The future of music

How to Play Bass Guitar: Ultimate Guide to Learning Bass Guitar

July 21, 2023
how to play bass guitar

If you want to learn how to play bass guitar but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place!

Our comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know as a beginner.

We will introduce you to essential chords as well as your first songs.

So without further ado, let’s start with your first bass guitar lesson!

Table of Contents

PART 1 – Starting Out 

Chapter 1: Things to Keep in Mind 

On the stage, the bass guitar maybe isn’t in the spotlight like the guitar or drums, but it’s hard to imagine a rock show without it. 

But the bass is an integral part of many other genres, including funk, R&B, and soul. 

The bass guitar bridges the gap between melody and rhythm, and it’s essential for providing rhythm and groove. And a good bassline can change everything – even help an average song to become a hit.

Either way, skilled bassists are always in demand, so if you learn how to play the bass guitar, you’ll undoubtedly find someone to play with right away. 

But there are plenty of other reasons for you to pick up the bass guitar. So if you’re still not sure if this is the right instrument for you, these bass guitar facts might affect your decision. 

person playing brown bass guitar

1.1. Benefits of Learning How To Play Bass Guitar – 7 Reasons 

Reason #1: It sounds and feels so good

Firstly, playing bass guitar feels very powerful. After all, the bass line can be the coolest thing about a song, and being responsible for its smooth flow feels amazing.

Reason #2: It’s less popular than the guitar

If you’re interested in joining a band, you’ll probably have less competition than guitarists and drummers. The bass guitar is a popular instrument, but it’s not as glorified as some other instruments on the bandstand. 

Reason #3: You’ll develop a sense of rhythm 

The bass guitar provides a steady beat, and it provides the foundation for the rest of the band. That being said, learning how to play bass guitar will help you develop a perfect sense of rhythm. 

Reason #4: It’s a good foundation

Bass guitar lessons will undoubtedly help you pick up any other instrument (especially guitar) more easily. You’ll already know music theory, rhythm, chords, and much more. 

Reason #5: Playing bass guitar builds confidence 

Becoming a good bass guitar player will certainly help you boost your confidence. 

Reason #6: It develops creativity 

And you’ll be actively working on developing your creativity. Playing bass guitar will help you understand how melody and rhythm work, but it will also allow you to become good at composing and arranging. 

Reason #7: It’s good for your health 

Playing bass guitar also comes with physiological and psychical benefits. It will improve your memory, concentration, and hand and eye coordination. 

Playing guitar is also a great way to relieve stress and reduce anxiety levels. Therefore, it’s good for your mood and overall mental health.

person smiling playing bass guitar

Are there any disadvantages to learning bass guitar?

The only disadvantage of choosing the bass guitar might be the size of its neck, which makes it more challenging to hold and play for some students.

The strings on the bass guitar are also bigger, so you’ll have to build finger strength in order to play it smoothly. 

But these drawbacks shouldn’t affect your learning process. Gaining any new skills entails obstacles, but if you’re motivated and dedicated, you’ll be able to overcome them.

1.2. What to Expect 

One of the concerns of people who want to learn bass guitar is that learning the guitar is expensive and time-consuming.

Certainly, that depends on your goals and expectations. But either way, if you want to learn how to play bass guitar well, you’ll have to invest time and money. 

So, how expensive and time-consuming playing the bass guitar really is? 

Is learning bass guitar expensive?

Playing the bass guitar can be pricey because you’ll have to invest in the instrument, accessories, lessons…

However, the price of bass guitars varies – some bass guitars for beginners cost less than $200.

But generally, bass guitars cost between $100 and $2,000. Of course, there are also high-end models that can cost up to $10,000.

As a beginner, you can opt for a nice starter bass guitar and a trusted brand. 

Another expense you have to take into account is bass guitar lessons. Lessons with a guitar teacher can cost anywhere from $20 to $100+ per hour. There are also bass guitar learning platforms that offer affordable online bass guitar lessons. Finally, guitar learning apps and online programs are probably the cheapest options.

We’ll discuss the advantages and drawbacks of online and in-person bass guitar lessons in our Buying Guide down below.

Additionally, if you want to take your bass guitar learning seriously, you should invest in several accessories. Some essential guitar accessories you should consider purchasing include a hard guitar case or a good gig bag, amplifier, tuner, metronome, strap, and stand. 

All things considered, learning how to play bass guitar isn’t the cheapest hobby, but it can also be affordable. At the end of the day, once you buy your instrument and accessories, you won’t have to worry about bigger expenses for a while.

white bass guitar with amplifier

How much practice does bass guitar require? 

