How hard can it be to play bass?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by johmica, Mar 22, 2021.

  1. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    It sounds like we both played Tuba in marching bands generations apart? Where did you go to school? I went to Kansas State and played in the band from 2007-2010. My very last performance was actually in New York at the Pin Stripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium! After that I hung up my sousaphone. We had some really nice all brass silver King Sousaphones. Those were good days!
     
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  2. Newbcaster

    Newbcaster Tele-Holic

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    Listen to everything Billy Sheehan says.

    If you listen to the song footloose, everything memorable or singable about that song is the bass line.

    I love what Nathan East did for Clapton. Amazing tone and groove.

    Don't think too much.

    Congrats on 90 days!!
     
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  3. Minivan Megafun

    Minivan Megafun Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    My experience going from guitar to bass it that it was pretty shocking how different a playing experience it is. It's a completely different role in the band and the music. On bass you're a foundational element. Guitar is what people hear, but bass is what they feel. I found you have to be SO much more precise on bass than you do on guitar. Guitar you flub a note or change and it's no big deal. Guitar can drop out for a second or two and no one will notice. On bass, you mess up a single note and EVERYONE will notice. They may not know what's wrong, but something is definitely off. I also found that when I play guitar I can completely lose myself in the music - don't think and just bash away. Can't do that on bass. You're more present, more grounded, and you have to be thinking about what you're doing. You've got to be precise and locked in with the drummer. The ability to play in the pocket and play for the song is more valuable than virtuoso technical skill. I've seen bassists that overplay and they're annoying. I'd rather have a bassist that can lock in on root notes (like AC/DC) than a guy who is trying to play every note on the fretboard through every bar of the song.

    Playing bass in a band for a while made me a better musician overall. It forced me to settle down while playing and pay attention. You're listening for different things than you are on the guitar.
     
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  4. dented

    dented Doctor of Teleocity

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    Lots of great clues, hints and info above from everyone. If you are going to be good at bass you need to excel at keeping time. I played bass for ten years when I was young. So I got a bass and practiced, practiced, practiced. I never played with a pick because I wasn't looking for that sound at that time. Being right handed I used all fingers except pinky very rarely. I played along with every record I could find at the time. I loved playing bass. Have fun!
     
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  5. Hey_you

    Hey_you Tele-Afflicted

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    Grads on the 90 days! And, bass playing is FUN.
     
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  6. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    Man that's a sweet guitar. Is it a Jack Cassidy?

    And if its the Ampeg amp I'm thinking of, I love those things. I got a little 25 watt one with the idea that it would be a bass practice amp but also a really handy acoustic guitar amp. It has not disappointed. And it was cheap enough that I don't feel like I need to coddle it. And the send in the back can go straight to the house if you want to avoid micing it for whatever reason. Great ported amp that punches above its weight class. I kinda wish I had two.

    And as has been said countless times. Congratulations on the 90 days. That's a huge accomplishment. I'd suspect with your background and experience you'll fall right into the groove on the bass. It always surprises me how fun the bass is to play live. It's fun enough that you kind of want to keep it a secret from other guitar players. ;)

    You are probably more advanced of a guitar player than I, but I found that the bass makes you really learn the constituent parts of chords and in that way it made me a more interesting guitar player.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
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  7. AmpHandle

    AmpHandle Tele-Meister

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    I suggest think in terms of chords not scales you will avoid odd notes that don't musically fit but technically do. Depending on the music of course. For me jazz swing is the most difficult.
     
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  8. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    Im a bass player who switched to guitar 45+ years ago.

    Although, guitar is my main instrument, I still play bass (at home) frequently and try to keep my chops up and ready... just in case.

    I believe that the role of the bass is more closely related to the drums, than the guitar.

    Sure, it's played more like the guitar, as it has string's and is tuned to the bottom 4 string's of the guitar, except an octave lower; but the bass is locked into the drums/rhythm.

    It normally drives the song's beat... and rhythm.

    Imo, the best bassist's usually play less and work off of the drums (especially the kick drum).

    Btw, I play only with my fingers.
     
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  9. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    +1
    And, good bassists always seem to be in demand.

    OP: Hey, whatcha doin for a bass amp? (Maybe you explained already, but I don't recall seeing a reference to it).
     
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  10. BrazHog

    BrazHog Tele-Meister

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    OK let me parachute into the thread like a moron without having read the 1000+ replies to your question...

    First of all, congratulations on your sobriety!

    Regarding how long it will take to make the transition... one afternoon maybe?

    When I started playing bass, my teacher gave me two exercises. The first exercise was a simple four to the floor bassline.

    The bassline was super cheesy, but the trick is to play it keeping the hand always in the same position:

    A C# E F# | G F# E C#

    That would be the 1st 2 bars of a blues shuffle in "A". The "A" is played on the bottom (E) string, 5th fret. For the "D" chord of the blues, shift one string down.

