Who knows how many parts I'll do - possibly just this one, but we'll see...
Why would you wanna play bass?
- To get started with, it's a bit less intimidating than a guitar, you can get up n jammin' with your mates a lot quicker (no pesky chords to distract you). THough, imho, advanced bass playing is a tricky beast - more so than guitar, but that's a debate for another day.
- If you got dodgy rhythm, it really helps focus in on WHEN and for HOW LONG you play a note, instead of HOW MANY notes you can play. Forgive the caps, but that idea is pretty darn important to making music. And, imho, the most common thing that guitarists get wrong.
- Bass playing is about harmony and rhythm, the link between guitar and drums. Without it, feet don't tap and asses don't shake. You only really notice when it isn't there. Trust me 😉
So...where to start?
For me, rhythm studies are key to starting to get a feel for what bass does. The most useful thing I've found was www.studybass.com, everything in the fundamentals page is good stuff - but I reckon the concepts that will the most useful in the beginning are Rhythmic Pulse and Rhythmic Subdivision
Adam Neely sums up a approach for guitarists playing bass in this useful watch:
My thoughts after about 2 &1/2 years of hacking away on da bass
I like fingerstyle because it is the sound I like when I hear funky/groovy bass lines. Not that I Ignore a pick, I've got a lot of time invested in pick playing and (especially in the beginning) I was a LOT tighter (and faster) with a pick. In the last band (djenty metal) I played 90% pick and 5% fingerstyle and 5% slap. The sound you get from a pick, was what I needed most of the time, so ones uses what's appropriate.
Don't forget about guitar! Keep yer guitar skills maintained! I ignored guitar for the first year and that was silly. There's benefits to playing both.
Metronomes are cool, but drum loops (and backing tracks) are cooler. I hardly ever use a metronome, I find it soulless compared to a groove. The interactions of bass with kick and snare is pretty darn important in a jam/song and a metronome doesn't really do it for me.
Slappin' da bass, is overrated. I do a little bit of it, but really a good feel (rhythmic) is FAR FAR more important than banging away on the bass like a loon. Ok, it IS gratifying and it can wow peeps on occasion - but sitting in the 'pocket' of a groove is far more satisfying. And, if you don't have a decent rhythmic feel on the bass, slapping is gonna sound crappy anyways 😉
Chords do work on bass, but not reallly...I rarely play em in jams and usually only if there's no rhythm guitarist. Double stops on the other hand can be useful for fills and 'punctuation' (E.g. you wanna annoy a guitarist).
Tunes to get started with - try and pick something you already know, makes it far easier.
- Any nursery rhyme/commonly used tune (Happy Birthday, Row your boat, etc...)
- Anything you already know on guitar, just play the root notes - Metallica tunes are FUN on bass!
- Stand by me - Ben E King
- In the Midnight Hour - Wilson Picket:. A fun n easy groove, useful intro to a bass arpeggio (major chord shape).
I've got a list of tunes I started out out (about 20, mostly funk/groovy ones), mostly I focussed on a riff from the tune and if got into it, I learnt more of the tune from there.
Comments/Questions welcome, otherwise happy jamming!