The question that also often comes up in beginner’s bass guitar conversation is: how much do I need to practice?

Of course, that mainly depends on your goals and wishes. What level do you want to achieve, and what is your reason for wanting to learn bass guitar? 

If you want to master the basics and learn simple bass lines, you don’t have to practice 5 hours a day. A good 15-30-minute practice session every day (or every other day) will quickly bring you the results you want.

If you want to become a skilled bass guitar player, you’ll have to practice a lot more. And if you want to become a professional bassist, you have a long journey ahead of you. 

However, whatever your goals are, you’ll have to be consistent. It’s better to practice for 20 minutes each day than for two hours on Sunday.

That being said, try to practice at least 15 minutes a day. This will help you incorporate bass guitar practice into your daily routine more easily, and it will eventually bring you the results you want. 

Even if you don’t see progress every day, don’t worry – if you’re practicing correctly, you’re making progress.

1.3. What Age Is the Best to Learn Guitar? 

Another thing we want to clarify is the right age for learning bass guitar. 

If you’re wondering if you’re too old to learn guitar, the short answer is no. It’s never too late to start learning the bass guitar.

However, kids are amazing learners, and most professional bassists started to play guitar in childhood. But adult learners also have many advantages. 

Learning Bass Guitar as an Adult

As an adult, you’re used to having responsibilities and you know how to stick to your schedule. So taking bass guitar lessons and maintaining regular practice won’t be so difficult.

Moreover, most adults start with their guitar lessons because they’re eager to learn something new, or they’ve wanted to do it for a while now but didn’t get the chance. And motivation and desire to learn are very important here.

Also, as an adult, you probably have some experience with music that will come in handy during your lessons – whether it’s developing a feel for rhythm or memorizing songs you want to play. 

Learning Bass Guitar as a Child 

On the other hand, there are definite advantages to learning the guitar at an early age.

The best age for kids to start learning bass guitar is eight or nine. This ‘later’ age is better because the bass guitar has bigger strings and a neck. 

Nevertheless, kids pick up bass guitars quite easily, mostly because the bass guitar has only four strings. 

So although people usually don’t associate bass guitar with instruments for kids, this is actually a great activity for kids. It introduces them to music theory, rhythm, and melody, and it improves their focus, memory, and musicality.

Chapter 2: Bass Guitar Buying Guide 

2.1. How to Choose Your First Bass Guitar 

With so many bass guitar models on the market, buying your first guitar can be a bit overwhelming. 

To make your buying process easier, you should first decide what type of guitar you want.

Bass guitars come with four or five strings, so that’s the first decision you need to make. If you’re a first-time beginner, we suggest you stick to four strings. 

The standard 4-string bass guitar is tuned just like the lowest four strings of a guitar, but an octave lower. That’s why this is also convenient for guitar players who are transitioning to bass. 

Knowing what type of music you want to play can help determine the type of bass you purchase. On the other hand, you can play any style of music on any bass guitar. So you don’t have to worry about styles just yet. 

But there are other factors you should consider when buying your first bass guitar. 

To determine what kind of bass guitar you want, we suggest asking yourself the following questions:

What is my budget?

Before going to a music store or browsing bass guitars online, you should determine your budget. That way you’ll narrow down the choices and be able to make a purchase in a quicker and more efficient way.

What type of guitar do I want?

Besides strings, bass guitars vary in looks, type of wood, body (it can be solid, semi-hollow, etc), and sound they produce. 

Then there are also acoustic and electric bass guitars. We suggest getting an electric bass guitar first, as they are generally easier to play. 

Who will play the guitar?

You should also think about who’s going to use the guitar you’re buying. Will your children also play with it? If you’re a beginner, do you want to buy an entry-level bass guitar and upgrade later on? 

Rent or buy?

If you’re uncertain if you’ll continue with your bass guitar lessons, you can opt for a bass guitar renting option. Check out what kind of bass guitars you can get in your area and if they fit your expectations.

Research the brands!

Before heading to a music store or instrument-buying website, conduct a little research about the most popular bass guitar brands. Every bass guitar manufacturer has their own values and target customers, so make sure the brand you’re purchasing aligns with your goals and abilities.

four bass guitars

Features to Look for in Bass Guitar

When buying your first bass guitar, make sure you purchase a model that fits your level and abilities. 

We also suggest opting for a trusted brand. 

Furthermore, although it’s more convenient to search for a bass guitar online, it’s easier to go to a music store. That way, a salesman will tell you all you need to know and answer all of your questions.

However, you should come in there prepared. Assuming you’ve researched the brands and determined the type of guitar you want, you’ll be able to make a shortlist.

