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Will it help to play drums?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe Garage, Sep 20, 2005.

  1. Joe Garage

    Joe Garage

    Mar 13, 2005
    Will learning to play drums improve my sense of natural rythm and time keeping on the bass? Since both the bass and drums are part of keeping time, is it important for a bassplayer to also be a steady drummer?
  2. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    It comes in hand, but I don't think it's a nececity (sp).
  3. I have been playing bass for the last four years and playing drums or about two. The understanding of drums has helped me to stay in sync with my drummer and understand his thinking. Plus, jaco was a drummer.... where can you go wrong.

    i think it is more important to understand drums and rhythm than to be able to physically play drums.

    also, dont get caught up in practicing drums so much that you play less bass. drums are an additive not a substitution.
  4. Joe Garage

    Joe Garage

    Mar 13, 2005
    Thanks for your replies! I guess it’s because I knew Jaco was a good drummer as well as a bass player, is why I got the idea in the first place. I know pretty well how the drums work, since I’ve been programming drums for many years now, so I guess I will continue to work along the metronome.
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Bassist Billy SHeehan says playing drums and especially frequent practice witha drummer will make you be a better bassist because you will have a better understanding of timing and groove.

    I took lessons in drumming for six months obediently following Sheehan's advice. What I discovered for myself is that I needed to spend so much time practicing the drums that I was cutting into my bass practice. I did not come easily by the independence of hands and feet needed for a drum kit, high hat, bass drum, snare, cymbols.

    Fianlly I decided to drop the drums because I figured that the bass was my true love. However, I do agree with Sheehan's advice to frequently practice witha drummer or drum machine and believe that is actually more helpful then learning to play drums.

    I do not regret having learned my way around drums, though. For one thing, it gave me a much greater appreciation of good drummers and how hard it is to achieve a high standard on that instrument.
  6. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Nothing about drums will inherently improve your time. If you actually make a concentrated effort to LEARN the drums, you will, by necessity, be making a concentrated effort to learn how to feel and keep good time.

    You don't need the drums to do this, you can achieve great timefeel from a good metronome and a well thought out practice regiment.

    One thing that I have taken to doing that really helps. I set up a simple drum track in a midi sequencer, 4/4 about 112 BPM, I have it looping for bars 4 times, then it takes away a bar, then it takes away 2 bars, then 3, then half a bar, then it finally ends up going down to one beat... ever 4 bars.

    So, what I practice is holding a groove intact without losing 'the one', but, it's a lot harder than it sounds. When it gets to 1 beat ever 4 bars, I like to try and purposefully throw myself by playing off the beat.

    It's a really good way to highlight how good(or bad) your timefeel really is.

    Sorry for that rant, but the point of my post is that, no instrument will inherently improve your time, only practice will do that, practice on any instrument, practicing good time.
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    The "role reversal" thing is a tough one to quantify. Wrong Robot is of course correct about not needing to learn drums to have good time, there's plenty of drummers out there that prove this point on a regular basis. Good time comes from working with a metronome and working with others that have good time.
    Many feel that learning other instruments can give you a better understanding of them, their roles, and help you relate better musically. I agree generally with this but at what point does it become a negative? If you spend time practicing drums will it take away from the time you spend practicing your bass? Some have a desire to learn alot of instruments but few have the time or talent to master them. I would much rather excell on one instrument than be mediocre on all of them.
  8. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    If you have time to drum as well - go for it! Drums and bass naturally come together. At the last rehearsal of my band we didn't have a drummer, so I had some fun with the drums the 1st time in my life. Well, I could produce an even beat :)
    Bottomline: drums will increase your natural tempo feeling.
  9. Nirvana4ever


    Aug 2, 2005
    Along with playing guitar, playing drums should probably help you with bass because they are both rythym instruments. The bass and drums are supposed to be locked into each other while playing. By learning drums, you get a feel for being the other part of the rythym section. Try playing drums along with a bassist to really capture the essence of drums and bass together.

