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6/30/08: Essential Insights For The Bass Guitarist

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Guest Gibson Lifestyle

Essential Insights For The Bass Guitarist




If you're a bass player and you feel like we've been ignoring your needs for a good lesson or two, then you're in luck. This week's lessons are going to concentrate on the bass guitar. So change your strings, plug in your bass, and get ready for a full weeks' worth of killer bass lessons.


To start things off we offer you master bass teacher John Falstrom from Mel Bay Bass Sessions, who has over 30 years of experience teaching students how to play bass. In today's lesson, Falstrom gives us several key pieces of advice for all aspiring bass players.


You may think you know everything there is to know about playing the bass, but it might be a good idea to give this list a read and see if you're applying all these insights into your bass playing. Falstrom offers up some basic tips designed for anyone that aspires to play the bass for a living, or just for fun, including how to develop hand and finger strength, practicing with a drummer, and even how to save money by restoring your old bass strings. Trust us, there are tips on this list that even we didn't think of.




Instructor: John Falstrom

Publisher: Mel Bay Bass Sessions


John has a B.A. in Music from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, and he has over 30 years experience teaching students to play the bass guitar. John has used the knowledge he has gained from his experience at teaching literally thousands and thousands of students over the years to put together this book EADG 4 in a format that is concise, easy to follow and gets straight to the point of giving the bassist the tools needed to become a great bassist/musician.


Practicing should be measured into hours, not minutes.


You should practice standing up as often as possible (the angles, vision, and balance of the bass guitar are different than from when you are playing sitting down).


Squeezing a racquetball is tremendous for hand and finger strength---Every bassist should always have a few "close at hand".


Playing along with a drum machine is definitely one of the best ways of practicing. First of all, it sounds great. It motivates you to "keep on playing along with the beat". A drum machine is excellent for so many reasons that you only have to experience it to see what I mean.


Tapping your foot with the beat is an absolute must when playing. Your foot allows you to "feel" the beat at all times. Make sure you're aware of your foot tapping. This is how you acquire an incredible groove (sense of time).


I believe you should always play your bass in "standard tuning". If you absolutely have to play notes lower than your low E string, I would get a 5 string bass for these situations. Tuning down means the notes on the bass change (I like seeing the notes as they really are. Tuning down also changes your string height (the strings get closer to the neck---if your "action" is set up perfect--which it always should be---you will notice a lot of notes not even sounding anymore---this is due to the neck straighting out because of less tension from the strings).


Every bassist should eventually find the "right" strings that are perfect for you. As you go along your bass playing career, try different strings until you find the right ones that you feel are "your sound and feel". Believe me, all bass strings are slightly different from the next, and their is a big difference in them.


Soaking your bass strings in a bucket of soapy water for about 20 hours re-stores them to an almost brand new status. Take your old, worn-out bass strings off your bass, wind them up like they appear when you get them new---Fill up a bucket of soapy water (any laundry detergent soap works best) about half way up, and let your strings soak in this for right around 20 hours---Take out the strings and rinse them off---Let them dry---When your put the strings back on your bass, they are re-stored to an almost brand new condition. I've been doing this for over 30 years i.e. it works.


I highly recommend polishing your bass guitar at least once a week. This keeps your bass playing and looking brand new for as long as you own it--Say no more.


Your practice room should be set up to where it is inspiring to play your bass guitar. I would have: a good amplifier, a metronome (a drum machine would be much better), a music stand, a tuner, as many bass books as possible, DVDs on bass playing, a good stereo (to hear the bass), a great music selection (Cd's, etc.)---I would also have my bass guitar on a guitar stand at all times (this allows you to see your bass at all times---I can't tell you how much I learned just by studying the fretboard while my bass was on its guitar stand).


And please don't forget to check back tomorrow for yet another killer bass lesson from Gibson Lifestyle!

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