How Long Does It Take to Learn Bass Guitar?

Bass guitar is generally easier to learn than a guitar because there are fewer strings and you don’t need to play chords. However, it still takes time to learn. In this article, I’ll describe how long it takes to learn the bass guitar and tips for learning it faster.

How long does it take to learn bass guitar? It should take you about six months to be able to play the bass guitar comfortably. This includes being able to play scales and basic bass lines with proper fingering. But to truly master the bass, it could take years of steady practice, maybe even a lifetime.

4 Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Learn the Bass Guitar:

  1. Musical Experience
  2. Age
  3. Dedication
  4. Music Genre

3 Ways to Learn the Bass:

  1. Online Books and Manuals
  2. Watch Instructional Videos
  3. Get a Tutor or a Mentor

There’s no precise answer on how long it would take to learn the bass guitar. Learning any skill, whether drawing, singing, or cooking, takes time, and the same goes for learning any musical instrument.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to learn the bass guitar and tips on learning it in a shorter amount of time.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Bass Guitar?

The bass guitar, or simply the bass, is a four to six stringed-instrument, which is tuned similar to stand-up double bass. Its appearance is very similar to a regular electric guitar, except that it has a longer neck.

There is a huge demand for bassists, the term used for bass guitar players, due to its popularity. That’s why many people become curious about learning the instrument. So how long does it take to learn bass guitar?

In my opinion, from the many students I have taught and that my friends have taught, it should take about six months for you to learn the bass comfortably. This includes being able to play basic bass lines and scales with adequate fingering.

However, everyone is different and there is no definite answer to that question. People often think that learning the bass guitar is easy. While there is some truth behind it, it’s not as simple as you expected because it’s not just a guitar with fewer strings.

duration of learning how to play bass guitar

Some may be able to learn the bass guitar in just six months, while some need at least a year. And that’s only the basics. It would take years of practice, or even a lifetime, to master all the skills and advanced techniques.

Some factors might also influence a person’s learning curb. Because of these factors, some might learn it faster than others. These factors are as follows:

4 Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Learn the Bass Guitar

1. Musical Experience

Naturally, people with a musical background or experience will learn faster than an absolute beginner. People who play the guitar or other string instruments may find it easier to learn the basics. It’s mostly because of the knowledge and familiarity on the fretboard and how it works.

However, the difference between a guitar and a bass is far and wide. In other words, it doesn’t mean that you’ll master the bass faster if you know how to play the guitar.

2. Age

Studies show that younger people can learn faster. However, don’t let this stop you! Adults and older people can still learn a musical instrument. One research shows that learning an instrument can have positive effects on cognitive and motor abilities. It’s never too late to learn the bass!

3. Dedication

Your dedication plays a significant role in determining how long it would take for you to learn the bass guitar. If you really want to be a good bassist, you will need to invest time and effort in practice. People who practice more often will likely learn the bass guitar faster.

4. Music Genre

Some people might argue that certain musical genres are easier to play using the bass. It can be true to most of the players, but it’s often relative or subjective, depending on the bassist.

For some, country and rock are easy, while funk is difficult. But the truth is, any genre can be easy or hard, depending on your style and what you’re comfortable with. So, if you’re going to play a genre you’re familiar with, it will make it easier for you to learn the bass.

3 Ways to Learn Bass Guitar

After picking up the right bass guitar, you might wonder: “How can I learn the bass guitar?” There are many ways to learn bass guitar, and it all depends on your preference. Here are some of the ways you can learn the bass:

1. Online Books and Manuals

One of the many ways to learn the bass is through books and manuals. This method is better suited for people with musical backgrounds or experience. You can find many ebooks and manuals all over the internet.

What makes this method effective is that you can read from various sources in your own time. You can even read it anywhere. There are a few free manuals you can find on the internet. You can also avail of some guides and ebooks, which you can get for a small fee.

2. Watch Instructional Videos

Another method is by watching videos from expert bass players at various sites. There are even services made for beginners to follow. These services, however, often comes with a price. This method is best suited for people with basic knowledge of music.

This method is great for people with minimal experience since you can watch and imitate a bassist’s style. However, keep in mind that it’s best to choose the videos you’ll be watching. Watch someone who has proven to be an expert on the bass.

3. Get a Tutor or a Mentor

Perhaps the best way to learn the bass is by asking an expert to teach you. It’s the best method for aspiring bassists, from beginners to those with musical experience. However, it’s often the most expensive way of learning bass. It also needs dedication to attend all practice sessions. Do keep in mind, the more effort you give, the better you will become.

At the end of the day, you will require someone to critique you and your skills time after time, regardless of the method of learning you choose. You can learn so much more from having a tutor or mentor. They can also give you practical tips on how to improve yourself.

