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Author Topic: Teaching myself bass guitar...  (Read 39292 times)

Albatron

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Teaching myself bass guitar...
« on: 28 May 2008, 18:58 »

So I saw that other thread about learning guitar, figured i'd make one of my own.
My friend left his electric bass he never plays at my house, so I've started learning it. Anybody else play bass have tips advice etc?
« Last Edit: 28 May 2008, 22:09 by Albatron »
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JimmyJazz

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #1 on: 28 May 2008, 19:17 »

THis may be cliche advice, but I reccomend getting a teacher. And it doesn't have to be long term either-just long enough so you know the basics  so you don't fuck yourself over with some little thing later on down the line. (Happeened to me with guitar; I held the pick wrong for the first three years of self-teaching.) Listen to your favorite music and try to figure out some lines on your own. Also, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Cliche, but important.
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the Goat

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #2 on: 28 May 2008, 19:38 »

I agree with getting a good teacher. I had one for less than a year, a total of maybe 12 lessons. When you're starting out getting the basics right are essential and a teacher can show you how to do that in a very in-depth and personable way that a book or video could never manage, especially with regards to technique. Teachers also generally have some useful tidbits that they let go every now and again. I still remember the advice my first teacher gave me: "don't let your lines be boring" and "don't be afraid to feel the rhythm. Its okay to look like a dork if you sound good".

Beyond that, a fret map of the bass neck and bit of musical theory will help you make sense of music. I recommend "Edly's Musical Theory for Practical People". It's about as straightforward and friendly a theory book as exists and covers notes, scales, modes and more. You can usually find it pretty reasonably on half.com.

I listened to a lot of Fugazi, Minutemen and Ramones (with the sound panned to the left channel) and other bands that had very prominent basslines to help understand how bass fit into different settings, which I found really helpful.

Good luck!
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greenMonkey

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #3 on: 28 May 2008, 19:40 »

That advice about listening to basslines in music is great.  I did that with drums; my initial repertoire consisted mostly of Jesus Lizard beats and my fills are still very Jesus Lizard-esque.
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PassiveTheory

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #4 on: 28 May 2008, 20:55 »

As a bass player for five year let me just say this: don't let the instrument be your only instrument. Seriously. Pick up a guitar right now, otherwise you will be tied to other people's desires for the rest of your playing life.

Unless you become a virtuoso like the likes of Victor Wooten, don't ever let yourself be marginalized as only a bassist. That was the mistake I made, thinking that I could be a bassist and still be able to do my own shit. No, that's not the case, because that instrument is steeped in playing with other people, and most of the time, other people suck.

That's why I'm picking up turntables, fuck the bass.
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pwntuspilate

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #5 on: 28 May 2008, 20:58 »

THis may be cliche advice, but I reccomend getting a teacher. And it doesn't have to be long term either-just long enough so you know the basics  so you don't fuck yourself over with some little thing later on down the line. (Happeened to me with guitar; I held the pick wrong for the first three years of self-teaching.) Listen to your favorite music and try to figure out some lines on your own. Also, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Cliche, but important.

QFT

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Albatron

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #6 on: 28 May 2008, 21:08 »

Well two of the guys in my "band" that play guitar have been helping me some, with how to play and such. Good idea about playing along with music. The other night we were jamming and I was able to stay on beat more or less with a crappy two note bassline, but my technique sucks. Youtube has helped it a little though.

I think if I am ever good enough for a band, I'd probably be doing a lot of the lyrics as well and maybe vocals, so maybe I wouldnt mind being marginalized musically. I just thought of that scene in Metalocalyspe were Nathan says, of Murderface, "I mean we usually just mix him out of the song" or something, makes me think. But yeah I think I'm way too explorative in my other creative ventures to stick with one instrument. Bass is just the first instrument that I didn't get immediately discouraged, I think thats a good sign. That and I tried both guitar and drums before for different reasons and bass kinda blends 'em. 
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #7 on: 28 May 2008, 21:37 »

As a bass player for five year let me just say this: don't let the instrument be your only instrument. Seriously. Pick up a guitar right now, otherwise you will be tied to other people's desires for the rest of your playing life.

Unless you become a virtuoso like the likes of Victor Wooten, don't ever let yourself be marginalized as only a bassist. That was the mistake I made, thinking that I could be a bassist and still be able to do my own shit. No, that's not the case, because that instrument is steeped in playing with other people, and most of the time, other people suck.

