Playing bass as a longtime guitar player

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by HesNot, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. HesNot

    HesNot Supporting Member

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    I’ve been trying to start a band with an old colleague - he plays drums, guitar and bass (all quite competently) and initially wanted to play drums and I would play guitar. But we could not find a bass player (sound familiar?)... He thinks he’s found a drummer so since he is a better guitar player I’ve offered to play bass. I played bass for awhile in a bluegrass/country group in college and it was a lot of fun (and a good bit of work) but it’s been a long time.

    I’ve been reading various threads some of which touch on this - but any suggestions on equipment/technique to get started?

    Initially my friend is loaning me his Hamer 4 string, bass POD and a combo amp to start practicing but at some point I’ll need my own gear if we keep it going. Given what I’ve dropped in guitar gear I’ll likely want to start sub $500 for each.

    Also - just for the record - I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of “play guitar in your den or play bass in a band” motivating me - but I am determined to not be a guitar player wearing bass. I don’t intend to give up playing guitar as after 35+ years I enjoy it too much. But I very much appreciate what my favorite bass players do, what they bring to the table and add to the song and the band, and am excited about taking on a new musical challenge. I’ve always had a strong sense of rhythm and am an OK rudimentary drummer - I certainly aspire to achieve groove and swing with any instrument I play. My favorite bass player is Graham Maby (mostly known for playing in Joe Jackson’s band, also with Marshall Crenshaw and a bunch of others) who has the perfect blend of melodic sense and rhythmic sense. He always serves the song. I am going to strive to do the same. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    Approach it like a bass player, not a guitarist. Start out with inexpensive stuff in case you decide you hate it. Walter had a good idea on another thread. Fender Rumble combo amp. Relatively inexpensive and you can add an external speaker for bigger gigs. For basses I'd start looking at the Classic Vibe/Vintage Vibe Squier P and J basses.
     
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  3. somedude

    somedude Member

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    About wanting to be a legit bass player and not a guitar player that plays bass....

    I personally found it useful to start with finger style. It takes away some of the "guitarness" of the bass and causes you to play different because you don't really have a choice in the matter.

    I also found it useful to read articles on subject... how to not play your bass like a guitar, 10 mistakes guitarists make on bass, etc. These can be more useful once you've been on bass for a bit since you'll start to recognize what they're talking about in your own playing.

    Lastly (and IMO) bass has more in common with drums than guitar.
     
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  4. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    Playing Bass Guitar after years of guitar requires a significant mind shift.
    My favorite players add a melody that supports the vocals and a groove
    that support the rhythmic element.

    Whose my favorite? Tony Levin. Whose my second Favorite?
    Chris Squire. Whose my third favorite? Adam Clayton.
     
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  5. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    I'm a guitar player who also plays bass. IMHO it's more important to focus on the groove, locking in with the drummer and keeping it simple. It's also important to learn bass techniques.

    Where there's nothing wrong with playing bass with a pick, being able to alternate between pick and fingers makes for a better bass player. I've focused on using 2 fingers and a moving anchor technique for my right hand, 3 finger approach (index, Middle, pinky) for my right hand

    Watch this Jack Bruce documentary to see these techniques done by a master. Like him of not, his techniques are textbook. His right thumb always rests on the string just above where he's plucking no matter how fast he plays. Index finger mostly, middle when speed is required.

    Left hand 3 finger technique is from standup bass. The ring finger is used less than the other 3, but it's roll is a spacer. It helps you to feel where the notes are. Bass also requires more left hand movement than guitar. For example, a 4 fret reach on guitar is achievable on guitar without moving you hand, but will stress your pinky if you don't shift your hand. Again, watch Bruce, the master. Honestly I struggle with this and play with all 4 fingers.



    Mostly, embrace the roll. It's a blast keeping the groove behind a band.
     
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  6. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    Sorry, wrong video....

     
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  7. soulman969

    soulman969 Member

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    Technique wise it's best not to overplay. You're drums with pitch control, the groove master, and the link between the percussion and the accompaniment instruments.

    Learn some basic bass lines, patterns, pedals, and scales that fit various genre and as Bootsy Collins preaches always know where the "one count" is and always be there on one. As bob-i posted your role is to maintain that groove no matter how simple or complex that may be.

    For gear nothing beats a PBass or a JBass for starters. The Squier Classic Vibe versions of both are two of mine I've gigged with many times and both are seriously underrated and a great value. Both can also be easily upgraded if you wish and you'll still have far less into one than a new MIM or MIA version.

