Impossible bass lines

Do any of you guys struggle learning certain bass lines or even find them impossible?
I’ve recently tried learning Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi and really hit a brick wall with this particular tune.
I’ve tried slowing it down and breaking it into little bits with a modicum of success but no where near as good as it should be. I’ve even practiced so much I swear blind I’m falling asleep humming the bass line.
Does anyone have any tips please?

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Same here with Living on a Prayer, which is the first song outside the 50 challenge that I attempt… after watching Josh’s video it seemed simple, and I’ve always liked that tune… well I failed… I spent lots of time on it, it threw me off track from the course, so I’m pressing pause on it, for now
However I don’t think that it’s impossible

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I’ve had that struggle with Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I try, struggle, fail, and move on to something else; then come back another time and repeat the defeat.
I’ll conquer it someday.

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I must confess to shouting at my iPad and abandoning all hope but then returning to it the next day and trying again lol
Free bird would be a difficult one for certain @PamPurrs :scream:
I’m also struggling with a jazz piece too. Yes I know it’s shocking I’m trying jazz ! :joy::joy::joy:

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If you miss a note just pretend you were going Chromatic for the effect. No one will notice.

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:joy::joy::joy:

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I Want You Back by The Jacksons.
My fingers get tongue tied at speed… but I will get it!

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Hysteria, just because it’s such an endurance workout, even once you are able to do the riff at full speed.

I am guessing Dean Town would be the same.

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An iconic bass line @howard

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@mac Nice “click bait” on the title there! :smiley:

Impossible is just in our heads mate you just need to take your time and be patient with yourself…

For me learning the bass lines to songs that I especially love are harder than most because:

  • I want to be playing them already like the original
  • They feel quite wrong when I slow them down
  • They loose meaning sometimes when you divide them into chunks…
  • I (personally) loose my focus easily since I am enjoying it too much

My absolute suggestion from personal experience is to simplify it! The bass line is basically 8 8th notes…

Here are some levels you could use:

  1. Simplest you can play this would be just chugging the root notes of the chords on rythm
    The chords:
    https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/bon-jovi/livin-on-a-prayer-chords-704751
    I also like chordify to play along:
    https://chordify.net/chords/bon-jovi-livin-on-a-prayer-bonjovivevo

  2. Then you can go octaves like Root (Open E) Octave (E on 7th fret) or (E on 2nd Fret)
    Root - Octave - Root - Octave - Root - Root - Root - Octave

Especially on the chorus and pre chorus don’t try to replicate the every single fling the original bass line does but focus on keeping on the rythm with the chord changes (not doing hammer ons when needed are not as bad as chugging the wrong note inside a mix)

Another insight on how humans learn:
Working this out 15 minutes a day for 3-4 days would give much better results than pushing for 2 straight hours and feeling bad about yourself in the end…

Maybe you have already passed these phases but I wanted to share incase it would be useful to someone…

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Thanks for your reply @Fahri :sunglasses:
I’ll certainly be giving it a go and see where the journey leads to

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This is really solid advice. Breaking down the beat(s) with the root note is what I do, and adding octaves or triads is a stroke of genius.

I’ll add that if you’re slapping, run the slap/pop pattern with any ol’ root/octave that’s comfortable to get the feel for the rhythm. And if you have hammer-ons, pull-offs, ghost notes, etc – feel free to leave them out until you get the beat.

For this one, continuous, dedicated practice is the thing that won the day for me. Also when first learning it, I tended to rush, so you might find playing it along with the song is easier than letting your brain assume it’s faster than it is (as mine did). I still have to tell my fingers to chill out a bit when I play it AND – it’s essential I warm up beforehand, even now. :slight_smile:

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100% facts!! Me too.
I need to slow it down a bit and just nail the dang thing. I’ve got two many partial songs in my brain at the moment too

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Yeah – going slow can absolutely be harder (for the above reasons @Fahri mentioned, especially). My current “impossible bass line” is Master of Puppets, but I’m getting better.

Nice thing about impossible bass lines. They tend to only be temporarily impossible. :slight_smile:

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Funny thing with slow stuff is my timing goes out the window especially if there’s something fancy coming up that I’m dreading/looking forward to. Almost a rush to get to the good bit :joy:

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This guy I found on YouTube has some thoughts.

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Wow I forgot that this video has existed as well! thanks @JimP

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That’s awesome, Mac! Let us hear what comes out of this!!

As for the main question: you’ve got to ask yourself whether you want to (or need to) duplicate the bass line exactly as heard on this or that recording; or, whether you want to play a musical bass line (within your technical means) that supports the song?

Yes, some bass lines are iconic and probably shouldn’t be tampered with, but then again, why not?? I guess this is probably “easier” in jazz where there is more wiggle room… just because Jaco played it such and such shouldn’t mean I can never play bass on The Chicken!

Sure, those “impossible” bass lines are great exercises and goals to achieve, but at the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather provide a solid rocking groove than badly stumble through a Steve Harris imitation? (just an example… I don’t know who plays bass for Bon Jovi :man_shrugging:)

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I look at covers as part of the learning process like any other exercises. Your correct though my end goal is to play BASS not other peoples bass.

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Listening to more Bon Jovi I now feel I should know who the bass player is as many of the bass lines are technically interesting :face_with_raised_eyebrow:
I’ll certainly keep you updated regarding my jazz foray. I’m experimenting a fair bit with styles ranging from country to thrash metal just to expand my repertoire :joy:

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