That's why I'm picking up turntables, fuck the bass.

While I can understand where you're coming from, and I agree that take up more than one instrument is a good idea, I have two words to counter that argument.

Lightning. Bolt.
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Sox

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #8 on: 29 May 2008, 09:50 »

I've stolen this from another forum, but it's a pretty great post on how to be a better musician. Here's a very useful, informed, thoughtful post by a much smarter person than me. It was written with guitar in mind but the entire thing can be applied to bass players. It's lengthy, but very worth it.

Quote from: scott
These days, my line of thinking is that the single most important aspect of playing a stringed instrument, and one that it seems nobody ever really talks about, is to learn how to control the muting of strings.  I think it's the number one most important thing, *especially* if you're playing with distortion.  Chords that don't use every single string, chords that skip strings, these can be some awesome motherfuckers.  But if you accidentally let that D string ring out while you're playing a B Major chord, it might kinda sound like ass.  Learning to use a finger to fret a note on one string, and simultaneously prevent an adjacent string from ringing out, is really important (i think) if you wanna move beyond playing barre chords or open chords.  Even power chords with the root on the 5th string, if your 6th string is ringing out, you may be destroying the integrity of what you're setting out to do.

This is a zillion times more crucial with bass, where any ringing string, if not deliberate, is likely to make your parts sound like serious butt.

Muting strings when you're not playing them.  The sooner you get a handle on that, the better, I think.



Aside from that very direct suggestion, I would also recommend that any player of stringed instruments, starting right now, and for the rest of their life, do these general type of things:

Learn how the instrument works, physically.  What happens if you fret a note directly between the two frets?  How about if it's super-close to the lower of the two frets, or the higher one?  How does this affect the sound?  What happens if you pick closer to the bridge, or closer to the neck?  What about if you change the angle at which you hold the pick?  Is there a difference in sound between the tiny E string (the 1st string) when you play it open, versus the 5th fret on the 2nd string, versus the 9th fret on the 3rd string, versus the 14th fret on the 4th string, versus the 19th fret on the 5th string?  How crucial is this to the sound of the note, even though they're all the exact same note? 

Learn how the instrument works, electronically.  What happens if you use just a neck pickup, or just a bridge pickup, or both at the same time?  And what effect does the choice of spot where you're picking have when using one pickup or the other or both?  What happens when you turn your tone knob all the way up, and volume almost all the way down, or tone all the way done and volume all the way up, and everything in between?  When you physically tap the instrument, does that tapping sound come out of your amp?  What about if you tap on the pickups directly?  Is this something you wanna use as part of your playing, or something you wanna avoid, or is it not an issue at all with your particular instrument?

Learn how different gain settings affect your general sound.  With low gain, if you play two notes together that are only one fret apart (i.e. an open B string and the 3rd or 5th fret on the G string), how does that sound?  How about with tons of gain/distortion?  What happens if you play open chords with a clean sound, versus a heavily distorted sound?  What about if you play complex chords that are kinda dissonant, clean vs distorted?  What effect does distortion have on sustain?  How about feedback?  Does your instrument produce feedback that is dependent on your physical distance from the amp, or it doesn't matter where you are it always squeals, or it never squeals no matter what?

Learn how picking dynamics and fret-hand finger pressure affect your sound.  If you play really soft, or play really hard, do you hear a difference in the quality of the sound?  What about the pitch?  Plug in a tuner, and play an open string...  play it super-softly, and super-hard...  see any difference in the pitch showing up on the tuner?  What about with fretted notes, if you fret them very softly, with a light touch, or if you crank down really hard?  See a difference in pitch?  How is that stuff gonna affect what you're doing, when you play?  How about when you're tuning?  If you pick softly while you tune, and then pick hard when you play, are you ever gonna actually be in tune?

I'm not telling you what happens here based on my experience, but these are the sorta things that over the years I've come to realize have a big effect on tone and in-tune-ness and whatnot. 

A solid state amp might not exhibit a lot of difference in tone based on picking dynamics (or it might) and a tube amp might be more responsive to dynamics (or it might not).  Who knows?  Try them out, if you can.  Take your instrument to a guitar store and try out an amp that's known for good distortion sounds, and see what happens if you pick really softly versus really hard, versus everything in between.  Maybe with one amp, it makes no difference, but with another, it makes a huge difference.  Learn the combination of your instrument, and your amp, and see how you can work it.  Some day, you'll have a different guitar or different amp, and things will change.  But always get to know the setup you're playing through, as well as you can. 

