When I decided to start teaching this is the first book that I bought – my thoughts were to use it as my teaching ‘master text’ – it’s actually 3 volumes bound together into one edition.
I’ve got a high regard for the book’s author – Ed Friedland. Back in the day when I started my first band/business I needed work of some sort to pay the rent and the other bills whilst waiting for the gigs to come in/business to take off. To cut to the chase my business partner and I spent the first year or so making ends meet by playing background jazz 4 or 5 nights a week in restaurants and hotels (crappy gigs – shoved in a corner and ignored! – crappy pay too, £30 each and a pizza) and I used Ed’s first book ‘Building Walking Bass Lines’ as a crash course in playing jazz.
THAT book was great, taught the fundamentals of walking bass in a clear and concise way and enabled me to go from no idea to passable in about 10 days of heavy duty in the woodshed (6 – 8 hour days).
Shortly after that his second book came out – ‘Expanding Walking Bass Lines’ – and that enabled me to build on what I’d learnt from his first book.
So my expectations were kind of high – since then the author has also released several other books, a couple of which I have – and I always found his material well presented, informative etc etc.
So I’ve gotta be honest and tell you that I was disappointed with this book. Sure it covers all the basics, but there’s a lot of info about scales and arpeggios – and you know what I think about that RIGHT? – and once I’d read through the book (and played some of the examples) I knew that the material wasn’t inspiring enough for me to want to teach it.
(That said if you can play a bit and want to learn to read music going through this book would teach you pretty much all the fundamentals in a pretty clear and easy to understand way – so that’s a plus).
So if I’m not keen on the book why am I reviewing it?
Well there are 3 reasons.
And here they are:
These books were published as a supplement to the Hal Leonard Bass Method – each one features 20 bass lines in standard notation only. The volumes are:
1) Easy Pop Bass Lines (includes Come as you are, Lady Madonna, Surfin USA, All The Small Things, My Girl and Smoke on the water.)
2) More Easy Pop Bass Lines (includes Paranoid, Message in a bottle, Summer of ’69, Rhiannon, My Generation and Day Tripper)
3) Even More Easy Pop Bass Lines (includes Another One Bites the Dust, Come Together, Badge, I Wish and Under Pressure).
There is also a version of these books with Cds so you have a ready made backing track to practice the tunes with. In my opinion THIS IS WHAT ED SHOULD HAVE BUILT HIS COURSE AROUND! If you’ve read some of my articles (eg How to Play the Bass in 50 songs) you’ll know my feelings on the matter!
For a beginner bass player the Hal Leonard Bass Method COULD be a good starting place to get you up and running. My concerns however are that most beginners will find the material too scale and theory orientated – as I’ve noted many times before the most common reason for people to take up the bass is to play in a band with their friends or emulate a bass idol – NOT LEARN SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS.That aside the non reading bass player who wants to learn to read music could do a lot worse than start with the Hal Leonard Bass Player – and the accompanying Easy Pop Bass Lines series – to learn how to read.