In this video with Jaco Pastorius, he explains how he started out on bass guitar. He says that the first thing he was told to learn was the melody to every tune, something that most bass player’s overlook. Pastorius says how important it is and that it helps you to get a feel for the song rather than just learning to play the bass part. He says the same goes for all instruments, for example, a piano player should also know how to play the bass lines. One supports the other.
When asked what he studied to become a great bass player Jaco Pastorius says that he studied what was on the radio. He reveals that he didn’t learn to read music until much later and picked up how to play songs by just listening to them. It was easy for him to learn them that way as he says he has a natural talent for music.
Reading music wasn’t an easy thing for him to learn as he already knew how to play and had been playing for so long. However, it was something he wanted to learn how to do as he couldn’t do it. He says the only way to learn how to read music is to practice and explains how he would practice for hours a day just reading any music book he could get a hold of.
Jaco started out as a drummer in a funk rock band but changed to playing bass after the previous bass player in the band left. He said he learned to play in about a week. The host asks him about his famous fretless bass to which he says that he took the frets off in order to get it to sound more like an upright bass. (In later years Jaco admitted that he didn’t take the frets off himself and bought the Fender Jazz bass that way.)
At the end of the video, Jaco Pastorius gives another helpful tip and says how his father one came in and saw him ppracticinghis bass. He told him to play using one finger per fret, a very good technique, and something that should become natural to any good bass player.