Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Update

Hey everyone, sorry I haven't posted in a month.  Honestly, there hasn't been much to post at least until recently (more on that in a moment).

Summer has been busy - spending time with the kids, visiting with family, spending time with friends, a little time off from work - good times and very relaxing.

I haven't spent much (ok, ANY) time on TMBG.  BUT, that doesn't mean I'm not playing bass.  I'm taking the summer as an opportunity to spend time playing with friends.  A friend of mine got a sweet Fender Telecaster from his father and another friend got a Fender Squier Stat for Father's Day, and yet another friend got a Fender acoustic guitar for Father's Day.  They are all (obviously) wanting to learn to play guitar.  The friend with the Squier can play a little while the other two are starting from square one.  But, it's been fun messing around with them, showing me what they learned, and us all trying to learn songs via tabs.

In addition to that, I am brushing up on learning some blues patterns because I am working up the nerve to attend an open mic night at a local pub and join in on the fun.  The open mic night is really any kind of music but until my friends learn to play guitar more and we learn a few songs to play, I will stick with the blues theme the other musicians tend to play.

Now, the fun, exciting, interesting news.  Last week while on vacation, my family and I were running errands and just got done going to the movies.  After the movie, we were driving down the road very near the nearest Guitar Center.  When I asked where we were going, my wife said that she was taking me to buy a new bass!!  How cool is that?!  I've had my eye on an Ibanez GSR200 (http://www.ibanez.com/BassGuitars/model-GSR200).  I like the look, the feel, the weight, basically everything about this bass.  It just fits me.

That's about it!  I guess there was more going on than I really realized.  Anyway, I'm still loving playing bass and still believe in the TMBG method.  While I'm taking a break from the course, I'm definitely not taking a break from playing.

Friday, June 3, 2011


It's been a while since I posted but there hasn't been much to post about.  I took a little break from TMBG because we had family come to town and we all had fun over the Memorial Day weekend.  This past week was also busy with the kids getting out of school and wanting to be with them for performances, awards, etc.

But, just because I haven't been using the TMBG course, doesn't mean I haven't been playing.  During the long weekend, I had a few jam sessions with friends.  One friend just graduated college (went back to finish his degree) and  he always wanted to play guitar, so he actually took possession of a sweet Fender Telecaster his father wasn't using.  I was showing him how to play a few things on it so we could jam together.  Another friend joined us with his acoustic guitar.  A lot of fun but it will be more fun when they learn how to play and I get further along in the TMBG course.

I'm going to get back into the TMBG routine this weekend and review a few things from past lessons and continue on with Lesson 4.

As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lesson 3 Recap & Lesson 4

I finally feel I got a handle on "Improv: You Play It!" and was able to play it at full speed with the band.  I worked through it quite a few times and kept up each time so I feel I have it under my fingers.  This is definitely a good song to come back to for warm ups and maybe to build upon for improving my improv skills.

I've moved on to Lesson 4.  We move out of the first position move down to the fifth position (fifth fret) and learn the notes on the neck from there.  The work I did in Lesson 1 to learn the fretboard paid off here because I was able to quickly get through this part of the lesson.  I treated it as more of a review.

Roy then introduces the concept of "movable patterns".  Basically this means that there are finger patterns for scales that are exactly the same not matter where you are on the fretboard.  For example, the finger pattern for each key in the Major scale is exactly the same.  The only difference is where you start.  Each scale has it's own finger pattern that again is the same not matter the key (Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor).  Don't worry, Roy explains each of these in detail.

The first song for Lesson 4 is "Mid-Neck Blues".  It's another 12 bar blues song like you've been working on in the other lessons only further down the neck (hence the name "Mid-Neck Blues").  I'm only starting to work on the song so it's very slow going right now.  Again, the fingers are starting to get moving now so I'm working on the song at 40 BPM just to get the pattern down.  As Roy suggests, when learning a song like this, in the beginning it's best to practice the song out of tempo until you are comfortable moving from note to note.  After you have the pattern down, you can then slowly build the tempo starting at 40 BPM and incrementally adding 2 BPM until you can play the tune at full speed.  It can be a slow and tedious process but remember - slow and steady wins the race!

Since I'm just starting on "Mid-Neck Blues", I haven't even attempted the second song in Lesson 4 - "Bach to Bass-ix" - but based on the name, I can only imagine how that one will be.   :-)

I'm going to be on this lesson for a while.  School for my kids is winding down, Memorial Day weekend is coming up, family is coming to town, so practice time will be few precious moments late at night or early in the morning as I find the time.  I'll try to get my minimum 15 minutes each day but will probably use that time to work on fundamentals rather than songs.  Although, a friend just got a guitar so maybe I can get some jam time as well!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lesson 3

Lesson 3 is on the plate now and Roy discusses Quarter notes and Eighth notes and how to count them.  He then discusses ties and dotted notes and how to handle those.

