Playing Bass Guitar?


in Learning Instruments

Playing the Bass Guitar is a talent unto itself.

I've heard folks say: “How hard can it be to play one note lines on the bass?” Of course none of these people have every tried to play the bass guitar. Recently there have been a couple of questions come in to me about learning how to play the bass and how important is it to know music theory.

My View

bass-guitar-neckIf you've followed any of my conversations on playing you know my answers is going to be along the lines of…

How can you not learn music theory and expect to be any kind of great musician?

Let's face it. If you are going to play in a band and want to add to the group by being more than a one note wonder you've going to have to know the key signature, beat, chord structure, and style you will be using to support the rest of the instruments.

How successful do you want to be?

Knowing your chords and how you as the bass player are going to interact with the bass line is crucial to the success and the bands as well. The style you play is also important to support the song intentions or interpretation.

The bass player provides the foundation of what the rest of the group is playing. Your walking pattern or note choices also support rhythm and chord changes with leading voice tones. It's not as simple as one would make out.

Therefore it does pay to study music theory and learn the greater musical interaction in order for you to participate in the group objectives.

One area that the bass player is concerned with is the style of play. It could be a thumpy bass line to punctuate and drive a song or it could be slap bass. These techniques have various tips and challenges that require some instruction and mentoring to prefect.


I've been looking around at a few of the courses and methods available to find some that we think might be worth your attention as a bass player. I've begun a new recommendations page at: Play Bass Guitar and so far have found a couple of specific items that you may want to consider.

I've found two major courses and as of yet I'm not making any recommendations. I put in inquires, but have gotten no response and have not found adequate reviews to satisfy myself that they deliver on their promises. When I do find out more and can form an option I'll get them up on the play bass guitar page.


Will November 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Hey there.
Found your recommendations for learning bass quite interesting; not the usual courses I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere.
I found your site because I was researching Kenny Werner’s Effortless Mastery. Linking these two threads leads me to the following suggestion – A DVD that seems like your type of thing is Victor Wooten’s Groove Workshop. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m definitely going to buy a copy:
Victor Wooten: Groove Workshop

Also worth checking out is Wooten’s book “The Music Lesson.” One reccommendation from the comments is to get the audio book version as Wooten himself narrates it:
Music Lesson -MP3


Brad_C November 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Thanks Will, I’m still in the process of reading the The Music Lesson, I misplaced it and your reminder has me seeking it out again. Definitely recommend Kenny’s Effortless Mastery. I’ve got to update the bass guitar page, and Wooten’s stuff needs to be added. Here’s a couple of links to amazon for his other material
The Best of Victor Wooten: transcribed by Victor Wooten (Bass)

Victor Wooten Super Bass Solo Technique

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