23 Tips to Help You Think Like a Bassist

Engage in bass playing and become better at this field. It is a good thing that beginners can change bass playing, although it is flatlined. In just a weekend, they can already learn to bass, learn to whittle, and learn to program. There is always a way to improve their skill as a novice and continue to learn.

Continuous improvement and continuous learning come hand in hand. These are two things that they will ordinarily enjoy. They need to continue to keep thriving, but they should beat themselves to best achieve the next threshold of excitement and challenge.

Gaining the skill as a bassist always takes time. Below are the 23 tips that beginners can master on for them to become like a bassist a lot faster.

1. Jam On The Techniques Than Just Follow the Rote Exercises

This method is advised to be learned and mastered on by beginners. This is something that is encouraged for others to try out on. It does not make sense the first time of trying it around. But, this technique is to be incorporated possibly as a natural playing style.

Nevertheless, books of exercises face the problem of being unrealistic. The butt-load of the theory is as recommended to be learned but is nowhere to be applied. These exercises are just meant to fall as exercises. While these may have been used for the practice of bass line for a particular song, they still found that these did not fit well in the song, and it did not feel right to play.

The key here is to jam on the techniques without just sticking to follow the rote exercises. The goal here is to get past the stage of unconsciousness and incompetence. Anyone can get beyond this stage while beginning to think creatively and independently with it.

The focus is on one technique to work on at a ten-minute time interval. Mindfulness is required to be incorporated in this technique. The technique can then be worked on for real-time playing and setting.

2. Concentrate on Moving The Right Hand Finger

The left hand has its designated role for notes to find on the fretboard. The right hand also has a role in adding the rhythmic component. It is concentrated on the achievement of the actual drive and consistency behind the notes.

The difficulty comes in the breaking down of rhythm without including harmony and melody. The Yin of the right-hand complements the Yang and Yang of the left hand. The latter will not mean anything without the presence of Yin.

Learners must push forth the development of a consistent routine. The goal here is to work out the right hand and to develop a fluid and consistent style of play. This is also while a consistent harp is implemented on contextual and integrated learning. This is so far the best way of learning any skill.

3. Bring In The Pinky Finger of The Left Hand Into Playing

The idea of incorporating the pinky finger of the left hand is also suggested by the experts. This is indeed a good skill to improve on further by novices. This is useful for a lot of distinct and specific reasons.

The pinky finger is similar to one finger that is brought forth every fret. This is so easy to do that serves as a good baseline. This is in line with the right positioning of the left hand for bass playing.

The fluidity and speed are also two factors considered for bringing in the pinky finger. Playing agile and quick lines is a lot easier as the workload is spread to four fingers. It is not limited to only just three: the ring, the middle, and the index.

The suggested action to follow is to concentrate on the movements of the hand. The lines must be focused on fluidly with the use of four fingers of the left hand. A timer is also to be set for about fifteen minutes. The feeling experienced is to be written down after the pinky finger is incorporated.

4. Play The Song Melodies And Not Only The Bass Lines

Bass is also learned in a different dimension by beginners. This is done by way of learning song melodies and bass lines. It is somehow challenging to find a melody to play and learn. The steps still hold the same with the mastery of a bass line to a song.

The key is to find a song to learn its melody. The ears of the learners need to be focused on finding the exact notes of the melody. They must know the ways to arrange them. And the piece needs to be put together as possible. 

5. Do Not Hold the Neck As If It Is a Baseball Bat

The bass is held by players in a way that suits their liking. But, it is not recommended to hold the neck as if it is a baseball bat. The bass should instead be held while the fingers are paralleled to the strings. The thumb must rest at the center and the back of the neck. This is better than the entire wrist being moved while the forearm is played up and down through the neck. If this is followed, the set up is only to play using the fingers.

When the neck of the bass guitar is held the same as a baseball bat, the ability to move up and down the neck is hampered. It is also impossible to play while all the fingers are wrapped up on the neck and not on a spaced one-finger every fret.

6. Play Along With Others

A new skill is learned as in bass playing when with the presence of other musicians. People should be on the move to get out and play. There are good resources that can introduce them to meet musicians to play with. Among these resources include Craigslist, Reddit, Meetup, Bandmix, and many more.

