A girl in a classroom asks,

Have you ever found yourself mesmerized by smooth bass lines? Have you always wanted to learn how to play them yourself?

Bass is a great instrument for both complete newbies to music as well as experienced musicians. It's super easy to pick up and start playing bass, and can provide a great challenge to experienced musicians looking for a new outlet.

If 6 strings is too many for you, and the ukulele is too small, then bass might be just right for you!

Why bass?

Most bass players stay out of the spotlight, but some are able to take over the stage and play some crazy solos. People like Flea, Billy Sheehan, and Geddy Lee have shown that bass can be so much more than just playing in the background.

Paul Rudd miming playing the bass while saying,

But bass is a rhythm instrument, so you're the foundation that allows all the other flashier instruments to shine. As great as any solo can be, it wouldn't be nearly as great if the rhythm section wasn't providing a solid foundation.

If you're looking to play in the back but occasionally steal the show, then it's time to get your bass on!

Getting a bass

When first starting to play bass, you definitely don't need to spend a ton of money, but it's definitely an investment.

A good beginner bass shouldn't cost you anything more than $500. Besides the guitar, you'll also need an amp, which for a beginner should be under $200.

You can also check out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji, or other classified sites to find some used instruments on the cheap!

Eric Cartman saying,

Don't spend too much money on your first bass! More expensive guitars aren't any easier to play, so wait until you've been playing for a while before spending too much money on a bass guitar.

Things to do:

  • Research some good beginner bass guitars

  • Look at used options

Things NOT to do:

  • Go to a music store and buy the most expensive guitar you can find

Start learning

Now that you've got your guitar, you're ready to play! There are many ways to start learning that are super easy to access:

  • Tabs: This basic notation method is very intuitive and a great way to learn a song. Ultimate Guitar is a great source.

  • Online videos: There are mountains of video lessons on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other video hosting platforms.

  • Take lessons: Lessons can be quite pricey, but learning one-on-one with a teacher will have you playing well super fast.

A man with headphones saying

Learning with tabs

Tabs are very popular and quite easily accessible.

Gaston from Beauty and the Beast holding a book saying

Advantages of tabs:

  • You're able to play at your own pace.

  • Because it's just reading, you can really take your time and focus on parts that might be giving you an issue.

  • If you like taking things slow, tabs are a great way to try and learn any song.

Disadvantages of tabs:

  • It might be tough to play along with a song because it might be hard to follow along.

  • You can try things like Guitar Pro Tabs where you can play along with the song, and also provide a sheet music option, but costs a bit of money.

Learning with video tutorials

There are different kinds of tutorials that might interest you.

Dog the Bounty Hunter saying into a walkie talkie

  • Song tutorials: where someone teaches you how to play a particular song.

  • Music lessons: where someone teaches you techniques or theory to help you improve.

A good idea is to do a mix of both. Try learning some techniques and then a song that uses that particular technique. Many people who upload music lesson videos will also give an example of a song that uses that technique.

At first, try and stay away from "challenge" videos, where a very experienced player tries to play a difficult song. They can be fun to watch but aren't a great way to learn, as most of these challenge-takers don't break down what they're doing.

Taking music lessons

Advantages of lessons:

  • When you're first starting out, a teacher can be really great for building strong habits, like making sure you're fingering style is correct.

  • They can also guide you in which songs to learn, as a common mistake for beginners is to try to learn a song that they like a lot, but is very challenging.

Disadvantages of lessons:

  • They can get expensive fast, so be sure it's something that you can afford before committing.

Most lessons are one-on-one, but you can also do group lessons. It can be both cheaper and some people learn better in a group setting. It can also be a great way to meet other aspiring musicians!

A man at a podium shouting


Ahmed is ready to learn to play bass. Which of these are good methods of approaching learning to play?

Take Action

Joe Dart from Vulfpeck playing bass.

Bass is a super fun instrument to play, that can extend past its identity as a rhythm instrument to perform some cool solos. Ready, Set, Bass!

Before (and after) you decide to start playing bass:


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