I've been playing bass for about a week (pathetic, i know) but I've played guitar for about 8 months before that, and I plan to try out for jazz band in January (it's a class in 2016-2017 school year). I looked at the class information on my high school's website, but it says that I must be an intermediate player to audition for the class. I'd love to be in jazz band, and I intend on doing all I can to prepare for the auditions in the next six months. The problem is, I have no idea where to start. I've been playing tabs of songs I like over and over again, but I think that I'll have to go farther.
Any jazz players, are there some good books I should get? Music to listen to? I don't really know what I'm doing on the bass yet, so is this an unrealistic dream?
Thank you
I played jazz band in HS and 1 yr in college.

Know all your chords and scales, and know how to read a chart. Get a Jazz standards fake book and learn a bunch of them. Talk to the director and ask him if for a set list from this year. They will probably do 1/2 of them again next year.


"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jul 27, 2015,
Hey I was in the same situation but I was a bassists trying to learn guitar.

Here's my 3 main tips for a daily routine

1. Find a daily exercise routine that will build on your playing, it must be hard enough to make you concentrate/strain to play precisely, but not so hard that you have to stop after 30 seconds because this won't help with improvement. This part is the boring part but it will help a lot.

2. After exercising play/learn the jazz tabs you enjoy and are happy to play, you need to have fun with it otherwise you may lose dedication, practice less and give up.

3. Practice Practice Practice daily with patience and using a metronome. You'll think you're playing pretty amateurish now, but try to think how you'll look in 6 months.

The bass is a beautiful instrument man, and this isn't an unrealistic dream. I'll try find my older post for a quick improvement routine in a sec, but trust me if you practice every day for 6 months you can classify as intermediate easily. What's important is how you practice every day.
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OK found it

You need an exercise routine like at least 10-15 minutes (or more) a day to build finger strength. I'm self taught and spent years just playing tabs like you to learn, but I've accomplished more in the last 2 months of a proper practice routine.

1. Building your right hand (without jerking off): For the right hand, either picking or with fingers, find a speed on the metronome (say 160bpm?) that you can pluck for a constant 3 minutes. If you tire out before the 1-2 minute mark it's probably too fast, you've got 6 months don't be afraid to be patient and start slow. Just pluck the E string in halves (2 plucks per beat) at your comfortable speed for at least 3m, your hand should hurt afterward, and if it doesn't you can try something faster. You'll build muscle memory, stamina and dexterity and even precision. You can try after a couple days to go up 10bpm, but if you can't play comfortably go back to your original pace. It took me a week to go from 200-210 so be patient, what's important is you can complete the 3 minute routine comfortably.

2. Building your left hand (when your right hand is tired from jerking off): Put your index on E-5 (or A) and hold, don't move it, and do hammer-ons/pull-offs with each following finger (middle, ring, pinky). Try to sustain for like 15 seconds (i started with 10 cause I'm lazy lol) before switching to next finger. After you've finished the pinky without pausing hold your middle finger on E-6 and do the same hammer-on pull-off exercise with ring and pinky. You don't need to do it fast, precise or for exactly 15 seconds, this is just to workout your left hand. After a few days of this you'll realize you can do faster hammer-ons-pull-offs or go longer, this is good sign, but I suggest you push yourself to a point where your left hand hurts because PAIN IS GOOD. This should last like 1:15 minutes. This is good for jazz because it'll also train your hammer-ons/pull-offs.

3. Building Both hands (while you jerk off with your feet): Try chromatics up and down the neck, so like E-1-2-3-4 A-1-2-3-4 D-1-2-3-4 G-1-2-3-4 then slide down G-5-4-3-2 D-5-4-3-2 A-5-4-3-2 E-5-4-3-2 slide down E-3-4-5-6 A-3-4-5-6 etc... until you reach the 12 tab. This will help synchronize your hands and build precision for your bass play. I strongly suggest you use a metronome for this, so you're playing at a constant, measurable pace. Precision is important in jazz bass.

THESE ARE BORING EXERCISES I KNOW. But it should only last around 10 minutes a day of your life with breaks. It's essential to improve at the bass because if you build your hands right, all that's left is memorizing tabs and theory. You just need patience and dedication, NO CHEATING. This will help immensely in the future and even for your guitar play.

I suggest you practice with a metronome as well, go on youtube and type 150 bpm or 180 bpm and you'll find many options. This is essential because you can record your improvement, it can be like last week I played at 140bpm, today I played 190bpm.

But really man just have fun with it. The bass can be an awesome instrument, especially jazz bass there's no jazz without it. Everyone plays the guitar so you're 10 times more likely to find a band to play in. You need to find an influence to look up to, this will make you dedicated and want to play more, the pain in your hands and boring routine won't matter if you can play like your idol. The routine is a daily building exercise that will help I assure you, after 15 minutes you can play what you want explore what you want, all you need to know is every day you're getting better.

A couple good jazz/funk bassists I know are Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. They're really advanced though haha don't be discouraged like I was by listening to them, think in a few years you can probably pull off one of these:
Jaco Pastorius - Teen Town (crazy bass) or Birdtown
Stanley Clark - School Days

Keep dreaming my man.
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As a beginning jazz player, more than likely, your bass parts will be written out. Start learning to read standard bass clef notation, no chart will be written in TAB.
Quote by OtamotPuhctek
As a beginning jazz player, more than likely, your bass parts will be written out. Start learning to read standard bass clef notation, no chart will be written in TAB.

