Bass guitar advice

I have wanted to learn bass guitar for a long time. Now at my age I finally picked up a bass and want to learn how to play
it. No , I don’t want to be a great bass player nor a player in a band. I just want to learn the fundamentals. What
suggestions do any of you have for learning this? What should I be practicing and for how long each day? Any advice is
greatly appreciated.

smoke on the water… :mrgreen:

Rock bass, I assume? Are you a guitarist already? Can you read music? Do you know chord structure and theory? Advice might depend on where you’re starting and where you want to go.

No, I am not a guirtarist but yes to everything else. Over 65 years worth of yes. Probably older than everyone else on this forum, looking at 74 next month. As I said I just want fundamentals or basics. Something for me to play with if you can understand where I am coming from.

The first book I studied was “Teach Yourself Rock Bass” by David Gross, back around 1980. Sadly, it appears to be out of print.

Well, you probably only have 25 or 30 years left to learn it! The book laying around my house is “The Evolving Bassist” by Rufus Reid. I think that one is a popular one, but it is jazz oriented. Might work for you though since you can read music. Myself, I can’t say I learned to play bass with a book (to the extent that I can play bass at all, which is debatable). I’ll claim to be a guitarist who sometimes plays bass, and the main recommendation I’ll make is to play along with your favorite rock records and learn by ear. Chances are that most of them are going to be easy! After all, it’s only four strings, and only one note at a time! Try Honky Tonk Woman by the Stones, I think it’s 3 notes in total.

Thank you for the suggestions guy’s. I’ve played keyboards so long I’m all “fugued up”. Need a break for awhile.

Any genre of music will do right now. Using the correct fingers on the frets is what I’m trying to get right now.

Aloha J,

It is sooo kool to read that someone is starting to learn
to work a new musical instrument from scratch.

What a buzz and bon chance mon ami.

Just remember that with each instrument come appropriate and obligatory
jokes. Here is one (of many).

Son: Mom, I wanna take bass lessons.

Mom: No. You might start hanging out with the wrong
kinds of people.

Son: Please mom! Just a few lessons to see if i really like it.

Mom: OK. Just a few and we will see how it goes.

After the 1st lesson;
Son comes home an hour later than usual
and mom asked, what did you learn today?

Son: I learned all about the ‘E’ string.

After the 2nd lesson;
Son comes home an hour later than usual
and mom asked, what did you learn today?

Son: I learned all about the 'A string.

After the 3rd lesson son does not come home until way past midnight.
And when he finally does…

Where the heck were you!?? I was so worried.

Relax mom. I just did my first gig.


Bredo’s advice is good, regarding the eight notes. Try to play them evenly paying a lot of attention to the gaps between the notes, and the length of the notes, that’s what gives feel, or rhythm, to what you’re playing.

And start off with simple things, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll improve. Also, if you have the time, do several short sessions per day, 15-20mins at a time which is better than one long session.

Good luck mate,


@ curteye


Wow, I never thought so many of you would respond. My biggest problem right now is dexterity with my left hand. For me it will take a lot of work but eventually I’ll make it. Thanks for the jokes and information—that’s cool !

sit in front of the TV playing scales just to get your muscle memory imprinted.


sit in front of the TV playing melodies and riffs just to get your muscle memory imprinted.

The muscle memory tips are great!
Also don’t forget modes along with your scales and chords… modes are pretty much the trick for learning your way around the bass neck… Cello parts are also FANTASTIC to practise on bass…
I would also learn to play to AT LEAST semi quavers… 16th notes… your timing will be MUCH more accurate!!! you’ll also learn to feel and think quicker if you use the higher resolution as your own ‘internal clock’… even for rock bass…
i’ve always preferred playing finger style personally… it gives you infinitely more control over what each string is doing dynamically and sonically, personally i feel that a pick really ‘disconnects’ the player from the instrument… it’s not hard to get a pick sound with your fingers anyway once you start learning how to develop your own personal tone on the instrument.
Also don’t forget to use the ‘classical’ left hand mechanism… yes it’s uncomfortable and a bit counter intuitive for many new players BUT again, once you work through it, it will allow your fingers to move independently and cleanly around the neck… If you don’t have the ‘left hand’ already then as Mauri said, stick to short sessions at first… it will cramp your hand and wrist up at first, but stick with it and eventually you’ll be able to play through it.
Timing wise it’s all about the groove!.. MOST really good players play slightly BEHIND the beat so no need for keying in a gate to tidy things up either…
Watch some videos of players you like playing live too… you can pick up loads that way!
… and it’ll get you thinking like a bass player too!! :wink:

Thanks for all the support, guy’s !!!

Been on bass since I was 14. Now I’m twenty years younger than you and have spent the last year learning regular guitar(long story)- really missing my basses. Sounds like you have more than enough skills to get good quickly. Can I suggest listening to Paul McCartney? I’m not a Beatles fan but just picking up the way he moves through chords on bass is really enlightening. :smiley:

Well - I can only say that I picked up a simple bass (Black Yamaha RBX270J) myself a little while ago. I am just a keyboard player and use a lot of soft synths, but learned nothing beats the feel and sound of a real bass instrument. I started to look around on the web and found some nice tutorials here and there.

If you are a absolute beginner this is a nice one:

I am really surprised how far you can get with a steady good daily practice (some 20 minutes as advised by Early21). Not that I will be a perfect player in a short term (or even in the long term) -far from it-, but I have just managed enough in a few weeks to incorporate my play in some easy songs without too much embarrassment (loop recording will be helpful here :wink:).

It is always fun to learn to play a new instrument. And yes - I am not that young also (56), so I should say: “you are never too old to learn”…

Thank you Bredo :wink:

Fortunately I have never been a real guitar player, so I do not have to “unlearn” burned in bad habits. I can imagine however a guitar player will have some difficulties to adapt to the playing style needed to play (some decent) bass…

Anyway - I am having a lot of fun learning.

I’m with you on that —lots of fun learning and seeing improvement. Good luck to you.