#1
Ok I've been playing guitar for a few years now and decided yesterday to purchase a bass and begin teaching myself. I just wanted to ask what some essential techniques are for playing bass. Any help?
#2
First off, read the FAQ. There is a tonne of great info for beginning bassists in that thread esp. in the first few pages.

Secondly, don't approach your new instrument as a 4 string guitar. Its very different in approach from a musical and a playing standpoint. If you don't have one already, get a metronome and a good thick strap. The first will get your timing and rhythm consistent, the second with save your back and shoulders.
#3
I unfortunately don't have any 'tips'. Just want to support you in your bass quest. I think it's really important for people to get a full understand behind any type of music.

"don't approach your new instrument as a 4 string guitar" is great advice.

The drummer views a song differently than the guitarist. The bassist views the same song differently than the drummer. It's like that with every instrument and every combination.

If you want to write a good full rock song, then seeing it from all of these angles will help you out tremendously. Not to mention that your chemistry with fellow band mates will instantly grow!

Best of luck to ya.
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#4
Go slow at first and watch out for blisters.

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#5
learn to fret properly. of all things you can do, that is the most important. fretting wrong can injure you over a long enough time (years, but still).

the right hand two finger "walk" is a common starting point, and a good one, as it allows you to play most forms of music. if you want to add a third, that's fine and dandy, but avoid sticking with the one, as it can limit you.

find a friend to jam with, hopefully about the same level as you. the best part of music is playing with other people, and why would you leave the crust off the cheesecake? This is a hobby after all.

study the things that other bass players do that sounds good. For example, say I like the sound of Uprising by Muse. looking at the song, it seems to be mainly octaves. by seeeing that, I know that by using octaves, I can create a similar sounding bassline.

learn music theory. even if you don't learn everything, a few terms, chords and scales will improve your playing and ability to explain your ideas to other musician. why would you say "play that chord you played in the other song's intro" and go through a list of all the chords when you can just say "play an E minor" getting the exact chord you wanted?
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#6
My sig.

Don't expect to be great at it at first.
You need practice.

Good luck!
#7
I'm sure that not everyone will agree, but if you plan to continue playing guitar while you are learning to play the bass then consider a shortscale bass. It is much easier to make progress early-on with a shortscale bass because at 30" it is closer to Fender or Gibson electric guitar scale.

Nothing wrong at all with starting out on a 34" or 35" longscale bass, but the notion that shortscale basses are "student instruments" or somehow produce an inferior tone is just ludicrous. Too many professional muscians and sessions players use shortscale basses to great effect for that to be true.

Having said all that, there is a "Best Shortscale Bass" thread currently running with additional thoughts on all things shortscale.

There are also 2 decent basses that are ultra-short scale. Both use about 26" scales, which is almost identical to electric guitar scale. They are the Ibanez Mikro and the Samick/Greg Bennett Corsair MCR-1. Both are P-bass configured, decently made, sound good, and cost under $200 delivered to your door. Finding replacement bass strings to fit them is probably the biggest hassle with these.

If you elect to go the shortscale route then consider making your second bass the keeper. Choose a decent $200 bass to learn on and by the time you are ready to upgrade you will know a lot more about what that features that second bass should have. Conversely, should you become disenchanted with the bass guitar then you'll lose less money selling a cheaper starter bass.

My vote for the best sub-$200 bass is the Squier Jaguar Special Short Scale bass with P/J pups, available in either black, silver, or candy apple red, and currently selling at $170 delivered to your door (through Musician's Friend, Guitar Center, Sweetwater, etc). Gratuitous link provided...

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/JagBsVMSSCar/

Be aware that, like the guitar world, everyone has an opinion on how you should proceed. Many of those opinions will differ from mine and YMMV as well. Good luck with the transition. Note that the amp selection thing is a whole 'nuther ball game.
Last edited by VeloDog at Jul 10, 2011,
#8
Ok thanks for all the helpful feedback I'll try and take all the advice except for the last post because I already bought my bass and now I'm broke.
#9
Don't pick. Im not saying never pick but you should learn fingerstyle first.
Besides you should already know a bit of picking from playing guitar.

