Tutorials

Strings Bass Guitar

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
I bought a bass guitar on the same day as the Live8 concert was held, I remember clearly playing along to the bass line of ‘Money’ - the bits I could play anyway - when Roger Waters joined his old band mates on the stage for the first time in a long while. Since then it has been in its case, with only the occasional outing for a makeshift recording attempt, which to be fair was the reason I got it.

But now I’m beginning to wonder if it might be worth while getting to know it a little better. The band I play in is lacking a bass player, it has been for pretty much over a year now, and I jokingly said last week during rehearsals that I have a bass! It would mean learning bass cleft and the notes on the bass, tab isn’t an option, and so I was wondering if anyone here tackles both bass and saxophone and how they get on, would it be too much of a headache to even contemplate?

All the best,

Chris
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
You know you wanna ...

Fraid I can't elp mate ...

But ...

I know you can do it Chris - Give it a go mate ... ;}
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Thanks Sunray,

I've just stumbled on this again, Guy Pratt's great disco bass lines, there is something compelling about the bass:

 
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Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,664
I'm sorry Chris I can't help. I just thought I'd share this;
I noticed, at a rehearsal, that our base player was crying, in the corner, all alone.
I walked up to him and asked what the problem was.
He said "The guitarist has detuned one of my strings.......sniff sniff..........and he won't tell me which one!"





Sorry, I know............ I'll get my coat!
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
It would mean learning bass cleft and the notes on the bass, tab isn’t an option, and so I was wondering if anyone here tackles both bass and saxophone and how they get on, would it be too much of a headache to even contemplate?

I play guitar, bass guitar, and now I'm learning to play the sax. So I'm going in the opposite direction.

The instruments are totally different, of course, in terms of physical technique so there's really nothing much to compare there.

In terms of reading music it is quite different for various reasons. As you say, on the bass you're playing a bass clef. The key to reading the bass clef is to simply realize that everything is just shifted down by one full space, one full line. In other words on the treble clef the space above the staff is a G note. On the bass clef the first space within the staff is the G note, and so on. The F is the first line of the treble clef, it's the second line on the bass clef. The whole staff is just shifted down by one full line, or space.

When I first learned to play on the bass clef I actually viewed it as the treble clef with an extra line on top of it. That just made it instantly accessible to me without having to even think about. I don't know whether that will help you, your send you running to the eye doctor. But it's really just the treble clef shifted down a space (and a whole octave too in musical terms).

So with that in mind, if you already know how to read the treble clef, then you already know how to read the bass clef. Just got to get used to reading it shifted down a space.

Of course, that bring you to finding the notes on the instrument. That's a whole different ball-game. The bass guitar (and guitars in general) are not really suited to playing from pure musical notation. TAB is not merely a 'cheat', but it actually contains information that cannot be present in normal musical notation. The reason being that you can play the same notes at various places on the fret board. Standard music notation doesn't tell you where to play the notes. It only tells you what notes to play. Whereas, TAB actually tells you where to play each note on the fingerboard.

Of course you don't need tab. If you know all your scales all along the fingerboard you just play intuitively based on what makes the most sense in terms of actual physical articulation. Of course that requires learning all the scales in all the positions and lots of practice until they become intuitive.

That might sound like a lot, but if you're already playing the bass to some degree you probably already know what I'm saying.

I personally don't "sight-read" when playing the bass. I usually learn the pieces I want to play, or I'll just improvise. On good thing about playing a bass is that bass lines are often repetitive and so once you've learned the basic groove you just play that and maybe ad some embellishments along the way.

If you want to get to the point where you can sight-read a complicated bass solo, all I can say is GOOD LUCK! I've been playing the bass for a few years and I'm not even close to being able to do that. Of course, that's not my goal to learn either so I'm not trying to do that.

