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Beginner Bass Guitar Lesson - First Lesson: Absolute Basics



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hi there mark here for talking bass net

welcome to the beginners course for bass

guitar in this first series I'm going to

be giving you a basic introduction to

the bass and how to get started with

plane in this bumper first lesson I'll

be taking you work step by step through

the absolute basics of plane from

holding the bass to tune in and plane a

simple riff so let's not waste any time

and get straight into it first of all

let's have a look at the bass and the

names of some of the parts I'm not going

to go too far into details with this

because I know that you're going to be

more interested in trying to play the

thing than remember some labels so let's

just look at the essentials first so

let's start with the three main sections

of the bass just like a person we've got

the body the neck and the head okay

so this lower part here this big chunk

of wood here the main chunk of wood is

the body then we've got this long piece

of wood here that's the neck and then

we've got this head at the top is

actually called the headstock so we've

got the body the neck and the headstock

now before we do anything else you're

going to need to know how to hold the

bass so it's worth mentioning at this

point that I'm right-handed so for any

of you left handers out there if I refer

to the right hand or left hand just use

the opposite so if I say right hand then

you know just use the left end so if

you're going to be sitting down you just

want to place the body on the bass on

either leg there's usually a contour in

the bass body down here where it curves

inward and that's to make it much more

comfortable and give you a nice snug fit

on your leg there

so this hand my left hand is holding the

neck there to keep the bass in place and

the right arm is coming over the top of

the body and I'm just resting it there

at the moment but when it comes to

playing I'll be bringing the fingers

down to the strings to pluck or I might

use a plectrum or whatever so don't

worry too much about position at the

moment just try to get comfortable

holding the instrument and like I say

you can use either leg I've got it on

the on the right leg there but I do

often practice with it on the left leg

so completely up to you this is more of

a classical guitar kind of

but you know some people hold it like

this completely up to you doesn't really

matter you know whatever works for you

now if you want to stand with the base

like this you're going to need a strap

so if you've already got a strap

attached to the base and that's fine but

I'll go over the basics a bit anyway you

know for anybody that's wanting to know

how to attach them properly so if I take

it off here and here you'll notice on a

strap that we've got holds at both ends

okay so you've got these little holes

now these are what go around these pegs

on the base and you'll find these these

pegs want it either into the base you'll

get one up here on this this part and

then you've got one down here at the

bottom of the base now these holes just

go around there and you just attach it

that way but you'll need to know about

the this padding up here so you'll find

that one end of the strap is thicker

than the other so we've got this thicker

end here then we've got this thin in

down here and they come in all different

shapes and sizes but you'll always find

one side wider than the other now that

big thick end wants to come up here at

the neck end of the base and I'll show

you why in a sec so we take those holes

and we place them around the peg and if

it's a new strap you'll often have to

wiggle it around to get it in because

they can be quite tight at first so then

we take the other end there place that

around the peg and then we just place it

at the top of the head I know it's it's

on my left shoulder there now you can

see that that padded part the big wider

part that is the part that goes of the

shoulder and that's why this wants to be

up at this end of the base okay

so there we have it stretched at both

sides easy peasy

now you're also going to want to know

how long you're short to set the strap

and the very simple basic

one-size-fits-all answer to that is set

the strap so that the base is in the

same position whether you stood or sat

so you can see for me that the base is

in this fairly central position and when

I stand up it's like this it was to sit

down it be the same this just means that

when you practice sat down like a lot of

people do you're not going to have

problems when you try playing that same

stuff stood up when you move the

position of the base yeah

are going to move into different

positions and it can be almost like

playing a completely different

instrument and you might you know be

learning something that's quite tricky

for you while you sat down you stand up

and you can't play it anymore

I know that some people like to play you

know down round their ankles and some

people like to play it really high up

here

but sometimes you know if you bend your

wrists you can get problems in the

tendons the hands you can start to get

pains in the hands so just be wary of

