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The change from guitar to bass. Is it ever successful?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Telenator, Nov 16, 2020.

  1. Ron C

    Ron C Tele-Meister

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    Sounds like you've got the right mindset. It's about having great time, avoiding complexity and noodling, playing with authority and being confident enough to let everyone else be praised for their creative skills while you and the drummer are the ones who actually make the difference in the band.

    Definitely practice with a metronome.

    Good luck with the transition!
     
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  2. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't forget that:

    https://www.altpress.com/news/science_says_the_bassist_is_the_most_important_member_of_a_band/

    We always knew that. I've been a 50/50 multiinstrumentalist from day one. or really 50/75 bass/guitaris. cheating on keys too. But since the town I live in has guitarists dime a dozen, when anyone is showing up for jams, or seems to "know" the songs, the bassists are very ... subpar compared to all guitarists. I e if the drummer and bassists really knows how a tune really goes, chord changes, right groove, and so on, the rest, vocalists, guitarists can half ass wing it if they like. It takes a certain amount of honing, but one thing is more important than other and it is the right timing. Time.

    A short - sort of bragging story - but since I live in Sweden, there's not that much afro-american, blues, soul, R&B funk scene around here at all. Now, the other month, in fact in August, when all levels of Corona contamination was all time low (in Sweden that is), I decided to visit an old blues jam dump with my bass that I haven visited in one and a half year (mainly due to Corona quarantine and other things). They had changed out their house band which included an afro american keyboard player which I've never seen or heard of before. I thought when I heard him out first, that he's way too skilled, and too good to end up in that house band.

    Nuff of this, he had been there every thursday since he joined last year, and when it was my time to show up on stage, and I played 2 mediocre blues shuffle/numbers on stage with him and the house band and a couple of other guests. When I'd played "my" 2 numbers I thought it must be time to leave that bass playing over to someone else in the wings waiting. But. This guy wouldn't let me off the stage! He whispered loudly in my ear "hey man stay on here, you can groove man, you can groove...!!!" we all smiled and I laughed and said I will not be gone long if there's no one else coming up for a bass sit in. Of course, other oppurtinities came during the night, and afterwards we chatted, and he said during the year he's been in the band he'd just heard decent run of the mill bassists, but no one that was as groovy. He didn't have to think that much when playing with me. Said and done, we formed a funk band afterwards...but, just rehearsing, no gigs in foreseeable future due to circumstances well known.

    It's that the rest of the locals and musicians doesn't hear things in there, in the micro-rhythmic bass lines, and if there's a seamless flowing bass line or not. Maybe one or 2 drummers have detected some things now and then, but not that over the top joy like this guy had. Me myself find all this peculiar since I don't think of my playing as special in any way, since I stay around "in the pocket" so to speak for most of the time, too much maybe. Drummers likes this though. You can drop a bomb at my side and I still know where ONE is. But there's way more to bass playing than that.

    In the pocket = just play to the beat and rhythm, not a 16h before or after. Like a metronome.

    The most important to me, while playing on stage, is that moreso with bass playing than anything else: Don't struggle!

    Be very comfortable and relaxed to whatever the bass line you're playing, with a pick or not, no matter how simple line, or hard line. Then other will feel that you're easy going and not hard to follow, and it all has a "tight but loose" vibe to it. No matter how little or much you groove. If you play country, well, groove is out anyway, but even there you can play relaxed and effortlessly.

    I switched to bass because then you really have to play with other people. Guitar you can be the ever bedroom tinkerer, or "studio lab rat". And of course arthritis plays a role too. I've been around the block a few times, and doesn't want - never wanted to - be that onstage poser showing off and impress people to no end.
     
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  3. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    I used to use a a lot of PRACTICE TRACKS available on Spotify, iTunes or other means of computers. They actually do wonders, because you can stop, pause, rewined, and use them isntead of a metronome, if the met becomes too boring. Blues practice vol 1 if you want simplest chord changes. There's some jazz and rock too. The rock practice tracks included fast paced tunes and then one just have to use a pick. Pick is just as important to use in your arsenal as fingers. The main thing is that the bass gets heard over the noise malaise that a punk backing track provides....;-)

    PS. BTW Telenator, I think you've figured out this long time ago, but you and I are still FB buddies, although I have a different moniker on there. But as Telenator was a company of yours it can contain many people involved...
     
