As a beginner, the first thing that probably came to your mind after you picked up the bass guitar is: how long will it take for me to feel confident with my playing? The truth is, it will largely depend on your practice schedule and your goals with the instrument. It can take anywhere from a few months up to a few years.
One thing is certain though: if you dedicate a fair amount of daily time to your bass guitar practice you will already be able to play a few easy songs and get a good sense of rhythm (so you can play with backing tracks and to a drumbeat) in the first week of your learning journey.
In this article, we are going to answer in detail how long it takes to learn the bass guitar and discuss the factors that will determine how fast you will progress. We are also going to give you some tips and tricks on how you can structure your practice schedule so as to make it more effective.
Tip: See our Best Bass Guitar article for suggestions and tips on buying your first instrument.
Table of Content
- What Determines How Long It Takes to Learn the Bass Guitar?
- The 2 Paths to Learn the Bass Guitar
- How Do I Create a Bass Guitar Learning Plan?
- Useful Tips for Beginner Bassists
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Determines How Long Does It Take to Learn Bass Guitar?
There are a few factors that will determine how fast you will progress in your learning journey, as we will see in the following topics.
- How Many Hours per Week you’re Putting Into Practice
This will largely vary from person to person and will depend on your personal life and how much time you have available to dedicate to the bass guitar, but we recommend that beginners practice one hour a day for at least 3 days a week. If you can play every day, that’s even better.
- Your Goals With the Instrument
Do you want to play the bass guitar solely as a hobby or do you want to be a professional musician? It is important to lay down what are your goals with the instrument before you structure your practice schedule. It makes a world of difference.
Those who plan to take the instrument more as a hobby can get away with having a less strict and more open plan regarding practicing. For those aspiring to play professionally though, you must plan everything so that you can progress as fast as possible.
- Your Learning Plan
As we discussed before, your learning plan should be built according to your goals. But, it also has to be dynamic so you can actively identify your strongest and weakest points and plan how you can improve on areas that you feel you’re lacking in.
Record your practice sessions and take at least one day of the month to analyze your progress. Do you feel like you could improve your speed? Your rhythm? Take this information and divide your practicing schedule accordingly.
- How You Approach your Bass Guitar Learning Journey
Your approach to your learning journey will have a large impact on how fast you progress. There are several ways to learn the bass guitar: by yourself, taking lessons with a teacher, with specialized apps, etc. We will discuss this topic below.
The 2 Paths to Learn the Bass Guitar
When learning the bass guitar, you can choose to either go on a self-taught path or take private lessons with a teacher. Below are the pros and cons of each method.
Nowadays with the internet, you have a world in your hand. Whether you need a lesson, exercises to improve your playing speed, or bass guitar tabs to learn your favorite songs, you’re able to access it with a few clicks.
For that reason, currently, many musicians choose to go the self-taught path. It is totally possible to get very good at the bass guitar only by using what you learn online. However, you must have discipline.
It is easy to fall into the trap of not having a plan when you’re self-taught since for beginners planning an effective schedule is not the easiest thing in the world to do. But you definitely need one, and most importantly, you need to make a commitment with yourself to show up to every practice session in your schedule.
There are a few tools that can help you in this learning journey though, such as the famous app Yousician. Yousician is an interactive app for beginners, available for iOS and Android, that can make your life quite easier via interactive tools and learning plans. The app is partly free so you do recommend that you try it out for yourself.
Taking Private Lessons With a Teacher
This is the more traditional way. A professional bass guitar teacher will have the experience necessary to understand your goals and create a learning plan that is effective and that can make you progress fast.
Your teacher doesn’t even need to be in your area as lessons via the internet and video calls are becoming more and more common nowadays. If you’re ok with that method, we recommend you take a look at the website TakeLessons.
Keep in mind though that it isn’t as simple as showing up to the session and forgetting about the instrument until the next one: the amount of practice you put between the lessons can make or break your journey. Discuss with your teacher to know the perfect amount of hours you should put in your homework.
The only drawback to this method is that it can become quite expensive. If you’re on a budget, you can mix the two methods. You can take a monthly lesson so a teacher can lead you in the right direction and do the rest by yourself, for example. The possibilities will be largely personal.
Tip: See the best instruments on a budget in our Best Acoustic Bass Guitar Under 500 article.
How Do I Create a Bass Guitar Learning Plan?
