California Music Studios is dedicated to helping you develop your musical abilities and achieve all your personal goals. For over a quarter century, we have matched child, teen, and adult students with highly qualified music teachers throughout the Southern California region.
With the help of California Music Studios, you can learn to play the bass through private studio or in-home lessons. Each of the teachers we work with undergoes strict evaluations including in-person professional and private screenings to ensure trust and satisfaction. In fact, according to a third-party survey, our students report a 97% or better satisfaction rate with California Music Studios and their instructors. Still, we’re happy to replace your instructor for any reason.
The bass teachers we work with are committed to high quality, one-on-one musical education that centers on personalized lesson plans. We recommend hour-long lessons once or twice a week, but students can choose to take more of fewer depending on personal circumstances.
You or your kids can show off newfound bass-playing skills at any of the 65 yearly recitals we hold—a great opportunity to learn even more about music and performance.
A Brief History of the Bass
The bass guitar is a direct descendent of the double bass, which is the deepest and largest member of the violin family. The double bass, or bass violin, came about as composers needed an instrument that could hit the low C. It soon became a commonly used instrument in the 17th century, but by the twentieth century, musicians needed an instrument that was more portable and practical in shape and design.
Lloyd Loar, sound engineer and master luthier for Gibson, created the first electric double bass in the mid-1920s, but at the time, pickups couldn’t amplify bass frequencies, making it impossible to actually hear the instrument. Paul Tutmarc developed a double bass that was smaller—about the size of a cello—in the 1930s. Tutmarc’s design included a basic pickup. This was found to be too heavy, so Tutmarc refined the design, slimmed down the edges, and created the first prototype electric bass. Tutmarc’s son modified the electric bass design around 1940 and created an instrument with a more compact body and a fretted neck that could be played horizontally—in other words, a true bass guitar.
Leo Fender improved further on this design with his Precision series released in 1951. As the name suggested, the instrument had frets with more precision and featured a pickup that allowed the bass to play at higher volumes without worrying so much about distortion or feedback.
Tips for Learning the Bass
Although the bass has a lot in common with the guitar, the instrument has a completely different role, sound, and playing style. If you want to learn to play the bass, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Posture and position are everything. Your fretting hand should be loose and free to reach any of the frets without actually holding the neck. Your picking hand should be able to reach all the strings normally.
- As the saying goes, tone is in the hands. If you hit the strings closer to the bridge, you get a punchier sound. Hit closer to the fretboard and the strings will slap against the guitar. Modifying where you hit the strings and how hard has a huge effect on the sound. With that, the tone controls, and the pickup selector, you should have a wide range of tonal possibilities at your fingertips.
- Some bass teachers will encourage you to use a pick at first, which allows you to get more volume and power out of your strings and create a more even attack. Choose the larger picks with at least a 1-millimeter gauge.
- However, if you decide to become more of a fingerstyle player, try using only your index finger instead of alternating your index and middle. This allows for a more consistent attack.
- Part of your role as a bassist is to keep the tempo steady. Lock it in with the drums. You are the bridge between the drums and the harmonies. Together, you set the beat, feel, and dynamics of a song. If you don’t have a drummer, develop your own sense of time by frequently using a metronome in and out of your bass lessons.
Links for Inspiration
- A fantastic instructional video from the incomparable Jaco Pastorius breaking down some of the bass-ics.
- Jaco performing a smooth solo in 1976.
- Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone is known as the pioneer of the slapping technique, paving the way for the bass guitar’s modern popularity. And he’s still got it.
- Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers flexing his chops with an awesome bass solo.
- Although Paul McCartney is best known as a Beatle, he’s actually a highly skilled bassist in his own right. See his isolated bass part from “Dear Prudence.”
Looking for the best place to take bass lessons? Contact California Music Studios today to connect with a talented bass instructor who can help make your dreams a reality.