Bass Guitar For Dummies book cover

Bass Guitar For Dummies

Author:
Patrick Pfeiffer
Published: July 21, 2020

Overview

Way more than just the bass-ics

Whatever you're playing—funk, soul, rock, blues, country—the bass is the heart of the band. Bassists provide a crucial part of driving force and funky framework that other members of any and work off. From John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, to "The Pixies’' Kim Deal, to James Brown's favored bassist, Jimmy Nolan, bass players have made big names for themselves and commanded respect throughout music history.

In Bass Guitar For Dummies, Patrick Pfeiffer—who coached U2's Adam Clayton, among others—is your friendly guide to laying down the low end. Starting from the beginning with what bass and accessories to buy, the book shows you everything from how to hold and position your instrument to how to read music and understand chords. You'll develop your skills step-by-step until you’re confident playing your own solos and fills.

  • Sharpen skills with instructional audio and video
  • Discipline your play with exercises
  • Understand chords, scales, and octaves
  • Care for your instrument

Whether you're new to the bass or already well into the groove, Bass Guitar For Dummies gives you the thorough balance of theory and practice that distinguishes the titanic Hall of Famer from the just so-so.

P.S. If you think this book seems familiar, you're probably right. The Dummies team updated the cover and design to give the book a fresh feel, but the content is the same as the previous release of Bass Guitar For Dummies (9781118748800). The book you see here shouldn't be considered a new or updated product. But if you're in the mood to learn something new, check out some of our other books. We're always writing about new topics!

Way more than just the bass-ics

Whatever you're playing—funk, soul, rock, blues, country—the bass is the heart of the band. Bassists provide a crucial part of driving force and funky framework that other members of any and work off. From John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, to "The Pixies’' Kim Deal, to James Brown's favored bassist, Jimmy Nolan, bass players have made big names for themselves and commanded respect throughout music history.

In Bass Guitar For Dummies, Patrick Pfeiffer—who coached U2's Adam Clayton, among others—is your friendly guide to laying down the low end. Starting from the beginning with what bass and accessories to buy, the book shows you everything from how to hold and position your instrument to how to read music and understand chords. You'll develop your skills step-by-step until you’re confident

playing your own solos and fills.

  • Sharpen skills with instructional audio and video
  • Discipline your play with exercises
  • Understand chords, scales, and octaves
  • Care for your instrument

Whether you're new to the bass or already well into the groove, Bass Guitar For Dummies gives you the thorough balance of theory and practice that distinguishes the titanic Hall of Famer from the just so-so.

P.S. If you think this book seems familiar, you're probably right. The Dummies team updated the cover and design to give the book a fresh feel, but the content is the same as the previous release of Bass Guitar For Dummies (9781118748800). The book you see here shouldn't be considered a new or updated product. But if you're in the mood to learn something new, check out some of our other books. We're always writing about new topics!

Bass Guitar For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The real fun and challenge of playing a bass guitar is that the patterns of the chords and scales never change, no matter what musical key you’re in. Memorizing the order of your bass’s musical notes can prepare you to tackle those chords and scales. Once you know the notes, you can master basic chords, 7th chords, modes, and solo scales and become a truly versatile bassist. And while you’re working on those chords and scales, use playing exercises to strengthen your left hand and increase your versatility even more!

Articles From The Book

67 results

Bass Guitar Articles

How to Create a Bass Line in Unison

Double your pleasure when you double your bass line (musical phrase) with someone else, usually the guitar player or the keyboardist. Unison is very popular in hard rock and progressive rock styles, but it was also used much earlier by Paul McCartney in tunes such as “Day Tripper” (where he doubles the guitar line) and the more subtle “Drive my Car” (he doubles the guitar on that one as well).

In playing in unison, you mirror the exact same musical phrase that one or more of your bandmates is playing, so it’s a really good idea to get together before a gig or jam to rehearse the phrase, note for note, matching each other as closely as possible.

Some other unison lines include the famous Led Zeppelin song “Black Dog” (bass and guitars play in unison), as well as the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” (bass and piano play the unison line on that one). You can also check out AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long;” listen to the bass doubling all the hits of the guitar chords.

Here, in Chapter 14, Audio Track 114, is a song that requires a unison accompaniment, so get together with one of your bandmates and learn the line, note for note.

The effect is a wall of sound played in perfect agreement. Well, as they say, the band that plays together, stays together (or something like that).

Bass Guitar Articles

How to Use the Countermelody Method on the Bass Guitar

Luckily for the bass world, Paul McCartney was one of the lead vocalists in The Beatles, and he learned to take the entire song — melody, lyrics, and all — into consideration. Most people want to hear the melody and lyrics of a song; they don’t want the bass in the way. Sir Paul developed an uncanny feel for when to get busy on bass and when to just support the vocals.

The countermelody method for accompanying a song sounds immensely complex, but it’s really very straightforward: Play a simple line when the melody is busy, and get busy when the melody is simple (or even pauses entirely). This method creates a beautiful and effective balance between the high and the low register of the song.

A prime example of the perfect interplay between the melody and bass, with the bass as a countermelody, is The Beatles’ song “Something.” (And don’t get into arguing with your bandmates “Hey, let’s play ‘Something.’” “Okay, but what?” Many hours of valuable rehearsal time have been lost on this one.) Listen to the song carefully, and you hear how the bass kicks in when the vocals take a breather.

The same holds true for McCartney’s bass parts in “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Hello, Goodbye.” Other examples are Paul Young’s version of “Every Time You Go Away” (with Pino Palladino laying down an amazing bass part) and Jaco Pastorius’s soaring bass line on Joni Mitchell’s version of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”

Playing the countermelody on bass as heard in Chapter 14, Audio Track 115 is a highly individualized approach to accompanying a tune.

Everyone has a unique way of embellishing a melody, so don’t be shy — get busy, just not when the melody is.

Bass Guitar Articles

How to Position Your Left-Hand on a Bass Guitar

You want your left hand to cover one fret per finger without causing any undue stress. By using one finger per fret on your bass guitar, you set up your hand to execute almost any musical figure without shifting, or moving your hand position to reach a note. (A figure is an independent and self-contained musical phrase, sort of like a sentence when you're speaking.)

Check out this demonstration of left-hand positioning in Chapter 2, Video Clip 1.

When you do have to shift your hand, a move of one fret in either direction usually suffices.

Follow these steps to accomplish the proper left hand position:

  1. Hold out your left hand with your outstretched arm in front of you.

    Keep your wrist and hand limp.

  2. Without changing the angle on your wrist, turn your hand so your palm faces up and your fingers are slightly curved.

    Position your thumb so it faces your index finger (or the area between your index and middle fingers).

  3. Bring in your elbow to the side of your rib cage (without moving your hand) until the neck of your bass is in the palm of your hand.

    Remember not to close your hand!

  4. Place the tip of your thumb on the middle of the back of the bass neck.

    Make sure that your fingertips are pointing upward.

  5. Gently spread your fingers onto the strings, with each finger close to an adjacent fret.

  6. Curl your fingers until your fingertips are on one of the strings.

    Be sure to keep the tips of your fingers close to the frets.

Now you're just about ready to press the string to the fret to play a note. Even though you can now fret the desired note, something still has to set the string in motion to produce the actual sound. This is where your right hand comes in.