that as a general rule of thumb try to

keep the wrists as straight as possible

you know so that you're not getting any

of this kind of thing or at least

excessive pushing in those areas unlike

everybody I tend to have the hand over

here and now it is bent a little quite

often but I always try and strive to

keep it as straight as I can you know

sometimes bad habits come in so like I

say just keep that keep the strap so

that it's the same whether you stood or

sat down before we make a sound out of

an electric bass we're going to need to

plug into an amplifier so we can hear

the notes you can still play unplugged

with just the acoustic sound of the

instrument but it is important to know

how to set up the bass and get used to

that amplified sound so to do that

you're going to need an amplifier of

some sort and a lead guitar lead Jack

lead so we're here's an amp and here's a

lead so you should have a socket for the

lead on your bass somewhere usually

around this area so you want to plug one

end in there and then you plug the other

end into the amp input which like that

and I'd advise that you plug into the

bass first before you plug into the amp

or because otherwise the amp is going to

amplify the sound of your putting the

lead into the bass and that sounds awful

lots of bangs and stuff so we're trying

to always plug into the bass first

before plugging into the amp on your

bass you're going to see a number of

different knobs and different bases have

different numbers of knobs and that can

all vary you know depending on the make

and the type of bass but all basses are

going to have some form of volume

control and some form of tone control so

for now just make sure that the volume

control is turned up full all the way

around clockwise and and do the same

with the tone so on here I've got a

volume control and a tone

so I just turned them both fully

clockwise and then you should get

something out of the amp okay don't

worry about all the other knobs for now

you know the mid and the highs and the

base you know if you've got active

controls and stuff like that I'll go

over all that later

so we're for now just make sure that you

turned clockwise on the on the volume

control and make sure you've turned up

the amp a little bit so you can hear

yourself as you're probably aware from

seeing other people play to make a sound

on the bass we need to pluck the strings

now these are obviously the strings and

the strings run along the base from down

here at this thing called the bridge

okay and it moves up to these metal

constructions on the headstock called

the tuning pegs both of which I'm going

to cover in a few minutes between these

two things from here to here it travels

along the neck over this fretboard

okay now the fretboard is just a piece

of wood on the neck and on that piece of

wood the fretboard you have loads of

these little metal strips and these are

frets hence the name fretboard and

they're used to divide the neck up into

loads of different notes like so we

generally pluck the strings with this

hand my right hand and hold down the

strings against the fret board with the

fingers of this hand my left hand now if

you're left-handed and you have a

left-handed bass then you're obviously

going to use the opposite hands so

you'll use the left hand for plucking

and you'll use the right hand for

holding down the holding down the

strings so you just have to bear that in

mind so altogether we've got the strings

these four strings on here some people

have five strings some people have six

strings the girl from the bridge down

here or to the tuning pegs on the

headstock and they go along the neck

here and all these little things down

here those little metal strips there the

frets the notes on the fretboard rise in

pitch as we move up the neck from the

headstock like this

so you can hear them rising in pitch and

this might seem a little bit weird

saying moving up the neck because you

know to look at it it looks like we're

moving down the neck down towards the

floor but that'll make more sense as you

were as you start to play more just

think that when we're down at the

headstock down here we've got lower

notes and as we move further along we

get high notes so we say we're moving up

of the neck meaning up through the notes

okay also if we move across the neck

from the thickest note to the finished

sorry the thickest string to the

finished string we move up in pitch as

well so if we move up along it that way

we rise in pitch if we move across the

neck we also rise in pitch so you can

hear us I'm playing the big string and

then move in we get higher in pitch to

go up in pitch there

moving along the neck as well so let's

just try and get a sound out of the bass

first of all by plucking a string with

the thumb okay so this is a very simple

way of plucking that a lot of people try

them the first start out you'll have to

worry about all the technical side of

finger picking so don't worry about the

fretting hand for the moment I just want

you to pluck the thickest string okay so

if this is a if you've got a four string

bass it's going to be this note here the

E string okay if it's a five string bass

then you might have a B string down

there but just take that lowest note the