    I also recommend trying out the guitar. The bass is in the middle of guitar and drums. If you are going to try one, why not try the other? Guitar should be easy for you if you apply what you know on bass to guitar. It will help you out a lot. Rock on.
  10. skewh


    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    It might not help, but it definitely won't hurt. I've been known to fiddle around on the drums, and it has given me better rhythm, an easier time with odd time signatures, and some more non-bass phrasing ideas for to use in my solos, grooves, etc.
  11. My favorite rhythm section is Chuck Rainey and Bernard Purdie. Those guys are all about ghosted sixteenths. After I learned a few grooves on the kit, I was able to play that syncopated, funky style pretty well, and hook up with drummers better than I could previously.
    Time can be developed with a metonome or drum machine.
  12. Ive been playing drums for over 25 yrs. I took up bass as a second instrument 3 months ago. I feel it has helped me. You dont need to buy a drumset to play drums. You can "air drum" (go through the motions, without physically sitting at the drum kit). Also, when practicing the bass, you should always feel the first beat in a measure. Try practicing with a book called syncopation by Ted Reed. This book has a bunch of exercises with accent notes. For any given exercise, I usually play the root of a scale on the unaccented notes, and on each accent play the next note of the scale. Makes practice interesting.
  13. nad

    nad 60 Cycle Humdinger Commercial User

    Sep 22, 2005
    Not Mars
    The Overlord of Nordstrand Pickups
    been playing bass for 13 years, 2 years ago i picked up the drums and am an okay player.

    can't say it affected my bass playing, but i'm more conscious of what is going on behind a kit now.
  14. Joe Garage

    Joe Garage

    Mar 13, 2005
    I think I will pick up that book!
    Thanks for all you suggestions! I think I will continue to just play bass and guitar for now, and continue to practice with the metronome.
  15. Cool,

    The book is very good and been around for a very long time and can be used for any instrument. Any music store should have it. Also practice with a metronome. Using both the book and metronone will help you feel the first beat in a measure (pulse) and accents will help you feel the rythmn

    Another good book is called stick control by george stone

    good luck


    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    I played drums for 26 years before switching to bass 7 years ago, and can say while it's not a necessity, having that experience has helped me immensely with syncopation and rhythmic gooves on the bass. I feel the drummer and I can lock much better cause I've been there and can identify with what he/she is playing
  17. Start playing djembe.

    It will give you hard good bassfingers.
    And you will learn how to groove.
  18. Joe Garage

    Joe Garage

    Mar 13, 2005
    This probably going to sound a bit dumb, but just by following each note inside the midi editor in Cubase seems to help me getting a better understanding of how steady I am.
  19. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Bingo! Its important to understand what all the instruments in the band are doing and how they function. If you are a hands on learner then you should probably play around with each of the instruments to help you see what your bandmates are going through. Get the guys from the band to give you a few quick lessons during practice breaks. The first band I was in when the guys would go outside for cigarette breaks I would play the different instruments. I would fiddle with the drums and the keyboards and the bass (I started out on Guitar). After hearing my fumble my way through the drummer would come in and show me a real basic beat. Once I had that basic beat down I could branch out from there. This gave me enough of an understanding of what was going on without taking time away from what I needed to focus on.

    I've been playing music for eight years. In that time I've studied; guitar, bass, piano, trumpet, back to guitar and back to bass. In that time I have become a well rounded musician, but I am definetly not a hotshot at any of them.

    My point? Learning to play another instrument, that is taking the time to become proficient on it, will not help you to become good on another instrument. Drums won't help you to play bass. But having a basic understanding of what your drummer is doing will help you to be a better rhythm section player.

  20. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004

    That's true, but physically playing drums will still improve bass-playing skills IMO. Understading how other instruments work is great, but there's another side in music - intuition. Does one realize what notes exactly he is hitting when he imrovises? Probably yes - if he doed it the more formal way, choosing in advance a certain scale and key, but probably not - if he just goes with his intuition and decides on the spot to play a note sequence that would sound best.
    So here's what I'm trying to point out: only real drumming will give you the intuitional / emotional ground that would help you to fully understand what your drumming feels like.