Guys I’ve been trying to practise as broad a portfolio of styles as possible to develop my bass playing (my syllabus is pretty much based on cover songs) and I’ve been working on hard rock, blues, ska, country, hard rock, disco, a bit of reggae, metal, classical, more hard rock lol but seriously I’m starting to find the limitations of this approach. I’m basically getting ok at most things but not really good at any one thing.
Most of the bassists I know tend to be really good at one style in particular (Lemmy for example). What do you think? In your experience, is it a good idea to have a broad range at the start and then specialise in a genre (or specific bassist) or just stick with a particular style of playing, get to a high level then try something else?
I would agree with @howard in playing what you enjoy but I must also admit my taste has become a little more varied since picking up bass.
Having said that I do tend to come back to what I enjoy the most.
I really want to be like Pino AND Chuck Rainey lol It seems increasingly though that this may not be possible for a long time… I’d really like to master a style and move on to a similar one but I’m worried I’m going to forget the first one. Bit like playing whack a mole.
I guess you’re right. Maybe it’s a case of building a general competence and then “retooling” for a song when I need it if I ever start playing in a cover band. Never be as good as a specialist though …
Pick one that stands out for you and follow that path and if you are able to use things that you have picked up along the way makes your playing better. Just a suggestion and there is a lot of genre out there and easy to get lost in them all.
My system is pretty simple. I listen to a lot of genres, I play rock and wave (new, dark, whatever). I have a long term goal that requires technique and speed, so I pick songs to learn that stretch my technique. I spend time at the start of each week in Songsterr checking out songs and pick out one that introduces something new.
Then I learn it.
I also practice scales each week, I am partial to pentatonics, probably due to Geezer. I use a metronome to get me used to hitting a groove. But it’s a good metronome, which besides clacks gives a drum beat or even a voice saying “a one and a two and a…”
I also switch back and forth between 4 and 5 string basses. I think the excercise of transcribing a song for a fiver, and working out the most efficient fingering, helps in learning the song on both the 4 and fiver.
I learned Tainted Love a couple weeks ago for example. Started on the 4 string, learned the notes, but didn’t get the groove and syncopation right. Moved to the fiver, and it was so much simpler to play it fell right into place. Moved back to the 4, and it fell right in there as well.
Good bands are deceptive. AC/DC has nuances that most miss and isn’t as straightforward as it appears btw. Malcolm Young on rhythm mutes the root note on his major chords quite often. Cliff fills the root on the bass. Part of the AC/DC sound is to time the bass to the rhythm guitar and play the roots on the bass with the rest of the chord on the guitar. One reason why a lot of bands, even cover bands, don’t quite capture the sound. You could do worse than emulating Cliff Williams. And they dig the notes deeply.
This is something I really should knuckle down to. Maybe as a warmup? I can work with the drums on the Zoom…
That sounds cool. The question I guess is the metric - how do you measure progress? I mean I can go back to a song I struggled with a few months previously and I find it much easier (after a little practice), but other than that it’s hard to know what ‘level’ you are.
…except session musicians. I find playing different things being different skills. 50s challenge does this in spades. But, if you want to be a metal chugging expert, then do that for awhile. Depends on what your goals are. I don’t think most of us here are trying to become virtuosos, most just want to have fun and learn. I think taking lessons in other live form or online courses can improve knowledge or technique and playing songs can express it. Pushing to create baselines as well. Lots to do, no one way good or bad.
That’s probably the best way to look at it - no such thing as bad practice! I think I’m just a bit overwhelmed by the huge range of possibilities and all the instagram / YT videos. Hard to know what direction to go in…
I don’t think I’m ever goin to be up to that level. Well, not for a long time yet…