How To Practice Bass Guitar To Reach Your Goals and Enjoy the Journey

How To Practice Bass Guitar To Reach Your Goals and Enjoy the Journey

bass guitar practice

You keep your bass guitar in sight and practice often. Sometimes, you practice a few riffs and other times, your practice is more structured. 

Even with regular practice, though, you’re frustrated that you’re not progressing as well or as quickly as you’d like. 

Perhaps you’re practicing in the “wrong” way — a way that’s not efficient or effective.

What should a bass guitar practice schedule look like, and how can you structure your bass practice for maximum effect?

Find out how with this guide, which will include some steps and tips to make the most of your practice. We’ll also let you know how beneficial lessons with Northwest School of Music can be to help you reach your goals.

Table of Contents

3 Steps To Take Before Starting a Bass Practice Routine

Learning to play the bass guitar isn’t as simple as just picking up the instrument and starting to strum. Some preliminary steps can go a long way to making the most of your regular bass practice.

Before scheduling or formatting your bass practice time, it will be beneficial to:

  • Know the kind of bass music you want to play
  • Decide on some goals
  • Choose an instructor
bass practice

#1: Think About Bass Guitar Genres

The bass guitar is a versatile instrument you’ll find in many music genres, from hard rock music to country music.

Before you plan out a bass guitar practice routine you think will work for you, take a minute to think about the different bass guitar genres that grab your attention.

Do you dream of playing like the bass artist in Aerosmith or Iron Maiden? Or does the walking bass technique found in Johnny Cash’s country music suit your fancy? 

Knowing the kind of bass guitar music you’re drawn to can give you an idea of what it will take to get where you want to be. Playing in the background in a band or being the star bass soloist will require different practice techniques and time commitments.

Listen to all kinds of music genres that use the bass guitar and identify which genre(s) you’d like to try. Some options include:

  • Rock
    • Punk
    • Heavy metal
    • Pop rock
  • Country
  • Reggae
  • Blues
  • Jazz
  • Funk
  • Gospel

#2: Set Goals

Setting some preliminary goals — even though you’ll probably change them once you start playing — is a good start to knowing how much practice it will take to get there. 

Maybe you’ll have goals like:

  • Playing a particular song
  • Learning a technique
  • Playing bass guitar in a band

Depending on your goals and how short- or long-sighted they are, you’ll be able to start with a solid practice routine until you’ve progressed enough to re-evaluate.

There are all kinds of ways to set goals, but the SMART plan of goal-setting can work very well to gauge bass guitar practice expectations. Set bass guitar practice goals that are:

  • Specific: Spell out exactly what your goal is. A good example is, “Learn the bass part to Ben E. King’s version of Stand By Me.”
  • Measurable: Be able to track progress. An instructor is a great person to offer helpful insight.
  • Achievable: Don’t aim too low or too high. Setting a goal that isn’t achievable can leave you discouraged.
  • Relevant: Set goals based on your personal likes and desires.
  • Time-bound: Set a time frame to meet that goal, and add in more short-term goals when necessary.

Remember, you can’t do everything at once. If you’re super eager to get started, you may set too many lofty goals. Instead, take those big goals and break them into smaller ones, or choose just a few things to focus on and then add more techniques as you progress.

#3: Find a Teacher

Whether it’s setting goals, choosing songs, or determining your favorite bass guitar genre, an experienced bass guitar instructor can be a huge help.

With a vast area of knowledge and experience playing the bass guitar, an instructor can help you know where to start to get you where you want to go.

Once you and your instructor have set some goals and decided where to start, an instructor can help you:

  • Learn correct technique
  • Avoid making beginner mistakes and creating bad habits
  • Choose pieces suited to your interest and skill level
  • Stay encouraged and motivated
  • Know how to practice bass guitar by suggesting a practice schedule and format

For bass guitar lessons in Salem, OR, Northwest School of Music offers lessons for both children and adults with our expert team of instructors. Register today and get a free lesson!

bass practice routine

What Is the Best Way To Practice Bass Guitar?

There’s not one best way to practice the bass guitar because different factors come into play, like:

  • Goals
  • Music genres
  • Prior musical experience
  • Time restraints
  • And more

However, for practice to be effective, enjoyable, and efficient, many bass guitar musicians recommend that bass guitar practice time includes structure, consistency, and diversity.

Structured Practice

Practice should have some sort of plan or structure — knowing what you’re going to practice and how you’re going to practice in each session. Just doing the same thing over and over can get boring and may stifle progress.

For example, rather than merely focusing on playing particular songs, try spreading the following practice activities throughout your weekly practice sessions:

  • Scales
  • Dexterity exercises
  • Playing genre-specific songs
  • Improvising
  • Transcribing
  • Technique drills, like tapping, hammer-ons, and pull-offs

Evaluate your bass guitar practice schedule regularly to see what’s working and what’s not, and make adjustments as necessary.

