Naperville Bass Guitar Lessons
The bass guitar is really quite similar to the guitar, but it has its own style of playing. The strings are the same ones as the bottom 4 found on the guitar: E A D G from lowest to highest. They are much lower than the guitar's strings and they support the lead and rhythm guitar quite well. Oftentimes, the rhythm for the bass guitar is very basic and consists of quarter and eighth notes. Regardless, it is a cool instrument to take lessons on and is commonly found in today's bands.
Before we delve into the playing techniques of the bass guitar, we need to tune the thing. The best tuning method is to use harmonics, which you should learn how to do within the first few months of taking lessons. After you get one string in tune, you can get the rest of them in tune. First, tune the bottom E string using an E drone from your tuner. Now, you might wonder why you would go through this process if you have a tuner that can do it for you. And my answer is that you gain invaluable ear-training experience, and it is faster than using a tuner for all of the strings once you get the process down. So, you now have the E string in tune. To play the tuning harmonics, you will lightly contact the string directly above the 5th fret on the lower string, and the 7th fret on the higher string and play these two notes together. Then you adjust the higher string to the lower string until they match, move on the next string, and that's it, you have just tuned your bass guitar using your ear. Be sure that the bass guitar lessons you take focus on this great tuning method.
Now that we are tuned, it is time to do some playing. At your lessons, if you choose to use a pick, you should generally use a thicker pick than one you would use on a guitar, although I have found picks that work with both guitar and bass guitar. The other method to use during your lessons is finger picking. On the bass, you use the pointer and middle finger of the right hand. Your thumb will anchor on the E string if you are playing on any of the other strings, otherwise, you should find a comfortable spot on the bass guitar on which to comfortably rest your thumb. I personally place my thumb on the guitar's pickup, but each instrument is different. Now, the most exciting thing on the bass guitar that you can learn at your lessons is the slap bass guitar style. To achieve this, you slap with the thumb by rotating the wrist and hitting the string with the side of your thumb, and pop by curling your finger around a string and lifting it quickly so that it 'pops' onto your fret-board. Be careful with this technique, however because if you pull the string too high, you could end up busting it, and it will take a lot of time out of your lesson to get it replaced.
-Naperville Lessons, August 2010