Electric Bass Lessons for Beginners

I enjoy the process of helpinig beginning level students develop the necessary skills on the electric bass so they can play in a band.  Some of my students have started learning guitar first and then transitioned to the bass.  Others have started lessons with no prior musical experience.

When teaching electric bass I try to strike a balance between learning fundamentals of the instrument while also describing the role and responsibilities of the bass in the context of a band.  This comes into play when I work with students on rhythm and time keeping skills.  For example, we often study how a particular rhythm figure played on bass works in concert with drums and other instruments in a song or band.

When selecting a bass for the first time it’s good to locate an instrument that feels comfortable to play and not too heavy.  I would recommend trying out several different basses at a local music store prior to pruchase.  In general, Students ages 7-11 might fare better starting out on a 3/4 sized instrument. Students 11-adult will do fine on a full sized bass.  Additionally, I recommend that new students start with a 4-string bass and leave 5 & 6 string basses as a future option.

Please see my “Getting Started” page for more information on recommended basses and accessories.

Topics of Instruction:

Technique

It takes a little bit of time to get comfortable playing notes with the left hand while also plucking strings with the right hand. So, I introduce exercises and music scales that help students develop their strength and coordination.  I also will utilize popular single-note songs to accomplish this as well.

Understanding how the bass works

From day one I try to help beginning students establish a concrete understanding of how information is organized on the bass.  I will work with students to memorize their string names, fretboard notes, and how they relate to chords and scales.

Reading music

One of my goals is to equip students to be able to decode written music so they can teach themselves songs.  Initially, I help students learn how to read tablature (which is a very guitar oriented form of music notation) so they have the skills necessary to learn songs that they can find on the internet.  After some time I move onto to teaching standard music notation.

Applied Music Theory:  Learning how music works.

Skilled bassists not only have great skills.  They also understand how their musical contributions best compliment the overal landscape of the song they are playing. In a similar fashion I take a big picture approach towards teaching bass by also presenting music theory concepts relating to melody, harmony, and rhythm.  I’ve found this helps students cultivate a perspective on how to best fit in a band.  It also equips them to create their own unique bass lines that best serves the music and musicians they are a part of.

Songs

Songs represent the tangible rewards and achievements of working hard to learn a new instrument.  They also function as motivating goals for myself and my students.  From my experience, songs are the motivating reason why we start taking lessons in the first place.  Because of this, I want to find out, as soon as possible, which songs my students are most interested in learning. In face,  I will try to find a song that a student can begin to learn in their first lesson if its a reachable goal.

Electric Bass styles & songs:

This table below represents some of the music styles and songs that I’ve taught on bass.  It is not a complete list and changes according to music trends and what my students request to learn.  Please feel free to contact me if you have interests in music styles that are not found below.

Music Style

Song/Artist

Classic Rock

“Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns n’ Roses
“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppellin
“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen
“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne
“Walk this Way” by Aerosmith
“Saturday in the Park” by Chicago
“Peg” by Steely Dan
“Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin
“Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd

Modern Rock

“Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes
“Enter Sandman” by Metallica
“Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
“Alive” by Pearl Jam
“Give It Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Blues

“The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King
“Hideaway” by Freddie King
“Red House” by Jimi Hendrix
“Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
“Stormy Monday” Recorded by the Allman Brothers.

Rhythm & Blues

Music of the 60’s & 70’s
“Good Times” by Chic
“I Want You Back” by Michael Jackson
“Cissy Strut” by the Meters
“I Feel Good” by James Brown
“Soul Man” by Sam and Dave

Jazz Bass

“The Chicken” Jaco Pastorious
“River People” Weather Report
“Fly Me to the Moon” by various artists.
Walking Bass Lines over Jazz Standards

Video Game Themes

“Super Mario 3 Medley” Nintendo
“Full Steam Ahead (Spirit Tracks) from Super Smash Bros. 3DS. 
“The Adventure Begins” From  Kirby and the Rainbow Curse.

 Lessons for Intermediate/Advanced level students.

I am also comfortable working with intermediate level bass students.  In general terms I work with intermediate/advanced students on further developing their technique, expanding their repertoire, and extending their understanding of chords and harmony.  Many of my upper level students often take intermittent hourly lessons as I’m able to provide a lot of content that they can develop further on their own.

If you haven’t done so already….

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