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Best ways for a beginner to learn the bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by TeachMeBass, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. TeachMeBass


    Sep 9, 2009
    Bass Evangalist, Teachmebassguitar.com
    Hi all,
    What are the best ways for a beginner to learn how to play the bass? Private lessons is obviously the ideal method, but what are the most popular programs out there at the moment that will take an absolute beginner and make something out of them in 6 months to a year (assuming lots of practice)?

    Would Berkely's online courses be appropriate?
    Is there a computer/DVD/book system?
    Is there a bass equivalent for the 'Learn&Master' series for guitar?

    Would love to hear what advice experienced bassists have if they were 'starting from scratch' a 2nd time around.

  2. Time Consumer

    Time Consumer

    Jan 27, 2008
    Joliet Ill.
    Im sure every reply will be some variation of learn your scales and modes first and just practice to songs you like to train your ear as well, get a good book for scales. Look at the stickies in the technique forums and stuff.
  3. Gintaras


    Dec 11, 2004
    Kent Island, Md.
    find a teacher!!! Online lessons can't see bad habits being developed. I am second time around after a 25 year layoff. i have been playing for 3 years and luckily found a pro who is a Berklee graduate, Live performer and studio musician. His lessons always leave me with wanting to get home and practice.
  4. Time Consumer

    Time Consumer

    Jan 27, 2008
    Joliet Ill.
    I guess if ya wanna shell out the money for a teacher, maybe im just spoiled cuz my bro and uncle are both pro bassists but I mainly tought myself, but already having a background in music helped me I guess.
  5. TeachMeBass


    Sep 9, 2009
    Bass Evangalist, Teachmebassguitar.com
    How much would 6-12 months of lessons cost and what if you can't afford a teacher? Is the 2nd best option to get a book for scales and then find some online tutorials / lessons on how to play ones favorite songs?
  6. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    Phew, 6-12 months of weekly lessons can get really, really expensive.

    You can do the math..

    $12 for half an hour a week, and I took lessons once a week for 3 years..

    1,095 x 13, wow! I never did the match.. Phew!
  7. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
  8. S. Katz

    S. Katz Guest

    Oct 24, 2008
    Los Angeles
    I've been playing for a little over a year, the first two-thirds of which were self-taught. Eventually, you are going to want to get a teacher. But until then, make sure you pay particular attention to technique and music theory. Neither is going to get you up and jamming along with recordings, but both provide a good foundation that will let you begin to develop your chops faster about a year or so down the line.

    Stuff I found particularly helpful at first:

    1. StudyBass.com
    2. Josquin des Pres' books (Bass Fitness, First Bass, Simplified Sight Reading)
    3. Dirty Bass, Clean Technique by Dog Plays Bass (don't be put off by the goofy web site--this e-book is terrific)
    4. Essential Bass Technique by Peter Murray
    5. A good general book on music theory--there are lots.
    6. Roam the TalkBass archives.

    And finally, keep this in mind: On the Internet, the tab is ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG. :spit:

    Good luck.
  9. DoggBisket


    May 3, 2009
    OK here is how easy it is. First put strap on the bass. Plug it into the amp, and turn the power on. Next put on the first song off the first Van Halen album. The title of the song is "Runnin' With the Devil".

    When the song starts pluck the open E string (The fattest one on top near your thumb) on every down beat.

    Vioila! You're a bass player!
  10. fourstringburn

    fourstringburn Supporting Member

    Jun 30, 2009
    New Mexico
    Buy the latest guitar hero games...This may now truly be the end of traditional music education and rock bands unfolding before our eyes. Turning music from an art form to a video game, Why would anyone take the time and dedication to play a instrument when you can play it in virtual reality on your big screen TV?

    I've seen it already. Sure these video games can inspire someone to take up an instrument, but when challenged with the reality of hard work, time, and patience, Some of these beginners give up all too easily and it is back to the video game.

    If you truly want to learn any instrument the right way, I recommend private studies with an accredited teacher, not just one that shows you some cool licks and how to play songs, you could and should do that on your own. A good teacher will guide you and motivate you and explain things along the way and will prevent bad playing habits the will stay with you otherwise.

    You would be surprised on how much musical information you can learn in just 6 months to a year of dedicated practice!
    Think about it...
  11. Longhair

    Longhair Guest

    Sep 12, 2009
    After a 15 year break myself, I find myself in the beginner mode again.

    I went out and bought a gripmaster after a couple of days to help my condition my hands because after the warm up exercise I remembered (see below), I have very stiff hands.

    E 1 2 3 4
    A 1 2 3 4
    D 1 2 3 4
    G 1 2 3 4
    G 1 2 3 4
    D 1 2 3 4
    A 1 2 3 4
    E 1 2 3 4
    E 2 3 4 1
    A 2 3 4 1
    D 2 3 4 1
    G 2 3 4 1
    G 2 3 4 1
    D 2 3 4 1
    A 2 3 4 1
    E 2 3 4 1
    E 3 4 1 2
    A 3 4 1 2
    D 3 4 1 2
    G 3 4 1 2
    G 3 4 1 2
    D 3 4 1 2
    A 3 4 1 2
    E 3 4 1 2
    E 4 1 2 3
    A 4 1 2 3
    D 4 1 2 3
    G 4 1 2 3
    G 4 1 2 3
    D 4 1 2 3
    A 4 1 2 3
    E 4 1 2 3
  12. Yes to www.studybass.com is free and will take you where you need to be.