This is the kinda stuff that I think is key.  If you have an interest in learning every facet of the instrument, that's a great thing and it's gonna help you discover stuff.  Approaching the instrument with an angle like, "what does this do, what does that do, how does this work, what does this affect" and all that, over time you'll learn *your* way of playing guitar.  There may not be any universal rules about "always play using your fingertips on the strings, not the sides of your fingers", but there are general guidelines like that.  You'll find them all over if you look for books or websites or whatnot, I suspect.  But the most important thing may well be to just learn everything *your* way.  Ask your own questions, and find your own answers.

And very importantly, keep a spirit of always challenging yourself, always learning new stuff, always trying something that you think "I can't do this" or "this is too hard" until you can eventually do it.  And be patient with it.  If you only ever stick with what you already know, and what you can already do, that might work for you just fine.  Or, you might end up bored, or saying stuff like "I passed my musical peak X years ago", which is a damn shame.  Some of the best and most rewarding songs, for me, are the ones where the first time I tried to play a part, I couldn't do it for shit.  And after 50 times, I was more comfortable with it.  And after 100 times it was easy, and there was a new challenge on the horizon.  The way it is for you now, where it's maybe hard to do much of anything, or lots of stuff is difficult for you to do the way you'd like, that is something where in time you'll be able to play all kinda shit just like you'd like to.  But if you always challenge yourself, and always have parts that bring you back to where you are in the beginning, where you are trying to do something you currently cannot do, that's gonna be really rewarding over time. 

Contrary to what some people might suggest, I think there is *always* a new challenge on the horizon.  Initially, the challenge is to play the fucking guitar at all, to get notes out of it, to play chords, to pick/strum rythmns.  Maybe later the challenge is to find *new* chords or rythmns.  New rythmns are something that I think damn near any guitarist would benefit from pursuing.  For me, there was a point where simplifying was the new challenge.  Learning to say the most with the fewest notes.  And following that, revisiting trying to play faster, or slower, or more difficult, or whatever...  There's always something you haven't done before, or something you can do better.

And some day, maybe you hit a point where you're all "been there, done that".  And then you can go ahead and look for alternate tunings, ones that you find on the net that somebody else used, or just go ahead and make up your own.  And at that point, just about every rut you've fallen into, chord-wise, it's out the window, and nothing at all works like you've come to take for granted.  And you have to learn all new stuff, and you'll play chords you've never played before.  And you'll hear new voicings.  And then when you go back to a normal tuning, you can try and find ways to pull off those same voicings, or similar, and you'll find yourself playing chords you never played before.

It's a neverending journey, if you're lucky.  A spirit of openness to learning new things, and asking new questions, that's key.  And persistence, and patience.

Also, there's a thing I call "the curse of the guy who plays alone in his bedroom too much".  He only plays alone, for years, and then when he tries to play with other people, in a band, he has a really hard time with it.  First off, playing alone, he never learned to lock into someone else's rythmn.  I think that's one of the most important things of being in a band, is for people to lock together.  Second, when he's playing alone, if he duffs a part he's trying to play, he starts over from shortly before the duff, or he just skips a section or adds a section in.  That can work in band, but usually doesn't.  Something I think you can only learn by playing in a band, or playing along with a cd or whatever, is how to fuck something up, and jump right back in, locked in, as quickly as you can.  You never learn that if you just play alone in your bedroom, playing along with nothing but your own mind.

Watch out for that, and don't let yourself become that guy.  I've seen it with a few different people, friends and bandmates of mine over the years.  Nip that shit in the bud, and play with other people as soon as you can, even if you're not totally comfortable with that situation, just do it with people you feel comfortable around in general.  It's good news.

If playing is causing you anything more than a really mild physical pain, then you should probably stop.  If it's a matter of establishing your callouses on your fingers, that just takes time, and you should just be prepared to rip the shit out of your fingertips for a good while, until they become rock hard.  Everybody has to deal with that, including and especially bassists and drummers.  Develop your callouses as quickly as you can, and that means playing until you rip your fingers up, and maybe they turn a little white, or a lot white, as they're ripped, and maybe they have dark lines from where the strings rub, or maybe they don't.  But don't be afraid of that shit, and just keep on trucking through it.  Maybe it takes a few weeks, or a few months, but eventually with regular playing, you get your callouses, and they fucking rule.

