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Old 08-06-2023, 05:24 PM
JackC1 JackC1 is offline
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Default Natural progression --> bass guitar?

We play classical and acoustic guitars; we get curious and venture into the electric guitar. Next up: bass guitar? We never get tired on learning them all together; skills transfer; never get too bored.

So, how long did it take you to start playing bass after the start of your acoustic fun?

Yes, I just bought a bass guitar Not sure why; just remember reading that all guitarists should get a bass. I had a very brief thought of a Flamenco guitar, very brief.
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Old 08-06-2023, 05:28 PM
DaveWilliam DaveWilliam is offline
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I've been kicking around the idea of picking up a short scale acoustic bass, could be fun.
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Old 08-06-2023, 06:46 PM
Osage Osage is offline
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I played bass for a probably a year before I played guitar and continued playing it as my primary instrument for probably 4-5 years before switching mainly to guitar. I don't play it much now but did fill in for a friends band at a show a few weeks ago and it was a blast!
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Old 08-06-2023, 06:54 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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I've never had any interest in playing bass. If I ever did, it would be standup bass, not electric. I do play a number of other string instruments; bass just never got me excited and even now I don't care if someone is playing it behind me or if it is altogether missing. And, yes, I am in the minority - again.
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Old 08-06-2023, 06:58 PM
Dwight Dwight is offline
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I started very late, but I play it all the time now. It’s a really fun instrument and I highly recommend it.
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Old 08-06-2023, 07:00 PM
Bob from Brooklyn Bob from Brooklyn is online now
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I'm the bass player in my band. It provides a different perspective and I dig the hell out of it.
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Old 08-06-2023, 07:02 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I bought a bass guitar probably 10 years ago after playing the guitar for about 50 years. I didn't really learn to play it very well until the last few years because of making YouTube videos.

For me, the availability of multi-track recording made me interested in bass guitar.

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Old 08-06-2023, 07:03 PM
yaharadelta yaharadelta is offline
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I might give it a shot someday, my brother used to play the stand up bass, and i messed around on it a bit. I think there's a bass player inside of me trying to get out. When I'm noodling on a song I like to throw a bass solo break into it somewhere.
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Old 08-06-2023, 07:09 PM
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nostatic nostatic is offline
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I could write a novel - or at least a novella on this topic. Short story is I started guitar and piano at age 8, on guitar studied folk and some bluegrass, then discovered Hendrix and got an electric in my mid teens. Also did a year or two of banjo. Learned most every Allman/Clapton/Walsh/others tune out there, gigged in a variety of bands over the years. Hit my late 20's and started grad school (not for music). Decided that I wanted to play jazz but was too lazy to relearn guitar so I picked up bass. Went into the deep end, joining the big band at school and picking up casuals. Learned to fake it pretty well. Kept gigging bass and occasionally doing some guitar stuff. Then around 2010 I decided it was now or never to really dive into bass, did a lot of deliberate study and practice while gigigng my butt off (and having a full time day job). Almost a thousand gigs on bass since then - jazz casuals, Steely Dan tribute band, live band karaoke thing, theater gigs. I slid back into guitar largely driven by the pandemic as while I had worked up a number of solo bass numbers, that isn't an act that will gig. Added dobro last year and regularly do solo gigs in dobro/guitar/vox as well as some bass gigs with a couple different situations.

Some lessons learned, as always, ymmv:

1. playing bass in an ensemble is not just thinking, "oh, same four string on the bottom of a guitar." Bass is the bridge between rhythm and harmony/melody. If you play bass like a guitar player you'll sound like a guitar player and the band likely won't have a pocket to piss in. Two advantages I had when picking up bass - first was diving into jazz and big band. If you don't swing, everyone knows it so you either learn or you're out. Second was I played guitar in some funk bands, so the idea of using my instrument essentially as percussion helped me tap into the rhythm side of the house.

2. learn some theory if you don't already know it. You should be able to play the four main chord flavors on bass, know your scales and notes, and be able to play 8th and 16th note patterns without drama. I studied with Ant Wellington for a few years on Skype (predated covid). One exercise we did was playing three dotted 8th notes (eg the beginning of Black Cow by Steely Dan). You play those with a metronome starting the first one on the down beat, then after a cycle, you start the pattern the "e" of the bar. Then the "and". Then the "uh". Try it some time, you likely will find that downbeat and "and" are easy, the others maybe less so.

3. Get a metronome and use it for dedicated practice. Some drummers have a great pocket, others are all over the map. A good bass player can hold together an ensemble when other parts are falling apart. You are the bridge.

4. Play with people who are better than you. This is common advice, and useful for all the usual reasons.

5. Play with people who are worse than you. Less common advice, but this proved very useful to me. I was house bassist in a couple of different jams over the years - ostensibly jazz but sometimes it veered in other directions. What I learned was how to hold a groove together with players who got lost, how to follow a singer or soloist who got lost, and how to bring the rhythm section back to reality. You don't get that with #4 (instead you are probably the one getting lost).

6. Have big ears. Soloists can get away with not really listening to anyone but themselves. Of course the great ones are always listening to the band, but it took me a long time to realize that I was hearing but not really listening to everything else going on. Bass gets to respond both to rhythm and melodic/harmonic changes. It can be daunting, but when you get it right it is a blast. I've chased soloists all over the place (while keeping a groove - that is key), done call and response both with soloist and drummer, and gone off the reservation, but always come back.

