If you're a bass guitarist of any level and you're interested in free online lessons, you have a number of high quality options from which you may choose. Many sites that offer free lessons focus on beginners, but other sites offer instruction to intermediate and advanced players, as well. You will find plenty of lessons to keep you busy learning new tricks with your bass guitar.
If you're new to bass guitar, you can't go wrong with StudyBass. The site offers a strong and in-depth guide to solid bass guitar playing. Bassist Andrew Pouska, who administers the site, has been giving private lessons since 1994 and created StudyBass in 2003 with the goal of offering the most useful bass instruction site on the Internet. StudyBass is strongly recommended by members of Talk Bass Forum for its high quality instruction and excellent theory lessons.
You don't have to become a member of StudyBass to use the free lessons, all of which are accessible when you click on the Study Guide that lists the site's curricula. The lessons are made up of detailed written instruction and supplemental video instruction as needed. The free lessons are gathered into three modules in the Study Guide, each of which consists of study blocks which are, in turn, populated by a number of different lessons that will teach you about the specific subject of each study block.
About the Lessons
StudyBass can help any beginning bass guitarist to become well-schooled in the basics, providing a firm foundation to move to intermediate skills. The three modules into which the lessons are organized include StudyBass Fundamentals One, Two, and Three, with each module chock full of individual lessons that will teach you about bass playing skills, techniques, and theory.
- StudyBass Fundamentals One - In the first module, you'll learn not only the basic techniques of playing bass such as plucking and fretting but also a great deal of information about music theory, chord patterns, and how to read notes and tablature. You'll also learn about rhythm, which is essential to good bass playing. With the help of lessons that introduce you to the bass guitar and a comprehensive section on how to practice your new skills as you learn them, you'll get off to a great start.
- StudyBass Fundamentals Two - The second module builds on the knowledge you gain in the first. In StudyBass Fundamentals Two, you'll learn more about rhythm and reading music. You will also learn the notes on the fretboard of your bass and work with major and minor scales chord patterns as well as three diminished chord patterns. These lessons will introduce you to key signatures and harmony and to the twelve bar blues form that's at the root of much of today's popular music.
- StudyBass Fundamentals Three - Once you've learned the fundamentals, it's time to hone your bass skills through a variety of exercises. In its third module of lessons, StudyBass offers musical exercises for your fingers, advice on how to increase your coordination and control as a bass player, and tips on how to mute open strings. You will also learn about how notes work in constructing a bass line and the seven basic chords of a major scale.
Other Good Resources
StudyBass offers a variety of useful tools for bass players, including an online tuner, a fretboard printer that will print the notes on the neck of your bass in the tuning of your choice, a music dictionary, an online metronome to keep your tempo steady as you practice, and drills on how to remember musical notes and where they are on your instrument.
Scott's Bass Lessons
Scott's Bass Lessons is a great site for any bass player, whether beginning, intermediate, or advanced. Scott Devine founded the site in 2010, and in the years since, it has been utilized by half a million bass guitarists of all levels. Though Scott features paid content on his site, he also offers free video-based lessons from which you can pick up plenty of knowledge, guidance, tips, and tricks. The site has numerous rave reviews from bass players at the Talk Bass Forum.
The best way to access the free lessons is to browse Scott's Lessons page. You can browse lessons by topic by clicking on the All Subjects pull down menu. Click on one of the topics, such as Beginners or Riff of the Week, to access the lessons categorized under that subject. Some lessons are part of Scott's premium content and contain links to join his Bass Academy, but you'll also find a number of free lessons which you can watch and learn from.
About the Lessons
From Scott's Bass Lessons Library page, you can click on any one of the topics to explore in greater detail the lessons categorized there. Many of these are free, so click on play and enjoy.
- Beginners - If you're a beginner, click on the Beginners section on the Bass Library's left-hand menu. You won't find a systematic progression of lessons that works its way from the ground up, so before you check out these lessons, make sure you have a grasp of the rudimentary basics. Still, you'll find many stand-alone lessons that will help you as a beginner, such as The Only Five Scales You'll Ever Need to Learn, How to Find the Perfect Posture When Practicing, and How You Can Master the Fingerboard With Just a Handful of Shapes.
- Intermediate Players - Intermediate players will find much to hone their skills and spice up their licks here. Explore topics such as Bass Lines and Grooves and Licks, where you will find lessons such as Three Awesome Tips to Make Odd Time Signatures Easy, Must Know Blues Intros and Outros, and How to Approach Complicated Bass Lines and Licks. All bass guitarists will benefit from lessons that develop technique and rhythm, such as Hammer-On Development Exercises, Legato Exercises, and How to Play Bass Fast. Last but not least, you will want to check out Scott's lessons on Improvisation to ratchet up your sonic creativity.
Free Bass Toolkit
Intermediate and advanced bass guitarists will want to check out Scott's Free Bass Toolkit, which you can access by providing your email address. Included in the toolkit are a mini course on bass modes, video tutorials on how to get gigs and how to buy a bass guitar, an ebook about how to get a great bass tone, and a library of backing tracks which you can use as accompaniment for your practice sessions.
Bass Guitar Player World
If you're looking for collections of well-organized lessons for bass guitar, you can't go wrong with Bass Guitar Player World, which was created by bass guitarist David Woods to be a one-stop resource for aspiring bass players. Many of the lessons are in text format, but some of them contain videos, too. You'll also find a comprehensive bass guitar course on DVD called Teach Me Bass Guitar for which you must pay, but you can learn a great deal from the free lessons on Bass Guitar Player World.
The free lessons on Bass Guitar Player World are organized into a number of categories, and David Woods recommends that you do the lessons for each category in numerical order. Beginners should start with the Beginner category and systematically work through the lessons, one after the other. Intermediate players can hone their skills with the other sections, particularly Soloing and Improvisation.
About the Lessons
The free tutorials on Bass Guitar Player World are well-organized in that you can simply click on any of the topics, then progress through the lessons in numerical order. The site places a good deal of emphasis on musical theory and ear training since those are skills that are often neglected in bass guitar lessons. They're also skills that will make you a valuable band member, since a well-trained ear and knowledge of theory will help you grow into a more knowledgeable and flexible musician. You can choose from lessons in the areas of Beginners, Chords, Techniques, Soloing, Improvisation, Ear Training, and Scales.
No Treble, founded by Corey Brown to be an online resource devoted to all aspects of the bass guitar, has a number of free bass lessons geared toward intermediate and advanced players who want to beef up their skills. The drawback to the lessons on No Treble is that they aren't systematically organized. The upside, though, is that you can explore what No Treble offers and find a great deal to keep you busy, learning new tricks on your guitar. The lessons on No Treble are video-based.
On No Treble, you'll find nearly thirty pages' worth of free lessons that cover a wide variety of subjects. The lessons page also has a search function, which is useful if you're looking for lessons regarding a specific topic or lessons at a particular playing level. For example, if you type "beginner" into the search box, you'll get lessons suited for beginning bass guitarists. If you type "intermediate" into the search box, you'll get lessons suited for intermediate bass guitarists. If you type "advanced" into the search box, you'll get lessons suited for advanced bass guitarists.
About the Lessons
No Treble has bass lessons for all levels of players, but the site focuses on intermediate and advanced players who really want to push themselves to the limit. You will find transcriptions of advanced bass lines such as the one played by Jimmy Johnson on Tokyo Dream, a lesson showing how to play J. S. Bach's music as a bass duet, and a lesson on how to play across the bar line to amp up your grooves and your solos. Use the search function on the lesson page to access any topic of interest, whether chords, style, or technique.
