Learning how to play any musical instrument is a huge challenge for most people. Even the most gifted, have to go through a time where they’re only practicing techniques, nothing fancy comes out. That’s why many people drop out at this initial phase. Those who persist, are often rewarded with one of the most satisfying sensations ever. Making good music is heavenly. If you could take that a step further, and perform with a band, that’ll be awesome.
Have you been toying with the idea of playing a musical instrument? Well, you’re in the right place. This is how to play bass guitar, in 7 simple steps.
Step 1: Understand Your Role in the Band
Unlike a piano, a violin, or an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar isn’t a solo instrument. You can have your moment during a performance, but that’s not really why bass guitars were created.
Understanding where the bass fits in the band is essential. It’ll simply let you play it to its full potential. A bass guitar is an absolutely powerful instrument, but only when it’s employed the right way.
The bass guitar is the link between the percussion instruments and the melodic instruments. It’s the keeper of both the beat and the mood of the music. That’s why you’d often hear that a bass is indispensable in any band.
Step 2: Take Some Lessons
Playing any instrument needs extensive studying with a professional. You can certainly play by ear for a bit, especially, if you are gifted that way. But there’s a huge difference when you know the ropes. There are several techniques, nuances, and theoretical stuff, that would improve your playing in a matter of weeks. You can always tell the difference between a performer who studied the fundamentals well, and another who just learned how to play a song. Having established the importance of learning the basics, now you’ll need to decide: online courses? Or actual music classes?There’s merit to each one of them. An actual music lesson, with a teacher sitting right in front of you, is the real deal. These sessions make for lifelong relationships, and a good music teacher is unforgettable.
Beginners often start with an online music class. Some are even free. Or, you could study with a digital group. The current tech could give you a life-like experience, and you can jam with the other music folks in no time at all. The main benefits of an online class are getting to know the basics, and, having full flexibility while doing so. You could join a physical class at any point along the line.
Step 3: Choose the Right Bass Guitar
When you walk into a music shop, you’ll find tens of bass guitars hanging on the walls and on fancy stands. Choosing one of them is seriously hard work!
There’s usually an emotional part and a rational part when we make such decisions. The emotional part has to do with the instantaneous admiration you’d feel for a few guitars. The way they look and feel speaks to you somehow. Go with that.
The rational part isn’t any less important. Filter the ones that caught your attention according to price. Some of them will probably be above your budget, keep them in your mind as a future prospect.
From the ones that seem reasonable, choose the bass guitar with these features:
- A smooth, slightly curved, fretboard for easy finger movement
- A fretted bass. Since it’s hard to find the notes on a fretless instrument
- Adjustable string height
- Adjustable truss rod to straighten the neck
- Feels comfortable as you carry it
- Easy to move your hands on the strings
- Basic 4-string configuration
You’d need to acquaint yourself with these terms of course. Totally easy.
Step 4: Practice Tuning the Guitar
Most instruments need tuning to play the notes they’re supposed to. Otherwise, they’d come across as tinny, off-key, or outright noisy. String instruments are needier than other instruments when it comes to tuning, we’ll admit that.
Back in the day, you had to tune your instrument alongside a tuned piano or guitar. You needed to depend on the sensitivity of your ears, and how far you could detect the minutest deviations off the tone.
This is not the case nowadays. Our smartphones often do a wonderful job, and a simple app could easily tune all kinds of guitars. There are also clip-on tuners that you can buy online. It should be mentioned that several musicians tune their instruments old-school all the way.
Step 5: Learn How to Read Music
Music notation looks hard, but it’s actually easy-to-learn. Takes plenty of practice though to gain speed and accuracy.
A common alternative is to play using tabs. These are shorthand symbols of where you should strike a chord. Tabs aren’t as nuanced as the regular sheet music, but they get the job done.
However, they can’t replace a serious study of sheet music, or the different theories, that give the music its wholesome effect. Some people say that what you start with sticks. That’s why they’re against letting music students use tabs. Strictly notes.
Technology also has a nice contribution here. There are numerous apps that teach reading musical notes, and most of them come with various skill levels. So whether you’re an absolute beginner or a proficient musician, there’s a practice routine waiting for you.
Step 6: Practice, Practice, Practice!
We could repeat the word ‘practice’ some more. That’s because it’s one of the most important aspects of learning how to play a musical instrument. It takes patience and determination to build a habit of daily practice sessions. But it’s worth the effort.
Professional musicians and performers practice between 4-10 hours each day. You don’t have to start with that grueling schedule. Start slow, and build momentum as you go.
Here are some tips to help you in creating a training routine:
- Practice at the same time each day
- Start with half an hour per day, and increase in increments
- Make tuning your bass guitar part of the routine
- Practice reading musical notes
- Some drills are created for technique, not the melody. Do them. A lot!
- Don’t be afraid to try a simple song
- Repeat it tens of times
Step 7: Celebrate Your Success
You’re now able to play a song. Celebrate your success in becoming a bass guitar player!
The bass guitar is much more than a beat-keeper. It’s not a compliment to the drum. A bass guitar is the third dimension of the music.
Playing the bass guitar might not seem glamorous to many people, until they hear the music without the bass. It loses most of its charm then and there. Listen to any big hit throughout time, the bass is always there.
If you want to learn how to play bass guitar, it’s easy. In 7 simple steps.