Want to start a rock band? Know someone who is? Chances are you or they will need a bass guitar player, and bass players are usually harder to find than guitarists, singers, and drummers. So why not make yourself a valuable asset and learn to play bass guitar! The bass player may often seem like the most overlooked member of a band, but playing bass can be as fulfilling as you make it; look at Paul McCartney of The Beatles and the huge musical success he has had. So if you're interested in bass guitar and would like to get started, here's a quick start-up guide for how to learn bass guitar. These tips are very broad and open-ended, but they're only meant to give you a gentle nudge in the right direction. Besides, Rock n' Roll is all about making your own path in life, right??
Get Your Guitar and Amplifier
The very first step is, of course, to get your hands on a guitar and amplifier. The easiest way to do this is to buy one of the several all-in-one bass guitar starter kits, such as the Squier by Fender Stop Dreaming-Start Playing Set. These kits include at minimum a bass guitar, an amplifier, and a cable to connect the two. Many kits also include a bag ("gig bag") for your guitar and an electronic tuner. Granted, the guitar and amp in these kits will not be top-of-the-line, but it's a simple and cheap way to get started (usually between $200-$300). Another option is to buy a cheaper new or used bass guitar from your local music store or on ebay. Your mileage will vary with this option, and it really helps to have done your research or to bring a friend along who knows about guitars. To the untrained eye, a $100 guitar and a $5000 guitar can look exactly the same. That means you might find a great deal, or you might get charged too much for a lesser instrument. Last but not least, you can ask around to see if your friends and family (perhaps your guitar-knowing friend) have any spare guitars/cables/amps lying around. Borrowed equipment is certainly the cheapest way to start out!
Get Some Basic Learning Materials
The next step is to acquire some basic learning materials. This could be a book on how to play bass guitar or any number of online materials. These resources will get you started, teaching you important things like how to hold the guitar, tune the guitar, play notes, etc. Some of the initial excerises will probably seem boring, but trust the books when they say, "scales and music theory are fundamental." Knowing these basic skills will make your life much easier latter on in your journey to Rock n' Roll Heaven. Here are some online resources to try:
- How to Play Bass Guitar For Newbies
- How to Read Bass Tab
I should also mention the option of taking bass guitar lessons. I tried this for a while, but I found that I just wasn't really into the lessons and therefore wasted money not learning very much. If you like this kind of structure and having someone else push you to achieve your goals, then you should definitely check it out. Having someone teach you to play bass will, without a doubt, let you advance your skill much faster than you would on your own. Teachers know how and where to push you to get maximum growth. So this is definitely a good option, but I just found that it wasn't for me
Find Your Voice!
This is where the path kind of splits off and each person continues learning differently. Many people start learning how to play songs they like from "tabs" (an easy way of writing bass guitar music) or from Youtube videos, which I would also recommend. I was also able to get involved with the band at my church, which is an excellent opportunity to get your feet wet with not only playing but performing. If you have some buddies who are learning other instruments also, you can jam with them or even start that band. More or less, the lesson here is to just keep playing. Find what you like to do--whether it be playing popular songs, playing in a band, or just learning from tabs--and keep growing your skills. There's no secret to becoming good; just keep playing, and playing, and playing, and you'll keep getting better.
I hope these tips help you to achieve your dream of bass guitar sage-dom! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below!