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When compared to the guitar, one would think that the bass guitar is easier to learn. However, this is a major misconception due to the assumption that having fewer strings makes it an easier instrument.
The truth is that while bass and guitar are similar in nature, they are played completely differently. They even have different fundamental roles within the music being played.
If you’re apprehensive about learning the bass, be sure to read through this article.
How Hard Is It To Learn Bass Guitar?
The bass guitar is as difficult to learn as nearly any other musical instrument. With the proper amount of dedicated time learning and practicing, you can easily master the fundamental aspects.
While the guitar tends to primarily play a melodic role within music, the bass guitar has a more foundational role. This is why you’ve likely heard that the bass guitar is the “backbone” of a band.
The note choices and how you play the bass are vital to how a song actually sounds. For this reason, the bass guitar is arguably the most important instrument within a musical ensemble. Just make sure you don’t tell a guitarist that.
All jokes aside, learning the fundamental skills of the bass guitar can be fairly easy. Applying the skills correctly takes a little more time with experiments in trial and error. Do not let this deter you from learning the instrument, as this is a natural process required for any endeavor.
With time and commitment to the bass, you are likely to find that what was once difficult becomes easy. In fact, you are likely to experience this process of phases with every new skill and concept that you learn.
You’ll likely find that, despite knowing the most complex techniques possible, developing discernment and taste is not often taught. Playing the right note at the right time, and leaving space when necessary is a valuable skill.
This is an aspect of playing the bass guitar that you will have to figure out for yourself. Analyzing different styles of music can help with this.
As long as you remain open to learning with patience, you will have an easier time. This might be easier said than done, but it is a necessity to be able to progress without much difficulty.
What Is The Fastest Way To Learn Bass Guitar?
If you want to learn the bass guitar in the fastest way possible, your best bet is to take lessons. This will allow you to rely on another person’s experience to guide you in your journey of learning the instrument. You have a couple of different options if you wish to go this route, including:
- 1-on-1 in-person lessons with an instructor
- Online lessons
Perhaps one of the best ways you can learn the bass is through JamPlay. While the site was originally designed for guitarists, it does offer valuable lessons for bassists of all skill levels.
JamPlay has a slight advantage over 1-on-1 lessons. This is due to the fact that there are many different instructors (of world-renowned fame) contributing lessons.
Because of this, you are not limited to one person’s experiences and point of view. Ultimately, this allows you to gain a more well-rounded insight into the many aspects of playing the bass guitar.
JamPlay is especially helpful for bassists because each video lesson has multiple camera views. This allows you to see the bass from the 1st person and 2nd person points of view. A camera also focuses on the picking hand exclusively.
In-person lessons can become quite expensive over time. However, the monthly cost for JamPlay is about the equivalent of the cost of one in-person lesson. This gives you access to an immense amount of information that might not otherwise be available.
Regardless of what route you take, lessons are going to be the most straightforward method for learning the bass. You will have a clear-cut pathway in your studies, and you are likely to be more accountable for your practices.
How Long Does It Take To Learn The Bass Guitar?
For the most part, you can likely learn the basic aspects of the bass guitar in about 6 months. This estimation is a rough guideline as this depends on the amount of practice time you put in. Your individual goals are going to determine how long it will take to reach your ideal level.
It goes without saying that practice is an incredibly important aspect of learning any musical instrument. If you can put in an hour of practice a day, you will likely surprise yourself with your own progress. However, practice alone will not suffice.
In order to progress on the instrument, you will need to continue to learn new concepts and techniques. Doing this will help you grow musically, give you new things to practice, and make the process more fun.
If you are aiming for mastery on the bass, this process is going to take much longer (years). Practice in the bedroom will only take you so far, and real-life playing experience will be needed. This will help you understand how to implement your knowledge, and to know what works musically and what doesn’t.
The bass guitar is unique in that simple bass lines constructed of 2-3 notes can be highly sufficient. If you’re playing a genre that requires more complex techniques, you will need to take the time to learn them. Both scenarios require a degree of skill and understanding which takes a good amount of time to implement.
Depending on your commitment to the craft, you can become a competent beginner in a year. Keeping a consistent effort and gaining a large amount of playing experience in 5 years will make you even better. Applying the same to a length of 10-15 years could see you become a master of your craft.
How Can I Gain Real-World Experience On The Bass?
Depending on your goals, you may have aspirations to be performing live in front of an audience. However, this can be a little scary, especially if you do not know any other musicians to play with.
Fortunately, there are a couple of methods you can try in order to gain some real-world experience playing live. The first method is to attend a local open mic or open jam at an establishment near you.
These events tend to happen every week. If you search hard enough, you might find a daily opportunity, as many establishments have these events on different nights.
Generally, these types of events are very informal, allowing you to meet other musicians who live in your area. This will give you an opportunity to play with other people and understand how each instrument works together. You’ll also get used to playing in front of an audience.
