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Old 01-14-09, 09:48 PM   #1
gman26
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How difficult is it to start playing the bass guitar?

Can anyone do it?
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Old 01-14-09, 09:58 PM   #2
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Took me about three days to learn....never played an instrument before. I'm already playing medium at about 95% but I use overdrive a lot.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:04 PM   #3
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Took me about three days to learn....never played an instrument before. I'm already playing medium at about 95% but I use overdrive a lot.
what is overdrive?
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Old 01-14-09, 10:07 PM   #4
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Can anyone do it?


I played bass guitar on a song just yesterday.

Physically/rhythmically it's harder than the other string instruments. As far as dexterity and complexity of chord playing, scales, etc...it's easier and faster to learn.


To learn to play bass well and understand counterpoint can take a lifetime of study, however. IF you just want to mess around and play a "tone drum" with it I would say you can learn in 30 minutes.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:09 PM   #5
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what is overdrive?

It's a button on your gear selector that saves gas when you're on the highway. Basically a steep gear made for crusin' (automatic transmissions only).
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Old 01-14-09, 10:12 PM   #6
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It's a button on your gear selector that saves gas when you're on the highway. Basically a steep gear made for crusin' (automatic transmissions only).
really??
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Old 01-14-09, 10:16 PM   #7
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really??


Dude, your avatar is a car. You should know these things.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:23 PM   #8
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Dude, your avatar is a car. You should know these things.
They didn't have 'overdrive' in 1970.
maybe BTO...
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Old 01-14-09, 10:25 PM   #9
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BTW Serendipper, are you a musician?
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Old 01-14-09, 10:29 PM   #10
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Define "play." I played bass for years. I don't now due to arthritis in my hands, it just plain hurts. You can learn to play some stuff pretty quickly. But bass isn't the easy instrument many think. A good bass player knows a lot more theory than many other musicians. Chord structure, tonality, and the ability to hold down the bottom are all very important, and crucial to be a solid bassist. You also have to be a human metronome.
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Old 01-14-09, 10:51 PM   #11
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I have a theory.

1: there is a tiny percentage of the population just "gifted" in the way of music
2: there is a tiny percentage of the population completely unable to ever play music - don't hear it or something.
3: The rest of us (maybe 95%) - we can all learn to play something or sing with time and effort.

Note "Time and Effort" - sometimes massive amounts of each.

As per instruments, I think there are degrees of difficulty, but any can be done. Most you can make a melody on or something in a fairly short time. All require time, time, and effort to master.

Bass is a cool choice, and if you are play well, you'll be in demand. That's my local experience anyway. (Maybe some parts of the world are overpopulated with bass players.)
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Old 01-14-09, 11:00 PM   #12
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Having played guitar for years, I found a few aspects of playing bass easy. But the hardest thing, was you could never be late. And as a guitar player first, this was difficult to overcome.

One of the other things that I made a point of while learning the bass, was playing the strings with my fingers and thumb only - no pick. I'm a huge Geddy Lee fan and he makes it look so easy. But that's what separates the pretenders from the contenders - making it look easy, that is.

Being able to play as fast with your fingers, as you can with a pick, is a lot harder, and IMHO requires more technique than with a pick.
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Old 01-14-09, 11:23 PM   #13
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Do we know each other spinninwheels ? I have a T-shirt with your Sig on it.
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Old 01-14-09, 11:35 PM   #14
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Do we know each other spinninwheels ? I have a T-shirt with your Sig on it.
The Miracle Worker put other people's problems into perspective, when compared to Helen Keller's.

I wish I would have coined that phrase. Now, I only try and live up to it.
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Old 01-14-09, 11:42 PM   #15
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calling grumpy Mac


the common conception is that bass is easier for rock bands. I presume this is because you play single notes, not simultaneous notes, so for a beginner or basic player, yes, it is easy. If you use a pick and play a short scale bass (usually 29-30" scale), and are playing simple songs using the three basic chords and 4/4 common time, you're good to go. The strings last much longer than guitar strings - many players use the same set for years.

Some hard things:

1. spinninwheels is correct - you cannot be lazy. Guitarists have the luxury of coming in whenever.....when the first beat of every measure comes around, if you are not right there with the bass note, the whole band falls apart.

2. your amp will almost always be larger and heavier than the guitarist's. He/she will still be louder than you and they will get more attention. few people pay attention to the bassist.

3. the bigger strings will callous your fretting fingers more than guitar strings. so there is a "breaking in period". Basses are usually bigger and heavier than guitars, wso players who are large or tall or strong have an advantage. There is a longer reach between notes so you need long fingers or good dexterity to move around.


Having said all that, there are many great bassists who are short or slight of build. One bassist I played with had really short fingers but he just moved around on the neck very quickly in a somewhat unorthodox fashion, and he sounded amazing. If you gig at places with a good PA and sound person, you can invest in a little red box (forget the brand name) that will take your signal straight through the house PA and not need to lug an amp.


