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Old 06-06-2012, 10:53 PM   #1
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Guitarist disguised as a bassist?

What's up guys? I have alot of time on my hands right now I figured I'd type some .... out...

So there's this band I used to play guitar a little over a year ago until I decided to go solo for awhile. They now have a new guitarist are playing shows. I saw them play the other day and they totally called me out in the middle of the set saying I should be their bassist. I've never really given much thought for picking up a bass, but now that it's on the table, I think it'd be badass to add bass to my repertoire. Plus, those guys are my best friends and it looks like fun.

So I have a few questions before I bust out my credit card:

1.) Is the transition from guitar to bass hard? I mean, I can surely "fake it" but I wouldn't want to look like a retard on stage. They are playing a show soon and I don't want them to find someone else. But I really want to use my fingers instead of a pick - how long is that gonna take me to learn???

2.) I do my finger exercises on an acoustic guitar because of the higher tension and thicker strings and then jam/experiment on my electric. Sort of a medicine ball -> basketball effect. Do you think bass -> guitar would do the same thing for me?

3.) For you metalheads - When guitars play a tremolo picking part - does the bass follow with 32nd notes too? Or do you play 16th notes? I can't imagine using my two plucking fingers at 32nd note speeds...

4.) For recording - can I just plug a bass straight into the direct input of my interface and call it a day? Or do I need to find some sort of bass amp simulator VST to get a good sound? I am too broke to be spending money on a good bass amp right now...

5.) Am I over-analyzing everything?

6.) Do you regret coming to this thread?

Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys.

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Old 06-06-2012, 10:59 PM   #2
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:30 PM   #3
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First off- number 5. Yes.

Second - number 6. No.

Lastly - number 7. Is there a number 7? Yes. Go for it.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:07 AM   #4
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Do it, sounds like youve got nothing to loose.

I left one band as a guitarist and joined another on bass, it was good fun. Took abit of getting used to at first but after that it was all good. I played with a pick so followig the trem pciking lines wasnt to hard.

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Old 06-07-2012, 01:20 AM   #5
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Do it! I switched to bass for a few years (but kept up with guitar - just didn't play it in the band I was in) because I couldn't find any bassists, but guitarists were a dime a dozen. It takes a little time to learn to use your fingers, but than means more than just 2! You can pick with two fingers right off the bat. Tremolo picking with fingers takes a lot of practice, but you can always bust out a pick if you need to. Personally playing bass finger style is a blast. I hate using a pick.
But get a bass to start practicing on. There is just no way you could learn the songs on a guitar and then expect to grab a bass at the show and play. You need completely different muscle memory. But you can get it fast. And I think you will LOVE playing the bass. Locking in a groove with the drummer can be a totally cool and different experience for someone who's used to playing guitar!
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:40 AM   #6
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Definitely give bass a try, it's a whole different beast to playing guitar that necessitates a different mental approach. I started out with guitar just like everyone else but honestly, I find bass a whole lot more fun so it's what I do more now.

Playing with (2) fingers really doesn't take long to learn. If you sit down and practice for an hour or two you'll get the hang of it. For 32nd notes though, I personally use 3 fingers (index middle ring).
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Old 06-07-2012, 08:11 AM   #7
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The transition isn't hard. You'll need to adjust to the scale difference and the pressure required to fret. You may find your hand aches a bit to start with.

I play both but studied bass at college. I found that playing bass actually opened me up to a whole load of new music and playing styles that you can take and apply to playing guitar.

One thing I notice about guitars who fill in on bass is that they approach playing the bass the same way they play guitar and kinda miss the point of the bass. I.e. copying the guitar parts note for note and forgetting about listening to what the drummer is doing.
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Old 06-07-2012, 08:38 AM   #8
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what kind of music is this?

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Old 06-07-2012, 09:26 AM   #9
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Go for it. I'm a guitarist but I've played bass in a few bands. Just practice fingerstyle a couple hours a day and you'll be fine in a week or two. And since you already have a background in guitar, you're probably already above and beyond most bassists (not to be a dick to any bassists who only play bass)
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:37 AM   #10
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I'd just play with a pick if you have a show soon. Building up the strength in your fingers to play a whole show will take time. I don't play bass much and get big blisters on my right hand fingertips if I play for more than about half an hour with fingers
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:46 AM   #11
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It can take a long time to really develop your right hand. I've been working on advancing my RH techniques specifically for at least the last 10+ years (about as long as I've been playing in prog/tech metal bands). The further you get into it, the more detail you'll realize. It's not just speed it's also the tone you get, how you control the accents/mutes/attacks, how certain approaches affect your endurance. All of these details get more complicated/difficult for a finger style player if you use tunings lower than standard where string tension quickly becomes an issue.

If metal is your genre, 3 fingers is recommended. Practice any RH finger pattern you can think of, practice them in reverse too. I incorporate my thumb on super fast tremolo stuff (T-R-M-I or variants).

