Have you always been fascinated by the bass guitar and wished you could play it yourself? You probably feel that there are few things that feel as amazing as laying down the foundation for a groove.
Well, if you’ve always wanted to play, there is some good news. There is perhaps no better opportunity than today to get started learning the bass guitar.
Curious as to how long it will take you to learn the instrument? Be sure to read on!
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What Are The Different Methods Available To Learn Bass Guitar?
In today’s current climate, there are a number of different methods you can choose to learn the bass guitar. Each method has its own unique list of pros and cons, and some methods certainly won’t be for everyone.
Every person has their own preferences and learning styles. Sometimes, the only way to figure out your own preferences is to try different methods out for size.
The following information should give you a basic guideline as to what is available to you as an aspiring bassist. Both the pros and cons of each method will be explained in a more detailed manner.
Private Lessons From An Instructor
Despite being one of the oldest methods for learning an instrument, private lessons are still quite effective. What, exactly, does a private lesson entail?
With this method, you’ll basically become a student of a bass guitar teacher. The teacher will impart their knowledge and wisdom for you to apply to your own playing.
Generally, lessons will be in a 1-on-1 format, usually in a private room. Each lesson will be guided by the instructor’s observations of your own playing.
Taking private lessons can often be the fastest way to learn the basics of the bass guitar. You’ll learn all of the essentials that you can take with you and use throughout the rest of your life.
Learning the basics could take 3-12 months, depending on lesson frequency and practice routine.
Because of the individualized format, you’ll receive feedback that directly correlates to your own playing.
Plus, in-person lessons keep you honest as a musician. You’re more likely to feel responsible for your own personal work.
Because the internet has become a facet of daily life, you can be sure bass lessons have been affected. Now, you can take private lessons from instructors all over the world without leaving the comfort of your house.
These types of private lessons usually take place over a video chat client such as Zoom or Skype. The same benefits from in-person private lessons still apply here.
For the most part, you can help tailor your lesson plan to include things that you would personally like to learn. And really, that’s one of the best things about private lessons.
Instructors are going to have you learning on a personalized road map to reach your destination of completed goals. Any question you might have should be asked, with an answer to be received.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Private Lessons?
Of course, much of your progress truly does depend on how much you are willing to practice. Don’t worry, we’ll get into that later.
One of the biggest disadvantages of this method is the cost. Beginner lessons are affordable, but get more expensive with the skill level requirement.
As you might guess, you’re essentially paying someone for their years of experience and expertise. This concept applies to nearly any type of profession.
The thing is, the instructor is limited in what they can offer you based on their own personal experiences. They will only be able to impart the knowledge that they know.
We all know that there are many different styles of bass playing to be learned and enjoyed. This is something to keep in mind if you have aspirations for a certain style of play.
There is another aspect that others tend not to consider: you have to like your instructor. If you don’t connect with your instructor, learning the bass will feel like a drag.
In-person lessons also require you to travel to the lesson site. This is not always a possibility for some, especially those who don’t drive.
Touching on this, you’re also limited to the number of instructors that happen to be living in your area. The internet certainly remedies this quite a bit, but not everyone likes internet lessons.
In fact, internet lessons make it harder for the instructor to really see the subtle problems you might be facing. For instance, it’s pretty difficult to see if someone’s arm is tensing up through a camera on an internet connection.
Furthermore, internet lessons are always prone to network connectivity issues. You’ll want to ensure your connection is strong to prevent wasting anyone’s time (including your own).
Online Video Lessons
The internet has revolutionized far more than just private lessons. It has opened up a world of information waiting to be accessed by the willing musician.
Today, there are countless resources on the internet for music lessons. Nearly any instrument you ever wished to learn has video lessons on the internet.
These types of lessons are pre-recorded by a teacher. Some resources are completely free, while others require a monthly subscription.
Depending on the resource, you might also have the opportunity to join a connected community. This allows you to meet other bass players around the world and share info, jokes, stories, and tips.
For the most part, online video lessons that are behind a paywall tend to have 2 different formats. You’ll find standalone lesson series as well as those that seem to follow a general road map.
