Forums > Personal > Is playing the bass guitar easy, hard, etc?

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RETROLOVE user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 04:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've watched many people over the years play bass guitar in concerts, videos, clubs, etc...and it looks so easy, and I've seen live Queen DVD's with Deacon on the bass, and it looks somewhat diffcult, but also easy at the same time.

QUESTION: for anyone on here that plays or knows of someone how plays bass, how easy or hard is it?


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ok.computer user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 08:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's like the bodhran in Irish music...

You can learn to play it quite quickly.

To play it well takes practice, timing, rhythm and precision.

To play like John Entwistle, however, takes genius.


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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 08:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This cannot be a serious question. I'm playing bassguitar for about 20 years right now and the simple answer is it depends on how hard you make it for yourself. There is so much diversity look to Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney,Brian Wilson, Flea, Mark King, Jacco Pastorius, Sting and of course the God of the Bass John Entwistle. Look very good to the last one listen to all the who songs and you know. A bass is not a guitar :-)

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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 08:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote


My dad is a good bass player. He sits with CDs (The Jam, The Stranglers, UB40, whatever) playing and learns the basslines from those. He doesn't know the names of the notes or anything, he taught himself and he's very good. The disadvantage is if I downloaded a bass part off the internet or whatever, he wouldn't have a scooby how to play it.


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mystic_rhythms user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 09:24 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I wish to learn to play bass too; i'm hoping to buy one real soon and possibly learn from a friend (i have a few friends who play bass as well)

But I would understand that it is not very complicated, but it's not like riding a bicycle either :p Either way I think it'll be fun.


We can only grow the way the wind blows

On a bare and weathered shore

We can only bow to the here and now

In our elemental war

- Rush, "The Way The Wind Blows"
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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 10:01 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Bass is probably one of the easier instruments to just pick up and learn to play something familiar. A lot of the greatest bass lines consist of no more than 3 notes. Another one Bites the Dust comes to mind...as well as just about any song by The Police to cite a couple of examples.

At the same time it can take much dedicated practice to develop a solid feel (strength, tone, timing, accuracy, endurance, a good ear). It definitely takes more physical strength to play than a 6 string guitar. The best bass players in my opinion are those who know how to mediate between the harmonic/melodic and the rhythmic sides of the music, while also supporting the melodic side of the music by finding the notes that help harmonically fill out what the other melodic instruments are playing, as opposed to just playing along in unison with the melodies. Part of the genius of it is being able to decide when a simple line works best and when you could add more. There are many great bass players who have developed their own unique style and some have even made the bass much more of a lead instrument but most of the time the bass supports the music without bringing much attention to itself, being felt more than heard...if that makes sense. I'm probably making it seem more confusing than it needs to be.

In short, bass guitar is probably one of the easiest instruments to pick up and quickly have fun with but it's also one of the most deceivingly complex instruments to fully understand the depth of it's role in an ensemble. Just like most other instruments you can spend a lifetime trying to master it.

With all that being said, John Deacon is, imo, a very well rounded example of someone who knows when to support things and then when to step out a little. I love JDs bass lines. He always knew when enough was enough and when there was room for something more.

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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 15:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color=red>Quonkers wrote:

I wouldn't know because I'm more of a lead guitarist myself but I'm thinking of learning bass sometime soon. I guess it's like any instrument, it feels strange when you first pick it up but you get the hang of it eventually.


Well, Deaky started off playing guitar, then moved on to bass.


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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 15:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Entwistle, Squire and Deacon are the best, IMHO.

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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 15:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Serry... wrote:

Entwistle, Squire and Deacon are the best, IMHO.


And Foxton.


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Posted: 21 Mar 06, 19:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm surprised people haven't mentioned Cliff Burton, he's definitley up there with the best.

I'd love to learn bass but i'm currently learning the guitar........


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RETROLOVE user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 01:18 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thanks for y'all replies, appreciate it deeply!!!


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mystic_rhythms user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 12:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

You also forget a couple of more...

Geddy Lee
Donald "Duck" Dunn
Krist Novoselic
Danny Miranda
Adam Clayton

there's a lot more too i know lol


We can only grow the way the wind blows

On a bare and weathered shore

We can only bow to the here and now

In our elemental war

- Rush, "The Way The Wind Blows"
Lester Burnham user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 12:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

If it looks easy, then it probably isn't. It takes a brilliant musician to play something that looks like any jackass can replicate.

