How I Would Learn Bass (If I Could Start Over)

If you could go back to day 1 of learning bass…

What would you do differently with how you approached the technical, practical and mindset/motivational?

Asking for a friend with a time machine. :crazy_face:

I have a long list, but to start the ball rolling…


Have a clear WHY, and orient to it:

To this day, I have no idea why I started playing bass. I just started.

And while I love the seemingly random inspiration of the Great Muse, this time she hurt me because I started without a clear WHY. Am I playing for fun? To become a chick magnet? To be a world famous touring musician?

Because of that unclarity, my practice was super unfocused over many years. At times my goal was “become world famous touring musician”, but my practice habits looked more like someone whose goal was to “have fun” and “be really good at slap bass even though you’ll never really need it.”

If I’d been clear on my goal, my WHY, I could have designed habits to actually support that goal. I.e. stop slapping Josh, work on rhythm timing and tone, and go out and meet lots of musicians.

Because my WHY was living in my unconscious, and didn’t match my actual habits, I never got anywhere close to being a famous touring musician. (not to mention that being famous is a ridiculous goal, but that’s another issue)

That hurt for some years. I felt like a huge failure, and often felt embarassed to even put out Youtube videos as a teacher during that time.

It took hitting my 30’s and looking soberly at reality to realize that I had a WHY that didn’t fit me, or match the habits I was willing to take on. Now that I have an aligned WHY of “have fun playing great music, and help other people learn to do it too”, I can intelligently choose how and what to practice, and measure if it’s getting me where I want to go.

Soooo woulda been nice to figure that all out a decade sooner, lol oops. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut said.


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this is a really good question.

fully agree on knowing why — if only to not waste time on things that are not helping to feed/answer that why. i think not knowing why can be very cool — a lot of my creative practice is centered around not knowing why and doing it anyway, but for something like playing music, where its a very long, very real commitment if you want to get good… the why is imporant and can ground you.

i would say for me, it would be getting into a habit of practice as soon as i started and committed to learning. not practice “when i can” but “i will always practice at 8:30-9 every day” or whatever.

also on that idea, a really good book for everyone reading this is ‘the creative habit’ by choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp — an excellent book about this that is easy to read. very reccomended:

https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Habit-Learn-Use-Life-ebook/dp/B000SEOWBG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1IDXOV8SV4ND6&keywords=the+creative+habit&qid=1685564864&sprefix=the+creat%2Caps%2C4118&sr=8-1

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So it goes, indeed.

I taught myself to play guitar because of the Beatles. Here were some young cats who wrote great songs and looked ecstatic to be playing them. Not just happy, but ecstatic.

I wanted to feel like that badass coolness.

I never had illusions or aspirations to be a touring musician, but I loved playing with buds. Our music, however lame it was, was still magical to us, because we pulled it out of ourselves and the ether to become something that brought us pure joy.

Years later, I played bass in a band solely because there wasn’t anyone else to do it. I played it like a guitar player because, duh. What else could I do?

Decades later, I decided I wanted to actually know how to play bass properly. That yearning led me to B2B, and then to other great online lessons.

So, I actually did kinda time travel to the present and to what I’d do if I could start over, because I DID start over.

I love practicing technique, scales, and etudes, and knowing how to pull music from this fascinatingly simple/complex instrument. Thanks for the absolute killer launch pad lessons to the present, @JoshFossgreen.

There’s a special place in heaven for you, man. That’s your WHY.

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Well you hit the nail on the head. I’d have started a lot younger. Ya, a lot of us middle aged dudes say this but for me it’s that the learning process is so much easier when younger, Vs being better at this moment (which would come along for the ride of course). I’ve known why I started since the day I started - a cheaper, easier music hobby Vs sax, lol.

Most of us here are hobbyists, and life/time is against us being pros or getting to a certain level.

That aside it’s a great hobby that I love very much and happy how it’s gone other than having to pound things into an older skull. @JoshFossgreen - you gave us great direction and path.

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More of the same. I wish I had started sooner than age 47.

I know the why, I wish I had the practice focus to support it.

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I’d say mine would be to not be scared to try learning/attempting full songs as early as possible. This hit home indirectly when I found a good bass tutor for my first in-person lessons, he said honestly, “your theory is way ahead of your playing”. Then I had an epiphany - I’d spent as much time as I could going through B2B and other course material, but otherwise I was just playing to make sounds. I had obviously spent too much time researching new theory and not enough to better my actual playing :see_no_evil:
I’d need to not be as much of a perfectionist too… Messing something up isn’t going to make the world explode :joy:
Eventually I started finding and using songs with particular styles, techniques, rhythms etc I wanted to get better at and learning as much of them as possible. I found that working thorugh songs like that and playing through them regularly was a really effective way for me to get good, physical practise in and wish I had worked it out sooner!

