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  #1  
Old 03-28-2005, 07:25 AM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Best way to teach myself bass guitar at home?

When I was 15 or so, I decided that playing bass would get me a lot of chicks. I didn't realize however, that this was the sort of thing that one would have to study in order to actually get good at. So, I barely learned how to read tab and got a bit frustrated that I could only play a little Slayer.

I did however, manage to figure out a Killing Joke song on my own and was quite happy.

I've decided to give it a shot again and would actually like to gain some level of proficiency this time around. However, I'd like to avoid lessons if that's at all possible.

Any idea on resources that I should look into? While I quite enjoy music, I have absolutely no theoretical background in it and very little practical knowledge.
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  #2  
Old 03-28-2005, 08:12 AM
Fritz Fritz is offline
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There's a lot of method books out there that will help - I'm sure some folks can provide a link or two.

Something that you can do right now (and its real easy to do) is begin picking out tunes that you already know - not bass lines, but tunes like "Mary Had A Little Lamb", "Happy Birthday", etc. This will begin to coordinate your left and right hands, and you'll start associating your hands/fingers with certain intervals.

Perhaps I can post more later.

Good Luck!
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  #3  
Old 03-28-2005, 03:04 PM
Fritz Fritz is offline
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Can you read any music at all? The big problem with most (all?) elementary method books is that you'll have to learn to read music at the same time as you're learning to play, which can be daunting.

When learning by ear, break the tune down into phrases and slowly piece them together. Sing or hum what you want to play first, and then imitate on the bass what you sing/hum. This will help develop your "ear", especially useful if you don't read music.

You'll need to be patient.

I hope this helps a little.
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  #4  
Old 03-28-2005, 04:45 PM
RancidYakButterTeaParty RancidYakButterTeaParty is offline
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Learn the note names and positions on the fretboard to start. Then find a beginners guide to playing the bass guitar. It will (should) show you how to play a scale. Learn about the I-IV-V (G-C-D) chord progression, then practice playing those notes together on your bass.

Some stuff you better know already, but just in case:
Open strings are E-A-D-G
12 frets=One Octave
The fifth fret on the E string = Open A. This works for all the strings. Good for tuning, or at least making sure your strings are in tune with each other.

Check out the web, there are tons of great sites out there that offer free lessons and advice.

Let me know if you need further assistance or help, I would be glad to get another bass player rolling!
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  #5  
Old 03-28-2005, 06:33 PM
MonkeyMule MonkeyMule is offline
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Well acording to south park, if you're black you already know how to play it and have one upstairs in the attic

don't look at me, they said it!
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  #6  
Old 03-28-2005, 06:49 PM
World Eater World Eater is offline
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Self taught bassist here (not saying I'm good though )

In addition to the wonderful advice given above, let your ear be the guide. Start jamming away to some of your favorite music. You use a pick or fingers?
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  #7  
Old 03-28-2005, 07:32 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
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When I was a teen I learned to play bass by playing along to old Black Sabbath albums, particularly the first three albums. I found there were a number of advantages to using Black Sabbath as a "teacher," namely,

The bass lines were fairly slow
The bass lines could be heard
The bass lines were based on classic blues riffs

So even if you're not a fan of Black Sabbath, you might want to check them out strictly as "play along/teaching" material. I would play each 2 or 3 note riff over and over and over until I figured it out. After a while it became natural...
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  #8  
Old 03-28-2005, 07:39 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Let's see:

I can't read music at all.

I've got stubby little fingers so I could never go very fast and I used a pick (but may try the fingers this time 'round).

I have an absolutely untrained ear and, listening to a lot of industrial and death metal at the time, I just tuned the thing as low as it would go and still make noise. I wouldn't even know where to begin with being able to discern different tones.

I also have fairly poor hearing, i.e. I can't hear the basslines in about 90% of the music I own, so I would need to find some bass-only music if I were to start trying to play along.

Where are these free Web lessons of which you speak?
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  #9  
Old 03-28-2005, 07:45 PM
Leviosaurus Leviosaurus is offline
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Another self taught bass player here. I would recommend thinking about learning to play guitar first, only becase there are so many more resources geared towards learning the guitar. Once you've learned a few guitar basics, learning bass becomes much easier. It's also helpful later when you're trying to understand what the lead guitarist is trying to accomplish.