I'm happy with learning basic grooves and scales so I can improv. I have no desires to be able to sight-read a complex bass piece right off the sheet music. Although I think once you learn the scales good enough to improvise, then it probably wouldn't take a whole lot to be able to play from sheet music since you'd basically just be improvising on a scale where the sheet music is just telling you what to improvise next. :)))

But I'm mean seriously. Approaching it from that point of view is probably the fastest route to get there. Learn the scales first, and start to improvise with them, then see if you can start reading music that way. You basically need to know where the notes are on the guitar before you can play them anyway. And improvising is the probably the best way to learn the scales.

For example, take a piece you'd like to play that you have the music for. Say it's in the key of G. Learn the G scale in every position up and down the entire fingerboard. Then improvise on the scale for a while until you're comfortable jumping between all the scale positions. When doing this you're also paying attention to where the root notes are of the scale in all the different positions. So by the time you've done this you know where all the notes are.

From there it really shouldn't be too difficult to play music from standard score. I would be your choice which scale position to use. Of course, some scale positions are better suited to certain note runs, etc. This is why TAB is useful. TAB usually shows you which scale position is the most efficient position to use. Of course, that's not always the case. That depends on who wrote the TAB!

Different people may find different positions to be more preferable.

Ok, I probably only just confused the issue. Just do it! You'll love it!
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Thank you Sweet Dreamer, that real is very helpful. I'd not even looked at the bass clef to realise the shift by a whole space, that makes it seem more possible ;}.

Best wishes,

Chris
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I have two Bass guitars and have started lessons several times. I agree with "Sweets" that it has little in common with Sax, apart from lots of finger movement etc but can be easy enough to start - having a purpose to learning is really good - playing in a band etc. and its perfectly possible to convert anything into TAB and such like. Learning scales (major and minor) is excellent, as they use the same patterns per scale type, and are fun to improvise. Musically a Bass guitar = baritone sax = tenor trombone in terms of notation & range, and it is quite easy to adapt to Bass Clef. I just found that I needed to blow something, so piano and guitar are not really suitable, though have spent time with both.

Good luck, whatever you do.
Kind regards
Tom
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
Bass is an easy instrument to 'play' but a complex beast to master.. thereby it has a lot in common with the Sax.

Think in terms of patterns and modes and you can't go far wrong. As far as musical notation and guitar goes, to be fair good guitar notation will include position markers which will indicate exactly where on the fretboard you should be playing (although they are easy to miss as often they are just small numbers above the start of sections).

However I am no bass player so can't help a huge amount . . . my brother is the Bassist in our family.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
It would mean learning bass cleft and the notes on the bass, tab isn’t an option,

Chris, I feel a need to elaborate on this a bit. Especially since you've stated, "Tab isn't an option".

I think it may be possible that you could potentially have a wrong idea about TAB. One reason I'm thinking this is because I used to have a very wrong idea about tab myself. I used to think that tab was nothing more than a 'cheat'. A way for lazy people or morons to learn how to play an instrument without having to take the time to read music.

That is the wrong way to think of tab! Tab is your BEST FRIEND, when it comes to learning an instrument like a bass guitar. Don't view it as something that is undesirable or a 'cheat'. It's neither. It's a very valuable learning tool. And while you may not be able to use TAB when actually playing in the band, that's beside the point. In fact, you don't want to become dependent on having to have tab always available. The only way that would happen is if you refused to also learn the standard musical notion right along with it.

But the idea is to learn both.

To begin with tab is extremely easy to learn and use. This is why it's often thought of as a 'cheat' for people who don't want to learn to read music. At glance you can see where all the notes are on the fingerboard. And that's the key value of tab. You can see the patterns on the fingerboard instantly for notes that are in the score that should be also provided directly above the tab in most learning books that are intended as teaching guides.

So what you do is look at the tab and get an instantaneous view of the pattern that the note melody forms on the finger board. But then you should look back up at the actual score and see what that pattern looks like in standard musical notation.

Before long you're seeing the fingerboard patterns in the standard score, and you no longer need the tab! In this way you free yourself from the tab and do not become dependent upon always having it available.

