Dipping my toes in bass playing...

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by betocool, May 15, 2020.

  1. betocool

    betocool Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Hey all,

    Many years ago, I bought a bass on a whim, price seemed right, 90 euro Epiphone, which has been hanging on the wall pretty much ever since except when I recorded some backing tracks once or twice. That time I used a pick.

    I decided to try again, if only to have a little bass line to accompany me while I play other stuff, simple things. I'm trying now with "fingerwalking", thumb on the lower string, fingers walking one above. It's tricky to get a smooth sound out of it.

    Additionally, I get a lot of fretting sound from my playing when I press the string with my fretting hand against the frets. Not actually fretting while playing on the same position.

    Any advice or guides you can point me to are much appreciated. I should probably get a teacher, but knowing myself, I'd probably rather play guitar and use the bass as a secondary tool.

    Cheers,

    Alberto
     
  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I love playing bass.
    I started about 25 years ago, to augment my gigging income.
    I’ve taken a few lessons over the years, and I highly recommend finding a good teacher.
    Bass is a vastly different beast than guitar.
    The trick, in many people’s opinion, including mine, is to “lock” with the drummer.
    Hopefully, you have a good drummer to partner with.
    Anyways, try taking a few lessons.
    You may have to try a few different teachers.
    Good luck!
     
  3. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

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    Some years ago, our church band needed a bassist more than it needed a guitarist. So, I got a bass and transitioned over to it. Here’s some stuff that helped me.

    1) My son, who learned bass as a kid, laughed at me when he saw me play. He told me I played too much like a guitarist, and that I should keep my fretting hand and fingers flatter than when I play guitar. He was right, that helped me with damping.
    2) If you play with fingers, it helps with damping and getting rid of string noise.
    3) Practice. At some point you will figure out what makes noise and what doesn’t.
    4) A good setup is as important to playing bass as it is on guitar.


    Obviously taking some lessons helps as well.
     
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  4. tdoty

    tdoty Tele-Meister

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    Fret right on the fret with the bass, not between the frets like on a guitar. I get a lot less noise that way.....even if it isn't intuitive as a guitarist. Also allows you to play bass with a lighter left hand.
     
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  5. 6String69

    6String69 Tele-Holic

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    I started on bass 25 years ago. Plant your thumb on the pickup and alternate your first two fingers. Practice that for about two years.
     
  6. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    The bass is a great instrument, very different to the guitar, and it's worth dipping a bit more than toes in. Could you face going in up to your knees maybe?

    What I'm saying is try devoting a month's practice and experimenting to it and see how it goes.

    I don't understand what you mean about your left hand, but you're on the right lines with your right hand.

    And I'd join others in stressing a decently set up and playable bass is important. It's quite a physical instrument.

    Good luck and enjoy it! Beware - you may get hooked.
     
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  7. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I enjoy playing bass and agree that the bass and drums need to be synced and when they are it’s a lot of fun.
    I use to tell guitar players all the time back in the 70’s.
    If you want to make money, play bass. Especially country bass. There is plenty of work, it’s not too complicated and it steady income. Jazz bass has a lot of opportunities, but if it’s not your thing, don’t try to fake it.
    Country, R&R You can fake your way thru, not jazz.
    Lead guitar is for the ego, rhythm guitar is for the love of the music, Bass is for the money.
    All this is just my opinion, ymmv.
     
  8. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    An ex-colleague and my bass mentor came in to me at work one day with a broken bass string. He kept it neatly coiled on his desk. It'd been on his 78 Precision for 18 years and he reckoned had earned him about £10k. Not a bad return on investment.
     
  9. guitartwonk

    guitartwonk Tele-Meister

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    I used to play bass before I picked up a guitar. Occasionally I miss it. It can be a lot of fun.

    Definitely stick with the fingerstyle though. You can get a lot more expressive that way.

    Use the pickup covers as thumb rests. Alternatively, add thumb rests like you sometimes see on old Fenders.

    I found a Jazz bass or any two Pickup bass is better for finger style as you get more thumb rest positions than say a P bass.

    For more attack and tight sound, play about 2" from the bridge.

    For a softer sound, head nearer the neck.

    So, basically just like a guitar, but the difference is more noticeable.

    Another plus of finger style is that you can more easily switch to slapping and popping than if you have to hold a pick.

    I miss slapping and popping - that is something the dude on guitar can't do!
     
  10. drmordo

    drmordo Tele-Meister

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    What Epiphone bass do you have?

