Newbie here

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by dirtfan49, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. dirtfan49


    Jul 12, 2020
    My dream is to learn how to play bass. I know it takes time and money for lessons. Unfortunately I have neither of those. I have tried online lessons, you tube videos and tutorials, lessons on dvd, I have tried picking things out just be hearing them but nothing has worked. I feel like if I could just get a kick start or pointed in the right direction or learn how to play a song, I feel like I could keep my motivation to continue learning instead of throwing my hands up as I have done so many times in the past and said "this will never work, I'm never gonna learn this."

    Can anyone help me? PLEASE?!?!?
    Ggaa and EatS1stBassist like this.
  2. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    hello, and welcome.

    do you have a bass and an amp - any kind, but an amp?

    what isn't working about online lessons for you?
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  3. rzamites

    rzamites Total Bass Hack

    Jun 27, 2020
    Do like I’m doing:
    • Find a song you like and want to play
    • Get the tablature for said song
    • Practice, practice practice
    I also spend time just tinkering about on the fretboard, learning by ear what notes are where - ultimately though, lessons or no lessons, you’ll get out of your bass journey what you put into it. I’m only a few days into actually having a bass and amp, but have spent time each day practicing. In my mind, I’m not practicing to get great, I’m practicing to suck less.

    Good luck, just put in the time, try not to get discouraged and you’ll progress.
    LowActionHero, Helix, neuman and 3 others like this.
  4. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    If you don't have time, then it doesn't matter what else you do or don't have. Playing any musical instrument, bass included, is a skill, and building a skill takes time, lessons or not. (Do not be mislead by snarky guitar players who say things like "there are only four strings, how hard can it be?") There's no magic shortcut that removes the time required—if that's what you're looking for, then giving up is a completely legitimate option.

    So, let's hope you do have some time after all! We here at TB would always rather see people learn to play the instrument we love.

    I take lessons, but for the three weeks in between when I got my first bass and when I had my first lesson, I got started with for basics on things like how to pluck the strings and then went out and found tabs for a song I really wanted to learn (an easy one: Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer"). I was already pretty hooked by the time I got to that first lesson.

    There are people here who will tell you not to use tabs, but honestly if what it takes to motivate you is learning songs (and IMO there's nothing wrong with that), it's probably the easiest way to learn a song. Be aware, a lot of the tabs you can find for free on the internet aren't particularly accurate, so think of them as suggested starting points. And start with easy songs! You're not going to jump in and start with YYZ without driving yourself crazy.
  5. I highly recommend a learning app called Yousician. You learn at your own pace. You can learn to play popular songs, read music notation and tablature and they teach music theory as well. They teach bass, guitar, keys, ukulele and voice. It’s Very popular with new players.
    You can use it for FREE 10 minutes every day, until you decide if you want to subscribe.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  6. dirtfan49


    Jul 12, 2020
    I have a Squire Jaguar Bass that was given to me but no amp. I play through my DJ sound equipment.
    tlite and EatS1stBassist like this.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    @dirtfan49 Answering a few questions might help people here to better help you.

    --What kind of music are you looking to play?
    --What are your goals (play in a cover band, write, play original music, make extra money, just play for fun)?
    --What level are you at presently? Can you play at at all... or what exactly are you struggling with? Learning tunes? Keeping time? Learning theory? How to read?

    Actually, answering just those 3 would be great.

    And I'll add... money ya don't need. Time you do. If you feel you don't have the time to learn, then, well... maybe bass isn't the thing for you?
    tlite, rzamites and fearceol like this.
  8. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    You can progress very quickly, regardless of how much time you have to practice, as long as you practice regularly and in a very focused way. A teacher helps with this, but you can also do it with a book, tab off the internet, and youtube videos. The trick is to set aside as little as 15 minutes EVERY day to work on ONE THING - a riff, a simple melody or set of chord changes, a rhythm, a scale or exercise. Keep doing that one thing each day and improve it until it sounds pretty good to you, record it on your phone or something, then move on to another thing, while occasionally checking back to review what you already learned. Good luck.
    fishdreams, tlite, rzamites and 2 others like this.
  9. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Hello and welcome to TB. :)

    I hope you don't mind me saying that reading your post it would appear that your problem lies in your attitude towards learning, rather than anything else. You seem to have tried lots of tutorials. It is unusual that you have not found anything that clicks with you.

    You said you have tried picking things out and trying to play them by ear...but nothing worked. How long did you work on these songs before coming to the definitive decision that nothing works ?

    You will get lots of good advice and recommendations on here about tutorials etc, but if you have a negative/impatient mindset that nothing will work...then it probably won't.

    FWIW I will recommend a website (

    If you are really serious about learning the bass then go to the study guide, start at lesson one, and slowly, methodically and patiently go through each lesson as they are presented. A half an hour a day, every day would be beneficial. If you cant spare that amount of time then maybe it would be better to postpone taking up the bass until you have ample time to learn.

    Learning any musical instrument is a life long journey, so relax, go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  10. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    I think the only thing You need is time. I would recommend your own self learning process. Take Your bass, run the metronome and just play. Play the grooves different and invent the song in your head to help you practice.
  11. It takes time, so if you don't have it... we're already struggling.

    However, maybe you can still find a way to dedicate SOME time. As long as it's regular, it'll help you. Even if it's just 15-20 minutes each day (but 15-20 solid minutes, not being distracted with this and that, and skip a day here and there if you must but try not to), you'll improve (of course, the more time you put in, the faster you'll develop). Better that than 6 hours one weekend and nothing for another 7 days.

