#1
Title says it all.

I've been "playing bass" for a few years now. Never took it seriously, it's always taken a backseat to other things in life. Started with a 4 string fretted Ibanez, bought a fretless 6 string because it looked cool and was priced well, sold those two and settled on a 4 string Yamaha fretless. I know it's a horrible bass for someone to learn on, being fretless and all, but I can't stand the feel of a fretted bass so I'm sticking with it. I have a Crate bx-15 practice amp, and my bass has flatwound strings if that matters.

I'm not good, I'm not good at all. I'm not quite beginner status, but I'm not talented by any means. Like I know what a hammer on and pull off is, I know how to read tabs (Except for (x) and rests, don't know wtf those are), I've learned some Death, Tool and Squarepusher riffs and have accidentally made my bass sound good at times. But I know no music theory, forgot how to read sheet music, don't know wtf an octave, fifth, scale or key is, and cannot intentionally produce sounds from my bass that I enjoy listening to. I thought after years of messing around, doing my own thing and trying to figure it out on my own I would be able to do something cool with it, but that's not the case.

I'm about to have a birthday, and this past week I've been writing down things I'd like to accomplish in the next year, to better focus my time. One of those is I'd like to become a competent bassist. I don't care about being highly skilled, being in a band or even writing my own music, I just want to feel like I have a decent grasp on my instrument.

Some other things to keep in mind is I'm currently broke, so no new basses / amps / lessons / learning books etc. for now. I've never jammed with anyone. Also, my hearing is horrible, and my ability to learn anything by ear is non-existent. But I'm willing to try?

What are some resources you guys would recommend? Should I google scales and practice them to a metronome? Look up music theory and try to learn about it? Check out some youtube bass tutorials? I'm clueless and sick of it.
Last edited by dumbbass at Sep 17, 2010,
#2
Learn scales man.

When I first started out in music, I too was clueless about everything until it came naturally to me. What really helps is being familiar with your notes, and how you play them and how they sound. I would suggest you get started reading sheet music (easy stuff, dont push the envelope), something that involves simple quarter notes and halfs.

As a warm up, do lots and lots of scales. For now learn your major scales. Tabs are really easy to read, 0 means open (you play the open strong) 1 means to press down on the 1st fret, 2 is for the 2nd fret and so on, it really is that simple. Try learning a really really really easy song first and get familiar with keeping time and playing a rhythm. Most people here would suggest buying a metronome, although I can't say you should because I have never used a metronome, nor ever needed one, but what works for me might not work for you. Tapping your foot works too (assuming you can keep a basic time and play at the same time too).

Importantly though, take your time. Playing and learning as instrument and being dedicated at it doesn't happen over night. I didn't wake up one day and start playing a Wooten piece or a Jaco piece, you have to be familiar with your instrument. If your instrument is giving you problems, I would suggest taking it to a luthier and or a music store and have them set it up for you. It'll be much cheaper than going out and buying a whole new bass which would be unessesary. I hope your fretless has fret markers though, as this will make everything much easier for you.

I hope this helps and good luck to you and your bass playing , just practice practice practice.
pinga
Last edited by Cb4rabid at Sep 17, 2010,
#3
easy advice...

first...don't solo or learn scales...doing so will set your back years....

learn how to play music...bass is an accompaniment instrument ...you are the glue between the drums and the guitar/keys etc...so act like it...

learn to play along with the music you like...take it slow, and listen the changes, even if you are just pumping the root of the chord...keep it simple...if available for the songs you like, use the music-tabs on this website called "chords" ... and learn to groove with the song...

learn where these notes are on the fretboard (E, G, A, B, C, D...covers about 90% of all rock, folk and blues tunes ever written)

if you cannot resist and must learn a scale, learn the minor pentatonic scale in E...this will help you connect chords later...this scale is probably the 2nd most valuable scale...the first being the chromatic...

play with a pick AND with your fingers...

reading sheet music when starting out is arduous, cumbersome and boring and will sap the life out of your desire to play...so don't

theory is not necessary...ask Eddie Van Halen, just develop good ears (not good looking ears, but good hearing ears)

and remember to have fun...

test it for yourself and see...it works!!!
Last edited by jtkguitar at Sep 17, 2010,
#4
I agree with everything that has been said so far ^^

What about making some goals? Really get into a song, print it off and have it near your bed to gaze over at night, understand why certain notes are working with the other instruments, learn to play it well, give yourself 2 weeks and record it to your UG account. I always found that the prospect of being heard by others really motivated me to play a song better.

Free things ; Metronomes, you can download them on most OSs and they're usually very easy to use. Just play a simple beat and listen to it, then play something really simple (even just an open E), and expand on that groove.