Consistent Practice

Regular practice is important for steady progress and reaching goals.

Practicing four to five times a week for about an hour is an excellent practice goal to work toward. 

Take your other commitments into consideration — work, school, home responsibilities, and more — when developing a consistent practice schedule. If you can’t manage five one-hour practice sessions every week, start with two to three 30-minute sessions and extend them as you are able.

Consistency is key, no matter what consistency looks like for you. Playing every now and then won’t cut it. Experiment to find what works for you and stick to it. A bass guitar instructor can also help with providing that extra level of accountability.

Diverse Practice

Changing it up or keeping practice varied makes it more fun and helps develop different skills. 

As mentioned above, making practice structured can keep you from repeating the same things over and over in practice. In addition to the techniques mentioned above, consider adding some diversity by regularly including:

  • Skill building
  • Advanced techniques
  • Performance practice
  • Playing pieces just for fun
bass guitar practice schedule

5 Tips To Get the Most Out of Bass Guitar Practice

#1: Warm Up and Cool Down

Just like with physical exercise, warming up and cooling down are effective ways to have a productive bass guitar practice session and avoid injury.

Start your warm-up with general stretches, including:

  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Waist 
  • Legs
  • Wrist
  • Forearm
  • Fingers

Follow up these basic stretches and further warm up the fingers by playing slow, repetitive material (up and down the fretboard), like:

  • Scales
  • Arpeggios
  • Chord progressions
  • Intervals
  • Melodic patterns

Toward the end of a practice session, start cooling down by relaxing and playing some simpler songs or techniques to help relax both the body and mind. Finish your cool down just like you started your warm-up by stretching your fingers, wrists, and arms to relieve tension and decrease the chance of overuse injury. 

Taking bass guitar lessons at Northwest School of Music means you’ll have an experienced instructor who can help you know how to both warm up and cool down, and then make the most effective use of each practice session. 

Start your musical journey today by registering for bass guitar lessons at Northwest School of Music.

bass practice routine

#2: Choose the Time and Place

Having a particular place and choosing a regular time to practice are keys to making practice consistent.

Setting aside a particular room or section of your home and making it a creative space can help motivate regular practice. 

If you can’t dedicate an entire room of your home to practice, do double duty with the space you have. Keeping your guitar on a stand or mounted on the wall can add a design flare while keeping your bass guitar in sight, reminding you to pick it up and play it. 

#3: Have a Plan

With the help of your instructor, create a practice plan for each practice session you will complete during the week. Include a variety of exercises and activities to practice technique, performance, improvisation, and skill building.

To know what you’ll do in each practice session, create a plan like this:

  • Day One
    • Scales 
    • Dexterity exercises
    • Walking basslines
    • Slap technique
  • Day Two
    • Dexterity exercises
    • Improvisation 
    • Chord progressions
    • Slap technique
  • Day Three
    • Scales
    • Walking basslines
    • Genre-specific practice
    • Jam time
  • Day Four
    • Scales
    • Dexterity exercises
    • Improvisation
    • Genre-specific practice

Work on keeping distractions to a minimum so you can keep your practice time focused. If the notifications on your phone grab your attention, keep your phone in another room. If you need to practice in the same room as the TV, keep it off while you’re practicing. 

bass guitar practice

#4: Evaluate and Make Changes

Of course, the daily practice plan above is just an example. Try out a few different routines and plans to see what works best for you and keeps you motivated.

Every now and then, take time to evaluate how the practice sessions are going and how much progress you’re making. 

Adjust and make changes where necessary. If you get into a slump and aren’t sure how to move forward with practice time, a bass guitar instructor can help you know how to move to the next level.

#5: Revisit Goals Periodically

Also, with the help of an instructor, bass guitar students should revisit their goals from time to time to see if they need to be adjusted. 

Were your initial goals too ambitious? Do they need to be trimmed down? Or maybe they were too elementary, and now you’re ready to kick things up a notch? 

Or now that you’ve gotten started, you’ve realized you enjoy a particular genre more than you thought, and you want to readjust your goals to allow for more playing of that genre.

The instructors at Northwest School of Music are committed to helping you choose goals based on your skills and choice of music genre and will help re-evaluate those goals as you progress along your musical journey.

bass practice routine

Learn To Play the Bass Guitar With the Experienced Team at Northwest School of Music

Northwest School of Music is ready to help you get started.

Our team of highly skilled instructors provides bass guitar lessons for adults and children who are eight years and older.

If bass guitar isn’t your choice instrument, feed your love of music by trying out lessons with one of our other many instrument options:

With month-to-month lessons and no contracts, getting started is easy. Contact us today to register, and get your first session free.

bass guitar practice
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503-999-4343​ |​

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