1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

where to start with theory

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mothmonsterman, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    HI all
    I've been playing bass for about 8 or 9 years and i never gave theory, scales, arpeggios a second thought.
    till of course now it seems i've been in a plateau in my playing for the past couple of years.
    My right hand is strong technique wise but my left hand has yet to get with the program.

    My question is, Where do i start?
    I've got a book the out lines alot of the left hand techniques and goes over the natural scale.

    But I'm looking for other opinions and resources on where to start learning scales and developing good theory.

    Not sure what else to say.
  2. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    I have a book called "Complete Idiots Guide to Music Theory" ... I have yet to spend much time with it, but it looks like just the ticket ... I have also been told to learn the piano keyboard as well for a better grasp and background to theory was very useful ... I actually learned a great deal of basic theory from "Bass Guitar for Dummies" ... hmmm ... kind of seems to be a theme here in my study material, doesnt it ? :)
  3. m2o03


    Feb 27, 2006
    hey! I recommend checking out activebass.com once you're there, click on "bassics" and that has theory charts, and all of that; the site in general though - i think you'll find it to be very handy.
  4. Go to the nearest Barns&Nobles, Borders or a similar store. They usually have a couple of music theory books. Most likely you want to browse the guitar ones, there are some bass specific theory books but I suspect you need to order those, such as:

    Mel Bay presents Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass (Perfect Paperback) by Robert Garner


  5. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    First and foremost, learn how to read. I cannot stress this enough. Spend your time on scales, then modes, then triads, (play all of these in sequence in every position of the neck following the circle of fifths)then chord construction (all inversions starting on each interval), intervals (2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, dominant 7ths, major 7ths, and what each interval sounds like) for both all of the modes and chords, look at song construction - i.e. the numeric representation and relationship within the song itself. You will see patterns begin to emerge, and a lot of the clouds will lift over what theory really is. It really is a lifetime of learning that you will uncover one brick at a time. Books - Start with Building walking bass lines by Ed Freidland, try the Improvisors Bass Method by Chuck Sher (this ones a little more complicated), get a good teacher, find a pianist/keyboardist that you respect, and pick his brains! The more you do, the better you will get. Remember, there is no shortcut to either true knowledge, or the effort it will take to get there. Keep at it!
  6. And If you're gonna learn to read, my two cents would be to also learn Piano. That teaches you to read bass and treble clef.
  7. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006

    yeah, i have the dummies book,
    In fact i picked up alot of bass books digging though my guitar brothers old music stuff he was kind enough to leave in his basement.

    few books on slap bass, groovin

    and the one i'm currently working with is
    which seems to be helping me understand what i was doing wrong as for hand placement and making me stretch a good ammount (which hurts a bit :bawl:) but it's getting easier.
  8. Well, the first topics you are going to want to cover in learning elementary music theory are scales, keys, triads, rhythm and meter. The text for the first music theory class I took was in fact called "Scales, Keys, Triads, Rhythm and Meter", and those are the subjects it covers. Good ground up introduction. You can get it here:


    Resist the urge to take short cuts or follow clever programs that claim to only 'teach you the stuff you really need to know'. It's going to be dry at first, just plow ahead.
  9. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    My wife is quite the accomplished violinist, she offered to tech me how to read many. many years ago.
    which i blew off and am apparently paying for now.
    "how the hell did you manage to play bass in a band for damn near a decade and not know the simplest things?"
    -- Wife 2007
  10. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    It is never too late to learn how to read. It will open doors for you that you will find astounding. Pick up "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" with the CD. Most of these basslines will be instantly recognizable to you, and they go from simple to absurd. This book will help if you already have a basic reading knowledge. Please don't do the Tab thing. It will hinder your growth. If your wife is an accomplished violinist, you already have an excellent resource under your roof! If I were you, I wouldn't waste another minute and take her up on the offer (dinner, roses, "honey, you were right.."). Your goal should be to be the best MUSICIAN you can be, and your bass playing will naturally follow. As Jaco would say "you dig?"

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.