Things to Know Before Learning the Bass

Now you know a few things about the bass and how long it takes to learn it. However, there are still other things you must know before diving into it. They are as follows:

  • Most people will not notice or pay attention to you or your bass playing. Only other bassists and other musicians will likely pay attention to your playing.
  • The bass guitar is one of the most important parts of a band. Without a bassist, a band would find it hard to make good music. That being said, do not let your ego get to your head. The bass is not meant to outplay the other instruments. The role of the bassist is to support the band. You will learn that you will be the most important supporting member of the band.
  • People have so much opinion on the bass. Most people will underestimate the bass, thinking it’s easy to learn. Some will even ask you basic questions about the bass. While the bass being easier to learn may have some truth, it would take a lot of effort and practice for a bassist to be truly exceptional. 
  • Being familiar with the guitar will not make you an excellent bassist. If you’re a guitarist, you might assume that learning the bass will be easier. You might even think you can play it with minimal practice. It may be true when it comes to basic techniques. But as you learn more, you will notice the many differences between a guitar and a bass.
  • Understand the basic parts of the bass guitar, especially if you don’t play the guitar or any stringed instrument. It can also help you best choose your very own first bass. 

How to Choose Your First Bass Guitar?

So you’ve decided to become a bassist. But before that, you need to find your first bass. The question is, “How do you choose the best bass guitar for beginners?” Here is a shortlist of what to consider when buying your very own bass guitar:

how long to learn bass guitar

1. The Number of Strings

Bass guitars can either have 4, 5, or 6 strings. Four strings are the standard and the most common bass guitars. The majority of bassists use these guitars throughout their entire music career.

The five-stringed bass has an extra B string, while a six-stringed has an extra B and C. You might think they’re better, but they also have their disadvantages. The added strings are rarely used. They also add width to the neck, making it harder to handle. So if you’re a beginner, a four-stringed bass is your best bet.

2. Scale Lengths

Scale length is the measurement of the bass, from the nut to the bridge. The scale lengths are short (30″ or less), long (34″), and extra-long (35″ and up). The long, also called standard, is the go-to scale length for most bassists.

Short scale bass is suited for younger, smaller players, or people with unusually small hands. However, they can sound darker and floppier. Extra-long bases are used for 5 and 6 stringed basses.

3. Fretted or Fretless

Frets are marks that help players see the location along the neck of the bass, where each note should be played. Unless you are very familiar with the fretboard work, it’s best to get a fretted bass.

4. Body Material

There are many types of woods used in making the body of the guitar. Each type of wood affects tone and resonance. If you’re a new player, the type of wood won’t likely matter. For musicians, however, choosing the right type of wood can be very beneficial, especially if you know the sound you’re looking for.

5. Brand and Type

Many brands of bass guitars out in the market. One of the most well-known brands is Fender. There are also hundreds of models you can choose from, each one different from the other.

These factors are just a few of the things you can consider. As you learn more about the bass, your options will be fewer, and your preferences will be more specific.

Five Useful Tips for Beginners 

Now that you’re ready to learn the bass, you will need some of these useful tips to make learning easier and more enjoyable. Below are some of the things that can help you become a great bassist:

1. Start from the Basics

More often, beginners will jump right into learning songs and tabs. However, this isn’t the best way to learn the bass. It can be effective for some, but it has its drawbacks. Learn everything from the basics, including music theory. It’s the first step in becoming an exceptional bassist.

2. Try Different Genres and Styles

In learning the bass, you don’t have to stick to one particular genre or style. Trying different genres and incorporating them with different styles can help you become a well-rounded musician.

3. Have Someone to Take Advice From

The best way to learn the bass is to have a dedicated mentor. But if you don’t have one, it’s best to have an expert, preferably a friend whom you trust to give you advice.

Mentors can give you helpful and honest advice on areas you need to work on and how to improve your music. Playing with a band as soon as you can is also an excellent way to find qualified people for advice.

4. Set Your Expectations Right and Be Patient

Understand that learning the bass guitar, or any instrument, takes time and effort. You should not overestimate nor underestimate your abilities. Also, you must understand that the learning process could take years or even a lifetime.

If you get frustrated because you’re not learning fast enough, or you’re not becoming as good as you expected, remember that the greatest musicians weren’t born in an instant. You have to earn it. Just keep on learning, and the years of practice you’ve spent will all be worth it.

5. Have Fun

Learning the bass or any other instrument can sometimes be tedious and boring. But always remember to have fun. You shouldn’t be learning the bass guitar just for the sake of being able to play it. Learn it because it’s what you love to do.

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take to Learn Bass Guitar?

So, to answer the initial question: How long does it take to learn bass guitar? From my experience, it takes about six months for a beginner to learn how to play the bass guitar comfortably.

However, everyone is different and there’s no specific answer on how long it would take to learn the bass. What we are sure of is that it requires patience and hard work.

A beginner can learn the basics within six months. But to learn advanced techniques, you might need years of practice. Learning the bass is a continuous process.

4 Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Learn the Bass Guitar:

  1. Musical Experience
  2. Age
  3. Dedication
  4. Music Genre

3 Ways to Learn the Bass:

  1. Online Books and Manuals
  2. Watch Instructional Videos
  3. Get a Tutor or a Mentor

If you’re planning to learn the bass, remember that it’s not just a guitar with fewer strings. It’s an entirely different instrument. To learn the bass, start from the basics, and be patient. Surround yourself with people who can give you advice, and ask them when in doubt. Most importantly, have fun!