    Hearing the chord changes is perhaps the hardest thing to get right at first. I recommend you practice with Blues backing tracks as the chord changes are very predictable and easy to follow.

    This one is R-3-5-3

    Have fun.
  13. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    Spend half an hour weekly with a good teacher. That'll cost you, say, 20 bucks a week, maybe a little more.

    If you just wanna look at it from the financial standpoint that's about $1,000 a year. Peanuts. You probably spend much more than that on watery beer and [insert random vice here]. If you're half-way motivated you should be able to get at least five or six $50-100 gigs a month. Say about 350 bucks a month x 12 = $4200 per year.

    So you're up 3,200 bucks a year. Then factor in the 5,000 or so you'll probably spend on Gear Acquisition Syndrome and you're only about 1,800 in the hole.

    Sounds good to me. :)
  14. That's why musicians have day jobs.
  15. TheFrogPrince


    Jun 4, 2009
    Go take lessons from someone with a good reputation. In six months, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of most people.
  16. Rudreax


    Jun 14, 2008
    New York, NY
    You know you don't have to take lessons forever. You could just take a couple to get your technique down, and once you get into it and figure out what you want to on bass you could go your own way. You need a lot of self dedication for this, but it's possible.

    Make absolutely you sure you have a basic idea of what you want to get out of bass.
  17. smithal3


    Apr 18, 2009
    I didn't learn scales until I was already pretty good at the bass. I definately learned by simply playing the root note and following chord progressions.

    Being able to do that will be enough to get you in a few different bands. From there, you can learn more!
  18. Cy_Miles


    Feb 3, 2005
    a combination of things, a good teacher of course can help immensley at helping establish some good technique and guide you into music theory.

    My first teacher was a bass player that doubled as a classical guitar player and gave me invaluable guidance on how to hold my hands and fingers and excersise that built finger muscle coordination.

    And I agree that playing Roots, fiths (and I'll add 3'rd, and 6ths) will get along as a bass player. But the best advice I ever recieved was SCALES SCALES SCALES. Because becoming familiar with scales makes it so much easier to find the right Root, especially when the chord progressions get more complex then a basic blues pattern.

    And it actually free you up quite and allows you to follow melodies easier.

    And what I found is scales do not have to be dull boring excersises just going up and down and trying to memorize what note is suppose to be flat where. F..orget that!

    You can use songs you know to learn scales, and how to hear/sound out the lines.

    If you know the Sound of Music and the song "Do Re Mi" it cannot be beat to teach you the major scale. Because if you can sing that song, then you can sound out the scale, That is what the song is about. And corny as it may be. IT WORKS. I know.

    I also recomment sounding out any childhood song you can remember. Because you know exactly how they should sound. It is just a matter of going slow when you need to, and really listening to the notes to figure out if the next note is higher or lower, and how big is the step (or interval)

    I use Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Oh Susanna (Banjo on my Knee), and almost any Christmas carol/church hymn I can think of to sound out.

    The reason is almost all of these songs are very basic scale based songs.

    These songs should mainly be played by yourself "in the woodshed" where others will not be subject to your abuse, or your theirs.

    The other thing that helps me most is playing with other people.

    And that includes playing along with your favorite bands, the radio, the TV commercial, the soundtrack to whatever your are watching. Again, a practice best done in private.

    I think you should put in time on your own, balancing fundamentals and finger excercises with playing along with your favorite CDs/Mp3s.
    And balance that with finding people to play with. Preferably with people who are better musicians then yourself. (IMO)

    And finally, my take on Tabs, and Reading Music. It helps, and you get out of what you put into it.
    But that said, I think of the scales as streets, and on the streets there is cool music, if you can find it.
    Written music is like a map and will show you how to get to those cool places.... but you still have to drive there. And you don't drive while staring at a map, you just use it to see where you need to go. And once you learn how to get there you don't need the map any more, and you might even find other ways to get there that are more scenic or avoids a tricky intersection.

    So jam on my friend...

    hope I didn't ramble too mcuh
  19. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Step One
    Take the number of lessons you can afford. Let's set a minimum at 3. (As a teacher I see what can be accomplished in 3 and it is more than you might think). Many people can afford this. Get creative if you have to. Skip McDonald's or Applebee's and pack your lunch or have dinner at home. Skip the cafe latte or energy drinks from 7-11, or whatever way in which you find yourself spending small sums of money that you don't think add up to too much but over time, actually do: the movies, Netflix, online porn, etc.

    Ask for lessons as gifts for upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or whatever. Sell something in your garage that you has some value but you're holding on to because of some delusional reasoning that you might use it again, even though it's been 8 years since you've even thought about it.


    3 lessons, in my opinion, is more valuable than 10 times as many online lessons or books or whatever. The caveat is that the lessons should be with a good teacher.

    Step Two
    Read every thread ever ... EVER!!! ... in General Instruction. Or, just read the suggested threads that are "stickied" to the top of the forum. Print them. Read them. Live them. BE THEM!

    Step Three
    Find a woodshed.
  20. afromoose

    afromoose Guest

    This is a good first lesson - covers note names etc


    and the role of the bass.

    I would start out by learning the names of the notes, and then get some songs with the chords written out the same way a guitar player would - C, Em, G etc, and just play along with records.

    It's even easier than playing guitar because all you have to do is find the note and play in time.

    Try Fleetwood Mac Rumours for a great place to start for simple but very good basslines.

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