Joined: 20 Apr 2006 Posts: 8841 Location: Albany, NY
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:15 pm Post subject:
Don't be afraid to use a pick, especially in the beginning. It's not cheating, as many well respected bassists built the bulk of their careers off the "pick sound". Finding the right lines and playing them cleanly and with the right attack is far more important to your sound than the difference between fingers and picks. As you get used to it you might want to try finger style and see if it suits you, but going from guitar to bass, there's enough different shit about it to throw you off a bit, don't let worrying about fingers be one of them.
Look through your music library and try to find songs with catchy bass lines. If you already play guitar, learning them should be straightforward, but then try to play them smoothly, all the while thinking about what makes the bass in these songs stand out to you. It's usually because it stands in contrast to some way to what the guitar or other melodic instruments are doing and locks in with the rhythm. Learn from your influences and your natural technique to find develop a style that speaks to you. Just don't play it like a guitar.
Put focus into your muting techniques, bass strings are heavier and a bit harder to stop from unwanted movement. You should only be hearing the notes you are playing.
Not playing it like a guitar is what I really want to avoid. I was planning on using a pick as a number of bassist I like use teh pick, and I tried playing with my fingers and am pretty shit at it might try again once I've got to grips with the instrument cheers for the tips _________________
The bit about "right lines cleanly with the right attack" is something really not only overlooked by kids who that just want to dig in and play as hard as the guitarist, to a certain extent bassists on all walks of life and skill could probably focus that much more on being a rhythm instrument locked in a mutual contract with the drummer to lay a solid foundation for the band. Obviously this involves both personal discipline as well as being a good listener in a band situation, as with any instrumental part.
When I was in Joybox cutting my teeth on tour for a year it was both amazing and rather embarrassing how slowly I learned that without being careful I'd get lost in the mix and then explode at other times, needed a compressor for a crutch while finding both consistency in attack and a volume/groove balance with the drummer's kick pedal, among other things. Like many drummers who've been told by their instructors to practice at slower tempos to develop solid rhythmic sense between downbeats, I've found that practicing with your favorite songs but keeping the music not too high can help develop dynamic sense on bass, being careful to keep consistency in attack and tone color.
Just the same, another very simple but valuable thing is learning to both hear and express your own voicing preferences in your playing: Working on a range of timbres by playing the same note both up and down the scale can really help add your own flavor to a song, especially in different sections of a song. In theory it's not all that different from playing open chords vs. barre chords on a guitar, as to what it can do for the instrument's timbre in a mix. Along with this is being consciously aware how when playing notes up the neck, strings will get louder and (being shorter in scale) less harmonic in content and by far more thumpy.
Also, I did this kind of stuff in particular early on when I first picked up bass: Root and 5ths, sliding up and down the neck. Nick Chaplin(Slowdive)'s steady 8th note Musicman Stingray picking on Catch the Breeze and Celia's Dream are classic examples of how this can work tastefully without sticking out too much, not to mention occasionally layering with open string and up the neck DID AN ROBERT SMITH AND PETER HOOK melodic lines. Come to think of it, the sheer slow tempo of the entire Slowdive catalog makes good play along material for bassists that need to work on solid 8th note spacing and dynamics.
Cheers for the info Ultra, plenty of stuff to be thinking about in that post. Been playing along to the Stone Roses quite a bit as Mani is one of my faves, off to listen to those Slowdive songs you mentioned
Ps: What are your bass(s) of choice chaps? I'm in an all things bass mood and wouldn't mind a bit of gratuitous bass posting. _________________
One thing I'd totally recommend is to search for the James Jamerson isolated bass tracks on youtube and see if you can figure out how to play the bass lines. It's something I do with my bass pupils and it has helped them all greatly.
Joined: 24 Oct 2012 Posts: 8728 Location: happiest town in america
Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:36 pm Post subject:
wow incredible thread!
I started playing bass and all i did was play the root of whatever chord the guitar was playing. i use a pick and Consistency in attack is hard to manage at first. You can get by doing this at first. My friend helped me and the first thing he said was i pick too much. I wasn't hammering and sliding into notes enough to really get a groove going. He also told me to start using octaves and walk into them. I'm getting a little better i think. I play bass so when i write my own song or do a cover for a comp here, i don't have to get someone to play it for me. I'm really starting to enjoy it. _________________
I need it to be smaller or I get shitty messages from mezz telling me my junk's too big.
Joined: 22 Apr 2006 Posts: 7642 Location: ELECTRIC WARRIOR
Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:04 pm Post subject:
Hmm... bass hard.
One of the few smart things my dad ever said was "It's easy to play the bass, it's hard to play it well."
In my experience the best way to get better is to practice through an amp, and clean. The dynamic range on the bass is un-be-fucking-lievable, so your hands are going to work a lot harder (or softer) to keep your shit sounding consistent.
Step two is playing with a drummer. Then as you add more elements you can start to worry about composition and note choice. After you get the mechanics down it's pretty much the same as any other instrument. Serve the song!
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