So don't view tab as a 'crutch', but instead view it as a tool, more like 'training wheels' that you'll eventually no longer need.

It's a great tool to help you instantly become aware of how various note melodies form specific patterns on the fingerboard.

So don't shy away from tab thinking that it's an unnecessary crutch that won't be useful to you. On the contrary it's your best friend! It will get you there really quick. You'll start to recognize how various melodies form specific patterns on the fingerboard and eventually you won't need the tab anymore because you'll start to just see those patterns in the score itself.

So don't reject tab as being your nemesis or something that can't help you. That's just not true.

It is true, that if you focus solely on the tab and refuse to ever look at the score or read music, then you most certainly will become dependent on tab only because you're mentally blocked out the score. But you don't want to do that. That's the wrong way to use tab. (or maybe that's the "cheaters" way of using tab).

But you don't need to mentally block out the score or reject it. Embrace the score! Look at the tab to see the fingerboard pattern, then look up at the score and soak in what notes you are actually playing and how they appear in the score. Take note of the key your playing in and what position you're at on the neck etc. And before long you won't need the tab anymore because you'll start to just see it in the score alone.

But don't toss the tab out as being something that can't help you. Because that would be a shame. It most certainly can and will help you to get where you want to be real quick.

Just use it as a tool to help visualize that score on the fingerboard. Don't ignore the score! Embrace it, study it, and know what notes you are actually playing, the key, and the position. If you do that you won't become dependent on the tab at all. It will have just been a tool that you used to more quickly be able to read standard score at a glance.

Do you see what I'm saying?

Tab can be a nemesis for those who refuse to also learn the standard music notation. But you don't need to go there. Embrace both simultaneously, and it won't be long before you can toss the tab aside altogether. For you it will have merely been a learning tool, whilst for those who refused to look at the score at all, it has become their permanent crutch.

But don't reject tab altogether just because some people use it as an eternal crutch. There's no reason you need to do that.

Use is as a learning tool not as a permanent crutch and you'll be just fine.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
On the positions - my wife tells me that some scores do have positions marked, and if so they use roman numerals for it.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Actually when I think of "TAB", I'm also thinking of using scale charts, which are clearly a different thing. Although in a sense they do go hand-in-hand in a graphic sense.

Here's a nice website that has a built-in program for quickly finding any scale on any fret of any almost any bass.

http://www.studybass.com/tools/chord-scale-note-printer/

In fact, this program will also allow you to choose regular guitar, violin, cello, banjo and a lot of other string instruments.

It's pretty cool. I just now found this doing a search for bass guitar scale patterns.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Thanks everyone for your advice and suggestions. Sweet Dreamer I can noodle on the guitar and can play some tunes, all of which were learnt from TAB. But I never learnt standard notation at the same time so if you said play 'b' one the g string I'd have to work it out, ask me to play 'Julia' by the Beatles and my fingers just do it! I really wish I'd learnt to read music when I first started the guitar.

The reason I said TAB is no good for the bass is that we play from a score and it's written in bass cleft only, no TAB. Even so, I feel I'd like to try, I've got a nice bass and a growing desire to be able to play it.

Thanks for all your help, best wishes, Chris

P.s. Thanks Pete for putting the forum on tapatalk
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
The reason I said TAB is no good for the bass is that we play from a score and it's written in bass cleft only, no TAB. Even so, I feel I'd like to try, I've got a nice bass and a growing desire to be able to play it.

I see what you are saying. I guess I went off on a tangent there that doesn't really apply here. It's just that when I was learning blues grooves I got a bass guitar book that teaches a lot of blues grooves with variations, and the way they had it laid out with the notes and tabs really helped me to see patterns in the score being directly reflected as patterns on the fingerboard.

Anyway, I guess you don't really need tab. All you really need is the score and some fingerboard charts until you learn the scales off by heart.
 
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