Playing Your First Gig

Hey all!

This came up in the Gig Stories thread, but it’s so important, and there’s so much information to share and tell and explore here - and it’s so important that I wanted to give it its own thread.

Making the move from practicing the bass at home to playing with a group (whether it’s out and about with gigs, or just a regular rehearsal [which then leads to gigs…]) is one of the most important things (to me) about playing music. It’s the part that binds us together as humans and musicians, it’s the conversation part of this language learning process, and it’s fun and challenging as hell; it’s where we learn what we need to practice next.

So -
Things that I’ve found that are great for people getting into music and the idea of bands after those luxurious college years are gone are:

  • Guided Band Performance Programs.
    – these have allll kinds of manifestations. The one at my local shop was called Rock Overtime. There are School of Rock type of courses; some informal jams at local cafes - scour your local calendar and try and find these! Ask at your local music shop!
    It’s low pressure, it’s usually guided by an instructor and there’s almost always a performance at the end.
    It’s a great way to meet players, and get out there.

  • Open Mics
    – these can be a bit weird as a bass player, because we are accompanists. But if you start checking out your local open mics, you might hear someone that sounds good / plays a style you like / writes cool songs. It is entirely appropriate to approach them and say (verbatim:) “Hey there, open mic person. I’m (your name here). I really like what you’re doing (the importance of this opening compliment cannot be overstated). I play bass, and if you ever want to play an open mic, I’d be super down to learn a few of your tunes and play with you. Here’s my lavishly embossed bass player card.”

  • Start talking about playing bass in public places
    – bassists are rare enough, that if you are overheard just talking about playing bass, there’s a 67% chance that a guitarist in need of a bass player will hear you and try to hire you. … This is getting a bit silly, but - actually - if you let the people at work / your social circle know that you’re getting into bass playing, there are good chances of a connection being made.

There are some of my suggestions.
I have more, but this is way too long as it is.

If folks out there have had luck picking up the bass late in life and getting into some playing and performing scenarios, I’d love to hear about it. We all would!
Chime in.


Pure gold. This is just good info to get started, just having the terms for these things, so we can look them up locally. Like “open mic (Your city name)” on google. Or “school of rock”, other than apparently being a Jack Black comedy, is a neat idea for getting a start to performing with others, in a pretty safe setting.

The only 2 things stopping me as of now are, living a bit of a drive away from a city (though not super far - I’ve got a huge metro area somewhat closeby that I go to periodically, and would be willing to go to more for this reason). And, just needing a little more practice - but I also know now from a few months experience that bass playing is a skill that improves fairly fast, if you put in the time.

I’ll try to bump this thread as I get closer to the point of trying these things, and sharing what happened. And would love to hear other stories of newbie musicians, and their experiences.


Hahaha! So far that hasn’t worked for me, but hey, I live in the middle of nowhere so it’s probably expecting too much of the sheep and cows.

I think this is of interest to a significant percentage of us on (or done) the B2B course - or at least, those of us who have found our way into the forums. I suppose many people can tap into parent or work networks, but as we get older it can become more intimidating to approach a new group of people with such a challenging ambition as sitting in on their established cliques. One way to look at overcoming that (if it applies to you) is that you’ve already proven that you can do something new & intimidating just in learning the bass. How hard can it be to speak to a stranger?


Which was made into a terrible TV show. :frowning_face:


Good point, @PeteP . . . :+1: