What it Takes to Play Bass
Musical Instruments, Music Education, Music Lessons
Bass guitar is a deceptively simple instrument. The upside is that you can become competent in a very short period of time. The downside is that it takes a lot longer to master than one would think.
We hammer this point a lot here, but it is worth reiterating. If you find yourself humming bass lines while everyone else is humming melodies or other instruments, you probably have a natural bent toward the bass. A sense of rhythm really helps on bass, too, because you and the drummer will often be called on to carry the rhythm while a guitarist or piano player is soloing in a three piece band.
We are going to mention an exception that happens here for some people. If you wanted to play guitar, but find it too difficult to finger a lot of chords, the bass might be your instrument. Just make sure that you don’t insult yourself or every other bass player on the planet by considering it a “step down” from guitar. We all have different talents, and many bass players found out that the guitar taught them that the bass was really their instrument.
There’s an old musician’s joke: “How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb? None, but they will be happy to tell you how to do it.”
The reason for this joke is that a good bass player has to know what the chords in a song are, and what key the song is in. This involves learning as much music theory as a guitarist does; it just manifests itself in different ways when you are playing.
Also, many beginning bass players want to play with a pick instead of their fingers, because it is easier at first. This is a terrible mistake, and you will wish that you hadn’t when you start to realise what other players can do and how easily they can do it.
Ultimately, to be a good bass player, you need to be interested in the bass. You need to have a great sense of rhythm. And you have to be able to learn music theory if you want to be really good. If you can do all of this, you should be very successful on bass.
Best of all, you don’t have to play a lot of notes: just the right ones.
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