Practicing On The Bass Guitar


This lesson is going to be based on practicing on the bass and isn’t as straight forward as some people may think. Some people may ask, why write a lesson on practicing? Isn’t practicing simply picking up your bass and playing? The answer is simple, No it isn’t. There are certain things you must plan and organize first, for example how long do you wish to practice for? What are you going to practice?

A majority of bass players in bands learn some sort of music theory they don’t just pick up the bass and write a bassline with no knowledge what so ever. It is like you picking up an instrument what you have never played and playing it at a satisfactional level.

Why Practice?

This question can be answered with a simple answer, to get better of course. The only way to get better at anything and to learn anything is to practice. Practicing is the key. The reason your bass idol is as good as they are is because he/she practiced. Probably a lot. The more you practice the better, and the more your skills will improve. If you hardly pick up your bass you can not expect to be as good as someone who plays the bass every day. It just isn’t going to happen.

Where to practice

It is best to practice in a well lighten, quite room with no distraction. You need peace and quite when learning something new, unless you are at practice or playing with other musician, but on your own it is best to be able to concentrate.

When To Practice

It is best not to practice first thing in the morning, or last thing at night as your brain is restless and isn’t at its most functional. Midday would be a good time but with work, etc this is not that straightforward. Try picking a time not too late or not too early, e.g. after work.

Setting Goals/Targets

One of the over looked factors when playing bass is to set yourself goals before you start practicing. These may be mental notes, but it is best to put pen to paper so nothing is forgotten. The goals can be simple, e.g. "I will learn that song for next week", or "at some point down the line". "I will try to learn slap bass in 2 month could be another". Whatever your goals are don’t be discouraged if they aren’t met within the time you gave your self, as everyone learns at their own pace, just keep at them and don’t give up so easily. Update you goals when they are achieved and keep writing new ones for yourself.

How Long To Practice For

How long do you wish to practice each day? Some people play every day; some when they get time, but there are a few factors worth mentioning. You will benefit more from 15-30 minutes each day then you will with 1-2 hour blocks a week. This is because the way the brain remembers things and how the hands recover after playing. If possible I would encourage bassist to play for an hour each day as this is a good amount and a significant amount can be learned. The thing to remember is playing the bass shouldn’t be a chore. It should be fun. You shouldn’t wake up and think I need to play the bass to day even though I can not be asked. If you get to this state I would suggest trying to lay off playing the bass for a week or so to see how this makes you feel, or think about what you are practicing. Are you practicing the same thing over and over again? Try learning something new like a new technique. Try slap bass or tapping, see how this makes you feel.

What To Practice

Now there are a lot of things that can be practice and you shouldn’t be stuck with what to do. Although it is best to practice what you know it isn’t advised to keep going over the same things, but to isolate on the things you can’t do. Most bassists can play the same bassline over and over again and that’s fine but if you know you can play it it’s best to move onto something you cannot. Break down the basslines you cannot play and ask yourself, why can I not play this? When you find out the reason keep at it and isolate on that bit. It may be the fact your little finger is the weakest and that’s what is letting you down.

Try learning a new technique like slap bass or tapping on the bass. New styles can keep bass playing happy and fun to learn and also it can break away from the same routine. Brush up on some music theory and learn some scales or arpeggios. All in all, practicing should be a mixture of new material and revision of old.


Overall, set yourself some goal. Make time for practicing and decide what you are going to practice. Doing this will help you through the rough patches of your playing and make you a better bass player, an hour a day in a quite lighten environment with your goal in mind will get you far.