Learning Bass Roadmap

I just got an email from SBL announcing a learning roadmap and that got me curious. It’s very common in programming to have such roadmaps.

If tomorrow someone comes up to you and asks you “what roadmap should I follow to learn bass” what would you answer?

And for an intermediate/advanced player, what would you add on that roadmap?


This is basically a ‘course cirriculum’.
One of the biggest gripes with SBL (other than the endless yammering on) was that there were a zillion courses with no ‘start here, go here, then take this, etc.’

This is their big roadmap.


Yeah right. And they really need it. But forgetting SBL (and other courses such as our dearest BB), what would be your advice for absolute beginners?

Imagine we were in the 80’s and there was no internet but a bunch of books lying around :rofl:


The first advice I would give is to study the logic of the fretboard, don’t waste time trying to memorize the whole thing, just understand the logic of how it’s laid out. Once you have a handle on that, you will always be able to find your way around: armed with the knowledge that if you’re on a C, the string above is F and the string below is G; or if you’re on the E, the string below is B and the string above is A; The string below B is Gb (F#) etc. etc.
Mark Smith teaches a very simple method (The Cycle of 4ths) which is: C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, B, E, A, D, G. If you can remember CFBEADG, you have mastered the entire fretboard.

  1. Start at 13
  2. If not 13, get an instructor.

I thought i had discovered a new element when i disvovered that. I was writing out all the notes on a fretboard chart and after the 7th time was like…where have i seen that pattern before? Then i wrote out the notes that would precede and follow each fret on the cycle and realized that each fret was basically a segement of the Cycle.

I punched the air.


… and the light bulb comes on! :smiley_cat:


I can’t remember who said it, was Bootsy Collins I think, who said “play the root on one”. Which meant every first beat in a measure hit the root note.

Sting said virtually the same thing, “it’s not a C chord until I hit C”.

Dusty Hill (ZZ Top) started performing at 13. His older brother Rocky had band and needed a bassist. Dusty came home from school to find a bass waiting for him.

He didn’t know how to play, so he stood there and chugged on the root, and Rocky would tap him on the shoulder when it was time to change notes.

DD Ramone hit the root every note.

Cliff Williams (AC/DC) had a different take. The band composes in major chords, and Cliff would often fill the chord with a major 3rd.

Lot of ways to do it, but if you can hit the root on 1, you can build a bass line


There is also another reason why he teaches the circle of fourths, which has to do with common chord progressions (especially in jazz). A ii-V-I progression with a root in F goes G-C-F :smile:


This topic is something I’ve thought about a lot. I would like to set up a topic that has all the information in one place but working out what that road map should be is not my forte. That information would be better coming from @JoshFossgreen or @Gio since both are bass teachers.

One thing I have done is look at this video as an outline for what I need to know.
Are You an Intermediate Bass Player? (Here’s How to Know)
I’m not there… yet.

I think the hard part is we all go from Josh holding our hand and gently moving us through the course to here’s this list, I’ve given you all the tools, now make it happen.

There’s nothing wrong with that but it is one hell of a shocking transition. Also, some of the things on that list lend themselves more toward experience playing with others and playing in different environments (Knowing Your Equipment).

As somebody with a disability, it can be really tough getting out and even tougher finding others willing to work around my disabilities. I would gladly pay for a follow up course that focused on just going through the list.

Something along the lines of this…

Beginner To BadAss gave you all the tools you need.
Better Than BadAss will walk you through getting the most out of those tools.

Other than that I would like to see…
BadAss Ears - That walks you through what you need to practice to be able to Play by Ear.

Is this the kind of thing you were looking for @gcancella?


@eric.kiser I’m thinking in a more modular way. Imagine this roadmap, but for bass/music


Wouldn’t call it a roadmap, but this has been my post-B2B todo list:


  1. Improve Your Groove - Short grooves that teach you various kinds of rhythmic patterns, kind of like the B2B exercises. This book gave me a light bulb moment on 16th notes.
  2. Bass Technique Finger Gym - Various finger exercises, I’ve been using a bunch of these as warmups.
  3. Music Theory for the Bass Player ← I’m here now
  4. Sight Reading Mastery for Bass Guitar
  5. Walking Bass for Jazz and Blues
  6. Creative Bass Technique Exercises
  7. 100 Funk Grooves for Electric Bass
  8. Chord Tone Soloing for Bass Guitar

Other things:

  • Learning songs, obviously
  • Ear training - I purchased an iPhone app a year ago, but I’ve pretty much given up, because I suck at it
  • Rich Brown’s metronome exercises - I do these a couple times a week, really great stuff

Dang! Thank you (and Jeff Bezos thanks you as well). Improve your Groove is already on its way.


Playing with other people is extremely helpful. I’d suggest finding a group to play with as soon as possible, after learning the absolute basics of technique and developing a rudimentary sense of pitch and time.

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I tried to find a band to join…posted ‘hobbyist only and beginner with day job and family’…had like 5 dudes contacting me about ‘committment levels,’ ability to travel, and one who wanted to schedule me for a tryout in 4 days time who sent a set list.

Finding a bunch of other middle aged dudes who just want to practice/jam on the weekend is not an easy rask

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Nope, sure ain’t. Been trying for years on sax too.

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My problem is finding people my age to play with. There are no people my age.


I’d also suggest learning basic DAW skills and starting to record yourself as soon as possible. This will help you identify aspects of your playing that need work, which you might miss when you’re playing normally.

Try adding some drums, or perhaps a loop of a guitar or some other instruments. Anything that gets you playing the bass with other instruments is super beneficial IMO.

This is where I am. I’m doing the online Cohort course of the book - It really is great and I can see the improvement, week on week. Solidifying all the B2B material and taking it to the next level. I’m supplementing this by working on the B2B 50 songs and Mark Smith’s 25 Groove Challenge (when I’ve got time). The next step, for me, is to join a band/jam group - the goal is hopefully next year some time. I feel like this will help me improve in leaps and bounds.


A complete Learning Bass Roadmap would be difficult to come up with that would suit everyone.

My Roadmap would look like this:
1 - Take the B2B course
2 - Ask any questions on the forum
3 - Get a good theory book
4 - Practice, Practice, Practice
5 - Do not get overwhelmed

I came to the conclusion that the best answer to the OP is to just take the Beginner To Badass course and follow Josh’s lead one lesson at a time. I have not seen anything else out there to equal it and highly recommend it all the time to people.

During the course questions are bound to come up and these can be answered on the forum.

I would recommend getting your hands on a good book on music theory because no matter what anybody says you will need it if you want to become more proficient, or to just understand how to break a song down, how chords are constructed etc. Initially you do not need to know a lot of theory and Josh does a good job at presenting it in the course as it is required.

This is the one I use with my students and is recommended by Josh.
It is available on Amazon for about $15USD OR $25 CDN.