From Guitar To Bass?

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On the Talk Bass forum, there is a post by a guitarist who has decided to learn to play bass. Here is my advice for those going from there to here.

I’m in the process of going the other direction, expanding my skills to guitar. I’ve always been a finger-style bass player and never got around to learning to play with a pick. Now that I’ve been guitaring for a bit over a year or so, I’ve had to learn to play with a pick. And, wouldn’t you know, now I can play with it on bass too!!!!

The physical stuff will come in time, it’s the learning to listen with a different ear that is the real skill. I didn’t see what kind of music you like to listen to and play, but learn to isolate the bass on your favorite songs. You will start to hear all sorts of nuances that you never heard before. I always tell younger players when they ask advise that a good way to think about the bass is to think of each instrument as speaking a different language. Seeing that the bass is playing both a chordal note in the song structure, and keeping the groove with the drummer, the bass player is something like the translator between the guitars, keyboard (if you have them) and the drums.

On playing the groove,that’s the tricky part. I know many have said follow the kick drum, but it’s often not that simple, as many bass players move in and out of the kick pulse. Groove is more the rhythmic gooey center of the song. And some are more clear than others.

Example. Ace – How Long.

OK, first I just have to say that Paul Carrack has one of the greatest voices ever to appear on a record, period! Listen to the way that the bass establishes the pulse of the song at the beginning, yet does some weaving in and out of the pulse when everyone else comes in. this is one of the sweetest lines I know.

Next up, Dock Of The Bay.

Pure bass poetry, compliments of Duck Dunn. One of those songs where if you don’t focus on it, the bass sounds easy, yet the line is quite complex.

Then there is the bass as a simple but powerful anchor. Tea In The Sahara.

Solid. Police / Sting. Need I say more?

Hope this helps.

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