The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar

  • ISBN13: 9781592573110
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Bass guitar basics—Audio CD included!

Whether readers have just picked up the bass or are learning to improve their technique, this book provides a strong foundation in reading music, purchasing the right equipment, and care and maintena

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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Learn to Think Like A Bass Player, September 6, 2006
E. Schlesinger (Washington, DC USA) –

This review is from: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar (Paperback)

David Hodge states in the introduction to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar that he wants to help his readers think like bassists. That seems like a rather lofty goal, but it’s one that I think he achieves.

Having recently joined my church band as the bass player despite having no prior experience with the instrument (though I do have a couple of years of steady progress on electric and acoustic guitar,) I was glad to see that this book has a different presentation style than the typical bass method book. It is much more discussion oriented, which gives it a unique teaching value that I found very helpful for self-study. (I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of the book many weeks ago, which is why I can write this review now even as the book first begins to officially ship.)

The first thing I noticed when I received my copy is how much text there is. Other bass books I purchased dive quickly into reading notation and playing one note, one string at a time, graduating up to scales and basic melody lines with very little explanatory text. Hodge takes a different route, that of mentor, guiding you through the how and why of every topic he presents, from finger placement during a riff to creating your own bass lines. Hodge writes in an easy-to-understand, down-to-earth manner, and it’s almost like having an experienced teacher there with you.

There is enough music theory to help you understand the basics of scales, chords and arpeggios, but not so much that you feel bogged down. Importantly, all of Hodge’s discussion on theory leads to practical application in the subsequent chapters. I was pleased to note that he explains but does not over-emphasize scale playing, but instead seems to focus on riffs and bass lines built using the chord tones that derive from scales. This is a more musical and interesting approach than you tend to find in other books (though a good foundation in the major scale won’t hurt, in my opinion).

Then there are the “jam along” songs. These are the meat and potatoes of Hodge’s presentation, and the reason I think this book exceeds where others may fall a bit short. At the most basic level, you can use these songs (really they are a framework for building a song) and the provided example riffs to practice your techniques and timing. From there, you can use the same songs as a springboard for improvisation, by coming up with your own riffs using the earlier lessons. When I was taking guitar lessons my teacher used a similar technique – he called it “structured improvisation” – and I found it to be an excellent way to learn to think about what I was playing.

Hodge also provides insight into real-world issues bass players may face, such as the scarcity of tablature or even sheet music for bass, and the many types of written music that a bass player might have to deal with – from the bass clef in piano sheet music to crude lyric sheets with guitar chords hopefully scrawled above the verses.

There are a handful of typos or misplaced examples in the book, but Hodge intends to post a web page with corrections (how’s that for service?!) Furthermore, he is regularly available at the GuitarNoise web forum for anyone with questions.

I do have a couple of complaints, both concerning the accompanying CD. First, I would have preferred that each example in the book have its own track on the CD, though I’m told it’s not technically possible to put that many tracks on a single disc (there are well over 150 examples!) As it is, there are instances where several examples are necessarily lumped into the same CD track, making it difficult to quickly jump to a particular example. One has to queue up the example using the CD player’s fast-forward or rewind button. Related to this, the track numbers containing the examples are referenced only in an appendix, not in the main body of the book. In my opinion they should have been noted next to the example in the text.

Second, at least on my copy of the CD, the recorded volume of the bass seems somewhat low relative to Hodge’s voice. I have to turn up my stereo’s volume to hear the bass clearly, but then the spoken introduction to each example gets a tad loud. Again, these are very minor issues, neither of which detracts from the excellent material in the book.

I am really pleased with what I’ve learned from this book in a fairly short time period, and intend to keep working with it even as I incorporate other books into my studies. I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about getting into bass. And don’t forget to order it through the Guitar Noise site (it will take you back to Amazon) – this adds no cost to you, and it may help keep the site functioning smoothly so Mr. Hodge can answer your questions online.

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
6 stars, October 27, 2006
estambre (Spain) –
This review is from: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar (Paperback)

I apologize for the long review but it corresponds to how intense the experience was.

