A method to the madness
I have a lot of bass books. However, unless they’re about some specialized aspect of playing, they’re all basically the same, and for some reason, none of them really drew me in and guided me in playing. Recently, though, that changed. I’m not sure if its because time has passed and my personality has changed, or if its something else (like practicing regularly). Maybe the stars have aligned in the constellation of Azathoth…
Thus far, as a born-again beginner, I’ve found two methods useful:
The first is Alex Sampson’s Bass Guitar Secrets (Vol. 1). Its pretty direct; and for a novice, it packs a lot of practical information into a very small space that’s badly in need of editing. What Alex teaches is really working so far, but his presentation is not professional. There are typos and grammar mistakes all over his 100 pages of otherwise insightful work. I’m not an expert grammarian in any way, but if *I* can pick out a dozen mistakes just skimming through the book, then it needs the once-over.
The 2nd method I’m really enjoying is Bass Guitar for Dummies, 2nd Edition by Patrick Pfeiffer. Patrick has a very readable way of writing. He covers a lot of ground in quite some detail (from my novice perspective). I’m only about 1/5 through the book, but combined with Alex Sampson’s work, the two guides are giving me what I believe is a very well-rounded education in beginner bass.
Working with both books also gives me two paths of progress. I’m finding that the exercises in Bass Guitar Secrets are helping to give me the strength and coordination to work through the lessons in the Dummies book pretty quickly. This is also considering that I’ve not been consistent until this past month. For December and January, I practiced, but I skipped a week here and there. Now that things are coming together, I’ve found that the drive to practice gets stronger; especially once I’ve begun. I’ve found myself doing 30-minute morning and night practice sessions, and before bed I read from one or both guides.
Right now, I’m up to scales, in both books. I like how they compliment each other. Where I am, Patrick’s book has given me a lot of theory and the fingering positions that I like most (so far) for major and minor scales. It also explains other scales pretty well, by comparing them to the major and minor, and it introduced triads and sevenths.
At the same time, Alex’s book showed me two other ways of playing the major scale, which I’m also practicing, and shows how to link these fingering positions, so that you can play a scale in one position and then continue it in another position. Experienced players probably already know all of this stuff, but for me, its really eye-opening.
I’m probably jumping ahead a little though, in detailing how I’m progressing so that other beginners can have something to compare themselves with. For now, I recommend looking into these books, and later, I’ll discuss some of the exercises I’m doing and what led me to be really impressed by the major and minor scales.
[edit 10.26.2011] Here’s a link to BG for Dummies at BassBooks.com: