- Max Kuehn
If you want to know how to practice bass guitar, then read this article. When it comes to playing the bass guitar, practice is key. By practicing, you can hone your skills and improve your playing. But how do you go about practicing effectively? We’ll give you some tips so that you can make the most of your time and become a better player.
The Three Practice Areas
I’ve heard of players that practice for ten minutes to ten hours a day, with success at both ends of the spectrum. Success is, of course, a relative concept. One cannot expect to make significant improvements in their talents from week to week if they practice ten minutes every day.
On the other side, someone who practices for ten hours a day might need to find a new hobby. Maybe they’ve already discovered one. Playing gigs regularly or playing in a garage band can limit your practice time.
For most players, the pressures experienced in “actual” play far outweigh those experienced in the practice room. Performers who have day jobs that need them to use the muscles of their musical anatomy and athletes who participate in sporting events that use these muscles must be aware of their bodies’ physical limitations.
They may need to limit their practicing time as well. A practice routine is an exercise program that includes academic topics. As a result, I urge that the musician seek a qualified coach to work out the physical and emotional issues of playing bass.
The performer (student) and the teacher can personalize the exercises they do and how they include academic material. On the other hand, practice material can be divided into three categories. All are equally important for effective practice.
Build and Maintain
Each participant has a unique set of physical and mental abilities. We must first maintain our current level and then develop upon it, as long as we have the correct physical technique and a solid academic basis.
This is generally accomplished by using specific fingering exercises, scale and arpeggio patterns, and stamina exercises. This practice area can be supplemented by performing or reading previously learned works occasionally.
Personal Needs and Interests
Every musician has a set of melodies they’d like to learn. Many of these are challenging to learn and play. This type of content should be included in the practice routine. Reading and transcribing are two methods for learning. Take the time to transcribe the music on paper before studying a song you frequently listen to on the stereo or headphones.
This action will assist you in learning the piece faster, finding errors, and improving your reading ability. You may not always enjoy what you are required to play, but you will perform whatever is needed since you enjoy playing bass.
Many players share this sentiment, which necessitates incorporating the information you enjoy throughout your practice. Select information that has special significance for you. This form of exercise can be quite fun.
It is sometimes necessary to gain new skills to survive. Next week, you have a show coming up, and the part is too challenging for you to sight-read. You’ve just joined a band, your first show is coming Saturday, and you have eighteen tunes from a demo to memorize.
You have an orchestra audition coming up next week, and you’ll be playing selections from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. These are all instances of things you’ll need to survive as a bass musician right now.
This content must not only be included in your practice program, but it may also take precedence over other materials. In the end, you should strive for a blend of these, leaning in one direction or the other depending on which direction the wind blows.
How To Practice Bass
Make A Schedule Or Don’t Make A Schedule
One of the first questions most people have about practicing is how often and when they should do it. My advice is always the same: practice as much as you can! Granted, even the hardestcore musicians have off days, but I believe that you should get at least one or two good sessions per week to progress at a comfortable pace.
I also feel that there are two types of people: those that operate on a timetable and those who do not. This is oversimplified, but music is love in general. Some people prefer to arrange their lives and passions, and if you’re one of them, approach your practice in the same way.
Find a convenient period in your calendar and schedule as much practice as possible. However, if you’re more of a free spirit, I advocate picking up your instrument whenever inspiration strikes, whether at lunch or 2 a.m. Thanks be to God for headphones!
My second bit of advice is about the organization, often forgotten. While not all organizational tactics will work for everyone, some basic measures must be followed to ensure stress-free practice sessions.
Make sure your practice space and equipment are clean and ready to go (more on that in tip #3). Any written documents you’re working on should be printed or written out. iPads are nice, but they may be unreliable, so pens reign supreme in the practice room.
Keep your pages distinct if you’re working on multiple projects at once. Nothing stifles your productivity like having to stop and rummage through a stack of papers to find the one example you require.
Both accordion folders and binder dividers work nicely in this situation. Computers are excellent tools for musicians, but I always prefer a hard copy of practicing materials or song ideas.
Have all of the tools you’ll require
This suggestion is a little more money-dependent than the others, but fantastic tools for practicing and writing are available to everyone on any budget. You’ll need a bass, a guitar chord, and a large or small amplifier.
I’d also purchase a basic music stand. A metronome is also a must-have item. If you have a smartphone, several fantastic metronome apps (many entirely free) are available for both iPhone and Android. These are ideal for nearly any type of practice.
A simple computer recording system is also a good investment, albeit more expensive. While it may cost a little extra, it’s usually not as costly or complicated to set up as you may expect.
