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Playing Bass Guitar

As a former bass player - many years ago I couldn't resist the following article:

Playing Beyond Basic Bass Guitar

The drive and power source of many jazz, rock and pop
groups is the bass guitar. The bass more often than not
is the driving force in holding the band together.
Still, when the bass breaks clear of the mix, its
sound pulses through your entire body. Justifiably,
the bass is all-around one of the top emotive

Yet more often than not the bassist is content to take a
laid back role in any group. There aren't many group
leaders that also play bass - Paul McCartney is a bassist
first and foremost, Phil Lynott led Thin Lizzy whilst
covering bass duties, and Mark King was singer and
bassist in Level 42 - but it is the exception rather
than the rule. The bass is also quite different from the
guitar in that you will hardly ever hear the bass played
solo except for short breaks or in jazz. Nor can you
very easily accompany your own voice folk singer style
with nothing but a bass guitar.

Few bass players can easily explain why they choose this
instrument. However, many bass players can quickly
identify their favorite bass player since there have
been so many influential bassists. Many bassists
mention John Entwistle of The Who at the top of their
list. Entwistle's bass playing has encompassed many
lead roles. Other bass fans comment on the power and
influence of Cream's bassist and band leader Jack Bruce.
Cream has also recorded with the famous guitarist Eric
Clapton. The younger bassists tie their love of bass to
Red Hot Chili Pepper's Flea U2's Adam Clayton, and Rush's
sometimes vocalist and bass player Geddy Lee. Funky
players like Donald "Duck" Dunn and Bootsy Collins make
some bass fan's lists.

These names are just a brief sampling of all the great
bass players that have inspired and influenced many
women and men's playing techniques. Just like any
great instrument player, you have to love the sound
(of the greats, that is) if you really want to be good
(remember, you're still aspiring to greatness). Along
with this appreciation, you have to love the music
created by the instrument. The listed samplings only
scratch the surface of all the great players out there,
so many more come from the Jazz world. Explore these
players, especially the greats that come from early
modern Jazz.

This is the point where you get to begin playing. It's
child's play to get the notes from an electric bass
since basic bass playing is mostly single-note action.
For this reason, bass is considered one of the easier
instruments to play. So, even though it doesn't take a
lot to get down the basics, it does take a lot of
practice (like with anything) to make it sound great.
In order to progress in playing the bass, you have to
not only grasp the fundamentals but also possess an
instinctive ability to keep time. This is why it's so
important to begin bass playing with a great teacher so
your technique doesn't suffer. If finding a teacher is
out of the question, then get your hands on lots of books
and study their instructions so you can work on your
style. Above all else, observe other bassists whenever
you can and listen to their music. Then, listen to
more music. And, then, listen some more...

Copyright 2005 Carlie Marriott. All rights reserved.
Carlie Marriott is the manager and developer of
Bass Guitar A
a superb site with bass guitar related topics on the
Internet. Find more details by clicking on his
archive of articles:

I think bass players and drummers have formed some remarkable partnerships and that it is often the combination which is so special - John Entwhistle and Pete Moon, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker and my longtime favorites Fleetwood and Mac.


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