NO plans to learn to read music

Mick doesn’t read charts,

So… don’t learn to read music? No one is forcing you.

It’s a good idea and a valuable skill, and will make a lot much easier down the line, but you don’t need to learn it if you don’t want to, especially if you’re only interested in covering existing rock.

If you plan to write original music though, it will be much much easier for you to learn how music works. And learning the notes, scales, basic theory and so on is table stakes for that.

If you avoid it you will still be able to make music, but it will be a lot harder. But it’s up to you. Me, I prefer all the help I can get. I am not EVH.


Yep, not reading? OK, then.

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Some music literacy sure but IMO it comes from inside someone not a sheet of paper.

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Words come from inside a single person. Words written in books by a person make them shareable and timeless.


Yeah. Presumably you’ve been talking since like 2 years old. So why do you need to read and write English?

Can you make it in life without being able to read and write English? Well, yes. But it’s a lot easier if you can.

Music theory is the same for music. And music literacy is the foundation of that.

No one is saying you need to learn to sight read music to play. That’s obvious BS. But learning the notes and theory will make a lot easier for you.

I have read music for like 40 years now. Do I use it directly to play bass? Almost never. But do I need its concepts and was it valuable to other things around understanding music? 100% absolutely, frequently.

Plenty of musician examples, especially in pop and rock, never learned it. Some of my musical heroes, even. But I am not them and I can definitely use the help.


Nicely put!


What’s amazing is how little time it takes to explain the fundamentals.

This guy goes from nothing up through the circle of fifths in like 12 minutes.

What reading gets you there is a visual description of what he is talking about. He only covers the treble clef there at the end, but the bass clef is similar and just shifted a little.

Not a bad start for taking just 12 minutes to explain. Not everything to learn but a good start.

Josh does a great job of it in the course, IMO.


Are you taking the B2B course @V-Bass ?

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True. But once you’re rooted in one clef, or another, it’s maddening to read the other.

I lived in treble clef forever. Reading bass clef has been a one-step-forward/two-steps-back endeavor. But practice makes…OK. :wink:


there’s actually a bunch of these and they are all really similar. I’ve always liked the old school approach, I just like the way this guy explains things.

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You don’t need to know how to read or learn the theory to play. It just takes longer to figure out on your own. It’s also a bit harder to communicate to others because you’ll be speaking in a different language. I read music but I self taught music theory from listening and playing.

You’ll most likely change your mind once you are fluent with your playing and want to grow at faster pace. It would be just as unexciting doing then or now. Same way people learn how to read after they learn how to speak. Music theory is just like gramma, you can learn it or pick it up as you move along.


For now I’m just sticking to tabs. Forget written music it just confuses me from learning the rhythms of how a song goes.

That wasn’t my question @V-Bass. Are you taking the excellent B2B course?


Now this I simply don’t get at all. Sheet music has all the rhythmic information you need, and in fact that’s its biggest advantage over all but the best tabs, which have exactly the same information presented in exactly the same way.

But anyway, I’m not trying to convince you with any of my replies; you’ve made up your mind. I’m just leaving these here in case any other beginners read this and head down a bad path.

And @Barney is on to something there, if you haven’t taken the Beginner to Badass course here, it’s the single best way to learn bass online, and will cost you less in the end (assuming you value your time).


All I need is to I listen to a song a few times AND read the bass tab is all I need. I’d hardly classify this approach as a ‘bad path’.

Well, good luck with that. If all you want to do is cover existing songs then that will get you by. That’s a pretty modest and reasonable goal and tabs will cover it. Covers are fun and a great way to help learn.

It all depends on what you want. If you want to really understand the music you’re covering and why it sounds good, beyond just copying songs via reading tabs, then it’s much easier with some music theory and understanding of the notes and their intervals. And standard notation for music is a more convenient (and more used) system for that than tabs.

And going beyond that, writing your own music, it’s even more helpful. But if you don’t care about those things, or don’t feel like you need the (large) help that some theory knowledge would bring for them, then you’re right, you don’t need more.

If you ever want to jam with others, you won’t need to read music, but you will likely need to know what to do when someone tells you something like “It’s a 1-6-5-4 in E.” Or even just “Go to E minor now.” They ain’t gonna shout bass tabs at you :slight_smile:


Pretty sure no one has said playing only tabs is a bad path. Everybody should just do his/herself.

But are you enrolled in the Beginner to Badass course?

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As a former music major, I had/have the exact opposite problem - TABS are difficult. In most cases, it’s just the fingerings on the strings, without any rhythm (like 8ths or triplets), so it’s just numbers on a sheet.

With that said, I played in a band where I was the ONLY person who could read sheet music, while everyone had learned using tabs and chords.

Like with Howard, not gonna convince you to read sheet music (that would be like you trying to convince me to just read tabs), but obviously, learning the theory is important - the strings on your bass, the notes that make up a chord, etc. IIRC, I think you said you just wanted to learn/cover specific songs, which I’m guessing you’re doing by ear, which is also a learned skill that can take time, but is great when you get it down.

As others have said, having the foundation makes it far easier to play, especially if you ever play with anyone else (you don’t have to, just in the case that you do).