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Bad habits for a beginner?


rockinredneck69

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well i'll tell you what i did. i told some dude with a guitar that i had a bass and he said come over on tues and we'll jam. i showed up ontime and just follwed along by watching what i thought was the root note of each cord he played. if it didn't sound right i asked what he thought i should do. in the end i got expierence and free lesson's
i grew up watching TV and i turned out TV
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I think one of the biggest mistakes that young bass players fall into is playing along with the guitarists when they should be playing along with the drummer. If your drummer is halfway decent he will lay down a regular groove for you to follow, (the groove being the kick/snare drum pattern), he is your metronome, try to play with emphasis on his pattern while holding down the changes in your tune,

 

If you allways play along with the drums you'll always sound tight.

 

As for fingerings, no matter how hard we all try our index finger will allways sound different to our middle fingers and so on, I personally believe that each line we play needs it's own interpretation according to what sounds and feels best, so keep your ears open and jam your tunes until you find the best sounding most comfortable approach.

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Hey, rockinred!

 

I think that a teacher is your best bet for a good start, but perhaps I can offer a few tips on getting started, things that will help you make sense of things in books an magazine articles.

 

First a question - do you know how to find notes on your bass by name? If someone asked you to play an 'A', would you be able to play one? How about if you played one, and someone then asked you to play it "up an octave." Would you know what they mean. If not, don't be concerned. I can explain this to you, but I don't want to waste time if you already understand this concept.

 

Okay, here's the first tip. If you play two different notes, their pattern on the fretboard tells you something about how those two notes are related. Even more useful is the fact that if you play two OTHER notes with the SAME pattern, they share the same relationship. Let me show you what I mean with a couple of examples.

 

Your bass has four strings (I assume). The string that's closest to you when you're playing is the string with the lowest sound. It's called the E string, because it plays note E when you play it open (no notes fretted). The next string is the A string. The next one is the D string, and finally, the one farthest away which plays the highest note is the G string.

 

The neck looks kind of like this.

 

G -------

D -------

A -------

E -------

 

Let's play the note at the third fret of the A string.

 

G -------

D -------

A --x----

E -------

 

Now play the note on the third fret of the E string.

 

G -------

D -------

A -------

E --x----

 

Alternate back and forth between these two notes. Do you hear how one note is higher and the other is lower. The notest are not too far apart in pitch, but they're note super close either.

 

Notice that one note is directly beside the other one on the next string over. That pattern describes the relationship of these two notes together. I'll diagram them here together, but don't PLAY them at the same time. Play them separately.

 

G -------

D -------

A --x----

E --x----

 

The trick here is that if we played to OTHER notes with the same pattern, i.e. beside each other on adjacent strings, these two new notes would be different than our original notes, but - and this is the imporant part - their RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER would be the same as the relationship of the first two notes. This is important, because in music, the relationship between notes is at least as important as the notes themselves (for reasons that you'll discover later).

 

So let's pick two new notes, beside each other on adjacent strings. Let's choose the notes at the fifth fret of the A and E strings, respectively.

 

G ------

D ------

A ----x-

E ----x-

 

Play these two notes one after another. The notes themselves are different than in the first example, but the relationship, or the distance between the lower note and the higher note is the same as before.

 

Keep playing these two notes back and forth, back and forth.

 

You may start to recognize the relationship between these two notes. It's a pattern that's used a lot in the bass lines of country music. Again, play the two notes one after another. Does it sound like a country bass line? If you're doing it properly, it should.

 

Okay, let's go back to our FIRST two notes and play them back and forth, back and forth.

 

G ------

D ------

A --x---

E --x---

 

How about THIS pattern? Does IT sound like a country song, too? Maybe it's a DIFFERENT country song, but it still has that familiar pattern.

 

If you changed the notes a little bit, it would no longer sound like a country bassline. Try playing these two notes one after another.

 

G ------

D ------

A --x---

E -x----

 

The sound is not the same, right? Why? Because the relationship is now different. A different musical relationship equals a different pattern on the fretboard equals a different sound. After a while, you'll learn to recognize the sound of several popular patterns, and this knowledge will help you when you're learning songs or jamming with a band.

 

Okay, that's enough for now. If this has been of use to you, I'll show you some more pattern tricks in the future. Also, please remember to answer my question about notes at the beginning of the post.

 

Be cool!

 

:thu:

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Thanks for the input Dan! First of all, if someone asked for an "A", I'm assuming an open string pluck on the "A" string would do it. I don't understand the part about octaves. The patterns are easy for me to hear and feel. When I get bored practicing scales, I play around with patterns and listen to songs I like and try to find and play the patterns that I hear. I've found Waylon and Hank Jr. are good for this!
Donnie Peterson
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Hey Red,

 

Okay, I'll put together a post or two to explain the mystery of notes and their relatinship to the fretboard. In the meantime, I'm bumping this thread up for some of your new guests.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by rockinredneck69:

I have been trying to figure out the logic of octaves and I am assuming the next octave up from an "A" note would be "B", and down would be "G". Hopefully I'm correct, bear with me if I'm not.

Hi Red!

 

No. Sorry. :(

 

(It's much easier to visually "see" on a piano keyboard...) an 'octave' up from a note is the same note, only higher. An 'octave' down, would be the same note, only lower.

 

Did you ever hear someone sing, "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do" ? See how "Do" is sung first, and then sung again at the end. The second time it is sung, is the beginning of the next "octave." I think an Octave is the set of notes in a "scale."

 

(The following is the "skip a string and two up" technique):

On a 4 string bass (which is what I have, so it's the only kind I know about!), if you press the A note on the E string (5th fret) and then want to play the 'octave', which would be the next higher A... you skip a string and then play the note on the 7th fret (on the D string). That's an A. You could do it with any note I think. Start with the root note, say G (3rd fret) for example, and then skip a string and then press the 5th fret (on the D string).

