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Electric Bass Right From The Start

Learn the techniques needed to play in different styles on electric bass. From fingers to slap using notation and TAB.
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236 students enrolled
Last updated 3/2016
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  • 40 mins on-demand video
  • 18 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What Will I Learn?
Play simple bass lines using only the open strings. Develop finger-style bass playing.
This will prepare the beginner for different styles of playing including rock, punk, funk and jazz.
View Curriculum
  • A basic 4-string electric bass guitar and a practice bass amplifier.

This course is for complete beginners who want to learn the electric bass.

It assumes you have no prior knowledge of the instrument and through these lectures you will learn some basic techniques, the beginnings of musical terminology and by the end of the course you will have enough to play a few simple bass lines with open strings.

Have fun playing along with each exercise and then get in to the actual bass line.

Each lecture comes with materials when needed. You will find this in the form of pdfs for the notated exercises and tunes and an mp3 for the playalong pieces.

Playalong is a very easy way to learn. Just listen to the explanation and then put on the mp3 and join in. Play each exercise or piece as many times as you need until it becomes easy. Then move on.

So, the beginnings of playing electric bass playing are covered in this series of videos. Along the way basic music theory has been introduced when appropriate to the area of technique being discussed or to get a musical idea across. Bass tablature is explained and used in pdf examples for you to practise. Don’t forget the downloadable recordings to play along to.

Finally, remember you can always get your money back if you wish but otherwise you have lifetime access to the course.

Who is the target audience?
  • Anyone keen to learn from the start who wants to learn basic bass skills!
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 9 Lectures Collapse All 9 Lectures 40:21
9 Lectures 40:21

Welcome to my beginners' electric bass course. Over this course you will learn about the instrument and how notation and TAB (tablature) works. With this information you will learn how to play the open strings and by the end of the course will be able to read and play a couple of real bass lines along with the provided playalong material.

Preview 06:00

How to hold the bass. Right hand position for finger style bass. Left hand will come later - just use it for support for now.

Straight into playing using the playalong recording which you can download from resources.

This first one is an open string exercise using the letter-names of the four strings.

This 4321 Exercise (Number of repetitions) gets you using one finger on each of the open strings in turn. Use elbow for string crossing. There will be a 1-bar count-in for each exercise. The speed is 80 beats per minute so play one note to each beat. There is a slight gap between each part of the exercises to allow you to get ready for the next one. You will hear bass drum followed by the count. Listen for the four, three or two count for the first three exercises and the four count for the last one.

Preview 06:30

Now take the open string exercise in the previous lecture and play with no gaps. You’ll be changing from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 note per string and then back again up to 4 notes per string. When you cross strings move from the elbow to keep the angle as small as possible between strings, thereby keeping the fingers striking the string at as near the same angle as possible.

I’ll call out when we change. By yourself you can practice with the mp3 playalong track.The full track will help develop your stamina and concentration.

2. More on open strings

Explanation of note lengths, repeats, conventional notation and TAB. Open strings exercise with playalong. This is more to familiarise the beginner with notation and TAB and shows how we can easily play 1, 2 or 4 notes to a bar or measure.

The exercise moves down and up across the strings. Each section is repeated on the playalong mp3.

3. Conventional notation intro

How its written down. More explanation of conventional notation.

Now including repeat marks and slash symbols.

All this to help at the student read the accompanying charts for each exercise.

4. How it's written down

Rock groove 1 with open strings. 4, 2 and 1-beat notes. Use of repeats. Each version ends with a 4-beat note. A sixteen bar/measure chord sequence with guitar and piano rhythm. A stop after each different note version. Notice how the different note lengths change the feel of each piece. mp3 will be without pauses. The bass is playing the bottom note of each chord - more on this later in the course.

The chord sequence is on the pdf.

5. First piece

More on open strings. Add 2nd finger in right hand. Demonstrate with down and up open string exercise. Repeat all previous material with the 2nd finger instead of 1st. Introduce string-crossing in pairs - now with 1st or 2nd finger. String-crossing exercise just with drums. Speed 65 BPM (beats per minute)

String pairs G D || D A || A E || E D || A G || G E ||

2X each pair. Play twice through - first time with 1st finger and second time with 2nd finger. Repeat all this twice as fast. In notation this would be crotchets/quarter notes followed by quavers/eighth notes.

4X each pair on mp3 version. You’re now ready to play your first country groove. Alternating bass notes are used all the time in country music.

6. Finger pairs

Your first country groove. Still using only open strings this uses the alternating string idea that comes from the string-crossing exercises in the last lecture. There are just three chords in this tune - D, G and A. You’ll hear two bass notes being played for each chord. This is the chord note followed by the string below This lower note is the 5th of the chord (more later) and fits the main chord perfectly. So when you see D you’ll play D then A. When you see G you’ll play G followed by D and lastly A followed by E. D to A is a 5th (count the letters inclusive), G to D is a 5th and A to E is a 5th.

7. Country groove

By this stage you should be familiar with the open strings of the electric bass and be able to play the tunes provided. Onwards now to the left and the notes of the first position.

Thank you for taking this course. Any feedback and thoughts are welcome.

See you on the next lecture.

8. Outro
About the Instructor
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236 Students
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Professional composer and teacher

Musician, composer & teacher.

An all-round musician accomplished on many instruments including guitar, violin, piano, bass, trumpet, drums, banjo. He also composes and records in many styles that stem from his classical and jazz training and from his experience playing in bands ranging from folk, reggae, pop to modern jazz.

Studied violin, piano and composition at Trinity College of Music and attained his L.T.C.L. in the second year.

Currently teaching privately and is writing and recording media music with David Hewson.

Co-author with Ben Hewlett on the Ben Hewlett Harmonica Course. Paul composed and recorded all the material for the CDs that accompany the books in this series as well producing all the music notation with harmonica TAB.

Examples of Paul’s work can be heard on his website along with more information about his teaching and writing.

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