7. Follow The Simple Headphone Trick

This trick is effective and simple to follow that suggests the use of a pair of headphones plugged into an amp. This enables players to hear the sound of their bass with no further external distractions.

Gasp distractions are among the biggest things that stop bassists from following an effective practice. A strong focus on bass playing is as suggested for thirty minutes at a time.

Playing with headphones enable the sound of the bass right in the head of the learner. The sound is not escaped, and the bass also does not escape from them. This enables them to have the sound of the bass next to their ears. This is also the best way for them to get focused on the degrees of the headphone trick.

8. Get a Pick To Use

The majority of learners believe that the use of a pick is a sinful thing. They remain clueless that the once-famous musicians used a pick often. Chris Squire, Paul McCartney, and David Ellefson also used a pick. John Entwistle and John Paul Jones are known for the occasional use of a pick. It depends much on the feel and the style of a song.

It somehow still depends on the kind of music that they intend to play. A pick can seem to be useful in the hitting of the hard tones. This is true when it comes to funk, rock and roll, and metal. Bassists who have the likings of pop, jazz, and blues may make use of their fingers to catch up with the muted and mellow tones.

The different moods and styles are learned more quickly with a pick. This is also following the certain genres and the tones of a bass.

9. Play The Technical Music

A lot of grooving and improvement can be done in the fields of blues, reggae, and jazz. Nothing is wrong with any of these genres. It is just that the best bassists come up honing their skills through the playing of technical music.

The choice of technical music can improve the skills of novice learners. This can include the combination of classical music like Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and more, conventional Irish music, and progressive metal. These are the three genres that can be so heavy when it comes to technicalities and techniques. These are also helpful in learning the minor and major keys, octave changes, finger strength, and precision. The right method of switching between them and changing the time signatures is also as implemented.

10. Do Some Experimentation

This is the ingredient of playing any kind of instrument and not only a bass instrument. Beginners are guided to play many various styles from many various musicians. The best bassists can play anything with any other at a time.

The experimentation is needed with the use of the bass guitar itself. Learners must find a way to know what works and what sounds best. One good representation of experimentation is the use of a ponytail hairband. This is wrapped around a fretboard that makes the sound of a bass slightly distorted. This is once used as a technique by Victor Wooten.

11. Use More Fingers

The use of the middle and index finger is as needed when playing the bass. But, learning more to use more of the fingers is also highly recommended. This may seem a bit difficult at first. But, the pinky and ring finger are considered as the weakest links. They are always unused and unneeded.

A lot of bassists are using grip strengtheners. These can be found in most fitness shops for about ten to twenty dollars. These tools can help, but essentially practice holds the key. Blisters can occur, and tiredness can come. But, the fingers can remain as dexterous and string as possible.

12. Play Something That Can Be Barely Played for Several Times

Learners are advised to push themselves to the core limits. They must find a way to barely finger on their instrument. Something is to be played on over and over again. The technique is to begin slowly at the start and to be sure it is being nailed at it. The process must not be hurried, but time is all that is ever needed.

The running speed is to be slowly built up. Starting it slowly but gradually building up is taught as well by the masters. It is also to be taken to the right speed and the right tempo. The practice is just so common in the field of classical music. This helps out avoid many of the tricky passages.

13. Practice Being In Control of the Attack

Fine-tuning makes a big difference between the great and good performance. The way that the string is struck is where the sound originates. The attack is best manipulated with the note that is played. The sound can then be dramatically altered by a player. And striking a note can be practiced until the sound that is liked best is obtained. The consistency of the sound is also acquired after the practice.

It is indeed a significant skill to have the ability to play a song with the right dynamics. The attitude comes with patience when in practice. The good quality playing experience is backed by a focused and consistent practice. It is not ever fuelled by doing it overnight.

14. Notes Be Sung While Being Played

Getting better at bass playing is possible more than ever by singing the notes while being played. This is the best way of engaging with music on entirely kinaesthetic learning. The melody and rhythm fall under the control of the fingers. The task is also done a lot easier once it is learned masterfully.

15. Practice With the Use of a Metronome

The credibility of bass players is founded on the consistency and sense of time. The practice with the use of a metronome is a lot way better than flexing the chops. The need to get oneself in the right zone is essential before the metronome is turned on. A quick second look is to be taken after the instrument is picked up. The mind by then should be in an absolute blank slate. It should readily be locked into the beat. The metronome now needs to be turned on, and the feel of the tempo is to be taken into consideration. This is also before playing is ever started.