But if it's joint pain, or muscle pain, that's different.  Figuring out the proper ergonomics for your playing, that's really, really, really, really, really, really, really important.  This is your body, your ability to pick up a coffee cup, or to rub somebody's shoulders or whatnot.  If you play with your instrument too low, you can waste your fret hand wrist.  If you try and stretch your fingers on your fret hand more than they're ready for, you can pull a tendon or ligament or whatever the hell it is.  Pushing your physical limits is a great thing, but do NOT overdo it when it comes to joints and tendons and shit.  If you have any suspicion that you're hurting your limbs, you should study up on ergonomics and learn what positions are gonna be good for you and which ones aren't.  There have to be resources for this, on the net or in paper print or whatnot, I'm sure, though I don't know what they are.

Believe it or not, the thickness of your pick, and in what position you hold your pick, and how tightly you grasp your pick, this can be a big deal.  I have a friend who just discovered that if he plays bass with a lighter pick, his wrist doesn't flip out and hurt like it used to.  He was all talking about how he needs to see a doctor, because the pain and cramping was getting out of control...  and all it took was to try a little lighter pick, which he naturally found himself grasping less rigidly, and things got way better.

You're not gonna know all the answers to this stuff in any short amount of time, unless you're like some kinda superhuman or something.  It takes time.  Everything takes time.  It's worth it.  But if you keep it in you mind from early on, you'll find yourself developing really good habits, rather than bad ones.  And after playing for years, the habits that you've developed can be very hard to change, as much of playing is just thoughtless muscle memory.  It's the time you spend developing the techniques that determines what you do down the road, whether you know it or not.  So the earlier you evaluate your pick technique, your fret technique, your use of pressure or force with each hand, the better you'll be down the road.

A lot of this stuff probably won't mean shit to you for months, if you've *just* started.  I think the beginning for most of us was exactly what you've described...  learning a couple/few chords, learning to play a song you know and like...  that's very normal.  Developing technique is something that you start doing from the very first moment, but I think people usually don't realize it until many months or even years down the road.

Playing guitar can be very, very fucking rewarding.  If you can keep yourself unburdened with a sense of "I am no good" or "I am the best" or any of that shit, you'll be the better for it.  Whether or not you're good or bad, if you wanna play guitar, you really want it, then that shit doesn't matter.  I think I spent a good number of years thinking I sucked, comparing myself to my peers or even to famous rock musicians I liked...  and eventually I said "who cares, I am as good as I am".  It doesn't matter how you stack up to other people, it only matters how you stack up to your own potential.  If you're always on a quest to achieve whatever is your greatest potential, then you are all set.

The only book I can recommend is "Zen Guitar", which is not about techniques or how to judo chop people's faces, so much as it is about what I'm getting at here, the spirit of your approach, and your attitude and your posture as a musician and artist.  I read it through one time, probably 10 years ago, and though I can't quote any of it, I know I got a lot out of it, as a player and as a person.  Highly recommended.
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Thrillho

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #9 on: 29 May 2008, 11:06 »

The first advice I give ANY bass player, is don't take any bullshit from guitarists who 1. know nothing about bass 2. think it's 'guitar with just one string, so it's easier' and 3. think they can play it and actually can't.

sean

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #10 on: 29 May 2008, 14:42 »

When I started playing bass, my teacher had me play old 1-4-5 blues riffs. That was really helpful with learning the basics, and I recommend the same to you. Also as someone else said listen to bands that have good bassists. We do cool stuff at the low end too guys!
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Nodaisho

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #11 on: 29 May 2008, 15:07 »

A benefit of having a teacher that I didn't see here yet is related to the post that Sox pasted in, a good teacher will hold you to doing it right, he won't let you hit a string that isn't supposed to be playing, even when you don't realize you are doing it wrong. Having someone that notices when you mess up, even when you don't, is both extremely frustrating and very good for your technique. I have a friend that has played for about as long as I have, plays more than I do, but his technique is worse because he just plays by himself, he doesn't have someone calling him on his mistakes. On the other hand, he is better at improv than me, though that could just be he practices that more, while I only practice the songs.

This is all from a guitarist's standpoint, but I think it applies.

