The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    I play trombone pretty well (bass clef) and am not too bad of a jazz-style guitarist. I got to wondering how tough it might be to learn bass. I figure a short scale bass like a Mustang. There’s a copy of the Hal Leonard course here in the house. How long might it take to become a competent reading bass player?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach5G
    I play trombone pretty well (bass clef) and am not too bad of a jazz-style guitarist. I got to wondering how tough it might be to learn bass. I figure a short scale bass like a Mustang. There’s a copy of the Hal Leonard course here in the house. How long might it take to become a competent reading bass player?
    Hi !
    I play the bass, I used to play it regularly, it won't be long.
    The thing you can do is to write your lines on the jazz tunes you already know.
    It sounds stupid but it works.
    The bass will also help you to play better the guitar.
    Instead of working on positions, simply learn where are your notes.
    In other thread they talked a lot about the dots on the bass and on the guitar.
    On the bass guitar it's very simple.

    This is a tab..

    0
    0
    0
    0

    It means high to low : G D A E



    9
    7
    5
    3

    It means high to low : E A D G


    With this poor information you will learn to read very quickly and how your neck works.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach5G
    I play trombone pretty well (bass clef) and am not too bad of a jazz-style guitarist. I got to wondering how tough it might be to learn bass. I figure a short scale bass like a Mustang. There’s a copy of the Hal Leonard course here in the house. How long might it take to become a competent reading bass player?
    the hardest thing for you - as it is for most guitarists - will will most likely not be learning the instrument - but learning the role and feel that the bass occupies in a band.

    Ive played (electric) bass a couple of times in jazz bands. It was very enjoyable but also a bit scary.

  5. #4

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    Bass is easy. Keep time, play chord tones, support the band. For solos I recommend keeping it simple and trying to play melodically instead of zero motific development rhythm put to random notes that you usually hear.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    Bass is easy. Keep time, play chord tones, support the band. For solos I recommend keeping it simple and trying to play melodically instead of zero motific development rhythm put to random notes that you usually hear.
    People say blues is easy too but I would disagree. Simple bass lines are easy. Making smooth, swinging, walking bass lines that are hip and individual is a lifetime endeavor. Otherwise I agree with the rest of what you said.

    My advice is get a decent bass like a Precision, Music Man, or G&L, or a Jazz with a P-bass pickup in it not a dang Mustang. You can find an affordable bass that will get the job done. String with flatwounds. If you showed up to a tryout for my group with a Mustang bass I wouldn't call you back unless you were so amazing I had no choice. Nothing sits in the band mix like a good P-Bass or one of the others I mentioned, just speaking from firsthand experience, many years of working with bassists and gigging a bass for a time as well. Beefy, thick tone.

    Lots of players have this poppy tone that sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn't hold the band down, trying to be unique at the expense of the band sound. Unless you can play like Johnny B. Gayden or Jaco leave that treble tone at home. That's my two cents, worth what you paid for it probably. Have fun with your new career as a bassist, because that is what it will become if you get decent. There is always more gigs for a good bass player than there are decent bass players to fill them. If I still played bass I'd be gigging tonight but the money would make every gig a bass gig and probably a country gig at that. Root-5th, Root 5th Root 5th all night long, lol.

  7. #6

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    Well, about gear, I used to play on flatwound and roundwound strings on cheap basses.
    The cheapest with roundwound strings.




    The other bass with flatwound strings.





    I played "many" gigs with the second bass but with roundwound strings, nobody complained, they began to complain when I put flatwound strings on it.

    The first one had had flatwound strings for a decade, when I put roundwound strings again on it (those that were on the other one) I felt in love with it.
    The RW I use are Hartke strings, very cheap ones, they were three sets of 5 string bass strings.

    Cheap gear, cheap playing.
    I'm sorry for this very long post full of mediocre videos.
    I'm just sharing my experience.
    I think that with any kind of bass, it can sound good or bad.
    When you feel the tone is jazzy, just look at where I'm plucking the strings.

  8. #7
    Great responses! Thx!

