How to Teach Yourself The Bass

How to Teach Yourself The Bass

The bass guitar is the backbone of every great rock band. From the Rolling Stones to Green Day – great bass players can make or break songs. If you want to learn this booming instrument, keep reading. We can get you on the right track to become a great bassist!

How to Play the Bass

1. Inspiration and Research: What kind of bands do you love and listen to? How do you want to sound as a bassist? If you’re just picking one up you probably have preconceived notions of music based on your favorite bands.

Maybe you’re a jazz enthusiast, maybe you love classic rock. Check out live performances from your favorite musicians and you’ll definitely be inspired to play! Also, it’s worth considering what music styles you’re into.

If you love jazz you’ll want to start with some different skills rather than if you were a big rock fan. Do you want to play with a pick? Do you want to be able to slap the bass and bring the funk? The choice is yours!

2. Pick Your Bass: Do you want the classic rock-and-roll sharpness of a Fender Precision bass (favored by rock, punk, metal, and alternative artists) or are you more of a jazz player? Much like your research, your bass is essential to accomplishing the style of playing you’re into.

Don’t blow off quality instruments if you want to play seriously. It’s so worth it to invest in a P Bass or a Jazz Bass as great starts. Here are some from Fender!

You do NOT have to have a $700 bass to learn! You can find a variety of instruments on eBay, Craigslist, and local sale groups on Facebook. Check out those places for unique instruments that have great prices.

More often than not, musicians take extremely good care of their gear and will work with you to get you set up.

3. Get Bass-ic: First, check out local music shops to see if they offer lessons in bass guitar. If you’re serious about learning we recommend stopping in to learn your foundational skills at least once per week.

This way, you can keep practicing in your off-time and develop skills within a great structure. If you’re not being held accountable for your playing…will you truly develop? Think about it! 

Also, if you’re into learning independently there are tons of free bass lessons on YouTube – just search it! This is a great example of the foundational skills you can learn via YouTube. 

4. Play Your Favorites: Think about it…what is your favorite band? Why are they your favorite? The bass guitar is the backbone of every band and can have a huge effect on the sound and your perception of music.

The strength of a bassline can create an incredible vibe on top of your favorite songs, or should we say underneath.

Here are just a few songs with LEGENDARY basslines:

  • Longview by Green Day 
  • Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes 
  • Riders on the Storm by The Doors
  • Give it Away by Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
  • What’s Goin’ On by Marvin Gaye
  • Another One Bites the Dust + Pressure by Queen (feat. David Bowie)
  • Good Times by Chic

Try mastering these! They’re so much fun to play and will impress anyone who knows anything about music. Now, that’s a great feeling! 

5. Keep On Keepin’ On: Learning instruments is extremely hard. You can be the best bass player on Earth and still need to practice every single day. Use it or lose it! Your skills have to be honed in order to develop properly.

So, whether you want to play professionally, in a band, or just for fun, take your practice seriously and you’ll learn faster.

How Easy Is It To Teach Yourself the Bass Guitar?

Again, all instruments take time, focus, and practice to learn. It’s a really good thing to structure your bass pursuits with lessons. That’s the quickest way to succeed on any instrument. 

If a professional can set you up with skills like hand position, scales, how to use your right hand to add character and style to your playing, as well as some stage presence and flair, it’ll save you hours of frustration. 

If you teach yourself you’re more likely to pick up bad habits, like not plucking strings correctly, incorrect hand positioning, or even just playing incorrect notes. 

So the long and short of it is it is not easy to teach yourself an instrument, but if you structure things properly and diligently you can make great progress!

Is Bass The Easiest Instrument To Learn?

A lot of people assume that the bass is the easiest instrument as far as rock bands go. You just play the “bass” notes of chords right? Four or five notes per song? WRONG! Basslines can make or break your favorite songs. If you were to take a look at any huge rock hit, we bet it’s got a killer bassline.

Song Breakdown: Longview by Green Day

Let’s break down the song Longview by Green Day. It has one of the most famous basslines in pop-punk/rock music.

It consists of what is called a “walking” bassline that attaches a series of notes within a single scale that walk down” the neck of the guitar starting from frets that are higher on the fretboard and going down to the lower frets almost like you’re going down a ladder. 

The song has no guitar in the verses. That’s right…no guitar. How do you have a song and make it full with just the rhythm section (aka, drums and bass)? Simple — you have to fill the space with your bass line!

Mike Dirnt’s bass style is not always minimalist, but he has the distinct ability to create lines that stick in your head and make you want to play them all the time. 

If you listen to the song, you can hear the foundational roots of this line – scales. But then he adds a twist of variation, sending the bassline into legendary status. 

By the time the vocal line comes in a few measures from the front of the song, the bassline is already supporting Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics and pushes the song forward with an intense drive.

That way once the aggressive, 3-chord chorus comes in we’ve been primed for the attack of its lyrics and massive sound. 

Think about songs that you love…do they have some of these elements? If they do, you know that the bassline may be the most important part of the song itself. 

How Long Does It Take To Learn The Bass?

Learning the bass is a choose your own adventure. If you want to pursue that bass in a serious way with daily practice, you’ll learn it way faster. If you want to take it slow and learn for fun, of course, it’s going to take a longer amount of time. 

According to The Music Source, it takes 10,000 hours to master the bass guitar and many other instruments. Most people would take approximately 9 to 10 years to master the bass guitar. But that means mastering, not being proficient. What do you want to do with your bass skills?

Is Bass Fun To Play Alone?

Do bears live in the woods? Of course, the bass is fun to play alone! Being in a band is tons of fun, but the real work happens in your practice on your own. If you do not play regularly you’ll end up losing your skills. 

Learning bass to just have fun is a super cool hobby to have. Playing music is associated with releasing norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain (happy chemicals)! 

You can put your headphones in, plug in your guitar, power up that bass amp, and rock your weekend away! If you love music passionately and if you found this article, you’re probably meant to play bass. Pick one up and get going. 

Do it! 

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Written By Jason Ritter

I'm a part-time writer with decades of experience in all things related to the home. As a father of 4, I understand the importance of helpful information online about home living. I have also facilitated writing workshops at various institutions across the country. When I'm not writing or teaching, I'm usually working on my art or helping take care of the little ones.

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