I will second (third? fourth?) the advice not to let your bandmates push you aside and leave you with crappy parts, Bass can be awesome, look at the bassline on Spacegrass (Clutch), Orion (Metallica), or probably most Primus (don't listen to them much). Motorhead as well, though Lemmy's bass doesn't really sound like I tend to think of basses as sounding like, since he just turns his mids up all the way.
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DMart

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #12 on: 29 May 2008, 16:31 »

I've basically just taught myself bass thus far, and I get the feeling my technique isn't great because of it. Unfortunately I don't have any available funds to afford me a teacher... so can anyone reccomend a particularly good book for teaching yourself bass? I always find it so much easier to have a hard copy of things in front of you for stuff like this. I know music theory from learning other instruments (well, at least enough to get by on), so I'm mainly concerned with the technique side of things. Someday I'll see a teacher, but not within the next 6 months.

Thanks for that massive quote-reply Sox, good read.
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #13 on: 29 May 2008, 22:47 »

(Happeened to me with guitar; I held the pick wrong for the first three years of self-teaching.)

You had a terrible teacher, there is no 'correct way' to hold a pick.
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Albatron

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #14 on: 29 May 2008, 22:55 »

Wow Sox, thanks for that. I'll probably have to read it again a few times. I really get what he's sayin about doing things your way. I think thats what can make the difference between a competent musician and a good one.

I'm listening to Orion right now, I forgot how awesome Cliff Burton is on bass. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth is fucking incredible. Bus accidents suck.

Maybe I can find someone to give me some pointers, I don't have any money for a teacher.
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #15 on: 29 May 2008, 23:58 »

The first advice I give ANY bass player, is don't take any bullshit from guitarists who 1. know nothing about bass 2. think it's 'guitar with just one string, so it's easier' and 3. think they can play it and actually can't.

Man, there's nothing wrong with bass guitar - it's bass players that are the issue.
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Nodaisho

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #16 on: 30 May 2008, 00:10 »

Hey, lets not be all aggressive about whose fault it is, can't we all agree that it is the drummer's fault?
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MadassAlex

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #17 on: 30 May 2008, 00:22 »

Ergo, Lars Ulrich.
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #18 on: 30 May 2008, 12:11 »

How do you know the drummer's at the door?

Because his knock slowly gets faster.

How do you know when the singer's arrived at your door?

Becuase he can't find the key can comes in at the wrong time.

pwntuspilate

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #19 on: 30 May 2008, 14:04 »


You had a terrible teacher, there is no 'correct way' to hold a pick.

This statement is so blatantly untrue I don't even know where to begin fixing it...How could you possibly think that the way you use a pick is inconsequential to your technique?
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MadassAlex

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #20 on: 30 May 2008, 17:43 »

I think that should be read as "there are a number of different ways to hold a pick and I'm genuinely very surprised that you didn't stumble upon at least one of them".
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #21 on: 30 May 2008, 19:18 »

I've basically just taught myself bass thus far, and I get the feeling my technique isn't great because of it. Unfortunately I don't have any available funds to afford me a teacher... so can anyone reccomend a particularly good book for teaching yourself bass? I always find it so much easier to have a hard copy of things in front of you for stuff like this. I know music theory from learning other instruments (well, at least enough to get by on), so I'm mainly concerned with the technique side of things. Someday I'll see a teacher, but not within the next 6 months.

Thanks for that massive quote-reply Sox, good read.

The two books that are always recommended for those who have just picked up bass are "Bass Guitar for Dummies" (no joke, I actually lost my copy because I kept lending it out. Mainly for the beginner beginner theory, but it also has great exercises, examples of to play various genres, and technique) and http://wheatsbassbook.org/. I would highly recommend skimming through Wheat's bass book first, and then if it looks useful print the parts you need/want.
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #22 on: 30 May 2008, 19:36 »

This statement is so blatantly untrue I don't even know where to begin fixing it...How could you possibly think that the way you use a pick is inconsequential to your technique?

It doesn't matter. Your pick grip doesn't actually affect your playing, only your wrist action does. People with technique that is far better than you or I will ever be hold their picks in some very strange manners.

Unless you're holding your pick with your teeth or between your knees, it shouldn't have any effect on your playing.
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #23 on: 30 May 2008, 20:45 »

A poor grip can lead to your pick shifting around, but as long as your pick is staying right where you want it, I don't think it matters much.
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pwntuspilate

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #24 on: 30 May 2008, 23:01 »

I guess I misread, I assumed he was referring to the way he held the pick in relation to the guitar.  Though I can't  call myself an expert I believe the generally accepted method is to have the length of the pick perpendicular to the plane of the body of the guitar (lolgeometry), and to keep this angle constant while picking.  Of course, if you are just referring to how to hold the pick by itself, then it should be however you can comfortably perform this technique.
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voidSkipper

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #25 on: 01 Jun 2008, 01:20 »

Crank the bass frequencies in the equalizer of your music player of choice, and start listening. Learn some scales, get a real good feel of the fretboard, then start recreating.