Roy then builds on the triad lesson he started in Lesson 2 and talks about Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented triads.  To help drive home the lesson, Roy brings in one of his pupils who's never played bass before.  This just further emphasizes that this course is for beginner's as well as those who have some experience.  You get to see the student initially struggle to understand the concept and attempt to play the lessons and Roy coach him along and experience how Roy truly celebrates with the student when we starts to get it.  The student asks beginner questions - the same questions I would have asked if Roy were sitting in front of me - and Roy explains further to ensure the student understand the concept.  This was very helpful for me and I will play through these lessons again.

Next up are more songs for you to learn.  The first one, "Rockin' Blues", is a faster version of the previous songs you learned in Lesson 2 but introduces the concepts you learned during this lesson.  I found the song to be pretty easy to get down and feel comfortable with.  In fact, I played the fast version with the band the first time through and nailed it.  I have since played it a few more times and feel I have it down.

The second song, "Improv: You Play It!", is a little more challenging - at least for me.  It's not a hard song but the left hand starts moving a little more now and I'm really focusing on the technique to ensure I don't pick up any bad habits. I'm still working through the slow walk through that Roy provides at 40 bpm before I even attempt the band jam.  I will probably work on it outside of the DVD using a metronome so I can gradually increase the bpm before I move to the band sitting.

As the name of the song states, there's also an improv option for the song where you are encouraged to create your own bass line for the song using the lessons you've learned so far.  I'll be honest with you that I'm a little intimidated by this and right now, have no idea how to do this.  I'm going to go through the DVD lesson a few more times and probably revisit Lesson 2 to further reinforce the scales so I'm comfortable with those before I try to improv.  I will also film myself and post to the Thunder Row forums to get feedback from my fellow TMBG students.  Again, a great value and extremely important aspect of the learning process.

Things are getting harder now so I want to take my time and be sure I learn and understand things good before I move on.  That's the benefit of having the DVDs, you can go back as many times as you need before you move on.

Lesson 2

I worked through Lesson 2 pretty quickly.  Roy gives a preliminary overview of the musical "code" such as how to read time signatures and key signatures.  He then moves you into the major scales in the first position - both sharp and flat.  You then learn about the I-IV-V progression and realize how common it is in popular music.

This all culminates in you learning your first songs of the course - "Keep It Simple Blues" and "A New Key to Jamming".  Each song is pretty easy to learn and play but it allows you to actually put this theory and technique to the purpose of this whole course - playing music!

The jamming sessions are the best part of this whole course.  Roy walks you through how to play the songs nice and slow.  If you have some bass playing experience, you may find it too slow.  But to the beginner, this is how you learn. You can't play fast if you can't play slow.

Once Roy shows you how to play the songs, you move to the studio where you actually play along with a real band.  Guitar, drums, and keyboards.  And these guys are working professional musician's so you are given every opportunity to sound your best.  The band (including Roy) plays the song once slowly to allow you to get use to playing with the band.  Next, you play with the band by yourself (you're the bass player), again slowly.  Then, the band (back with Roy again) plays the song at full speed.  And once you have the song down and under your fingers, you can play with the band with you as the bass player at full speed.  Awesome.

Word of advise here.  I advise you to not only record yourself to hear how you sound but video tape yourself so you can view your right and left hand technique.  View it back and criticize yourself.  Getting the fundamentals of right and left hand technique are extremely important and best to work on now in the beginning because you only set yourself up for success later.  If you have to go back and relearn technique later, your guaranteed to double the amount of time it will take to reach your goals.  So remember - Practice doesn't make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  Also, post your video online and have the fine people in the Thunder Row forums view it.  They are there to help so ask them to give you feedback on your playing as well.  Sometimes it's hard to critique yourself so getting people to provide feedback is helpful.  And don't think of this as people nitpicking your playing.  Feedback is an important aspect to learning.  Receiving honest and constructive feedback allows you to know where your weaknesses are and more importantly, how to fix them.  The group at the Thunder Row forums (http://www.thunderrow.com/forum.php) are there to help and access comes free with the course so utilize them as much as possible.  Think of it as another learning tool to use to get through the course.

