In order to know how to play bass guitar for beginners, you at first need to know the anatomy of the instrument. A bass guitar is made up of 6 major parts – the body, neck, the head stock, pickup, tune controls, and the bridge.
Knowledge of Tuning and Amplifier
The next step involves tuning of the guitar. A bass guitar is tuned at EAD and Gm with E being the lowest and the G being the highest pitch.
The next step is definitely familiarizing with the amplifier. In order to connect your bass with the amplifier, you need to connect one end of the audio cable with the amplifier and plug in the other end into your guitar. Once the connection has been established, it is time to turn the amplifier on. Here, it is imperative to know the difference between volume and gain of the amplifier. Adjustment of pots on the bass is needed at this juncture, to make sure that the bass generates the most perfect sound while playing. Setting up the bass amplifier is THE most important step of playing a bass guitar.
The Right Posture
Now it is time to find the right posture that will help playing the instrument with ease. One may wonder how posture is related to knowing how to play bass guitar, but the fact is that a perfect posture always does a world of good so far as playing the instrument is concerned. Whether you stand or sit while playing, you need to know how to hold the instrument in a proper way so that you at ease while you play and feel comfortable. Adjust the sling so that the instrument is suspended at your side in a proper way. Place the playing hand on the strings, and rest the lower part of your arm on the bass.
You may also enjoy our top recommended bass guitar buying guide here.
Plucking the Bass
The next step involves learning the process of plucking the bass. Here, the index and the middle fingers of the playing hand should come in handy for plucking the strings. It is possible to minimize the wrist and the arm movement by isolating the plucking and alternating between middle and index fingers while playing. Switching between one string and another is another practice that one needs to master. This has to be done in order to maintain the I-M-I-M pattern, wherein the ‘I’ stands for the index finger and the ‘M’ stands for the middle finger. Alternatively, pick can also be used to fiddle between the strings. A heavy gauge guitar pick will be able to solve the purpose. However, striking the strings with the help of the pick is quite a bit of a task and it needs practice to master the art of using the prick in a proper way.
One very important aspect of playing bass guitar is learning the art of muting the strings with each hand. Ideally, it should be kept in mind that one string should NEVER EVER vibrate with another while they are fiddled. Hence, it is extremely important to mute other strings as you stroke one particular string at any given point in time.
This again takes us back to the issue of the right posture, as that will help placing both the hands on the bass and be comfortable with the non-playing hand, as it is turned to the direction of the bass pins that are used for tuning. When it comes to handling the frets, use the index finger of your playing hand on the first fret, and the other fingers on the adjacent frets.
Fiddling with Strings
Another technique that you need to master is playing the notes of the first 4 fingers of the uppermost string as well as the loose string note. Here, pressing the strings with the left hand hard enough is particularly essential. This is because on then you will be able to shift the pitch accurately, when you pluck the other hand while playing. This will also help keeping the sound of the loose fingers of the non-playing hand at bay, thereby making the sound more accurate and distinctive.
Some Important Techniques of How to Play Bass Guitar for Beginners
Using Metronome is another extremely important chapter. The first step is learning to play notes with the use of the open E string on each metronome beat, known as quarter notes. Initially, it is better to be slow and then gradually speed the tempo up. This also includes a good understanding of the eighth notes, which essentially are the half way points between each note. And then the sixteenth notes come. When it comes to learning to play bass guitar, mastering these techniques always makes all the difference between a good player and an average one.
Then there are some of the most common techniques like hammer-on and the vibrato. The hammer-on is a very common technique, wherein the player has to play note without actually plucking any string. For doing this, one has to play the E String on the 3rd fret. While the resonance of the note still continues, the player has to quickly shift on to the 5th fret. This is a very basic technique that can be applied while playing a two or more mores in a quick sequence on the same string.
Vibrato on the on the other hand, is a very commonly used technique that adds texture to the composition. For using vibrato, one has to bend the string back and forth to some extent with the help of the fretting finger, before the sound of the note just played fades out. This has to be done pretty fast to make sure that the effect of the vibrato is maximum. The more is the sound of the note, the more is the extent of vibrato. With prolonged practice, it is possible to add vibrato to even the sustained note
Hence, these are some of the basic techniques that you need to know while you learn how to play bass guitar. However, one thing that you need to remember is that it is always easier said than done. Hence, all you need to do at the end of the day, is practice hard and make sure you master the technique of playing bass guitar sooner than later and excel in this art.
Tip: Here is our another step by step guide on learning to play electric guitar for beginners.