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Mike M

Musician taking up bass

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Hello all,

I am a professional musician (woodwind player; jazz saxophonist, currently playing clarinet in an orchestra) that teaches music at a local University.  I know my theory (both traditional and jazz).

As school/gigs in my area have shut down for the next two months due to the current pandemic I have taken this time to wood-shed on my primary instruments - which feels great.  Since I am not a TV-watcher I have decided to start playing my daughter's electric bass (which she played in HS) to keep from going crazy.

I figured out how to play some one octave major scales but as someone who gives lessons on my primary instruments, I am afraid that I may not be using proper fingering....

Are there any basic fingering patterns that I should be using?  If I am going to take the time to play this instrument, I'd like to do it right.

btw: I can play a bass part to "Girl From Ipanema" as the root/5th thing is easy...

Reading (notation/chords) is not an issue.  Technique is my concern.

Any help would be appreciated as I do not want to develop any bad habits.

 

Mike

 

 

 

 

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This might help... it's a chart with a two-octave major scale - the scale itself being dependent on which fret you start on. Are you familiar with the note names for the four strings? The lowest string, when played open is an E, F is played at the first fret, and it goes up chromatically from there. The second thickest string is an A, then a D and the highest is a G. IOW, it's tuned in fourths. 

 

105323.image0.jpg

Source

 

I basically try to stick with a one finger / fret approach, but sometimes you're going to need to slide from one position to another, as the diagram shows with the "arrows." 

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Thanks Phil,

The chart/instructions are a big help.

I actually know the strings...

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5 hours ago, isaac42 said:

What, like bass players aren't musicians? :mad2:

You're certainly more of a "musician" than I am.

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"What, like bass players aren't musicians? :mad2:"

Some are musicians and some definitely aren't.

I know many of both - all nice people.

 

 

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17 hours ago, isaac42 said:

What, like bass players aren't musicians? :mad2:

 

Well, they DO hang around with drummers, so you can't really blame some people for assuming that they aren't... :D 

 

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23 hours ago, Mike M said:

Thanks Phil,

The chart/instructions are a big help.

I actually know the strings...

 

You're welcome. Oh, and in case I didn't make it clear, the numbers on those diagrams indicate which finger should be positioned at which fret, with the index finger being #1, and the pinkie being #4. 

 

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4 hours ago, Phil O'Keefe said:

 

Well, they DO hang around with drummers, so you can't really blame some people for assuming that they aren't... :D 

 

Okay, you have a point there.

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I think the most general tip I can give if this is your first fretted string instrument is to avoid pressing too hard with your fretting hand. Press the string right in behind the fret and you don't need much force AND the notes will cleaner and better intonated. 

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1 hour ago, Grant Harding said:

I think the most general tip I can give if this is your first fretted string instrument is to avoid pressing too hard with your fretting hand. Press the string right in behind the fret and you don't need much force AND the notes will cleaner and better intonated. 

Thanks for the tip.  My fretting fingers do get a little sore after 20 mins or so.  I am probably pressing too hard...

 

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4 hours ago, Mike M said:

Thanks for the tip.  My fretting fingers do get a little sore after 20 mins or so.  I am probably pressing too hard...

 

 

Grant gave you excellent advice. You only need to press hard enough for the string to make good solid contact with the fret - just enough to keep the string from buzzing and / or the note not sounding clearly. Let the fret do the work. There's no need to vise-grip the neck with your fretting hand. :)

And always put your fingers a bit behind the fret - never on top of it. 

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On 4/1/2020 at 5:15 AM, Phil O'Keefe said:

This might help... it's a chart with a two-octave major scale - the scale itself being dependent on which fret you start on. Are you familiar with the note names for the four strings? The lowest string, when played open is an E, F is played at the first fret, and it goes up chromatically from there. The second thickest string is an A, then a D and the highest is a G. IOW, it's tuned in fourths. 

 

105323.image0.jpg

Source

 

I basically try to stick with a one finger / fret approach, but sometimes you're going to need to slide from one position to another, as the diagram shows with the "arrows." 

I'm self-taught, so it may be that some (a lot?) of the things I do are questionable, but they work for me.

When playing a major scale, I usually start with the 2nd finger on the tonic on the E (4th) string. 2 with the pinky, still on the 4th. The third I play with the index (1st) finger on the 3rd string, the fourth with the 2nd on the 3rd strong, the fifth with the pinky on the 3rd, sixth with the index on the 2nd string, seventh with the 3rd finger, and finally the octave with the pinky. This way, I can play the entire scale (and another fourth above, for that matter) without having to change position, which is a big help when I'm singing, which I usually am. I can also play 1-3-5 arpeggios on the I, IV and even the V chord, again without having to change position, although I usually do change position for the V.

For minor scales, I start with the 1st finger on the tonic. The second I play with the 3rd finger, the third with the pinky, and so on. Again, I can play the entire octave scale without changing position. The third and fourth above the octave are also there, though not the ninth.

Playing this way put me at a disadvantage when it came to playing major pentatonic. Even though all of the notes were there, a lot of the time there's sliding when playing bluesy tunes, and it just doesn't work as well. For that, start with the 1st finger on the tonic. Change position, sliding up from the first to the second, then hammer on the third with the 3rd finger. Then you're in position to play the fifth, sixth and octave, all using just the 1st and 3rd fingers.

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On 4/2/2020 at 7:24 AM, Phil O'Keefe said:

Well, they DO hang around with drummers, so you can't really blame some people for assuming that they aren't... :D 

I dunno. The drummer is our praise band is a much better bass player than I am, and for all I know a much better guitarist. YMMV.

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Another thing that I find makes a huge difference is turning the amp up and playing with a light touch, almost brushing the string with your picking fingers (and no nails!). 

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7 hours ago, Grant Harding said:

Another thing that I find makes a huge difference is turning the amp up and playing with a light touch, almost brushing the string with your picking fingers (and no nails!). 

I've tried that. I find that I prefer the more aggressive sound I get when digging in.

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I agree that it totally depends. Just a general observation that people new to bass tend to be a bit heavy handed. 

I can't imagine playing the RHCP version of Higher Ground with a light touch, or most hard rock.

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On 4/1/2020 at 8:30 AM, isaac42 said:

What, like bass players aren't musicians? :mad2:

BASS

The Final Frontier

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On 4/6/2020 at 9:28 AM, 1001gear said:

BASS

The Final Frontier

:lol:

 

On 4/5/2020 at 6:32 PM, nice keetee said:

Sir Paul

of the Beatles

 

On 4/5/2020 at 8:22 PM, Grant Harding said:

Come Together doesn't sound very dug in to me. 😎

 

Sir Paul primarily uses a pick. And he understands dynamics - sometimes you need a light touch, sometimes you need to dig in... :idea: 

 

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On 4/1/2020 at 2:30 PM, isaac42 said:

What, like bass players aren't musicians? :mad2:

Sort of like drummers...  

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On 4/2/2020 at 8:24 AM, Phil O'Keefe said:

 

Well, they DO hang around with drummers, so you can't really blame some people for assuming that they aren't... :D 

 

dang   beat me to it.. 

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