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So I'm returning to the bass after a few years of not picking it up due to not enough time, children etc.

I want to start from scratch rather than falling into the same bad habits and practice patterns as before so I'm starting by learning scales properly.

I'm currently on major scales, but what should I concentrate on? Major, Minor, Dorian, Mixolydian? What are the most commonly used? I would also like to be able to read. I understand the notation from playing the Flute and Violin as a child but I can't sight read on Bass.

Any advice much appreciated.

 

 

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A teacher is in need. Someone like Marlowe DK could be a good start. Basic fingering patterns are certainly a few clicks away, too.

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If you want to learn to read you'll need to learn Bass clef which is different to Treble clef as used by flute and violin. I found learning the modes of the major scales helpful but, like all scales, it's only useful if you learn what chords they apply to and how chord progressions work. Good luck and have fun.

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Major, Minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor, Diminished and Augmented. The rest are just variations of the above (and the natural minor is actually a variation of the major but a really important one). In all keys. That's 52. How many more could you need. 😎

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Posted (edited)

I would start looking at chords (and arpeggios because on bass we don’t usually play chords much due to the low register) once you have a basic understanding of the most common scales. Learning the harmony is by far the most beneficial thing you can do early on. I favour learning the theory so you understand what’s going on but more so via your ears. Play stuff and ask yourself questions - so when this chord is played, these notes work. Why do they work? Why does that note not work so well over that chord?
E.g. if I play a C major chord, and play a C major scale over it, most notes sounds fine, but if I hold on the F, it doesn’t sound quite so good. If I don’t hold on it, it’s fine. It’s because it clashes somewhat with the E in the C major chord when held. It’s not wrong, just not as nice to hold on to. If I hold the B it sounds OK played higher up but less good at a lower pitch. Why? Because it’s also just a semitone away from the C In the chord. Etc...

Relating what you hear to what you see your hands doing on the fretboard to the chord is a great way to improve several areas of your skill set at once, and you’re learning music rather than just scales (which are after all just extended chords rearranged in alphabetical order).

Edited by FDC484950

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Posted (edited)

I would start by learning the major scale and then the modes associated with that scale.  I seem to have subconsciously ordered my practice as learning one mode per session, find as many different positions to play it in, then learn the triad of that mode followed by the arpeggio.  The next time I practice I have a quick run through anything i did last time to make sure its stuck and then move on to the next mode.

I found this really helped me understanding what notes work over/under different chords.  Understanding the numbers system for chord progressions really helped me too.

I like to make sure I think about what the next note in the scale/mode is as well rather than learning the pattern.  I've found i can navigate my way around the fret board with more confidence and less thought now, freeing up my brain to concentrate on other tasks such a breathing, standing up and not dribbling.

Edited by Itsthedanman
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I think it took me a long time to get this and understand what matters from my own perspective (I stress, my own).
My view is spend good time getting to really know intervals - hear them in your head and play them without thinking. A scale is a sequence of intervals and what its chord is called refers to those intervals anyway. Also as bass players we don't generally play chords. We play around with the scale notes the chord was built from but often we then get boxed in, playing within one octave (the fingerboard 'box') and repeating oft-used patterns on the board.
Years ago I got into studying modes (I was a Miles Davis nut at the time) only to find I was using most of them without realising. If you mess around with ascending/descending 3rds (say, or 6ths, whatever) you'll be well on the way to going modal.
Another thing I use all the time is the number system: say root is Dmaj -'the bridge goes 2-3-2-5 repeat and resolve to 1'. The band can drop the whole thing a tone in a flash if they need to (OK, maybe not the sax player...).
But hearing and playing all and any intervals (including the obvious ones outside the octave, 9th, 13th etc) will start to really make sense of the chords anyway, and help you know what you can do, which notes (intervals) give the chord its particular colour/character etc.
Over years (on various instruments) I've spend huge time with scales, but looking back now if I wanted to get to here, I wouldn't start there. But that may just be me.

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On 29/04/2020 at 08:51, FDC484950 said:

E.g. if I play a C major chord, and play a C major scale over it, most notes sounds fine, but if I hold on the F, it doesn’t sound quite so good.

*Makes pouty face* Play under the chord not over it. F sounds good under a CM chord, as does an A or if you want to be saucy, make the C chord your extensions over a low D. If you want to stick to chord tones, the inversion starting on E sounds less dull than C. I'm not wild about the forthy sounding G unless it's completing a line.

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On 18/04/2020 at 13:01, BillyHunt said:

I want to start from scratch rather than falling into the same bad habits and practice patterns as before so I'm starting by learning scales properly.

I'm currently on major scales, but what should I concentrate on? Major, Minor, Dorian, Mixolydian? What are the most commonly used? I would also like to be able to read. I understand the notation from playing the Flute and Violin as a child but I can't sight read on Bass.

Do the scales and the tecky stuff, but play songs as well. Alongside the grind, you've got to make playing a musical instrument interesting.

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11 hours ago, chris_b said:

Do the scales and the tecky stuff, but play songs as well. Alongside the grind, you've got to make playing a musical instrument interesting.

Thanks, Yes I'm currently learning a load of new songs for a band, first time I've played for 5 years or more.

Last time I was gigging, before life intruded, I would know 40 or 50 songs at any given time but without really understanding what I was playing. I understood basic scales and stuff, but not all the different note positions on the neck or the relationships between scales and keys etc. I was also able to improvise to a certain extent and write lines for original songs but I always felt limited.

I can listen to certain players, Stevie Wonder's guy for instance, or Jamerson or Bob Babbit, and be knocked out by what they're playing and how they thought of it in the first place.I guess knowing the fretboard is the first step.

 

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On 08/05/2020 at 20:09, visog said:

*Makes pouty face* Play under the chord not over it. F sounds good under a CM chord, as does an A or if you want to be saucy, make the C chord your extensions over a low D. If you want to stick to chord tones, the inversion starting on E sounds less dull than C. I'm not wild about the forthy sounding G unless it's completing a line.

To the confused.... playing above the chord means adding to the harmony as a soloist, typically an octave above the prevailing harmony. In this context you're playing a high 'F', it'll clash with the 'E' in the 'C' chord as previously discussed (as a b9). But if you're playing bass, below the prevailing harmony, the 'F' played lower, underneatht the prevailing harmony will resulting an pleasing 5, M7 & 9. Lovely!

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