should you take private lessons

Should you take bass lessons?

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Where in the old days information was hard to find, in modern times the internet can supply you with almost anything you need. That includes everything your need to know about bass playing. It’s now easier than ever to just pick up a bass guitar, get on YouTube and start playing your first songs in no time. A question that gets asked a lot is, “Should you take private bass lessons?“. In this article I explain you why the answer is definitely yes.

Online video lessons vs. a private teacher

In learning any new skill, one of the most valuable learning tools is receiving feedback. Where as an online video lesson will only show you how to do things, it will never give you feedback on what you could do better. We are simply not aware of all our habits when we play. For example, we might have a habit of playing notes too short or not being consistent in our alternative plucking technique. A good teacher will proactively give you feedback on things you can improve on, even before you know it needs improving.

Having someone who can check your technique early in your bass playing learning process will additionally help you prevent physical injury later on. If you make sure your technique is okay in the beginning, you won’t have to correct it in the future.


Most of us are procrastinators (yep, that definitely includes me). We want to reach our goals, but we also want to binge watch the new season of our favorite Netflix series. Having someone who holds you accountable for your progress will make you want to work harder. It just feels terrible having to tell your teacher that you didn’t study again or that the dog ate your homework.

Make sure you have lessons on a regular basis. This doesn’t need to be weekly if you prefer to have more time to process what you have learned, or if your don’t have the funds. If you have a periodical bass lesson you have deadlines on things you are working on. And as you probably know, deadlines will definitely help you in achieving your goals!


If you have ever seen Weekend Millionaires you know how handy it can be to have a knowledgeable person on speed dial. When playing in a band or trying to figure out basslines by ear it is a blessing to have someone in your corner that you can ask for help and tips & tricks. What an amazing resource is having someone around who has made the same bass journey as you are embarking on.

Being able to ask questions to a professional bass player will give you an edge over trying to figure out everything by yourself. Also, an experienced teacher can connect dots that you have a hard time connecting, like for examples how pentatonic scales relate to modes.


Who better knows the places to look for amazing bass playing than someone who has dedicated their life to playing bass? Private teachers have had many different students and probably also have/had a gigging career. They can inspire you to look at the instrument differently and even give you some recommended listening material that you wouldn’t have found otherwise. They will probably encourage you to try different styles and techniques and make you a more well rounded player.

Your teacher will probably also have extensive experience in working in the real world as a bass player. This means they will have knowledge about what qualities you need as a bass player. Qualities you didn’t even realize were a part of the job. On top of that, It’s extremely inspirational if you have a bass teacher that is a kick-ass bass player.

Writing a lesson plan

Every good teacher will ask you what your goals are and then help you make a plan so you can reach those goals. Experienced teachers will know how to divide up your long-term goals into smaller short-term goals. They will then formulate actionable steps you can take to accomplish them.

An experienced bass player can evaluate your playing and recognize what you need to work on. They will surely incorporate this in your lesson plan. And as a bonus they will reevaluate and refine your plan while you’re carrying it out. A great lesson plan doesn’t only contain what you need to work on, but also what you want to work on.

Find a teacher that you click with

Something that I find very important mentioning, is that you need a teacher that you click with. Even though the makers of the movie Whiplash seem to let you believe otherwise, you should have a personal click with your teacher. It should be someone who inspires you to work on your bass playing, but also someone that makes you feel good about what you’ve already achieved. It’s a big bonus if you feel at ease with your teacher and there is room to make mistakes and share a joke or two.

Also find someone that you (at least partially) share the same musical taste with. I think having a teacher that introduces you to new styles is very important, but if you want to be a metal bass player and your teacher is only into bebop, he will probably not be able to give you all the tools you need.

It’s important that a teacher has enthusiasm about the things he is teaching. That is also why I believe you shouldn’t take bass lessons with someone who is actually a guitar player, but teaches bass on the side so he can earn more. Only if your teacher is passionate about bass playing, should you even consider them as a bass teacher. Note that there are of course guitar teachers that are equally excited about/good at playing bass.

Getting the most out of your bass lessons

A great bass teacher is an invaluable asset in your bass playing journey. But having a teacher is not automatically a one-way ticket to being a great bass player. Just like with everything in life, being good at something requires you to put a lot of effort into it. If you want to get the most out of your bass lessons:

  • You should be curious about bass playing. Spend time listening to a lot of music and bass players you like.
  • Join a band. Most bass players aren’t soloists, and a lot of the fun comes from playing together with other musicians. When playing in a band, you can use your bass lessons to ask questions about things you encounter. Being in a band is one of the best ways of becoming a better player and getting insight in what you need to improve on. Ask your teacher for feedback on your band’s recordings.
  • Don’t focus on becoming better all the time. Focus on having fun. Music is fun, don’t make it a competition.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. By making mistakes you learn. When you are learning you make mistakes and that is okay. Your bass teacher will definitely agree with me.
  • Give feedback to your teacher if the lessons are too focussed on things you are not interested in. You are taking the lessons for you, not for your teacher. You do have to realize though that depending on your goal, you might have to study things that you are not naturally attracted to.
  • Make sure you have lessons on a regular basis. That way you keep improving and are forced to set and accomplish goals.

If you aren’t able to take bass lessons, what should you do?

To close off, I’d like to mention the situation where you are unable to take lessons. Maybe because you lack the financial means, or maybe because there simply isn’t a bass teacher in your area. When you are in this situation you should put extra emphasis on giving feedback on your own playing. Film yourself and/or practice in front of a mirror. Look at your technique. Are your relaxed? Do you experience pain while playing? Is your technique like that of the bass players you look up to on YouTube? Listen to yourself. Do you get a nice tone? Do you hear a lot of string noise or are there any unwanted notes ringing? Are your notes sounding even? Self reflection on how you sound and look are the key to teaching yourself.

Instead of a teacher, maybe there is another bass player near you that you admire and you can ask for feedback. Also there are online bass communities where you ask for help there.

Focus on developing proper technique and focus on figuring out the songs you want to play by ear. Once you get some grasp on those topics your can set new goals by making a lesson plan for yourself. If you want to learn more about goal setting, be sure to check out “Get better at bass: Feeling stuck? Do this now!“.

I hope you found this article helpful! Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and if you have any questions or suggestions.

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