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help me being a well rounded bassist


Shaggy8900

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okay, i would just like to know if there are any "tricks" so to say as making up bass lines, or picking up on how to play bass lines by ear, and so on...i dont know if this is more of a natural thing or just comes along with playing, i was wondering if there is anything i should know or practice to get the skills, i know theyre are essential if i want to be a better bassist
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Very true. I wasn't the most affluent improvistational person (still aren't!), but here's how I got to the point where I can atleast make some thumpable (as opposed to hummable).

 

Use a metronome and make up lines to it! Start first with pentatonics and try using all the different degrees of the pentatonics for your lines. For example, I'm going to make up a bass riff in 2nd degree Pentatonic scale of G major (A, B, D, E, and G).

 

It'll work your creative muscles quite a bit. Also, try setting up a riff by saying something like "I want to base the riff on the chords of G major, B minor and A minor".

 

Experiment!

 

P.S. sorry if I stated the 2nd degree pentatonic thing wrong.

In Skynyrd We Trust
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Besides jamming with a band as much as possible, I like to throw up different drum loops on a PC and just make some stuff up (in time!). Just do what sounds good to you, try different things, experiment. Maybe play along with music you like on a stereo, then change it up. Try to get to know where your fingers need to be on the neck and how to finger it for the sounds you hear in your head.. Bottom line, like everyone will tell you -- PRACTICE
my Mesa Boogie Gear for sale on Craigslist.com chicago http://chicago.craigslist.org/msg/125111811.html
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I find having a drum machine (Alesis) is useful for practice. Dial in a drum rhythm and play along. Don't worry about improvisation at first. Learn to groove. Practice scales. The muscle memory that this develops will help your improvisation. Also don't forget to play real slow as well as upbeat, because playing slow songs and getting the timing right is really difficult.

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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As stated in a previous post, there are no shortcuts for learning music, practice is the key. Learn major scales (and relative minor scales) in all keys. Practice and memorize diatonic triads in all keys, as the great majority of popular music out there is based on diatonic chords. Also practice the triad inversions (there are three for triads, 1-3-5, 3-5-1 and 5-1-3). Learn major scale modes ; pay special attention to the mixolydian mode if you're playing rock/blues/R&B, as you'll use it a lot for constructing bass lines.

 

One method for ear training which I still use a lot is playing along with CDs: I usually loan a big pile of CDs from the library and play along, sort of "faking" my way through the songs; by doing this a lot I've developed my ear to the point that I can almost instantly find the song's key and chords on the first run-through. You'll learn to recognize common chord progressions which are used all the time in popular music (II-V7-I, I-IV-V7, I-VIm-II-V7 etc etc). This skill will come handy when learning new songs for gigs or faking songs on the gig, you'll be able to learn songs better and faster. I can't remember who said it, but some bassist said in BP that bass players aren't hired to play fast, but to hear fast.

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I think, in order to be a well-rounded bassist...you have to make sure you go out after the gig and stuff yourself on pancakes, omelettes, whatever. A box of Krispy Kremes in the morning helps. If you're on the road, some chocolate milk and twinkies every time you stop for gas...and let's not forget to load up on beer (not too much) at the gig, and make sure you have the bar cook you up a nice big burger basket with fried mushrooms before you go on.

 

Follow this routine and you'll be a very well-rounded bassist! :D:D:D

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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A well-rounded bassist? What does that mean anyway?

 

Let me attempt to break this huge question down into some smaller ones that come to mind when you say this:

 

Are you asking how to become fluent in many styles?

 

Listen and play along with as many kinds of music as you can. Line up funk, metal, klezmer, classical and jazz records next to each other on the shelf in your record collection. Listen and learn about what makes these styles unique and great.

 

Are you asking how to improve your range of musical skills?

 

Find a teacher, preferably one who doesn't use tab and eschews "shortcuts" and "tricks," which there are none of in music. Throw those tab books away and buy some music transcriptions. Learn how to read. Study music theory. Take courses in sight-singing and ear training.

 

Are you asking how to learn how to play with others?

 

Stop asking questions, find other musicians and form a band. If the other players in the band don't seem to have the dedication you do, look around for other bands. Find players who are better than you and find ways to play with them. Even if they blow you out of the water and you leave with your tail between your legs you will learn something. If they're patient, they may even take you under their wing and teach you something. Project studios (e.g.: someone with a Mac, ProTools, and a few good mics and some outboard gear) are everywhere these days, so get into as many as you can and do some recording. Find singer-songwriters that have written songs and need a bassist to record them.

