How to Play Bass for Beginners

Music Lessons in Ambler PA​

The bass guitar is one of the most popular instruments that is used in all genres of music. The history of bass lessons is fascinating because it evolved from stringed instruments, the double bass, and the stand-up bass by people like Jaco Pastorius, who took elements from these instruments to create an entirely new instrument that was eventually electrified. The electric bass has connections with jazz music and was integral to developments in rock ‘n’ roll, ska, reggae, pop music, country music, and more!

Playing the bass guitar is often challenging for beginners since they may not know the basics or they are impatient, leading to frustration.  Playing any instrument, including the bass guitar, takes patience and practice. If you’re a beginner looking to start playing the bass guitar, below are some helpful tips.


To improvise means to create music spontaneously, on the spot. To improvise on bass guitar means playing without any preparation, just like jazz musicians do during solos. Improvisation is essential for bass players to know how to play along with other instruments and make something up if there is no sheet music available or it’s incomplete. Sometimes improvisation will happen by accident, but most times, it requires practice sessions where the player practices making up bass lines that fit well with a jam track or some pre-existing song (which can be used as part of a band).

Fingerstyle Bass Guitar Playing

Playing with fingers instead of a pick is called “fingerstyle” playing. Several famous bassists use fingerstyle playing since using just fingers creates a different tone than when using a pick. Fingerstyle may seem easy because the guitarist doesn’t have to hold anything between fingers and play chords or scales simultaneously.

Fingerstyle Bass Guitar Playing

Double Stops

In fingering or “double stop” playing, the bassist will play two notes simultaneously. This skill is beneficial for chordal accompaniment because it can create different sounds than just one note. It’s also helpful to create melodies that would otherwise be difficult to do if played with one note at a time.

Although it might be challenging to do, don’t give up! Double stops are how bassists play melodies with large jumps in pitch or speed because doing double stops with single notes would be too difficult. Indeed, double stops are essential for creating different textures and therefore adding different sounds to songs.

Scale Practice

As a beginner, this one’s obvious, but practicing scales is extremely important. For those who don’t know, scales are a set of notes that have been chosen for a particular range and can be used as “building blocks” to create solos or melodies. Scales give bass players a great way to improve technique by increasing the speed at which scales move up and down the fretboard without going too far outside of one’s comfort zone.

Picking Scales

When learning how to play bass, one will notice that each scale has a specific picking method. It is because different techniques are used for different styles so the player can get the right sound. For example, rock music requires mostly down-strokes while country uses upstrokes. 

However, one must play scales; remember that picking scales are the building blocks of bass that help create melodies and can be used as starting points for improvisation. Picking scales will also give the speed and dexterity needed to play fast licks and help increase one’s overall hand strength.


Finally, playing the bass well is no easy task, not even for professionals. It can take years of dedication and thousands upon thousands of hours spent practicing, so one needs to be patient along the way. Rawk-U offers bass lessons for anyone from beginners to advanced students. Call us today to learn more about our bass guitar lessons in Philadelphia, PA.