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by DawgBone
    People say blues is easy too but I would disagree. Simple bass lines are easy. Making smooth, swinging, walking bass lines that are hip and individual is a lifetime endeavor. Otherwise I agree with the rest of what you said.
    Imo, it's not really that big of a discipline to master. If you want to be a career bassist, yeah there are obviously many levels, but bass usually just requires adequate playing. Stuff reasonable musicians can achieve with a good program in 2 years or so, 4 years tops.
    Last edited by Jimmy Smith; 12-31-2022 at 06:15 AM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    Imo, it's not really that big of a discipline to master. If you want to be a career bassist, yeah there are obviously many levels, but bass usually just requires adequate playing. Stuff reasonable musicians can achieve with a good program in 2 years or so, 4 years tops.
    It's true if there's nobody on bass you can be that nobody until they figure out they need nobody or somebody else.

  11. #10

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    I don't need a bassist, I'm an organist. Bass is so easy, I cover it with my left hand while playing the rest of the tune with my right. Sometimes I even use my foot. :P

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    I don't need a bassist, I'm an organist. Bass is so easy, I cover it with my left hand while playing the rest of the tune with my right. Sometimes I even use my foot. :P
    If the bassist plays like you do, nobody will need him/her.
    But if he/she plays with the right feeling, dynamics, expression (what a bassist is supposed to do). Everyone will need him/her.

  13. #12

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    Lot of expression in those clips of yours. Come on, you don't need to insult me because you don't want to accept that it's objectively easier to become a functioning jazz musician on bass compared to other instruments. I mastered jazz bass in the 00s but I prefer a more engaging instrument these days and play bass with my left hand on organ.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    Lot of expression in those clips of yours. Come on, you don't need to insult me because you don't want to accept that it's objectively easier to become a functioning jazz musician on bass compared to other instruments.
    Sorry ! I meant like a "bass organ" !
    You're right, functional is the term.
    I'm not insulting !

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    Lot of expression in those clips of yours. Come on, you don't need to insult me because you don't want to accept that it's objectively easier to become a functioning jazz musician on bass compared to other instruments. I mastered jazz bass in the 00s but I prefer a more engaging instrument these days and play bass with my left hand on organ.
    Don't worry, since I play the 7 string guitar, I feel the same.
    But it can't replace a really good bassist.

  16. #15

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    People who think bass is easy tend not to be good bass players

    Mind you

    people who think <noun> is easy tend not to be good <noun verbers>

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    People who think bass is easy tend not to be good bass players

    Mind you

    people who think <noun> is easy tend not to be good <noun verbers>
    Verbers ?

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    Imo, it's not really that big of a discipline to master. If you want to be a career bassist, yeah there are obviously many levels, but bass usually just requires adequate playing. Stuff reasonable musicians can achieve with a good program in 2 years or so, 4 years tops.
    To master? I'm sorry, you're wrong there. As an organist, at some point you will come to realize this. Adequate playing, from never having played any instrument, can be achieved in a couple years? Maybe for very straightforward rock, blues, or country music. Is that what you meant? Mastering jazz or blues bass is a lifetime endeavor. It just is. No one will play like Charnett Moffett or James Jameson with a few years on the bass. Maybe they will be able to approximate that style but will they have their own lines? No. If I put you in a room at a bass players convention talking like that you wouldn't make it out alive, lol.

  19. #18

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    If you play the trombone, you shouldn't have any trouble learning to play a fretless bass, since you're presumably used to playing with correct intonation (or as correct as possible) without any technical aids to help you. My recommendation would be a fretless bass of normal length, i.e., not a short-scale. I think you will get better results with a longer scale, unless you have really small hands. Even then, since you don't have to play chords, I don't see any advantage for most people. I have a five-string acoustic bass with a pickup and am very happy with it.

    How long it takes depends on how much you practice and how fast you learn things --- but mostly on how much you practice.

    I play several instruments and I can say that bass hasn't been the biggest challenge as far as technique is concerned. As far as the musical aspects are concerned, there's not really any difference.