Once the salesman shows you a couple of guitars, you can try to hold them and play a few notes. Holding the guitar should feel right, and you should be able to reach everything comfortably.

And of course, the bass guitar needs to sound good, and it needs to be able to stay in tune.

Before you purchase the model you like, make sure the guitar neck joint doesn’t have any cracks or damage. 

Useful Bass Guitar Buying Resources 

If you’re looking for a more detailed guitar buyer’s guide, you can check out the following websites:

2.2. Bass Guitar Accessories 

Besides getting a bass guitar that fits your level, budget, and abilities, you should also invest in essential bass guitar accessories. 

Amplifier 

An amplifier is an important piece of gear because you won’t hear much from your bass otherwise.

As a beginner, you can get a simple amplifier. And don’t forget about the cable you’ll use to connect it to your guitar. 

Gig bag 

A case or a good gig bag will keep your guitar safe. It’s essential for traveling, as it will protect your instrument from scratching and weather conditions.

Guitar strap 

A guitar strap will make your practice so much easier. 

Also, traps for electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and bass guitars can all be used interchangeably.

Guitar stand 

If your guitar doesn’t come with a stand, you should definitely get one. A good stand will keep your guitar safe and unscratched between uses.

Metronome 

Metronome is an incredibly useful tool, especially for beginners. You can get a ‘real’ stand-alone metronome or simply download a metronome app.

Bass Guitar Maintenance 

Like any other instrument, bass guitars require care and maintenance. 

To keep your bass in good shape for a longer period of time, you should clean it regularly. You can simply wipe it off with a cloth after your practice. 

If you play regularly, you should also change your strings every 6 to 8 weeks.

Finally, pay attention to the humidity level. Moisture will make your guitar less playable, so making sure your instrument sleeps in a dry place is essential. 

2.3. How to Find Bass Guitar Lessons 

See also: Best Online Bass Guitar Lessons 

With so many great online programs and music apps, hiring a guitar instructor or going to a music school is no longer your only option.

Online bass guitar programs are indeed a great way to learn the guitar. They’re convenient, affordable, and efficient, and some of them even offer video lessons taught by famous musicians. 

And learning apps, besides providing you with useful information, allow you to learn in a fun and engaging way. They often feature interactive exercises, games, quizzes, and so on.

However, many would agree that nothing beats in-person lessons. After all, traditional lessons will ensure you clear guidance and a professional approach. Also, a teacher can point out your weak spots and help you improve them. 

But at the end of the day, it all comes down to your preferences, abilities, and learning habits. So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of popular ways of learning bass guitar. 

In-Person Lessons 

Pros:

  • direct, personalized feedback
  • clear guidance
  • professional teaching methods 

Cons:

  • pricey 
  • lack of flexibility

Bass Guitar Learning Apps 

Pros:

  • affordable
  • fun and engaging 
  • you can choose your learning material
  • extensive song libraries 

Cons:

  • lack of quality feedback
  • lack of advanced content

Online Bass Guitar Lessons

Pros:

  • affordable
  • you can learn from home
  • flexible 

Cons:

  • lack of quality feedback

Combination of Methods 

Another viable option is to combine learning methods. For example, you can meet with a guitar coach once a month, and practice with an app or an online program in the meantime.

Why not take advantage of the different options you have at your disposal?

Also, no matter what you choose, it’s important to establish a learning and practice routine. You might feel overwhelmed or a bit lost otherwise. 

Generally speaking, online learning programs are a great source because they offer structured learning. Lessons are usually linear, and you can move forward once you complete them. 

2.4. Other Methods 

On the other hand, with so many learning options out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused. But if you know what you’re looking for, everything will be easier.

There’s no single best way to learn bass guitar for beginners. Everyone has their own preferences and unique learning habits. 

Traditional methods might be more pricey, but they will provide you with quality learning and clear guidance. 

Modern methods turned out to be quite effective too. Online music programs and apps are designed to teach you how to play bass guitar quickly and easily. And you’ll probably have a lot of fun along the way. 

So, you need to choose a learning path you believe it’s best for you. Luckily, we live in a time when it’s possible to learn guitar regardless of where you live. New technologies also allow us to learn in a productive as well as cost-effective way. 

Finally, regardless of your learning source, gaining bass guitar skills takes time and dedication. But we promise it will be worthwhile!

woman playing bass guitar

PART 2 – Mastering the Fundamentals 

Now that you know what to expect from your bass guitar learning journey and how to find the right bass for you, let’s start with your first lesson! 