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  4. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Don't over think it. Much of that is turf battle talk. There surely are differences in mindsets and approach. But the "frustrated guitar player" thing is a ruse. That said, maintaining rhythm is essential. You are driving the song now. Practice with a metronome.

    If you know scales, intervals, and basic key/modes for popular music, you are way ahead of the vast majority of beginning bass players. If you didn't actually use them as a guitarist, however, you will have a more difficult time. This is where music store noodlers get into trouble.

    You already know the E and A form barre chords on the guitar. Most root note playing on the bass just revolves around that. And fills and grace notes are generally just 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths from the root.

    Playing with a pick is not actually easier than fingerstyle on bass. Much of bass is arpeggios and intervals. Having spare fingers available helps immensely. And even after playing hours of guitar, switching to bass and playing pick will still tucker my hand and wrist out in just a few minutes. It's a workout - most bass picking in rock/blues is close to the bridge with the wrist turned in. Just sayin'.

    Know the major scale, and pentatonic major/minor scales up and down the neck. Better than you did on guitar, as you will be using them the entire time. Not just for solos and licks. In fact, because of this I think rhythm guitarists make better bassists than lead guitarists. But in reality, most guitarists do both anyway.

    You will get a band and gig right away. Don't sweat how non perfect it is. If people complain, tell them to pick up the bass and play it themselves.
     
  5. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    it's in tab. you just can't miss.
     
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  6. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Sign up on Scott Bass Lessons instead. A net class. You can either chose the free, or paid subscriptions. If paid, he'll answer your questions, if free, you have to find out answers yourself. I did the free one some years ago.

    https://scottsbasslessons.com/

    If you can stand his british and heavy countryside accent, some of it trips me over, but I from Sweden anyway, so...
    He has lots on YouTube. But those videos on there, he can go on a bit...more often than not I think he could wrap it up sooner, and come to the point. Like "you have to use an OPP stroke..." instead of "up" stroke, and other quirks. Don't know where in Britain they speak with that drawl. But he's always a happy camper and it's contagious through his lessons, always glad so to speak.
     
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  7. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Lemmy started out on guitar, switched to bass and it did him no harm at all. Same with Johnny Spence.

    Know your basic scales and root note positions. You'd be surprised how far you can get just faffing around root/5th/octave. Pop it up, walk it down. Ignore the six string freaks. Play with the drummer. 'Kind Of Blue' and 'Take Five' are not just two of the finest albums ever recorded, but a lesson in tasteful bass too. 'Change Of The Century' is worth a listen too.

    Rhythm. Rhythm is king. You and the drummer can propel, rein in and control the song. It really helps if there is a rhythm guitarist too. Play when they -don't- to start a conversation.
     
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  8. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    As a guitar player, I think it is fairly easy to play bass poorly. But playing it well is a different thing entirely. I thought I could play ok until I paid attention to a real bass player with actual chops. Nope, nope, nope, not ever gonna happen. Sticking with guitar.
     
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  9. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Exactly. Any chance you're running for off...ooh, it's already been done....or has it?...sorry...;-)
     
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  10. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Afflicted

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    My first instrument was the bass. And yes, I did approach it initially with the idea that it was less complex and "easier" than the guitar.

    Neither is harder or easier..it's just that each instrument requires a different mindset.

    There's a tendency among guitar players to want to play to impress others...and depending on what sort of music you're playing there can be plenty of room for creativity and melodic exploration with the bass guitar....but a bassist is primarily a supporting character. If you can't grasp that fundamental idea...you'll never be a good pass player.

    Find some music you like that gets your toe tapping and makes you want to boogie. Now listen to what the drummer and bass player are doing...they're locked in together as a unit. One of the best bassists I ever played with....what made him so good is that I barely noticed him at all. He and the drummer were so solid and so good at listening..it was like they were one instrument.

    What makes bass playing possibly more difficult than guitar is that your listening skills have to be much more acute. You need to be direct...deliberate....and consistent.

    Having said all that...it's really quite simple.

