Bass Player Needed!

Adam Buer, Bass Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Adam Buer

By Adam Buer, Bass Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Bass player needed:  the three most common words on music store bulletin board postings.  Very often people are under the assumption that playing bass is much easier than playing guitar.  Afterall, bass players only have to worry about playing one note at a time while guitarist are playing 3-6 note chords.   Just about every band has a bass player so it’s important to address the importance of the instrument.  In larger bands, if one instrument gets lost and stops playing often, no one notices.  If the drummer or the bass player get lost EVERYONE notices.  One professional bass player understood his role perfectly when he told me “Musically speaking, I am the earth…and everything is built on top of what I play.”  Sure, he was a little odd, but I understood what he was saying. It’s easier to sing, play, or dance when the lowest sounding notes are confidently played.  Furthermore, this bass pro was the kind of player who played the same 1 or 2 lines over and over throughout a song.  One of the difficult things about doing these kinds of bass lines is that it has to be perfect every time or listeners will notice a mistake instantly..

Beginning rock and roll guitarists sometimes start by playing simple chord progressions with the root note only and call this the “bass line.”  Once that is mastered, we add the 5th and octave notes to form a power chord.  Therefore, the beginning guitarist is under the impression that bass is easier than guitar because their only playing 1 note instead of 3.  Then, I point out to them that good bass players “connect the dots.”  What I mean by “connecting the dots” is that bass players need to learn how to add notes in between the basic roots of the chords.   For example, if a guitar is playing from a G chord to a C chord, the bass player can see the G and C on the neck as dots that can be connected with an A and a B.  Once their bass teacher helps them with an appropriate rhythm, they can figure out their own bass line with the pattern G, A, B, C.  Rhythm is a very important aspect of writing bass lines because the C must almost always be played at the exact moment the guitar switches to that chord.  Listening to bass lines and learning basic scales and arpeggios with your instructor is the first step in being able to create your own unique bass lines.

Sure bass players aren’t usually as successful as guitarists playing solo, but they are usually more successful than guitarists finding people to play with.  Again, every band needs a bass player and they are  rare in number compared to guitarists.  You don’t necessarily need to choose between bass and guitar either.   Many great bass players I’ve known also dabble with guitar chords.   If you are interested in playing bass I encourage to give it a try.  It has it’s unique challenges, but is well worth the effort.  Bass players are the earth…musically speaking.

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