Blogs : Reading about people who are professional bassists can be motivating and insightful, Jeff Schmidt's Blog , Jeff Schimdt is one of my favourite bassists and he has some really interesting posts on his blog, especially about finding your own creativity and playing style. Check around for other bassists, even Youtube bassists can have some interesting stuff to read or watch, someone like MarloweDK

Lessons ; You're on the perfect website for some of the best lessons on the internet. Also, check more mainstream website like Wikipedia. in my opinion they have a great introduction to learning music theory.

You can do two things at once, you can be reading some theory or understanding sheet music, while simply practicing playing with your right hand playing an open E to build stamina.

There are many different ways to go about it and everybody feels differently about what they need to practice on.
#5
i dont know what in the **** jtkguitar is saying about not learning scales. that is just stupid IMO. let me give you a run down of what scales are and I'll let you decide if they seem useful

every song is written in a "key" for instance the Key of Am. now a Key is a guide as to what notes are played. for instance in Am the notes are ABCDEFG. in Gm the notes are GABbCDEbF. the minor scale is simply the notes of any minor key played in order. so by learning the A minor scale you have sucesfully learned what notes are in the key of A. with this new found knowledge you can find any song in pretty much any minor key and not play any sour notes in it.

tl;dr learn your scales, trust me.
no sir away a papaya war is on
#6
Yeah, you really should learn scales.. Also, x's are dead notes and rests are.. well.. rests! You don't play during rests. It sounds like you need to learn meter and time if you don't know what rests are.

You don't need to know theory, but it helps. (Most of the times, the beatles claimed that they had no idea what they were doing theory-wise and look at them). I suggest learning at least some of the terminology though. You can find websites that explain basic things like root-fifth-octave and stuff.
Lord Gold feeds from your orifices and he wants to see you sweat.
Lord Gold probes you publicly and makes your pussy wet.
Now say his name.....
#8
The absolute best thing you could do would be to take lessons. Nothing is better than learning from a good, experienced teacher.

Other than that, I'd suggest getting a book. Hal Leonard usually comes recommended around here. Learn your fretboard, where each and every note is, it will help you heaps to know it all later on. Then scales, scales, scales, until they come out of your ears. Especially if you intend to really get into music theory somewhere down the line.
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Spector and Markbass
#9
^ Remember lessons costs an arm, a leg and 4 toes and TS said they didn't want to spend alot.

Buying a few lesson books however would really help. Read anything that has to do with bass and anything you can get your hands on.
pinga
#10
seriously skip the scales...you are not playing lead guitar you are playing bass....scales are great if you are soloing or playing walking jazz lines, but for playing about 95% of "regular music" a bass player is emphasizing the root of the chord in the progression and syncing it with the kick drum...

I should say it's probably a good idea to eventually learn the scale tones, but for starters learning to pump the root of the song in time and getting a solid groove going is far more important than stroking your ego by learning scales....

if you want to connect chords on the off beats learn where the major and minor 3rds and the 5th are and a half step either up or down into the next chord...

Here are a couple of ideas about what the roles of bass is, and a few choice words about scales from one of the greatest bassists around..

"I don't know if practicing scales is ever going to help anybody"... Billy Sheehan 2:05 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGXBw1jbdvo&feature=related

"My very first teacher taught me that regardless of what else goes on, you’ve got to play a bass note at the same time as the kick drum, which is 99 percent of how bass playing works." Billy Sheehan http://www.bassplayer.com/article/billy-sheehan/dec-06/24272

more advice from Billy Sheehan... "get a bass, play your A$$ of and learn a zillion songs" 6:18 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OTASGLdUM&feature=related

the role of the bass ... http://www.studybass.com/lessons/basics/the-role-of-the-bass/

7 Ways To Improve Your Playing ... .http://thegiggingbassplayer.com/7-ways-to-improve-your-playing/

and I am not even that fond of Billy Sheehan... For a bass player I think he way overplays..
Last edited by jtkguitar at Sep 18, 2010,
#11
Quote by jtkguitar
seriously skip the scales...you are not playing lead guitar you are playing bass....scales are great if you are soloing or playing walking jazz lines, but for playing about 95% of "regular music" a bass player is emphasizing the root of the chord in the progression and syncing it with the kick drum...

real bassists try and go above root note chugging, sure sometimes a song calls for that, but really you should do more most of the time

I should say it's probably a good idea to eventually learn the scale tones, but for starters learning to pump the root of the song in time and getting a solid groove going is far more important than stroking your ego by learning scales....

stroking your ego? i don't think its as much stroking you ego as it is learning your instrument.

if you want to connect chords on the off beats learn where the major and minor 3rds and the 5th are and a half step either up or down into the next chord...

so learn intervals the building blocks of scales

Here are a couple of ideas about what the roles of bass is, and a few choice words about scales from one of the greatest bassists around..