thickest string there and I just want

you to try plucking it with the thumb

okay just like that and I just want you

to play that one string so just

concentrate on plucking that one string

I don't want you know all these notes

ringing out and you don't want you don't

want you don't want any of that it's

just that one string and if you do get

other strings ringing out then just make

sure to be more subtle with it there

like that okay and you can cut the knot

off anywhere you want by just holding it

down but just that one string when you

play a string without holding down any

of the frets there on the neck that's

called an open string okay so there's an

open string for us to play

you know threaten some of the notes

there on the neck they'd be fretted

notes this we have an open string and

because this note that we play when we

played that string is an e that's the

open E string okay so we've got the E

string there so if we pluck an open E

string we get the note e okay now if

this was a five string and we had an

extra string below then that's usually a

B okay so that would be an open B string

and so then we have the next note that's

an open a string we have an open D

string there and an open g string I'll

come to those in a second so just get

used to plucking that open string to

begin with the open e and take note that

when you pluck it softer it's a quieter

note when you pluck it harder obviously

it's a louder not okay so we're yeah

just get used to pluck in that open E

string so now let's try plucking the

next string along the next finished

string and that's the a string so we

take this next one here and we pluck

that with the thumb and that's an a okay

and notice that that's higher in pitch

than the e so we have the e then we've

got the a now if we just go from playing

the e and then we go to blame the a

you'll notice that they're both bled

together and you get this horrible clash

so what we need to do is we need to be

able to stop what the note before we

move to the next one okay so like this

okay

and to do that we can bring this hand

into play so all you have to do is lie

the hand on the string to stop it okay

so you just need to get used to plucking

so I'm with the E string again just need

to get used to plucking the E string

there and then just bring in the hand

down enough to stop it

okay so when in terms of this hand the

technique you want to take the thumb put

the thumb on the back of the neck okay

so I've got the thumb there on the back

and then when we pluck that east string

just bring the hand down relaxed you

don't want to push down you don't want

to push down on the neck you just right

there just in just enough to stop the

note okay so then once you've done that

we can move to the a string and we don't

have to worry about the sound of that

each string getting in the way okay so

then move on to the D string so the next

the next note there the next thinnest is

the D and then just put it off okay then

we move up onto the g string so you want

to get used to playing each one of these

strings without playing any of the other

strings you know like I said you don't

want any of this kind of thing just that

single string and then cut it off okay

and that's the open strings so we have e

a d and g and it's very important to

remember that combination all that

sequence of notes so we've got the E

string a string D string g string I

don't know if there's any ways of

remembering that just as he added good

okay now before we go any further let's

finish looking at the remaining parts of

the bass now as I mentioned earlier this

metal section down here is called the

bridge and that's easy to remember

because if you look closely you'll see

that the strings go over these little

saddles now the strings right over those

saddles like you might drive over a

bridge okay

so that's one way of thinking about it

so this is where we attach the strings

to the bass and we are just different

things like the string height and it's

really really important in setting up

the bass and as you'll see when we get

to where restringing the bass this is

the first place that the strings come

through so we have to wind them through

the bridge to attach them up here okay

so that's the bridge next the strings go

over the pickups now you see my pickups

here these little square things in the

middle of the base and the pickups are

basically little microphones that pick

up the sounds of the string and from

from there they get sent out via the

volume and the tone controls to the amp

some basses have one set of pickups like

this precision all the bases have two

pickups like jazz basses and they come

in all different shapes and sizes and

they all have different types of sound

again I'm going to be covering those in

later lessons in the series for now just

think of them as little microphones once

we pass the pickups the strings travel

along the neck that we talked about up

to this little block here at the start

of the fret board and this is called the

nut and this is where the strings are

held in place in these little ridges

that are cut out for them now where this

keeps the strings stable and in place

and it sets the height at the

end of the neck while the beginning of

