Beginner Bass – 5 Things You Need to Learn

 When you’re a beginner and looking for beginner bass things to do, it’s plain confusing getting directions on how and where to get started exactly.

Especially if you’re a self-thought bassist, without close friends who play bass or guitar and can show you the basics.

With so many bass lessons on Youtube, it’s really difficult to cut through the noise.

In this post, I’ll share with you 5 things you should learn first when getting started on bass, knowing what I know now.

#1 – Learn How to Tune a Bass Guitar

I know this might sound trivial to anyone playing bass for a while, but when you just bought your first bass this is the FIRST thing you need to learn how to do before you attempt to play anything.

You need to learn how bass guitar hardware works and how to tune each of the strings on your 4, 5, or 6 string bass.

A standard 4 string bass tuning is E – A – D – G (from thickest to thinnest string).

This means that each of the strings needs to be tuned to a certain note (pitch), so that when you just pluck the string without fretting it anywhere – it produces a specific pre-set pitch.

In this post, I won’t be getting into details about how to do each of these must-learn-first points.

When it comes to learning how to tune a bass guitar, the easiest way is to just buy a tuner gadget from a music store and learn how to use it. They are inexpensive and you’ll be using them all the time so well worth the investment.

#2 – Learn Notes on Bass

As a beginner bassist, next what you need to learn is the musical alphabet and notes.

You need to learn how notes work on the bass fretboard, how to find them, and how are they layed out on the fretboard.

You play a note by pressing down with your fretting hand on one (or more if you’re playing chords) fret on the bass neck. Each of the frets you press down on will produce a different note.

The geometry of the bass fretboard is very logical and symmetrical due to the way the strings are tuned. And the good news is that there are only 12 different notes that you can play in music.

#3 – Learn to Read music

Now that you know how notes in music work and how to play each of them on the bass, you need to learn how to read music.

There are two options when it comes to writing down music today:

  • Standard music notation
  • Tablature

Standard music notation is an academic approach, something you learn the basics of in elementary school (if you’re lucky to have that subject). Learning standard music notation rules is something everyone starting out on bass should look into.

There is one problem with learning standard music notation, it takes time to learn and get proficient at reading music this way. This is not really ideal for someone just starting out on bass with the goal to be able to play rock songs with friends in a garage.

Good news: learn how to read tablature.

Tablature has been around for a long time now and it’s so easy to learn – you can literally learn how to read tablature in a day. Every beginner bass player needs to learn how to read music – so learning how to read tablature presents a quick start.

Today, pretty much all learning resources found online, in magazines or instructional books/dvds feature notation in tablature format.

In short: tablature is a way to write down and read music quickly and easily.

You’ll be learning your favorite songs from tabs – so yeah, learn how to read tabs!

#4 – Learn Left and Right Hand Beginner Bass Techniques

It might seem like it’s a steep learning curve when it comes to learning bass guitar from the beginning, before even playing the first note on the instrument.

Maybe it looks like it is, but if you have proper guidance, ideally an online course for bass beginners, then it’s something you can master in the first week of study.

Once you know all the necessary theory to get started on bass, you should look into learning proper left and right-hand technique.

Learn how to pluck strings, and how to fret notes. At this point, you’ll be able to start learning your first song on bass.

Don’t get too caught up with the technique in the first weeks of playing bass. Just try to play the bass line you’re learning any way you can. The idea here is to get started and learn how to get sound out of your bass.

#5 – Learn Rhythm Basics

Learn about rhythm and time in music. You should learn what the beat in music is, how bars of music work and basics of time signatures.

Next what you should learn are note durations and practice playing bass lines using different note durations.

At this stage, you should learn how to count out basic rhythms and learn how to play the whole, half, quarter, and eight notes on the bass.

Enjoy playing music

Bass teachers and some students can get caught up in various exercises and drills.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s all good stuff and practice will make you better.

But never, never forget why you play the bass.

We all have a dream. Music dream.

Mine was to perform music on stage. I got there, starting from nothing. No special talent, no musical family members. Just me, bass and figuring things out.

Music should be at the heart of everything you do, so make sure you’re working on your building your songs repertoire from day 1.

You will get better at bass by playing music. Simple as that.

Find a Structured Program for Bass

What I do to help my bass students make progress is that I create easy to follow and highly structured step-by-step online bass courses.

I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years and lately, it’s all going down at my own Bass Road Academy – an online bass guitar instructional website.

When you join us, you get access to an online bass course called Bass Guitar 101 – this course will help you get on the right learning path starting from zero.

If you’re just starting out, I highly recommended enrolling in this online course where you’ll learn the most important aspects of becoming a good bass player.

Everything I mentioned in this post that beginner bass player needs to learn is covered in this course.

Most importantly, this bass course features no talk and is heavily focused on learning bass through playing real music.

There will also be highly useful and motivating video recording assignments, where you record your playing and get feedback from an instructor.