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Old 10th March 2011 , 05:15 PM
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Default New to the bass: what to do or avoid?

After 40 years of playing the guitar I have bought a secondhand Squire Affinity Jazz bass from ebay and and a Markbass combo from DV247 - where else? I expect I will be mostly self-taught. Below are some of the tips I have come across. Which advice is correct and which should be ignored? What else should I be thinking about?

- For versatility of sound use passive pickups.

- For recording bass it is better to use passive pickups and be DI'd.

- Let the amp do all the work related to volume, not your fingers.

- Strings need to be fresh.

- Guitar players often make bad bass players because (a) they try to play bass like a lead guitar, and (b) because they usually don't keep tightly in time (with the kick drum).

- Coming from a guitar to the bass will be straightforward for the left hand (for right-handed players) but the right hand will take a lifetime to master.


And a couple of questions:

- Should I have my combo on or off (isolated from) the floor? Tilted or raised to ear level?

- What effects pedals, if any, are so basic as to be considered essential for bass?
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Old 20th March 2011 , 11:21 PM
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The versatility of sound in the pickups has nothing to do with them being active or passive. It depends on what tone controls you have, an EQ (usually if its active, as it will have the preamp with the EQ controls on), how many pickups you have, and volume controls for those pickups. E.g. on a jazz bass, you turn down the bridge pickups to make the sound more bassy and round, and in turn, you if you leave the bridge volume pot up all the way and turn down the neck pickup, you'll get a much tighter, 'juicer' tone, less bass, more treble and mids. Even basses with just one humbucker like a MM Stingray I think you can get a good range of tones from!

Recording bass: Not something I'm hugely clued up on (probably should seen as I'm an engineer lol) but usually, if the bass has passive pickups, i'll put it through a di. It brings the signal up a little and makes the signal balanced too (so hopefully less noise). If the bass is active, I usually just take it straight in.

Amp controlling the volume. No. Set your basic volume with your amp and leave it. If your fingers only played at one volume then your playing would be boring as hell and have no dynamics. If you wanted to play a softer part on your guitar, you just play softer, you wouldn't get up and turn the amp down. Would you?!! I hope not anyway lol.

Yep, keep your strings fresh. I quite like having old strings for fingerpicking, they have quite a nice warm sound to them, not too 'twangy'. For slap bass, you can't beat a good set of new strings. I like to have a bass intentionally with old-ish strings on for fingerpicking, another with nice new twangy strings for slap and/ or more aggressive fingerpicking sound.

Mmm yes. Guitar players who 'play bass'. If you're going to say you play guitar and bass too, don't let me see you playing bass ONLY with a pick. I will laugh in your face and just tell you you're playing an oversized guitar, then laugh some more, and show you how its done. Preferably on your own bass, just to make you realize how much of a tool you are for trying to call yourself a bassist and not even be able to fingerpick haha. Bass players who can't fingerpick and play (even basic) slap technique, do not deserve to call themselves bassists imo. The kick drum comment, I couldn't say to be honest. Its very important to be able to lock to the drums if you're a bassist but if you have basic rhythm and already play an instrument. E.g. straight off, I think of myself playing a funk song on my strat, where very rhythmic, percussive playing and feel is important, so if you've got rhythm and can play in time, there's no reason why going from guitar to bass should be too hard.

Yeah, for me when I started playing bass last easter (coming from playing guitar) I had to get used pressing down a bit harder on the strings, and pressing down on much bigger strings. Obviously on my right hand, I had to learn to finger pick. Its an odd thing to learn coming from using a plectrum, but there's lots of slow songs you can learn to play while you're learning to fingerpick. When I started it seemed impossible, I'd listen to certain songs and think 'i'm never going to be able to fingerpick that fast!', but you progress quite quickly depending on how much you play bass.

Depending how big your combo is, I'd say raise it up a bit. It will help with sound dispersion e.g. that's why lots of people put their smaller amps on chairs at gigs etc where a pa system isn't available. It helps sound to get over to the back instead of going straight into the front of the crowd!

Erm. Well, I dont use effects pedal on bass, but, a compressor helps even out your signal, especially for things like Slap Bass, when you pop or thump the string it can quite easily clip speakers if they're getting pushed hard, a compressor should bring those big peaks down and hopefully boost things that are too quiet too. A nice distortion or fuzz pedal makes your sound pretty interesting for certain songs too. Think 'Time Is Running Out' by Muse, that dirty fuzzy bassline, or 'Deeper Underground' by Jamiroquai (which could certainly be a synth bass but I've played that through a fuzz pedal and you definitely get away with it!).