Chapter 3: First Steps 

3.1. How to Hold a Bass Guitar

Before playing your first notes, you need to learn how to hold the bass guitar properly.

As a beginner, we recommend using a shoulder strap (even if you’re sitting down) because it will help you evenly distribute the weight of the guitar.

If you’re playing a right-handed bass guitar, keep in mind the following steps:

1. Use your left hand to hold the instrument’s neck

2. With your right hand, you’ll strum the strings

3. Keep the instrument close to your body

If you’re using a bass pick, you should hold it between your right thumb and index finger.

3.2. How to Tune a Bass Guitar 

Before starting with your lessons, you need to make sure your bass is in tune. If your instrument isn’t tuned correctly, your basslines will sound way off. And you won’t be able to develop the necessary listening skills.

All in all, tuning a bass guitar is a priority. However, it can be a bit challenging for beginners.

Fortunately, electronic tuners make tuning a whole lot easier. There are also numerous tuning apps that can help you out.

But if you want to try out the traditional way, you can turn the tuning pegs on your bass to match the pitch of another instrument. Alternatively, you can get one string in tune (the low E, for example) and then use that string as a reference pitch.

Chapter 4: Basic Skills 

4.1. Bass Finger Techniques

In bass playing, the fingers are numbered like this: 

  • T = thumb
  • 1 = index finger
  • 2 = middle finger
  • 3 = ring finger
  • 4 = pinky finger

And if you’re using a three-finger technique with your right hand, you’ll use your thumb (T), middle finger (m), and index finger (i).

Some players play bass with a pick. Whether you want to use a pick or your fingers depends entirely on your preference. 

Playing bass with a pick

Using a pick to play bass generally produces a sharp, punchy tone ideal for metal and rock genres. But if you experiment with different picks (of different thicknesses) you can get all kinds of sounds.

Besides versatility, playing bass with a pick is good for speed. With the bass pick, you can plunk out notes more quickly than with your fingers. 

You can also alternate between upstrokes and downstrokes (also known as tremolo picking), and so on. 

Playing bass with your fingers 

However, playing with your fingers (fingerstyle) is the most common way of playing the bass guitar.

This way of playing will allow you to produce a smoother sound. You’ll also be able to implement different techniques once you reach more advanced levels.

Many players pluck the strings with the index and middle fingers of their right hand, and others use more than just these two fingers to play. Either way, you’ll need some time to get comfortable with plucking.

When you pluck the string, your finger should roll over the top of the string. And you don’t need to pluck the strings very hard. 

Also, if you pluck nearer to the neck of the bass you’ll get a fatter, warmer tone while plucking nearer to the bridge provides a brighter, more percussive tone.

In the end, you’ll choose a technique that suits you best, depending on your feeling and preferred music styles.

Left-hand technique

Your left hand is, of course, no less important. As we’ve already mentioned, for bass guitarists the left index finger is 1, the middle finger is 2, the ring 3, and the pinky 4. 

You will use your left hand for fretting. You can try to fret a note on the bass by resting your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the low E string. Now, begin to pluck or pick the low E string with your right hand in a slow and steady rhythm. 

With time, you’ll know exactly how much pressure you need to apply to get a particular tone. Until then, you can gradually increase the amount of pressure until you hear a clear note.

4.2. Notes on Bass Guitar 

And now we’re going to help you find the low E string on your bass.

Generally, the difference between bass and guitar strings is that the bass E, A, D, and G are an octave lower than those on the guitar. In other words, a 4-string bass is normally tuned exactly one octave below the bottom four strings of a standard 6-string guitar.

Let’s start with the open strings on the bass guitar. On bass guitar, the 4th string is the lowest sound string (closest to the ceiling), and the 1st string is the highest sounding string. 

So, it goes like this:

  • 4th = E
  • 3rd = A
  • 2nd = D
  • 1st = G

The next step is to learn the names of the natural notes on the 4th and 3rd strings. You’ll need these notes for common scale and arpeggio shapes you’ll use to create bass lines. 

These are the natural notes on the 4th string of the bass:

bass lines notes

After the 12th fret, the names of the notes just repeat. So, the higher fret markers are equivalent to the lower ones (just an octave higher.)

And these are the natural notes on the 3rd string of the bass:

notes on bass lines

You should also remember that all natural notes (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) are a whole step (2 frets) apart, except between E-F and B-C which are a half step (1 fret) apart.

And when we talk about natural notes, we mean notes without any sharps and flats. Sharps and flats change the note – a sharp raises a natural note by a half step (1 fret), while a flat lowers the natural note by a half step.

But you shouldn’t worry about sharps and flats just in your first lessons.

