I have a band with a few folks and we like to play some straight-forward indie music. for us, it's more about creating cool songs with simple structures an making stuff that sounds simple to play but not just forgettable.

As the bass player, I am really not 100% informed on all the intricacies of scales, chords, etc. etc. For me, everytime I go on the net to try and understand that stuff better, I become incredibly bored and it turns me off wanting to learn more.

This is especially the case when I start to use simple tab structures to map out the basslines for my songs. They have all the usual trappings like hammer-ons, slides and arrpegios, etc. so they're not totally dull. So when I've learned that tab and play a small show (of which we've done 3), I play the song just as it sounds in our demos and it sounds great.

So my point is, I understand that learning all the ins-and-outs of playing an instrument would ultimately make me a better player, but for me, listening to music I love, picking up a bass and simply using my bass 'tab' knowledge to set out my own unique rhythms and patterns seems like it's going well.

How far can I do this before I hit a wall?
Last edited by elloello at Jul 3, 2010,
As long as you can play the songs you're trying to learn, that should be fine. Eventually you might hit a wall when it comes to composing your own music. I know all kinds of people that can play very well, but when it comes down to playing their original stuff, it's just variations of other peoples' work.
Quote by breakdown123
Is there such a thing as a heavy riff with out chugging on the e string?
I have tabbed out my own songs. But ultimately they are heavily inspired by the bands I love. But that's fine by me, cos we're not setting out to make anything original or something you've never heard before.

My other band mates are more informed on all that stuff, but normally I can just use a word in my head to convey a sound I want my bass to sound and then I tab out what that makes me think. To me it seems like I'm playing the instrument my way, but with this devil on my shoulder poking me and telling me to learn more of the proper terminology etc.
The only wall that'll stop you would be one you build yourself. If theory isn't your thing, then it's not your thing. Yes, it will make you better, and it will probably make writing songs easier. But you don't need it.

I have a question for you... are you applying what you learn? Or are you just reading?
A mix of both really. But I feel like I've learned so much more by just playing the tabs to songs as opposed to sitting there reading streams of information. I just find it dull - it just seems antithetical to what I want to do, which is actually playing the instrument. I feel like it's working for my type of music, but I can understand if someone wanted to play something more technical and in-depth they would need to know all that stuff in much greater detail.
As long as you know how to deal with each chord, even if it's only with its root, then you're effectively doing your job as a bassist. Everything else whether it's other notes, rhythms and techniques or licks you learn from songs will make your lines better.

So while you're doing well progressing in terms of embellishing your lines, you could never do wrong by figuring out how chord tones and later on scale tones will help your bassline the same way those hammer ons do.

You are a whole step ahead of many though, 90% of people that play music and especially bass get stuck on notes and completely forget all those little things that make a line push the whole song forward, so keep at it.

EDIT: Arpeggios are simple once you get used to where the notes are in relation to the root. Work out Maj, Min, Dom, and m7b5 chords by looking for the root on the E string and filling out every note in that chord from that position of 4-5 frets. Then do the same thing for that same root starting on the A string. Practice that every way you possibly can so you find all your options. From there, just slowly start adding scale tones to fill the spaces in between.
Last edited by Pillo114 at Jul 3, 2010,
I had this problem when I used to play bass. I got up there, played the rhythm and just wanted more stuff. And eventually I did kind of hit a brick wall. So like most bass players, I picked up the guitar. I did continue to play bass too, but in a very rare occassion I joined a band and two of us played bass so I had to switch to guitar.

But anyways now going back to bass I'm much better with runs and throwing other things in. I think it's just that when you just play bass, you think rhythm. With guitar, it's there, but you it's not as prevalent, it's more free. Even with piano (which is an awesome instrument to work bass lines on) it enhances your playing.

Don't worry about the exact names or even theory's, it's just talking shop. You'll learn some technical name of something down the road and exclaim, "Heck, I've been playing that for years!" The fact is that you know how to do it. Being bored is just a sign that you need to take a break, take up another instrument, sing, whatever else, and something will just click.