    For an amp you'll want one with enough power to gig with and that would depend quite a bit on where you'll play and the volume of the band in general. For me 200-250w is probably a bare minimum and there are quite a few sub $500 bass combos in that range including GKs, Fender Rumbles, and the TCE BG250 I play. Look at used ones.

    Welcome to the low end. I'm a guitarist as well but if given a choice I'd actually prefer to play bass and have in most of the bands I've been in. You don't need thousands of dollars worth of gear to be good just solid dependable gear, proper technique, a good ear for following changes and an ability to improvise over them.
     
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  8. otaypanky

    otaypanky Gold Supporting Member

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    As a long time guitar player, here's what I found when I started becoming really interested in bass. I agree with what others have suggested, don't approach it as a guitarist. I can find my way around a fret board and for the type of music I enjoy playing I can usually find something to say musically on guitar. But when it came to bass I realized I was close to clueless. The role of the instrument is so different. And even after playing guitar since 1962 and loving to listen to music for as long as I can remember, I realized that I never isolated in my head exactly what the bass was doing. Unless of course it was a bad player, then it's pretty evident. What I mean is a good bassist is so integral to the music that you don't even realize the importance of it. It's like like not seeing the forest for the trees. It's too big to pick out. If you walk in to a big fancy building your attention is drawn by the big curving stairway, the fancy lighting, the sculpture in the fountain, and all the architectural details . But that huge foundation that you're walking on, that support system for those 60 stories of concrete and steel, did you even notice it ? Probably not. To me, that's the bass in music.
    My fretting hand is well calloused but my plucking hand went through boot camp. It was a bit like starting on square one.
    Although equipment is important, I wouldn't be concerned with that in the beginning. What your friend is loaning you is all you need for now, it will help you learn what you like and what you don't like for when it's time to get your own gear.
    I think you'll have an advantage since you have some experience on drums. And I know you'll have fun : )
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
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  9. royd

    royd Member

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    @HesNot , I went through a similar path about 6 years ago. Been playing guitar over 50 years in just about every setting except metal and be-bop as a hobby, therapy, and semi-pro. Then the church band I play in lost the bass player and we couldn’t find another so I decided, like you to slide in and wanted to become a bass player rather than a guitar player, playing at bass.

    Luckily, one of our drummers is a touring pro and AMAZING. It helps to have a good drummer to play with. Listen to the bass in the music you prefer and in a variety of styles you don’t play. It is a different role. There are some great lessons on YouTube. (I like Scotts Bass Lessons). Get something like a beat buddy to practice with. I like the observations above - you are like a percussion instrument that also has pitch and more closely related to the drums than the guitar. At the same time, the bass has the ability to define the harmonic structure of a song.

    I have fallen in love with the instrument. While I haven’t stopped playing guitar, I spend a lot more time on bass these days.

    For gear, the Squier Vintage Vibes mentioned above are great bang for the buck as are some of the higher level Peaveys and some of the Ibanez basses. If you want to spend a little more that the Squier, the Sire Marcus Millers are amazing bang for the buck and still pretty close to your budget. There a couple of videos comparing the Sire V7’s to custom shop Fenders and the Sires hold their own. When I started on bass, I picked up a used USA Peavey Cirrus. Sold it when I got what is my primary bass now - the fretless Bee Bass in my avatar. I also have a fretted Sire V7 for when the band leader requires me to have frets.

    In amps, bass gear has changed dramatically over just a few years ago. You don’t need an 80 lb head and refrigerator sized cab to keep up with a band. I play a Genzler Magellan 800 head (800 watts into 4 ohms and about 6 lbs) and a single Genzler BA12-3 cab (1 12 inch woofer and 4 3 inch midrange/tweeters) that hangs with any band I play in and weighs only 34 lbs. Plus it goes lower than the old fridge and has much better dispersion. The Fender Rumble series are great bang for the buck in current amps and on a budget would be the first thing I’d look at. I would recommend that you think about a separate head and cab. You’ll spend more but you’ll also have more scalability - add a second cab for more coverage, replace part of your rig if you need to rather than the entire thing, etc. Do get way more watts than you think you need. You will need/want them. Bass frequencies require more power to get the same perceived volume and you’ll want lots of clean headroom. I like the rule of thumb that the bass wants 10X’s the power of the lead guitar and at least the same speaker area. Do remember that with solid state or class D designs, going from 8 to 4 ohms will almost double your power and often the advertised power ratings are the highest an amp will do. My 800 watt Genzler is about 1/2 that into my single 8 ohm cab. If you still decide to go with a combo, I would look at the Rumble 500’s. More power (about 250 into the internal speaker, 500 with an added external cab), the ability to add an additional cab which isn’t there on some of the lower rated combos.
     
