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Bass Guitar Basics For Beginners
by Deane Alban

The bass guitar looks like an electric guitar except it has a larger body, a longer neck, and fewer, thicker strings. There are usually four, sometimes five or six strings, tuned an octave lower. The body is usually is maple or rose wood.

The bass is used in many types of music including rock, blues, metal, pop, country, and jazz. It can solo in jazz, fusion, Latin, funk, and in some rock and heavy metal. It underlies the music's beat. And it is the beat that makes it appealing to many guitarists, who decide to expand into taking bass guitar lessons.

The bass guitar, unlike other guitars, is not chord oriented and this actually makes learning to play more complex than learning how to play acoustic guitar. You might think that since there are fewer strings, it is easier to play, but that's not true!

If you want to play the bass guitar, here are some ideas to get you started.

First you need to get a guitar. Borrow one to start or buy a used one. Don't spend a lot of money until you get proficient and learn a little about what you want in your instrument. You can look on eBay or Craigslist to find a reasonable used one. You can always trade up later.

Expect that you will need to have a certain degree of hand strength. More than with other guitar types, it requires strong hands and fingers.

You should learn how to tune your bass guitar. Tuning it isn't really different, it actually may be easier since you have fewer strings to tune. If you are a beginner, don't try to tune your guitar by ear. Get an electronic guitar tuner. You can get a battery operated one for around $20.

You will need to be attuned to the beat of the music that you are playing. Some bass parts aren't necessarily complicated but the rhythm must be perfect. That means you really need to be able to focus intently when you practice. As old-school as this may sound, practice with a metronome. Don't worry - it doesn't have to be an old wood box! You should be able to find one online that you can download. Some online bass guitar lessons will provide you with a digital version.

Now, take some lessons or find a good bass guitar instructional DVD or online program. Some of the better ones actually let you "jam along" with their guitar instructors. Or find a friend or two you can play with. Playing with others will push you forward and reveal what areas you need to work on.

Playing the bass guitar can be a rewarding hobby or even a profession. And last, remember to always relax and have some fun.

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