Chris Tarry Lessons
New York bass guitarist Chris Tarry has an impressive list of credentials that includes four Juno Awards and membership in two jazz bands: Metalwood and the Chris Tarry Group. All About Jazz called the latter group one of the best jazz bands playing today. Tarry has also worked with top notch rock and pop acts like Paul Shaffer and the East Village Opera Company. His video-based lessons will appeal to bass players of all levels who want to improve their skills and learn from a master.
To access Chris Tarry's free lessons, go to his Lessons Map. The lessons are well-organized into topics, and you can work through the lessons in the order they're presented. For example, if you click on Beginners on the Lessons Map page, you'll see lessons for beginners to your right. Simply work your way through the lessons one by one, in order. You would start with three classes of beginner theory, then you would move on to ear training and other subsequent topics like how to play with a pick and how to play intervals, all of which are vital to building a good foundation as a bass guitarist.
About the Lessons
Intermediate and advanced players will enjoy Chris Tarry's lessons, too. He offers lessons pertaining to a wide range of bass guitar topics, including blues, jazz, walking bass, groove, funk, rhythm, scales, arpeggios, chords, and even a set of lessons on composition. You'll also find lessons on music theory, soloing, technique, and good practice habits. Pick any topic and work your way down through the available lessons. You're sure to learn a great deal and improve your sound in the process.
How to Play Bass
How to Play Bass is a simple, streamlined site that's directed toward beginning and intermediate bass guitar players. It offers lessons in three primary areas: Beginners Songs, Intermediate Songs, and Effective Practicing. It's a simple, streamlined website that's dedicated to teaching aspiring and mid-level bass guitarists to hone their skills by learning and playing songs. The mantra of the site is "Learn Songs, Not Scales." The song tutorials are in video format.
The most basic means of navigating the site is to click on one of the three main areas from the home page: Beginners Songs, Songs, and Effective Practicing. From each of these areas, you can explore a number of video tutorials. These lessons are available to everyone for free. If you want to become a member of the site, you can get additional free song tutorials, which include tablature and notation in PDF format and videos that include close-ups of both hands on the bass guitar while playing the bass line for a particular song.
About the Lessons
On How to Play Bass, you'll find a simple progression of lessons aimed at beginners to lessons aimed at intermediate players. The majority of the lessons focus on song tutorials. If you already have a good, solid foundation in how to play the bass guitar, you'll want to check out the song tutorial page, which includes transcriptions of bass lines for songs. You'll also enjoy perusing the master list of all the song tutorials on the site which is arranged in chronological order.
How to Practice
Each site that offers instruction in bass guitar also offers guidance about how to practice. It boils down to the bottom line that you must practice frequently and consistently to develop skills on the bass and to hone and advance your skills.
- Frequency - As Andrew Pouska recommends on StudyBass, practicing every day, even if it's just for a short time, is more important in developing your skills than practicing, say, once a week, even if that single session is quite lengthy. Carve out time every single day to spend with your bass guitar, even if it's just for a few minutes. Ideally, you should strive for a minimum of thirty minutes of practice a day, and the more, the better. If you aspire to become a skillful player, the time you spend with your bass won't be wasted.
- Exercises - Practice exercises such as scales and arpeggios and cycles of intervals, such as fifths, minor and major thirds, and major seconds. While you're working with such exercises, pay special attention to your tone. This effort will really help you polish up your technique and make it shine.
- Diversify and Enjoy - Make practice fun if you're going to stick with it. Split your daily practice sessions into focused practice time and fun practice time. Your focused practice will consist of exercises like scales, arpeggios, and cycles of intervals. Your fun practice will consist of simply playing around with your bass guitar and exploring its sound and possibilities. Focused practice will build your skills while fun practice will keep you motivated.
Many Routes to One Goal
When it comes to lessons for bass guitar, you'll find many means and methods you can use to build skill with your chosen instrument. Explore numerous websites that offer lessons and experiment with different kinds of lessons. Each bass guitarist is an individual, and what works well for one person might not work as well for another. When you find a set of lessons that truly clicks with you, though, dig in and commit to those lessons. Commitment and practice are the keys to mastering a musical instrument.