Return to Bass after years of stagnancy

So I was an avid musician when I was younger, going so far as to get my degree in instrumental music education. I was never an amazing musician, my strong point was music theory and I spent more time refining my saxophone craft than bass. After I graduated college in 2012 I couldn’t get a job as a music teacher so I ended up working on cars with my dad. I only played bass with a few groups. I still played a little with a group up until my friend the guitarist died in 2016. I lent my bass to my cousin afterwards, and it was stolen from him. Recently my wife purchased an Ibanez SRH505f for me to start playing on again, and it feels like I picked up right where I left off.

But that’s a problem. I was never a “great” player. I could usually come up with simple bass lines if I knew the keys, but never curated my own sound or advanced past fairly simple bass playing. I feel like I’m in a little different spot than a lot of musicians as I’m older now and have been out of the game for years. I would really like to improve, but I don’t even know where to start. I know scales, though I don’t know the proper fingerings or positioning for them. I was always really strong with music theory but very poor in technique comparatively. Most of the videos and bass exercises I find seem overly simple, but the moment I try and slow down a complex piece to learn it I’m at a complete loss. I feel so slow and inaccurate, like there’s something I’m missing there. I know the answer is usually to just slow things down and target tough spots for extended learning, and I can usually nail them at a slow enough speed. As soon as I try to speed up at all it completely falls apart. My hands outrun each other and have a hard time syncing up for clarity.

I’ve watched a lot of the bassbuzz videos and have been paying close attention to correcting finger flying and other issues, and I could just be ranting out of frustrations for not being where I feel I should be (I obviously haven’t practiced enough). I’d be open to any tips or feedback I could get, especially to people in similar situations.


A very simple and effective answer to this dilemma: the Beginner to Badass course. Sign up and start playing, guaranteed.

I also majored in music theory and played sax as my principal instrument. I was always a guitar player previous to college, so I was neither interested in teaching nor playing sax professionally. So, like you, I played bass in bands. Playing guitar, particularly rhythm guitar, combined with knowledge of music theory allowed me to get around on bass OK. But I could only play with a pick because that’s all I knew from playing guitar.

Also like you, fast-forward a lot of years and I wanted to learn how to play bass properly. I love jazz and blues, so that meant learning finger plucking.

Enter Josh Fossgreen and his brilliant B2B course. Josh is a gifted teacher, and even though his Youtube videos are wild and wacky, the B2B lessons are structured and methodical as he gently introduces essential playing concepts and techniques, and, yes, theory. The theory you’ll know. The rest is pure gold if you’re serious about learning and getting better.

All to say, sign up, strap up, tune up, and learn up. The rest is a happy life of playing bass.


Thanks. That’s basically where I am, and I guess I just need to focus and start dedicating some time to it.


Yep, a bass is capable of a creating lot of sounds, but it will never play itself.

Just relax and take the lessons at a comfortable pace. There’s no deadline, no rush.

I intentionally took my time in order to get previously unknown playing techniques down. I finished the course in five months.

With your music education background, you know you can’t hurry love. Just ease into the lessons and put in the time. The effort is worth it.


Well simply put your ears appreciate the music that your body and coordination can cash…yet.

It takes some time but eventually after you put in the hard hours you’ll get some rewards back.

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Welcome @Cheddarwedge!

Great nickname, by the way! I think it’s normal that things fall apart at higher speeds. What really helped me were two things:

  1. Slow practice can be rewarding if you pick details to look out for, and if it is musical.

Don’t just set the metronome to 30 bpm and then speed it up. That type of challenge is more of a test to see where the slow practice got you. Play without a metronome, really look at your form for each note you fret (never forgetting that you do you and don’t copy “the right form”).

Play music, i.e. play through a scale by creating runs over the fretboard, little licks that flip your left and right hand/fingers, etc. For example, play a three note arpeggio , then pay attention to starting the next one on the other plucking finger.

B2B might be a good starting point, later I’d recommend finding proper etudes.

  1. Speed does come through proper technique, not through repetitive practice.

For example, it helped me immensely to realize that I kinda stepped my fingers over the string - I dug in deep betwen the strings. And I sometimes pluck at an angle towards the top of the bass because that’s how my right arm rests. Knowing these things, I can instantly go faster if I pay attention to them. Or when you straighten the finger tip and the next part of the finger - you can go faster.

Of course it all depends on what you want to do. Repetitive practice is just a memorization of proper form, and that’s best done slowly.

Keep us updated!


PS: I’m sorry to hear about your friend - had something similar happen, but I don’t wanna assume.

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Welcome aboard!

What an amazing wife you have, to buy you such a nice toy! I can kinda understand where you come from; I played in my late teens/early 20’s and I never became “good”. I rarely ventured outside of the lines apart from a 2 note fill when going up or down.

Fast forward (warp speed) 23 years, and I found myself buying a bass again, after finding BB online. Now, I’m still struggling to play “complex” songs, but already I feel like I have improved by the free advice I already got. My pinky finger is getting lots of training, never did that before.

I’m getting the b2b course on Friday (pay day) and I cannot wait to see where this will lead me. I was completely self taught, never had anyone really show me, but sadly I was not to be the next bass hero that did it all by himself. Now I will settle for some online tutoring (if the interest sticks, I will also get a “real” teacher") and just be happy to again being able to play music.

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Dude, just wait until you experience the entirety of Josh’s course. You will not have to “settle” for anything, because you will have the best beginner lessons online, or anywhere else.

Some BassBuzzers have opted for in-person lessons to supplement B2B, but most have not. Others have studied additional, more advanced bass courses online.

Regardless, the solid instruction that Josh provides is the invaluable foundation for a student to either start playing with song backing tracks/jams/bands right away, or to pursue advanced bass studies in any number of genres and directions.

Have patience, put in the effort to study and practice what Josh shows you in B2B lessons, and you will play.


Thank you all for the valuable feedback. I’m working on getting better every day.


I was an active Bass player for 20 yrs. Played in different bands and all that stuff. Had a lot of fun through those 20 yrs. of playing Bass. Then all of a sudden, I wasn’t playing anymore. It just kind of dried up. I got depressed and for 15 yrs. didn’t touch my Bass guitar. The one band that I always been associated with for those 20 yrs., we started talking. During those talks I asked about the music and how it was going, just out of curiosity. Then last week he asked if I would become the Bass player for the band. I told him that it’s been awhile of inactivity and I would need to get my chops back.

I tried picking up the Bass and it is like I never played before. My fretting fingers would not do the things I asked of them, so disappointing. I haven’t touched my guitar in a couple of days, but today is the day I start to take it slowly and not get discouraged. Once again, I’m going to have fun with it and buy new gear, after all it’s part of the fun! Cheddarwedge you stated that “I don’t even know where to start.” Start at the beginning, it worked for you once before and it’s an opportunity to become a brand new Bass player without errors you encouraged over the yrs.; you can make all the corrections you want! Well, I’m wishing you God speed in your endeavors and hopefully hear a little more from you and how it’s going!

May the day see you well,
Mike (pokieone)


Good on you and don’t worry, it will come back :slight_smile:

I usually find it takes me a few weeks to get back in to the swing when I take breaks. But it does come back.

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