Also, get Guitar Pro. You can mute the bass track in that and play along, and it's awesome.
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Van donk III

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #26 on: 05 Jun 2008, 13:48 »

Greetings.   I've been playing bass more or less exclusively for more than 14 years now and the only real advice i could give anyone starting out is to explore your instrument, because thats what it is, a musical instrument.   Only your friends who are guitarists will see it as "an inferior guitar"   Also dont get pigeon-holed into the typical rock & alt genres all the time, explore funk, soul, R&B and anything else that might interest you on a playing level.
Also technique is important, use a pick, use your fingers, when you progress a bit; the inevitable  "slapping & popping your bass like crazy" phase will kick in. (it never really leaves) The percussive sound of a bass played properly is superior in any form of loud/fast/funky tune.Also, check out some freaks on youtube two hand tapping on the bass, its difficult, but not impossible.
   Oh, yeah, one last thing, HAVE FUN.   Once you master a few things you'll find that locking into a good rythm section makes you really feel the groove, whatever the tempo or style of music.   Enjoy the instrument and you'll soon have people trying to steal you for their band.

spidergland

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #27 on: 05 Jun 2008, 14:21 »

I listened to a lot of Fugazi, Minutemen and Ramones

I listened to a lot of Minutemen

Minutemen

sorted  :-P

Van donk has a good point though, playing an instrument should be fun.  Some people I used to play with really seemed to miss that memo.
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Mars

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #28 on: 05 Jun 2008, 22:31 »

What the hell is all this pick crap? So long as you can make sounds it doesn't really matter how you hold the pick. If you can honestly play better that way, go ahead and hold it between your knees.

I think just about every player finds a method that works, since it would be impossible to advance beyond the most basic stuff if they didn't.

There is a technically 'correct' way to hold a pick, but not everyone does it that way. Hell, some of the best players I know do very little the 'proper' way.

Re: bass, a teacher can help but if you have any sort of musicality it's not strictly necessary. Conversely, if you're not a musical person by nature you'll probably only be able to get so far no matter who your teacher is.

Just pick bassists you like and emulate them. You develop your own style by stealing bits and pieces from everybody else's.

My step brother has been a bassist longer than I have and the only advice he gave me when I started was "if you use a pick everyone will laugh at you."

So don't use a pick on bass guitar.
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Van donk III

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #29 on: 06 Jun 2008, 01:55 »

I wouldn't say "dont play with a pick"   Do whatever feels right.   It might be more beneficial to play with a pick if you're more interested in fast metal or thrash.   Flea played with a pick on recent chilis albums.   Rob Wright from nomeansno plays with a pick and he's AMAZING.   I play fingers myself and have found in years gone by that I'm useless with a pick now.   
« Last Edit: 06 Jun 2008, 02:39 by Van donk III »
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Thrillho

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #30 on: 06 Jun 2008, 02:29 »

I have to agree with that. Just saying 'don't play with a pick' is far too sweeping. The pick isn't just about being able to play faster or whatever, it also has a different sound which may or may not be more suitable for what you're playing, just like when playing guitar - sometimes you play with fingers, sometimes with a pick, depends what's needed. That's what I do, anyway. This is especially applicable doing covers, because if you're trying to recreate the sound of the original you might want to imitate their style.

Sox

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #31 on: 06 Jun 2008, 05:04 »

I wouldn't say "dont play with a pick"   Do whatever feels right.   It might be more beneficial to play with a pick if you're more interested in fast metal or thrash.   Flea played with a pick on recent chilis albums.   Rob Wright from nomeansno plays with a pick and he's AMAZING.   I play fingers myself and have found in years gone by that I'm useless with a pick now.   

Kim Gordon blames her arthritis on using a pick!
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Mars

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #32 on: 06 Jun 2008, 05:27 »

That was the one part of my advice that wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

Although it is a true story. My step brother did actually give me that advice. And no other.
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sean

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #33 on: 06 Jun 2008, 11:18 »

Guys I used a pick while playing with a friend two days ago. And it sounded awesome.