Depending on your learning style and the information you wish to learn, you’ll likely employ both formats. The road map series are generally good foundational starting points for learning the basics.
Online video lessons are excellent because they allow you to learn at your own pace. Plus the monthly cost is generally equivalent to about 1 in-person private lesson.
You essentially have all the information you could ever hope to learn at your fingertips. It is completely up to you to follow through and learn and practice what you desire.
These resources tend to feature multiple instructors, each offering their own unique expertise. Another benefit is that there tends to be quite a collection of song lessons you can use to learn your favorite songs.
Someone who is motivated could easily pick up the basics of bass guitar in 6-12 months with this method.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Online Video Lessons?
Online video lessons definitely are not for everyone. These types of lessons generally tend to lack the personalization that private lessons offer.
Furthermore, you need to be seriously motivated to learn things at a realistic pace and also practice the concepts. It can be all too easy to just watch the videos without practicing one measure from the lessons.
Likewise, a bassist needs to have a solid understanding of how to build a routine encompassing the learned topics. Learning things is great, but what good is it if you don’t know how to apply them?
You also do not get the personalized feedback that is offered with private lessons. Bad habits can be easily learned without someone there to tell you to fix your playing.
Another thing here is that, if not following a road map, a bassist could learn things in an illogical manner. This inevitably adds time and confusion to the equation, making it longer to reach your goals.
Are There Any Specific Lesson Resources That Can Help Me Learn Bass Guitar?
If you’re considering online video lessons, one of the best resources available is JamPlay. This resource is sure to speed up your learning curve, with a timetable similar to private lessons.
JamPlay’s video lessons are all at a very manageable time length and tend to follow a linear progression. You’ll start learning the basics, but you have the freedom to learn songs and specific styles of music too.
Some examples of different lessons include:
- Circle of fifths
- Bass harmony
- Plucking technique
Taking it a step further, JamPlay also offers lessons covering the styles of famous bass players. You’ll be able to integrate iconic techniques into your own musical voice.
The video lessons themselves are all shot in high definition, often offering up to 6 different camera angles. These angles include:
- First-person view
- Student view
- Strum hand view
- Dialog view
You can be sure that you’ll be able to see every little nuance of your instructor’s playing during a lesson. If you have a problem spot, JamPlay allows you to create custom video loops for practicing directly on the videos.
Each lesson also features downloadable tabs covering the concepts in the lessons.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of JamPlay is the large number of instructors contributing lessons. Currently, there are over 20 instructors, including:
- Rex Brown (Pantera)
- Robbie Merrill (Godsmack)
- Freebo (Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young)
- Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai)
- David Ellefson (Megadeth)
When joining JamPlay, you get access to a library’s worth of knowledge for an extremely reasonable cost. Plus, you also get to join a community and make new friends with other aspiring musicians.
JamPlay does have a mobile app, so you can essentially take bass lessons anytime that is convenient. There are some games within that can help you learn the fretboard much faster.
The other method for learning the bass guitar is the other old-school method: teaching yourself. You can go about this by learning from books and learning music by ear.
Years ago, this was pretty much the only method available for people to learn instruments. If there wasn’t an instructor around, you had to teach yourself.
The massive benefit of this is that you’ll be able to become a truly individualized player. You have the complete freedom to learn the things that you desire to learn.
Another benefit is that, with mastery, you’ll be deeply connected and have an understanding of your bass. This amount of dedication and focus really does strengthen the connection with the instrument.
The self-taught method can also be quite affordable depending on how much your learning materials cost.
Unfortunately, that is about all there is in the way of benefits for the self-taught method. However, you’ll soon discover that this might be one of the better methods after a certain point.
The timetable for learning the basics in a self-taught manner really depends on your dedication. It could take anywhere from 6-12 months, or even longer, to get the basic fundamentals under your fingers.
What Are The Disadvantages Of The Self-Taught Method
With this method, the biggest disadvantage is that you are prone to spending time inefficiently. Because you have no roadmap or guidance, you’re liable to wander aimlessly in your studies.