That is, however, the long route to learning to play bass. If you're more determined to do bass only, check out this site (especially the links): http://www.harmony-central.com/Bass/#sit

Learn the pentatonic scales really, really well: http://www.cyberfretbass.com/theory/...ales/index.php

And above all, do what the above posters have already mentioned: Turn the stereo on and play along.
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  #10  
Old 03-28-2005, 07:52 PM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2004
honestly I would advise against you trying to teach yourself without ANY lessons. A few lessons at the beggining at least will help make sure you don't develope bad habbits that will come back to bite you in the ass later on. That being said, if you insist on teaching yourself without a tutor of some sort, the very first thing I would recomend is to start hanging out at this website They are a really knowladgeable community of bass players and musicians who will be able to help you a lot.

The books you want to get will depend largely on what type of music you want to play, but I would suggest a book that introduces general music theory, as well as a book on chord theory and rythm theory (for later). Learn to read tab first so you can start playing right away, but study standard notation as it will help you make the leap from being a "bass player" to being a "bassist."

Videos can be helpful, but I haven't found any that I really like for the bass, which is not to say that there aren't any good ones, I just don't know about them.

Hang out at talk bass, ask questions, learn as much as you can, and try not to get too frustrated. Music should be fun and the bass is a great instrument. Good luck!
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  #11  
Old 03-28-2005, 10:32 PM
I can't believe that's butter! I can't believe that's butter! is offline
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I've found great help with Carol Kaye's eponymous website. She firmly believes in the teaching of chords and chordal tones, and not scales (at least, not more than one or two, and they aren't stressed; certainly not any of the various types out there which seem to this middling bassist to be little more than weird combinations of chordal tones). So, yes, learn chords and the concept of them. I've found those to be of great use.

Also (and this is on her site as well), watch your hand technique, especially with the fretboard hand. Finger 1-2-4-4, don't use the third finger unless you're higher-up on the fingerboard and within a quick passage, etc., etc.
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  #12  
Old 03-28-2005, 11:20 PM
Fritz Fritz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe K
Also (and this is on her site as well), watch your hand technique, especially with the fretboard hand. Finger 1-2-4-4, don't use the third finger unless you're higher-up on the fingerboard and within a quick passage, etc., etc.
Don't use your third finger? On Electric Bass?

Sorry, this is a very old-fashioned hangover from Acoustic Bass technique and is counterintuitive for Electric Bass players. Please consider ignoring this advice completely.

I grew up on Carol Kaye, and I learned a lot from her teachings, but unless you intend to play Acoustic Bass someday, do yourself a favor and forget this.

Chairman Pow, here's why:
On Acoustic Bass, the notes at the very bottom of the fretboard are dimensionally very far apart, and the strings are hard to hold down - it takes quite a bit of hand/finger "length", and strength, to fret the notes on the lower part of the fretboard. Acoustic Bass technique requires using both the third and fourth finger to hold and control a single note on the bottom half of the fretboard, only going to four fingers when very high on the fretboard, where notes are closer together.

Electric Bass has no such limitations, unless your fingers are freakishly stubby and short.
If your fingers can comfortably span four frets with four fingers at the lowest part of the fretboard, forget the advice above. This is a needless complication.
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  #13  
Old 03-28-2005, 11:25 PM
I can't believe that's butter! I can't believe that's butter! is offline
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I do appreciate hearing the counterpoint. I've never heard it quite put that way.

What is your opinion, then, of the stance that the third finger causes the wrist to turn unnaturally?
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  #14  
Old 03-29-2005, 02:50 AM
No Disguise No Disguise is offline
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Self-taught guitarist here.

The key is to enjoy it.

Tabs are 10x easier to read than music is. Just find tabs to your favorite songs, and learn them. Start out just memorizing the lines and playing them really slow until you can play them comfortably at speed, and pretty soon, you'll be ecstatic at the sounds you're making. The reward to work factor doing things this way should be pretty high.