- Define your Goals
Like we discussed before, different players have different goals. Define early on if your goal is to take the bass guitar as a hobby or you want to be a professional musician.
- Structure a Schedule
Decide how many hours per week you’re going to put into practice. This will of course largely depends on the time you have available. The most optimal choice is to practice for at least 3 days a week for 1 to 2 hours per session.
- Plan Each Session Carefully
You must define early on what you’re going to work on in a given session. For example, you can dedicate one day for speed exercises plus learning new songs, another for rhythmic perception and improvisation, etc. As you progress, keep in mind what your strongest and weakest points are so that you can work on improving certain areas.
- Ask a Mentor for Help
Even if you choose to go the self-taught path, having a mentor or taking a few sporadic lessons is a great way to make the most out of your practice schedule. Ask your teacher to help you create a learning plan and work with them throughout your journey to see how much you’ve progressed and how you can get better at the instrument.
Useful Tips for Beginner Bassists
Here are some tips and tricks you can incorporate into your daily practice to make it more effective and progress faster.
Practice your Rhythmic Perception
The bass guitar is entirely tied to the rhythm of a song. As a bass player, you’re expected to keep your bassline tightly in sync with the beat and the drummer, especially with the bass drum/kick. So, our advice is that you don’t wait too long to start working on your rhythmic perception.
Play to a Metronome
A metronome is an essential tool for any musician. It will help you learn the pacing of a song and play in sync with the beat. There are numerous apps with that purpose for smartphones nowadays and you can also simply google “metronome” to access one that is built-in inside the website.
Play to a Backing Track
If you search for “bass backing tracks” on YouTube, you can find thousands of accompaniments in different keys for you to play along and practice before you head on to play with other musicians.
Learn Music Theory
Music theory can be a great extra to your skillset as a bassist. It will help you understand your instrument better and progress faster. We are not saying you need to be a music theory genius though: learning how scales, rhythm, and chords work, for example, will already make a huge difference.
Record your Practice Sessions
Recording your practice sessions can have a very positive impact on your learning journey. You can use these recordings to have a better view of which are the areas where you could improve and structure your learning plan accordingly.
Tip: If you’re just starting out with the instrument, we recommend you take a look at our Beginner Bass Guitar Songs article.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Hard to Learn to Play Bass Guitar?
The bass guitar is not particularly hard. It is considered to be easier than the electric guitar, for example, because it uses chords much less frequently. Like with other musical instruments, if you dedicate enough time to your practice you will be able to play your first songs very early on your playing journey.
How Do I Start Learning the Bass Guitar?
It depends if you choose to go the self-taught path or take private lessons with a teacher. Regardless, we recommend that the first thing you do is learn to read bass guitar tabs, as it will make you feel much more comfortable with the instrument.
Is the Bass Guitar the Easiest Instrument to Learn?
There is no easiest instrument to learn as each one of them have their own particularities. With that being said, the bass guitar is considered easier to learn than the electric guitar because you won’t have to deal with chords early on.
On the other hand, the bassist must have a very good perception of rhythm because the instrument is essentially tied to the drums and the beat of the song and this isn’t as easy as it looks. As you can see, the answer to this question will largely vary.
Is It Better to Be a Self-Taught Bassist or to Take Private Lessons?
Both ways can work out. Nowadays, being self-taught is popular among musicians as the internet has virtually everything you will need in your learning journey. However, having a teacher or a mentor can be a great advantage as a professional musician can lead you in the right direction in your path.
You can, of course, take sporadic lessons while being self-taught so that your mentor can help you assert your progress and make necessary changes in your learning plan.
Why Are Bass Players Underrated?
Many people, in fact, underestimate the importance of the bass player in a band because the bass guitar is an instrument that we feel more than we hear it. But experiment removing the bass out of your favorite song and you will see how the backbeat and rhythm of the track are impacted.
As you can see, the answer to the question of how long it takes to learn the bass guitar is not set on stone. It will largely depend on a multitude of factors: from your goals with the instrument to how many hours you put into practice every week.
With that being said, there are a few general goalposts that most beginners will achieve at a similar time frame. For example, you will already be able to play your first few songs on the bass guitar in a couple of weeks. In a 6 months to 1-year time span, you will probably already feel confident enough to play with a band.Regardless, everyone is different and has their own time. Don’t be frustrated if you fail to achieve a certain goal within a time frame: rather, take a good look at the progress you’ve made so far and see what are the points you could improve in your bass playing. Happy practicing!