It’s also a great practice tool because you can record yourself practicing and hear how far you’ve come. You may quickly get into easy recording for a few hundred dollars or less unless your machine is more than ten years old.
A primary audio interface, speakers, and recording software are all you’ll need. A good system will cost roughly $200, but you may get by with far less if required. Ask at your local music store; if they can’t assist you find the correct gear, they’ll know someone who can.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
This is a follow-up to my previous suggestion. Sometimes you don’t feel like playing for whatever reason. Perhaps you’re distracted, in a poor mood, or preoccupied with something else. This is very natural and acceptable.
It’s crucial to play when you’re in the mood rather than forcing yourself to play when you’re not. If you try to push yourself to practice, you may negatively associate it. It turns into a job rather than a game. I’m often reminded of my childhood piano lessons. My teacher was stern and too organized, which was unpleasant.
She insisted on practice logs and timetables, homework assignments, and bi-weekly recitals, which were daunting for anyone new to music, let alone a 9-year-old. As a result, learning to play became less enjoyable and more stressful.
This may happen to anyone at any age, and it can swiftly extinguish your desire to be a musician. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to practice. There’s always tomorrow for a new beginning and new ideas.
Set goals for yourself
Having clearly defined goals in mind is another crucial part of an effective practice regimen. I recommend having something particular and concrete to practice, whether mastering a new technique, learning a song from beginning to end, or nailing a theory exercise.
This gives your session time meaning and keeps you moving forward. Avoid hazy objectives and lengthy timelines. Goals like “By this time next year, I want to be able to play like Paul McCartney” aren’t as useful as a list of specific songs and ideas to master.
This also helps you break down major tasks into smaller chunks and gives you real-time feedback on how fast you’re learning.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
This is a crucial point to remember. When confronted with an enormous issue, it’s easy to become upset, annoyed, or even enraged. Maybe your favorite bass part is too fast for your present technique, or there’s a line or riff you’re stumped on.
Instead of getting angry at yourself during these challenging times, take a step back and address it systematically. Set up a metronome at the fastest tempo you can properly play the part if you’re trying to learn a specific phrase or practice.
Then increase it by a few clicks and practice till you’re satisfied. Rep until you’ve hit the part’s maximum speed. This is a simple technique to improve your playing without stress or frustration.
Make your practicing regimen more efficient and prioritized
Staying on track requires prioritizing what we learn and how we learn it. When it comes to sitting down and practicing, it might not be easy to know where to begin. What’s the most effective approach to getting into the correct frame of mind?
We should always have a specific goal in mind to attain, as we described in tip 5. It’s usually an exercise, a method, or a piece of music. It’s always a good idea to have some form of structure for your sessions, no matter the goal. I like to start with a few easy scale exercises.
This is a simple scale warm-up exercise in the key of C, consisting of ascending and descending major and minor scales. Repeat the pattern, increase the fret by one fret, and climb in half-steps through the scales. As you continue, give each key a name: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, and so on.
This is an extension of the preceding exercise, a straightforward “2 up, 1 down” approach to a C major scale. When you reach the top of the scale, notice how the pattern inverts – it becomes two steps down, one step up until you reach the root note.
You can do the same thing with this pattern as we did with the first one: slowly increase the pattern by 1 fret, labeling the keys.
You’ll be in a musical mindset for whatever else is on your schedule for that session after practicing a few of these warm-up exercises. Your fingers will be loose and ready to go as well. After that, you can go to work on your day’s material.
Some players prefer to end their practice session with a ‘cool-down’ period of simple exercises or a favorite easy song; you can certainly do that if it suits you. But what matters is that your practice regimen becomes just that: a well-honed routine.
Extend your options for practice
It’s vital to remember that practicing isn’t only about spending time alone with your bass. Beyond your practice sessions, there are numerous opportunities to broaden your musical expertise.
Listening to the bass parts of songs on the radio is a terrific method to get a feel for various musical styles. Pay attention to the bass in jingles and theme tunes on television. You can also practice in your brain – thinking about fingerings and scales on your morning commute is a terrific way to pass the time. All of this counts as practice.
Know where you want to go musically in the long run
It’s also crucial to consider your long-term relationship with music. What are your long-term musical goals? Are you interested in music as a pastime or career? What kinds of music do you like to listen to and want to learn? While these responses may fluctuate over time for each individual, they are critical in determining your practice habits.
Fretting about a strict practice plan can detract from the experience if you’re learning for sheer joy. If you’re auditioning for a touring band next week, on the other hand, a careless attitude to practicing could spell disaster.
Knowing where you stand can help you stay on track with your routine and make your musical experience enjoyable and productive.
