A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for May, 2011

Caught with my pants down…

Fell off the horse again. I haven’t practiced in about 3 weeks. We’re in the midst of beta testing and launching v3.0 of our software, and its been hectic. I’m also presenting to new potential clients (one of which owns 24 facilities). On top of that, wifey and I are working on the living room (and some other things) while the house is somewhat clear.

Earlier today, I played bass with other people for the first time. Bear in mind, I haven’t touched my bass in almost a month. Three guys from my wife’s side of the family that I see pretty regularly came over and really wanted to jam today. (Usually two of them come over so we can grill and/or work on the house.) They all play guitar and one was a semi-professional drummer in the Phillipines. I’ve told each of them, at various times this year, that once I have about a year’s worth of practice, I’ll see.

Well, I saw. 😉 I really wish I’d kept practicing, and tonight just makes it moreso. Everyone’s more experienced than I am. No one knows “theory” but they know the names of all of the notes and where to find them on their guitars. They also know guitar chords. It looks like what they’re doing is memorizing fingering positions for certain chords and playing them. I think that this is something I need to know as well on several levels.


More ergonomics and technique

On the day that I started writing this blog, one of my first posts was about ergonomics. As a beginner, I didn’t know what the safest or most efficient physical techniques and hand positions for playing bass were. I’m still not certain that I do know these things in any absolute terms, but I’ve come across a lot of good information on the internet and from books that support each other.

Earlier tonight, when I should have been sleeping, I read some threads on the Talkbass forums instead. I came across a post in which a member asked how to learn to play the bass. One of the replies brought up the topic of proper technique, and both that reply and another linked to the videos on proper right and left-hand technique from Adam Neely that I posted back when I began blogging. They each also included an additional video, both of which I found interesting. I’m including them here, because they supplement my earlier post well:

Todd Johnson Bass Guitar: Floating thumb technique


Voivod – Phobos

Voivod – Phobos

I used to drive with this album a lot, years ago. Eric Forrest was their bassist at the time, and I love his use of space on the songs. There are parts that he just lets breathe, and it adds so much to the dynamics of his work, to my ear. The Talkbass forums speak a lot about overplaying, and there seems to be a theme of sorts about rock/metal musicians being more guilty of this than other musicians. I think that this is a good example of a song in which it doesn’t occur, and I think it works really well.

Striking the strings

I just read through the first half of Essential Bass Technique while in bed. It didn’t put me to sleep. What it did, actually, was show me quite a few things about body mechanics. One of these ideas made me want to write, while its still fresh in my head.

I was on the part of the book dedicated to striking hand technique (hey, I’m lefty, so I’m not calling it right-hand technique). It provided me with a revelation about striking the strings.

Sometimes, when I practice, I get fret buzz. This can be reduced a bit by playing slower, and my belief is that it also has to do with my lack of knowledge or application of muting. I mute only a little, with my striking hand, and only by resting my thumb on the string before the one that I’m playing (the thicker string). Essentially, the G string never gets muted.


Devil Music: The Tritone

Devil Music: The Tritone by John Byrne

Here’s another great post by John Byrne. This one is about the tritone, or “The Devil’s Interval”. I’d read about this some time ago, but its different actually hearing it, and comparing it with other notes by ear.

Rocket Bass

Stig Pedersen makes his own basses. They’re all weird. Here’s a picture of another of his creations, scoured from somewhere on the internet. There’s a fun thread about strange basses on the Talkbass forums.

[edit 10.18.2011] My Strange Bass Gallery has images of more of Stig’s basses, as well as other interesting ones from around the internet.

Greek Esoteric Music Theory

Greek Esoteric Music Theory by John Byrne

This is a great post I came across using the Tag Surfer on WordPress. John goes over a fascinating bit of music theory and history and explains how ancient Greeks based their music history on mythology. Different notes or keys are associated with various deities, days of the week, zodiac signs, heavenly bodies and other icons/constructs.