Most musicians may assume that playing the bass guitar is easier. After all, it has fewer strings. For guitarists, the lack of need to play chords—three or more harmoniously combined notes—leads many of them to assume they can just pick up any bass guitar and play it well without much practice. However, this is not true. People tend to appreciate the difficulty involved when it’s time to start taking bass lessons. The finesse and nuances required begin to dawn on them, making them realize that they had greatly underestimated the difficulty involved.
On average, a first-time learner can expect to play the bass guitar fairly well after about six months of dedicated practice. This includes being able to practice a specific set of all possible melodies—playing the scales—and using proper fingering to play basic bass lines. However, true mastery of all the techniques and nuances required to become exceptional takes many years of dedicated practice, sometimes even a lifetime.
Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Learn the Bass Guitar
While it may take about six months to become fairly good at playing the bass guitar, this timeframe assumes certain things like an aptitude for musical instruments. However, people are different. Some key factors will determine whether or not a first-time bass guitar learner can adhere to this average timeframe. These include:
Numerous studies have indicated that younger people pick up new skills much faster, including learning how to play guitars. This may have something to do with the fact that their brains can form new neural pathways, a crucial thing for picking up new habits. However, this does not mean that older individuals cannot become good bass guitar plays. It just means they may require more effort compared to younger individuals.
There is enough scientific data to suggest that learning a new motor skill, like playing the bass guitar, can help improve cognitive and motor capabilities.
2) Musical Experience
Musical experience is key. On average, an individual with some experience with other musical instruments like guitars will have an edge over a complete novice. However, this can lead to a common misconception that knowing how to play the guitar means learning the bass will be easier. The reality is that there are clear-cut differences between the guitar and the bass. Erroneously assuming that experience with a guitar will automatically translate to a quick mastery of the bass will lead to disappointments. This misconception may be due to the fact that both a guitar and a bass have a fretboard, leading many to project more similarities.
Good, old-fashioned hard work and focus will produce great results. If you’re taking bass guitar lessons, giving it the right amount of time with regular consistency will pay off. Those that practice often in their free time will see better results.
4) Music Genre
Many first-time bass guitar learners will argue that playing certain musical genres like rock is easier. It is hard to fully verify such claims given that they are mostly subjective. A fan of country music that attempts to learn bass guitar might find that this music genre is easier for him to play compared to others. Given that a particular genre often inspires feelings of familiarity and comfort, these factors may account for why some bass learners find it easier to play their genre.
Ways of Learning the Bass Guitar
Knowing the factors that might influence your bass guitar learning curve will help you choose a more effective learning option. The most common ones include;
1)Get a Teacher or Mentor
This is a tried and tested method to master the bass guitar. As with any other venture, having an experienced expert to guide and critique your learning from the beginning to the end can pay off massively. You get to avoid many of the amateur mistakes that plague many first-time bass learners while getting the right teaching. A common drawback to this method is the cost; it is often expensive to hire a private bass guitar tutor.
2) Watch Instructional Videos
Thanks to Youtube and other such video sites, you can access bass guitar video tutorials easily. While they don’t have the same feel as physical lessons, they are close to the real thing. Dedicated learners can immensely improve their bass skills just by watching and practicing such instructional videos.
3) Books and Manuals
If you’re already familiar with the music and have some experience with some instruments, this method may be suited for you. It involves immersing oneself in these books and manuals to try and master the basics of bass guitar playing. These can be physical manuals or online books. Either way, the ability to glean the concepts and practice them can lead to satisfactory bass guitar skills.