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klaas4's avatar

I got a bass guitar!!! Any tips?

Asked by klaas4 (2186points) November 8th, 2008

Hi, I just got a bass guitar and I would love to get some tips from the bass players out here. I’m starting to get the hang of it, but I thought the minds from Fluther may have some tips. I don’t take lessons by the way.


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21 Answers

jtvoar16's avatar

Is it a 4, 5, or 6 string? That will greatly change your learning, depending on how many strings you have.
Another quick note: No matter what people tell you, don’t be ashamed to use a pick if you have too. I did for many years before I started using my fingers, and to this day I only use my Pointer, Middle and Pinky. (When I was in my band I was harassed by many other bass players for using a pick, I guess it is some kind of “macho” thing or something, I don’t know. Most people I know that use fingers use all four fingers, some even use 5, I personally can’t. I guess the message I am trying to get across is:
Google some Bass Tabs, [something easy] and keep playing it over and over again, using different techniques in playing [2 fingers, 3 fingers, picks, 5 fingers, ect…] and see what works best for you, then keep doing that, and then practice another technique too, it’s like knowing two languages [I have found some bass tracks so hard I have to use my pick, think Slipknot.])

I hope that kinda helps.

klaas4's avatar

Thanks jtvoar! I tryed a pick but it’s not good for me, I use 2 fingers now. It’s a 4 string bass.

The most difficult thing yet is the fact that my fingers are kind of short (I’m 14 and come from playing the drums) and I don’t precisely know where all the notes are. I just search ‘till I got the right note and from there I will look what the next note is and optionally change string.


judochop's avatar

absoultly no enter sandman, higher ground or louie louie and you’ll be ok.

jtvoar16's avatar

I started off with tabs and that didn’t help me much, I did better trying to mimic the songs I heard until I got my fingers to do with I wanted, then I moved on to tabs (having a better idea were “sounds” where,) then the tabs taught me notes, then I just parsed those over actual notes (and I used Cakewalk) and learned to write actual notes after that point.
I don’t play much anymore, not unless I need a bass track for a video or something I am working on. I play a fretless 6 string and I love picking the thing up when new people are over and start playing something like Linken Park, or even better, Metalocalypse! Most people don’t figure out it’s a bass until they look!
But as for what I recommend for you? Well, if you want to do really high, hard stuff, learn to stretch those fingers, cause most bass cords, if you want to call them that, are few and far apart. When I was 16 I had, (and still have,) girly hands, thus making it very hard to hit some notes.

But ya, in summery, (your 14 and probably don’t read the entire rant I put up) I would start with some tabs of you favorite songs, so you know what they should sound like, keep playing those till your finger bleeds, then move up from there to harder tabs. Most websites put the songs into categories, “Beginner, Intermediate, Hard, and Pro.” Have a look through those! I wish I still knew all my old sites, but I just looked and they are all ether porn now, or gone. Sorry.

klaas4's avatar

I often read every reply on my questions. I love getting replies. :)
You know, what you describe is exactly the thing I do. I just put something John Mayer on (David LaBruyere is fantastic!) and play along.

Thanks for your advices and confirmations for approaching the thing. :)

asmonet's avatar

Practice, practice, practice. Until you can do everything in your sleep.

jtvoar16's avatar

One other thing I recommend that helped me, okay, actually two things I just thought of:
1) If you have something like Garageband, or Cakewalk, or something similar, try recording yourself into it, and then playing along with what you played, or pull up a loop on Garageband and learnt to play it, then:
2) Add yourself into some songs. Even if they are bad, it made me feel good, it might help you out.

Oh and Congratulations on the new Bass!

simpleD's avatar

Don’t try to play a new song at the normal tempo right away. Learn the notes, using tabs or music, and play each section as slow as you need to until you can get through it without mistakes. If you only practice at the correct tempo and keep making the same mistakes, you will learn the mistakes will be hard to unlearn those mistakes

elchoopanebre's avatar

My advice would be to get a good instructional book/DVD.

Learn to read tab (and possibly how to read music- it helps a whole lot).

Get a friend/instructor who plays bass to check up on you to see how you’re coming along. Sometimes teaching yourself an instrument causes you to develop bad habits if you don’t have someone to check up on your progress here and there.

But don’t worry; I taught myself drums, guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica, and ukulele…it just takes a little time and determination.

The rewards of being able to play a musical instrument make working through the awkward stage of sounding terrible well worth it.

stratman37's avatar

go to

There’s lots of lessons, articles and tabs to get you started!

jtvoar16's avatar

holy poop! You are the only person I have ever met, virtually or otherwise, that can actually play a harmonica and not just spout high pitched shrieking noises from it! Sweet!
Lurve for that!

iwamoto's avatar

well davey, good that you got one kid, try playing a bit with backingtracks, see how that works out, about the fingers, they stretch over time

jtvoar16's avatar

plus you have the advantage of being young, thus, still growing!

klaas4's avatar

Thanks for the tips and support all!

SimpleD: I’ve just downloaded this program called Guitar Shed (for Mac) which allows you to search and save tabs and chords, and also allows you to slow down a song. I already used this on Snow (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and I can now play it at normal tempo. Thanks!

Elchoopanebre: Wow! That’s a whole list! :)
I asked my music-teacher if she could give me some tips and look at my progress. So, thanks for the tip!

Iwamoto: I think you already know the bass I bought… (that one drom the Lidl). And, what are backingtracks?

Thanks again!

loser's avatar

Congrats Rock on!!!

jtvoar16's avatar

|..|- <—- = Rock on!

watchman220's avatar

Practice ALOT!

Learn the difference between bass and guitar. Playing root notes of a chord to alternatively give a different sound and feel to the music.

Bass is really cool.

Enjoy it.!

Kayak8's avatar

@jtvoar16 Another harmonica player here . . .

ruk_d's avatar

Practice everyday… Make up your own excercises that stretch your fingers and gain strength. Practice hammer ons and pull offs and use your right hand in different styles. Like slapping and pluckng the strings, using picks, using ur fingers verses a pick. also try your best to pick up speed.. Also i had fun playing the bass with different ppl. it built my confidence and was pretty damn cool. you should also practice counting so that you can stay on beat and play with other musicians. um… but just practicing everyday really makes a difference, even if your playing nonsense. it stills builds accuracy, strength, and stretch. have fun by the way.

kariered's avatar

I would definitely recommend getting an instructional book. The best one I’ve come across so far is the Hal Leonard Bass Method Book. It runs about $7.00. It also comes with a play along CD, which is optional. It will def help you learn the whole right hand technique (it has lots of pictures).

stratman37's avatar

Found this one a while back:

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