Sooooo, use a pick if you want. Helps with the heavier stuff.
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Thrillho

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #34 on: 06 Jun 2008, 14:23 »

I took it seriously because I've heard people seriously give dumber advice. And also then contradict themselves within a week.

Misereatur

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #35 on: 07 Jun 2008, 05:55 »

Advises for a beginner bass player:

1. Go for a music teacher with a degree in either music or teaching. Preferably both.

2. Don't ask for advise on the internet unless it's on the Talk Bass forums.
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the Goat

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #36 on: 07 Jun 2008, 08:03 »

Advises for a beginner bass player:

2. Don't ask for advise on the internet unless it's on the Talk Bass forums.

Agree, talkbass is a great resource.
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Chad K.

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #37 on: 07 Jun 2008, 08:49 »

Some stuff-  Get a teacher for the first year or so.  Make her or him show you these things-

1.  Proper lefthand technique.  This is where most people run into problems by forming bad habits.  There are so many people who are self taught that don't use their pinky, or even sometimes their ring finger, because they don't have the same finger strength as the first two fingers.  This can lead to a really bad habit that's hard to correct, and that will drastically limit your playing. 

There are typically two left hand techniques - one is a flathanded technique typically used by jazz guys, and the other is curled finger technique like a guitar player.  Learn both; they can each be used to do different things.

Do fretting exercises that require you to use your whole hand.  The easiest one is just to hold down on the first fret and, keeping your finger down, play the second fret, then the third, then the forth. Don't lift any of your fingers, it will build some strngth relatively quickly. 

2.  Proper right hand technique-  I am firm believer in using your fingers rather than a pick.  Having said that, some of my favorite bassists use a pick with great results (see e.g. The Jesus Lizard).  Here's the deal- even if you want to play with a pick, learn both. It will expand what you can do with the bass.   

Proper right hand technique should involve some knowledge of how to do a rest stroke.  It's easy- use only your index and middle finger.  Rest your thumb on the top (E) string; or, if you're playing the E, on the pickup.  Alternate your fingers, and make sure each time you pluck the finger you are using rests against the string above it. 

3.  Learn timing.  There's nothing worse than a bassplayer without rhythm.  Buy a metronome and practice playing on the beat.

4.  Learn the notes on the neck, and some scales and basic music theory. 

5.  Ask them to teach you basic styles. Even if you really, really, really want to play nothing but metal, country, blues, etc.  You will be shocked how much you can learn by just learning different genres.  Obviously, some rock styles are great, learn blues, some jazz, and reggae is great.

Just a warning, some teachers will only want you to learn your favorite songs form bands and that's it.  That's a little like learning how to pronounce words in a foreign language, but not what the words mean.  It's more improtant how song or bassline works.  Once you feel you have a good handle on the instrument, drop teh teacher and start just playing.  You'll develop your own techniques thatwill vary from what you've been taught, but that work for you.

Last piece of advice - play with anyone and everyone you can no matter what style.  Play with people who are obviously better than you, you'll pick up so much more stuff quickly that way.  Best of luck!
« Last Edit: 07 Jun 2008, 09:10 by Chad K. »
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glyphic

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #38 on: 07 Jun 2008, 12:40 »

Honestly, the only advice that I can't stress enough is to experiment. Once you get rhythm and timing down, start watching guitarists and the notes that make up their chords. Listen to the drummer and where his bass and snare hits are. Keep trying new things. Not only does this help develop a technique all your own, but it keeps the instrument fun and interesting. This keeps you from getting bored. Being constantly excited by the instrument keeps you practicing.

The most important part of music is practice.
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Misereatur

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #39 on: 07 Jun 2008, 16:15 »

Just a warning, some teachers will only want you to learn your favorite songs form bands and that's it.  That's a little like learning how to pronounce words in a foreign language, but not what the words mean.  It's more improtant how song or bassline works.  Once you feel you have a good handle on the instrument, drop teh teacher and start just playing.  You'll develop your own techniques thatwill vary from what you've been taught, but that work for you.

I read these kind of posts all the time in threads like this.

Are teachers in America really that bad? Around here it's common sense to get a teacher who has at least basic college education in music. My first bass teacher was a classical violinist who graduated from the Moscow conservatory, and the second was a berklee graduate. I mean, getting some college student who knows a few guitar chords to teach you an instrument sounds kind of stupid to me.

