My first time playing bass with others!

OK, I wanted (read: needed) to share this with you, as I feel I have been on a journey together with many of you over the past many months, and I owe you all some thanks for so much input, inspiration, smaller and larger nudges and encouragements!

So, last week, for the first time in about 20 years I played music again with someone else – and, even more excitingly – it was the first time I played bass guitar in a setting with other musicians!

I had been doubting myself whether I should take the plunge, with “only” 10 months of learning the bass under my belt, but I was really itching to get back to playing with others. After all, that had been a major motivation for me to pick up an instrument again (even if it was a new one for me).

So, I had monitored a Danish site for bands looking for musicians for a while and saw a post by two guys (guitar and drums) looking for a bass player. They described their music as “melodic rock”. Now, my long-term goal might be to be able to play jazz, jazz-rock, fusion type music, but, really, I don’t want to be as “snobby” as I perhaps used to be, and the main important thing is to make music with other people… almost any kind!

Of course, some types of music and genres are just intrinsically more difficult and challenging to play than others, but – as it turned out after having heard some examples of the music these guys played – melodic rock might just be THE perfect entry to playing (again) with others, especially for aspiring new bass players!

Why? Well, because

  • There are hardly any odd time signatures or superfast tunes with crazy chord progressions or overly complicated breaks (in fact, most tunes are in a moderate tempo in 4/4)
  • There are no extremely surprising (experimental) harmonic structures involved (after all, “melodic” rock kind of implies it is pleasing to/easy on the ear)
  • You are not expected to play rhythmically challenging, heavily syncopated or funky stuff (with ghost notes, slapping and what not); and most of the time chugging isn’t even required either
  • As a bass player, you can start out with playing the roots, follow the drummer for some (small) rhythmic variations – and you are already doing a great job!
  • Once you get more familiar with the tunes and are more confident in your playing, you can develop the lines you play. The way to do this is ALL laid out in Josh’s course – start with adding fifths (and octaves perhaps); involve the funk formula for variation; beware of major or minor if you want to add thirds; listen to the drummer; and so on…

I had “prepared” two of their tunes at home by listening to the mp3’s they had sent me and figuring out the roots and the structure of the songs and then slowly developing what to play along with it. I tried figuring out the chords by assuming the composition was following the diatonic approach (it turned out the guitar player is not overly concerned with these things :wink:) To give you an idea of the type of bass lines that go with this kind of music, think “Don’t Stop Believing” from the course. If needed, you could play along first by just playing the roots and then later add the notes leading up to the next root etc. That’s exactly what I did with their songs and what worked…

An added benefit was perhaps that the recordings they had sent me were done very “quick and dirty” in the rehearsal room, and you could almost not hear the (original) bass. Which was actually nice, since then I could work on my own lines and not be biased by whatever their former bass player had played. (Of course, once we met and they heard me play what I thought would fit, they might have objected to it and started mumbling “Well, but our former bass player used to…” – alas, they didn’t and liked what I played).

I was very nervous, but somehow I also felt confident that I could pull this off. And they seemed to like it! After we had played the two songs I had prepared, they whipped out some new “scores”; in essence, chord progressions and structures ( sort of like “Intro-AABBCAAB-outro”), which I then tried to sight read and play. Haha, hilarious, but so cool to see how I actually found the root notes on the fretboard and made it through the songs almost unscathed. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well with a bebop or a death metal song, I am sure.

It was stressful, but in an exhilarating kind of way. It showed that I probably knew more and could do more on the bass already than I had thought myself. I was realizing stuff, which I had learned in the course, but not quite understood its usefulness/relevance, on the fly, while playing. In other words, it was such a great learning experience as well.

Maybe, just for completeness sake, I should mention that these guys want to play music for fun, perhaps a few gigs every now and then, but nothing more. Also, they are about my age, which certainly has some advantages as well… Whether we will completely “swing” on the personal plane in the long-term remains to be seen; but, we are going to jam some more soon!

So, in conclusion: once you’ve been through Josh’s course and kept practicing these things (and slowly expanding your repertoire), you CAN go out and play with others (also if you were a beginner to start with). Perhaps melodic rock is the indeed best option there is to get into playing music with others – it proved to be almost ideal for me!

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Congratulations, @joergkutter!

That’s really great to hear . . . glad you were able to get out there and jam with others, and I’m very happy for you! :clap:

That pretty much sums it up! . . . it must be very satisfying to apply all the things that you learned in Josh’s course, and see them come to fruition in a live setting. :+1:

Wishing you continued success, Joe :slight_smile:

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@joergkutter Holy crap! That’s Awesome! Congratulations Joerg!