Before you go to these events, it is a good idea to learn a large number of commonly played songs. This will establish a common ground with other musicians without having to improvise something off the top of your head. Attending one of these events without the intent to play can give you an idea of these commonly played songs.
Stage experience is incredibly important and you’ll likely be exposed to a vast variety of different genres of music. This will help you in understanding how to implement your knowledge in a way that supports a group musical effort.
As you’ll be playing with others, chances are likely that you will find people who want to start a band. This will then propel you further into your journey as a bassist, giving you a full-time responsibility.
These situations are a great way to gain knowledge and jumpstart your musical career.
Can We Learn Bass Guitar Without Learning Acoustic Guitar First?
It is a common misconception that one needs to know how to play the guitar before attempting to learn bass. While there is some overlap regarding the layout of the instruments themselves, you don’t need to learn the guitar first.
Many bass players are, in fact, guitarists who have decided after some time to dedicate their time to the bass. Much of this is because there tend to be more guitarists than bassists in a music scene. This lack of bass players opens a great opportunity for anyone who chooses to play the bass.
However, I personally know many people who have spent their time explicitly dedicated to the bass guitar alone. These types of people tend to be the most accomplished at the instrument with regard to their skill level.
By dedicating their time to the bass alone, they have spent more time honing their skills to masterful levels. They also tend to have more experience applying their bass guitar knowledge in real-life musical situations.
Much of the knowledge that a bass player gains can actually be translated to the acoustic guitar. This can be helpful, especially in regard to the songwriting process.
Should We Learn Bass On An Acoustic Bass First?
One of the biggest questions beginner guitarists have is whether they should learn on an acoustic or electric first. Similarly, many beginner bass players have this same question regarding the bass.
The guitar is a bit unique in this scenario, as the electric is played much differently than an acoustic. The electric is more inviting to complex techniques, often involving pedals. The acoustic tends to be dominated by chord-based playing and fingerstyle guitar techniques.
However, the role and how the instrument is played are pretty much the same on both acoustic and electric basses. An electric bass may provide for a more complex technique and does open the door for use with pedals. However, an acoustic bass can be just as useful to learn on and is highly portable.
Your learning instrument of choice will likely be determined by the styles of music you are interested in. For instance, if you’re wanting to play metal, the acoustic bass might not be the most ideal.
Do I Need An Expensive Bass To Become A Great Bass Player?
Every musician, no matter what instrument they play, is guilty of lusting after high-quality gear. These cream of the crop instruments often emulate every facet of what initially drew us to the instrument.
However, if you’re just starting out on the bass, you certainly do not need an expensive bass to get started. There are many basses available within the beginner’s budget that provide an excellent entry point to the instrument.
Generally, the least expensive bass guitars are primarily built exclusively for beginners. This provides a way to start your musical journey without having to spend a massive amount of savings.
In fact, a budget bass is recommended for a couple of reasons. The first is that you won’t have too much invested monetarily should you decide that playing bass isn’t for you. While you can always sell your bass, you likely will not recoup the same amount you paid for the instrument.
Secondly, an inexpensive bass will give you the opportunity to learn what you truly desire in a bass. As you spend time learning the instrument, you’ll discover aspects that you deem to be necessary for your next instrument. This will ultimately allow you to find the ideal bass guitar that is right for you.
Thirdly, if you spend time diligently learning on a beginner instrument, your purchase of a superior instrument will feel better. This will reward your hard work and make you feel that you've worked for a better instrument. You’ll also appreciate the finer aspects of the superior instrument, which you are likely to overlook as a complete beginner.
Is Bass Guitar Easier To Learn Than Acoustic Guitar?
Despite the fact that the bass has fewer strings than an acoustic guitar, it is not necessarily easier to learn. Whether something is easy or difficult is completely subjective to someone’s experience. A master might call something fundamental easy, while a complete beginner might struggle with the concept.
Bass players can often get by in a musical situation playing 2 or 3 notes in a measure of music. When compared to the strumming pattern of chords on an acoustic, it could certainly seem as if this is easy. It might also appear this way due to the fact that guitarists frequently take the spotlight with complex guitar solos.
However, playing bass requires skill and knowledge in understanding how best to support a song within an ensemble setting. An understanding of how to play in the pocket of a group dynamic takes years to fully develop. Quite often, this is not very easy to do without being able to play with a drummer.
Both the acoustic guitar and the bass guitar are difficult (and easy) in their own way. Each of these instruments requires the same amount of time to fully develop and master in an applicable way.
Is Bass Guitar Easy To Learn? Final Thoughts
The musical world tends to be dominated by egotistical divas that try to run the show. However, playing the bass guitar is a humbling experience. To be a great bassist in a band requires you to serve the song without any ego involved.
If you’ve decided to embark on this journey, take care to be patient and kind to yourself. Great bass players are always in demand, and you will soon find yourself receiving many opportunities.
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