4.3. Difference Between Chords and Notes 

Before moving on, we want to clarify the difference between bass guitar chords and notes.

Notes are solitary pitches that you hear when you pluck one string, and a chord is a group of notes played together at the same time.

As a bass guitar beginner, you’ll probably learn how to play chords first. That being said, let’s take a look at the basic guitar chords.

4.4. Playing Bass Chords 

Although playing chords on a bass isn’t as common as playing chords on a guitar, it’s necessary to learn how to do it. After all, bass chords will help you add nuance and rhythm to a song. 

Plus, the knowledge of basic bass chords is useful for creating basslines, and it will generally help you understand how music works.

As we mentioned earlier, the strings on a bass correspond with the first four strings of a guitar. And that’s why many guitar chords that require using only the first four strings can be played on bass.

Open-position chords are played in the first three or four frets (near the nut), and they are usually easier to play than movable chords. 

Major chords produce an open, more cheerful sound, while minor chords sound rather sad. 

Unlike open-position chords, movable chords can be moved up and down the neck of the bass, depending on a root note.

Playing chords can be a bit tricky for beginners, but it’s crucial. Once you memorize notes and learn how to read tabs (we’ll show you how down below), you’ll be able to incorporate chords into your practice.

person playing red bass guitar

4.5. Playing Bass Scales 

In short, a scale is a series of notes played in an ascending or descending order. And a set of notes (8 notes in total) is called an octave.

Furthermore, each scale begins with a root note. Consequently, the final note of a scale is also a root note (but an octave higher.)

When it comes to the most common bass scales, the G Major scale is probably the easiest one. It goes like this:

  • 1st Note (Root Note): G
  • 2nd Note: A
  • 3rd Note: B
  • 4th Note: C
  • 5th Note: D
  • 6th Note: E
  • 7th Note: F#
  • 8th Note (Root note, one octave higher): G

Other popular bass scales you can tackle in your future lessons include the A Major bass scale, E Major scale, A Natural Minor bass scale, G Natural Minor bass scale, and Bb Major bass scale. 

4.6. How to Create a Bassline 

One of the most important things you’ll learn as a bass beginner is how to create a bassline.

A bassline is a series of notes that ties together chord tones, the key of the song, and the rhythm. So a bassline is connecting melody and beat, and that’s why bass is considered to be the foundation of every song.

However, building a bassline requires understanding the basics of playing bass. For instance, you need to know the key to a song you want to play. And that’s where the knowledge of chords and scales comes in handy – that’s how you’ll find the root note and the key.

But the bass is also important for the rhythm, and that’s why it’s also necessary to consider the tempo or signature of a song. 

Walking bass lines serve to drive the song forward. With a walking bass line, bassists make chord progressions from one chord to another. We’ll show you all the important elements of walking bass lines later on.

PART 3 – Music Theory 

Before moving forward with crafting basslines and playing famous songs on bass, it’s important for you to get to know basic music theory.

Music theory isn’t something students should be afraid of. It is, in fact, a foundation for making music, and it’s a necessary part of education for every aspiring musician. 

Chapter 5: How to Read Bass Tab 

Bass TAB (or bass tablature) is a simple way of writing down music. And learning how to read bass tabs is one of the first things you can do as a beginner.

Knowing how to read sheet music is a useful skill for anyone interested in music. However, getting familiar with the notation and sheet music is essential for pianists. As a bassist, you can use a simpler, more accessible format (for starters.)

Let’s take a look at the Bass TAB and how it translates on your instrument:

frets on bass guitar

As you can see, the bass tab shows the strings of the bass drawn horizontally. The strings are drawn with the lowest-pitched string (the thickest one) at the bottom. Zeros (0) represent open strings.

That said, looking at a Bass TAB is like looking down at the bass in your hands.

Notes are indicated by fret number, written on the string on which it is played. So a number on a line is telling you to play a specific note on that string.

You might also notice some symbols on Bass TAB. They may represent different bass techniques such as slides, bends, hammer-ons, and slapping. For example, ‘h‘ in Bass TAB is short for ‘hammer-on’ (when you play a note and hammer-on to a higher note.)

Rhythm 

In most cases, rhythm isn’t indicated in the Bass TAB. And that’s why note-reading skills are so important.

Western music is divided up into bars (measures), and each bar cycles a certain number of beats. That’s what ‘4/4’ you see at the beginning of the staff means; this is also the most common time signature. 

So, a time signature indicates the number of beats – four beats per bar, in this case. 

