Is Playing Bass As Easy As It Seems?
Most people have probably thought bass to be a very simple instrument to learn and master.
After all, it only has 4 strings compared to the six of a guitar, you rarely have to do solos and just stand back while grooving.
But there is a lot about bass that makes it a much more complicated instrument to master than what meets the eye. In this article, we will go through the key role of bass in music and what makes it so hard to truly become good at it.
Part of the narrative of bass being easy is somewhat correct. In truth, it is easy to start playing bass. Fewer strings mean less to keep track off, you do not have to play chords, so you avoid learning acrobatic finger movements and you can strum with your fingers, which cuts out the element of learning to strum with a pick.
Quite quickly you might be able to start to practice simple bass lines and get somewhat comfortable with the instrument. The foundation of progress has been made, but how steep is the hill you must climb?
Boring Vs. Interesting
There is a huge difference between a boring bass player and an interesting one. In a lot of music, you can get away with being a boring bass player as most people tend to focus on the singer or guitarist. A boring bass player “rides” the “root note”. For example, if you have a four-chord song, a boring bass player would just strum the root note of the various chords without any variation. Sometimes this is enough, as the main focus of a bass player is to add a thick and deep layer to the general sound.
But it is wasted potential. A good bass player is very immersed in different scales and chords. This means that a bass player has the opportunity to play a lot with various notes in different chords to add something spicier to the music. Instead of just strumming the root notes, they create basslines that play around the different chords to create suspense, tension or relief. Instead of making the bass a passive sound effect in a song, they turn it into an element that you can listen for and enjoy on its own. This adds a whole lot more to a song’s quality and feel.
Easy to Learn but Hard to Master
Bass is an easy instrument to get started on, but to master it requires a lot of skill and dedication. It requires a firm grasp of theory and a sense of moderation. A bass player is not the lead guitarist. Knowing when to hold back and give it your all is crucial for the balance of a song.
Having feel and rhythm in your body is key as you are effectively the groove master along with the drummer. The drummer is your best friend in a band situation and the two of you are what great business software is for a corporation: the backbone.