I'm done with Lesson 2 and moving to Lesson 3.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lesson 1 - Progress Report

I believe I have a pretty good handle on the fretboard now.  Some of the notes I have down cold while others might take a couple of seconds to figure out.  I feel it's good enough to progress to Lesson 2.  I will most definitely continue to work on this as part of my regular practice routine.

For those interested, one tool I used to help me learn the fretboard and also test my knowledge is an iPhone app called "Bass Addict" (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bass-fretboard-addict/id412757279?mt=8).  You are able to work with it a number of different ways.  It will even allow you to time yourself and see how many you get correct in a given period of time.

Another reference I used in addition to the material provided through the TMBG course, is a very handy website for any bass player - http://www.how-to-play-bass.com/ by Paul Wolfe.  The specific reference I was using for the fretboard is a tool Paul created called "THE NOTE FINDER EXERCISE" (http://www.how-to-play-bass.com/support-files/notefinderlesson.pdf).  If learning the fretboard has you frustrated or you're just looking for a handy, free tool to help you then this is what you need.

I'm having fun and actually proud of myself for learning the fretboard.  I'm by no means a master and I can definitely get better but I feel I've made some good progress.

On to Lesson 2...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lesson 1

So I'm on Lesson 1.  The lesson deals with the basics of the bass as well as some right hand and left hand technique.  The right hand technique Roy teaches is the 'rest stroke' which I had already adopted during my very short stint with the bass so far so I feel I have a firm grasp there.

The left hand technique discussed in this lesson is the "Four Finger" technique which basically means one finger per fret.  Again, I had already adopted this technique so I am comfortable with this.  I did, however, learn to place my thumb under the second finger which I had not been doing so I did learn something here.

An exercise taught to reenforce the Four Finger technique is the 4x4 exercise which means you play the first four notes of all four strings (1-2-3-4 across the E, A, D, G strings).  A very good exercise to teach good technique and to build finger strength.

Now the last lesson is a biggie!  Roy goes ahead and sets the expectation now that you need MUST learn the notes on the fretboard.  You should be able to identify any note on the fretboard quickly.  For example, play the E note on the G string.  This should be automatic.  The purpose of this is setting the groundwork for success throughout the entire course.  If you have a problem with this and not willing to put in the time in the beginning, you might as well not even continue the course because if you can't do the basics, you can't expect to stick it out when it really gets tough.

I'm going to need to spend major time on this.  I know some of the notes and can kind of figure out the rest but if I were told to play the E note on the A string, I'd have to think about it for a while.  I'm determined to learn it but it will take some time.  I need to find ways to learn and test myself even if I'm away from my bass.  Perhaps there's an iPhone app for that!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's Here!!!

I came home today to find that my TMBG package had already arrived!  I ordered it on Monday and it arrived on Wednesday.  That's what I call snappy service!

I decided to do an unboxing of sorts to show all of the items as I unpacked them.  So here you go:

Printed book (paid extra for this)
DVD box
Inside DVD box
Everything together

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TMBG reviews

Since I'm aiming this blog towards the bass guitar "noob" looking for a training tool to help them on their journey and I am using (or will once it arrives - hopefully tomorrow!) the "Teach Me Bass Guitar" course as my way to achieving my bass playing goals, I wanted to provide you with reviews I read that led me to purchase the TMBG course.

I am an analytical person by nature and in everything that I do, I research it to death!  So, when I was looking in to the TMBG course, I tried to find out as much as I could about it.  While this is not a complete list of reviews for TMBG, together, they provided me with enough information to make me believe that this is truly a stellar product.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I'd like to recognize Stanton Lawrence and his great blog (http://www.bassramblings.com/) as the inspiration for my creating this blog. Stanton is documenting his experience with TMBG by giving a thorough, honest account of each lesson. He's even pointed out a few issues with the documentation and videos that I believe the producers of TMBG (http://thelearningdock.com/) have since fixed.

Where Stanton's blog and my blog differ, is that Stanton's blog is from the point of view of a bass player with 25+ years experience. Stanton freely admits that even though he has so many years of experience, there was much is didn't know or bad habits he had developed that limited his development. My blog is from the point of view of the true beginner. I've only had my bass for ~3 months and have really only learned basic right hand and left hand technique in the 4 bass lessons I had taken recently. I know nothing of scales, and barely know any notes on the fretboard. I know the open strings and a few others but that's about it.

My goal is that my POV will give the brand new bass player looking for a structured learning tool the insight and confidence that the TMBG course is the right tool for them to obtain their bass playing goals.

Thanks Stanton! I appreicate your insights and inspiration!