You also need to be familiar with the tempo or the pace of a song. In guitar playing, the tempo is measured in Beats per Minute (bpm) – so this is basically the speed at which you perform a certain song.

Since you’re a beginner, we suggest using a metronome. That’s how you’ll develop a sense of rhythm and improve your timing. 

You can also practice bass rhythm while playing over a backing track.

But don’t be discouraged t if you don’t get it right from the start. To practice more effectively, you should play the bass at a slower speed first. Once you feel comfortable with a certain scale or bass line, you can increase your speed. 

Chapter 6: More About Basslines 

As you already know, the bass line is one of the essential parts of bass playing. And a bass line is sort of like a riff that is played throughout the song, accompanying the vocals and other instruments. 

Walking bass lines are basically a set of notes of equal intensity and duration (usually ¼) notes, and they sometimes have rhythmic variations. So, they “walk” between different chords.

Some of the most famous walking bass lines include the bass line in“Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen and “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. 

And to play a walking bassline, you need to become familiar with some of the following elements.

Roots and fifths 

Playing the roots is important for every bass beginner – that’s basically how bassists lead the group.

The root of the chord is the note that the chord is built on. If the guitarist is playing an A Major chord, then your note will be A. 

Furthermore, the root and the fifth pattern is one of the most common note patterns (after the roots themselves.) And just like the octave pattern, the root-fifth pattern is the same shape over the neck of the bass. 

Finally, the most simple walking bass line can be made up of only roots and fifths – and that’s why it’s important to learn how to play them early on.

Arpeggios

Besides roots and fifths, your beginner bass guitar lessons should also cover arpeggios. 

If you also include the 3rd and 7th of a particular chord, you’ll get an arpeggio of the harmony.

Playing arpeggios adds harmonic diversity to your performance, and it will ultimately help you play walking bass lines. 

But as a beginner, it’s important to take it one step at a time and master the basic techniques first. 

person playing black guitar

Chapter 7: Your First Songs 

One of the best parts of learning how to play bass is playing the songs you love.

Of course, learning new songs on bass is extremely rewarding, but you have to be patient – in the beginning, you should stick to beginner-friendly bass songs suitable for your level.

Fortunately, some iconic bass lines are actually fairly easy to learn. And there are many tutorials that can help you learn them.

So if you don’t feel comfortable with reading bass tabs just yet, video tutorials can help you get through your first songs. Nevertheless, we suggest taking a look at the tab or sheet music too.

7.1. Easy Songs on Bass

1. “La Grange” by ZZ Top 

“La Grange” by ZZ Top is a great song for bass beginners because it has a very simple riff and notes.

The song is all about a steady tempo, so you’ll have a chance to work on your rhythm and technique. 

This song will also introduce you to alternate picking and string muting. 

2. “Another One Bites to Dust” by Queen 

“Another One Bites to Dust” is Queen’s signature song recognizable by its iconic bass line.

Lucky for you, this famous bass line is suitable for beginners – if you’ve mastered the basics, you won’t have any problems learning it. 

3. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson 

“Beat It” is another timeless classic you can add to your repertoire. 

The song is fun and relatively easy to play. If the tempo is too fast for you, you can play it at a reduced speed first.

4. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana 

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” has one of the most important bass lines in grunge and rock music.

That being said, learning this Nirvana classic should be a must for every bass player. 

5. “Come Together” by The Beatles 

And the same goes for “Come Together” by The Beatles – many bassists have this song in their repertoire. 

After all, the bass line in “Come Together” is what makes this song so memorable and timeless. 

7.2. The Fastest Way to Learn Songs on Bass Guitar 

The songs we just mentioned are considered to be easy beginner bass songs. However, when you’re just starting out, every song is challenging in its own way. 

That being said, we want to share some tips and tricks on how to learn bass guitar songs in a quick and easy way.

1. Choose the right song 

This might seem like common sense, but we want to point it out anyway – picking the right song to play is important. For starters, you should choose a song suitable for your level of experience. 

Once you master a number of beginner-level songs, you can also choose a song that is slightly above your level. That way, you’ll be able to expand your knowledge and improve your technique.

2. Find an accurate Bass TAB

Once you decide which song you want to play, you need to find a reliable learning source. If you know how to read tabs or sheet music, you won’t have any problems learning it properly – you just need to find an accurate TAB or sheet music. 

If you’re taking online guitar lessons or using a guitar learning app, you’ll most likely choose something from the program’s song library. The best platforms have extensive song libraries, usually categorized by level, artist, genre, etc.

Alternatively, you can search for bass song tutorials on Youtube. Just make sure you find a reliable channel. 

