Four important things for a bass player (and a musician in general)

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Four important things for a bass player (and a musician in general)

bass player tips
(Image: Seif Eddin Khayat)
Words by Nick Brown

Key tips to flourish as a bassist and musician

I know the following comments are probably all obvious and common sense for most, but I think they are still worth mentioning. Often players get hung up on the latest and greatest player, effect, brand, or technique which is totally cool – but, don’t forget some of the things that might help you develop as a muso and help you on your journey to improving, making contacts, and getting gigs. 

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Practice with a metronome

Seriously, this is such a big one yet I seriously doubt many players actually put much time in with a metronome. There are technical and musical challenges at any tempo and it’s not hard to be creative when developing these for your practice routine. Work on slow tempos with simple parts to really feel the space between notes. Perhaps play a one or two bar line and then play a fill through the next bar/bars. Then play a busier bass line and work on subdividing and filling the space.

You can try these ideas all the way up to faster tempos where it really pushes your technique to keep up even with crotchets or minims. Again, try simpler stuff on the beat or then adding syncopation. 4/4 is great but don’t forget odd time signatures – this can really help with internalising feel and certain rhythms. There really is no excuse these days with thousands of free metronome apps available for almost any device. Get on it!

Keep an open mind

There is goodness in all kinds of music! Certain things might not be your cup of tea but keep an open mind. Having an appreciation of different styles, techniques, approaches, and historical aspects can really help you develop as a musician (and a person).

Check out a classical gig, listen to some latin music, learn a metal tune – it can only help. You might be surprised to see how many things overlap – odd time signatures in metal and classical music, syncopated latin bass lines in pop music, and more!

Know how to use your gear

This might be obvious but get to know your gear! What exactly do the controls on your bass do? Can you get different sounds out of your amp? Playing your instrument is one thing but being able to control the sound and call on different sounds for gigs, recordings and the like is a necessity.

Does your amp have a DI out? Is your bass passive or active? Ever had a battery go flat and not known what it was?

Be organised and don’t be a douchebag

If you want to get (and keep getting) gigs, if you want to grow your social media presence, if you want to teach – then be organised and don’t be a douchebag. Venues, other musos and potential clients all will appreciate you answering emails or text messages in a timely manner and using appropriate language.

Social media can be a very unpredictable landscape but being respectful and honest can help others realise that you’re genuine and genuinely value music, the arts, and creativity. Don’t be late to gigs and rehearsals – I’ve seen so many capable players get a foot in the door only to be not called again due to their tardiness. 

Furthermore, I’ve seen many players not called back due to their attitude/bad first impression – these perceptions are often hard to change and musos often get recommendations from other colleagues, so make it a good one! 

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