Other thought- If you are playing metal you probably need a real rig and getting set up with something suitable can cost a little. One of the worst things that can happen is going through all the trouble of being a bassist and getting flat out buried in the mix (happens to most beginners) between thundrous kick and guitarists who are too loud and don't know how to EQ. If the band can actually hear you, you can have a little bit more of a say in the writing and all that (and a louder rig allows you to use a lighter touch if you want to, instead of straining to play loud and risking developing CTS... happened to me at one point). If you get into bass, you can learn about EQ but having presence in a metal mix is an uphill battle. Mids are your friend, low mids are your "bass."

What is the guitarist(s) using in this gig?
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:44 PM   #12
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I was having a similar conversation over here;


Basically, you need really good equipment (amp, cab, bass guitar not so much), hook up with your drummer and spend some time analysing his kick drum patterns - that's the most important part. If he plays the same thing everytime (which he should) then you will sound tight as a *insert fashionable simile here*.

If fingerstyle is a major time investment give it up for now and use a pick. I was pretty accomplished with finger style for metal but it requires maintenance. For a long time I was determined to play metal only fingerstyle and without detuning my bass when the guitarist detuned ( 6 string bass - 6 string guitar lowest tuning C). In the end the sonic difference wasn't worth the effort and I went with a pick and detuning. It wasn't as much fun or concentration intensive but freed me up to run around the stage more.
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:05 PM   #13
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A couple of years ago one of my best friends asked me to play bass in his band when their bass player suddenly left them two week prior to the recording of their demo. I said yes, bought a bass, learned the songs and was recording the demo a couple of days later. I've been playing bass ever since.

So, yes, you're over analyzing this. If you're a decent guitar player, you won't have much trouble picking up bass. Just start using a pick (ignore the stuck-up elitist bass players who consider this a "sin") and move on from there...
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:21 PM   #14
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In some ways a bass is just a guitar and others not.

You can easily transfer everything you know from guitar to bass and you probably already know 100x more than most bassists. I swear half the bassists i know cant play in key. You can also record a bass the same way you record guitar. If you use amps you'll need a bass amp, if you use vst's youll need a bass amp vst.

Conversely you will need to think a little differently about the whole thing. Your job now is to be the glue to hold everything together. Everywhere there is empty space you need to fill it. Finger style or picking is a minor detail. If you need to play with a pick the first few shows while you're learning finger style then so be it.

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Old 06-08-2012, 10:05 PM   #15
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it seems like there is alot of downing on bass players...

anyways man i started out on guitar but found it wasnt for me at the time (very young didnt want to learn chords, no attention span/desire to practice) but then i picked up a bass and damn! i love playing bass, i love making those smooth ass bass lines that get them bootie poppin. i mean i did eventually learn how to play guitar but i am and will always be a bass player first. try it out man, and if you find for some reason you dont like it well then get rid of the gear and that's that lol.

"On another note... the lower I tune my bass, the more its balls grow."-ZEBOV

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Old 06-09-2012, 02:19 AM   #16
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You can play bass like a guitarist or like a bassist. If time is an issue, play like a guitarist. It IS a sin. Then learn to be a bassist AND a guitarist. Bass is so much freakin' fun. I think bass is more fun then guitar, but I love playing guitar more, it's weird.

A good bass player is a completely different beast to a guitarist, but there's no reason you can't be both! Both instruments will improve because of it! Alex Webster is your go to guy for metal, analyse his technique. Once you start having fun though... Victor Wooten and Les Claypool should be looked at.

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Old 06-13-2012, 07:45 AM   #17
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Note, it is not wrong to play with a pick! It has a very different sound than playing with fingers. Much more attack, tighter sound, less lows and more highs, while with fingers you get a much more mellow and smooth sound. Not necessarily all metal bassists are handicapped sinners who can't use fingers, sometimes sonically speaking it is preferable to use a pick! Same thing with fretless, sounds awesome, but isn't always right for the music, in context.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:09 AM   #18
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I am, without exaggeration, the living embodiment of the dumbass guitarist cliche. But I'm trying to break out of it.

Recently I tried learning how to actually play bass like a bass, instead of like a guitar with less strings, and I started learning a few (probably obvious to everyone else) lessons:
  1. Don't beat your bass up. There's a huge range of volume levels that a bass can produce and it's really easy to accidentally whack your bass the wrong way and get a huge, boomy, awful note out of it. So be careful with your picking technique.
  2. Generally you only want one note coming out of your bass at a time. So often that means no chords, no strings ringing out, and very clean, technical playing. You've got less strings to deal with, so it might seem easier, but those big ....ing gauge strings are hard to stop from vibrating sometimes, so be careful.
  3. I guess I can sum up the previous two points by saying: play carefully. If a bass player for another band is standing in the background and concentrating really hard on his instrument, there's a reason for that. Not every bass player can headbang and jump around and stuff and when they do, their playing often suffers for it unless they've got their technique down.
  4. Good bass tone is a ....ing mystery to me, so I try to get close to what other bass players sound like. Don't re-invent the wheel. Don't worry too much about getting an original, distinctive sound. Just fake it until you make it.
  5. Play what the guitarists are playing, but only play when the drums are playing. You can often end up in some really tough situations when the guitars are playing slowly but the drums are playing quickly, so you'll have to keep up with the drums and play basically a completely new line, unique to the guitar line. And sometimes, the best thing to do is to not play at all.
  6. Nothing is sillier than self-indulgent bass melody fills. Until you get a feel for how to do this tastefully, just get in the pocket and stay there.