When things begin to take longer than expected, the process can become quite daunting. You’ll need to feed yourself a steady supply of motivation and self-loving understanding.
If you do decide to go this route, take extra effort to take care of yourself. It can be a tough road, don’t beat yourself up more than you have to.
Another disadvantage here is that there is an overwhelming amount of material to learn from. Unfortunately, much of it seems to be regurgitated information that lacks depth beyond the basics stated in different words.
Being able to discern which material is worthy of your time is going to be a critical skill. You will ultimately need to aim for the least amount of wasted time possible.
Bad playing habits are likely to develop because you have nobody to give you feedback. Beginners especially are prone to being unaware of such problems and would likely not know the folly of their ways.
Fixing a bad habit is always more difficult than learning the correct manner the first time around.
Which Method Is The Best?
Generally, the methods that tend to follow a guided, linear road map are going to be the best for beginners. This includes both private lessons and certain online video lesson resources.
These types of resources are going to give you the most direct method of learning the fundamentals. You’ll find that these lessons can often take you well into intermediate levels of play.
As you become more advanced, you begin to have more options as it is an opportunity to specialize. In this instance, acting as a self-taught player will likely be more to your benefit.
You won’t be limited to how you can learn new concepts and you’ll always find materials to learn from. Wasted time won’t be much of an issue at this point because you’ll have a working understanding of the bass.
Regardless of the method you choose, you should always remain open to learning new concepts. Even those you might not initially think are important will come back around to become quite relevant.
The best bassists tend to operate from a mindset of being a lifelong student. These types of players will continue to learn and practice until they are physically unable.
Don’t get too comfortable with your own skill level. There are always new things to be learned that can break you out of any rut.
What Are Your Goals As A Bass Guitar Player?
Before you begin your journey, you should take some time to define your goals. What exactly do you hope to accomplish by learning the bass?
Your answer is inevitably going to dictate the amount of commitment required to complete your goals.
Learning an instrument is very similar to learning a language. How adept you become depends greatly on your goals and the amount of practice.
Do you want to be a professional touring musician? You’ll want to become as studied and practiced in nearly any area you can possibly think of.
If the bass is more of a hobby, you likely won’t need such an intense regimen for studies and practice.
Your goals can help you identify the best learning methods as well. Video lessons can be great for the hobbyist as it offers a flexible learning schedule.
More intensive goals could benefit from all types of learning. As mentioned before, learn the basics from lessons, and specialize using every method and resource available.
How Much Time Can You Dedicate To The Instrument?
No matter how lofty your goals are, the only way you can achieve them is by putting in the practice. You probably won’t be a professional if you only practice an hour per week.
Practice is an important part of learning as it allows you to apply learned concepts. This is really the only way to incorporate new ideas into your playing.
Your dedication will determine how long the learning process takes. How good you become is completely dependent on you.
Aside from practice, it’s equally important to be able to play with other musicians. You’ll learn quite a bit about the instrument’s role within a musical context.
Even if you don’t have professional aspirations, playing with others is extremely beneficial. You could think of this as talking in another language with a few friends.
Doing this allows you to utilize everything you’ve learned in a real-time scenario. Plus, it’s extremely fun and you’ll make some of the best friends you’ve ever known this way.
If you can, try to visit an open mic night at a local establishment near you. These often have open jam settings where other people get together to play a song or two.
Playing with different musicians will teach you so much about how to utilize your own musical language. You’ll inevitably pick up a few tricks along the way.
You’ve likely heard that a musician learns 100x more on stage than what is possible in the bedroom. This common saying couldn’t be more true in the instance of learning an instrument.
Being in a band isn’t for everyone, but it can be an extremely magical experience. Consider forming a band with some friends and create your own unique brand of music.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Bass Guitar, Final Thoughts
In most cases, it’s best not to attach a timetable to a learning experience. This creates unnecessary stress and anxiety, especially if the process takes longer than planned.
Take your time, cultivate patience, and most importantly, have fun with the process!