Bass Guitar Practice Tips – Maximize Efficiency and Have Fun –> Two things that can stand in the way of practicing bass are 1) the time we have to practice, and 2) viewing practice as something that is boring and mundane. In this article we give you advice and tips for how to maximize the efficiency of the time you spend practicing. We also provide suggestions for how to keep your practice sessions fun and interesting – so that practicing becomes something you look forward to doing.
Use a Loop Station
A loop station (loop pedal, looper) allows you to record a part of your bass playing, and play it back continuously – a loop. You can then play different parts over the loop as it’s being played. For example, you can record a loop of yourself playing a chord, and then experiment with playing a bass line or solo over the chord. Or play a bass line or solo and play a percussive part on top of that. Using a looper is a great way to have fun with your practicing. They’re also great for helping you grow and stretch your creativity as a bass player.
Here is Daric Bennett showing how he uses a looper pedal to optimize his practice time:
There are a lot of options for purchasing a looper pedal that aren’t too expensive. All you need is something simple that allows you to record a loop and play it back at various speeds. Most loopers also have the cool feature of being able to connect and download your loops to a computer. The looper pedal Daric is using in his video is the TC Electronics Ditto Looper Effects Pedal. You can find others that are little less expensive. For example, you can buy the Ammoon AP-09 Looper for around $40.
Get Into Home Recording
Another way to make your practice sessions fun, while also growing and learning as a bassist, is to get into home recording. Home recording has become extremely accessible over the years. You don’t need a lot of equipment, just something that allows you to record and store your ideas. Smartphones have great recording apps that you can use – as well as laptops, tablets, etc. Anything that you can record on will work.
How many times have you played a cool, original bass riff – and forgotten it the next day? Start recording and cataloguing your ideas. Create your own original riff bank that you can access whenever you need it. Pull up your recordings and see what you can add or enhance. Recording your bass lines gives more purpose and structure to your creative open jams. Also, when you create and record your bass lines you have something to think about when you’re not playing – and something to look forward to developing the next time you pick up your bass.
Something that can really help you maximize the efficiency of your practice time is what we’ll call “Multi-Practice”. As the word suggests, multi-practicing involves practicing multiple things at one time. So for example, instead of just practicing a G Major scale, practice it while speed picking. As a result, you’re practicing two things at once – learning your scales and improving you picking technique. Play your scales by thumping every note with your thumb, or play every note in the scale 4 times fast with your plucking finger. Find ways to practice multiple things at one time. Not only does this maximize your practice efficiency, it also helps keep your mind occupied and makes practice more interesting.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
In music we get used to the things we do well. There are things that we’re better at than others – and those are the things we tend to spend more time playing and practicing. It’s more fun and comfortable to play things we’re good or better at. By all means, do the things you enjoy, but also force yourself out of your comfort zone. You want to push yourself as a musician. If there is something you know you’re not as good at, get a vendetta against that thing! In your mind tell yourself “I’m going to get this. I’m not stopping until i get this”. It might be a technique, a song, a time signature, etc. By facing what you’re not good at, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, you can force yourself to grow – it’s an easy way to grow.
Keep Your Bass Handy
You should keep your bass out and set up ready to go so you can hop right on it and get going whenever you have time. You shouldn’t have to get it out of the case, plug it in, get your pedals connected, etc…every time you practice. This creates extra steps that can be discouraging and make you put off playing. Having your bass out and ready also means it’s available if you ever just want to pick it up and spend a few minutes on exercises, working on a song, etc. Every little bit of time you spend holding the bass can help you get better and improve.
Learn from other Instruments
Don’t keep your learning resources exclusive to bass related materials and bass instructors. You can learn a lot from people who play other instruments. For example, I learned a lot about picking techniques by observing and learning from guitar players. You can learn about two hand tapping styles from piano players, or apply drum rudiments to percussive bass playing. You can pick up a lot from just about any instrument. And people who play other instruments can also learn from bass players. Introduce a guitarist to your right hand percussive technique! Furthermore, if you can apply skills used on other instruments, it makes what you’re playing on bass feel and sound more “original” and innovative. Learning outside of your instrument builds your creativity, improves your bass playing, and makes practicing much more interesting and fun.
Make an Effort to Have Fun
Some people believe that if they’re having fun, they’re not learning or improving. Having good work ethic and working hard is important and will definitely yield results. But nothing yields results like having fun. Relate this idea to exercising. If you run on a treadmill in a room by yourself with nothing to look at, you’re going to get bored, you’re going to get worn out, you’re not going to have fun. But if you’re out running around playing a sport with your friends, or running through a scenic park or trail – not only will you have more fun, but you will do exponentially more without even noticing it. Part of practicing is definitely going to be hard work. But practice doesn’t have to be boring in order for you to improve. Do things that are interesting and fun, and balance it with stuff that can be more mundane. If you do that you’ll, succeed without even feeling like you’re working at it.
Always seek out things that inspire you to play bass. We’re lucky to be in age where we have access to so many things because of the internet. Find new players that you want to study, seek out new music you like and want to play. Gravitate towards those things that make you feel that inspiration, that make you passionate about wanting to learn – so that when you see or hear something you think, “I can’t wait to go back and try to learn that. I can’t wait to get in there and practice”. Staying inspired is the life force that’s going to drive your bass playing endeavor. So always seek out inspiration, with the understanding that it can be one of the most important things that you do for your bass playing, and yourself.