"I don't know if practicing scales is ever going to help anybody"... Billy Sheehan 2:05 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGXBw1jbdvo&feature=related

im going to take a stab in the dark and assume he was referring to sitting down during practice and grinding the scales for 15 minutes. I would bet my entire bass and guitar rig that billy sheenan is all for knowing scales

"My very first teacher taught me that regardless of what else goes on, you’ve got to play a bass note at the same time as the kick drum, which is 99 percent of how bass playing works." Billy Sheehan http://www.bassplayer.com/article/billy-sheehan/dec-06/24272

this is true, playing the root note on the beat is pretty important. on every 1 beat youshould hit the root, probably the 3 beat as well, but a good bass player uses all the other down and up beats to play other notes, and make a song sound better. they do this tastefully of course.

more advice from Billy Sheehan... "get a bass, play your A$$ of and learn a zillion songs" 6:18 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OTASGLdUM&feature=related

no one will debate this.

the role of the bass ... http://www.studybass.com/lessons/basics/the-role-of-the-bass/

i would like you to look down on this page and listen to the audio samples it has where the piano plays the same 2 notes and the bass player creates a mood using 1 bass note. a bass player should be able to know what notes to play in order to help the mood of a song.

7 Ways To Improve Your Playing ... .http://thegiggingbassplayer.com/7-ways-to-improve-your-playing/

here is an excerpt from this site," you can get away with banging out root eighth notes most of the time. Learn to play the right notes, more or less in time, and you pretty much have a gig for life.

And there’s the problem — so many bass players learn to get by on so little skill because their services are so in demand.

Let’s face it, we all get lazy. Especially when no one is pushing us to get better.

So here’s my challenge to you: Is your playing sub-par? Get better. Already pretty good? There’s always room for improvement.
"


and I am not even that fond of Billy Sheehan... For a bass player I think he way overplays..


i didn't feel like cutting your quote up a thousand times so I answered in bold.
no sir away a papaya war is on
#13
Although you may be against learning the scales jtkguitar, see this advice you initially gave.

Quote by jtkguitar
learn where these notes are on the fretboard (E, G, A, B, C, D...covers about 90% of all rock, folk and blues tunes ever written)


If you learnt where all these notes were, you would know the C major and A minor scales

Scales! You'll never escape them!

Otherwise I'm just popping in to see what advice you guys are giving. I play bass, but played guitar for many years on that, and just moved my scale knowledge over to the bass. I was always curious as to when a bassist should learn their scales, as with a guitar, you can a whole set of chords and such without learning scales. It seems to make more sense to learn scales on a bass earlier than on the guitar due to it's tendency to create melody "lines" rather than joining the sound scape with a chord.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#14
Quote by Micehorns
OP, have you returned to UG since posting this at all?


Yep. Been busy with other things, but I've been keeping an eye on this thread.

I guess one thing I should of originally stated is I don't have any desire to be a part of a band or play with anyone else. I just want to make my own music with just my bass, and maybe someday play along to some beats I make in Ableton on my PC or something. But I don't really care about the "role" of the bass player in a band, I just want to know how to make sounds that please my ear.

I haven't tried scales or anything yet. My practice sessions have consisted of me turning off every light in my room, hooking up some headphones to my amp and just playing. It's been fun. I'm not learning shit but I'm having a good time.

I have been reading up on music theory a bit so I understand the basic concepts more, that's about it.
#15
I feel like me and you should go bowling for starters.lol.
firstly meet another bass player and have him teach you the notes E A D etc. listen to a good tune and try and think about how he played that(you can just watch the video if push comes to shove) and try to come up with something very similar,or tap your fingers to help your timing. set a goal(a song you want to learn)and take steps to acheive it.
#16
If you actually want to learn how to play bass I would suggest finding a copy of "Hal Leonard Bass Method, Complete Edition" and work through it. It will give you a basic understanding of the instrument and ideas for its role, and also provide you some insight into directions you could go for further study.
#17
As everyone else has said, learn some scales, also learn the notes of the fretboard and learn to feel you way around the fretboard. Most importantly you need to feel comfortable with your bass, learn how to play it in a way that won't become a pain in the ass for you later on. Also another quick tip, to keep yourself more interested and encouraged, learn a few of your favorite songs and just play along with them every once in a while. It is fun and you will really feel like you're accomplishing something when you learn a whole song. Hope this helps and have fun
So that with good courage we say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

-Hebrews 13:6