    I find that the 'trick', especially if you don't have a lot of time etc is to ensure you have fun with it. A lot of traditional learning is especially hard to start with, and it feels like a chore. If I don't have a lot of time I don't want to add additional chores. So find something useful that's still fun. Personally, I found that playing along to backing tracks gave me that 'fun' factor while allowing me to little by little improve. There are LOTS of backing tracks for bass online. Find something that you like but it's not technically too difficult, and increase the difficulty as you get better.

    There's no trick to picking things by ear etc, you just need to put in the hours. Finding a way to make it fun is only so that you want to come back to it... but don't expect miracles, whether you get a teacher or not, you will have to put the time... if you put in less time each day, you'll improve more slowly, but you WILL improve. Sometimes it feels like you are not progressing much, in the beginning, but then you look back and you realise that you are better than you were x months ago.
    tlite, rzamites and fearceol like this.
  12. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    There is no trick to it. Either you want to or you don't. The first step is to learn how to tune it.You can do ANYTHING, if you want to bad enough.
  13. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    I'm a part time bass/guitar teacher and have successfully taught young children to older adults. I'm going to give you a free lesson right now. Since I can't interact with you face to face, I can't determine how you learn the best. So, I am going to teach you in a simplified way, like I would a younger child. Ready, here we go....

    1) Make sure that your bass is tuned to standard tuning. On a 4 string bass that will be--E for the thickest string, A for the second thickest string, D for the third thickest one, and G for the thinnest.
    2) Look up an easy 3 chord song (like a blues/rock song) that you want to learn on the internet, that you can find a free chord chart for. I prefer teaching chord charts first, because you can buy piano "fakebooks" for most music that are similar. Chord charts are easy to read. The letter above the lyrics of the song is the chord that you a bass player, most of the time you're going to start with the root note--which is the letter that you see. Don't worry if it has another designation behind Amin7, etc. you still just play an A note.
    3) If you don't know where the notes are on the neck of the bass, you can look that up for free. Learn where the 3 notes that you need for the song are, don't worry about the rest of the notes yet.
    4) With bass in hand, chord chart in front of you, and with the song playing....simply try to play the root note only when the chord changes. Don't worry about playing other rhythms yet, just get the chord change down. After a few times of playing through, you should be able to play along to a simple song.
    5) Practice the song for a week, then repeat the process with another simple song. After you can play a few, start working on some 4 chord songs. After you can play a few 4 chord ones too, then you can start trying to match rhythms to songs.

    *If my students are video game players, I like to recommend a game called Rocksmith. You plug your actually instruments into the game and learn and play along. Though not the best way to learn on your own (it tends to teach some bad habits), it is a great supplement. Also a great way to accelerate your technical ability. And it is fun. My students that incorporate the game tend to progress significantly faster than those that don't. Even the ones that are struggling initially tend to get a big jump in their ability after a couple of weeks. It's actually pretty amazing.

    --I hope this post helps. Bass isn't a difficult instrument to get started with (note, I didn't say easy to master). You should be able to at least somewhat play along with simple songs, with 10 to 15 minutes of practice 4 or 5 days a week, if you follow my instructions. Of course more practice would be better.
    col426, tlite, LowActionHero and 3 others like this.
  14. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012 not a GREAT teacher but i have helped start people out on the right foot....start with learning to tune the bass ..thats it ...detune and retune till you cant stand it BUT!.. it will help if the bass is in tune to stumble around notes and luck on to them.
  15. "You can do ANYTHING, if you want to bad enough".


    You need to make time. When I first started learning to play bass, I spent every opportunity of time that I had free doing it. It soon became an addiction. Was it easy? Absolutely not! Very frustrating at times. However, I was determined to get this skill down. I've only been playing two and a half years but I've learned quite a bit in that time. No lessons and learning from listening to songs, playing along and reading tablature.

    I am far from a great bass player, but I actually enjoy playing it now! Just got done with my first gig a couple weeks ago and it was a blast!

    Lots and lots of practice! Make the time, even if it's just 30 minutes/day. But do it EVERY day. I think you may surprise yourself.
  16. lark_z

    lark_z Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2020
    Polish Thunder likes this.
  17. 210superair


    Sep 10, 2019
    Yeah, if you don't have time, it's not going to work. Lots of time required to play anything....

    You'll get back what you put in. If you want to learn, make time. It's surprising how easy it is to find time after you get motivated.
    fearceol, J_Bass and Kipp Harrington like this.
  18. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Welcome newbie.
    I started by memorizing bass parts before I even had a bass. Note for note, I figured out black dog and taste of honey using this method. I never did well with lessons.
    HardNHeavy likes this.
  19. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    There is a common theme here. Time. If you want to become an expert then let's use Malcolm Gladwell's 10000 hours. If you practiced 1 hour per day it would take over 27 years to reach the 10000 hours mark.

    Now not everybody wants to become an expert but having taught many students most, if not all, want to play at a certain level but are not willing to practice the many required hours. The students who do succeed live and breathe music. They practice many hours per day and are aware of what they need to work on as a musician.

    There are so many videos out there. Work on left hand(scales, appreggios, and intervals), work on right hand(using all digits and alternating), work on ear training(try learning easy songs by ear) have fun!(find videos or tabs of your favourite songs and start playing!)
  20. Komadinic

    Komadinic Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2018
    I see you didn't specify your location but if you're from NYC i can give you an amp. It's a Peavey vypyr, a guitar amp but I've had nice times playing bass through it. Let me know.
    Funkdified and tlite like this.

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