Common Beginner Bassist Mistakes
The reason most people quit playing an instrument is because they get frustrated, and quite often they get frustrated because of very easily correctable issues. However, taking the time to properly learn some of these issues can save a lot of trouble in the long run by not getting snared by them.
Learning to Play the Bass Takes Effort
The idea that the people that became great bassists just picked up a bass guitar and knew right what to do is probably the biggest misconceptions, and the one that ends up frustrating people the most. The only people that ever were able to pick up a bass and play it reasonably well the first time would be bassists like Paul McCartney who were already fairly proficient guitarists, since some of the training between the two instruments is similar. However, anyone that started as a bassist was likely pretty terrible at first, even people that are virtuosos now.
It takes time to become a good bassist, at a minimum just building up the finger strength to use most bass techniques will take a good amount of time, let alone making the more refined movements.
Don’t Obsess Over Famous Bassists
Just because something worked for a famous bassist and sounds good for him doesn’t mean that is the best way. For one thing a particular bass comfortable in one person’s hands might be very uncomfortable for someone else, so choosing a bass simply by endorsement is generally not a great idea.
In addition, this applies to technique as well. Trying to imitate a famous bassist generally is not as effective as trying to learn the same technique from something like a bass guitar lesson on dvd. A good example of this is Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who is an extremely good slap-pop bassist, but he has very sloppy hand movements. Now he has been using those motions for so long, they really aren’t an issue for him, but for someone just learning that style, learning the more controlled, proper method makes playing the exact same bass lines much easier.
Number of Songs or Years Playing Are Not Measures of Skill
Just because someone has been playing for years and years or knows tons of songs, it doesn’t mean they are a great bassist. A bassist can easily learn a hundred songs that are nothing more than straight eighth notes on the root and can have spent ten years playing them, but a bassist that just spent a year focused on technique and knows two songs might still completely put him to shame.
It is the same concept on quality over quantity. The only bassists that ever need to know a large quantity of songs are cover band musicians, pretty much anyone else needs to just know their set list or be able to pick up songs fairly quickly.
Equipment’s Effect on Playing
This is actually a pretty hard area to spot for a beginner because equipment might have a lot or almost no effect on someone’s actual playing. A poorly set up bass in anyone’s hands can sound quite awful. It doesn’t matter if it is someone first learning how to play bass guitar or a virtuoso, a bad set up can cause it to buzz and make lots of horrible noises. However, new equipment otherwise won’t improve your playing.
New bassists really should get their basses set up by professional bass techs or luthiers to remove the potential of this issue.