How do I become a bassist?

If you want to become a bassist, you’re probably already aware that the bass guitar is one of the most important instruments in any band. It may not always be that noticeable, but it’s almost always there. How do you get started on bass guitar though? Which model should you choose? And what else do you need? In this blog, we’ll answer these questions and more.

Which bass guitar should beginners choose?

As a beginner, it’s a good idea to take inspiration from the type of instruments your bass idols play and choose a bass you like the look of. Motown bassist James Jamerson played a Precision bass, while bass legend Jaco Pastorius preferred a (fretless) Jazz bass. AC/DC’s Cliff Williams, on the other hand, is a fan of the Stingray bass. Although important, considerations like the type of wood, the pickups and the neck profile can be a little overwhelming for some at this stage and you might not even be able to detect the subtle sound differences these specifications make until your ear is better developed. In short, pick a bass within your budget that inspires you. For more information on choosing the right bass, take a look at our bass guitar buyer’s guide.

What else do you need?

In order to enjoy your new electric bass guitar to its fullest, you’ll require a few other items. Unless you plan on using a headphone amplifier, you’re probably going to need a bass guitar amplifier and a guitar cable. Investing in a tuning device is a good idea too so that you can play along with your favourite music. If you plan on playing while standing up, you’ll also need a suitable guitar strap. A guitar stand always comes in handy and if you plan on taking your instrument along to lessons or band rehearsals, investing in a decent case is a good idea as well. If you don’t want to play bass with your fingers, you’ll also need to buy a plectrum.

Is playing a bass guitar easy or hard?

The honest answer is both! Some things are easy, but others are more difficult. The fact that a standard bass guitar only has four strings and normally only one note is played at a time (unlike the guitar) are both things that make it easier. You’ll have to stretch your fingers further on a bass than a guitar though because the longer neck means that there’s a greater distance between the frets. Another thing that makes it harder is that the thicker strings need to be pressed down with more force. The more difficult things become easier with plenty of practice, of course. Even those with smaller hands can learn to play a standard long-scale bass, but some may prefer to look at a short-scale model instead.

What’s the best way to learn bass guitar?

This really comes down to the individual in question. There’s plenty of material on the internet, of course, and many players have undoubtedly learned a lot from that. Others have chosen to learn from books and many famous bassists simply learned from watching their idols and practising a lot. Getting a few traditional lessons is never a bad idea though as a good instructor can help you quickly master the basics. Having a good foundation to build upon will not only help you to progress faster, it will ultimately make you a better bass player.

Other considerations

When starting to play an instrument like the bass guitar, you need to give your body time to adapt. Stretching your fingers in ways they’re not used to can be uncomfortable at first and you may not have enough strength to press down the strings properly when your hand is in a certain position. Things like this will get easier over time. You may also notice that your hands get tired quite quickly at first and your fingers might hurt from pressing down the strings. Listen to your body and increase the amount of time you practise slowly. Eventually, your hands won’t tire so quickly and you’ll develop calluses on your fingers that will prevent them from getting sore. You should also take the time to learn new things properly before building up your speed. As the bass guitar forms part of a band’s rhythm section along with the drums, learning to play along at a set tempo with the help of a metronome is a great idea too.

Also see

» Precision Bass vs Jazz Bass: which model is right for you?
» What is the best bass guitar for me?
» Standard (long-scale) bass guitars
» Shorter (short-scale and medium) bass guitars
» Guitar cables
» Bass guitar music books
» Left-handed bass guitars
» Acoustic bass guitars
» Double basses

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