Learning during the covid lockdowns meant I managed this kind of thing with few obstacles, although I think I really needed to see this now! :joy: Set a specific time for a specific type of practise and treat it like your own lesson!

Couldn’t agree more!

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I wish I would have kept up with music instead of taking a 25 year break.
I wish I had taken more advantage of the huge number of resources available to me for learning more about music in high school and college.
I wish I had practiced more.
I wish I had had Bassbuzz in 1989.

Other than that I would change little. One of those is still doable!

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Of course! 1989 is just around the corner.

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Wish I’d picked up a bass when I was younger instead of believing, and throughout adulthood up until age 48, that I suck at music and have no talent. I simply hadn’t found the instrument that suited me best.

Taking things slow is what I needed, and still need to do. Sure it’s great to practice-play something you love even if you’re constantly messing up, with the goal of progress and improvement. But I am by nature very impatient with myself so going sloth slow can be incredibly frustrating.

I wish I’d had supportive teachers instead of the school music teachers who would roll their eyes and yell at the class for being crap.

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When my family didn’t like my practicing drums, I wish I picked up bass at 10. My life would have been different

When I did pick up bass. I shouldn’t have settled for the cost effective, sensible bass, I wish I had picked one up the motivates me to play. I practiced a lot more after I did

I wish my first bass was a P bass. I spent to much time trying to find the perfect tone instead of just thumping

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would have started when i gave up guitar in high school instead of when I turned 45

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Agreed. If i could go back, id keep the 1969 fender short scale i had and learn to play then. Not only would i have a much broader base, that was a beautiful bass. I wasted that one.

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I wish I’d picked up the cheap bass the band had bought instead of insisting on playing rhythm guitar when I was 17.
Things may have ended differently

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My sentiments echo with a lot of what has been said already - starting earlier; not taking quarter-century breaks from music; learning more about the “foundations” the first time around; and so on.

That said, instead of regretting what could have been, I find it more rewarding to congratulate myself (and all others here on a similar path) that I DID pick up music again, LEARNED a new instruments, and thoroughly ENJOYED every minute and every aspect of it. One of the better decisions in my life.

BUT… to give you one ounce of input to your original question: If I could start over, I’d take B2B for sure and then immediately sign up for the fantastic B2B-The Next Level course, with the same awesome teacher, teaching visuals, carefully selected and prepared lessons and tunes to go along, and just have a blast having a clear idea of what to practice every evening :smile:

(Sorry, was a bit of a low blow… but, it really is that “hole” after finishing B2B that can turn out to be quite the showstopper for many aspiring new bassists…)

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What I would I do differently? If I could go back in time. Well I would actually practice, and not just play with around. I wouldn’t play for a few months, and put it down for a few years. I would never get rid of my basses.

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I only started just over a year ago. I am very pleased with my progress and absolutely B2B and this forum has helped tremendously along that journey. The only thing I wish I could change is I would have started playing much earlier in life. I am 33 now and I feel like if I had started even 5 years ago I would be so much better!

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Definately start playing earlier

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I should have started earlier. Wife, kid’s dogs, household and life were always taking front and center. After my kids grew up, and my oldest son and wife passed, it was just me for a while. So, I took some guitar gear I had and traded for a bass and amp. Noodled around on it with YT videos then found BassBuzz, and got married again. New wife has no problem indulging my expenditures on my bass stuff. Now I am perfectly happy playing only to myself at home and getting better.

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I have a different take on starting younger. I mean, I agree if we are saying I’d be better now cause I would have X more years of practice.

But if I had started as a teen, I think it could have messed up my career…it’s way too much fun! I would have been delusional thinking things about my future that I don’t even consider now at 50.

Much more comfortable taking this on as a hobby as an adult that has an established career. Maybe taking it on when my son was learning guitar to play together, cause now he’s too old to let me play with him. He’s recording tracks on my left handed bass upside down instead of letting me play along with him even!!! But I appreciate he’s found a way to enjoy it even if I am not a part of it.

So, I think I’d go with taking that 2nd bassbuzz course…if I had to do it all over again.

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A bit of a paradox. I wish I started when I was a teenager. But I’d also like my 52 years of life to be able to make the best of my time and make (relatively) good decisions and have had enough experience to know it ain’t going to happen by itself. I suppose younger me would have made it one way or another (as I have friends from back then that are exceptional musicians), and I’d know much more and probably have enough chops to play often with other people. But I sure like how older self can think through a problem, break it down, and come to (that above-mentioned) relatively good decision. Was it a missed opportunity? I’m not sure if I wasn’t aware of it.

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