Learning how to play an instrument can be hard, especially if you have had no previous musical experience. It can get very confusing rather quickly when learning how to play a stringed instrument because of all of the different strings and frets you have to remember when learning how to play. There are a lot of bass guitar songs out there in the world that may sound really cool but are really difficult for a beginning player to learn how to play.
Don’t lose hope though! Just as there are many extremely difficult bass guitar songs out there in the world, there are just as many easy bass guitar songs in the world that sound as equally cool! Even if you already have several years’ worth of experience learning how to play guitar, learning some of these beginner-friendly songs can help you to work and build on some of the techniques that you may struggle with! Keep in mind that learning how to play bass guitar is not a straight-forward situation and may require some patience on your part when it comes to mastering these songs.
Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
If you’ve only ever listened to the original by Michael Jackson, try taking a few minutes to listen to orchestral versions of the song. Two Cellos has a cover of Smooth Criminal which really highlights the bass riffs that live in this song.
Money by Pink Floyd
In musical terms, learning Money by Pink Floyd is a great song to learn for beginners because it features a different time signature. The time signature is 7/4 so that when you’re counting beats, you won’t count 1-2-3-4. Instead, you can count 1-2-3-4-1-2-3 or 1-2-3-1-2-3-4 to count your beats. In other words, you should basically just think of this time signature as having to play seven notes.
Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash
This is an easy bass guitar song to learn that gives you exposure to changing tempos. As the song goes on, you will notice that the tempo (speed) of the song increases, which will give you the chance to test out your rhythm skills, as well as your fingering skills with a faster tempo.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a song that will introduce you to chromatic runs and cranked amps. Cliff Burton originally played this song with fingerstyle, but as time went on Jason Newsted played this with a pick. The sound difference that this makes is strictly personal preference, so try playing with both to see which sound you like better! As for the chromatic run up the neck, it will probably feel really weird at first. However, this song does give you the chance to play with higher strings on the neck, whereas a lot of other bass guitar songs really just focus on the lower strings.
Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry
This is a bass guitar song that may take you some extra time to get down pat, but once you have it you’ll most certainly be able to show it off your newfound skills! This song is filled with funk and will help you to expand the music genres that you feel comfortable playing with.
21 Guns by Green Day
This song is a great song for new beginners to learn because it has a slow and easy bass part. Matter of fact, the notes that you find in this song are literally used in thousands of other pop songs. You will also find that the minor scale progression that you find in this song is very popular in other rock music.
Otherside by Red Hot Chili Peppers
If you have already learned how to play 21 Guns by Green Day, you will be able to pick up Otherside by Red Hot Chili Peppers rather quickly. The chorus of Otherside has a few more notes in it than 21 Guns does, but you can choose to leave out these notes without sacrificing the similarity in your sound production vs the song. Best of all, the bass solo part is easy and can help strengthen your solo confidence!
Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
This bass guitar part for this song is actually surprisingly beautiful and isn’t highlighted too well in the original. It’s an easy song to learn, but it doesn’t sound that way when you first listen to it. Also, the arrangement for this song is in F Major, which will get you used to working with a unique key signature!
Rescue Me by Fontella Bass
This bass guitar song will take you out of playing pop and rock music and will introduce you to playing a classic Motown sound. While this song may not be recognizable immediately or by a bunch of people, it’s really fun to play on the bass guitar if you’re looking for a line that keeps your fingers moving.
Come As You Are by Nirvana
I couldn’t complete this list without listing a grunge song for a new beginner to learn on the bass guitar. This is a great song to learn if you’re looking to improve upon your dynamic technique. There are several parts in this song where you’re going to have to pay attention to the dynamic contrast (being louder and being softer) to truly be able to capture the essence of the song.
How should I go about learning a song on bass guitar?
There are several different ways that a person can go about learning how to play bass guitar. However, you may find a lot more success in learning how to play songs by following a specific method. When you are first learning how to play bass guitar, there are four different parts of your experience you should pay attention to:
- What the song sounds like
- What you sound like
- What is written (on the bass tab or sheet music)
- What techniques are needed to perform the song
Paying attention to all four parts of the experience will help you to get a better understanding of the song you’re learning- how the song sounds like, how you sound like, what you are playing, and how you are playing it. Even if you’re just learning a basic song, paying attention to all four aspects will help you to develop musicality.
Most musicians learn how to play songs by following along with sheet music or bass tabs. If you have ever played piano or a wind instrument, you may have some experience reading sheet music. However, if you have no prior musical experience at all, you will most likely have an easier time reading bass tabs.
There are some advanced bass musicians out there that have the ability to learn songs just by listening by ear. If you have friends in your life that are able to do this, do not get discouraged if you aren’t able to do this right away. Being able to learn a song by ear takes a lot of patience and years’ worth of musical training and knowledge to be able to pick up. As a beginner, this is a skill that you won’t be able to pick up immediately and that’s perfectly okay!
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While learning new songs of the bass guitar can be challenging, it should also be a lot of fun! As you get more songs under your belt the easier it will become to learn new songs and songs that are even a little bit more challenging! Once you have a few of these songs (or maybe all of them) mastered, they will be songs that will remain in your collection forever.