the neck whichever way you want to look

at it after the knot the strings finally

attach to these metal parts here on the

tuning pegs where you can wind them on

and put them to wind them to the correct

pitch but yeah this little thing here

that's the nut and that comes in all

different types of material

this one's plastic you get metal ones

you all kinds of materials so well yeah

that's the nut so now let's try tuning

the bass now it's important to learn to

tune the bass right from the start

otherwise all the notes that we play on

all the different strings are going to

be able to tune with each other so for

this lesson we'll just stick with

manually tune into the notes that I play

so I'm going to play an open string and

then you can tune to that okay now the

first thing that you're going to need to

learn is how to use the tuning pegs now

as I mentioned before the tuning pegs

are these metal contraptions appear on

the headstock the string goes in a

little hole in here and then it winds

around there around the shaft of that

peg and then we turn these keys here to

work to change the pitch of the tighten

or loosen the the string now as you tie

it in the string the pitch goes up and

as you loosen the string the pitch goes

down like this so if I take the g string

the top string there so I'm turning it

there I'm turning it anti-clockwise the

pitch goes up turning clockwise I loosen

the string and the pitch goes down okay

now you have to be really careful with

this because if you tighten it too much

it will keep getting higher and higher

and higher in pitch until the string

snaps okay and each one of them will

snap at a certain point so be really

careful don't tighten it too much you

don't want to go too much above the

actual open string pitch so if you get

to a G on a g string

you don't want to go that much further

than it because you in danger of

snapping it conversely if you if you

loosen it off eventually the string will

just fall out of the peg and fall off

okay so again just be aware of that as

you're doing it I just get used to

turning the turn in the peg they're

tuning into different pictures okay so

first of all let's try tuning the

finished and heist sounding string the g

string so remember the string names from

the thickest to the finished are e a d g

so I'm going to play my g string and I

want you to turn the tuning peg on your

g string until it sounds the same as my

g string okay so I'll give you an

example first so here on the backing

track I've got a note it's a sample of a

bass playing a G and we know that one's

in tune okay so if I play that there we

have a G's the G a sample of the g

string

now if I find each my g-string and play

along with it you can hear that horrible

noise that horrible wave you know that

is the sound of an out-of-tune string

okay so we want to aim to tie in that

string up or loosen it if you would

sharp but I'm gonna have to tie any

ogres I've loosened mine off

so we get back in tune play it again

okay so you can hear oh that's a lot

nicer we don't have that horrible

a horrible noise

as it comes back into tune it evens out

you know so we have a horrible wave of

sound before and then as we get into

tune the waves diminish and we end up

with a nice pure tone okay so that's

what we want to be aiming for okay

now this can be quite difficult for

beginners because your ear is going to

be less well-developed and it can be

confusing as to how to tune the string

in the first place you might ask you

question yourself questions like is it

sharp or is it flat or how sharp is it

or how flat is it but with experience of

playing you're eventually going to know

the sound of a string bean to sharp or

to flat and how far you need to work to

turn the peg to get it back in tune but

for a beginner it can be a little bit

daunting so I'll just give you a few

tips for getting started first of all

when you're going to tune loosen off

okay that way that you know that you're

only going to have to tighten to get

back into tune so if I'm playing a

g-string again I don't want to loosen it

too much full now bring it down so then

if I was to hear that g-string I know

that I'm I'm flat okay so I need to tie

in the string

so loosen it off gives a good a good

reference point we're Navon to think oh

I'm a sharp or I'm a flat you just think

I'm flat I need to come up obviously if

you were too sharp in the first place

and then you just only flattened it a

little bit you might still be sharp so

you know loosen it off a fair bit you

know and then bring it up and as you

bring it up sometimes you'll feel like

you're getting a bit too high and it's

going to snap or something like that but

don't worry just bring it up until it

gets to the correct pitch okay so now

I'll just work through each of the

strings in turn I'll play my string and

then you just tune to it so you want to

match up to the sound that you hear from

my year from my note so like I said

before before you do it just loosen off

the string few turns and you then you

want to tune up to the sound of my

string okay so this is the g-string

so you should have now a string that

sounds pretty much exactly the same as

my string and like I say as a tip loosen

it off before you do it so that you know

