#1
Hi guys! Well here's the thing: I've been playing the bass for 8 months now and I still feel like a complete begginer I can only play two songs from start to finish, it's hard for me to keep up with a drummer or guitarist and the worst part is that I DO practice. A lot.

I need some advice, maybe some practice routines you guys use to improve my speed and my technique as much as I can, I'm talking about intense training. But also not so monotonous/boring and that will help me become a better bassist and, if possible, composer.

My plan is to start a band with some friends next year and I really feel like I'm moving too slow so I really need your help. Any advice guys? Also, I don't know if it matters but I like metal, mostly thrash and heavy, not a big fan of death...
#2
Keep a steady practice routine. Every day or every other day will do you better then sporadic practice for longer periods of time. Probably the thing that can improve your playing the most/fastest is to get a teacher and take lessons. Having someone to learn from helps immensely, probably more then anything else you could do. Also, you'll learn faster by practicing/playing with other people whenever you can.

Also, when it comes to theory and such, taking a class (if possible) helps a lot to understand the how's and why's of music, and will contribute to improving you as a bassist

EDIT: Also, if you don't know how already, learn to read music, bass and treble clef (maybe not right away, but once you feel ready). Get your scales down, and know how to stay in key. Practice things other then tabs. Do not spend every practice session practicing various tabs, because if you get stuck in a cycle of playing tabs and nothing else, you won't know how to play anything outside of the tabs you've memorized, and you pretty much won't be able to improvise at all (this happened to me during my first 11 months or so on bass). Don't avoid tabs completely however, they are good practice, and make practice more fun, just don't be overly reliant on them.
*finally takes breath after rant*
Composite Aficionado


Spector and Markbass
Last edited by Tostitos at Nov 8, 2009,
#4
I am going to advise two things. 1) keep a practice log and write down what you practice and how long 2) record yourself every two weeks.

Both will help you track your improvements. And I would second a teacher or at least someone to sit down with you and give you constructive criticism.
#5
Holy crap dude, we're both in practically the same situation, except it's been 10 months for me. Gonna start a band with my cousin who's been playing for about two years next year, and I too feel I don't know THAT much. I feel that I'm too musically stupid, and that my technique is a bit odd and very sloppy, but oh well, time will fix that. Things that have helped me improve are:
- Learn a few songs where the riff is instantly recognisable to people, so that you can show off the bass and stuff. I learnt songs like Sunshine of Your Love, Iron Man and Are You Gonna Be My Girl. That way, people commend me on my apparent 'skills' and it's just a way to stay motivated in playing.
- I have a problem in that I never use my pinky on my fret hand, and I didn't realise how much this hindered me until I recently (literally three days ago) tried to learn Snow by Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Now I've started using my pinky in my blues patterns, and in Hotel California. Man the stretch hurts, and it's a weak little finger, but in the long run it'll be worth it.
- Tab your own songs. It will take a loooooong time to start learning a song completely by ear, but you come out of it so much better. The first song I ever learnt by ear was Another Brick in the Wall (the version with the bass solo at the start) and I tabbed it all. Felt great, and it helped my ear.
- Play along with songs that you're listening to. My bass is right next to my laptop, so this is easy for me. If I really like the song I'm listening to, I'll just pick it up and try to play the bass to it.
- Solo. I know basses don't traditionally play lead or solo or whatever, but a few months back I started listening to B.B King, and was like 'man, this guy's solo's are amazing for their simplicity'. When I listen to ol' B.B I try to kind of do all sorts of fills and whatever, to learn what sounds right on the fretboard. I haven't learnt any scales other than C Major, and instead of using my time wisely by learning scales and modes and chords and whatever, I've been trying to develop a musical ear so I just know what to play. It worked for B.B, Slash, Ace Frehley, and many others, so I guess it'll work for me.
- Experiment with different songs. Learn the tab to songs you don't necessarily like. I had to learn 'Waking up in Vegas' by Katy Perry for this cultural festival gig that ultimately fell through, but the song still gave me lessons in timing and stuff.

Those are just some things that have helped me go further with my playing. Playing with other musicians is great if the other musicians help you. I got a friend here at college who's a guitarist who knows his musical theory in and out, and he's excellent at just helping you. The few times I've played with him I've improved dramatically, especially in timing, and getting a sense of 'being in the pocket'. Keep your bass close to your computer, so if you have the urge to learn a song or you have a riff in your head, you can just grab it and wail.
#6
First, you need a metronome. I don't care what Jeff Berlin says, a metronome is the best way to build up speed and fluidity. Start learning a piece or scale or exercise at a snail's pace, then gradually bump up the tempo. If you've not done this before, you will be astonished at how quickly your speed improves.

Practice different things during each session. Spend ten or fifteen minutes running through scales. Play them up and down the neck. This will help you with learning to shift positions smoothly. Then another ten of fifteen minutes on exercises involving string skipping. Another ten minutes or so playing chords and later on, chord inversions. And while they are boring as hell, the best exercises for developing finger dexterity and strength are chromatic exercises. Remember - practice these with a metronome.

As for learning songs, learn them a few bars at a time. You are not going to learn a piece - especially a hugely complex piece - in one sitting.

It is a long road and it is a lot of work, but it is worth it and we are all still doing it almost every day. Welcome to the bass, my friend!
#7
I think the biggest issue for you is knowing the difference between playing bass and practising bass. Playing from tabs and that kind of thing is playing. Sure you have the instrument in your hand, but you're not really practising, or improving your playing. Try having actual practise sessions more often. Drill scales, arpeggios, look how you can apply them in bass lines, instead of just learning lines look at how the bassist interacted with the melody and/or chords. You can still have fun, but try and dedicate some time to that real, down home shitty practising.
#8
Just start off getting a book or something to help you begin, then take lessons.


Fuck that - I want a bass amp that can suck dick! Where do you find such a thing