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Help for an intermediate bass player

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  • Help for an intermediate bass player

    So this is my first post. I am an intermediate bass player for a praise team at our Church. I absolutely love it. However, music does not come naturally to me. I have to work really hard practicing to the tracks in order to be ready on Sunday morning. Many times our only rehearsal is 2 hours prior to Services starting. We have three drummers all great at what they do. So I show up we start going and the drummer is driving a totally different grove than what the practice tracks were doing. I generally have to be able to practice to a grove several times to get it in my head. So my question is how do I show up and just change things off the fly. Any techniques you all would suggest. Thank you so much. I am new to this forum and look foward to getting to know everyone. Dan

  • #2
    Welcome aboard! As a bass player for 20 or so years, I can help out with this question.

    First, thank you for your service in worship ministry. It's not easy and it can be thankless, but I guarantee it's worth it.

    The short answer is practice, practice, and more practice. But it has to be the right kind of practice.

    Since you are saying that music doesn't come naturally to you, the best thing I can recommend is to get hooked up with someone who can give you lessons. Preferably a bass player who gives lessons, not just a guitar player who plays bass once in awhile and gives lessons. Guitar players who play bass can teach you pretty good mechanics but not all have a good sense of groove.

    Sounds like a main source of concern is when the drummer plays something different than what the recording has. This is something that happens all the time. Rarely does a worship team play a song exactly how the single is recorded. So, we have to adjust to our style.

    What I learned many years ago as a young bass player is that studying and playing different kinds of music is where I learned different techniques and styles I could draw from on the fly. Listen to some players like Marcus Miller, Vic Wooten, Stu Hamm, and Jaco Pastorius for some jazzy/funky/melodic stuff to see how scales and modes can be used on a bass. Listen to some old school rockabilly and bluegrass to start understanding walking bass lines. Throw on some blues- and not just SRV and Clapton. Blues bass can give you a great feel for learning the pocket in several different ways to play the same song. Go throw on some old Motown for some solid groove. Last but not least, listen to some rock and get a feel for the driving bass styles.

    As you start learning the different styles, you learn the fundamentals of each style, and you can add your own flavor in there. This helps you adapt faster when you discover the band is playing the piano 'soft rock' version of the Lincoln Brewster song. Or if your drummer is an old country drummer that is playing a country feel instead of a rock feel.

    Last but not least- this will take time. Don't get frustrated or give up because it's not coming very fast. I've been at this 20 years- I am still learning. I would have learned this stuff 10 years ago if I would have taken lessons. But stick with it.

    Best wishes and rock on!
    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


    • #3

      Thank you for taking the time to write that out. It was helpful and I really appreciate it. I self taught my self through Yousician but I also see your point t about getting lessons. Thank you again,