that you have to tighten it up okay

so now we'll go on to the D string so

this is the next thickest string

loosen it off a few turns of Insano

now the a-string

and now the e-string

you

and you'll notice that it's actually a

little bit tougher sometimes to tune the

lower pitch strings as the frequency

gets lower it can sometimes be a little

bit tougher to hear which is why I

started with the g-string there the high

step each string because you know you

can hear it a little bit easier if you

download the lesson material from the

button below the video that contains

some audio files of the of the notes

that I was using to tune to earlier and

if you go to the practice room I'm

talking bass net in the members area if

you go down to the bass tuner you'll be

able to find those exact same samples so

that you can you can tune to them in

your own time so you don't have to keep

you know watching this video to try and

tune them okay so just try to get as

much practice as you can at tuning the

strings at first it will seem quite

difficult

you know you'll spend quite a while

going up and down trying to find the

correct pitch but eventually it'll

become very simple and you'll just get

there straight away it's just learning

how to you just have to know the sound

of an out-of-tune string and know the

sound of an in tune string okay it's

nothing about being toned therefore

anything like that you just have to get

used to that waver and hear it when it

gets to that kind of pure tone that's

what you're aiming for in upcoming

lessons I'm going to show you how to

tune the bass to itself for when a

string goes out of tune and I'll also be

showing how to use electronic tuners but

for now it's better to just practice

developing your ear okay so that when

you're out of tune and you know you tune

in your strings and you don't have

reference notes and you don't have an

electronic tuner you know you'll be okay

you can just you can just tune them up

so like I said just practice tuning them

up because this is an essential and

fundamental skill that you'll learn that

you can have as a bass player so now you

should have the bass plugged in in tune

and held correctly and you should also

know the names of the open strings and

be able to at least plug them one at a

time with the right hand and then choke

them silent with the left hand so next

I'm just going to test you on the open

strings by calling out a string e ad or

G and and then you can play it and I'll

play with you so that you'll know

whether you've played it correctly or

not okay so this should help in

memorizing the order so first of all as

a practice run if I say it

that's the lowest string here so I'll

say e then I'll play it so when I say e

you played the E string and hopefully

it'll sound like the string that I'm

playing okay so I'll just run through

them randomly so let's go for the E

string

d-string

a string

g string e string

a string

a string

a string

d string g string D string

g-string a string

East ring

now we've covered the open strings we

can quickly look at how to play all the

other notes on the bass by using the

notes on the fretboard so first of all

we need to know that we don't place the

finger down on the fret we place it

between the frets so we don't place the

finger down there on the fret because

you'll get that horrible noise place it

between the frets and it's also

important to know that the frets are

recognized by number and the numbering

starts appear at this nut end of the

fretboard so this is the first fret

second fret third fret etc often basses

have markers on the fretboard to give

you a visual aid as to where we are on

the neck and these usually start at the

third fret here so we can see that dot

there the little white in layer there

that's the third fret then we've got the

fifth fret seventh fret ninth fret and

then we've got two dots there for the

twelfth fret so think of odd numbers

three five seven nine

so we've got third fret fifth fret

seventh fret ninth fret and then we get

the two there the twelfth fret okay and

then they carry on up here we've got the

15th fret 17th fret and the nineteenth

fret so these are a repetition of these

ones down here but I'll get to that

later just be aware that that's what

those fret markers are for it so that we

know which fret were on okay so you

don't have to be stood there going one

two three four five six okay that's that

one these are a good visual aid for us

so let's try fretting a simple note down

here at the first fret of the E string

okay and this is going to be the note F

so the thumb should be on the back of

the neck and we just press down with the

index finger that first finger there on

the space between the nut there and the

first fret and we just play so we'll

play with the thumb and there's an F

okay so the best place to prepare press

down we press down to the fretboard

we'll go to the wood but we the best

place to put it is put the finger just

behind that fret there so you don't want

it down here you want it just close to

the fret not on top of the fret

like I said you'll get all that rattle

just behind it and you'll need to press

down fairly hard with it so that we

press down to the wood if you pressed if

you don't press down hard enough you'll

