Mastering the fretboard - not!

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ozrider
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Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by ozrider » 26 May 2018, 09:57

I have a confession. I haven't mastered the fretboard. I've been playing for over two decades now and its not for want of trying. I know where the notes are if I am going slow. But when I'm moving at pace in a song, I rely on scale patterns, typically being pentatonics, as I usually play pop/rock. I also don't worry much about improv over chord progressions as I almost always run fills around the turn-arounds and this usually sits around the key centre. That's my hack, I just can't hold chord ideas in my head, my brain does not process notes at the speed I need it to. I see patterns... not a single internet guru has been able to give me that pearl of wisdom that makes the notes work for me :banghead:

Surely there are guys/gals that see patterns and others that process notes easier... :peep:

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BazzBass
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by BazzBass » 26 May 2018, 12:08

you just have to learn the notes, or at least enough so that you can find the rest from there
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ozrider
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by ozrider » 26 May 2018, 12:27

BazzBass wrote:
26 May 2018, 12:08
you just have to learn the notes, or at least enough so that you can find the rest from there
I know the notes, but I default to patterns because it's easy to see them over the fretboard

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BassLine
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by BassLine » 26 May 2018, 13:05

It's an unconscious skill while playing. You're not supposed to regurgitate the note names for everything you play.

- Practise sight reading every day, that helped me more than anything.
- play everything you already know up (or down) an octave.

My favourite drill.....
1. play one specific note along the neck.
eg. Play all E's: Open E string, 2nd fret D string, 7th fret A string, 9th fret G string, 12th fret E string, etc. Work your way up and down.

2. Climb up/down chromatically. Repeat for all the F's along the neck. Then F#'s, etc.

3. Do it again but for the notes of a scale.
eg. F minor: all F's, G's, Ab's, Bb's, etc.
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BassLine
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by BassLine » 26 May 2018, 13:12

Ball breakers....

1. Single strings. Play entire basslines on only one string. eg. Only use the A string, jumping up the octave for the notes lower than open A.

2. Omit strings. Play songs you know but completely omit one of your strings.
eg. the A string.
Play the bass line at pitch, going up the neck on E string (or down the deck on the D string)without changing that particular bass line.
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by Macbass » 26 May 2018, 13:33

Relying on patterns is fine. If that's what gets you through gig then that's ok. As mentioned above, you're not meant to have note names tumbling out of your mouth as you play.
Knowledge of where the notes are on the fretboard IS important but it doesn't sound like that's the real problem. Yes, some people are big on patterns and some process notes: I'd be somewhere in the middle. It's about finding what works for you at the level you're playing at.
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by noplanb » 26 May 2018, 22:18

I'm Mr Pattern - four-finger major-scale position play - takes me a few moments to work out a note if asked, but I can tell you its relative just like that. In fact, I transcribe my song-sheets in numbers, not chords - that way I can transpose just by shifting my position.
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by slowlearner » 26 May 2018, 22:33

All stringed instruments were designed for easy pattern playing. Don't beat yourself up. However, if you want to break out of the patterns, the real challenge is trying to play the bass lines (or melodies) you hear in your head. That's beyond patterns and note names and into "music". ;)
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ozrider
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by ozrider » 27 May 2018, 00:31

I've been trying to make my brain work fast enough so I am playing notes AND patterns. While I usually have an idea of the notes around where I am playing, if I run up the fretboard quickly for a fill, well then its all patterns... my brain just won't process letters at speed.

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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by basshack » 27 May 2018, 08:27

^ See that's the problem you are trying to do both at the same time and while yes pattens are what we use for most stuff it's not how stuff is written. Having Ben at the VCA has been very interesting, it's all about scales, chords, notes! What works with what and why and not a single thing about pattens, it just happens to be a patten. Yet the start of our journey is this finger goes here, that finger goes there and so on until you have the patten for a scale. If you're lucky your teacher is telling you that is x note and the next is y but probably not. You're just going to have to retrain your brain if you want to move to notes and I'd be looking at transposing to script to get you to think about the notes first. But don't get stressed about all of this because it's not the be all and end all of playing well. One of my heroes of bass is Pino who can't read music and yet look at what he has been able to achieve. I wonder how many of the old guys actually know that they are playing a mixalodian over the tonic with a third inversion blah blah blah or whatever Ben comes home and tells me blew his mind today. There's a whole different world out there....
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by vin-tone » 27 May 2018, 10:57

slowlearner wrote:
26 May 2018, 22:33
All stringed instruments were designed for easy pattern playing. Don't beat yourself up. However, if you want to break out of the patterns, the real challenge is trying to play the bass lines (or melodies) you hear in your head. That's beyond patterns and note names and into "music". ;)
Absolutely this.

Scales and note recognition is just a means to an end. They help us render the lines we hear in our heads. IMO intervals are more important. If you keep in your head where your root is in many positions on the fretboard then any other not can be seen relative to that. its not important what letter is associated with the note, just what it sounds like in context.
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narcdor
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by narcdor » 27 May 2018, 11:05

Pino strikes me as a use your ears player, and he has good ears.
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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by RickG » 01 Jun 2018, 12:18

I've agonised over this too. I'm very much a pattern/shape guy, and stumbling on new fills and ideas when learning a new song that I'll reapply for others. I can't see it changing any time soon

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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by Aussie Mark » 01 Jun 2018, 14:20

ozrider wrote:
26 May 2018, 09:57
I have a confession. I haven't mastered the fretboard. I've been playing for over two decades now and its not for want of trying. I know where the notes are if I am going slow. But when I'm moving at pace in a song, I rely on scale patterns, typically being pentatonics, as I usually play pop/rock. I also don't worry much about improv over chord progressions as I almost always run fills around the turn-arounds and this usually sits around the key centre. That's my hack, I just can't hold chord ideas in my head, my brain does not process notes at the speed I need it to. I see patterns
Don't stress about it. I've been paid for doing exactly that for the past 35 years

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Re: Mastering the fretboard - not!

Post by stonecoldbass » 02 Jun 2018, 10:11

Interesting topic with some great responses! IMHO we are blessed and cursed as bass players with having an instrument that is very pattern based. On the one hand it means playing in different keys is not a technical challenge, but on the other it can lead to laziness in not fully understanding some aspects of harmony. I have to agree with Vin Tone in that Intervals and Chord tones are really what you want to be focussing on as these are the building blocks for solid harmonic and melodic bass lines. The ‘knowing the notes’ thing is important in order to find where those chords are on the fretboard, and also if you are in situations with other musicians where there might be discussions over what notes/chords to use. You don’t wanna be sitting there using trial and error to find that high F# the keyboard player wants you to play in the bridge ;) I don’t think knowing note names at speed is important, Janek talks about this a fair bit, the idea of learn, ingrain and forget. As long as you know certain target notes for example, ‘I’m gonna start this fill on the 3rd of the chord and land on the 1 of the next chord’ then that’s all that really matters. Whether you accomplish this by patterns or fingerboard knowledge or a bit of both, as long as the information, the content, is musical and accurate that’s all that matters.
I recommend some slow ‘chart sight reading’ ie play through a chord chart with a drum or backing track at a slow speed and see if you can hit all the roots and fifths etc, and know what those notes are. Start small and slow, and build up.
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