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Mars

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #40 on: 08 Jun 2008, 15:37 »

I don't get why everyone says that a teacher is important. Having a good teacher can help, but it's not essential for learning. Having a bad teacher can be worse than learning on your own.

The way I see it, a teacher is necessary for the stuff you can't figure out on your own. Example, I was having a hard time getting all the finicky details of classical guitar down, so I took a few lessons to get the habits formed and get some exercises, as well as having someone to point out when I screwed up. It was helpful, because classical was something I was having a hard time wrapping my head around. A teacher for rock or blues guitar wouldn't have been likely to teach me anything I didn't learn on my own, so that would've been a waste of money.

You don't have to spend money on lessons. Although if you are teaching yourself and don't have much (or any) prior musical experience, a metronome is a very good idea.

Note that an instructor can help to keep you motivated, so if you think that's going to be a problem you may want to look into it. Of course, I figure that if you're not motivated on your own you probably shouldn't force it, but I also recognize that what's worked for me doesn't work for everyone.

Other than that I agree with pretty much everything that's been said. I especially agree about playing with people better than you. As long as you can get your ego out of the way you'll learn tons.
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Albatron

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #41 on: 08 Jun 2008, 22:08 »

Yeah I agree with playing with people better than you. my roommate plays guitar pretty well. The other nite he showed me what notes to play for a simple bassline, then once i got it down he soloed with slide guitar over it. I wasn't great, but I stayed on beat more or less, and played with the notes a bit too. though simple, it was so encouraging just that I was able to provide a bassline. I've really been trying to practice as much as I can and once I learn some scales, I'm going to get a couple guys I know that play bass to tell me what I'm doing right and wrong.   
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Mars

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #42 on: 09 Jun 2008, 01:00 »

Sounds like you're off to a good start.

Metronome! If your timing is less than perfect and you're not in a band with a drummer you should have one. It will help immensely. Remember that bass is typically a rhythm section instrument; as a bassist, one of your jobs is to keep the beat.
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Albatron

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #43 on: 24 Jun 2008, 17:43 »

So the other night some friends came over and we all jammed and it was really fuckin cool. We all clicked really well and actually jammed some decent indie-postrock for a good 45min.

But sometimes I was having a hard time fitting in with what they were playing. How do you guys fit in with the rest your bands jamm partners etc.
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sean

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #44 on: 24 Jun 2008, 19:00 »

Dude, your bass. Just hit roots till you think of something else.
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PassiveTheory

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #45 on: 24 Jun 2008, 20:24 »

Yeah, the more I play with other people, the more I've realized that just being a bassist is useless and boring. Become a multi-instrumentalist instead. Pick up keyboards or guitar at the same time as bass or you just end up being really bored.
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Spluff

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #46 on: 25 Jun 2008, 00:43 »

Most of the people I play with don't know any theory so I end up getting pretty frustrated and just playing covers.
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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #47 on: 25 Jun 2008, 01:32 »

Yeah, the more I play with other people, the more I've realized that just being a bassist is useless and boring. Become a multi-instrumentalist instead. Pick up keyboards or guitar at the same time as bass or you just end up being really bored.

Maybe you should be a cool bassist and not be boring/bored. I am pretty sure playing bass can lead to excitement.
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Albatron

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #48 on: 25 Jun 2008, 04:34 »

Yeah, the more I play with other people, the more I've realized that just being a bassist is useless and boring. Become a multi-instrumentalist instead. Pick up keyboards or guitar at the same time as bass or you just end up being really bored.

I like the bass and I think its only boring if you let it be. When we were jamming I would watch the guitarists and try to play some of the same notes or try to stay in the same key. Some times they would do something cool, then I would try to echo it later on. Other times I'd match beat more with the drums.

None of us really know much about music theory either, we just experiment and go with what sounds good. Though it might help that 2 of us are creative writing majors and one is an art major. The creative process for music doesn't seem to be much different from other art, you find something thats cool and run with it. Its a skill that has to be exercised right along with all the others it takes to play an instrument.

 
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Thrillho

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Re: Teaching myself bass guitar...
« Reply #49 on: 25 Jun 2008, 14:30 »

Yeah, the more I play with other people, the more I've realized that just being a bassist is useless and boring. Become a multi-instrumentalist instead. Pick up keyboards or guitar at the same time as bass or you just end up being really bored.

You've failed at bass, motherfucker.
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