New Player- Are Lessons "Worth It"?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by El_Charro, Aug 17, 2020.

  1. El_Charro


    Aug 11, 2020
    Hi All,

    Just wondering if you think bass lessons are "worth it" for a new player.

    I know how to read tabs and have watched some things on YouTube and knew how to read music as a teenager (it's been years so I'm pretty rusty). I only reference this because while I'm completely new to bass and haven't tried to play music in years I do have at least a foundation to start with even if it's very small.

    Just wondering for the more experienced people here if you felt like lessons helped or hurt your playing? Should I be looking for anything in particular from a teacher? The Guitar Center near me is having a sale on lessons so I'm tempted to give it a shot.

    Convincing myself to practice doesn't seem to be an issue- Just wondering if I'm f-ing up by learning on my own as it isn't really formal training and I have wondered what bad habits I may be inadvertently forming. Also wondering if having a lesson once every few weeks would accelerate the learning process...

  2. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Lessons with the right teacher can be invaluable. I have a feeling, however, that the “right teacher” is not going to be found at Guitar Center.
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Yes. Lessons are worth it.

    Having directed instruction that provides a structure for your understanding and growth as a player and a musician is really great. As someone who did that on guitar but never did much on bass, I wish I had bass lessons 30 years ago. I've taken some here and there now...but I think if I'd done it then I wouldn't have to spend as much time and energy connecting the dots on my own rather than knowing how the pieces and parts fit together.

    Lessons also help you target your weaknesses effectively and can help you expand on your strengths. They help you create good habits and stop bad habits that you might not know you had.
    RedBadger, 2112, GlennRH and 9 others like this.
  4. SleepyShark


    Feb 28, 2018
    The Low End
    Will the right teacher or course be a huge benefit? Absolutely, in my opinion. Like anything, practice and self discipline can get you pretty darn far. The benefit of instruction, when done correctly, is providing a new perspective on the instrument, identifying and providing solutions for habits that could be limiting your playing, giving you material to practice that would otherwise escape you, giving insight as to when and where a particular technique is useful... I could go on.

    Do you absolutely need a teacher or lessons? I think many musicians have made a career on this instrument without any formal training at all. It's also fair to assume that many self-taught musicians could reach even greater platitudes under proper instruction.

    In the end the decision is ultimately yours. I think if you can afford a couple lessons, give it a shot. If you like them and you get value out of them, great! If not, maybe try another teacher or wait on the lessons for a bit.
  5. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    An instructor will save you three to four months of "messing" around. There is enough on the Internet to do it alone, but, you will save all that time not knowing why you are doing what you are doing.

    Tab is fine for licks, fills, etc. but using tab for the entire song is not the way to go. I believe in standard notation, but I have never had a director hand me a sheet of Standard
    Notation it's always fake chord sheet music.

    Good luck with which way you go.
  6. JeezyMcNuggles


    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Nope having lessons once every couple weeks will probably do nothing for you. But, lessons once or twice a week, will.
    BlueP likes this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Lessons with a good teacher will offer you more than you can learn Al be. The issue is whether they have a good teacher or not. They should be willing to speak with you for free to give you an idea.
  8. Cut the middle

    Cut the middle

    Apr 17, 2020
  9. Cut the middle

    Cut the middle

    Apr 17, 2020
    I took lessons long before youtube and found them very, very helpful. As nice as youtube is, there's no interaction. Best wishes!
    Bunk McNulty and BlueP like this.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    If you go for lessons once a week is considered best. You get your homework, and have a week to work on it.
    RedBadger, DrayMiles, BlueP and 3 others like this.
  11. 4stringfarley

    4stringfarley Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2015
    Cajun Country
    I started playing 25 years ago. Took a few lessons before my teacher quit teaching (unrelated to me). I never found another teacher, and even at 39 years old think I should find a teacher to help me improve.
  12. If you find a teacher who you like, and have a rapport with, they can teach you amazing stuff. Look for a teacher other people recommend.
    I also recommend a learning app called Yousician. You start at whatever level you feel comfortable with, and learn at your own pace. You can learn notation, while using the tablature lessons. You can study scales & theory, as well as traditional and popular songs. You can try it for Free for 10 minutes a day until you decide if you want to subscribe.
    FDR Jones, HolmeBass and El_Charro like this.
  13. SunByrne

    SunByrne opinionated intellectual Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    Yes, an instructor can be a wonderful thing. No way I would have learned half as much without an instructor. Helps if you can find one that you have good rapport with. Mine is a gigging professional (well, formerly gigging, pre-pandemic) who only teaches one day a week, mostly just because he likes it. Berkelee grad, great guy.

