So you have seen the light… After many sleepless nights you have finally understood what your soul was aching for: bone shattering lows and thick chunky grooves, earth shaking notes are what make your heart sing. Welcome to the wonderful world of bass playing. You are in good company, from Jaco Pastorius to Paul McCartney, from Victor Wooten to Pino Paladino, the bass is one of the most powerful and expressive instruments out there. Here we have gathered some tips from experienced bassists that might save you valuable time in your quest to master the instrument.
1. It’s all about the fingers!
Tone. Feeling. Mojo. These are words used to describe that elusive sound that separates the masters from the students. No matter how expensive your instrument is, no matter how many effects are plugged into your loop channel, no matter how much you turn that amp up to 11. It’s all about the tone, and as many masters have taught us, tone is in the fingers. Exploring the sonic possibilities is a life long journey, and there certainly is a lot of gear out there to keep you busy, just don’t forget that whatever equipment in your signal path it all starts with your fingers.
2. Use your ears (don’t rely on patterns)
Navigating a fretboard can be intimidating, thats why a lot of guitarists and bassists lean on scale or chord patterns they can easily move around to transpose. Although useful, you can start to rely too heavily on the “visual” part of the patterns, hampering your ability to develop your ears. Remember that though visual patterns are a great memorization tool, music is about listening, so don’t forget to open your ears.
3. Learn to play in the pocket
Maybe you have heard drummers and bassists talk about the “pocket”. The concept may sound foreign but you have certainly felt its effects. That feeling when the rhythm section is completely looked into groove? thats the pocket. Some people have defined it as a precise timing between kick drum and bass notes, others call it playing with perfect timing, others simple call it “groove”. Whatever you choose to call it, playing in the pocket is one of the elements that separates the casual player from the dedicated professional.
4. Play for the song
We’ve all been there. You’ve been practicing that sick slap riff all month and want to show it off the first chance you get. That slow flute solo in the middle of the song? perfect place to practice your finger acrobatics. The solo ends and the band looks at you befuddled. Remember that the best musicians never stop listening to each other, and always play for the song, and not for the instrument.
5. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)
Besides being one of the most famous rock and roll bands of all time, KISS is also an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. The sure fire way to distinguish between an amateur and a professional is, ironically, the notes that they DON’T play.
If you want to improve your bass guitar skills find more information at Shine Music School.
Or rent a bass guitar at Instrument Rental Barcelona.