Find a Good Teacher
Firstly, I can’t emphasize enough that the best way to learn is by having a real live teacher guiding your way. If you're in Houston, TX, you can look me up for private lessons or contact me through the feedback form.
StudyBass is a great supplement to private lessons – especially for beginners. A good teacher is irreplaceable and will really accelerate your learning. You may have to go through a number of bass teachers before you find him or her. You’ll know when you find the right teacher.
If you can’t find or afford a teacher, I hope this site will eventually be a decent substitute and help with your bass-playing goals. Without a teacher you should be extra critical of yourself. It’s easy to think you know something when you don’t. Consider frequently recording yourself to hear how you really sound. Of course, don't be too hard on yourself. Everyone works through the same struggles. If it's happening to you, it's probably normal. Don't give up!
I try to design everything as user-friendly and widely compatible as I know how. If you're using modern technology, you should be fine. You'll find the following used throughout the site:
I recommend using Firefox, Chrome, or Opera browsers. If you're experiencing trouble with features on the site, the first thing to try is switching browsers. I test things in Chrome and Firefox the most. Please report any consistent problems.
I started StudyBass before mobile was popular. I'm still working on improving the mobile experience. Some things, like musical notation, don't translate well to small screens. If you have a choice, opt for a larger screen.
Using the Bass Lessons
On the site you will find my bass lessons logically organized into Curricula and Lesson Blocks. Each lesson may or may not have supporting pages with exercises, example songs and quizzes.
The Study Guide
The Study Guide is an organized bass playing course which guides you step-by-step. It doesn't assume any prior knowledge.
The Study Guide will logically guide you through the lessons. The organization is critical. I've personally guided hundreds of people through this course, and I know it produces creative, useful, and knowledgeable bassists.
Following the study guide, you shouldn’t ever get too lost. In the early stages of learning you should expect to get confused and get lost a little. Just when you think you have something, you'll discover you don't. That's a normal part of the learning process. Just stick to it. Eventually the mystery will start to unravel.
You should pick one or two lessons to work on at a time. Go at your own pace. Some may only take a day to master; many will take a week or more.
You might also like this alternate view of all the bass lessons so far.
The Bass Lessons
The lessons are based on years of working with students one-on-one. I have a good idea of what to teach you, how much to teach you, and when to teach it to you. Sometimes I purposefully under-explain and other times over-explain. I promise there is a big strategy behind it all.
My goal is to show you the most useful stuff first, in the simplest, fastest way I've seen work for students. Some of it is a traditional approach, other things are not. If you jump into the lessons in the middle, I suggest you start from the beginning.
Don't skim like people are prone to do on the web. Read thoroughly. I write everything for a reason and you can miss some essential details!
Just reading through a lesson doesn’t mean you’ve learned it. You need to apply it – a lot! To help you apply things, many of the bass lessons have exercises, quizzes and example songs to study and play. I hear from people who say they learned all of the lessons in a week. That's unlikely. It all takes time to absorb.
Using the Bass Exercises
There’s nothing like learning by example. When appropriate I post exercises and examples applying the concept(s) of the lesson.
A number of people have asked if it’s possible to slow down the exercises. Since I opted for actual recordings of myself playing the exercises and not midi, it’s not possible to slow them down on the site.
Using the Bass and Music Theory Quizzes
Learning music requires a lot of memorization. Whenever memory is an important factor in mastering a lesson, I add a quiz to drill you on the important points. I made the quizzes randomized so you can’t cheat and memorize the answers too well. Good luck!
For many of the lessons there are songs recommended for practice, listening and study. You should practice full songs and see how things work in real musical situations. It's more fun and you'll be developing your song repertoire.
There are links to to Youtube, Spotify and Rdio to hear the songs. There are also links to books which have transcriptions of many of the songs. Due to copyright laws, I cannot provide transcriptions. Just having a few of the books will give you plenty to work with.
For more about this feature, see the example songs FAQ.
Get New Lesson Updates
If you want to hear about new lessons as I post them, subscribe to the StudyBass RSS feed.
RSS, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a web technology that keeps track of websites in which you’re interested. When you subscribe to an RSS feed it’s like joining an email list without giving out your email address.
Once you’ve subscribed to my RSS feed, your RSS reader will automatically check for when I’ve posted a new lesson and give you a link to it.
American-English Conventions and Standards
I write the site using American-English. If you study music in another language or English variant, you may run across some differences in musical terminology or pronunciation.
I've highlighted many linguistic differences here: Musical Language Differences between American-English and Other Languages.
Good luck in all of your musical pursuits!