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Learn to play the bass guitar, the one that brings all other instruments together

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I remember speaking with David, one of Shine’s best teachers about the bass guitar. He said proudly that the bass guitar is for real music lovers, for those who don’t want leadership or to stand out from the rest of the group, but become the body of the group, bringing all of the other instruments together. “This is why bass guitar players have to be really passionate about it, because they become both body and soul of any band”, he said.

The pedagogy and training for the bass varies widely by genre and country. Rock and pop bass has a history of pedagogy dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, when method books were developed to help students learn the instrument. One notable method book was Carol Kaye’s How to Play the Electric Bass. Although the best way to learn is always learning from a good bass teacher. You can find excellent teachers at Shine Music School in Barcelona.

Very often people ask themselves what’s the real difference between a guitar and a bass. If you are an absolute newbie to music you may not even understand the basic differences between guitar and bass. The two instruments are more similar than you probably realize. The electric guitar is a six-stringed instrument, and standard tuning is: EADGBE. That means the lowest string is tuned to the note E, the next to the note A, the next to D and so on. But knowing the notes isn’t really important right now, as much as understanding how the guitar and bass are related.

The standard bass guitar has only four strings, and is a slightly larger instrument. The tuning of a bass guitar is the same as the lowest four strings of a regular guitar, except one whole octave down in pitch. Therefore, the strings of bass guitar are tuned EADG, just like the lowest four strings on a regular guitar. In many ways, the bass is exactly the same as the guitar, except with two fewer strings and lower tuning. The same scales, chords and music theory you might learn on one carries over to the other. The two instruments are directly related. This is important to realize, because many players think they have to learn one or the other when first starting out. Realizing there is a direct correlation between the two might make your choice seem a bit less stressful. What you learn on guitar will apply to bass and vice versa. You can make the switch at any time.

Keep in mind, there are all kinds of different tunings used on both instruments, and all kinds of variations of each instrument. There are 7- and 8-string guitars, and 5- and 6-string basses. Don’t let any of that worry you. Once you understand the basics of one instrument, the rest is easy to figure out.

One thing many young musicians wonder is why a rock band ever needs a bassist. They’re just in the background, and many bands are so drum and guitar-heavy on their albums that you can’t even hear the bass. This is especially true now that so many guitarists are detuning down to the frequencies once occupied only by the bassist. In truth, while average bass players may be content with taking a backseat, a good bassist knows that his or her job is to carry the band. They provide the backbone that holds up the other instruments. In genres like jazz and blues, this means settling into a groove and working with the drummer. In metal and hard rock, it means supplying the meat of the guitar riff, that part of the sound that puts the audience through the back wall.

Good bassists are indeed very valuable, so if bass is the path you decide on, then wear your choice proudly!

Ok, let’s be honest. It’s actually pretty easy to play bass. You only have to play one note at a time, you can just stand in the back and chill, and if you make a mistake, you just call it a “passing tone.” But the insider trick to know is that if you play in-time and play the right notes most of the time, you are keeping the song moving melodically and rhythmically. You, my friend, are the most important part of the song. The bass player is the perfect mediator in the band. He (or she) keeps the other players in line and holds everything in place. Without the bass player, everything would fall apart and be a big mess.

I’ve heard many musicians say that one of the hardest things to do is to find a good bass player. So if you’re a good bass player, you’ll get work. You don’t even need to be great. You just need to play the right notes in time.

Electric bass guitar, when played acoustically, is probably the quietest instrument that exists. A bass player can plug in headphones through a Bass Pod™ and mixer and sound like he’s playing in a stadium in his ears, but to the people around him, pretty much nothing is happening.

Can you think of a quieter instrument? Right. Bass is it.

Also, a bass player will always be a great friend. A bass player is patient. A bass player loves what he does, and knows that the most important job is to ensure that people feel something. That they dance. That they lose themselves in the groove.

If you decide to give it a try, you can contact Shine Music School for face to face lessons or online lessons.

You can also come down to The Music Room and rent a bass for a couple of months to see how it goes or visit our instrument rental page.

You might want to listen to some of the best bass players of all times and see what they sound like : Flea, John Entwistle, Cliff Burton and Victor Wooten.

“When I heard BB King’s ‘Sweet Sixteen, I knew I wanted to play bass because that was the thing that made that record: the bass player.”

Donal Dunn

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