A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

F15L 01: Lessons 2 & 3

First 15 Lessons - BassSo, this week, I started working through The First 15 Lessons: Bass (F15L), by Jon Liebman. Lesson 1 orients us to the bass and conventions used in the book, particularly rhythm tab, which is a combination of tablature and circles & tails around fret numbers, to tell us the duration that notes should be held. Its easy to understand, at a glance, and while it gives us more info than regular tablature, it doesn’t help impart knowledge of what note is being played, in the way that standard notation does. For beginner purposes, it works though.

Earlier this week, I went through Lesson 2 (Groovin’ on Open Strings), which is made up of 7 12-bar-blues exercises, each of which uses a different rhythm and only open strings. They’re basically all I-IV-V progressions using A-D-E or D-G-A, depending on if you run them starting on the A or D strings. Two of the exercises make use of dotted notes, and overall, they weren’t very difficult. I like that they’re structured around an actual blues form, because its musical; but in my experience, that’s also a hallmark of Jon’s teaching style.

The first exercise gives us an entire blues, all 12 bars of it. The rest give us only the first 4 bars, but since they follow the same structure as exercise 1, we’re able to then figure out how to transpose the pattern into the right notes by just taking the new exercise’s pattern and applying them over the bars in exercise 1.

I started Lesson 3 (The 1-5 Pattern) earlier this week, concentrating only on exercise 1, which has us play root-fifth patterns in 3rd position across all 4 strings. There was a spot where we go from the A string to the E string, and then repeat, that tripped me up a little. Even though its slow (I’ve been running the exercises at 92 bpm, but since these are half-notes, its really more like running them at 45 bpm since we play a note on every other beat) I made some mistakes switching strings a few times, so I stopped to drill moving back and forth between those strings for a while.

F15L ex 3-4

The First 15 Lessons: Bass, Exercise 3.4

Today, I ran through all four exercises in the lesson. I got better with exercise 1. The variations in 2 & 3 weren’t too difficult. However, exercise 4 is tripping me up – again because of string switching and skipping. There are a few spots where we have to move from the G to the A string or play a note on the same string before moving onto another one, that I mess up. So, I’m going to work on those more. We’re only dealing with 2 frets, but my yearlong absence from bass has made me clumsy. Although I suck, it feels good to have a bass in my hands again.

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