Sorry, written a book here, but hopefully this will be of some help to you. I find you get good at bass a little bit quicker than with guitar. I've been playing since last easter, not a huge amount e.g. I dont practice everyday for like 2 hours religiously, but by now I can play tunes like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e80tihaeMqQ
Took me a good month of practice but yeah, so fun to play once you can!

Good luck with it all!
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Last edited by Mikki Funk; 20th March 2011 at 11:25 PM. . <
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Old 21st March 2011 , 01:00 AM
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That's great, just the sort of thing I needed to read. And no worries about writing a lot, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly enough (as well as nit fully understanding what I had read) regarding letting the amp do the work related to volume. I had to search a while but found what I read: Benefits of a lighter touch!

DV have just said that my Markbass MINI CMD 121 P Bass Guitar Amp Combo has arrived so I should be getting that any day now.
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Old 21st March 2011 , 07:05 AM
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Long time bass player here (30 years +). Entirely subjective but I far prefer passive pickups for recording. You get a much more solid signal leading to a better recording. In fact I'll go further, you always know you'll get a good recording from a decent fender precision.

My only other tip, get yourself a decent compressor for your chain. It makes the world of difference on bass. (don't forget the job of the bass is to hold down the groove).
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Old 21st March 2011 , 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikki Funk View Post
Mmm yes. Guitar players who 'play bass'. If you're going to say you play guitar and bass too, don't let me see you playing bass ONLY with a pick. I will laugh in your face and just tell you you're playing an oversized guitar, then laugh some more, and show you how its done. Preferably on your own bass, just to make you realize how much of a tool you are for trying to call yourself a bassist and not even be able to fingerpick haha. Bass players who can't fingerpick and play (even basic) slap technique, do not deserve to call themselves bassists imo.
Go & have a good laugh at Paul McCartney, Duff McKagan & Phil Lynott then mate (just off the top of my head).
Its just style & preference, no different than preference for guitar styles. You can play with fingers or a pick, whatever suits the music you are playing. As a guitarist, Noel Gallagher mostly strums chords and plays very simple lead solos. I've never seen him do sweeps & hammer-ons or play some fancy finger-picking acoustic, but I'll happilly call him a 'good' guitarist because he does what he does very well..
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Old 25th March 2011 , 05:06 AM
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Quote:
Go & have a good laugh at Paul McCartney, Duff McKagan & Phil Lynott then mate (just off the top of my head).
Its just style & preference, no different than preference for guitar styles. You can play with fingers or a pick, whatever suits the music you are playing. As a guitarist, Noel Gallagher mostly strums chords and plays very simple lead solos. I've never seen him do sweeps & hammer-ons or play some fancy finger-picking acoustic, but I'll happilly call him a 'good' guitarist because he does what he does very well..
Fair point, but you just named 2 rock bassists. I don't know if I could classify PM as a rock bassist but yeah, lets be honest, rock basslines are usually just one note per chord following the root notes of whatever the rhythm guitar is doing. The majority of them are not hard to play, with, or without a plectrum.

Also, you comparing it to guitarists who can't sweep pick or fingerpick really well, is a different kettle of fish. Sweep picking is quite hard I think (I play guitar and can't sweep pick). Lets say its quite a specialised technique for guitar. So is really nifty fingerpicking -the strings are much thinner than on bass and much closer together- so lets say thats quite a specialized technique too. HOWEVER, fingerpicking on bass, is a lot quicker and easier to pick up than sweep picking or fingerpicking on guitar. The strings are thicker, and further apart. So I wouldn't say that fingerpicking on bass is any way a specialised technique. Therefore, to not learn how to do it is just lazy imo.

My point was, if you play guitar and go and play bass with a plectrum, you ARE just playing an oversized guitar. You haven't learned one of the most widely known and used techniques for bass, which is fingerpicking.

I simply mean, there's plenty of bassists who have practiced long and hard to be able to fingerpick and slap faster than any man with a plectrum can play. So why should people who just play with a plectrum consider themselves 'bassists'? They haven't learned any new techniques that 'go' with playing bass, they've just put their guitar down and picked up something with thicker strings.

Also, I don't think it has much to do with musical preference. I know lots of rock/ metal/ punk songs that's basslines would sound **** if they were played with a plectrum. Sometimes a song needs the bite and top end definition of a plectrum, other times it needs the low end warmth and roundness of a fingerpicked bassline.
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Last edited by Mikki Funk; 25th March 2011 at 05:11 AM. . <
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