 

Are you asking how one becomes experienced and wise as a musician?

 

I would hardly say I'm experienced or wise, but these experiences might help:

 

Get fired from a band.

 

Get shafted by a bandleader with a substance abuse problem and end up having to take him to small claims court.

 

Spend hours trying to sleep, lying with your head bouncing up and down on a bass drum in the back of an overcrowded van driving down the highway somewhere in the middle of the midwest, where no matter where you go, the only place to eat is Waffle House.

 

Break up a fistfight between the trombone player and the trumpet player in the green room in the theater of a very famous amusement park before the stage manager has a chance to walk in, witness it, and probably fire all of you.

 

Spend an evening playing with incredibly painful blood blisters on all of your fingers in front of a packed house at Irving Plaza in NY. Don't slow down or the bandleader will yell at you.

 

Do a session where a pretentious, talentless "artist" sings the exact notes he wants you to play, telling you not to deviate from it at all and then yells at you when the brilliant bassline he's written sounds dissonant against the chords in the tune (which you tried to tell him as he was teaching you the part).

 

Come off the road at 10:00am on Monday exhausted after being on the road all night coming back from the gig you did in North Carolina, change, run back out the door, and be at your day job by 10:30. Then come home at 6, sleep for three hours, and leave again in time to do your gig at 10pm.

 

Know the difference between a samba and a rhumba before the bandleader calls either.

 

Play through scores of tunes that you've never heard before.

 

Learn to see the warning signs of the drunken audience member that is going to charge the stage and grab the mike from the lead singer any second.

 

Practice the finely-honed craft of playing a tune at the gig and watching the Yankee game on the TV above the bar simultaneously.

 

Finally, don't learn the hard way that gear insurance is a necessity. :D

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Practice the finely-honed craft of playing a tune at the gig and watching the Cubs game on the TV above the bar simultaneously.

There... I fixed it for you.
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Originally posted by Shaggy8900:

i guess i need to find a band...first priority?

Absolutely! Nothing will make you a better bassist than frequent interactions with other musicians, particularly drummers.

 

When you begin playing with a band regularly, your time and your understanding of groove and of space will improve, you'll be forced to compose bass lines that support the harmony, your ear will develop, and you will soon have a better awareness of dynamics and other fundementals of playing in an ensemble. Moreover, being in a band is big fun!

 

And don't worry about being the "weak link" in the group, as you'll actually improve fastest by playing with musicians who are slightly above your level.

 

Practicing on your own is very important too, but many of your most important lessons will be learned "on the job," i.e. bandstand.

 

Get jamming and have fun.

 

:thu:

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Learn to see the warning signs of the drunken audience member that is going to charge the stage and grab the mike from the lead singer any second.

after which the drunken audience member drops his beer all over your pedalboard :mad:
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There are no tricks. You're just gonna have to put the time in on bass.

 

1. Practice, practice, practice. You should be using your free time, tv time whatever for playing your instrument. Get to know your bass so well that you know where any note is and can play a bass line in any position on the neck. Play with your eyes closed. Try using picks, fingers, thumbs, kneecaps, etc.

 

2. Pick up new influences and styles. Don't just listen to music that you like. I learned to play bass by sitting in front of the radio or MTV and playing whatever song came on, regardless of whether I like the music or not. Of course, that was in the 80s so I didn't have to listen to alot of the sampled/drum machine rap crap they call music today. I suggest you put on some r&b, blues, classic rock, Motown/oldies stations or anything that has real instruments playing. Slowly graduate towards more progressive or aggressive music like jazz, classical or even avant garde. Learn the song forms of different kinds of music. Listen to ethnic musics and learn those scales.

 

3. Learn the basics. Learn the names of the notes. Learn how to read notation or tablature, scales and basic chord theory. You don't have to be a perfect sight-reader or pro session player. Just learn enough to be able to work with experienced cats who may call a few chords out to you. Its not as hard as you may think.

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Practice the finely-honed craft of playing a tune at the gig and watching the Yankee game on the TV above the bar simultaneously.

:) Once I was doing this really horrible gig... then it turned "not so bad" when they changed all the TV's to Cartoon Network.

 

And kids, listen to what Ben is saying (typing?).. whatever. He knows. He's been there and done that.

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