Learn How to Play Bass Guitar (The Beginner’s Guide)

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Out of all the typical rock instruments, the bass guitar tends to be the most confusing. You might have heard people say the bass is just an easier version of the guitar. The truth is that if you want to learn to play bass guitar, you can’t just approach the instrument like a guitar. 

So what’s special about the bass, and how should you learn to play it? This article tells you everything that you’ll need to know. 

Is It Easy to Learn Bass if You Play Guitar?

Many bass players already play the guitar and make the switch to bass. Often this is because a band has several guitarists and needs a bassist. On the one hand, getting the basics of the bass right is relatively simple if you know how to play the guitar. 

A bass guitar is essentially just a guitar that’s been scaled up. The way you play the notes is inherently the same as how you’d play with a guitar. 

With that said, you can’t just approach the bass like you would a guitar. The larger scale of the instrument and the thicker strings mean you need to take a different approach. 

For example, when playing bass, you may pluck the strings with your fingers rather than using a pick. If you do use a pick, you would generally hold the pick differently than how you would with a guitar. 

One of the biggest mistakes that players make when they switch from guitar to bass is approaching the instrument as if it was a guitar. While experience on the guitar will make it easier to pick up the bass, you do need to be aware of the differences in the fundamentals. 

Not only are the techniques different, but you also have a different role in the band. The bass plays a more supporting role than the guitar, so you need to take a different musical approach. 

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What Are the Very First Things to Learn on a Bass Guitar?

The most fundamental skill on bass is how to tune your instrument. If you don’t know how to tune the bass, you won’t be able to play the instrument. You should use some kind of electronic tuner to make sure you’re perfectly in tune. Assuming you’re in standard tuning, you’d simply tune the strings to EADG. 

The other two essential skills are fretting notes on the left hand and picking or picking notes on your right. The basics of these two skills are not too difficult, but it makes sense to take the time to get these crucial skills right. 

You can get away with lousy picking or fretting technique playing beginner songs, but it will really cause problems when you try to advance. Make sure you don’t pick up bad habits by learning the basics correctly when you’re starting out. 

Can You Learn to Play Bass on an Acoustic Guitar?

A common problem beginners face is that they want to play bass, but they don’t own a bass. The good news is that you can start learning before you even purchase a bass guitar as long as you have a guitar. 

A bass is essentially a guitar with the two highest strings removed tuned an octave lower. This means that you can learn basslines on an acoustic guitar, and then you’ll be able to play them when you get your hands on a real bass

With that said, fretting the notes tends to be easier on the guitar since the strings are lighter and the frets are closer together. If you’re serious about bass playing, you should try to get your hands on a real bass as soon as possible. 

Is It Hard to Learn to Play Bass Guitar?

You might have heard that bass is “easier” than playing guitar. That might be true in a sense since bass has less fundamental techniques that you need to know. For example, you don’t really need to know how to play chords on bass. 

With that said, the role you play in the band as the bass player is a lot more subtle. As the bass player, you are responsible for keeping the pulse of the song going. If you’re not playing in time, it will throw the whole band off. Arguably, you have a lot more responsibility as the bassist than the guitarist for this reason. 

The guitarist can make mistakes, and the show goes on, but if you can’t play in time as the bassist, the whole band could fall apart. Another point is that bass is a much more physically demanding instrument since the strings are thicker. 

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Where Can I Learn to Play?

There’s never been a better time in history to learn how to play bass. Good equipment is affordable, and there’s a massive range of great tutorial videos available online. 

Where you learn to play depends a lot on what you want to accomplish. You can quickly learn to play along to your favorite songs by watching tutorials on Youtube. 

With that said, if you want to take your bass playing seriously, it probably makes sense to take some in-person lessons. While online tutorials are great, they can’t help you avoid bad techniques. 

If you play with bad technique for long enough, they’ll become ingrained into your playing. Once this happens, it’s challenging to change your ways. Working with a teacher can help you to get the fundamentals of bass playing down. 

Another issue with relying on online tabs and lessons is that you might miss out on learning the music theory behind what you’re playing. If you learn to play by following online videos, you might struggle to develop your own basslines in a band setting. 

On the other hand, lessons can teach you about scales and keys so you can be comfortable playing with other musicians. 

You Can Learn to Play Bass Guitar

As you can see, it’s relatively easy to learn to play bass guitar. With that said, it’s a complex instrument to master. While you might not get the chance to take flashy solos, the bass is the foundation of the band. 

If you’re serious about bass playing, it makes sense to take lessons to make sure you get the fundamentals right.