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Thread: Tips for a beginning bass player...

  1. #1
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    Tips for a beginning bass player...

    so ive been playing guitar for a while, but just bought a bass second hand for $50, and have been having a ball with it. My main question is about picking technique. I defenitely like the feel of using my fingers more than a pick (i play fingerstyle acoustic anyway), but was wondering how to go about this for bass? Do you use index and middle most of the time, alternating? Or do you use your thumb for the lower strings? Is it natural for your fingertips to hurt like a mf for the first few days of playing?

    Also, is it OK to play througha guitar combo amp? It wouldn't be damaging ina ny way, right?

    Any other tips you wana throw at me will be appreciated

  2. #2
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    hi there

    the way most bass player go about picking is by using index and middel finger alternating. theres some good (but boring) exercises here: http://www.warwickbass.com/basssurvi...n_9fingers.htm
    and yeah its normal for your fingers to hurt. ive been playing bass for about 2 years now and my fingers still hurt when i dont play alot and then have a 4 hour band practice (sometimes i eaven get blisters on my fingers). id recomend to get tabs from songs where you like the bass line and sit donw and practice those, thats how i got started.

    you can use your guitar combo as long as there is no "distorted sound". nothing will get damaged as long as it sounds normal. if playing through your guitar combo would damage your amp, you would hear it before any damage is done

    have fun rocking your bass, hope i could help
    Last edited by paul mcnoodle; 09-02-2006 at 06:20 PM.

  3. #3
    Music maniac rainy_sunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobs
    Do you use index and middle most of the time, alternating?
    Or do you use your thumb for the lower strings?
    Yes, I alternate index and middle finger most of the time. When there's a string skipping (for example when playing octaves on D and E-string), i use index and ring finger. I use right thumb only for slapping, not picking, but i think in some contexts it can be used for picking..

    Quote Originally Posted by Roobs
    Is it natural for your fingertips to hurt like a mf for the first few days of playing?
    Yes :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Roobs
    Also, is it OK to play througha guitar combo amp? It wouldn't be damaging in any way, right?
    I completely agree with Paul.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roobs
    Any other tips you wana throw at me will be appreciated
    Work on your technique and not forget the theory. Learn different basslines and how they work in band' context...
    Work on your rhytm. Playing and jamming with drummer is extremely important.
    Freelove, Booze, Indie Rock :-)

  4. #4
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    I would say that learning how chords are constructed would be one of the main things to learn because it helps with note choice . One of the things that I did was to make a 4 lined grid of 6 frets and starting on fret 3 filled in 2 octaves of the the maj scale notes represented by numbers from 1 to 8 for each octave .Then when I knew all the notes I filled in the # 's & b's so now when I see a Bb7#9b5 (1,3,b5, b7,#9) I know my options.Also in this position ALL notes are available within 4 frets without having to make huge jumps. From this chart you can also work out your arps and if you take a one finger per fret approach you'll be murdering it before long . It'll take a while tho ,don't do too much until you've built up your hand strength. G'luck

  5. #5
    Punk Freud
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    Do listen to the works of the bass legend, Jaco Pastorius. You could get te condensed form of his works in the album "Punk Jazz Anthology". Too bad he's dead. Oh well. Oh, and listen to John Entwistle's and John Paul Jones's works too. ^^

  6. #6
    I don't think so, Tim.
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    I'm really new to bass so I will refrain from giving advice except 'practice and practice more' to avoid looking like some know-it-all. Oh and, trust me, you fingers burn like hell for the first few weeks; I know mine did. Your skin will peel back on the finger tips and playing will friggin' hurt. Then, at some point, your hands begin to cramp a lot. That goes away too, fortunatley.

  7. #7
    Registered User Obivion's Avatar
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    With the amp, don't run it at full volume and distorted as the low vibes damage the speaker.

    Technique wise, there's two finger (normal) three finger (Harris from Maiden does this I think) and four finger (John Myung from Dream Theater who's nuts) styles. There's also the funk side with slap and pops as used by Flea from the Chillis.

    Have Fun
    No one sings the blues quite like Yngwie!

  8. #8
    Registered User Red Shoes's Avatar
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    As far as sore fingers go, I would definitely recommend playing only a little a day at first and working up until you can play several hours at a time. Maybe half an hour a day for the first week and build it up to an hour the second (just an example - do what feels right for your fingers )

  9. #9
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    Tip number one is:

    Always own a Bootsy Collins CD.

  10. #10
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    I echo everything said above (esp the Bootsy Collins... and you should own a James Jamerson CD too.).

    Just to add: bass is a rhythm instrument, far more than guitar. Practice with a drum machine, and lock in with that bass drum.
    Oh - and if you come from fingerstyle acoustic - cut those fingernails! I'm the same. I kept my fingernails, and kept getting hell from my bass tutor...

