Hey there Manga!
Welcome to Talkbass! And more importantly, welcome to "the lowest form of music."
Glad to have ya!
I'd like to be the first to congratulate you on your decision to try out bass, and you're right, you have to find out if it's what's for you. So how do you do that?
Some places might offer the option to rent a bass. Possibly even on a rent to own basis. This way if you decide bass isn't for you (which of course you never would
) your financial loss is less. If not, do you have a friend who has a bass? Maybe you can borrow it for a moment.
Then there's the route I went: suck it up, buy a bass, and know you'll be happy forever.
The first task is buying a new bass. I encourage you to search the archives in the BASSES forum, there's lots of advice there. Remember, your first bass doesn't have to be wonderful, but it also shouldn't be a piece of crap. The trick is to play lots and lots of basses, and figure out what sounds and feels best to you!
. It's a subjective thing, an instrument. Don't pay attention to name brands. Trust your ears and your hands. The Fender Jazz MIM (made in Mexico) is a popular choice. But nowadays there's a lot of selection.
Then there's the amp. Combo amps (the lower priced amps that is basically one big box with a speaker in it and lots of buttons) are almost certainly the best way to go. I won't even bother going into detail about the alternative. Again, I encourage you to peruse the AMPS forum archives and see what you can dig up.
Usually you can get a package deal when you're buying more than one item. Don't forget the accessories, (strap, chord, stand).
Look for postings at music stores, high schools, local entertainment newspapers/magazines, online sources (www.harmony-central.com
and others), junior colleges, universities, and possibly from friends. Look for teachers that have good, descriptive ads that tell you what's in it for you.
. Find as many as you can, and start calling them. Have a set out checklist of questions to ask. It's important to think this out before hand. Right down your questions and ask them to all the teachers in your area. Some examples of questions might be:
- How long have you been teaching? (not a huge deal, but it should be at minimum several years)
- What styles do you teach? (hopefully they'll answer, "All styles, depending upon what you would like to learn.")
- Do you teach ear training, theory, sight reading, rhythm? (hopefully, yes, all of the above).
- Can I tape recorder lessons (should be yes, hopefully they have accommodations for this).
- What is your approach with people new to bass and music in general?
Go by feel. You should be comfortable having a good dialogue with this person. They might even offer a discounted rate (maybe even free) for the first lesson.
So if you have a bass, and you've found a teacher that you like, and you can afford, you're ready to start. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. Playing a musical instrument, and playing one well, is an extreme skill which will take a lot of time. You will get out of bass exactly what you put into it. A teacher won't make you a great player, only you can do that. They'll act as a guide and a mentor and help ease your journey, but really, that journey is that best part.
It might be mundane at first. Scales scales scales, chords chords chords. Remember, there's a point to this. If you find yourself getting too bored with lessons, tell your teacher. Maybe they can focus on something new for a little while to keep things fresh. Also, remember your teachers time is money, if you make appointments for lessons, keep them and show up on time. On the other hand, you're the boss. Once you're there and focused, it's your money for the lesson, make sure the teacher stays focused. Avoid teachers that spend time talking about personal events or other irrelevant material.
For your first lesson, be prepared to tell the instructor your experience (or lack thereof) with music. Also, why you want to play bass, what your goals are, what type of music you want to play, what type you listen to regularly, etc. etc. A good teacher should ask a lot of those questions anyway.
When it comes to your personal practice time; try to get some everyday. Even if it's just five minutes. If you have a really busy day, just pick it up for a second, and do something like, say, "I'm going to find all the Ds on my bass and all the F#s." (And then, of course, do it!
). Just try to have fun at the same time. You're not going to die if you can't practice one day, but you'll find the everyday you do something, it gets easier and easier. Also, avoid distractions that take away your focus when you're playing. I unplug my phone, turn my cell and pager off, and put a sign on my door for my roommate not to bug me. And turn off the TV! 20 minutes of focused practice is better than 2 hours of just noodling in front of the TV (for the most part!)
It seems like a lot, I know, but it's fun. Best of luck!