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Congrats! That’s great to hear!

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That’s really awesome!

I wish I could say that someday, but I live in a rural, far away village way outside of Phoenix, and don’t know of anybody that plays music. So alas, I’m destined to keep practicing and jamming to backing tracks, and entertaining my deaf spouse and our dog.

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that’s great @joergkutter ! I’m not surprised to read you managed to play efficient bass lines :slight_smile: I’m very happy for you !

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Well done on; getting around to it, getting through it, and rocking it!

I enjoyed reading every step of that, including your self assessment, and I’m not in the least bit surprised to hear that you did better than you thought you would, but it’s great that you gave yourself credit where it’s due.

Inspiring.

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Thanks, guys, for all your nice comments! Means a lot to me :smiley:

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Thanks for sharing your whole story with this in such detail, @joergkutter ! This is really inspirational, and the details of your experiences are also very helpful as well - do keep us posted on this part of your journey - I would like to play bass with others at some point as well, and look forward to the day it all comes together. I think I would approach it in a similar way.

It’s great sharing and learning with this group for me as well :slight_smile: I sometimes feel like this forum is like a blog or a journal, but with the added goodness of input from others who are on a similar journey. And this post of yours is definitely a milestone, one you can come back to and look at with a smile, wherever your bass playing takes you!

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Gratz, man. That’s awesome. Thx for sharing :grinning::upside_down_face:

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This newbie is excited for you. Thanks for sharing your experience with us… sounds like a blast! :slight_smile:

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I LOVE THIS @joergkutter!!
Way to go, and massive high fives and kudos from across a continent.
And I think your quote above explains every new band / rehearsal experience perfectly to this day.

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Great report! Your experience is such a nice validation of your efforts as a student in Josh’s wonderful course. Well done, and thanks for inspiring us all.

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:partying_face::postal_horn::tada::tada: Awesome @joergkutter! Thanks for sharing.

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I’m going to a jazz bar this Friday and the early session (6pm) is a low key ensemble of 3 regulars “plus special invited guests”, which seems to mean ‘whoever happens to be around’. Depending on what the crowd is like they sometimes let customers sit in. If the mood is right, the planets align, and they have a spare bass… I think I have Song For My Father nailed (as long as there’s no solo).

I may also win the lottery and suddenly be 5 stone lighter, but we’ll see.

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Sounds awesome, @PeteP! Song for My Father is perfect - forces you to be tight with the rest of the rhythm section, but throws no major “surprises” in your way!

Just tell them you don’t intend to solo (there is no bass solo on the original anyway) - I can’t imagine this being a problem, as the sax, trumpet, guitar etc players usually are very keen to noodle all they can :grinning: Just make sure to keep some eye contact to see who is lining up for soloing or to take the cues from the melody instruments when they go into the theme again after all the solos, and for the ending (in the original recording, they are vamping over one chord towards the end). If you are “lucky”, the drummer might want to play some solo/fills during this vamp… so, again, eye contact!
(I am saying all that having played SfMF both as drummer and sax player, but never as the bass player :slight_smile:)

So stoked for you! Go for it!

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Thanks for the advice. At this point it’s very much a long shot. I’ve never been there before, let alone been a regular customer, so it’d probably have to be very quiet for them to contemplate it. It’s a Friday night, and although the early session should be very quiet, they probably have a few known faces wanting a bit of on stage - and it isn’t advertised as an open mic/jam. They do that during the week but I live 70 miles away.

I really am isolated geographically so any sort of multi-musician experience is a big effort - even before I’ve realised what’s involved in actually playing with them, but as a minimum I intend trying to introduce myself and begin some sort of rapport. More practice at home and recording over backing tracks required.

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I can see this is quite a challenge… Alas, these days, there is always the possibility to share experiences and kind of “play together” using the internet or exchanging sounds files and adding to them. I mean that is what these two must have done to create this:


:joy::crazy_face:
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I love that! So shall I play the guy’s part since I kinda look like him? You can be the girl. :wink:

I keep thinking about live playing over the internet, but my connection speed is 1.9mbps (maximum) so lag tends to be a concern. Of course, that also gives me something to hide behind when I fluff it.

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Too kind :grin:I don’t quite look the part, but, hey, playing-wise, not a problem… :rofl:

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