You can learn standard notation later on if you feel like it. Plenty of musicians never do. I myself learned it for a while a couple of years after learning to play guitar, never used it, and have since forgotten most of it. I just keep a reference book handy for all the scales/modes/whathaveyous when I'm writing songs. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't even do that anymore.
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  #15  
Old 03-29-2005, 04:14 AM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Disguise
Self-taught guitarist here.


Tabs are 10x easier to read than music is. Just find tabs to your favorite songs, and learn them. Start out just memorizing the lines and playing them really slow until you can play them comfortably at speed, and pretty soon, you'll be ecstatic at the sounds you're making. The reward to work factor doing things this way should be pretty high.

You can learn standard notation later on if you feel like it. Plenty of musicians never do. I myself learned it for a while a couple of years after learning to play guitar, never used it, and have since forgotten most of it. I just keep a reference book handy for all the scales/modes/whathaveyous when I'm writing songs. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't even do that anymore.
The above is very true is some respects and very guitar centric and misleading in other respects. (Note: I am primarily a guitar player; it is the only instrument that I consider myself able to play with any real proficiency, i.e. the only instrument I will play in public).

I whole heartedly agree that when you are starting out it is important to learn to play something as soon as possible, and that tabs are a good way to do this. Tabs can be a trap however, allowing you to think you know what you are doing when all you can really do is mimic your favorite song. This is a worse trap for bass than for guitar because bass fills an entirely different role in the music than the guitar usually does in your average rock song. In order to really play bass well you need to have a good amount of theory under your belt, and you need a little bit of theory under your belt to be able to play it badly. This is of course assuming that you want to write your own lines at some point in time, or improvise ever.

The reason I bring up theory is because as a bass player there are elements of theory that will become very very difficult to understand without at the very least a basic working knowledge of standard notation. If you don't have a teacher to explain the theory to you I would say it is next to impossible to learn certain aspects of rhythm theory without knowing standard notation, and chord and scale theory just makes more sense with standard notation.

Are there plenty of musicians who never learned standard notation? Sure. They are almost all guitar players, and this has to do with the amount of knowledge a person has to have to make the guitar a viable part of the band as opposed to the amount of knowledge needed by say the bass player or the keyboardist.

Are there bass players who never learned standard notation? Sure. Paul McCartney is a great example. He was an amazing bassist and never learned anything about notation and little about formal theory, but he is one in a thousand, and was surrounded by musicians who all taught each other. In the end this is a much harder way to go, especially if you don't happen to be a musical genius like Sir Paul. A little extra effort in the beginning will be rewarded threefold later on.

Also, most of the really good books for more advanced players are only written in standard notation.
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  #16  
Old 03-29-2005, 07:44 AM
Fritz Fritz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe K
I do appreciate hearing the counterpoint. I've never heard it quite put that way.

What is your opinion, then, of the stance that the third finger causes the wrist to turn unnaturally?
There's nothing unnatural about using all four fingers and doesn't cause the wrist to turn unnaturally unless you're using excessive force. Electric Bass doesn't require any where near the force necessary to play Acoustic Bass.
The three finger approach is a good one to take if you play both instruments as it keeps hand/finger position consistent between the two instruments.

I agree that it would be best to learn from a good teacher, or at least a good method book, but the OP stated that he wants to avoid that.

To the OP, do it whatever way feels natural, and keep it fun.
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  #17  
Old 03-29-2005, 09:19 AM
RancidYakButterTeaParty RancidYakButterTeaParty is offline
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I have been playing bass for about 15 years. I am self taught as well, besides some advice and tips picked up along the way. No formal lessons for me though.

Use your third finger! Use them all as much as possible, this will enable you to become a better all around player. From what you described above, I doubt you will be moving on to the Upright any time soon.

Since you don't have a good ear, try to listen to as many different styles of music as possible. Hum or sing along, try to anticipate what note will come next. The more you immerse yourself in the music, the quicker you will develop your ear.

Finally, and most imporantly, find some other musicians to hang out with. Even if they don't want you to play, just listen to them practice, watch what they do, and definitely ask a lot of questions. There is no better teacher than this.
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