a true practice routine, so I can become a well rounded bassists. Thank you in advance.
    P.S. I just ordered Bass Fitness Exercise Book.
  2. Bootzilla


    May 4, 2009
    You could learn some songs from online tabs. In the early stages it's important to play a lot and to enjoy playing a lot (and to not create bad habits). Later on you could start on improv and playing from charts (you get the chord progression and you make up the bassline on the spot from the chords). You can start that by improvising a bassline of the blues progression in a random scale. Study bass has a lot of knowledge and presents it in a good way so keep reading it over and over and over till you can dream that stuff. Whats important tho is to get your technique down (having total control over every sound your bass makes and, more importantly, doesn't make) and enjoying it.
  3. Minotauros


    Nov 23, 2009
    Just play. Get some song sheets with the chords and play bass lines from them. No bass lines written? Learn chord triads and make your own bass lines. Take the root of the chord in each measure; or the R 3 or R 5 or R 3 5 (pretty much what Bootzilla said). Or if the chords in a progression share a note, keep pounding on that note.

    It's an interesting sound... it's the root in one chord and maybe the 3rd or 5th in the other: if you have a song in D using D G A (I IV V), Dmaj and Gmaj have D in common as the R in D and the 5th in G. You could stay on D for both chords. Dmaj and Amaj have A in common as the 5th in Dmaj and R in Amaj. You could stay on A for both chords. Lots of things to play and experiment with.

    Play (with) the recording and see how close you come to it. This is all what I'm doing. Some works great, some not so great, and some is like "I cant believe I did that, I hope no one heard!" :eek:
  4. tsunami1052

    tsunami1052 What the Funk?

    Sep 13, 2005
    Check out Roy Vogts "Teach me Bass Guitar."
  5. Oraflora


    Apr 18, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN
    I would recommend using a metronome while playing your scales.
    Online metronome is here:

    Try playing the scales very slowly, and letting each note ring for it's full duration. This will really force you to fret each note correctly, and after 15 minutes of this, I guarantee that you will:
    1. Be tired - mentally and physically. It takes more effort to play things slowly and cleanly than just getting through the scales.
    2. Be stronger and more accurate - playing slowly and cleanly will strengthen your fretting hand very quickly, and create some "muscle memory" in your fingers.
    JoratioMumbles likes this.
  6. Ducehands


    Feb 17, 2010
    Thank you guys for the advice, I intend to use all the information that you provided to me. Hopefully, with enough practice I'll be able to share some useful stuff with you guys. THANKS
  7. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    After taking formal lessons, buying all kinds of lesson books, I'm convinced no one knows *** they are talking about.

    I found in formal lessons the teacher didn't really know where to start or what to teach me and the lessons didn't build on each other. then when I would buy books, I'd work on something for a few months only I wouldn't have any idea how to incorporate it into my playing style.

    I've since mostly given up and become a guitar players wet dream, meaning I just hammer on the root note all the time.
  8. Nice generalization. :scowl:

    Dude, you had a REALLY bad teacher. Don't dismiss all teachers, or even all books for that matter, just because you had ONE bad experience. If your teacher truly didn't know where to start or what to teach you, then he shouldn't have been teaching in the first place.
  9. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    (Emphasis added)

    I submit this is a contradiction. Playing music on the bass is not primarily a physical endeavor, so don't rely on tab. Learn music. If you can't get a good teacher, then work from reliable sources that will teach you good physical technique, as bongomania says. And play a lot, and enjoy it, again as bongomania says. But learn it by ear. LISTEN, because music is primarily an auditory experience so make sure your ear is the key.

  10. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    What do you like about bass playing? I always had some songs that I thought had cool bass parts, and just went about learning them. You can get on YouTube now and find all kinds of things where they even show you the fret positions.

    I played along with a lot of songs I liked for a long time and just learned the lines and the riffs.......just screwed around and had fun with it.