Also chords. Learn how to arpegiate all of them. This will give you a huge advantage to writing basslines that most bass players (especailly ones that come from guitar) dont have.
#10
Definitely finger-style, be sure you're alternating at least the index and middle fingers consistently.

Relax - watch for tendonitis in your fretting hand making 4-fret stretches up around first position.

Learn your triads and 7th chord arpeggios. You'll use these to outline the chord being played by the guitarist and will be the foundation for your groove.

Welcome to the low end! May your playing result in the shaking of many booties and the bouncing of many boobies
#11
Hey, all based on what type of music you're doing. Punk rock? Pick it. Not that you have to, but just so whatever tone sounds good.

No such thing as you "should" do a certain style. Now, if your goal is to become the best bass player by traditional standards? Then yea, I guess follow that...but otherwise, do what works for you. I love the sound of a picked bass.
Yeah, uh-huh...that's what they all say.
#12
Quote by BassFishin
I love the sound of a picked bass.

Me to, but it totaly depends on how the rest of the song sounds =)

With a pick you get more "attack" to your sound, and that works great for SOME metall songs. Not all but some.

With your fingers its easy to adjust the sound of every note. Learn to control your fingers. Try to play with them in diffrent styles and you will see that you can get great sounds for every kind of song =)

Good luck, there are much to learn =)
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#13
Quote by FreeDrugs


With a pick you get more "attack" to your sound, and that works great for SOME metall songs. Not all but some.



Haha, you assume I'm talking about metal. That's cool though.
Yeah, uh-huh...that's what they all say.
#14
Work on your timing, sit down with a song and just listen to it a few times. Tap out the beat do whatever you have to do to get a grasp on the song. Working with your timing and listening the other instruments (especially the drums) will help you tremendously. You want to be a "tight" player whether it's by yourself or with the band.
Work on your left hand (or right if you're a lefty) on muting the strings, a bass sounds HORRIBLE when the player does not do this properly!!
Of course know you're part... Know what key it is in, know what notes you should be hitting.You should be able to listen to the song and pull out all of your chord changes, the dynamics, when you come in at, etc.
Learn scales so you can learn to improvise your own bass parts. Study other musicians playing styles. Everyone's is different and can help your playing tremendously!
#16
Also if you have like $50/m to spare I would highly recommend getting a teacher. It's very helpful, even the top players have coaches.... Speaking with an experienced bass player and working with him or her face to face is a lot more helpful than teaching yourself or working off the internet. I know you know this already probably but it's just a tip.
#17
Quote by PRS417
Also if you have like $50/m to spare I would highly recommend getting a teacher. It's very helpful, even the top players have coaches.... Speaking with an experienced bass player and working with him or her face to face is a lot more helpful than teaching yourself or working off the internet. I know you know this already probably but it's just a tip.


Yeah but I'm still taking guitar lessons now, I can't afford double lessons, and Im not gonna quit because I'm studying jazz very intently. I consider myself a guitarist and only got a bass to screw around with. I will never consider it my primary instrument so its really more economical in a number of reasons for me to teach myself.
#18
Quote by musicman14579
Yeah but I'm still taking guitar lessons now, I can't afford double lessons, and Im not gonna quit because I'm studying jazz very intently. I consider myself a guitarist and only got a bass to screw around with. I will never consider it my primary instrument so its really more economical in a number of reasons for me to teach myself.



Hmm. Then with that attitude you probably won't get very good.
Yeah, uh-huh...that's what they all say.
#19
Quote by musicman14579
Yeah but I'm still taking guitar lessons now, I can't afford double lessons, and Im not gonna quit because I'm studying jazz very intently. I consider myself a guitarist and only got a bass to screw around with. I will never consider it my primary instrument so its really more economical in a number of reasons for me to teach myself.


BassFishin is right... Have you talked to your guitar teacher about maybe picking up bass on the side? Is he a bass player himself too?