A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

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Practice: 01/10/17 – HLBM 57 @ 60bpm [vid]

I didn’t practice yesterday. Nature finally won out and I slept at night. Granted, I was up at 5:30 in the AM, but I’ll take it. The last time I slept at night was in November. This was a whopping 6 hours, so even though I don’t look like it in the video, I was pretty rested.

Anyway, I ran through ex. 57 (F/X) in the Hal Leonard Bass Method again. I had to play it relatively slowly, at 60 bpm, but I made it through. There’s still a part that just doesn’t sound right when I play it, in bar 7, when we move from Eb on the D-string to G-G#-A on the E & A-strings, respectively, but it might sound right when I eventually listen to the track on the CD.

After running these exercises with a metronome, I do wish that Ed Friedland had done one additional thing when writing his books: I wish he had included the bpm of the recorded tracks, so that I know what tempo to focus on for playback, and I know if I’m overshooting when I practice up to 92 bpm. I’d still go to that speed, because its how I’m practicing the exercises, bit it would be a nice piece of comparative data to have.

In other news, I got a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface yesterday. I haven’t tested it yet, but once I do, I’ll post something up. The guy who sold it to us was something of a character.

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 57 “F/X” @ 60bpm

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Gorilla Tips & GHS Pressurewound Strings

So, I cut down on my practice time a bit over the weekend. I’ve been aiming for at least an hour a day for a while, but because I wore out my fingertips on my fretting hand, I scaled back to about 30 mins. I’m trying to avoid getting a blister or some other annoying wound. This will definitely slow down my completion of the Hal Leonard book. Last week, I realized that if I can finish a page a week, I’ll actually finish Book 1 by the end of May.

I remembered seeing something that I thought was silly around the end of December, on Talkbass. Someone had gotten these little, color-coded, rubbery fingertip casings for Christmas. However, after having to force myself to scale back practice, I can see their benefit. I ended up hunting online and found a set. They’re not multi-colored, but I wasn’t looking for that. They’re called Gorilla Tips Fingertip Protectors.

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Broken 3rds scale exercise from Bass Guitar Scales group

Here are two versions of a fun exercise I just saw on the Bass Guitar Scales FB group. They have us ascend the major scale in 3rds using two of the more common major scale patterns. I just tried it out using the minor scale, and like it a lot. There’s a nice, consonant sound to the exercise.

If you’re new to scales, what they have us do is play a note in the scale and then play a note a third higher, so, play scale degree 1 and then scale degree 3. Then play scale degree 2 followed by 4, then 3 followed by 5, 4 followed by 6, etc. We can do the same thing going down as well.

Here are both versions. If you’re on FB, go like their page!

Hearing the bass in Amplitube & Reaper

I’ve been taking longer breaks in-between practice runs through the Hal Leonard book to let my fingertips recover. Winter has come, and with it, dry hands. One thing I’ve been doing is looking at recording and DAW software – particularly Audacity and Reaper, because I have both of those and I know I’m using neither to their potential. My curiosity about this was piqued by posts from Shel over at Soundwaves & Spraypaint, who has been looking at different DAWs for her Windows laptop and Android phone & tablet.

An issue that I’ve had since I started using Audacity in Nov 2015 is that while recording, I can’t hear myself play. It wasn’t ideal, but since I generally practice without plugging into an amp, it wasn’t a game-breaker either.

I started watching a really good video tutorial series for Reaper on YouTube from Kenny Gioia, who sounds like Christopher Walken as he guides us through the program. Lesson 5 in the series is about recording. He showed us how to have Reaper play back as we’re playing when the bass is plugged into it. Its called monitoring. I tried it out, and it worked! I even made a slight change and got rid of a tiny bit of latency I heard when testing.

So, after that, I got curious and Googled how to hear what I’m playing live in Audacity. It turns out, there was a way, and it was simple. It was a checkbox in the Preferences screen! All of this time, what I had to do is open Preferences, go to Recording and check Software Playthrough, and uncheck Overdub. I tested it out, and it worked fine.

audacity-hear-yourself-record

Audacity: Uncheck the Overdub box at the top. Check the Software Playthrough box below it. Viola!

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Lead Sheet Navigation for Bass Players – Scott’s Bass Lessons

Here’s a fantastic intro to reading lead sheets from Scott Devine. He goes over what he looks at immediately upon getting a lead sheet so that he understands the overall structure of the piece he’s playing. His four main points are:

  1. Time signature
  2. Key signature
  3. Common chordal movements
  4. Form of the piece

Lead Sheet Navigation for Bass Players /// Scotts Bass Lessons

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Bass repair cost at Sam Ash in White Plains, NY

ibanez-2011

Sometime in 2011 with the EXB-404. Glad I cleaned the room and changed the furniture & paint since then. It was the start of this blog, actually…

I spoke with Sam Ash about my old Ibanez 4-string. The repair person didn’t see anything wrong with the tuning peg that I replaced. That alarmed me, but after a short conversation, it turned out that the repair I did wasn’t bad. He’s just going to finish setting the screw, because at first I was hesitant to drill a hole for it.

It costs $30 for them to look at the electronics, which I know need service, since the 4-string didn’t work with my amp consistently. That price is subtracted from the repair cost, if one is found necessary, which it will be. He also recommended a setup, which costs $75, but jumps to $95 with strings. I’m unclear if that includes the cost of the strings themselves. If not, it costs $20 for them to restring a bass, which I can definitely do for myself.

I told him to hold off on the setup for now, but to just get the electronics working. He’ll call me on Monday, because he’s working on stuff from the end of December still. He’ll give me a quote about what the electronics might cost. I hope its not outrageous, as I need a reliable and decently-priced tech to look at the acoustic as well. We’ll find out next week.

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Practice: 01/05/17 – HLBM 56 @ 96bpm [vid]

I made it through ex. 56 in the HLBM @ 92 bpm. Looking through my practice log, it took 3 hours, over 3 days. I don’t know how that compares to other people who have gone through the book, but now I’m curious. I’m considering making a table with how long over how many days it took me to go through each exercise. I think it could be an interesting dataset for others to compare against. It also gives the practice log another outlet, as a source of data.

Here’s a video of the exercise at 92 bpm:

HLBM ex. 56 “All Four One” @ 96bpm