Have fun with it
While there are many things I might say about practice, this remains the most important. Music should be fun first and foremost, whether you’re a seasoned pro musician or just picking up a bass for the first time.
Keep this in mind at all times. If you’re having trouble practicing, take a break for a while. Stress and frustration do not produce excellent results, especially when it comes to your playing. Maintaining a positive attitude and inspiration will ensure a long and fruitful musical career.
Why Do You Need a Bass Guitar Practice Schedule?
It instills discipline
I bet that not everyone who went to the gym this morning genuinely wanted to. So, why did they do it? Why don’t you press the snooze button for an extra 30 minutes of sleep? They can see beyond the short-term gain due to their discipline.
They can concentrate on their objectives and persevere in the face of adversity, knowing that the result will be worthwhile.
How often would you practice if you picked up your bass when you felt like it? I’d be marginally better than I was when I first started. Discipline is essential for honing your ear, playing those lightning-quick runs you’ve always wanted to try, and finally grasping those music theory ideas you’ve been struggling with.
You’ll be able to practice that advanced slap bass workout and push over your inner irritation by setting goals (more on that below). And once you start to see results, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself even more as your discipline improves.
It assists you in improving while also measuring and tracking your development.
Setting goals for your practice routine and measuring your progress toward those goals with KPIs (key performance indicators) will help you progress.
Keep in mind that different objectives will necessitate various KPIs. For example, if you want to track your endurance, use BPM (beats per minute) to chart your progress with a fat bassline, or a stopwatch to check how long you can play a repeating bassline without derailing.
If you’re not sure how to measure your progress for a specific objective, start by journaling or to record yourself playing so you can compare before and after outcomes when you revisit your video.
How to Use Headphones to Practice Bass
Mini amplifier for headphones. I haven’t tried one, but with a 4.5/5 star rating, I’d think the Vox amPlug 2 is a good purchase for musicians who want to rehearse without bothering others. Connect the mini amp to your bass through the 1/4″ jack, put on some headphones, and get ready! It’s also Victor Wooten-approved.
Interface for audio. Audio interfaces are commonly associated with recording, mixing, and engineering, but did you realize they may also be used for practice? You can still use one without a DAW if you merely plug your interface into your computer through USB (keep in mind you may have to adjust your audio output settings on your computer).
Every week, I utilize my Focusrite Scarlett Solo. My bass and laptop audio come from the same source with this configuration; thus, I can hear everything in my headphones. This is particularly useful for following along with video courses or jam recordings.
Headphone jack with amplifier Almost every current combination amp now has a crucial feature for musicians who want to be considerate to their neighbors: a headphone jack. Plug your headphones into the headphone port on your amp when the sun sets, and you’re not ready to turn down the bass just yet.
Auxiliary input jacks are also found on most amplifiers. Utilizing an aux connection to stream audio from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or another device into your amp is the same principle as using an audio interface.
Preamp for bass. A headphone output is available on several bass preamps. This capability is available in products from Darkglass Electronics and Gallien-Krueger.
How to Practice Bass Without Headphones
If you don’t have any of the options above, you can always crank down the volume on your amplifier. Remember that low frequencies may still be heard and felt even with the volume turned down, so EQ your sound properly by cutting the bottom end and elevating your amp off the floor.
You can practice unplugging if you want to remove the amp from the equation, but I would not recommend it. When you practice unplugging, you can’t hear noises caused by faults in your technique, such as string muting. You could be surprised when you play through an amp for the first time after practicing unplugging for a long time!
Playing with headphones allows you to hear the good, the terrible, and the ugly, allowing you to pinpoint which shortcomings in your technique need to be addressed.
What to Do If You Don’t Have a Bass
Is this even conceivable? In a way, yes. Although drummers have a more significant advantage than any other instrument, bassists aren’t completely restricted.
Picking out the song’s bassline and playing along with my right hand, using my table/steering wheel/etc. As if I were plucking the strings with my index and middle fingers is one method I practice bass guitar technique at work or in the vehicle.
Although this is more rhythmic than melodic, it’s still an excellent way to practice timing by allowing you to internalize and lock in with the drums without having to hold a bass.
Your hearing, aside from technique, is your best tool for “practicing” without an instrument. Listen to podcasts, music, and other resources to learn more about music theory, history, and other topics.
Fidlar know that hanging out and playing bass is one of my favorite pastimes, and we hope it is the same for you. Taking the time to develop a consistent practice routine, on the other hand, is critical to becoming a great musician. I hope the suggestions in this post help you achieve your goal; they’ve certainly helped me. Just remember to sit back, relax, and take full use of this magnificent instrument. And, most importantly, have a good time!