Review: Lesson 12 – Teach Me Bass Guitar

Well, I feel like I am in the big leagues now!  Lesson 12 of Teach Me Bass Guitar definitely falls into the advanced category, and is a tough nut to crack.  My first time through I got lost in the initial exercises and it took me a while to wrap my head around what was going on.  Roy starts off by showing us a variation of the “Hazard” exercise introduced in an earlier lesson.  This exercise is downright painful for me to do.  After my first attempt I felt it was physically impossible, but after working through it a couple of more times I can do a feeble approximation of it.  From here Roy talks about swing feel and how it relates to the drummers ride cymbal and then launches into a somewhat brief explanation of the “Cycle of Fourths”.

Also know as the “Cycle of Fifths”, Roy gives us a quick run through of how the cycle of fourths works as well as a quick and easy way to run through the notes in the cycle.  This is where things started to get confusing for me.  Roy moves on to creating Walking Lines to use along with the cycle of fourths, but what he plays does not seem to relate to what is written in the book under the heading “Walking Lines”.  Adding to this confusion the edits in the video seem to be a bit jumpier here.  At one point Roy seemingly starts to explain a concept after running through the first Walking Line Pattern at 60 bpm and then the video just jumps to him playing it through at 80 bpm.  Not sure what happened there but it left me feeling like I had missed something important.  Once I decided that the book was of no use to me here, and focused solely on what he is playing I was able to catch on and successfully work through this portion of the lesson, but in all honesty I had to watch it 2 or 3 times before I could grasp the concept.  I still don’t fully understand what the written lines in the book are supposed to correspond to.  Roy quickly takes us through 3 different walking line patterns, each based on the cycle of fourths, then moves us up the neck to work on patterns that walk across the neck.  Here again there is no mention or example of this in the book.  He moves through it very quickly making it hard to follow the onscreen fretboard.  I actually ended up putting down my bass here to transcribe what he plays to help me get through it.  I am a very visual person so with no written material to fall back on I was lost.  Transcribing the examples actually helped me better understand it all so I guess it was a useful exercise for me.

“Turn Down” is the first song we learn in Lesson 12.  Roy jumps right into it from the confusion of the previous exercises, starting things off by playing the chords of the song on bass.  He then explains how a ii-V-I progression works before launching into the tutorial for the song.  Running through the song at 3 different tempos, things are definitely moving much quicker now.  At times it was a struggle to keep up, but that is what the loops are for, to fall back on and work through each tempo until you have it down.  Once the tutorials are done we head back into the “Club” to jam with the band, both with and without Roy playing bass.  Standard fare as from the past lessons.

The second tune, “Richest Daddy in the World”, has a Blues Walking Line and features the vocal stylings of Jonell.  To me, these lines are more straight forward and repetitive, making them easier for me to understand.  Roy presents us with 3 blues riff patterns plus a core riff pattern before leading us into the song.  Things get a little goofy here towards the end as they try to add some humorous elements into the clip to lighten things up a bit.  For now all I’ll say it to keep an eye out for the rabbit.  Once we have the riffs down we jump right into “Richest Daddy in the World” where we have to put them all together in the club with Jonell and the band.  I felt much more comfortable going into this tune as that I easily grasped the concept here.

Roy says that walking jazz lines are “Not an easy concept to get your head around”, a point that I definitely agree on.  I found this lesson to be very frustrating for a number of reasons.  The disconnect between the book and the video really threw me off.  It made me realize how much I depend on the written material.  The technical glitches added to my confusion, possibly because part of my work involves video production and these types of things are very apparent to me.  It was also clear to me that my ignorance of music theory is showing, which gives me renewed motivation to learn more in this area.  After working through this lesson several times I am left wondering if it is me or if this lesson is put together a little poorer than the previous.  From a production quality standpoint things can definitely be improved, yet after watching it a few times I can follow the concepts being presented.  As that this is Lesson 12 it certainly qualifies as an advanced lesson, which would presumably take more time to grasp.  In some ways I think I have reached the end of my comfort zone.  As frustrating as it is at times I am definitely learning new concepts and increasing my abilities as a bass player which is the reason I started this course in the first place.  I imagine the next 8 lessons will be even tougher, and you know what, I’m ready for it!

One Reply to “Review: Lesson 12 – Teach Me Bass Guitar”

  1. Hey, Stanton –

    I’m not surprised to hear you’ve had a challenging time with Lesson 12 – it’s definitely the “deep end” of the pool – but I’m sorry to hear you find a disconnect between the video lesson and the book. It was our intention, especially as the going begins to get a bit heavier at this point, to make the book more supplementary to the lesson than reflective of it, and I’m disappointed to hear of your frustration. Of course, our intention is to avoid such hiccups and, where they exist, to rectify them. So, if you find time in your busy schedule, I’d be grateful if you’d chronicle your observations on the specific points at which the book and the video diverge and to offer whatever suggestions for improvements you think would make the lesson better.

    As always, your time and thoughtful observations are deeply appreciate as we strive to improve TMBG! Please send them directly to me at [email protected].


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