    I have a Epi EB0, and it took a fair amount of effort to get it set up. Mine was marginally playable from the factory. I adjusted the truss rod, shimmed the neck, and set the action and intonation, and now it plays great though it is still obviously a cheap bass.

    The EB0 has a lot of detractors because of the "mudbucker" pickup, but I have found that it is incredibly huge sounding on recordings and even though I have nicer basses it is the one I always reach for these days.

    As far as technique. Both John Paul Jones and Paul McCartney used picks, so there is no shame in it. And it's easier for a guitarist to transition to bass if he keeps the pick rather than learn how to use his right hand in a new way.

    One thing I have recommend is play more gently. A softer touch changes the way you interact with the instrument and decreases the string and fret noise you get. I set my action as low as I can get it to minimize effort, which makes it easier to play quiet.

    I very much prefer flat wound strings on bass. You get a purer tone with no twang at all. It sounds like you have turned the tone knob down all the time, which is exactly what I want. But a lot of people hate them, so YMMV.

    As far as what to play, study the greats. McCartney, JPJ, Colin Moulding, James Jamerson - these are guys that really influenced me.
     
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  11. tdoty

    tdoty Tele-Meister

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    Carol Kaye's use of a pick also makes it a justifiable technique.
     
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  12. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I have trouble getting my head in the bass groove. The syncing with the bass drum is important for that. If I just learn a specific bass part off a recording I'm ok.
    I would play more bass.... but in the band mix I can't hear it at all. I need an in ear bass monitor!
     
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  13. DSharp

    DSharp Tele-Holic

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    Not a bass player, but I've been loving Leland Sklar's quarantine videos on YouTube the past couple of weeks. You might want to check them out.
     
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  14. betocool

    betocool Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Thank you guys for all the answers! The truth is my band is a metronome and some sample tracks on Audacity. But yeah, bass sounds like a fun instrument, just listening to the groovy lines John Deacon played makes it worth the effort I guess. And thanks for the good advice, seeing how I go, I might get a teacher in the near future for a few lessons.

    I'll check out those Lee Sklar's videos on YouTube, I find he's a great bass player.

    Cheers,

    Alberto
     
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  15. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My wife, the bass player has given me plenty of tips. Start out with your thumb on the pick up cover and forget about the pick. The pick is considered old school for 60s rock, so unless that is desired don't bother with it. The picking fingers allow easier muting/dampening down the road. It is a lot of fun, so enjoy the new adventure.
     
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  16. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I got this old Bullet bass from a lady player who'd played it for ages in local bands...... :cool:

    bullet bass 1.jpg
     
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  17. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Meister

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    I bought a cheap Fender Bronco bass a couple of years ago, to dip my toes in the water as well. Figured, I'm a guitarist, not a bassist, so short scale would be the way to go for casual use. I like it fine, but I STILL sound like a guitarist playing a bass. Maybe I need to just concentrate on bass solely for a while and not guitars, but, nah, not gonna happen. It's fine, I don't get paid to play either, it's all good fun. My wife actually likes it when I break out the bass, even though I suck at it...of course, she loves my guitar playing, and, having forgotten all the theory from my lessons as a kid, I consider myself an amateur hack anymore, but can fake it good enough for many folks to think I'm great.....the joke's on them :)
     
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  18. bluescaster72

    bluescaster72 Tele-Holic

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    Definitely learn old school country bass it's simple and fun. Blues bass is pretty straight forward . And you tube is your friend you can learn whole songs note for note and it's broken down. I've played bass nearly as long as I have guitar and it is a different animal in many ways !
     
  19. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Afflicted

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    When I dived in I took it pretty seriously - I knew I'd be asked to play on sessions, because that's what I do. There's a piece of advice given to guitarists crossing over to bass: "Only play when the kick drum hits." I took that pretty seriously but eventually discovered that it is didactic (for teaching), not practical. You do want to simplify, though.

    [​IMG]

    Because all my bass playing is in clean studio environments I picked up a Mexican-built Fender Jazz and it has been great. It allows me to get both Precision-esque and Rickenbacker-esque tones and has a neck that is narrower than the wide Precision neck and thus more comfortable to me. I had to intonate it and do a tiny bit of a setup but it plays very nicely now. More HERE.

    Bob
     
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  20. burtf51

    burtf51 Tele-Holic

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    The most solid bass player I ever worked with simply said "lay something down you can stand on" ...that bout summed it up
     
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