Bass for the Reluctant Guitarist

The Big Intro Section

Looking back now it probably seems inevitable that you find yourself reading this paper. You were once a guitar player but things didn’t work out the way you figured and now you are playing bass. Maybe the other guitar players are better than you. Maybe you can’t find a decent bass player who isn’t obsessed with playing slap style. Or maybe you really can’t just teach the drummer’s girlfriend how to play two strings. Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t consider this as a step down or a demotion. It’s more of a lateral move like changing from Front End Development to Back End Development, whatever that is. Keep in mind that a guitar player named Ron Wood played some wicked bass lines.

This is not a guide for beginners. You are reading this because you already know how to play guitar and I suspect you are a very good guitar player. You know all the chords, scales and you may have studied music theory but you want a down and dirty guide to get you spun up quickly on that mysterious background instrument you have been pissing all over for years now.

If you are a beginner there is a wealth of instructional material tailored specifically to learning how to play the electric bass guitar (Consider yourself lucky. When I was learning how to play the only people teaching bass were guitar teachers and they knew next nothing about bass).

The Author Playing Bass

And that is why you, the non-beginners, are here. You are humble enough to admit that you know next to nothing about this oft maligned, misunderstood behemoth. You are bewildered as to why the bass is easy to learn but difficult to master. You are baffled by something that is so similar to a guitar yet so different. You are struggling with the enigma that the bass guitar is actually a chick magnet (more on this aural secret will be revealed in the pages ahead).

Fear not. Like any good bass player, I am here to help. If you follow the steps in this easy to use how-to guide you will soon be playing bass almost as good as me and enjoying all the rewards and benefits. DO NOT GIVE UP!!!

“I thought I saw a hand. Question?” The answer is Yes, for the most part. The information herein applies to all styles of popular music, you know, styles like Rock, Blues, Country, R&B, Jazz, Soul, Gospel. I am operating under the expectation that no one using this guide is preparing to leave their guitar gig to play first chair in the philharmonic’s bass section. If you are, this booklet will not be of much use, but don’t worry, all of the music is written out for you in the Boston Pops so just follow along.

Before we dive into playing techniques let’s talk about something that I love talking about and one day you might, too: Basses and Bass Gear.