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How did you get started playing bass and . . .

Posts: 14
Hey guys and gals, I'm a newbie here at BBT. Just thought I'd start this thread to kind of introduce myself and to learn a bit more about y'all. I did a search and did not find any threads relating to this topic, so I apologize if it has been covered before. Let's get started.

The question is “How did you get started playing bass and what was the first riff/song that you learned? In addition, what was your first bass?”

For me, I had moved back into the barracks after going through a divorce. Can't remember precisely, but this was in the 1975/76 time frame. I had a room to myself until the barracks filled up and they had to move someone in with me. Just so happens, he was a bass player. I was impressed by his playing and asked him to teach me something. He had a beautiful Gibson Flying V and would rarely let me hold it, but told me if I bought my own bass he would show me some stuff. So I went to the local music store and bought an Ibanez. Cannot for the life of me remember the model, but would love to have it back. Because I was a poor GI I could not even afford an amp. But I did have a monster stereo system with an input jack and I played through that for years. Anyway, the first song he taught me was BTO's “Not Fragile.” Between that and Loverboy's “When It's Over” I've had many upset neighbors!

So, how did it all start out for y'all?
Well, at my school it is a common thing for a band to form between those people who liked music - this is exactly what happened before I started. The band was called ‘Modern Solution’ but they did not have a bassist. One day I decided to visit the band and they asked if I had ever played bass - I laughed in their faces…. So, they asked if I could learn to play to be in their band. I (of course) said that I would try and that is where I began - I started with an Encore (Can't remember the model) and began to learn Seven Nation Army.
Posts: 63
I always locked onto the low end of a song. Didn't know why, it doesn't matter. I definitely waited long enough. About a month and a half before I turned 60, I picked up a used Fender jazz. Previous owner had been murdered, but the deal was sweet.

My wife bought me lessons for my birthday and have been going for over the last two years. I play weekly with my neighbor, who has been noodling on the guitar, but really want to play with a group for beer and/or money, but especially beer.

I like blues rock, have dabbled in jazz and reggae, but always gravitate back. I would love to get a stack, with a gynormous head, but my wife says something will have to give. I think the kids will take her.

I didn't know spit from apple butter, when I bought my jazz. I really have come to love the sound, I am not sure if I would get another bass, as I would not know what else wouod sound as good. I am undecided on pedals and a preamp, but I can still, dream.

Life is good on the bottom end.

Posts: 3139
I too was always drawn to the low end, as a kid I would play my siblings records on our big old Radiogram, I'd turn the tone right down and the volume right up until my trousers started flapping. I got a drum kit when I was about 12 and drove everybody mad for about a year before being forced to give up. Then I heard ‘Living in the Past’ by Jethro Tull, with Glenn Cornicks bass intro and I was hooked. The final piece of the jigsaw was watching Top of the Pops one night, Queen were on doing Bohemian Rhapsody, seeing John Deacon stood next to Freddie Mercury's piano and just holding that Precision Bass, I was transfixed, it just looked so cool. I saw an ad in a local paper for a bass, I rang the bloke who just happened to live round the corner and he brought it round. It was a Gibson EB3 copy in cherry red with a hard case but it had a 34" scale, unlike the Gibson. I had arrived!
Posts: 19
I always had this burning ambition to learn something, and as the theme here seems to be going, I was always drawn to the deeper sounds. I've only been playing for about 18 months and have only really read tabs. So you could call me slack, but I enjoy it so I don't care. The first guitar I owned was a cheap Casino Stage Series (which I still own). I have since owned a Rebelrocker (the Chinese Rickenbaker) 4003 and a Music Man Sub Series Stringray 5. The first song I learn was Reptile by The Church as it was the first song that I saw live that really blew my mind in terms of how big it was. The first song I tabbed for this site was A Hundred Years by The Cure
Posts: 1103
When I was 13, I was a member of one of the greatest air bands of all time. We didn’t have a name or any sort of national title and recognition. But in our own minds we were the greatest.

The band formed one summer hanging out at a friend’s pool, listening to the radio, day dreaming of how awesome we were going to be in our second year of Junior High School. One of the guys in the group, while listening to some music, mentioned that we needed to form a band to throw some really great pool parties that summer. The only problem was that none of us played any instrument, or had the funds to finance such a brilliant idea. The highs and lows of daydreaming of how great being in a band would be - would eventually be destroyed by the harsh reality that we were kids. Poor kids, with no sense of what sort of expense building a band would really entail.

So that’s when Wayne, started air guitaring to some Glass Tiger song (shit Canadian, one-hit wonder band). And that’s when it hit us… We could be an Air Band!

Naturally, we started out with six guitarists and our only female friend, who was voluntold to be the lead singer because she had the longest hair in the group. But it quickly became apparent that nobody would take us seriously at our parties if we had six guitarists and no other instruments being played.