    I think maybe in your head you're thinking there is only one right way to go about this. Along with a few basis tips on hand position and damping, the right way is to just do whatever you want to do. Just keep playing.


    Feb 11, 2005
    Tb's own David Overthrows complete bass method,30 day workout,used(lowest prices on amazon)

    Tb's own Todd Johnson walking bassline /technic dvd/book sets

    jim stinnets 12keys for bass,reading bass 1/2

    music books from your favorite artists

    learn then forget and just play!!!
  12. mac94


    Jun 7, 2009
    Burlington, VT

    This is a cool site. Tabs and you can play along. You can even slow it down. Turn the metronome on and have a blast.

    No woman no cry is a good easy one...
  13. sackvegas


    Dec 1, 2006
    Yeah I know, it just gets REALLY frustrating sometimes because there is sooo much information out there.

    The more I read, the more it feels like no one knows how to teach, I've been looking for years for a comprehensive practice routine and I have never found anything even remotely useful. At least for me anyway, I'm starting to think I'm a little slow, haha
  14. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    Don't use a metronome and don't practice scales! Separate art from academics because they do not relate.

    The problem with people suggesting using metronomes is that they forget that academics is different than art and it requires another approach, an out of time approach. The objective here is to learn, not to perform, so never use a click when you are reading or learning new music. A click never allows you the time to learn.

    Further, don't practice scales. They are THE bass cliche, the only element related to academic study that most teachers who do not know how to teach very well will give to their students. Scales actually don't represent tonality in specific ways. They are vague, they imply several different harmonic possibilities. They are bad practice methods.

    Try chord tones, reading trombome music, and most importantly, find a teacher who can show you what to do. New players, or those with basic skills aren't qualified to teach themselves because they don't know their topic very well, that of music and what to work on. But, a great teacher will be responsible for what you should be working on, so make sure that your teacher is a really good one. He/she will be the one who doesn't ask you what you want to work on.
  15. AMp'D.2play


    Feb 12, 2010
    There's a wealth of info here on TB about how/what to practice. I found that just reading a lot of the threads generated more questions, which were answered by more searches!

    Floating thumb technique? Ended up finding Todd Johnson's YouTube video. Scales? Malcolm Amos had a lot of helpful posts.

    I started out focusing on StudyBass. I've since picked up the Hal Leonard Bass Method Complete Edition (by Ed Friedland). This seems to "click" better with me, but I still reference StudyBass as well.

    I want to know how to read music, learn theory, etc. I liken my journey to the first Karate Kid movie. Wax on, wax off! No shortcuts. Initially, new stuff gets repetitive, but then things start to fall into place. On weekdays I'll shoot for ~ 45 minutes of solid practice on technique/fundamentals, and then maybe 15-20 minutes of jamming to some songs. Longer sessions, or split sessions, on weekends.

    Oh, and I'm in the process of looking for a good instructor as well.
  16. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    If certain harmonic non-negociable principles are the central element of what you are practicing, then you cannot go wrong. It is impossible to mess up if you practice chord-type exercises, pure interpretations of Maj, Min, and Dom and its derivations. But, if you seek out stereotypes of learning, anything whatsoever with tab in it, tapping, slapping, string crossing, practically anything with the world "technique" connected with it, you aren't going to improve like you think.
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's only if you are practicing scales as an exercise in vocabulary; scalework is about finding obstacles and solutions to obstacles in position shifts, fingering, right hand approach etc.
  18. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    Half the guys here can't read two bars of music and barely function outside of major 7. I'd wait a little bit before suggesting obstacles and solutions and positional shifts and just have the guys be guided toward simpler, more perfect points of learning.

    Ciao for niao to All. Have a great weekend!
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, we're back to the hammer again.

    Remember guys, don't use hammers. Hammers are a useless tool.
  20. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    Teacher/student is a complex relationship. The first one may not work. You should keep trying. Sounds like you have plenty to learn.