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Getting Started Playing Bass?

Here are my top rules to help you get started playing bass:

  1. Buy a metronome
  2. Don't practice without it.
  3. Find a bass instructor.  If you can't find one, keep practicing until you do, and then work with an instructor.
  4. Practice everything slowly at first, and gradually bring the exercises up to speed.  Those bad habits will be hard to break later.
  5. Learn to read standard notation.  If you only learn tab, it will become your enemy.
  6. Learn everything.  Learn all the songs you hear and know. You never know when you'll have to learn 20 cover tunes in two days--it'll help if you're familiar with 19 of them beforehand.
  7. Keep an open mind and learn all styles.  You think you'll never need to play samba or tumbao or have a feel for the clave?  Well, there's not much that will get your 16ths tighter than learning a a tumbao rhythm.  Like in Number 6, learn everything.