For this article we make a start with the bass guitar, we will have a look at the parts of the guitar and make a start with playing the bass guitar.
Most bass guitars will come with four strings, these strings are similar to the four bass strings of the guitar: From low to high they are named E, A, D and G
The strings of the bass guitar are thicker than those of the ordinary six string guitar. The strings can be played with the fingers of the right hand (left hand if you are a lefty) or a pick.
The bass guitar looks almost the same as the six-string-guitar with the difference that the bass does only have four strings, some bass guitars will only have one pick-up, usually the body is bigger, same as strings, tuning keys and bridge. All of these are bigger and more sturdy compared to the six-string-guitar.
The bass guitar is usually played one note at a time. These notes are usually played to accompany the melody of the song, the notes form a strong basis between the drums and the rest of the melody of the music. The bass guitar can play solos or embelishments as well. The function of accompanist does not have to be a plain one: You can play with as much flair as you can, the better your technique is the better you will be at playing with the right flavour for the song.
Let us now have a look at playing some simple ideas on the bass guitar. We start off by playing the open E string. Play the string using your first and second finger of your right hand. The first finger is your index finger while the second finger is called your middle finger. Alternate using both fingers to play the open E string, as you play the string count One Two One Two etc. While you count One use your First Finger to play the open E, when you count Two use your Second Finger to play the open E string, alternate playing the same string twice. The E string is the thickest string of the four.
As you alternating with your first and second finger you can let your thumb rest on the pick-up of the bass.
If you are using an ordinary six-string-guitar to play these ideas, just rest your thumb somewhere on the body of the guitar, find a comfortable position for your first and second finger to rest on the same, low E string. It will take time for your fingers to feel comfortable, hang in there for now as this article is only a guide for now, a first introduction if you like on how to make a start playing the bass.
Once you have played a few times the open E string do the same for the open A, D and G. Use for all strings the same fingers: Finger One and Two of your right hand and play slowly those two open notes for each string. Do this untill you start to feel comfortable playing those open strings.
Okay now that you have been playing open strings let us now have a look at using fretted notes where you use your left hand to finger the notes on the fretboard.
On the E string you will get an E while you play the string as open string, now use your first finger (index!) of your left hand to play the note on the first Fret of the E string. This note is called an F. Press down the string close to the fret and use your first finger of your right hand to strike the string. Again use both index and middle finger of your right hand to play the F note, Play it several times. Now move up on the same, low E string, to the third fret. This note is the G, play this note in similar way as above by using, again, your Index and Middle finger, play the G several times. Go back to the F —first fret— and play the F several times. Then go back to the E and play this notes a couple of times.
Look at the following:
E E E E F F F F G G G G F F F F E E E E
You can treat these notes as chords and you start of on the bass by using the open E strings, then alternate the open E several times, move on to the F, which is on the First Fret and you use your first finger of your left hand to play this note. Play again the F by using Index and Middle finger in alternating fashion to play the F note, Move on to the G, again use Index and Middle of your right hand and play in similar way as explained above. Your goal is to play those three notes fluent and clear: Make them sound full and clear. Once all notes sound clear make sure you can move from one to the other fluently without breaking up the sound of each note.
next time we will look at using more open- and fretted notes.