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Old 02-25-2013, 11:25 PM   #1
Surfguitarist
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figuring out music

hi i am new to playing bass (about 2 weeks haha) and i am wondering which how to play along with a guitar strumming chords. My friends and i usually jam a lot (i also play guitar) and they are wanting me to bring my bass, and play along. the chords are usually g, c, d, e ,em,bm, and a few others. Would i be playing notes? and if so which ones? thanks guys!!
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Old 02-26-2013, 01:58 AM   #2
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If they're just playing chords, then either a walking bass or root notes would work depending on style (as a basic start anyway). Root note bass lines are about as simple as they get, just play the root of the chord (for your chord example that would mean play G, C, D, E, E, B), for simple walking bassline you can just go through the notes in the chord playing quarter notes (for G you could play G, B, D, B in one bar, or if you have two bars of the same chord try G, B, D, G, G, D, B, G walking up for one bar then down the next).
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:55 AM   #3
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I'd definitely keep it as simple as possible at the moment. Stick to the root note (C for a C chord E for an Em) then listen really hard to their guitars and pick out their rhythm, then play an appropriate rhythm all on the root. (90% of the time you can get away with an 8beat)

If you play guitar then you can quickly start to add the 7th (1 fret down for major chords 2 frets down for minor or blues chords) as a variation for one beat of the bar usually at the end of the bar. Listen to the Stereophonics Dakota for one example of how this works but once you notice you'll hear it in hundreds of songs.

You'll go on adding notes as you develop, the 5th never sounds wrong, or the octave but all played sparingly. The root is your friend when jamming.
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Old 02-27-2013, 03:57 PM   #4
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Learn your intervals, and get away from root note bashing A.S.A.P.
If the chord is C major instead of staying on the root note follow it with the 5th above (G) or a 4th down (G) ie C/G/C/G, that is a start and remember the minor third if it is Cm and flatten the third Eb.
Most of this you should know if you've been used to playing guitar or keyboard chords.
I bought my first bass on a Saturday and gigged the following Friday due to knowing the chord structures from playing guitar.
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:31 PM   #5
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Mr. Swift is correct. Unless you are doing covers and the original recording just made use of eighth-notes on the root, you will want to spice up your jam sessions with a bit of variety. Learn your major and minor scales and modes, and you can play more elaborate bass parts. You could also play a simultaneous but different melody from that of the guitarist, as long as you are in the right key and don't stray from the rhythm as laid down by the drummer.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:54 AM   #6
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Just play any single note.

Get one of the those print out pictures that show you each note on the bass neck. If he says A, then just start playing quarter notes on a A note in counts of 4/4. I mean lots of Beatles songs are literally that simplistic, which is just play single notes at a time.

Although why dont' you pick a song to learn. I mean Puff the Magic Dragon or what ever can be fun easy starting places. Or pick a band and song you guys really like, when I first started we all loved manson, so we played his songs, like Beautiful People, thats an easy one for anyone, even drummer.
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:22 AM   #7
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just play. play and listen

your ear will tell you if it's right or wrong

work from there
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:43 AM   #8
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I've just re-read this thread and there are clearly two trains of thought and it could be confusing, given that over 100 people have checked out this thread I'll try and clarify. Broadly there is advice to stick to root bashing and advice from people like John to play properly.

I've taken the position that you are new to bass and have a bunch of mates that want to get into a room and just play. root bashing means you will be able to play anything they choose accurately and consistently from day one so long as you have a good sense of rhythm. (I've kind of assumed your guitar playing up to now has been strumming/rhythm guitar by the way) There are a lot of bands out there (U2?) where the bass player does little more than this.

John is suggesting this will be boring for both you and your mates or at least musically unsatisfying and he is right. However if you look there isn't so much disagreement he immediately suggests using the 5th and I suggest adding in the 7th. Actually if you were playing country or rock'n'roll the 5th is the way to go and for blues or rock you'd go for the 7th. Add in the 3rd, octave and chromatic runs and you'll have the basis of an awful lot of bass lines. then move onto the major and minor pentatonic and you are most of the way there. If you are an experienced/ lead guitarist this will all make sense, if you are truly a beginner it might as well be Greek.

