Copyright © Frank Sanchez. All rights reserved.

Frank Sanchez

 Music and Bass Guitar Links


I am a journeyman bass player who has played a lot of gigs in all kinds of situations and I am happy to share my knowledge and experience in playing the electric bass.  If you are new to bass playing and want to learn how to play bass for personal gratification, for your church, for your school, for a garage band, or if you are a guitar player who needs to think like a bass player, I do offer private instruction locally in person or via the internet using Facetime and Zoom.  Send me a text for information on private lessons. 

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My approach to playing my bass, first of all, is to have fun while doing it.  Your audience will feed off of your enthusiasm and you will get play better and enjoy every moment of it. I've heard this saying and live by it.  If it ain't fun, then don't do it!   Adopt this philosophy in everything that you do in life.  I will start you out with things like getting a comfortable playing position, producing a good tone, developing steady time, learning basic rhythms, learning what to play and what not to play and know when to play and when to not to play.   In other words, be musical.  I can show you how to play songs by ear, chord charts, or music notation. 


My goal as a bass player is to make the band sound good. It is important to really "feel the music" and play from the heart.  Learn to "Play in the pocket" laying down a solid groove and lock in with the drummer. 


I am not, however, even going to try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating and posting examples and explaining concepts online.  I am including links to my favorite sites for students to use in their musical journey.  



 

THE BASS
One of the most important instruments in a musical group, the bass is heard in classical, jazz, rock, pop, blues, swing, soul, hip hop, country, country & western, bluegrass, ethnic, and every kind of music that is heard today. The bass player is a key player in any rhythm section.   The bass player provides foundation for chords, playing roots, fifths, walking lines, leading tones and riffs to energize the listening experience. The bass player keeps time with the drummer to provide feeling and rhythm to songs. The bass can be played as a melodic , chordal and percussive instrument, and can solo to add its own unique sound to music.


SO WHY PLAY BASS? 
Any reason is a good reason to play the bass.  What is yours?


  • Because I want to!
  • I was chosen by god to be a bass player.  
  • When I play my bass I am one with the universe.  
  • It is the mother of all instruments. 
  • It soothes my soul.  
  • It is fun!!! 
  • For fame and fortune.  
  • I like the low tones.  
  • My church needs a bass player
  • Nobody else wanted to.  
  • It's good therapy.  
  • It's cool. 
  • I look cool doing it. 
  • The chicks (or dudes) dig the bass player.  
  • The bass player is the good looking one. 
  • The bass player is the intelligent one, etc....


 ATTITUDE
Whether you play for fun, play for a grade or play for money.   Don't be afraid to play and play like you mean it. 

One of the most important things in this life is to maintain a good attitude about yourself and what you do.   Your attitude will show in your playing.  You may have heard this before, but to me it bears repeating.  "If you are going to do anything, do it right!"

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, everything is learning experience. You attitude will carry you to success.  You will look and feel like a million dollars when you strap on your bass.  

Your bass is an extension of your personality.  Show it off.  


CHOOSING A BASS (BEGINNERS)
Your first bass should feel good in your hands. The neck should be straight with only a slight bow to it. The strings should not buzz.  Run your fingers along the bottom of the neck where the frets are.  You should not feel any should not have razor sharp edges from the frets. 

 CHOOSING BASS STRINGS  
Most brands of bass strings are very comparable and the choosing a brand is a personal choice for every bass player.  Also, your style of playing will dictate the type of sting that you will want to use. The main differences in strings are the material that is used and how they are wound.  Basic string types are flat wound for a mellow sound, round wound for a bright sound and half wound or ground wound, which start as round wound that are flattened out a bit. The challenge is to find the right type of string to suits your particular style.

 CHOOSING AN AMPLIFIER
Practice amp – At least a 50 watt combo amp. 

Performance amp - At least 100 watts, can be a combo amp or 2 piece separates consisting of an amp head and a speaker cabinet.

 BASS LESSONS

1. HOW TO PRACTICE

There is an old saying.  "Practice makes Perfect".  Actually, this is only partially correct.  

The correct quote is: "Perfect Practice makes Perfect". 

Practice often and regularly.  Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to practice your instrument.   

Don't rush through a lesson.  Start each exercise slowly, work on playing it correctly, and then gradually work up to speed.  

Work like an athlete training your body to memorize finger positions and your brain to memorize patterns that will eventually work like an automatic reflex.   

Work on a one idea or concept at a time.  Memorize it, make it a natural part of your routine and then forget it.  


2. STRING NAMES  E-A-D-G (Four String Bass)

An easy way to remember the names of your bass strings. E-A-D-G

 

 

 



 From lowest sounding string (E)    pluck the open E string and let it ring, then pluck the A string and let it ring.  The two tones played one after the other should sound like "Here Comes the Bride" Pluck the A string and the D string.  They too should play "Here Comes the Bride", only higher in pitch.   Same with the D string and the G string.  Now you know your first tune!!!!

3. FRETS

There are frets on the neck of your bass.  Each fret raises the sound of "Pitch" of the note by 1/2 step.  These are called half steps. In reading music a half step is many times identified by a sign for a sharp (#) of a flat (b) This will be explained in more detail in later chapters.  There are between 22 and 24 frets on your bass depending on the make and model that have.