7. Don't loose the groove looking for a note. If you have a choice between playing in time and playing the right note, take being in time. Notes are a simple recovery, out of time can be a train wreck.

8. Play half as many notes as you think is necessary to carry the band. Then play half as many as you just played. "Too many notes" is not just a guitarist or horn phenomenon. One well placed quarter not can drive the snot out of a band. Listen to some of Anthony Jackson.

9. "Play on the one and don't fake the funk"

10. If you do the above, you can get better paying gigs and play with better players as a bass player than you can as a guitar player. At least that was my experience in LA. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a guitarist, but a good bass player is an endangered species.

All of that has helped me be a better guitarist and musician.
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Last edited by nostatic; 08-06-2023 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 08-06-2023, 07:10 PM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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I've dabbled on and off for years but it wasn't until I started being asked to play bass on sessions that I got serious, bought one, and started learning. Though they look similar, guitar and bass are quite different. The roles for players are something like the roles of fighter and bomber pilots. The fighter pilot needs to want to fly on the ragged edge with his hair on fire. The bomber pilot has to be more solid, precise, and dependable. Both are challenging roles, just different.

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Old 08-06-2023, 07:12 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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I've been playing since I was 10 years old. Acoustic first, then electric when the Beatles did their first U.S. tour and a bunch of my friends started playing electric guitar.I bought my first bass in my early 30's when I was cold called from a band needing a bass player for paying gigs. ("Can you play bass? I said "sure" although I had not touched one yet. I figured, how hard can that be?)

I've played bass off and on since that time and enjoy doing fill in jobs when someone needs that.

I enjoy playing, and switched to 30" scale length (both fretless and fretted) to better suit my 69 year old body. I also keep my rig in my lil' play area. I can hit one power strip switch and lay down a backing guitar track and overdub the bass part in a couple minutes with my looper to play along with or work on songwriting.

Find a 30" bass and pick up a Fender Rumble amp. I gig out my Rumble 100 (shown) and can carry it with two fingers! These are super amps, ultra-light and very reliable. The Rumble 40 is a very capable smaller amp if you play only around the house or smaller "coffee shop" sized gigs.

I make all of the instruments I play so it's a guilt-free thing for me to accumulate instruments.

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Old 08-06-2023, 07:18 PM
RussellHawaii RussellHawaii is offline
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Default Natural progression --> bass guitar?

When I was doing solo recording, adding the bass part was one of my favorite things. In another life I’d be a bass player, but in this one I’m a guitarist.
I spent a year or two playing bass for a reggae-ish band long ago. It was very grounding and I learned a lot about feel.
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Old 08-06-2023, 10:27 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I got serious about playing acoustic 6 string at 13. About the same time I expanded from classical violin to bluegrass fiddle. And some friends at school wanted start a rock band and needed a bass, so I picked up bass guitar.

I went all in, also joining jazz band, learning to read bass clef, etc.

After graduating high school and joining the navy I didn't pick up bass again for a long time, but I kept up a modicum of proficiency on fiddle and acoustic guitar.

15 years ago I accidentally got into mandolin and that opened a door into the whole mandolin family. It was a watershed for me - I got into jams, sat in with some local bands, contributed on a few albums. Turns out an intermediocre mandolin player is much more in demand than yet another intermediocre guitar player.

Just this last January I decided that two of my weekly jam get togethers really needed a bass. So I rented an upright bass for a few months. I'm really hooked on it now. I bought a '46 Kay and once again found that a bass will get you more gigs and opportunities than "oh look, it's another guitar player...."

I'll always love playing guitar. I'll continue to improve and play out when someone asks me to. But I highly recommend picking up other instruments as well. There's a cross training/synergy thing involved. When I first focused on mandolin for several months, I noticed my guitar and fiddle playing were both more fluid and articulate when I went back to them. The same thing has happened with playing bass.

Last edited by Mandobart; 08-07-2023 at 05:21 AM.
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Old 08-06-2023, 11:49 PM
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tinnitus tinnitus is offline
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Even if it's not a fine, high-end bass, every guitarist should have at least one. They're just a lot of fun! Goof around a little bit with one and you'll quickly find yourself trying bass-heavy oldies along with the radio. Badge, Come Together, Hey Joe and Stand By Me are all a hoot to play.

Oh yeah, if you want to annoy an actual bass player, do this:

Bassist: "So you play bass too?"

Guitarist: "Pfffttt, well I play guitar, so..."

Last edited by tinnitus; 08-07-2023 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 08-07-2023, 12:42 AM
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b1j b1j is offline
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In the early 80s, about three years after buying my first acoustic (but 15 years after I started playing guitar), I had a neighbor who became my acoustic guitar playing buddy. When he invited me to join a band that needed a bass but not two acoustic guitar players, I bought a bass: the mighty Ovation Magnum, long scale and a full ten pounds. I love that bass. It sounded (and still sounds) like a grand piano with its round wound strings. I’ll use it when I want a bass line with a little zing in it. It’ll be the go-to for the bass line when I record Beethoven’s Pathétique sonata, 2nd movement, on acoustic, high-strung acoustic, and bass (if I ever adequately rehearse the other parts).

Best I can remember, I bought the Indonesia-made Höfner short scale violin bass on a whim in 2010 when I came into a surplus of free time and bought my first AudioBox USB. Half the weight of the Magnum, and entirely different tone with flat wound LaBella strings and semi hollow body. It’s got plenty of bass thud, without the crunch, for when I just want the bottom end to be there without drawing attention to itself. Or when I want that woody Macca Mersey sound.
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