What's the longest it's taken you to learn a really tricky riff

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TrevorG, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    We're all different standards and play different things but we all come up to musical obstacles that demand a little more brain power. I learnt Donna Lee in my teens but it took me months to play the tune reasonably well. I guess this isn't an issue for session players who read a lot but the rest of us to some extent rely more on our ears. What's the longest it's taken you to learn a riff and what was it?
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  2. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Well I never learned the Barney Miller intro.
  3. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    I did! I LOVE that riff!! Took a really long time though! Haven't Vulfpec just released a track with a VERY similar bass line?
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  4. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Been working on various Chris Squire licks for around 40 years without ever really mastering them. I think I've learned, forgotten, and re-learned Roundabout 50 times over the years. It's a real workout with a pick, and by the time I get it down, I'm sick of playing it! I have a life goal of nailing the entire Fragile and Close to the Edge albums, note for note, a goal I'll probably never reach as the arthritis in my hands gradually worsens, but it's the attempt that matters. :D
  5. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    Ashamed to say I don't know Chris Squire well but I'll be heading over to those albums for a listen. Thanks. :)
  6. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    His tone is famous for its almost guitar like treble clank, played on a Ric for the most part. Listen to a few of his basslines on YouTube with bass and drums (Bill Bruford) isolated, his playing is immaculate in execution, but he allows a lot of fret buzz as part of his tone, which sounds almost like some distortion. Here's one of his more famous basslines from Heart of the Sunrise:

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  7. It took me about a month to learn Bourée by Jethro Tull all the way through.

    Edit: Spelling
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  8. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    Sounds great. Would love to try it on a double bass.
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  9. Bassdirty


    Jul 23, 2010
    That's what I just thought of, because a couple months ago I did finally learn the whole thing, after years of playing the 1st 4 or 6 notes. If you listen carefully, theres a couple notes on the "run" back down that skips from 1 string to another, that makes the thing tricky to play at speed (correctly).

    YMMV ;)

  10. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I worked on "When doves Cry" by Prince for years....still don't have it quite down.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Jeff Beck's "Led Boots" when I was a teenager in college (late 70's) and still a fledgling.

  12. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    It's not that tricky, but for some reason, I had a hell of a time getting the little off-beat ghost "pop" note that's littered in Prince's tune, "Let Work". Once I got it, courtesy of YouTuber "sonofabass", I had a blast with it.
  13. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Funny, cause the first 7 notes was all I ever learned to approximate - would play it at rehearsals once in a while to annoy my bandmates and never bothered with the rest out of sheer laziness.
    Then Seinfeld came out years later and I had a new riff to annoy people with. Not that I actually ever learned that one, either.
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  14. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I LOVE that song, one of Beck's best! I can "approximate" it. :D
  15. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    A lifetime...

    For example, the orchestra I was working with a few years back did Beethoven’s 6th. My second tour with that gem. I got pretty close this time around with the Storm movement.
  16. CallMeAl

    CallMeAl Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    In recent history, it took me about 3 or 4 weeks to get “Sir Duke” up to tempo.
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  17. FritzM

    FritzM Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2001
    Madison, MS
    The line in WR Havona took a while, as well as Donna Lee.
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  18. Seashore


    Jun 2, 2019
    To learn a complicated part, sometimes a few hours to get it playable. To learn an entire song of complicated parts to the point where I can stumble through, I guess it depends on the song, but it can take a few days. To really internalize to the point where I feel like it belongs to me? It can take months, and usually at least one or two performances or a recording session.
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  19. it's a tricky one..

    the OP brings up folks who can read "anything"

    i'm a fluent reader, but i know people who can sight read nearly anything. those folks put in hours every day for years to get that good at it. you'd have to add that into the equation of "how long it takes them to learn ___," as it looks instantaneous - and that one specific song/lick is being learned instantaneously. at the cost of countless hours of learning the skill of learning songs instantaneously.

    so considering my 3 degrees in music, plus years of lessons and practice before that, i guess anything i sight read really took 6-10 years i guess to prepare?
  20. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Electric? That's easy - Teen Town took me over 3 weeks.
    Upright? Overture to The Flying Dutchman took me over a month; just thinking about it makes my hand cramp up. Wagner can write some epic and amazing music, but I cannot fathom why he hates bassists so much.
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