  10. s2y

    s2y Member

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    The only things I might add is to make sure it's set up well AND use good ergonomic technique. Flaws in one or both will make your hands work really hard and can cause potential injury in the long haul.
     
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  11. soulman969

    soulman969 Member

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    This is so much in line with what I've both said and taught for years. Ideally you want to blend in so well the audience really doesn't know what your role is until you stop right in the middle of a tune. Then everyone knows......the engine just quit.;)

    It's like the tires are still rollin' but the diesel stopped hummin'. :D
     
  12. Raidermofojeff

    Raidermofojeff Member

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    Another Guitar player who plays Bass..... I try to play with the Kick drum and make sure to push when it's needed..... Think AC/DC Cliff Williams pumping out 8th notes while the guitars lay back. Usually not cool if the guitar track has to pull the bass. A decent lick on turnarounds is cool too...

    That's one approach......... best as something to come back to, after breaking all the rules and the bass part not working out. Rules should be broke
     
  13. GravityJim

    GravityJim Member

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    All poetic theory about driving the bus aside:

    1. Figure out your parts to lock with the kick drum. You can play notes that aren’t doubled by the kick, but the notes that are should be chosen because they’re important to the chord.

    2. As much as possible, stay off the snare hits. A good, punchy, grooving line usually avoids playing over the snare hits... just leave a space and let that backbeat go.

    3. Play without a pick. (Unless you’re playing “Highway Star” or similar Rocker.)

    4. Stay loose, stay grounded, and when you’re stuck, think “What would Sting do?”
     
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  14. MkIII Renegade

    MkIII Renegade Member

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    I am a longtime guitarist who picked up bass about 2 years after starting on guitar for the purpose of home recording, so at this point I've played both for essentially the same amount of years, and I also play drums at an intermediate level, with the intent to become advanced soon as I absolutely LOVE drums and have a natural aptitude for them!

    Listen to closely to Chris Squire and watch Yes concert DVDs. Also study John Taylor, one of the most underrated bassists of all time. Do not attempt to be a "Soloist Bassist". Be a bassist bassist and play for the song. You must be aware of what the kick drum is doing at all times.
     
  15. MkIII Renegade

    MkIII Renegade Member

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    I was casually listening to this in the background as Bruce was giving his lesson, and after the band kicked in, thought "they've got a damn good guitarist....some session guy?". But lo and behold, it's Gary Moore! :aok
     
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  16. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    That's a really kick ass video.
     
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  17. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    What if you are playing a song by The Beatles? Or Yes? Or Deftones? Or any of the other bass players who are better than anyone here, or would be if they only didn't play with a pick?

    Also I have been a bass player for over 30 years and the don't play over a snare hit is crap too. 8 **** tons of bass lines from 8 **** tons of famous songs are filled with lines that happen to be unfolding during snare hits.
    And only notes that are chosen based on the chord should be played absent the kick?

    I like you Jim, I really do. Stick to guitar though brother.
     
  18. Rich b in tempe

    Rich b in tempe Member

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    I was turned on to the idea that tge bass tone was the root chord of the song, so i would figure out a song by learning its bass line. Grew up on sir Paul McCartney, & took up bass at 14. Played both guitar & bass always, but when it came to " jamming" with friends( high school-1966!),there would be 4 guitar players & 1 bass player-ME!! Is i worked my way into a gigging mysician, i always found jobs as a bass player!! I learned traditional country-jazz-folk-big band- you name it!! Now i play acoustic & electric for my owne enjoyment, but still keep a bass around!! Im now 65 & have 50 years of playing experience!!
     
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  19. frdagaa

    frdagaa Supporting Member

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    I focus much more on the ending of notes as a bass player than I do as a guitarist. Something about the mass of the string I guess. Every musician on every instrument should concern themselves with the end of the note, but I find it is simply harder to ignore on the bass.
     
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  20. ToneGrail

    ToneGrail Member

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    As a guitarist who learned bass, I agree that playing with fingers forced me to approach it from the angle of a bassist.

    A side benefit was that I could suddenly play fingerstyle guitar which I could never do.
     

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