 

If you wanted to do C, then you would press the 3rd fret (on the A string) and then skip a string and press the 5th fret (on the G string).

 

The note should "sound" substantially similar, just higher. Unless your bass is not tuned properly! It may not sound right yet for you, until you start playing scales and your ear gets trained. But one day it will! :thu:

 

There are a bunch of A notes all over this wild and crazy fretboard! I am in the process of trying to learn all of the notes on the fretboard now! I've been playing for a couple of years now.. you'd think I'd know them huh? :confused::D

 

There really are "patterns" to it all, I just haven't learned them yet. I started out as a kid on piano and clarinet and oboe, so I already knew about all of the notes and the scales and stuff. I just don't know "where" they are all on a fretboard.

 

I hope I described this correctly! Dan South... someone... please help! :D

 

... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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While the others address some of the theory stuff, I'll take a moment to add my two cents on your fingerstyle questions and hand positioning.

 

I started taking lessons after I had been playing the bass regularly for about a year and a half. I told my teacher to be hard on me about technique, because I had been experiencing some tendon pain in my left forearm, and was very afraid that the combination of spending 8 to 12 hours a day on the computer (between job and recreation) and then playing bass AND hauling my own heavy gear around, I would end up with a nasty lifetime case of carpal tunnel or something.

 

So he straightened me out, and whenever I start playing, and even while I'm playing, I go through a little checklist in my mind:

 

1) Is my left thumb in the middle of the back of the neck, pointed horizontally across the neck? -----|---- Like that?

 

2) Is my bass slung high enough that my left wrist is as close to straight as possible? Curving your wrist uses up some of the prime range of motion that could better be used with your fingers against the fretboard.

 

3) Speaking of fingers against the fretboard, are they nicely arched, pressing on the strings with the tips rather than the pads (ie the center of your fingerprint zone)? Arching them properly allows you better speed and strength.

 

4) Is my right forearm gently resting on the body of the bass, or not at all? A bass should be cradled, like picking up your child's intricately constructed diorama made of toothpicks and papier-mache, not bear hugged like when you congratulate your child for getting an A on the aforementioned diorama. :) Aside from general tension, pushing on the bass with your forearm will cut off the blood supply and slow you down.

 

5) Is my right hand relaxed, thumb lightly anchored on the body of the bass, the lowest string, or wherever else (my Peavey basses have a conveniently-placed pickup upon which I often anchor), the hand arched a bit but the plucking fingers mostly straight and relaxed? You want to be using the least possible amout of movement to perform a pluck, so you can get back to make the next pluck as fast as possible.

 

Those are my five hit points. Left thumb, left wrist, left fingers, right arm, right hand. Then when I'm done with that whole list, I think to myself: RELAX. I usually start with my neck and shoulders and relax all the way down to my fingers and through my torso. The whole body should be relaxed, even while playing terribly difficult and fast passages. Your muscles will thank you!

 

As for your fingerstyle technique, I would recommend periodically using some of your 10-15 minutes of scale practice to just play one note on your left hand (even an open string) and practice going back and forth (index/middle) with your right hand. For this, definitely use the metronome. I would recommend starting at a reasonable tempo then SLOWING DOWN gradually for a minute or two, then going back to the original tempo and speeding up for a minute or two. Slowing down is like doing Tai Chi martial arts, working on the graceful control of the muscles.

 

Then, when you're actually playing a song, don't worry at all about which finger leads or how often you use one finger over another. You will come into your own "style" and as much as I've heard from different teachers and books is that if you are making the notes come out like you want them to come out, the finger doing the plucking is irrelevant. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet, but James Jamerson, the godfather of rock bass, who played on a gazillion Motown songs from the 60's and early 70's, played with just his index finger. Listen to Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On" and you will get a good idea of what can be accomplished with just the index finger.

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An octave separates a lower note from a higher note of the same name. So, A to B is not an octave. A to the next higher A is.

 

Try playing these two notes at the same time: the open A string and the A at the second fret of the G string. Listen to the two notes. You'll be able to tell that one is higher than the other one, but they should sound similar, as though a man (low voice) and a woman (high voice) were singing the same note in their respective ranges. These two "A" notes are an octave apart.

 

Now try these two notes: the open A string and the A at the seventh fret of the D string. Again, these two A's are separated by an octave.

 

Now try this: play the C at the third fret of the A string and C at the fifth fret of the G string. This shows, as Connie corretly pointed out, how you can play two notes an octave apart anywhere on the fretboard.

 

One final example: play the open A string once again, and play the A at the 14th fret of the G string. These notes are TWO octaves apart, so you'll hear a wider "gap" between them, as though a man were sining low and a woman were singing high at the same time on the same note. NOTE: If your bass intonation is not set perfectly, the two notes may not be absolutely in tune with one another.

 

Here's something to think about. I'll post the answer later. Why do we recycle the names of notes? Why do we use A B C D E F G and then start all over again at A? Why is this higher A note called by the same name as the lower A note? Was this an arbitrary place to start re-using note names, or do these notes have a special relationship?

 

Ponder that, and we'll discuss it in the near future, okay?

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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I'm getting some freakin' awsome advice here! By the way Clark, you answered a couple important questions for me, thanks!

The bass I own is a four string and after week battling the flu and not practicing, I've picked back up and been surprised to find my brain and fingers teamed up and have shown me that what I've done to date HAS been retained. Might not seem like much to some who've been at it awhile, but it pumps me up in this little world of mine!

Donnie Peterson
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