Common Bass Guitar Mistakes

Common Bass Guitar Mistakes

In the bass guitar world there are some common bass guitar mistakes made that “can and will” cause a delay with developing your skills on the bass guitar.  As a beginner, you are going to make some mistakes, and you need to be aware that certain mistakes can take years away from your skill development.  We want to help you recognize common bass guitar mistakes, so you can improve faster as a bass guitarist. 

common bass guitar mistakes

Why would you want to make the same mistakes as thousands of other bass players anyway?  Save yourself a lot of wasted time, develop your skills faster, learn how to play the bass guitar, and become the best bass player that you can be.  Read on…  

 

1. Trying to play too fast vs. the importance of Timing.  Many bass players want speed, and want it now!  I can tell you that without lots of hard work and “perfect” practice habits, you may eventually get “faster,” but most likely a lot “sloppier” also.  You have to know what you are capable of – the speed will come if you practice slowly and accurately.  Start slow, go only as fast as you can while maintaining good timing, but always get a good, clean sound from each note when you play it (sloppy sounding notes won’t get you anywhere).  Then there is the problem with the bass player that wants to play at lightning speed, but has no concept of timing.  Understand this – when it comes to playing the bass guitar “timing” is everything!  The bass and drums are the main parts of a bands rhythm section – they are the “backbone” of every song a band plays.  That’s what they do – they keep good “time” so the other musicians can pretty much “shine.”  A good rhythm section can make or break a bands sound.  As a bass player you need to understand that playing the “right” notes at the “right” time (over the right chords), and keeping “time” is much more important than playing at lightning speed (if you can’t accept this then you might as well change instruments).  Please understand that I am not saying that you can never play at lightning speed and also keep great timing – I am saying that you need to focus on timing and the rhythm more than just wanting to play fast.  You can have both if you put in the hard work, dedication, and effort.

 common bass guitar mistakes

2.  Never learning to read music!   Yes, there are some “great” bass players out there that never bothered to learn to read music, but they are a select few.  Bass players will be playing notes over 95% of the time, so doesn’t it make sense that a bass player should know how to read music (which is reading notes).  It’s your choice, but my suggestion is that if you are serious about playing the bass guitar, then you should learn to read music (right from the start).  It will open up all kinds of opportunities for your bass playing career.  Just learning from Tabs all the time is not the same as learning to read music.  Reading music will teach you to not only read the notes, but you will also learn timing and beats, rhythms, scales, keys, etc.  There are some great bass players out there that have never learned to read music – but there are far more great bass players out there that did take the time.  Make the right choice as a beginner, start now…

 

3.  Trying to do it all on your own!   Many bass players waste a lot of time trying to figure things out on their own (one of the worst of the common bass guitar mistakes).  Learning parts of songs on YouTube will only take you so far.  I can assure you that taking lessons with a good teacher can get you moving quickly in the right direction.  And it may be just what you need?  You can take lessons every week, once every two weeks, or just once a month – just as long as someone, other than yourself is giving you professional instruction and feedback.  Make sure that you select a good teacher, not just the first teacher that comes along or some local guitar teacher that also teaches bass.  Make sure you find a “bass” guitar teacher!  And don’t select a teacher just because he or she is just a few miles away and it’s convenient.  Convenience will not help you become a better bass guitarist.  Taking lessons and getting the proper feedback can make you a better player much quicker than just learning on your own.  Try different teachers if you need to, and never stop looking for the right one…

 

4.  I want to play like Geddy Lee – He is a bass guitar god!   Yes, Geddy Lee is a bass guitar god, but you will never be Geddy Lee (unless you want to be in a Rush cover band).  You have to find your own style!   Can your style include Geddy Lee bass runs and riffs – you betcha, but it needs to have your “personal flavor” attached.  I would also suggest learning about other styles of music – even if you don’t like jazz, metal, country, or even pop – you should still try to learn a little bit of every style.  In the long run, this could “define” your bass playing style.  Learning a little about every type of music style can only make you a better “all around” bass player.

 

5.  Understanding when your teacher just cannot help you anymore!   If you are not being challenged by your bass teacher, then it’s time to move on.  Don’t be timid about changing teachers, it’s your future, do what’s best for you.  Also, don’t allow your teacher to force a certain style or learning system down your throat.  If the teacher is pushing you to learn intense jazz scales theory, and you don’t really want to learn intense jazz scales theory – stop, don’t continue, and find someone that will teach you what you are looking for.  Make sure that your teacher is always “challenging” you, and looking out for you (if not, look for a teacher who will).