    The second exercise was "the spider". That would be the same "spider" guitar exercise (look it up), only applied to bass. You start it at the bottom string, 5th fret so you don't have to stretch your hand too much.

    For both exercises, make sure you keep your left hand in the same place all the time, all fingers in their respective frets. Oh, and keep it relaxed of course. Lower the action if needed.

    The right hand plays alternating index and middle fingers for both exercises. Also very relaxed. These 2 exercises should give an idea of how the bass feels under your fingers. They did to me!
     
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  11. John_B

    John_B Tele-Meister

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    My answer is it would be very hard!!! Bass guitarists know and feel and play in the pocket. They become one with the drummer and to me that is the hardest thing to do. I hate to insult bass players when I pick up a bass guitar. A good bass player is worth their weight in Platinum IMO!

    Looking back, I am sure I would have enjoyed my life as a professional bass man, if I had taken that road and was serious in 1974. Yes Sir!
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
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  12. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    There's obviously no best answer to a question full of undefined terms. Music is an endless challenge, especially for the most able players, and on every instrument. If you're not really playing to deepen the music you create, then just decide what level of compromise will satisfy you or meet your needs, and do the math based on your existing proficiency, knowledge, etc. Personally, and I mean just personally, I would not start an instrument knowing that I wasn't going to be enthralled and vested fully. I once saw Bob Weir in a spinoff band where they obviously were missing their bassist and some guy was filling in. He muted the strings so no "pitch" could be heard for any note -- just a thump -- and mimic'd the bass drum all night. You could play that well, if you want, right this very minute.
     
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  13. johmica

    johmica Tele-Holic

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    I've got a little Ampeg practice amp. I can't remember the model number, but I bought it probably five years ago, and I think that I gave $100 brand new.
     
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  14. jayroc1

    jayroc1 Tele-Meister

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    Don’t approach playing bass like guitar in terms of cramming notes in. You’re there to fill the missing pieces and support the groove. Not overwhelm the listener.
     
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  15. MisterZ

    MisterZ Tele-Afflicted

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    Congrats on the first 90 days!

    Things that are different about playing bass:
    -Scale length
    -String size and tension (hence different calluses)
    -Instrument weight (now I know why Paul played a Hofner)

    I started on bass, transitioned to guitar, took up bass again. I sing bass in chorus. Bass lines tend to come naturally to my mind. That said, as others mentioned above, lock into the drummer and lay down the groove.

    But if you want to use a pick, use a pick! Can't argue with Paul McCartney and Carol Kaye. Unless you'd rather use fingers to separate the bass from the guitar in your mind, which is actually a good idea that I wish I'd done.
     
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  16. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    Amazon used to sell these things for $99 and free shipping. The BA-108. I think the newer models now have the controls on the face.

    ampeg.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
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  17. ndcaster

    ndcaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    new to bass? congratulations. now you have to slap "like"

     
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  18. johmica

    johmica Tele-Holic

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    Yup! That's it. You can tell that mine has been in storage for a few years:

    IMG_20210323_161343697.jpg
     
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  19. aFewGoodTaters

    aFewGoodTaters Tele-Meister

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    It's a different mindset and approach. I think a common misconception is that bass is an 'easier' form of guitar, or it's for the guy (or gal) that couldn't cut it on lead guitar. This simply isn't true. When someone plays bass like a guitar it sounds bad. Too many notes and too little groove. Bass also requires a lot more stamina. Sour notes are much more easily disguised on guitar - when you hit the wrong note on bass everyone's head turns.
     
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  20. Greg70

    Greg70 Tele-Meister

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    I started out on guitar and after playing for about 4 years I also bought a cheap bass to mess around with. A friend of a friend at the time needed a bass player for a grindcore band he was putting together. I joined as their bass player. My chops weren't the greatest on bass but I got up to speed pretty quickly. At first I was a little jealous of the guitar player because I was a guitarist and wanted to play guitar in a band. After a while I learned that the bass is where the true balls of the band are. I loved bringing up the bottom end of the band, especially when we were hooked up to the PA at a gig. I usually played with a pick unless the piece needed some slapping or popping. Our stuff was pretty high tempo and I was no Steve Harris with my right hand lol.

    The funniest thing that I noticed was just how tiny a 6 string feels after you play bass for a while! I mean, it feels like some sort of piccolo version of what a stringed electric instrument should be! It's actually a really good workout for guitar as well. If you're not conditioned to it, a bass will tire out your left hand in just a few tunes.

    The good news is that now that we're living in The Golden Age of Decent Quality and Highly-Affordable Foreign Made Guitars, you can get a decent playing bass for a few hundred bucks. I would definitely pick up an affordable new or used one to mess around on. When I was first learning, I found that Cream's "White Room" was a great learning track because it has an easy to play driving line with some pretty simple and fun fills.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
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