This guide will help you know what to look for in a teacher or instruction method for electric bass. Electric bass is a great instrument that can be incredibly fun to play. It is a critical part of almost any ensemble, in countless genres of music. Whether your dream is to tour and record, or just to play for your own enjoyment, finding the right bass guitar lessons and instruction for beginners can make the process much more pleasant. The greater your knowledge of the instrument, the the greater time you will have playing, as well as the amount you will work or perform. Whether you are into rock, metal, funk, or jazz, there are fundamentals in learning how to play bass that will serve you well regardless of genre. This guide will help you know what to look for in a teacher or instruction method.
Your Teacher – Bass Guitar Instruction Critical Point
Naturally, the actual instructor (or perhaps author) is an important factor. There are a number of qualifications to look for, some of which may require a very small amount of research. Are they hired to play professionally by a number of different artists? Remember that almost all bands need a bass player, and this means there are hundreds of people out there that “play bass in a band.” Many will call themselves professionals and offer to teach, without having much experience or solid foundation themselves. Look for someone who is or has been hired to play in a variety of situations, the higher the level (professional tours, recordings, etc.) generally the better, as it means they know what it takes to sound good in a variety of situations, and get to whatever level you would like to achieve.
It is important that your teacher or method of choice shows proper physical technique for playing the bass, not only for speed and sound, but for ergonomics. With poor posture or playing habits, it can be frighteningly easily to develop everything from basic soreness to real issues like carpel tunnel syndrome. Be sure to develop good habits from the start, even though it can be tempting to just dive in and play. Though everyone has a different body type and it is not always possible to “copy” someone else for good posture, a good teacher or course will cover the fundamental principles of sound technique.
Of course, you will also want your bass guitar instruction to cover the technique of developing dexterity and tone. While your particular bass, amplifier, strings and other gear naturally influence the sound, an incredible range of tone control comes from your fingers. A good teacher or course will cover the different types of attacking (finger style, slapping, thumb playing, playing closer to the bridge or neck, and so on,) muting, fretting, and all technical aspects of creating a variety of desired sounds from the same instrument.
Though speed is important, you will want someone that can teach how to play at any tempo with an even sound. Be certain that your teacher or course has a solid background in music theory and can show you at least the basics. There will be a wide range in interest among those of you reading this, from total theory-fascination to total lack of interest. I promise you that getting some of the fundamentals under your belt will be so useful and help your playing so much that you will be glad you studied it. Rather than having to memorize your favorite bass lines and songs note for note and discovering fingerings or positions, when you are able to see the “big picture” it will speed up your progress dramatically. Literally thousands of your favorite songs fit into musical formulas that you will be able to hear, recognize, and most importantly, already know how to play when you have a basic foundation of the scales and chords on which most songs are based.
Creating a groove is one of the most important, as well as most fun aspects of being a bass player. There is much more to this than simply playing “in time,” though that should be covered by your teacher as well. Groove is what makes the music feel great, and the bass plays a huge part in creating it. This has a lot to do with note lengths, how you attack them, and the overall attitude or energy in your playing. There is nothing better than making the band groove, and few qualities are more loved by your band mates as well as the audience. Listen to clips of players like Victor Wooten or Marcus Miller playing by themselves, and pay attention to how the beat feels. Be certain that your teacher can groove and explain the physical and mental aspects involved in creating one.
Speaking of groove, perhaps the best way to develop it is also the most fun, which is playing with drummers and rhythm sections that know how to groove hard. Besides being enjoyable, this will naturally adjust your own playing as you learn to listen and “lock in” with the time and groove being generated by the other players. After the time feel becomes part of you, you will be able to express it on the instrument by yourself. A good teacher or method will provide, or be able to help you find resources for this (there are many great records to play with, as well as specifically designed “play-along” tracks where the bass is able to be isolated or removed.)
Lastly, you will want a teacher or course that allows you to move at the pace that is appropriate for you, while still pushing you forward. Moving too advanced too quickly will just make you feel frustrated, whereas moving too slow or not having enough variation will make you feel bored.
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Filed under: Bass Guitar Lessons
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