HOW FRETS WORK

The sound (pitch) will be higher as you place your fingers further up the neck of your bass.  This is because you are shortening the length of the string to the point where your place your finger.   For example, open E is the lowest note on your bass.  If you put your finger on the 12th fret you are placing your finger halfway up the E string effectively cutting the length of the vibration of the string in half. The result is that the E will sound 12 half steps higher than the open E.  This same note sounding higher is called an octave higher. Putting your finger on the 24th fret will result in cutting the string in half again making the string even shorter and raising the sound up another octave.


4. TUNING YOUR BASS 

Electronic Tuner 

The easiest way to tune your bass is with an electronic tuner.  Start on your lowest string (E) and pluck it.  Look at the marking on the tuner.  Turn the tuning peg on the bass to raise or lower the pitch on the string to the "in tune" mark on the tuner. Then move to the next string (A) and do the same. Then move to the D string and do the same, and finally move the G string. 

The 5th Fret Method  (E-A-D-G)

Note: It's important that you start with a pitch that is at least close to your normal tuning or else you may turn your tuning peg to the point that your string will break. 

Start on your lowest string (E) and pluck it. Turn the tuning peg to match your reference pitch. After you get the E string set, move up to the 5th fret on the E string and pluck it.  This will be the note A. This is the pitch that your A string will be tuned to.  After you get the A string in tune move up 5 frets and tune the D string and finally move to the G string. 

Tuning to a Recording 

Find a reference note from the recording that you want to play to.  For example, if you know the song is in E, play any note "E” on your bass and then turn your tuning peg on the string that you are playing until the E sounds "in tune".  Then tune your remaining strings to that string using the 5th fret method. You can tune to any note on your neck. After you find the right note and tune to it, you can go back and tune the remaining strings to the string used to tune to the reference note. 

Tuning with Harmonics 

Musicians use the harmonic notes of each string to tune their strings to a piano or guitar because they are easier to hear and can be sounded without holding your finger down on the fret board.  To play the harmonics for tuning, put your finger lightly against the fifth fret (on the actual fret, not in between) of the lower string and the seventh fret of the string above it. When you brush the strings, you should hear light, soft notes. Listen for a wavering sound that indicates your strings are not in tune to each other.


5. RIGHT HAND TECHNIQUE 
 There are several ways to use your right hand to strike the strings on your bass.  You can use a pick, your thumb, or the first two fingers of your right hand.  Also, where you pluck the strings makes a difference in the sound that you produce.  You can pluck the strings anywhere from the base of the fret board to all the way to the bridge.    

 In this lesson we will use the fingers and pluck the strings over the pick-ups.

1. Position your wrist loosely over the strings about where the pick-ups are on your bass.  

2. Move your pointer finger across the top of the E string to make a sound. 

3. Now do the same on the A string.  

4. Do the same on the D string   

5. Do the same on the G string

6. Do the same thing using your middle finger. 

7. Play each string twice alternating between your pointer and index finger. 

Note 1:  Start slowly and listen to the sound that it makes.  You want each tone to be clear. 

Note 2: Make sure that each tone is clear and the two notes that you play sound even with each stroke of your two fingers. 
 
 6. LEFT HAND TECHNIQUE  T(thumb) 1(pointer) 2(index) 3(ring) 4(pinky) 
Start on the E String.  Position your hand like you are holding a small ball in the palm of your hand.  Bend your thumb slightly and place it on the back of the neck of your bass. 

Place you thumb in the center of the neck.  Your thumb position is used by your fingers to apply pressure on the frets. 

Place the pointer finger of your left hand on the first fret (1) and middle finger on the next (2) and so on until you have one finger on each of the first four frets.  Use one finger per fret.   

Practice placing and applying even pressure on the first four frets of each string. Start on the E string and play Open E 1234,

cross over to the A string and play Open A 1234, cross over to the D string and play Open D 1234, cross over to the G string and play Open G1234.   Get used to this motion.  Start slowly and play each note evenly and concentrate on getting a good solid tone out of each note.  You fingers may not want stretch that far at first, but your fingers will eventually be trained to make the stretch.  

Once you place your first finger on fret one DO NOT RAISE IT OR LIFT IF BACK OFF THE FRET (if you can*)!! Same with the second finger.  Keeping your fingers firmly in place on frets will give you better control and muscle support for your 3rd and 4th finger when you need to use them.  *Don't worry too much about it if you can't keep the first two fingers on frets one and two if you can't stretch that far.  You are working on getting a good clean tone. 
   


THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN PLAYING AT CHURCH   ( OR ANYTIME)                  


Know when to not play. 

Keep it simple


Play with emotion and passion. 

On ballads, come in playing soft, whole notes up high on your neck and add emotion to the song,  gradually playing lower notes build with a big bottom end to drive the emotion of the song and back off again as the song calls for it at the end.  


Add some leading tones to the end of phrases and to lead into the next section of the song.


Use space you add feeling and expression 

 
Know the pulse of the music and lock with the bass drum.