How to Play Bass with a Drummer (Foolproof Beginner Blueprint)

Here’s my most foolproof beginner blueprint for how to play bass with a drummer.

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, this lesson should be doable after Module 4, but you’ll be able to fully grasp the syncopated eighth notes once you get through Module 8.

Instruments Across the Frequency Spectrum

This is the suuppppeeeeerrrrr simplified chart from the video, of where different common instruments fall in the frequency spectrum.

It’s important to understand this because the lower sounds are what we feel the most, and the higher sounds are what we hear the most.

So the kick drum and bass are connected because they combine to create not only a groove but visceral impact that the audience feels. This allows people to more easily connect with the music.

Once you’ve trained yourself to listen to the kick, the next step is to find a good drummer to play with! Ideally somebody who is not accurately portrayed by this old joke…

Q: How can you tell if a drummer is at your door? (click to reveal)

A: The knocks start speeding up… :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

To those of you who are already gigging - what helps you groove with your drummer the most?


Haha, as a (former) drummer, I appreciate this video very much. In fact, looking back, I (the drummer) should probably have listened (and talked) to the bass player a bit more to better align what we were playing… back then, it was almost more of a competition than playing together :crazy_face:

And… nice nod to Terry Bozzio :rofl:

PS: a tip for DrumJosh - don’t worry, that bass drum won’t break - just give it a good whack!!


Is it just me, or does it make sense for it to be a drummer that we start playing with first, rather than guitar/keyboard/bagpiper/whatever?

On most songs, I feel a closer affinity to drums than anything else, so does that mark me out as a steady bass player rather than ‘lead’, or is it something else? Does it make a difference to the bassists here who have played other instruments to some degree?

Or is it just that programming practice drum patterns on computer or digital box is more accessible to most of us?


You plus a drummer is all you need to make a band. Kiyoshi has four solo albums with just her on bass and Eiji on drums.

@Gio did it with Toast Machine too :slight_smile:

Given how good drum machines are, drummer is optional too for studio.


I’m still quite new to the “playing with others” thing, so, take what I say with a grain of salt, but - I don’t think it matters / it’s personal preference.

You’ll still get something out of it if it’s “just” a guitarist/ bagpiper, etc., and no drummer. Setting the rhythm may become more of your responsibility, but then, you’re developing that talent, so it’s not a bad thing. Or you can just bring your Zoom pedal / drum looper!


I guess it’s very personnal but I don’t like to play with only a drummer.


I’ve played many years without a drummer and personally prefer to play with just another guitarist (or alone). Once I had the opportunity to play my acoustic with a Cello player… So friggn’ cool! The harmonics and tones were bone chilling.

The Cello player was my grandson when he was taking music lessons during his high school days. Now, he’s experiencing life as an adult,… and playing music (like for many of us) has taken the “back seat”…

For me, when it comes to making music, as long as you’re playing from “Your Heart”, (and your heart is keeping a steady beat),… you’ll not only stay in time and rhythm, you’ll be playing “In the Zone” - you’ll be playing from your heart - a place where real music originates.

Keep on Thumpin’!


Pete - I think this means you’d have fun jamming with a drummer.

There are no rules. All of my jams have been decided by completely non-musical factors:

1.) Is this person fun to hang out with?
2.) Do our schedules ever, ever, oh-dear-lord-ever align to be in the same place at the same time?

Guitar? Drums? Other Bass? Anything.
Good people who have the time open will always yield a great experience.

To add to the success: Have some very solid ideas going in of what you want to play. At least 3 or 4.
Nothing worse than getting together with people and then sitting around waiting for an idea to strike… (or, maybe more accurate, for someone to pluck up the courage to play an idea they already have but are nervous about sharing).


It was the sound of the cello in classical music that got me hooked on the low end when I was very young. It was Julian Lloyd-Webber’s version of the Enigma Variations that was world-changing for me. How I never ended up taking lessons, I do not know.

[edit] apparently it was Andrew who arranged the album, Julian was lead cellist. This is a very early indication that Lloyd-Webber would make a career out of other people’s original compositions passed off as his own.