3. Don’t rush 

Regardless of what your learning source is, you should take a step-by-step approach to learning songs. The best way to do this is to divide songs into chunks.

Understanding chord structures are also very helpful. In the beginning, focus on hearing what root notes are being played when a chord changes.

And getting comfortable with the song’s bassline is the most important thing. Once you do that, you can start adding nuance to your performance. 

4. Work on your weak spots 

One of the ways to perform the song smoothly is to work on your weak spots. 

So during your practice sessions, don’t play the whole song over and over. Focus on the parts that you don’t feel comfortable with and practice until you feel confident playing them. 

Yes, some songs are simple to play on bass, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require focus and practice. But if you practice regularly, your fingers will start to memorize songs before you know it.

white bass guitar on carpet

Chapter 8: Bass Guitar Practice

As we’ve just mentioned, regular and proper practice is crucial, especially if you want to reach advanced bass guitar levels. 

To help you establish a good practice routine, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions regarding bass guitar practice.

8.1. Establishing a Practice Routine 

If you want to learn how to play bass guitar well, you’ll have to establish a practice routine. Even if you skip a day, setting a schedule will help you practice consistently. And consistency is always the key to success.

How long should I practice every day?

Ideally, you should practice 30-45 minutes each day. As you progress, you can prolong your sessions and practice for an hour.

However, try to avoid long and unbroken practice sessions of longer than one hour at a time. If you want to practice for longer than 20 minutes, split up your practice sessions by having short breaks. 

How often should I practice bass?

For fast results, you should practice as often as you can. Either way, it’s better to practice 20 minutes a day than for 3 hours once a week. 

When to practice bass?

What time in the day is best for you to practice bass depends on your daily routine and learning habits. 

Where to practice bass?

This is also entirely up to you. The only important thing is to find a quiet, safe space where you can do your practice without any distractions.

8.2. Before Your Practice Session

If you’re practicing at home, you should remove all the distractions. Mute your phone (if you can) and let your family members know that you don’t want to be disturbed (unless really necessary.)

This will help you improve your focus and really use the most out of your session. It’s easy to get distracted otherwise. 

8.3. Structuring Each Session

Your guitar practice session should start with a warm-up. There are many warm-up exercises for you to explore – find the one that suits you best and incorporate it into your session.

You can then continue with musical concepts or techniques. You can start by repeating the things you know (like scales) and moving on to new stuff. 

The next part is probably the most rewarding for every learner – playing the songs. You can start by playing the sections you know and moving on to new parts of the song. 

8.4 How to Avoid Common Mistakes

In the beginning, every bass guitar student makes mistakes. Even professional bass guitar players make mistakes. 

However, if you’re aware of common mistakes bass beginners make during their first lessons, there’s a higher chance you’ll end up avoiding them. 

These are some tips on how to avoid these mistakes and make your bass practice more efficient:

  • Make sure your instrument is tuned well 
  • Practice with a metronome
  • Start slowly (play songs at reduced speed first)
  • Hold the bass properly 
  • Focus on theory and technique (and not just the songs)
  • Don’t take big chunks of music at once 
  • Record yourself playing (and ask for feedback)

8.5. Guitar Goals and Motivation 

One of the ways to maintain regular practice is to set realistic, short-term goals. That way, the whole process will feel more rewarding. 

After all, you decided to learn the bass for a reason. So when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed, try to think about those reasons. 

Although it’s important to keep your motivation high, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Gaining music skills is a challenging process, so don’t expect to reach your goals overnight. 

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to enjoy the process!

PART 4 – Bass Guitar History and Culture 

Chapter 9: Background

The important part of your bass learning journey is getting to know the background of your instrument. 

After all, if you really want to understand music, you can’t ignore its origins. 

9.1. When Was the Bass Guitar Invented?

The first electric bass guitar in its modern form was developed in the 1930s. The credit goes to Paul Tutmarc, who created a version of the double bass that was made to be played horizontally. 

However, if we’re talking about the first mass-produced electric bass guitars, we have to jump to the 1950s. 

At the beginning of the 1950s, Leo Fender invented the electric bass guitar that was marketed in the United States. And that was the beginning of the popularization of the bass guitar and its huge impact on music and pop culture.

Of course, the bass guitar continued to transform and evolve. And by the 1990s, the instrument was modernized to fit new genres and styles. 

Chapter 10: Exploring Genres and Styles 

The bass guitar went through many changes over the last few decades. Meanwhile, many music genres and styles emerged.

And with time, the bass became an integral part of certain genres. 

As a bass player, you have a variety of genres to choose from. And we definitely encourage you to explore them. The versatility of songs you have in your repertoire will ultimately make you a better musician.

