I’ve been hanging around these parts of the internet for… well, coming up on a year. My first post here was on July 30, 2021. It was at that point that after years of bass tinkering, I decided that I was going to apply myself to playing bass and start taking it more seriously.
Meh. I’ve… kind-of done that. I love playing bass, and I love having basses, and I love talking about bass, and I love looking at basses online and I love going to music stores to check out bass gear and so on and so forth. I’m “enrolled” in multiple online bass tutoring programs (here and Fender Play) and I go through “lessons” when I can, but I don’t have anything remotely close to a structured, thorough practice schedule. I spend a LOT of time noodling and hacking my way through tabs for songs that I want to play.
But I think, in spite of myself, I’m actually getting better. Recently I’m beginning to feel a marked improvement in my playing. I can play riffs I couldn’t play last year. I can play some songs all the way through… which is not something I could ever do. I just didn’t have the stamina to pluck or fret consistently for a song’s length. It makes me feel good.
Anyway, I don’t know why I’m posting this, other than I’m fairly certain I’m with like-minded individuals who have experienced this same thing and can understand the, I dunno, “warm fuzzies” I’m feeling as I look at my playing now as compared to last year. Eventually I’ll get the confidence and know-how behind me to record and share some of my playing with you lot, but that time is not now. Heh.
It’s been a crazy year. I don’t have any of the gear I had when I joined BassBuzz. Here’s the picture of my gear from one of my first posts:
I still have that strap. Nothing else, though. I sold the bass to a kid just looking to start out; I wound up giving him the amp, stand, and cable. I’ve acquired 12 basses since then and sold 8 of them. I’ve acquired 4 amps and sold 1 of them.
Anyway, I’m digressing now. I just wanted to share my progress and the happiness that comes with it.
Exactly. Just go back a few lessons or modules in the B2B course, and try some of the things you were struggling with maybe only a couple of weeks ago. You might be amazed at how much you have progressed. I think it’s important to do this every once in a while to keep yourself motivated.
@JustTim I was/am very similar. Not moving through lessons as fast as I wanted to - no structured practice of any kind - but having fun. I graduated from following along youtube songs with tab to Rocksmith. Rocksmith was a gamechanger - still no structured practice but a boatload of songs I like to play, meaning several hours a week with the bass in my hands. To some extent I’ve gotten better purely through doing it alot. I think the single thing thats helped me improve the most (other than BB) was finding a song I love that I was 80% capable of playing - because I love the song I’d put in the time to learn the difficult licks in the other 20% - and wouldn’t you know it, I learned something!
(And like you, I have way too much gear - a middling novice player does not need 5 basses, but here I am. The curse of middle age through retired novice bassists: having enough resources to get anything you want, but not having enough time to use any of it properly!)
I raised this exact concern with my wife last night. I feel like my progress has stagnated since our recent move.
She says not and then pointed out the callouses on my hands and the 7 kms of fencing that I’ve undertaken.
I still feel like I should be better than I am after 2 years of playing but I am my worst critic.
I would post my covers here but although I am mechanically minded, good with a rifle and can adapt ( should read bodge) to get by in most instances I simply cannot get the hang of this recording through di’s and computers.
Does it stop me from playing at least an hour a day? No but I’d love to be further along my journey of competence than I am.
And as for too much gear, the draw full of pedals in my shed would definitely agree with that sentiment
I liken music to golf sometimes (I stopped playing golf cause it just seemed silly to me to spend 5 hours doing that instead of playing music, or anything else for that matter).
But…when I played golf…one really great shot erased a dozen or so bad shots and motivated me to get another fantastic shot. Soon two amazing shots erased a couple dozen bad ones in my mind.
Learning an instrument is a lot the same in the beginning. Small moments of ‘hey, that sounded like something’ erase hours of practice. Then the small moments become more frequent, or larger, or both.
Maybe you couldn’t get out of a sandtrap if your life depended on it, then boom, one day you chip out to 3 feet from the pin. Same on bass, what was hard gets easier.
The good moments start getting more and more, and you start to understand that you will always have things harder than your current ability (damn you Rocco Prestia) but that becomes the motivation to chip (pun intended) away at it and keep getting better.
Things click, happiness abounds.
Then you have a really awful day or streak and want to sell all your gear and watch TV all night.
This is when you know you are starting to become a musician.
Congrats @JustTim !!!
For me the greatest moments like your golf shots were when in my misspent youth (and, in all honesty, early middle age) I played in a house snooker leage. The day when I beat the house champion on an equal footing (no handicap) remains one most fond memories.
In terms of music, about two weeks ago I put on a drum track and started doing scales and arpeggios to that beat. About 35 minutes in I achieved a Zen-like awakening totally feeling the groove. Awesome. First time in the two years since I started.
I can’t listen to music as the beats tends to dictate the tempo, lol, but it took a while to get used to I listen to audiobooks. It’s a great distracting tool in the middle of the swing. I was fully onboard with Bob Rotella’s method.
Golf is a social thing for me do I don’t mind the wait, especially 2 years of private club and mostly playing alone. Yeah? Many of you would say it’s awesome, not gonna lie the first month was awesome, but at the end of the day no matter how good or bad you are you need a witness when you occasionally hit a good shot. Funny golf and bass share the similar story to me. I played a lot,then stop for over 10 years then picked up again.
@JustTim don’t worry about your playing. If you keep at it you’ll get better. The most noticeable measure is to record yourself playing your favorite song. My mentor instilled in me the importance of muscle memory and repetitions. When you improve your skills you make it looks easy. Notes usually don’t sound great until you play it a few hundred times. Keep at it soon you’ll get more comfortable and start jamming then play some gigs making some serious fast food money, lol.
Bassists are still in high demand, as things are getting back to normal I’m invited to more gigs and sessions. half the time I’m in over my head, lol.
Looking back on the last year ( ive been here that long now) i Just laugh at what i thought this was and how i would do it.
These days, i can hear something and know i can play it quickly or know immediately that it’s going to be a challenge-as most things still are for me.
Measurement of progress is a funny thing. I was sitting alone in a hotel room for most of that year, playing only to myself-so what’s my metric for monitoring progress? That i can hear im on for timing and tone? But what about feel? And is that really the groove, or have i convinced myself im right because I’m in an echo chamber?
I’ve found that the only real marker i have is being with other people when i play. And recently they’ve begun telling me they can tell a difference when i play-and That’s huge.
So, i get this. I think and hope im getting better-but there’s really only one way to make that continue. So ima go beat the strings off it.