get this kind of sound so you want to

press down nice and hard but we don't

want to bend the string at all and then

we just hook it in there it is okay so

now let's try another note on the E

string okay so we'll try the third fret

now we know from the fret markers that I

told you about third fret that's the

first of these fret markers so press

down index finger there okay

just pluck it there with the thumb like

I said you don't want to be getting any

of this you don't want to be putting the

other strings at the same time just

lightly pluck it with a thumb and hold

it down nice and firm okay so that note

we just played the third fret on the E

string that was a G notes okay now if we

move to the same fret on the a string so

here that note sassy

okay so again push down be careful not

to pluck any of the other notes so we

don't want to be you know plucking the E

string as well just be very careful

watch your hand as you do it if you have

any problems look at the plucking hand

and just plug that a string there so

that's a C note that we're playing so

the third fret there remember third fret

you've got that marker there now try the

fifth fret so this is going to be the

next marker up okay so press it down

there okay

that notes Adi so you want to try

playing notes all over the fretboard

don't worry about how they sound at the

moment just get a feel for pressing down

the notes and plucking them don't worry

about all the technical aspects just yet

just stick to that index finger the

first finger for pressing down the note

and just keep looking with the thumb so

don't worry about any of the other stuff

we'll move on to a finger style and the

different fingers later on and we'll

also use plectrums as well so like I say

just start

whichever just move around and in to get

a nice clean tone like I say you don't

want to be right over the fret and

getting a any of this kind of sound it's

just behind the just behind the fret

there don't look too hard because you'll

start getting funny noises as well so

just a normal if you plug too hard often

you'll get quite a bit of buzz and also

like I said if you don't press down hard

enough sometimes you'll get buzzed so

you'll get a feel for it just with

experience of play so just like I say

move around and get used to playing it

so let's finish off with a very simple

rhythm moving between two different

notes okay so we're going to start with

the third fret on the a strings the C

there okay so we've got the third fring

third fret a string okay so if you look

at that there that's on the third fret

marker so the first of these markers

there so again that's a C and we'll just

play this rhythm so

it's just a continuous rhythm just think

one two three four one two three four

and then we want to move to the G which

is going to be the third fret of the

e-string so it's the same fret but on

the E string okay one two three four

okay so we have 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

ok so that's a very simple line that

will help you get moving from one string

to another in time ok and really don't

worry about it for now you know just

being perfect with it you know keeping

in time you just need to get used to

moving from one string to another this

is similar to when you're playing guitar

and you just get used to playing the

different chord patterns and moving from

one to another

but it's slightly slight bit easier with

bass because you just go in between with

one note you know so we've just got that

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 very

simple line just getting you're used to

moving between the two strings so just

to summarize over what we've been

through we looked at the parts of the

bass so we had the body the neck and the

headstock we also had the individual

parts on there we have the bridge we've

got the strings themselves the pickups

we've got the tone control and the

volume control there we've got the fret

board with the frets on the neck there

we've also got the tuning pegs up here

for tuning and we've also got the nut ok

so that's the main parts of the bass we

also went over tuning so we learned how

to tune the bass so remember to download

those those those reference points

reference audio files and have a listen

to them at the practice room on talking

bass net and so get used to tuning we

all

went over the string names so we had the

e a D and G so get used to that and

we've learned how to click with the

thumb there and then just hold down some

individual notes game just going between

a C and a G and also the fret markers

third fret fifth fret seventh fret or

fret there's quite a lot there a bit of

a jam-packed introductory lesson so you

just want to get used to all that stuff

download the material have a look

through the stuff have a look at the

bass you know get get to know your way

around and just experiment just try and

get creative because you just started

playing and you just want to just move

around and start you know getting used

to playing notes on the instrument so

that's all for this jam-packed

introductory lesson the next lesson

we're going to be looking a little bit

closer at the fretboard and we're going

to start looking at finger picking okay

so I'll see you there