So let’s take a quick look at all the most popular genres and styles associated with bass guitar.

10.1. Rock 

white guitar on the back of a person

Even though it doesn’t have solos like guitar or drums, it’s hard to imagine a rock performance without a bass guitar. Some of the greatest rock hits of all time are characterized by their iconic bass line.

Along with percussions, the bass guitar provides the song with rhythm, and it’s generally a foundation for every rock band. 

For a beginner, practicing bass lines from familiar rock songs is a great place to start. 

Rock Bass Tutorials

10.2. Funk

man in suit singing

The bass is also an important part of funk songs. In funk music, the bass provides the foundation for the groove, and it keeps time along with the drums.

Funk bass guitar style will also introduce you to different techniques, such as slap and pop.

So if you like the sound of funk, there are plenty of beginner funk songs for you to learn. 

Funk Bass Guitar Tutorials

10.3. R&B

person playing bass guitar

In R&B music, the bass guitar has both a rhythmic and melodic role. After all, the bass has been a crucial instrument in the development of R&B.

If you want to become a versatile bass player, we definitely suggest exploring this genre, especially old-school R&B songs.

R&B Bass Guitar Tutorials

Chapter 10: FAQ and Resources 

10.1. Free Online Resources 

If you decide to learn how to play bass by yourself (with an online program or an app), you’ll have to find reliable online learning resources. But even if you hire a coach, it’s good to get some extra knowledge or use helpful online tools for practice. 

That being said, our last chapter is dedicated to reliable free online resources that help you in your learning process. 

Bass Guitar Buying Guides 

Besides our own bass guitar shopping guide above, there are several guitar-buying guides that can come in handy.

 Free Bass Tabs and Sheet Music 

Recording Software and Programs 

If you’re learning the guitar by yourself, it’s important to hear yourself playing. That’s how you’ll be able to work on your weak spots and improve your performance. 

That being said, recording programs can come in handy.

  • Audacity is a free, open-source, cross-platform audio software that’s easy to use

Online Learning

Online learning websites provide useful articles, free lessons, and tips and tricks on how to improve your bass playing. 

  • StudyBass offers useful online tools, lessons, and guides
  • TrueFire is a popular bass learning platform. Their website offers useful information, articles, and tools. 

10.2. Bass Guitar Players Community 

If you’re taking online bass lessons, the whole process can get a bit lonely. But you can search for online communities or even jamming sessions in your area to connect with fellow players. 

Forums can also be a great thing – besides information, they can also give you a chance to share your bass learning experiences with other learners. 

10.3. FAQs

Am I too old to learn how to play bass guitar?

No, you’re never too old to play bass. In fact, you have many advantages as an adult learner, including focus, working habits, and strong motivation.

Do I need to learn music theory to play bass guitar?

No, you don’t have to learn music theory to master the basics. However, studying music theory is necessary if you want to reach advanced levels. Learning notes will help you understand how music works, but it will also allow you to learn new songs more quickly. 

How long does it take to learn bass guitar?

That depends on your dedication and self-discipline. If you practice regularly, you can learn how to play bass comfortably in a few months. However, it will take years of dedicated practice to reach advanced and professional levels.

How to tune a bass guitar?

Electric tuners are a great way to tune a guitar, especially for beginners. You can also use a reference note from another instrument to tune one of your strings and then tune your guitar “by ear.”

Can I learn bass guitar in 3 months?

Yes, it’s possible to learn bass guitar in 3 months. But that also depends on your practice and focus.If you practice regularly and properly, you’ll be able to gain basic bass guitar skills within 3 months 

Is bass guitar easy to learn?

With the right approach, the bass guitar isn’t difficult to learn. But just like any other instrument, learning how to play it well takes time and practice. 

Can I teach myself bass guitar?

Yes, you can teach yourself bass guitar, but you need to find a reliable learning source – an online learning program or a well-structured guitar learning app. If you follow the instructions and stick to your schedule, you’ll be able to gain bass guitar skills without using traditional methods.

What are the first things I should learn on bass?

When you’re starting out, you should focus on technique, basic music theory, and learning easy songs.

Is bass easier than guitar? 

Generally, the bass guitar is less complicated than the guitar. The bass is easier to learn for beginners because it only has four strings. On the other hand, the bass strings are thicker and harder to hit. 

Is playing bass guitar healthy?

Yes, playing the bass guitar comes with numerous health benefits. Playing the bass guitar reduces stress levels and anxiety, and it improves memory and coordination. Music has also been shown to lower blood pressure and increase immune response.

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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