So if you are a real beginner don't be afraid to pump the root, it's basic but it works. Try out the 5th and the 7th, they are both easy to reach on an unfamiliar instrument and will make things much more interesting. Don't forget your duties to the rhythm though, this is much more important to the bassist than it was as a guitarist.

If you are already a great guitarist/keyboard player you won't need the music lessons so just go and study your favourite bass lines and figure what they are doing.

Either way start listening to the bass lines in the type of music you want to play. Bass is so simple but somehow there is always more to learn. Have Fun
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:21 AM   #9
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I usually like to play the root on the first beat of the chords (when the chord changes) and then play some chord and passing notes between the chords. Sometimes 8th root playing sounds the best, sometimes playing a walking bassline sounds the best, sometimes just playing long notes works. Sometimes it's cool to play a pedal point. That means, you play for example E over every chord (for example the main riff of Runnin' with the Devil by Van Halen). This gives a different sound. But you need to have a "musical sense" to know what fits the part the best. Also the notes aren't that important. You must also play the right rhythm. 8th root note playing might not sound interesting but play those root notes with a cool rhythm and it sounds very interesting.

But some songs just need that 8th root note banging, some parts just sound so cool because of that. So my advice is: Play what the song needs you to play. It might sound stupid to play it alone and it might not be the most interesting part to play. But add all the instruments and it supports the song. The purpose of every instrument in a song is to make the song sound as good as possible, not to play the most interesting and fun parts.

So play what the song needs you to play and listen to the rhythm of the song.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:06 AM   #10
John Swift
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanStorm13
Just play any single note.

Get one of the those print out pictures that show you each note on the bass neck. If he says A, then just start playing quarter notes on a A note in counts of 4/4. I mean lots of Beatles songs are literally that simplistic, which is just play single notes at a time.

Although why dont' you pick a song to learn. I mean Puff the Magic Dragon or what ever can be fun easy starting places. Or pick a band and song you guys really like, when I first started we all loved manson, so we played his songs, like Beautiful People, thats an easy one for anyone, even drummer.

Having played the Beatles songs when they first came out I can assure you that Macca didn't stick to the root note unless that is what is required ('Get Back').
Out of the blue check out Standing there, (First track Beatles first album) and 'All My Loving'.
If root notes help you get started that's fine but try and find ways to compliment the music and improve your playing.
Always try to develop, after 50 years that's what I still try to do.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:39 PM   #11
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sorry i do not know what "add the 7th means" or what a walking bass line would be. can anybody explain? thanks
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
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sorry i do not know what "add the 7th means" or what a walking bass line would be. can anybody explain? thanks

The 7th is the note 1 semitone below the root of the chord. So if you're playing a bar where the chord is C, the root is C, the 3rd is either E (C Major) or E flat (C Minor), the 5th is G, and the 7th is B
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:22 AM   #13
Phil Starr
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Originally Posted by Surfguitarist
sorry i do not know what "add the 7th means" or what a walking bass line would be. can anybody explain? thanks

OK this tells us what level you are at which is good. You'll pick this up pretty quickly just by playing.

Simply there are 8 notes in an octave. You'll remember doh,re,me,fa,so,la te doh from school. they are also numbered 1 to 8. 7 is the 7th note. Simples.

To play when jamming it is simply one fret down in a major chord and two frets down in a minor or blues chord. (If you played guitar you'll have come across chords like D7 which is the blues chord) this makes it easy to play without having to move your hand.

So if you are playing C (third fret on the A string) you can play the 7th (B) by playing the second fret on the A string. Try playing a steady 8 beat on the C then try playing it but on the 7th beat drop down a fret then back up on the last beat. It is just a little more interesting and creates a sense of movement. A really common bassists trick is to do this just before the chord change, the movement kind of tells you that a change is coming. Dropping down two frets in the same way gives the bassline a minor or bluesy feel.