  11. #11
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    Don't laugh!.....Get a set of 5k dumbells to build up your hand/ arm strenght. Work out a short exercise program to workout your ,arms,wrists,biceps & shoulders. I've been using them for a month now all my hand problems ,persistant aches & pains have disappeared.

  12. #12
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    If you play that bass throught he guitar combo you will surely fry it and it will sound distorted for the rest of your life.

    And my technique is 3 fingers alternating. (I would use my pinky but it is still broken from soccer.)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roobs
    Also, is it OK to play througha guitar combo amp? It wouldn't be damaging ina ny way, right?
    It could be. When I play bass I use a cheap solid state amp and keep the volume pretty low and I haven't had any problems. I wouldn't do it through an amp that I care about 'cause it can blow the speaker. Basically you're taking a chance by doing it--it could be fine, but it could also result in a pretty costly repair. If I played a lot of bass I'd get a bass amp but for the little bit that I play what I do has so far worked fine.
    "I second-hand smoke two packs of cigarettes a day." -- Jerry Seinfeld

  14. #14
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    I've been playing for about a year, and I've gotten really good really fast. At one point i was thinking of putting down the bass because i sucked at it, but almost over night everything just clicked for me. Maybe it was because I was playing guitar hero2 on expert every night (you can play the basslines from those songs btw in practice) or because my fingers scarred and scabbed up and now there is no pain or even because a friend of mine let me jam with his band for 3 months, and I learned a lot.

    I'll lay down a quick newbie guide for you.

    Hand techniques - Buy one of those stress relieving balls and squeeze the **** out of it everyday. While you drive, when you goto the bathroom, at work (if you can). When you're watching a movie - squeeze it everywhere! Also you can do a little trick I learned. Put all 4 fingers on a hard table, but raised so only your finger tips are touching it. Now add a decent amount of pressure, then proceed to raising and lowering each finger, one at a time. when the finger hits the table, add even more pressure (this will simulate pressing down on the strings, which you have to do hard or you will get rattle or even a flat note)

    SCALES SCALES SCALES. - I know they are boring, but believe me they DO help. Do the 4/5 main ones for a while, then try to move on and play them on different strings and octaves but while still getting the right notes.
    Then practice alternate picking (seems simple but it takes a lil while to get it down in perfect rhythm.) Once you get the alternate picking down, then you can start to alternate between using your fingers and your pick. Play your scales for 10-30 minutes a day with the pick, then ideally another 10-30 minutes at night with your fingers. Personally I like the sound of the fingers better, but I can't use them when i follow the guitar mostly. And i'm only really good with them on the first two strings, E and A. But if the song is slow and had a static stable beat, use your fingers. Fast/intense try the pick.

    Don't even worry about Chords - I haven't jammed with a band yet that told me to incorporate them into a song, for the most part they sound muddy, and even when you can pull them off, no one really notices anyway. Not worth the extra time away from your other techiniques if you ask me. Chords are for guitar players, and they can keep em! ^^

    Next, find TABS of bands that you like. Preferably from their early albums when they weren't great musicans. Korn's KoRN, Offspring's Smash, The Cure from the 80s. All great bands to start off playing. You have to like the music you're practicing though, otherwise it becomes tedious and too much like a chore.

    Amp - Any bass amp from 30-50 watts is perfect for practice, and you can even use them to jam with a drummer. Not ideal but not horrible either. After about 6 months you have a decision to make, buy a bigger amp (100-200 watts) or buy a giging amp (300-500 watts). I'd reccomend just getting the next step up, i.e. a 150 watt peavy or ampeg, but some people don't want to have to buy 3 amps, so they keep their practice amp and buy a gig amp. It's up to you and your money situation. I'm still jaming with a peavy TNT sheffield its like 9 years old and it pounds like crazy, I don't think i can use it for anything bigger than a small bar though.

    Find A DRUMMER! Bassists and drummers go hand and hand. If you can find someone to keep a beat with while you're playing something, it will help you that much more, and give you "band" experience.

    Listen to your favorite songs, and try to block out the basslines, and then think of what you would do behind it. It's kinda hard to think in notes, but as a bassist you should be able to think in rhythm/basslines. Bom bom baaaam bom bom bom booooom. Something like that.

    And most importantly HAVE FUN! Bassist are RARE, once you believe you're ready to join a band, believe me you can almost have your pick!

    -LiCH

  15. #15
    Registered User songright's Avatar
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    Check out Les Claypool's clawhammer techique. It will sound like a sloppy mess, but once you learn to mute the notes you're not trying to hit, you're golden. It seems to fit in with fingerstyle only much more aggressive. It involves thumbing the lower strings while simultaneously strumming upper register notes with the rest of your hand. ALWAYS find the rhythm or groove to EVERYTHING that you are playing.
    Balance.

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