by George Loveridge | 4,3 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 6 Minutes
Beginner Bass Guide

Beginner Bass Guide: Getting into the groove

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Beginner bass guitar guides are usually on how to read boring sheet music. Not here! Let’s educate and inform as we look at what basses you could buy as a beginner, what gear you may need, and help you on your way to learning a new skill.

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Beginner Bass Guide: Getting Started

I don’t know about you, but the thought of learning a new instrument is pretty daunting. It doesn’t have to be! Whether you’ve had a few lessons or you’re not ready to fully commit, this guide will help you on your way regardless.

We’ll look at what you can buy as your first beginner bass, along with some other essential gear. Furthermore, we’ll check out a few entry-level techniques that’ll give you an idea of what lays ahead.

Choosing Your Instrument

Your first beginner bass is something that you’ll take with you forever. Luckily, there’s an abundance of *musical equipment out there that won’t break the bank if you decide that bass playing isn’t quite right for you.

There are loads of different types when it comes to bass guitars:

  • 4 String
  • 5 String
  • Jazz Bass
  • Precision Bass

Jazz Bass

Often referred to as a ‘J’ bass, these bass guitars are visually defined by an offset body and have a bridge and middle pickup arrangement.

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Beginner Bass Guide
Beginner Bass Guide – Harley Benton Jazz Bass · Source: Harley Benton

This *Harley Benton JB-CA is an ideal, budget, starting point. For very little cash, you can grab yourself a J style beginner bass.

Complete with a bolt-on c-profile neck and a popular body you’ll become acquainted in no time.

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Harley Benton JB-20 CA Standard Series
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Beginner Bass: J Bass Alternatives

Of course, there are many other examples out there. Having looked at a budget-friendly option, you can see what you’re working with.

For more than twice the price, you arguably get twice the instrument. Squier has their Jazz Bass Burg. Mist available in a fetching shade of purple, Burgund. Moreover, you get 20 medium jumbo frets, a maple body and a laurel fretboard.

As you can see, the higher up the price range you go, the better the materials get. Essentially, you get what you pay for. Almost double in price again, we have this J bass from Marcus Miller. Complete with those trademark single-coil pickups, but this time we’ve gone up in the world again with an ebony fretboard.

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Squier Aff. Jazz Bass Burg. Mist
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Marcus Miller V7 Alder-4 BUR 2nd Gen
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Precision Bass

On the other hand, you could set your sights on a precision bass. By contrast, these bass guitars have large and chunkier cutaways and two adjoining single-coil pickups. Essentially, providing the bass with a fatter sound.

Beginner Bass Guide
Beginner Bass Guide: Fender AV II 60 P BASS RW DPB

Let’s start towards the top of the food chain. Here, we’ve got the Fender AV II 60 which is a cracking example of a P bass. Compared to a J bass, we can see some subtle differences. Namely, the visual layout of the pickups.

Specifically, this four-figure instrument benefits from a vintage ’60 precision split coil pickup. Also on hand are 20 vintage tall frets which will help you make your first few notes when learning to play. It’s also physically impressive with chrome hardware and a 3-ply pickguard.

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Fender AV II 60 P BASS RW DPB
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P Bass Alternatives

Naturally, you’d have to be pretty committed to spending more than a month’s paycheck on your first bass guitar. Just like with the J basses, there are more than enough cheaper options that won’t compromise on quality.

Yamaha, the jack of all trades, can offer you this BB 434 BK P-style bass. In addition to the trademark split single coil pickup, there’s also a single bar pickup for a bit more spank. Maintained via 3 Yamaha potentiometer pots.

For something cheaper and more traditional, check out this Squier Sonic Precision California. I wish I’d been able to choose something like this for my first beginner bass. Cheap and cheerful with a maple neck and fingerboard, it could be the only budget bass you’ll ever need.

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Yamaha BB 434 BK
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Squier Sonic Precision California BL
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Beginner Bass Guide: Essential Gear

Now that we’ve looked at a couple of different basses, there are a few other things that you may want to consider when learning the bass guitar.

Beginner Bass Guide: Essential Gear · Source: Thomann

Aside from sorting out your physical instrument, some other essential pieces of musical equipment will help you on your bass-playing journey.

Again, there are loads of other options out there for each of these, but it’s nice to have a good place to start. Tuners, amps, strings, cables and cases are all vital for various reasons. Thank me later.

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Daddario EPS170 Bass Guitar Strings
Daddario EPS170 Bass Guitar Strings
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Ibanez SI 20-CGR Guitar Cable
Ibanez SI 20-CGR Guitar Cable
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Harley Benton CPT-20
Harley Benton CPT-20
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Boss Katana-110 Bass
Boss Katana-110 Bass
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Basic Techniques: Tuning

Before you learn how to play the bass guitar, you’ve got to have it in tune.

Beginner Bass Guide: Tuning

In what we call standard tuning, we have four pitches on bass guitar. Working our way from the string closest to your chin we have the E string. This is the lowest in pitch compared to the other three strings.

Working towards the floor, we’re gradually getting higher in pitch across the A, D and G strings. For your bass to be in standard tuning, we must have all of the strings in this order: E, A D, & G.

As we looked at earlier, you can get a dedicated tuner pedal. However, there are also other options to choose from:

Essential Techniques: Understanding TAB

Our final look at beginner bass techniques is how to read TAB. TAB, short for tablature, is a universal gateway into learning how to read music. Perfect for beginners or virtuosos, tablature is a common language amongst bass, guitar and ukulele players.

TAB uses a number and line system. Whereby, the lines working across the stave, horizontally, correspond to our strings. The line at the bottom of the stave is our E string, whereas we’ve got the G string at the top.

Furthermore, we use numbers to identify which fret we need to play on the bass. For example, if we saw a number 3 on the lowest line, this would tell us to play the third fret on the E string.

Beginner Bass Guide Gearnews
Beginner Bass Guide – TAB

Beginner Bass Guide: Starting Your Journey

Conclusively, we’ve looked at various types of bass guitars that you can get hold of. Moreover, we have taken a glimpse at some of the extra gear required for learning the bass guitar. Overall, giving you clear and useful tips at the start of your bass-playing journey.

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Beginner Bass Guide

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