    Tabs can be OK, but beware the sea of horribly incorrect tabs that fill the internet. Many of them are horribly, horribly wrong, and some are only subtly wrong. Unless you have a good ear, if you're relying on internet tabs you may be playing a lot of things wrong. (Depends a lot on the source of the tabs.)

    A good instructor will help you fix them, and in fact that's one of the ways my instructor has worked in ear training for me. We'll find a tab for a song I want to do, we'll walk through it, he'll ask me where it's wrong and what it should be—not only what notes are wrong (and we use note names, not tab numbers), but where we think the fingering in the tab is maybe not wrong, but not right for me. I know my days of tabs are numbered (pun absolutely intended), too, because we'll be moving to standard notation at some point...
    El_Charro likes this.
  14. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    I've been playing bass for about 30 years (started about 17 years old). I had lessons on and off through my early 20s, but not too consistently. My playing (and confidence or lack thereof) reflected that. I've been taking lessons regularly for the past 4 or 5 years. My playing has improved immensely! Even since June I've reached new levels! Lessons have totally been worth it to me.
  15. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    The good thing about tabs, it that it tells you where to place your fingers.

    The bad thing about tabs, it that it tells you where to place your fingers ...

    ... whereas you may want want to play some other fingerings, for plenty of different reasons: tone, ease of playing, intonation, need to play or avoid an open strings, harmonics, etc.

    Playing music written on tab is like wearing someone else's shoes.

    Can you sing from reading a tab?
    Can you figure out the key signature from reading a tab?
    Can you analyze the harmony of a piece from reading a tab?
    Can you hand out your tab to your sax player buddy?

    Do yourself a service: learn (and practice actively) standard music notation (bass and treble key). If you do it step by step, that's not that hard (you don't need to start with stuff written with 5 ledger lines!).
  16. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    How on earth could lessons HURT your playing?:wideyed:

    Yes, find a good teacher, through recommendations. With Skype and so many great players out of work there is no excuse for not being able to find a quality teacher.

    Youtube videos, books, and websites are NOT lessons. There is no feedback and if you want to progress at a good pace, you need feedback. You don't know what you don't know and all the Youtube videos in the world can't give you feedback.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Lessons FROM A GOOD TEACHER can only help. What makes a good teacher? Someone versed in reading and music theory, especially chordal theory, who shows you how to make music on your own and not just where to put your fingers to play your favorite song. Preferably you want someone with a jazz background.
    RedBadger, 2112, Paul New and 7 others like this.
  18. onda'bass

    onda'bass Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    Buffalo Ny
    the question: is learning "worth it" to you?
    Morleywah and SoCal80s like this.
  19. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    I'm-a pile on here, in (with hope) a good and helpful way:

    Learning bass is like eating an elephant: There's a lot, and you can only go one bite at a time. The best teacher I ever had (after going decades without a lesson) took my pretty specific "big picture goal" and broke it down into smaller, achievable goals that I could digest, work on, and conquer. (FWIW, it was jazz-related, so I chose a big-ass elephant to eat.)

    Achieving each step made me feel an authentic sense of accomplishment and pleasure, and motivated me for the next one. Lather, rinse, repeat -- my playing improved steadily and if he hadn't moved to FL to care for his mom who knows what level I'd be at today. It's a process I'd recommend to anyone.

    One more thing: Mine was kind of a Karate Kid experience, but man - when he finally showed me where the wax-on/wax-off fit in the big picture... THAT was mind-blowing.

    Good luck!
  20. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Lessons are mostly worth it. It depends on you and the teacher being on the same page.
    I’ve made a lot of money playing with only a handful of lessons. I play by ear or chord chart only.
    nuage420b likes this.
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