A blog about what a new jazz bassist needs to know.
Jazz bass5 Tips For The New Jazz Bassist
When learning how to play jazz bass guitar, it is very important that you don’t run before you walk. You need to start by learning the basics and then as your confidence grows, so will your ability. So here are 5 tips that every new jazz bassist should know:
1. Learn the chords
The first thing that you need to do is get a chord book (such as the Hal Leonard Bass Guitar Chord Dictionary – very good) and learn all of the chords. Don’t just learn the major and minor chords, it is important that you learn all of them for one day you will be asked to play a 7
Especially for the new jazz bassist, playing with other musicians can be very intimidating. You may not feel that you have the skills or knowledge to keep up with more advanced musicians. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to worry!
Here are 5 simple things that you can do right now that will instantly make you a better jazz bassist.
These tips were inspired by my recent work with a group of middle school student bassists at a summer camp. If these kids can do it, so can you!
Wes: I’ve been playing the bass guitar for six years. I have a degree in jazz studies and have played professionally in New York City and Los Angeles. I currently write, record and tour with my band, The Wes Carroll Band.
The advice I’m going to give you is based on what I’ve learned by making mistakes. To help you avoid some of those same mistakes, here are five tips that will help you navigate your way through the world of jazz bass.
1. Play with a Metronome
It’s easy to think of the metronome as an enemy, something that makes it harder for you to practice or play a song. But if you think about it from a different perspective, it can be an incredible tool to help you understand how music works – and how to play music better.
You might not want to play with a metronome all the time, but it’s important to use one when you’re trying to learn something new or work on developing your rhythm skills. It can also help you play better with other musicians!
2. Learn How To Swing
Swing is one of the most important elements in jazz bass – and in all other styles of jazz instrumentation and vocals as well. Understanding what swing
So you have been playing bass for a while, and you are getting pretty good at it. But now you’ve started to notice that there is a whole other world of music out there. People are playing these strange chords, and they are taking these really long solos. The music doesn’t sound like anything you have heard before, and you think to yourself, “I really want to learn how to do that.”
Well, as a fellow jazz bassist, I am going to let you in on a little secret: It’s not as hard as it looks. But it is going to take some work. And here are five tips from my experience that can help you get started.
Learn How To Improvise
This is the most important thing for any jazz musician. If you can’t learn how to improvise on your instrument then you will never be able to play jazz (or any of the other styles that require improvisation).
One of the great things about learning to play jazz is that it’s not a genre that’s tied down by rigid conventions. A lot of other styles (like rock, blues and country) have relatively fixed forms and many depend on stock riffs and licks to give them their identity. In jazz, even though there are common harmonic progressions (like ii-V-I for example) the ways in which you approach them, the rhythms you choose and the notes that you play are very much up to your own discretion.
This is both a blessing and a curse though. While it allows you to be as creative as you like, it also means that there are no rules, no boundaries or safety nets to fall back on. Here are a few tips to help guide you through this additional freedom.
1. Listen to as much jazz as you can get your ears on.
2. Practice with a metronome every day.
3. Learn to play the bass and read music, don’t just learn by ear or tabs.
4. Play with other people as much as possible, whether it’s jam sessions or gigs or both.
5. Play blues in all 12 keys from memory, at least one chorus of walking bass and one of soloing over a slow blues feel (one measure per chord).