Walking bass is a little more complex and you'll need to know your scales to do this so I'd leave it for a while. (I don't mean leave learning your scales I mean leave them out of jams until you can play them smoothly) Basically you start on the root note at the chord change then walk up or down the scale until just before (one beat before) the chord change you play a note in the new scale making the first note of the next bar the new root note. A lot of bass players describe any steady movement up and down the scales as a walking bass but technically it isn't really.

A few people mentioned the 5th which is probably the next most useful thing to play. Go up to the fifth from C and you get to G. You can play this on the next string (D string) two frets up or on the same fret on the E string. A lot of country music uses a strict alternation of root/5th. But used more sparingly it can be very effective and since the 5th is the same in major and minor chords it always sounds ok.

This is Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash (slightly simplified)

Verse and solo:
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------9---9---9--9--------------------------|
A|-9--9--9--9--9--9---9--9--------9---9---9---9-----9---9---9--9----|
E|---9--9--9--9--9--9---9--9-----------------------------9---9---9--9-|

G|-------------------------------------------------------||
D|---11---11-----9---9-------------------------------||
A|-------11---11---9---9-----9---9---9---9---------||
E|---------------------------------9---9----9---9------||

It's not a bad exercise for a beginner to play something like this even if you hate the song as much as I do. You'll build up muscle memory for finding the 5th.

Anyway this was far to long. Have a look at the bass lessons on UG, this was a series I used when i started which is quite useful http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/less...liminaries.html
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:08 AM   #14
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You will also find it particularly useful to understand the inversions (The intervals going down as opposed to up).
In country is Folsom Prison C down to G (2 in a bar 1st and 3rd beat in 4/4 time) is the most used interval.
Regarding Major and Minor intervals on your finger board you may or may not have noticed that you don't see minors on 4ths, 5ths or root/octaves.
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:38 PM   #15
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If you look up some theory lessons on your own time, you can gain a better understand of what it means for something to be a 7th or 5th or 3rd etc. People have explained how to play them which is a start, but learning a bit of theory will help make the stuff we're saying make more sense. (If you know the major scale on guitar already, then that will help. If not, I'd suggest learning it.)

Start learning the notes on the fretboard (do you know barchords? They helped me with learning notes on the E and A strings as you have to look at the bass note on those strings to know what chord it is). One thing I would recommend that I've never really seen anyone say is to work on coming up with riffs that you can play without having to play along to the guitar. I don't mean it has to sound awesome on its own (a lot of basslines sound like crap on their own, but in context sound great), but that if your guitarist stopped playing or messed up, you could keep going and and he could come back in at the next chord change etc. One I started working on that, I found myself able to think more musically about 'what bassline would sound good here' rather then 'he's playing an A, so I'm just going to play an A and match his strumming (by the way, do try not to just match him strum for strum. I did for a while and I learned that way, but I think you'll learn better by thinking rhythmically, as the bass is usually an extension of the rhythm and drums as much as it is the harmony and guitar).

And one tip for finding the root note, since you play guitar- usually the lowest played in the chord is the root (unless your guitarists are doing more complicated inverted chords, then ignore me here). In an open G, for example, your low note on the E (3rd fret) is a G. Or C, your bass in on the 3rd fret of the A string. E, open E string, and so on. When you play, know what note your playing and know what chords the guitarists are playing (as a beginner, that usually will be the same). I found that helped me a lot in learning the notes. Eventually I just knew where all the notes were without having to think about it.

There's a lot of information here on UG. Musician Talk has got a lot of theory stuff (I'd recommend the theory FAQ), and you can find lessons (video or text, whatever works better for you) with a search. If you can't find something or don't understand something, pop in and ask, people will usually be happy to help.
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Old 03-11-2013, 01:24 PM   #16
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You also need to consider the rhythm pattern as well, there are so many out there and they come with experience.
What I find most important is to get into the groove of the song, you can play the same chord progression on two separate songs but they will sound completely different when played in different grooves/rhythms
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