Not rushing into practice using a metronome is as recommended. This will only be a waste of energy and time. The possibility of fumbling, even by taking it slow, is as natural as possible. Mindful space for thought can help minimize the missteps. This is true in the practice of a metronome.

16. Write Out A Song

There is no other way to the road of becoming a better musician than writing out a song. This is what is called as transcribing that is geared at getting tuned to a track. This is followed by figuring out the way to play a part by ear. This involves the notation of the part like sheet music.

The bass instrument needs to be learned upon the involvement of an ear. This is exercising many of the essential musical functions. The ears are also used to best figure the notes to play. Everything else is also learned about then.

A sense of musicality is to be used to a full extent. The tones need to be heard in the part that is being played. The original performance is also to be replicated to the best of the learner’s ability.

17. Be Organized

The next best tip to help beginners think like a bassist is to be organized. Organizational strategies need to be implemented by everyone. The basic steps must also be taken good care of for a stress-free session. The equipment and practicing area need to be ready and clean for use.

Written materials need to be written out or printed on. iPads may also seem a great tool to use, but they may still be unreliable. The pages as well must be kept separate when working on a lot of things. There is nothing that can disrupt a flow than having to dig through the messy papers. Binder dividers and accordion folders can work equally here.

18. Practice Restraint in The Support of the Song

Bass guitar may seem like a busier instrument. This is due to the reason that it comes with many different duties like rhythm, lead, and many more. But, it is still the role of the player that does say it all. The bassist is the one responsible for the maintenance and establishment of the groove. The music is given such depth in its sense.

19. Befriend the Drummer

It is the rhythm that provides for the harmonic and rhythmic foundation. This is where the singers and the lead guitars are built upon. That is why the bassist and the drummer must fall on the same page. Ripping a guitar on solo is not as good to look at. It will always be the groove and the rhythm that can get people moving.

The rule of thumb here is to start and stay tight with the snare drum and the bass drum. The usage of the octave root notes is also suggested. A more solid backbeat is constructed when the octave is high in the snare. The same is also achieved when the octave is low with the kick drum.

20. Figure Out The Right Time to Fill

A riff or a fill is a passage for a short musical piece. This is played between the phrases that can make things more interesting. For instance, the bassline is embellished with some sort of expression. This is towards the goal of moving the song forward between the chorus and the verses.

This must thereby be practiced with restraint. It can just be tempting considering the bass fills. The bassist is allowed to stand out. The groove is not to be sacrificed in this case. The song must also not get the bassist distracted.

The groove will remain tight only if the number of the beats is filled. This is even before the groove finally comes back around. The transition here is seamless. The best fills will end right through the first beat of the measure.

21. Prioritize and Streamline the Practice Routine

 The key to thinking like a bassist is to prioritize things being learned. The way that it is being learned is the right thing to do to stay on the task. It is challenging where or how to start the session. The right mindset and the right goal need to be kept in mind to achieve becoming a bassist. The right structure is also to be followed to the sessions. A few warm-up exercises of minor and major scales and descending and ascending need to be considered in mind. The pattern is as well to be repeated and be raised one fret every time. Ascending by half the steps to the scales is as needed. And each key is to be named before going along.

22. Expand the Practicing Possibilities

The practice sessions are not only limited to alone time with the bass. There are so far many ways that can best expand the musical knowledge of beginners. Listening to the parts of the bass from radio songs gets them the right feel of the music styles. Televisions are filled with theme songs and jingles. And these heavily depend on the bass. These are as practiced in the head. The process of thinking over scales and fingerings is way better in passing the time on the morning commute. All these counts towards better practice.

23. Have All The Fun

Beginners need not lose sight of one thing—fun. A bad time in practice demands a pause for a while. Nothing can come out of frustration and stress, particularly to playing bass. Staying inspired and positive ensures a wonderful and long musical journey.


We hope that this article helps you accomplish the goal of thinking like a bassist. These have certainly worked well for everyone. Keep in mind to relax and enjoy the wonderful world of bass to achieving the fullest potentials!

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