 

6.  Keep it Interesting!   Practicing scales and reading music for hours will be boring, but it will eventually be very beneficial to your development.  Most importantly, you need to also try to keep it fun.  You have to create a balance between hard core practicing, and learning songs and bass parts that will keep your interest up (learn things that are fun to play).  Keeping yourself motivated to practice is a big part of your development as a bass player (so practice hard, but find a way to also keep it fun). 

common bass guitar mistakes

7.  Playing with other musicians!   Don’t put a time frame on this, you need to play with other musicians as much as possible (whenever you can, and wherever you can).  Even if you are nervous or even a little scared to play with other musicians – get over it. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes when you are jamming, as long as you are learning something and fixing your mistakes.  Jamming with others will not only show you “how and where” you are progressing as a bass player – it will also help to point out your playing “flaws” and what you need to work on.  Do it now, don’t make excuses, find some musicians to play with…

 

8.  What on earth are you playing?   One of the hardest things a bass player can do is to be honest about their playing.  What I mean by this is that you really need to “listen” to what you are playing.  I have seen bass players turn up their MP3 player, and start playing to songs – but the MP3 was so loud, you couldn’t tell if they were playing the song correctly (and most likely they weren’t playing the song correctly).  The idea of playing along to songs is a good one, but you have to make sure you can hear the parts you are playing (and not get drowned out in the moment).  There are other things to listen for when you are playing.  Are you in tune, are you playing the right notes, are you keeping good time?  One of the very common bass guitar mistakes for beginning bass players is to play along with songs thinking they got it down, but once they turn the song down – reality sets in (and it doesn’t sound so great after all).  Be a good listener, and you will become a better bass player.

 

9.  Not Understanding the importance of the Fundamentals!   I know many young bass players that can play some pretty cool riffs, or even just parts of songs.  But, then if you invite them to Jam a little, they can’t even get through an easy chord progression.  This is a major problem with younger players, they want to learn cool bass runs and parts of songs, etc – but they ignore the fundamentals.  One of the biggest common bass guitar mistakes a bass guitarist can make is to think that just because they can play the beginning to a “Rush” song – they are developing as a player (but nothing can be further from the truth).  Anyone can just learn songs or riffs and look cool to their friends, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication if you really want to become a good bass player.  Don’t spend the first 3 years of your bass playing life just learning parts of songs and riffs only to discover that you really don’t know that much about playing the bass (one of the biggest common bass guitar mistakes).

 

10.  Be a “Bass Guitar God” in 7 days!   As soon as you understand that there are no quick ways (or magical methods) that will help you become a good bass player, the better off you will be.  If it sounds too good to be true – it most likely is too good to be true.  You must realize that hard work, commitment, and dedication is the only way you are going to develop your skills on the bass guitar.  You have to “earn” your playing skills – they cannot be bought!  There is so much to learn about playing the bass, and there is no way to make it happen instantly.  Focus on learning all you can about the bass, and don’t put any kind of timetable on how long it’s going to take.

 

11.  The “EGO” – Thinking that you are a great player…and you’re not!   It’s ok to think you are the best bass player in the world, but I can tell you this – you’re not the best bass player in the world… How do I know this?  Well that’s pretty easy, if you are reading this, you are most likely a beginner or intermediate bass player – so you still have a long way to go.  Can you be the best bass guitarist in the world – yes you can, but you have to understand what it’s going to take.  Get rid of the “ego” as soon as possible, and get to work.  Most so called “great bass players” (that aren’t really that good) don’t recognize mistakes they are making in their playing. And if you feel there’s nothing to fix, there won’t be much effort applied to fixing what you don’t recognize.  Once you feel you are a great bass player and have nothing else to work on, then you are pretty much finished as a player – and there’s not a lot of hope for you.  If you are a serious player, you should always feel like you can get better at your bass playing, and there’s always something more that you can learn.

On the other hand, if you are a pretty good bass player, and you keep telling yourself you “suck” – that’s not exactly a good thing either.  Be realistic, use only constructive criticism and accept only constructive criticism, be open to suggestions, and always work hard to fix any of these common bass guitar mistakes.  Don’t let something as simple as your “ego” keep you from achieving your goals as a bass player – let it go…

 

It’s now up to you…

If you have taken the time to read all of the common bass guitar mistakes by bass players information above, you should now have the knowledge to be able to fix mistakes that you are currently making, or stop mistakes from ever occurring.  One of the smartest things a new bass player can do is to learn from the common bass guitar mistakes of others – if you do this, you will improve faster and achieve your goals sooner.

 

Are you that bass player? Do any of the common bass guitar mistakes above sound familiar?

common bass guitar mistakes