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Whats one thing that has helped improve your bass playing?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SpectorBass308, Mar 7, 2008.


  1. I feel like Im at one of those points where I want to be a better bass player than what I currently am, you know how it is.. :meh: So tell me at least one thing that has helped you along in your bass playing and made you a better bass player. Tecniques, songs you've studied, scale studies..

    For example, one thing that has helped me lately is learning to make walking bass lines using chords (1 3 5 7's) and modes (mixolydian, dorian). also, learning to play scales in intervals..that kind of stuff.

    -Thanks
     
  2. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Worrying less, and having fun.
     
  3. dreadheadbass

    dreadheadbass

    Dec 17, 2007
    england
    setting my goals sky high
    i started off idolising people like billy sheehan, steve harris and stu hamm and tried (and failed) to copy them and although i fall way short of thier ability it forced me to practice like mad and as a result my bass playing aint half bad than someone who has worshipped say pete wentz

    also playing with a band where everyone else is fantastic on thier instruments forces you to learn and learn fast
     
  4. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    playing in a working band.
     
  5. Illbay

    Illbay

    Jan 15, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    Playing with my eyes shut, and a cool, detached expression on my face.
     
  6. playing in a gigging band, and lowering my action. I used to play with really high action and when I got a new bass that had a lower setup I was like "whoa! I play so much better now!" lol
     
  7. Jonny B

    Jonny B

    Nov 5, 2006
    WI
    Practicing daily.

    You can work on all the scales and techniques you want, but if you don't do it on a consistent, regular basis you will rarely improve.
     
  8. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Good thread idea!

    For me, not in order...

    1. Buying a good metronome (subdivides the beat, shows count visually + audio) to use with sight-reading
    2. Tascam CD bass trainer
    3. Gary Willis' Fingerboard Harmony for Bass book
    4. Taking classical guitar lessons
    5. Gary Willis' Progressive Bassics videos (YouTube it!)
    6. Talkbass.com
    7. GIGGING/WORKING
    8. Teoria.com

    +1 to all of this. I played piano, violin, clarinet, sax, classical guitar, and electric guitar before switching to bass, and I still play piano, classical guitar, and electric guitar, and I'm trying to learn drums & voice, too. Piano is *great* for theory, classical guitar is great for right-hand and left-hand technique, and electric guitar (especially blues & jazz improv soloing) is great for learning the fretboard.

    I also have a Roland TD-6SXT electronic drumset, and I would recommend to any bassist that s/he learn a least the basics of playing all the other instruments in a band setting (drums, keys, guitar, voice), so you can really understand your role as bassist better. Because I also play piano, I really understand how important it is for the bass player not to step on the pianist's toes when it comes to left-hand stuff, and similarly, as a 6-string guitarist, I really understand how important it is for the bass player to support the melody by staying the hell out of the way and not over-playing.

    I try to think about the song first, not just the bassline, and I think that has helped me approach the bass appropriately more than anything else.

    Realizing that drums are indeed musical instruments and not just there for rhythm is very important. There is so much going on in a drum part that it's easy to just think of it as "the drums," but drums have pitch, too, and SO much in the way of dynamics, not to mention tone (yes, drums have tone, too!). Finding where you fit in as the bassist is not just about your note choice, but also about your dynamics, your tone/frequency range/place in the mix, and how your rhythms, tone, and pitches interact with all the other rhythms, tone, and pitches created by the rest of the band. Looking at the big picture is underrated IMO. I think Sting is a great example of an excellent understand of the role of the bass guitar in contemporary music. Listen to some Sting songs and pay close attention to what the bass is doing, not just note-choice wise but tonally: He *never* overplays and lets the song carry and dictate the bassline (and tone), not the other way around. The message (vocals) of the song are the most important thing and he doesn't forget it. That's a hard thing to swallow (for a bassist, I mean), but it really is an approach I've benefited from.

    I also think ear training is very important. Taking music theory classes, or studying websites like teoria.com, has done amazing things for my playing.

    Something else that has helped me is doing sessions & fill-in gigs for styles of music I don't normally play, especially when I have to learn a bassline I didn't write, note-for-note.

    Sometimes, a song (or sections of one) just sound better without the bass at all. It takes a mature player to simply stop playing at that point. Playing in a band is often about building layers, and you don't necessarily want this full-on onslaught of sound 100% of the time. IME, you'd be amazed at how much better the song sounds when you just don't play during certain parts. Think of it as listening to the song without the bass, and then adding the bass where it needs a bass - building from the ground up - rather than cutting the bass when it's not needed. This is especially effective for intros, bridges, and outros.

    Another *big* thing that's helped me is getting a Zoom H2 and recording every gig I do. Listening back to my performances, I really notice when things aren't perfect, and it gives me a great opportunity to nit-pick and work on things. For $200, you can't miss. Highly recommended!
     
  9. the_fonz

    the_fonz

    Nov 27, 2006
    Kane, PA
    a pick and boosted high mids

    this gives me a sound i like more, leading to better confidence, leading to better playing.
     
  10. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Producing other artists
     
  11. 1) Leaving the "I want to be a lickster / chopster" attitude behind, and focusing on good groove, feel, and tone.

    2) Playing in a working band.
     
  12. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Rochester, NY
    Joining a band.
     
  13. for me...

    getting a 5er. It made me practice every day. :)
    practicing
    time slicing - metronome work - practicing

    ;~)
     
  14. Muckaluck

    Muckaluck

    Oct 11, 2005
    Whitby, Ontario
    Realizing that I don't have to dig in to the fretboard and that I can take a more relaxed hold of the bass. Relaxing and not being up tight in general has really helped me get into that pocket.
     
  15. 1. Practising until I naturally used my pinky as much as my other left hand fingers.
    2. Breaking the habit of always playing a particular scale or arpeggio the same way (eg middle finger on the root in a major scale).
    3. Getting comfortable not staring at my left hand.
    Those three things are my one thing.
     
  16. Listening as deeply as humanly possible every time I play or listen to music.
     
  17. motleystew

    motleystew

    Apr 29, 2006
    Lewisville, TX
    Learning to play blues on the guitar. I got in a rut, bought a Strat, started playing blues scales and leads and now when I pick up the bass, I feel more able to navigate the fingerboard. I also agree with the above posts that mention joining a working band.
     
  18. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    practice.

    I still suck, but I know that's the only way to get better.
     
  19. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Getting out and playing.
     
  20. Mike Shevlin

    Mike Shevlin

    Feb 16, 2005
    Las Vegas
    I suck too, but getting a good bass was the one big thing- Lakland 55-94 - I could never use the excuse that my bass was preventing me from playing something well.
     

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