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Choosing An Instrument? Learn To Play Bass

 by Terri Paglusch

Bass in front

When people think about learning to play an instrument, the most common instruments are piano, guitar, and drums. Why is this? When you listen to music, these are the easiest ones to hear. The piano and guitar both generally play the melody, and the drums set the rhythm structure. But what is the instrument that makes you really feel the groove of the music? What is that sound that makes you want to tap your toes, or even get up and dance?

The instrument that is most often overlooked by non-musicians is the bass. Sometimes it's called the bass guitar. The bass is that sound that is a lower pitch than the guitar, and rhythmic like the drums. It's part of the rhythm section of a band, and produces the groove of the song.

Why should you choose to learn bass? Here are some reasons from a couple of bass experts, Greg Whitfield and Brian Kephart. Both Greg and Brian are professional bass players and teach at Music House School, in Overland Park and Lenexa, Kansas.

4 reasons to learn to play bass:

  • Time: Bass is one of the fastest instruments to learn. From complete beginner to competent band member takes a lot less time than piano, guitar, or drums. The reason for this is that while pianists and guitarists often play chords of three notes at a time, bassists play the root notes, one at a time.
  • Diversity: Bass players are regularly the band members with the most varied musical interests, because the bass groove is at the heart of almost every musical genre.
  • Opportunity: Other musicians ALWAYS need a bass player. You'll get to play with everybody!
  • Room for growth: While you can be playing in a band and play a simple bass line, you can, over time, learn to play a more complex bass line. This will keep you learning and growing, and keep you from getting bored.

Those are all great reasons to consider bass when choosing an instrument, so why does it get overlooked? Because bass is the instrument people don't know they're listening to. It's often felt more than it's heard, so listeners don't realize it's the heart of the groove.

See if you can pick out the bass line in these popular songs:

  • "Billie Jean", by Michael Jackson (The bass comes in second, after the drums, so it is easy to hear).
  • "Another One Bites The Dust", by Queen (Starts out with bass.)
  • "Come Together", by The Beatles" (Has a very recognizable bass line.)
  • "Uptown Funk", by Marc Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (What would this song be without the bassline?)

For the more advanced bass aficionados, try listening to these bass greats, recommended by Greg and Brian.

  • Brian's Favorites: Victor Wooten, James JamersonNHØP, Scott LaFaro, and Jaco Pastorius
  • Greg's Favorites: Duck Dunn, James Jamerson, and Paul McCartney

Now that you know more about learning to play bass, don't you think you should consider it when choosing your instrument?

Interested in learning to play bass? Call Music House at 913-562-4112. Visit our website at 

Written by Terri Paglusch
Terri Paglusch
Terri comes to Music House with extensive experience in business management. At Music House she spends her time working to make the client experience the best it can be.