My friend plays bass, and when we used to jam (I play drums) I would watch him and just think to myself, "How can anyone not do that?" When I picked up the bass, though, I just made horrible noise that no musician could ever consider music.

Then, of course, I would go and watch any live version of '5.15' by The Who with Entwistle's extended solo and just be blown away. John Entwistle was too good for this world.

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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 15:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

you got to see billy shehaan


:)
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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 15:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color = "crimson">Thomas Quinn wrote:

You people are absolutely nuts.

If there's ONE bass-player in the world who is better than ANY other (and this is just electric bass, don't even get me STARTED on double-bass), it is without ANY DOUBT

JACO PASTORIUS


Och....welll.....in YOUR opinion....have his Weather Report stuff...the Pat Metheny thing...all very impressive.

But to see the Ox in full flight was to see that God's handiwork is a True and Wonderful thing.


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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 15:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color = "crimson">Thomas Quinn wrote:

You people are absolutely nuts.

If there's ONE bass-player in the world who is better than ANY other (and this is just electric bass, don't even get me STARTED on double-bass), it is without ANY DOUBT

JACO PASTORIUS


Tut tut tut
Leaving out Sid Vicious again.


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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 17:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<font color = "crimson">Thomas Quinn wrote:

You people are absolutely nuts.

If there's ONE bass-player in the world who is better than ANY other (and this is just electric bass, don't even get me STARTED on double-bass), it is without ANY DOUBT

<font size = 6> JACO PASTORIUS</font>


Indeed. Jaco is probably one of the most amazing musical talents I've ever seen on any instrument. IMO, he was to the elctric bass what Hendrix was to the electric guitar. I think my favorite recording of him is on Joni Mitchells, Shadows and Light record.

Other favorite bass players of mine:

James Jamerson
Tony Levin
Mick Karn
Marcus Miller
Stanley Clarke
Bryan Beller
Michael Manring
John Entwistle
Paul McCartney
John Paul Jones
Doug Pinnick
Prince (don't laugh, the guy is seriously talentled :-)
Larry Graham
Geddy Lee
Kevin Gilbert
Les Claypool
Flea

I'm sure there's many more...

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Posted: 22 Mar 06, 17:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Lester Burnham wrote:

If it looks easy, then it probably isn't. It takes a brilliant musician to play something that looks like any jackass can replicate.

My friend plays bass, and when we used to jam (I play drums) I would watch him and just think to myself, "How can anyone not do that?" When I picked up the bass, though, I just made horrible noise that no musician could ever consider music.

Then, of course, I would go and watch any live version of '5.15' by The Who with Entwistle's extended solo and just be blown away. John Entwistle was too good for this world.


Stunning, wasn't it? I take it you have seen the Albert Hall gig? Also, his bassline for The Real Me is astounding, both recorded and live.

Your point about "How can anyone not do that" is well made and oft well-demonstrated. It's a very physical instrument - you rarely (now, look, I said "rarely" not "never") see a female bass-player, usually due to perceived scale.

Strong stubby fingers and a broad back help.

But hey - some of us our jealous of our six stringed counterparts. I have long but very chubby fingers. I couldn't string a series of chords together if I tried!


"Just tryin' to have a little fun, folks..."
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Posted: 23 Mar 06, 01:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It depends on what you want out of your bass. There are some very, very good bands that got away with absurdly simple bass designs - The Doors and AC/DC are prime examples. Even if you've only been playing the bass 6 months, odds are you can tackle almost any bassline involved with either of those two bands.

On the other hand, some bands have extremely difficult bass, or at least very challenging ones - Cream and Led Zeppelin generally had tough bass lines, for example (I still can't get the bass riff to "Ramble On" just right).

It's really just a question of what you want. For some bands, it doesn't matter that the bass lines are simple - AC/DC doesn't give a shit if they rhythm section could be filled by unskilled 15 year olds, they're worried about Angus Young playing a powerful lead guitar. The Doors don't care if the bass line is simple, they're worried about Morrison's singing and the drum and organ solos. Likewise, Cream and Led Zeppelin wouldn't be half as good if Jack Bruce and John Paul Jones were just some bums.

The biggest way a bassist can make his mark is by being a skilled live performer. Guys like John Entwistle and Jack Bruce are so remembered because they were brilliant soloists who often outshone the lead guitarist they were sharing the stage with.

So, there's your answer. If you're just interested in doing a backbeat and letting the singer and guitarist do their thing, sure, the bass guitar is very easy. But if you're interested in actually establishing yourself as a skilled musician, then no, the bass is just as "difficult" as the guitar.


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