Bass Guitar Lessons: 9 Easy Ways To Learn Bass Guitar

Looking for bass guitar lessons? Then you’re in the right place! We’re going to take you through 9 easy bass lessons which will get you rocking in no time.

In this bass guitar lessons you will learn:

  • 2 essential bass guitar scales and arpeggios.
  • 2 super-easy ways to find the root notes on the bass guitar.
  • The no1 secret that will enhance your picking skills.
  • 3 bass lines which will make you sound amazing.

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In this epic guide, we’re going to show you 10 awesome bass guitar lessons which will get you started on your bass guitar journey today. Let’s dive in.

1) Learn To Play Root Notes

99% of the time, bass players will be playing root notes. It’s unlikely that you’ll see a bass guitarist shredding away at a million notes per second.

As a bassist, your job is to support the band by holding it down with some low-end notes.

bass guitar lessons

What Is A Root Note?

The root note is the first note in a chord. This note tells us what the chord is and gives the chord its name.

For example, the root note of a C chord, is the note ‘C’.

Can you see how the root note relates to the name of a the chord.

This also works with minor chords. For example if the chord was D minor, the root note in this chord would be the note ‘D’.

Often you don’t see bass players playing chords, however you do see them playing root notes.

Pro Bass Tip!

Playing a chord’s root note will always sound fantastic. If in doubt, play the root note!

To learn more about root notes, go here: What Is The Root Note of A Chord?

How Do I Find The Root Note On A Bass Guitar?

Root notes are most commonly played on the low E and A strings on your bass. (The two thickest strings.)

Root Notes On The E String

Here are all the root notes on the low E string. (The thickest string.) It is essential for a bass guitarist to know these notes.

bass guitar lessons Root Notes On The A String

You can also find root notes on the A string.

Here are all of the notes on the A string.

bass guitar lessons Are There Any Other Root Notes On The Bass Guitar?

Yes there are, here are ALL of the notes on the bass guitar:

bass guitar lessons

Bass players mainly use the root notes on the E and A string because they sound nice and deep.

The main role of a bass player is to fill out the low end that a regular guitar doesn’t give us. So, if you play root notes on the D and G strings, they will be in tune, but will more than likely sound too high and trebly.

If you’re new to bass guitar, we recommend just learning the notes on the E and A strings.

2) Bass Guitar Lessons – The Major Arpeggio

The main role of a bass guitar is to fill out the rest of the band.

As a guitarist mainly plays chords, it’s worth knowing what arpeggio you could use underneath those chords.

What’s An Arpeggio?

An arpeggio is exactly the same as a chord, however when you play a chord, you play ALL the notes at once.

When you play an arpeggio you play EXACTLY the same notes as a chord, but separately.

Here’s an A major chord:

Here’s the same chord arpeggiated:

Can you hear they both sound the same? However, the arpeggio plays each note of the chord individually.

Learning The Major Arpeggio

Here’s the tab for a major arpeggio. This arpeggio is in the key of A.

bass guitar lessons

Here’s what it sounds like:

You could use this arpeggio over a major chord. For example, if a A major chord is being played. You could play any of the notes of an A major arpeggio.

3) Bass Guitar Lessons – The Minor Arpeggio

Another common chord type is the minor chord. If you wanted to accompany a minor chord, you could play this arpeggio underneath.

For this example, we’ve used an A minor arpeggio.

Here’s the tab:

bass guitar lessons

Here’s what it sounds like:

Why Is It Useful To Know Arpeggios?

It’s useful to know major and minor arpeggios on the bass, as each of these arpeggios contain extra notes that we can use.

Arpeggios are built off of chords, so every note in an arpeggio works over its respective chord.

It’s useful to be aware of what these chord tones are.

In a major chord these are:

  • Root. (1st note in the arpeggio.)
  • Major 3rd. (2nd note in the arpeggio.)
  • Perfect 5th. (3rd note in the arpeggio.)
  • Octave. (4th note in the arpeggio.)

In a minor chord these are:

  • Root. (1st note in the arpeggio.)
  • Minor 3rd. (2nd note in the arpeggio.)
  • Perfect 5th. (3rd note in the arpeggio.)
  • Octave. (4th note in the arpeggio.)

Being aware of what makes up these arpeggios is useful as it can help you to add colour and interest to your bass lines.

Sometimes. playing root notes is a little plain. Being able to expand on this with the use of arpeggios is incredibly useful.

bass guitar lessons

Moveable Shapes

The great thing about arpeggios is that, you can move these shapes ALL over the fret board.

All you have to do is change your root note.

For example, let’s say you wanted to play a G major arpeggio.

You could play the exact same major arpeggio shape, off of the 3rd fret of the E string.

Or let’s say you wanted to play a C minor arpeggio, you simply play the minor arpeggio shape on the 8th fret of the E string.

Arpeggio Shapes On The A String?

Luckily, for us bass players, we can use both of those arpeggio shapes on both strings. They work perfectly.

Try this as a bonus challenge:

  • Play a major arpeggio in any key on the A string.
  • Play a minor arpeggio in any key on the A string.

Can you see how it works? The shape of the arpeggio is EXACTLY the same. You’re just moving the root note to a different string.

4) Bass Guitar Lessons – Finding Octaves On The E String

Another really useful bass guitar lessons is to find the octave points on the E and A strings.

What’s An Octave?

An octave is:

  • The same note but at a different pitch. 

There are two types of octaves, lower octaves and higher octaves. A lower octave is the same note but lower. A higher octave is the same note, but higher.