I’m 40 and have learned to play guitar in the last 4 years and a half, mostly through David’s lessons on Guitar Noise.
I had no previous musical education as such before these four years.

I decided to read the book as a way to expand my knowledge of both the guitar and bass. I used to be a drummer, so rhythm -although new in writing- is not new to me itself. That’s my only advantage against somebody totally new to learning music.

I’m a good example of not talented musician who can finally express himself musically, since I like music a lot and have played with several bands over the years, but couldn’t compose or interpret songs with just drums, which I only started playing semi-ok after many years . I had always thought i was unable to understand any other instrument aside from the drums.

Please don’t read my review as if I’m saying you need a lot of experience in order to read this book. It’s actually the other way around. You are going to become a much better musician after going through this book. How I did it just introduces “slow-learning me”, and I’m positive David’s book would be a highly interesting way to get started from scratch and getting an incredibly firm foundation along the way.

As with every good reading, you’re not going to get away with this book or other of David’s lessons with your eyes closed if you’re a novice. Just as you won’t get away with your musical education that quickly unless you’re really talented.

In which case you don’t need this book. If you have been a musically gifted person from birth onwards, you don’t need this.

If you need to be taught (as is usually the case and where the idiot in the title sort of makes sense), Hodge’s book is close to having a parent or a really good friend go along with you in the learning process. But then again, you couldn’t possibly be looking for a book like this, being that talented , would you?

So if you’re one of us idiots in the book’s title, hang on there and rewards will be ripped. This is a learner’s feast.

In my case, this book has been a complement to David’s online guitar lessons. I must confess that (strange as it may sound) I haven’t used the book for playing the bass yet.

It’s taken me some four months to read the whole book minding the musical notation, and I can finally read both guitar and bass staves. As I said I wanted to read the book to improve my understanding of music in general as applied to bass (and guitar).

I had a few notions about the treble cleff from learning the guitar with David’s lessons but had until now thoroughly ignored the F-staff. Very poorly, but I can read music in both cleffs now and find my way through written music (tab is also included here and I started using it as a crutch, but I thought I should go beyond this time).

At the same time I read Dave’s, I have been learning to actually play the bass over another not particularly good bass blues book. But David’s has helped me to learn the other book much faster and grasp its usable concepts much better.

A lot of other fundamental musical concepts applied to the instrument have become clearer. One of the most important is how to relate to the guitarrist. Apart from rhythm you will physically (not just theoretically) understand a song’s chords and melody. David is going to teach you what you can do in a song in these regards.

I am a Spaniard and I don’t think I’ll ever get to meet this guy. But one thing is clear: he has taught me something I thought to be beyond my reach no matter how much I craved for it. I can use a bass or a guitar now on a song after a short while. That’s why I write this: to share and thank for the skill I may otherwise have never acquired.

I don’t think there’s a better way to start learning the bass (and get advanced) than this book and cd. I have bought a few methods lately and this is the most solid starting point by far.

I will post something when I go for playing alongside the book’s cd.

Until then, have a nice bass playing time and don’t play safe! Anything else, ok. But playing safe? Well you know what I mean…

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finally! – A bass guitar guide that arrives perfectly setup!!, September 20, 2006
J. Martin (Housatonic, MA, USA) –

This review is from: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Bass Guitar (Paperback)

Mr. Hodge has accomplished no mean feat – he has written an eminently readable and playable book on both the “hows” and “whys” of bass guitar. Beginners will find everything they need to start comfortably and move forward as far as their willingness to practice – this book will take you more than a little deep into the outfield if you have the legs. Intermediate (even advanced) players should not be put off by the title – there is enough substance and theory here to assist players at any level.

Worth noting is that, in addition to the usual notes and tablature, there is plenty of text as well (a nice change for a music book) and it’s all put to good use. Mr. Hodge anticipates questions very well, and his conversational writing style translates superbly to learning an instrument.

The accompanying CD is well-produced, well-integrated, and great fun to play along with. I am finding the Bass Guide as enjoyable as it is useful – very highly recommended!

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