What does it take to be “decently” good?

I love the bass & it was my passion since I first listened to rock music & finally took the plunge 6 months ago. I love the B2B lessons with Josh & have learned so much. I also try to pick songs I like with relatively simple bass lines for example like The Cult’s Wildflower & 54 40’s She La & practice playing the bass lines through the entire song. But my question is that I struggle with finger placement & technique to make it sound polished and fluid. My plucking isn’t too bad though if I keep counting along the measures & I can mute ok (I think) but my fretting fingers aren’t fluid & I get string slide noise. I’m a perfectionist & yes I don’t have enough free time yet to devote to practicing enough but I long to have my playing match that of the musician in the songs. If I watch them play or even Josh it looks effortless. For me not so much.


It’s gonna take a lot more than 6 months to make your playing look as effortless as, say, @JoshFossgreen’s playing.
The string noise may not be apparent when you play amplified - a fair deal of it is only acoustic. And what do you mean with “my fretting fingers aren’t fluid”? Is that the apparent effortlessness of motion you were on about?

What it takes is practice and time is all I can say.


“If I watch them play or even Josh it looks effortless.” - that could almost be said of any professional in any discipline. The ability to make things look easy takes years of practice. Josh has been probably been playing for a decade or two and likely practices more hours per day than most of us get to practice each week. That coupled with a natural skill isn’t going to be emulated easily or quickly.

I’ve been playing about 4 months now but feel the same as you. It is sometimes frustrating that the notes I want to play are being drowned out by the notes I’m trying to mute. I also went through a phase where I was paranoid about string squeak but now I can also even hear on Josh and Mark at Talking Bass on certain videos.

I try and split my practice into the dull and tedious which improves technique e.g. https://www.talkingbass.net/bass-technique-position-shifts/ and trying to learn some riffs and putting that practice into, well practice. And it might help to keep a record of what you do or even record some of the riffs you play. I suspect you’ll be very pleasantly surprised with how much you’ve improved over each month even when you don’t seem to be improving day by day … and I have plenty of days where I seem to be going backwards.

Enjoy the bass :wink:


Put in years and years of intelligent effort -> look (sorta) effortless :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Yes I can appreciate the skill gained by constant practice & study & that’s what I will definitely do. I guess I’m a bit too demanding on myself because I Actually do notice constant improvement & I’m dedicated to succeed because I love the bass. May have to try a 5 string at some point along my quest. Love all the instruction & feedback on B2B.


I also just recently started playing the bass, and once it is safe to do I am planning on jamming with others or even joining a band to keep getting better. Playing in context with other musicians is both fun and a great way to improve!


right there with you…can’t wait for the day when I can walk into the room with a degree of confidence that I can hold up my end in a group situation


There’s also a big difference between “decently good” and “mastery”. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.

I read there was a study a while ago that found that across a lot of disciplines the average time from beginner to mastery (defined as high percentile overall effectivenes - you’re as “good” as (say) 90 percent of the people out there doing the same thing) was about eight years. That sounds like a long time but in reality that’s extremely good news - the average human can master five or six careers and/or hobbies in a lifetime if they want/need to!

But full mastery also doesn’t need to be your target. For me, for example, I’m a year out from finishing the course, and at this point I am a better bass player now than I ever was a keyboard player, and I used to be a keyboard player in a gigging band.

Aside from a few lucky virtuosos and savants, music (like any other skill) really comes down to work. You will get out of it what you put in to it. There’s not really any shortcut to practice, besides instruction anyway. But equally, practice doesn’t just mean doing scales and fretboard exercises - even just spending time playing anything is valuable.


Geat thread! There is a ton of good advice in here. :smiley: :+1:


I totally agree. I would expect myself to be 1/2 decent in +/- 8 years and like you said it’s about the entire package. I definitely see improvement & my son (19) gave the most recent song I learned a 7 out of 10 which is encouraging. Playing bass has been the most rewarding & challenging activity I’ve done next to getting my black belt in MMA. Thanks for the encouragement.


I’m getting a lot of satisfaction out of playing the full bass lines along with a recorded song. I’m 100% sure I’m not ready to be critiqued by other people that can play their part well. A friend of mine is a drummer & I’m in awe how he can be in full rhythm while doing 4 different things with each limb. Crazy.