Also again: I'm a dumbass guitarist, so any of the above stuff could be total bull..... I'm always happy to be corrected
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:17 AM   #19
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Guitar - bass transition isn't hard. That's not to say the learning curve is nonexistent; it's simply not a steep one. They're set up almost exactly the same in the way you hold and tune them. The difference is in how they feel and what role they play in a given context which is something you either get used to or don't.

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Old 06-27-2012, 09:54 PM   #20
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I know what you are saying. Most any guitarist can play a bass, however most aren't bassist. The transition to playing bass is super easy. Even though the bass is a more physically demanding instrument to play. It is not hard to grasp the basics of how to play a song on a bass. However, coming up with stuff, and playing like a real bassist is super hard for me.

You don't have to be perfect, if you enjoy the music you make, and the band is happy, don't worries about it!!!!

Oh and I play with a rubber pick, best of both worlds.

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Old 06-28-2012, 01:53 AM   #21
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I did this for my current band and already I'm kicking ass. We play our first show tomorrow.
At the first couple of rehearsals it was pretty weird, but I'm getting more and more used to it. The way I've been easing into it is that you gotta leave a lot of the fancy stuff to the guitarists and hold down that groove. That's not to say you can add some flash here and there, but the bass serves a different function than a guitar. I started off using just the root notes and basic 1/8th note grooves, then I start adding/removing notes of the scale and trying new rhythms. Remember that the kick and hats/ride (whichever your drummer uses most for keeping time) is your guide as a bassist. (in fact, this is why it's important that your rig be setup on whatever side this hat/ride is)
Your job basically is to be the glue that binds the drums and the guitars and you provide that sick, thick, tight bottom end sound. I'm assuming you know your scales since you're a guitarist right? No different for a bass.
For 32nd notes, depending on what the kick is doing will probably decide what I play. If there are 32nd kicks, then I'll probably add 32 notes on a bass. If the type of blasting is the the 16th hat/snare, 8th kick, then I hang back and play 8th notes.

Here's some of my playing. Hear it in all it's "trv kvlt" production values...

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Old 07-03-2012, 12:57 PM   #22
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About 4-5 years ago I was in the same boat. I'd played guitar but had a bass just to mess around on. Eventually the band a few of my friends were in lost their bassist and they asked me to join.

1. The transition from guitar to bass isn't that hard. Again it is a learning curve, if nothing else the scale of the instrument is going to be a learning process and just getting the feel is going to take a bit of time. But if you practice along to a few records you'll pick it up. I personally used a pick for a long time and then slowly started introducing my fingers into the equation. Now I use both depending on the type of sound I want.

2. Finger exercises on an acoustic are going to be useless. Get an actual bass.

3. I've found you can do either. Sometimes when the guitars play a tremolo picking part it's fun just to pluck a note and hold it. Or you can follow exactly what you're doing. As others have mentioned, become best friends with the drummer. Listen to what he's doing and try to lock into what the bass drum is doing. But feel free to experiment. I've always had fun going off the path and playing my own thing in a song. It can sometimes produce awesome results.

4. Can't help you. When the band's bassist left he left all of his Ampeg stuff so I never had to worry about it. I've had high quality bass stuff from the beginning. I've recorded direct into a simultation of a bass amp and it sounded fine, it'll do for awhile, but eventually you'll want a decent amp.

5. Probably, but it's good that you're taking it seriously instead of just "bass=4 strings instead of six, got it."

6. Not at all, welcome to the world of bass my friend.

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Old 07-04-2012, 12:33 PM   #23
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I think everyone in this thread saying "just do what Alex Webster does, simple!" may be raising the bar a little high for you to start with

Seriously, learn fingerstyle (a couple of lessons with a good teacher will do you wonders for this, to get your hand position and string skipping efficient for starters) but there's nothing wrong with playing with a pick.

Listen to great pick players like Jason Newsted and Justin Chancellor and rock the .... out.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:22 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by jl-austin View Post
I know what you are saying. Most any guitarist can play a bass, however most aren't bassist. The transition to playing bass is super easy. Even though the bass is a more physically demanding instrument to play. It is not hard to grasp the basics of how to play a song on a bass. However, coming up with stuff, and playing like a real bassist is super hard for me.

You don't have to be perfect, if you enjoy the music you make, and the band is happy, don't worries about it!!!!

Oh and I play with a rubber pick, best of both worlds.

i want to know more about this "rubber pick" ive never heard of 1, but now i want 1!
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:48 PM   #25
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I'm what's called here in town a "natural bassists" which is a fancy way of saying I started off on the bass. I am a HORRID guitar player (possibly the worst in the world) because of my inability to understand it's role in a traditional sense. I can play it well enough to convince girls I'm attractive but guitar just doesn't work in my hands.
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