Finally as Grumpy or any good bassist will tell you, playing advanced bass or even intermediate is a whole nother ball game. Even at the basic r&r levels the bass has a profound influence on the song; the more sophisticated the music gets the more this is true, imo.
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Old 01-15-09, 11:51 AM   #16
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Can anyone do it?
Notwithstanding this classic bass player joke
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A young boy tells his father he wants to learn to play the bass. So his dad buys him a bass, & signs him up with a music teacher. After the kid's first lesson with the teacher, dad asks him "So what did you learn at today's lesson?"

Kid says "This week I learned that hitting this open string is called an E note."

A week later the kid comes home, and dad asks him "So what did you learn at today's lesson?"

Kid says "This week I learned that hitting this other open string is called an A note."

Another week later the kid comes home, and dad asks him "So what did you learn at today's lesson?"

Kid says "I didn't go to my lesson, I had a gig."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

...it's, as others have pointed out, possible for many people, easy for a few, and impossible for some. I've been a professional bassist for ~30 years so it's hard for me to remember what it was like when starting out. It's no easier than any other musical instrument, but it's arguably a lot more fun than many!
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Old 01-15-09, 11:56 AM   #17
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Notwithstanding this classic bass player joke
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A young boy tells his father he wants to learn to play the bass. So his dad buys him a bass, & signs him up with a music teacher. After the kid's first lesson with the teacher, dad asks him "So what did you learn at today's lesson?"

Kid says "This week I learned that hitting this open string is called an E note."

A week later the kid comes home, and dad asks him "So what did you learn at today's lesson?"

Kid says "This week I learned that hitting this other open string is called an A note."

Another week later the kid comes home, and dad asks him "So what did you learn at today's lesson?"

Kid says "I didn't go to my lesson, I had a gig."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Old 01-15-09, 12:01 PM   #18
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I found playing the bass guitar easy but then again i grew up with a significant number of years of piano lessons supplemented by afew years of violin lessons. I'm just glad the violin lessons translated fairly well to the bass guitar.

That being said, i had to teach myself how to play bass which i learned by listening to disco/funk and playing along. The funny thing now is that i've carried that funk-ish style to all the other songs i play with my band.

No pick for me. Finger dexterity FTW. Unfortunately, the blisters are a total PITA until you build up callouses.

My current weapon of choice:

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Old 01-15-09, 12:43 PM   #19
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Bass guitar string breakage == owie.
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Old 01-15-09, 12:48 PM   #20
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playing a bass is easy.
Playing a bass really well is not easy.
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Old 01-15-09, 12:51 PM   #21
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Notwithstanding this classic bass player joke
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A. It's no easier than any other musical instrument, but it's arguably a lot more fun than many!
That's like the classic joke:

What is the definition of a drummer?

A person who hangs around with musicians


Bass can indeed be lots of fun. I've only played it here and there but those were some of my best musical experiences, limited as I may be on the instrument.

My favorite cheesy bass thing is the low E string zoom - just run a glissando up the neck and back down. Ever since I first heard Geezer Butler do that I was hooked If you're Tommy Stinson you do it in every single song, and like it If you're Phil Lesh you do it once or twice a gig on a low B and shake people's fillings loose
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Old 01-15-09, 02:18 PM   #22
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Can anyone do it?

Starting to learn is fairly easy. Learning to be a Bassist..... not so easy.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:21 PM   #23
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I have a theory.

1: there is a tiny percentage of the population just "gifted" in the way of music
2: there is a tiny percentage of the population completely unable to ever play music - don't hear it or something.3: The rest of us (maybe 95%) - we can all learn to play something or sing with time and effort.

Note "Time and Effort" - sometimes massive amounts of each.

As per instruments, I think there are degrees of difficulty, but any can be done. Most you can make a melody on or something in a fairly short time. All require time, time, and effort to master.

Bass is a cool choice, and if you are play well, you'll be in demand. That's my local experience anyway. (Maybe some parts of the world are overpopulated with bass players.)
Those are usually the ones who think that they are great musicians
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Old 01-15-09, 02:24 PM   #24
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It's like riding a bike.

playing bass professionally is like riding a bike well enough to get paid to race it.

I only play acoustic bass now, and it is more of a physical challenge to make it through 4 hour gigs. In terms of the amount of hours and years it took to be able to play at the professional level, I would say electric bass is one of the easier instruments.

Once you have all of the technique and strength issues, the main thing that separates a good bassist from a mediocre one is an amazing sense of rhythm. A great bassist will hear subdivisions in even the slowest time.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:27 PM   #25
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You're either gifted and can play bass pretty well right away with moderate practice.

Or, you're me. I bought my first bass in 1994. Been playing since. Some years it's been maybe 100 hours playing time. Most years it's more like 200. 15 years later, I am finally starting to get a pretty good groove going and can add some fills without sticking out like a sore thumb.

As with biking, it's not about the gear - it's about the engine (or talent in this case). I've gone through a LOT of basses, some so-so and some amazing. I'm now playing a 5 string OLP bass, bought off musiciansfriend on sale for $150. It's a great bass. Just get something that plays pretty well and practice.
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