    In case anyone wants to know, the biggest challenge technically has been and continues to be the concert zither.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurence Finston
    If you play the trombone, you shouldn't have any trouble learning to play a fretless bass, since you're presumably used to playing with correct intonation (or as correct as possible) without any technical aids to help you. My recommendation would be a fretless bass of normal length, i.e., not a short-scale. I think you will get better results with a longer scale, unless you have really small hands. Even then, since you don't have to play chords, I don't see any advantage for most people. I have a five-string acoustic bass with a pickup and am very happy with it.

    How long it takes depends on how much you practice and how fast you learn things --- but mostly on how much you practice.

    I play several instruments and I can say that bass hasn't been the biggest challenge as far as technique is concerned. As far as the musical aspects are concerned, there's not really any difference.

    In case anyone wants to know, the biggest challenge technically has been and continues to be the concert zither.
    With a bridge pickup and the right picking, you don't need a fretless bass.
    It's the last thing you need.

    I'm sorry but there are a lot of misconceptions when people talk about the bass guitar.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by DawgBone
    To master? I'm sorry, you're wrong there. As an organist, at some point you will come to realize this. Adequate playing, from never having played any instrument, can be achieved in a couple years? Maybe for very straightforward rock, blues, or country music. Is that what you meant? Mastering jazz or blues bass is a lifetime endeavor. It just is. No one will play like Charnett Moffett or James Jameson with a few years on the bass. Maybe they will be able to approximate that style but will they have their own lines? No. If I put you in a room at a bass players convention talking like that you wouldn't make it out alive, lol.
    I think I'm probably off base saying you can go from zero to mastered in a few years. I started dicking around with tab on bass in 2000, started studying in college in 2004, and had the instrument mastered in 2007. Not Charles Berthoud level, but I played well, had all my fundamentals down, played in time, supported the group etc. I played electric and upright including with the saw. With bass your main duty is to support the group. You don't have to be very creative or expressive or even play more than 1 note at a time. It's simply a much more easy discipline to get under your belt than other instruments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    People who think bass is easy tend not to be good bass players

    Mind you

    people who think <noun> is easy tend not to be good <noun verbers>
    I was a good bassist in the 00s before I quit. I'm still a good bassist with my left hand on organ. It simply doesn't take as much to do adequately to well. I do it while playing the rest of the tune with my right hand.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    I think I'm probably off base saying you can go from zero to mastered in a few years. I started dicking around with tab on bass in 2000, started studying in college in 2004, and had the instrument mastered in 2007. Not Charles Berthoud level, but I played well, had all my fundamentals down, played in time, supported the group etc. I played electric and upright including with the saw. With bass your main duty is to support the group. You don't have to be very creative or expressive or even play more than 1 note at a time. It's simply a much more easy discipline to get under your belt than other instruments.

    I was a good bassist in the 00s before I quit. I'm still a good bassist with my left hand on organ. It simply doesn't take as much to do adequately to well. I do it while playing the rest of the tune with my right hand.
    Well, I don't want to offend anyone. Teachers rarely say their students are bad, they are often positive and say about them they are good.
    Being in a student community is a special context, everyone congratulates eachother and all believe they are good.
    The real things begin when you are outside of this community, I mean "real life", those who play for real not those who did well their homeworks.

  23. #22

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    I played in jazz and rock bands and gigged and would get the crowd going.. I don't see why your instinct is to insult my bass playing when you know nothing about it.

  24. #23

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    I'm going on, when I was a student, I was the best altoist, I played in student bands, we all were from the same jazz school.
    We were good, we barely played what we rehearsed at school. We were all good. Every tune, every chord progression inspired us philosophic conversations.
    We were faraway from the real life, sure the teachers respected us, everyday they were surprised realising that perfect stupid students could play a little bit of music.
    Did they have a career ? Yes of course, they were teachers.
    For me they were great and still are.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Smith
    I played in jazz and rock bands and gigged and would get the crowd going.. I don't see why your instinct is to insult my bass playing when you know nothing about it.
    I'm not insulting anyone, you just underrating what a good bassist plays.
    You might be good, no doubt about it.

  26. #25

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