Possibly, but I wouldn't count on it. Maybe my experience was different because it was post-high school, but during my first year of college, I played for a jazz group after only one semester of lessons. Nothing was written out, and we weren't even allowed to bring lead sheets to practice. We had to have it all in our heads. Admittedly, our director was known for being a hardass, but jumping into that method of doing things in my second semester of playing helped me improve very quickly. (Though the headache of trying to keep up with years less experience than everyone else was... mentally taxing, to say the least.)

OP, here are the best things you can do to prepare in my opinion:

1) Get your sense of time down pat. Your role is to give the group a good foundation and make the piece swing with the drums. If you can, find a drummer to practice with. Record it and critique. If the drums and bass aren't swinging together, the piece won't swing.

2) Get your scales and arpeggios down, both in your mind and in your fingers. That means studying them every day and practicing them every day.

3) Get your 12-bar blues down. My bass teacher gave me the task my first semester of playing a 12-bar blues in F, and then playing a chorus in F followed by a chorus in Bb, and then playing a chorus in F followed by a chorus in Bb followed by a chorus in Eb -- eventually all the way around the circle. Set a goal of being able to play a 12-bar blues around the circle, one chorus for each key, by x number of weeks or months. It'll strengthen your playing, your confidence, and your ability to hear your lines (in my opinion).

4) Stop looking at tabs and start figuring your favorite songs out by ear.

Getting good enough to be a solid bassist for your jazz band is definitely possible with the time you have. You'll just need to use your practice time effectively and deliberately.
I agree with all the above: Practice reading sheet music including sight-reading. practice scales, chords, circle of fifths. Straight-ahead jazz bass is essentially "walking" bass lines. If you stay around the notes of the chord and use chromatics to "walk" but then resolve into one of the chord notes you will be fine.
A whole lot of great advice here.

I was accepted into the school Jazz Band when I was 14, after 5 years of String Orchestra work, outstanding 7th Grader from 4-5 Strings Programs, Superior ratings at Festivals, and 3 years of playing Rock on the side and playing Rush La Villa Strangiato and the like.

By the time I hit 11th Grade for 2 years I participated in the audition process of All-State Jazz and was in the Semi-Finals of 7 of the Top players in the State.

I did 2 years of Jazz Performance studies in College.

Scales - Yes - But also, personally chart them out in every position. If you persist with this course of Jazz Bass, auditions will come, and if you go, they will ask for scales in different positions, at least Major and Minor. If you can translate diminisheds and others, that will be higher marks for you. Writing things out yourself makes a great impression of logic to your mind. You will think about every motion of your fingers and how it translates to the Board and the structure of the scale you are attempting. Chart Pentatonic/Blues and Blues Dim5 which is just the addition of the step between the 4th and 5th in a Pentatonic. Diminished 7th is a Major Scale with the 7th dropped one fret. Minor scales can be a stretch starting on 2nd Finger Tonic/Root. If you play a Major Arpeggio and add the 6th in Major, suddenly you are playing the Boogie Woogie and all of John McVie's lines from the Fleetwood Mac Rumor's Album.

Chordals - Alternates - Extensions - Carol Kaye said that many bassists do not progress because they do not learn their Chordals. Chordals are beyond the Tonic. You can sound like a god if you have the presence to hit the 4th, 5th, and/or 8th at any time you are trying to discover if you are in the Major or Minor. This is not an Arpeggio, which can kill you if you hit a 3rd, 6th, or 7th M when you are in minor. Extensions are 9(2)th 11(4)th and 13(6)th. This is the stuff that got Miles Davis to quit Julliard and jam with Charlie Parker.

Metronome - Yes - Definitely on the scales.

Jazz Charts - Yes - Not hard to pick up and understand. They are basic rhythm and melody representations. The chord changes are above the staff, not on them, and when you go into improvisation, those changes will tell you what scale you can select notes from. What charts will teach you that nothing else can, is a component called a Bridge.

12 and 16 Bar Blues - The Jazz Charts will show you this. 12 is I IV V as the Chord Structure in 3 sets of 4 Bars. 16 is I IV II V in 4 sets of 4. Distinguishing between these structures and improvisation of a line within them, on command is essential. This is common expression of Jazz.

ABA, AABA, ABACA, ABACAB - Verse Verse Chorus Bridge VerseForm2 - Pattern structures of compositions. B used to be a little Bridge once upon a time. Now B is an entirely different phrase pattern (AABA), and a Bridge is a stand alone component not represented in AABA or other forms. I learned all of this stuff so long ago, and like the bands of the 90's running from Blues, when I finally charted a Stone Temple Pilots song for form and chord structure I was thrilled, WOW!

Sight Reading - Yes - this is where I failed. With a Metronome. Yes. In my experience, go to church and ask if you can borrow a Hymnal. Sight read through that as an exercise, because in that one little book is about 200 pieces of music. Sight reading is to be just like reading this right here. You have to do this over and over, and not know what exactly you will be playing. Where else are you going to get a library of music of over 200 pieces?

Set the metronome for a speed that you can identify 16th notes and go for it. Do not try again, do not retry, just move on to the next piece, and keep going. Give 3 minutes of examination of the melody line before you begin. Do not stop, just keep going. Increase the speed gradually every week. This will also work your ear training on hearing a note as your eye sees it and leading your fingers to the fret.

It is a stunning thing to see done.

In the end what do you get?

Well, I go to open mic nights and for 4 hours I can just say, Song Name? Performer? what Key?
and just blow people's minds that I just keep going and seem to know every song. Well, not Punk.
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