So everyone started arguing on who was going to play what. Drums were fairly easy to fill. There was a chubby kid named, Bill, who lived down the road from Wayne who had a bunch of 5 gallon buckets. His dad was a painter. So Bill started setting up his drum kit.

Wayne called lead guitar, because he started the band and seemed to know some pretty sweet moves.

We then settled on the others playing keyboards, sax, and that left me with bass. I didn’t mind really, because I thought holding my left arm out fully extended looked pretty cool actually. Way better than holding my hands at my bellybutton and making strange faces and arching my back over.

So there we were. The greatest air band to be created.

Musical differences eventually broke up the band later that week, but for those few days I felt like a bass player. I was looking forward to our first pool party gig, and the anticipated adulation all the soon-to-be eighth grade girls would bestow upon us.

But it never materialized for us.

Long story short: a few years later, I saved up enough birthday checks from Nana and PopPop to buy my first bass from a local music store. It was a White Fender Squire P-Bass with a maple neck. It was beautiful. I wish I still had it. I think I bought it for $99. When I sold it for my G&L, I got $200 bucks for it. I should never have sold it.

I had a neighbor who was in college and played the drums. He found out I played the bass (at this time I had owned the bass for about two months and had just had my third lesson, so you know… I was pretty proficient.). He invited me to a college party in Orlando and told me I could sit in with his band.

I was excited and nervous, because I think, at that time, I knew Row Row Row Your Boat and the intro to Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song.

Regardless, I rented an amp and 2x15 speaker cabinet and went to the party. As soon as I arrived, the rest of the musicians started messing around with my bass like a bunch of 8 year old boys being introduced to a new toy or something. Then the heart-sinking question was asked, “so what songs do you know?” I don’t remember who asked it. All I know is I heard it, and my body went numb. I’ve never been a good liar, so honesty quickly became a dose of embarrassment for me.

But one of the guys who played guitar took me to the side, and said not to worry. He showed me a few notes that were in the keys of the songs they anticipated to play and told me to just stick to the rhythm and play with the drums. Then he showed me how to play Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused.” It was a cool song, and very easy for me to learn. So we played that about six times for everyone. This gave the three guitarists that were playing enough opportunity to show off, and gave me enough time to soak in all the college chick’s adulation for the kid playing bass next to the papasan chair.

I was hooked.
Wow, some great stories here guys. I'm really enjoying them!

Seven Nation Army seems to be a popular starting point for a lot of beginning bass players today. Even old, diehard rock'n'rollers such as myself are drawn to it. It's good to also hear some of the music of my generation mentioned. Dazed and Confused (an accurate description of my youth), Bohemian Rhapsody, Living in the Past, Fascination Street – man, now you're getting into the heart of rock'n'roll. Sounds as if some of you are from my generation. And for the young musicians that gravitate to this era of music, I applaud you.

After I started this thread I went and looked for tabs of the song that got me started (Not Fragile) and could only finds tabs for the into. And those were not what I was taught to play, so I tabbed it out last night. (I'll submit it shortly) It has been years since I have even thought about playing that song. It was a great trip down memory lane, so much so that I added it to my current playlist. Simple to play and a great exercise of timing and changes for young bassists.

Hey IamMark, if you know Row Row Row Your Boat, I know Pop Goes the Weasel. Maybe we can collaborate! lol

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Any more out there?
Posts: 3139
I got my first real four string, bought it at the five and dime, played it till my fingers bled, was the autumn of 76. Well, someone was bound to do it
LoudLon [moderator]
Posts: 1929
It was way back in the mid/late 90s, so I can't accurately recall. It may have been Trust, by Megadeth. Or maybe something off Nirvana's Bleach album. I remember spending a lot of time on “Lounge Act” from Nevermind in my early bass days, though I'm fairly certain that wasn't the very first song I tried to learn.

Eh, beats me. Been too long. I'll go ahead and say it was Trust, for the hell of it.
Almost five years ago, at the age of 50 I started playing the bass. Way back in the seventies I played some keayboard, but that never got serious. When my son started playing electric guitar in 2010, I considered buying a bass. So I did. I still have this Ibanez GSR200EX. I modified it for BEAD tuning and removed the preamp. It's a real player. The first song? I worked on a few simultaneously. Temples of Syrinx (Rush) and Now I Wanna Be a Good Boy (Ramones) were on my to do list.
Posts: 1103
Hey IamMark, if you know Row Row Row Your Boat, I know Pop Goes the Weasel. Maybe we can collaborate! lolThanks for sharing your experiences. Any more out there?
This was back in the mid 80s.

I've stepped up my game since. I now know Mary Had A Little Lamb in TWO keys.

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