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How to Teach Yourself to Play a Song You've Heard on Bass

Learn how to teach yourself to play a song you've heard on the bass guitar from musician John Sutton in this online guitar lesson from Howcast.


So, in order to teach yourself a song that you heard that you really like my first advice is to just break it down into a smaller section. Maybe you want to learn the whole song, but maybe that's not the right place to start. So, find the part that you like the most, or find the part that maybe you're hearing the clearest. If there's one section where the bass really stands out and you're like that's what I want to learn. That's what I want to sound like then that's the place to start. Pick a small section of a song. Maybe it's just the chorus. Maybe it's a verse, or maybe it's a 4 bar break somewhere in the middle, but whatever it is that really grabs your attention that's the place to start doing it. The next thing to do would be just to hear it so many times that you really sing it. I mean, if you can hear it really clearly in your head. If you can really hear all the notes and all the rhythms and if you could even sing it maybe just in the privacy of your own bedroom or something like that then that's, that's half way there. Once you know how to sing it then the rest is just about finding the notes. The next thing you would do is probably just visualize it. I think if you can sing it and, even if you don't, even if you're not really comfortable with the bass guitar, just being able to sing it and imagine where, what it might look like on the bass. And often times you might be more right than you think. I remember the first time I ever played a bass guitar in my life I'd imagined what this Narvana bass line sounded like and I walked up to a bass guitar and I pulled it off the rack in a music store and I literally just played it. And it was the most rewarding thing and it was one of the reasons I started playing bass. I think is I just continued because immediately I was you know, I knew that I was right about it. So, sometimes you might be right. So, take a guess. Start somewhere. Start with where you think the note might be, but find the fist pitch. And once you find the first pitch and you know that you're starting on the right note then the rest of it is just about figuring out how far each other note you know, is after that. Is it a big jump or is it a small jump? The second note is it really close to the first note, or does it sound like it's really far away? Which way on the neck do you think they're going? Trial and error will get you a long way. So, those are the basics for just how to get started playing the songs that you hear and uh, you can go from there. The more you learn the more you study it the more you just try doing it the better your going to get and the easier it will be.

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