    Learn the changes
    Find "1"
    Listen to the kick drum
    Groove. :cool:
     
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  11. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    I had my "guitaristic" spillovers on bass for about 1-2 years before I could separate the two completely. The main thing with me that since I used a pick while playing guitar, it spilled over too much, and I finally went over to fingering, and then it forced me to play "un-guitaristic" and more "bassistic" (?!) instead. It took me 2-3 months to get calluses on picking fingers. I do not thumb or slap. When calluses are built up you're more at ease and the notes pops off more articulate.

    But as you should stay with a pick you MAY need to be a little more vigilant about this.
     
  12. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    And of course, if anyone else complains that you're using a pick, playing a bass: Leave. Tell them to FO. I guess a number of people can give you an encyclopedia here with endless namdropping of bass guitarists with picks that has made it. Already mentioned even. Lemmy, Chris Squire, Sir Paul, yada yada... Steve Swallow in Jazz (yes you read that right)...
     
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  13. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    THIS. Bass is fun and challenging in different ways than guitar. It feels good to not have to be in front, but still having to be responsible for the groove and sound/song foundation. That said, I hardly ever play bass at home alone. If I do it's to learn a song or just practice to keep chops up. I spend the vast majority of time in my mannish cave noodling on guitar and amp/pedal tinkering. Bass is a social thing for me. Guitar is just for me.
     
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  14. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Andy West, my favorite pick bass player. He did HYBRID picking like country guitar players did. Combined pick with fingers. Never seen ANY other bassist do this. If it's around, maybe you can straighten me up, and educate me on others, but I've tried to google it, search it on guitar/bass forums but anyone has yet to reply.
     
  15. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    No. The last tiny bit of integrity my day job hasn't killed off yet I'm trying to save for retirement.
     
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  16. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Exactly like me. And if guitar, I am nitpicky, persnickety to the moon and back with sound, timbre, pedals and gear, but with bass, just any decent amp, and cable and tune up and plug in, and the bass should be playable and intonated and in tune for me. I have less demands on bass. Easy to carry Fender Rumble 200W combo amp (new series), and I am all game. Not that much hassle to bring to gigs. Headless bass, double ball end strings, requires NO tools to change strings or anything else for that matter. Bass is more social.
     
  17. Mr. St. Paul

    Mr. St. Paul Tele-Meister

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    Play with a drummer or drum tracks.

    I switched to bass back in my 20s because, as you say, there are never enough bass players and you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a guitar player.

    I was playing for about a year and thinking I was doing pretty swell. I joined a band and played a handful of gigs. One night the drummer suggested we get together on a weeknight and jam. I showed up at his place and set up in the basement. He walked down the stairs with a pair of sticks and an unopened bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold. He handed me the bottle and told me to crack the seal. "There's two things are gonna happen tonight," he said. "We're gonna kill that bottle, and you're gonna learn how to play the ****ing bass."

    Of course my fragile ego was bruised by that! He went on to say I wasn't that bad, but I had to learn to not pay attention to anything but his right foot. We had to lock in.

    He went on, "You ask the guitar player, he'll say the guitar is the most important part of the band. The keys player will say the keys. They don't know wht they're talking about. If we ain't happening...the band ain't happening."

    He played a variety of beats, telling me to pay close attention to the kick drum patterns. If what I was playing started drifting away, he stopped me and got me back on track. We didn't kill the bottle, but we made a serious dent in it. And I learned how to play the ****ing bass. :cool:

    We had a gig a few days later and the guitar player and the keys player literally had their mouths hanging open at how much tighter it sounded. I looked back at the drummer and he had a big smirk on his face.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
  18. Recce

    Recce Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I don’t play bass at all. There’s a nice and fairly expensive bass I would like to buy. Not really sure what I would do with it. This thread has been real interesting to me.
    It is a 2017 Special Edition American Fender Jazz Bass.
     
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  19. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    There are many bassists who were good guitar players until they took the bassist position in a group that became a success.
     
  20. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Carole Kaye played guitar first. She, Joe Osborn, James Jamerson and Duck Dunn are good to listen to for inspiration.

    Using a pick will work fine. Generally, I use a pick for rock and country and fingers for R&B and Soul. Light gauge flatwound strings on my bass - good sound and easier on my hands.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
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