Starting Bass Guitar--any pointers? [Archive] - Sax on the Web Forum

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07-02-2005, 08:30 AM
I'm picking up the bass guitar so I thought I'd ask my sax community if ya'll knew pointers on going from out front with big, gold and beautiful to waaaaay in back with four thick strings.

And just so you understand, my bass playing will be for a rock-funk band that me a buddy are forming. No serious musicianship, just an excuse to jump around like a goofball and fling my hair around (you know, stuff you can't do and maintain a proper embouchure....). :headbang: So certainly no aspirations to anything approaching Mingus/Holland/Brown/Haden/Pettiford skills on the bass--just good times.

Know of any online resources (bassontheweb?) or just got some polished pro words of wisdom? If so, lay it on me.


Dave dix
07-02-2005, 10:49 AM
I have played bass for a few years and sax for over 30 years and the only prob i had was sticking on the beat as on the sax i would come in infront,behind or on the beat (Sam Buterra style) whereas bass you have to be very disciplined.

07-02-2005, 11:58 PM
yeah, I've been a little worried about holding a groove when I'm so used to trying to find as much variance as possible within a given structure. Was there a particular techniqe that you used to help train yourself to play on the beat all the time and not occasionally in front or behind?

Dave dix
07-04-2005, 04:33 PM
Yes i had to listen to the shed builder behind me.

Gregg W. Jackson
07-06-2005, 07:40 PM
I took up bass in high school, a few years after I started playing sax, and have played it occassionally over the last few years. From my experience, I'd recommend:

1. Practice the bass with a metronome or the equivalent, such as Band In A Box.

2. When you play with a drummer, really listen to their tempo. Don't be distracted by all the different rhythmic layers that the drummer is producing -- listen for the basic beat.

3. Learn to play consistantly and learn to feel comfortable playing consistantly. You've already noticed that there is a lot of repetition in bass playing. You may be afraid that you sound boring when you play the same thing on every chorus, but in most cases that exactly what the band needs.

4. Practice playing the same figure on different chord roots. For example, there's a basic swing bass line that is 1-3-5-6 in quarter notes. If you play that in G, it's g-b-d-e. Then play it on C: c-e-g-a, and D: d-f#-a-b. Then try the line on the related minor chords, Em (e-g-b-c#), Am (a-c-e-f#), and Bm (b-d-f#-g#). Play through easy chord progressions, like a 12 bar blues or G-Em-C-D. You'll find that you can fake a lot of songs just by playing a simple figure through the chord changes like that.

5. Get a pager. Once the word gets out that you play bass, you'll be getting more work that you can handle. ;)

07-07-2005, 05:54 AM
Thanks a lot, those are great pointers! (I especially dig number five....)

11-26-2005, 08:12 PM
Some years ago, I wasn't really sure if sax or bass was my main instrument. (no doubt now, it's da sax) I was browsing alot. The lessons are pretty much cr-p, but it has a decent forum and LOTS of people.

And don't make the same mistake I did. For a long time I was practising harmonics and two hand tapping when I should have been practising I VI II V.

12-21-2005, 04:07 PM

Nothing wrong with punk. Your band may resemble the Sex Pistols or other rockin' 80s groups.

Bass is easier than rhythm guitar so as a guitar beginner you've picked the right one. Most bass players only have to play one note at a time. Sometimes it's easy and hard. Definitions?


D D D D |E E E E |D D D D |B B B B

Other times it's hard. La Bamba has a particularly hard bass line which resembles a melody on its own.

My advice would to be to get some tablature off the net to your favourite songs and play along to your CDs. Find something like Another Brick In the Wall in tablature and a recording of it.

You can convert rhythm guitar tablature to bass tablature quite easily. If the chord is D, you play a D (which is your third string - isn't it?). Should the cord be Dm (D Minor), you play a Db on your bass - or one fret lower.

Keep faith. You'll get there.

12-21-2005, 04:19 PM
Besides the excellent recommendation that Gregg gave you, try this. Turn on the radio or put a CD on and just try to copy the bass player. The first few times, it's hard. But it gets easier and you can pick up some nice things that way.

If I was going to get serious with any instrument, let alone the bass, I'd take a few lessons to get me going the correct way. Bad habits are hard to break, you make a new friend, and you can speed up your adoption of the new instrument.

The reason I started playing bass was because I wanted to get a better feel for finding the beat. When I solo, that was a challenge for me. I've gotten a little better because of my efforts with the bass. And I spent a total of $200 to get a nice axe and a portable amp.

Check out my cheap bass (

08-23-2006, 06:26 AM
> "Know of any online resources (bassontheweb?)"

The biggest bass forum is TalkBass (

08-25-2006, 03:42 PM
> "Know of any online resources (bassontheweb?)"

The biggest bass forum is TalkBass (

lessons, tabs, etc for bass and guitar...

12-08-2006, 12:03 PM
5. Get a pager. Once the word gets out that you play bass, you'll be getting more work that you can handle. ;)

I was surprised to learn that Gerald Albright also plays bass...he's done so on quite a few of his own albums, and toured on bass with Anita Baker. During the tour, he'd play several small sax solos as well while a keyboard player comped the base line.

So it can be done...I've really been looking to do that myself!

12-08-2006, 03:22 PM
play along with some zeppelin records. i learned that whole foo fighters record"thecolor and the shape" as soon as I got my bass...gotta make that quarter note feel good. Lots of repetition with the metronome. keep your right thumb on the pickup unless you're playing the bottom 2 strings. I have a little thing that I do...I play all the downbeats with my middle finger, if you think about it, its the center of mass of your hand and has the most stability. you'll get a lot of arguments on this from bass guitarists, whether the index or middle is the strength of the hand etc.... to me the middle finger makes the most sense so thats what I've gone with. I hardly play my bass anymore though, I've since moved on to guitar....enjoy!

ST Jimmy
05-22-2007, 01:10 PM has a handy little online tuner with pretty pictures and different presets - theres a link on there somewhere to the guys other site that has various lessons and gadgets and things...its all pretty good.

I never did get the hang of playing with my fingers...I always use a plecturm, guess thats what I get for learning by watching Mike Dirnt and Mikey Way...

05-22-2007, 01:16 PM
How do you know when there is a bass player at your door?

He knocks out of time and doesn't know when to come in.

How do you get rid of him?

Pay for the Pizza. :D

05-22-2007, 01:51 PM
Make sure you turn those little thingy's at the end of the neck
to put the bass in tune before you start.

Seriously though, I think bass is one of the greatest instruments
to play (after the sax of course).

You get to play all the way through every tune.
You are playing a sort of melodic line (improvising).
You are setting both the rhythm and harmonic structure of the tune.
All through the gig you are playing scales and arpeggios and other
melodic motiffs. No wonder a lot of bass players become monsters.
And while you are doing this you are not getting in anybodys way
because the notes are in a different range.

Nowadays with guys like Jaco, Stanley Clarke, Waylon Tisdale,
John Pattitucci, Mike Mason, Miroslav Vitous and endless others,
the bass has become a lead instrument as well.

The bass can make or break a band.

05-22-2007, 02:04 PM
This post is nearly 2 years old.

Rumor has it that amiri was raptured to bass-player
heaven sometime after April '06, the last time he posted here.

Hmm, maybe he did become a bass player.
What exactly constitutes bass-player heaven?

ST Jimmy
05-22-2007, 04:17 PM
What exactly constitutes bass-player heaven?

Mike Dirnt.:D

05-22-2007, 04:28 PM
What exactly constitutes bass-player heaven?

A drummer with a guest room. :D

05-22-2007, 05:08 PM
Build up some calluses.:D