Listen to this audio, can you tell that the first note is lower than the second. This is a great example of what an octave sounds like.

Using Octaves On The Bass guitar

Octaves are used ALL the time on bass guitar. Using octaves is a great way of filling out space in bass line or to add texture.

They’re commonly used in funk and disco, but can be used elsewhere too.

Check out this wicked octave bass line, from Chic:

How Do I Find Octaves On The Bass Guitar?

Here are 3 simple steps you can follow to help you find the octave on a bass guitar.

  • Find your root note.

For this example we’re going to use a G root note.  This can be found on the 3rd fret of the E string.

  • Go up two frets.

This means we would go up to the 5th fret of the E string.

  • Go across two strings.

You should end up on the D string.

  • Play that note.

The note you should be playing should be on the 5th fret of the D string. (This is a G note.)

Here’s what it would look like on the Bass guitar:

octave

You can do the exact same exercise on the A string, however when you go up the octave, you end up on the G string!

Try this as a bonus challenge, try and find the following notes and their octaves:

  • F note. (1st fret on the E string.)
  • C note. (3rd fret on the A string.)
  • D note. (5th fret on the A string.)
  • B note. (7th fret on the E string.)

Find out who the greatest bass players of all time are in this article by NME: 40 Of The Greatest Bass Players of All Time

5) Bass Guitar Lessons – The Major Scale

Now you’ve learnt root notes and major and minor arpeggios. We can take this a step further and learn major and minor scales.

What’s A Scale?

A scale is a group of notes which work well together.

Scales tend to have more notes than a regular arpeggio.

Learning The Major Scale

We’re going to learn this scale in the key of A.

Here’s the tab:

Here’s what it sounds like:

Just like our arpeggios, you could move either of those scales to different root notes up and down the neck.

As well as this, you can play both of these starting on the A string too.

As a challenge, try this:

  • Play this major scale shape on every fret of the E string.
  • Play this major scale shape on every fret of the A string.

6) Learning The Minor Scale

Here’s the tab for the minor scale, for this example we’ve used the key of ‘A’. Therefore this is a ‘A minor scale’.

Just like our major scale, this shape can be moved across the fret board. All you have to do is change the root note.

This scale shape also works on the A string. As a challenge, try this:

  • Play this minor scale shape on EVERY fret of the A string.
  • Play this minor scale shape on EVERY fret of the E string.

How Do I Use The Major And Minor Scales?

As a general rule:

  • Major scales work over major chords.
  • Minor scales work over minor chords.

Using scales is a great way of enhancing your bass lines. For example, if you wanted to add a few extra notes to a minor chord, use a minor scale.

If you wanted to add a few extra notes to a major chord, use a major scale.

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7) Bass Guitar Lessons – Learn To Alternate Pick

A common bass technique is alternate picking. This technique consists of moving the pick up and down across each string.

Using a pick gives your bass notes lots of attack. This is perfect for rock and punk styles.

Mike Dirnt from Green Day is fantastic at doing this, check out this awesome picked bass line in the song ‘Longview’.

How Do I Hold A Guitar Pick?

Okay, so let’s cover some basics here.

Step 1) Do A Thumbs Up Sign

bass guitar lessons

Step 2) Place The Pick On Top Of Your Hand

bass guitar lessons

Step 3) Clamp Your Thumb Down

bass guitar lessons

That’s it! That’s how to hold a pick.

To learn more about how to hold a pick, go here: How To Hold A Guitar Pick In 3 Easy Steps

Using Alternate Picking On The Bass

Using alternate picking is the fastest way to play bass guitar. We’re going to show you 3 simple steps which will help you become an alternate picking master.

1) Pick Your Bass String With A Downward Motion

Most of your movement here is going to come from your wrist. You want to be pushing through the strings nice and securely.

Try this as a challenge:

  • Down pick each of your bass strings.

2) Pick Your String With An Upward Motion

When you do alternate picking, your upstroke should be a direct mirror image of your down stroke.

When you do this, try to drag the pick back up across the string.

As a challenge, try this:

  • Pick each of the strings with an up stroke.

BASS GUITAR LESSONS

3) Pick Your String With Downstrokes And Upstrokes

Once you’re comfortable with both down strokes and up strokes, try and use them together.

To do this, start with a down stroke, then immediately follow it with an up stroke.

So your motion should go:

Down, Up, Down, Up etc.

A great way to practice this pattern is with a scale or arpeggio.

To learn more about alternate picking, watch this video:

Even though in this video, alternate picking is being demonstrated on a guitar, the technique is EXACTLY the same.

9) Bass Guitar Lessons – 3 Killer Bass Lines

Now we’ve learnt a lot about bass techniques. Let’s have a bit of fun and learn some killer bass lines.

bass guitar lessons

Bass Guitar Lessons – ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ by Bon Jovi

This bass line is killer and sounds fantastic on bass guitar. You can hear it at the start of this song.

Here’s the tab:

bass guitar lessons

 

Bass Guitar Lessons – ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was known for creating awesome bass lines, and this is no exception.

It kicks in right after the drums. Check it out here:

Here’s the tab:

billie-jean

 

Bass Guitar Lessons – ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd

Here’s a classic bass line from prog rock legends pink floyd. This particular bass lines sounds great if you use a pick.

Check it out here:

Here’s the tab:

bass guitar lessons

Want more bass guitar lessons? Go here: 6 Essential Bass Lessons

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

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