John Clark Music Tuition

Bass Guitar

See also Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar, Electric Guitar

The bass guitar underpins most bands, and is usually regarded as a vital ingredient in getting a full sound and rich harmonies. Prior to the invention of electric instruments, many bands would use an orchestral double bass, played pizzicato. This gave a great sound but was hardly portable. The electric bass guitar was a practical solution to this problem, giving an instrument that was both portable and loud!

The strings are played with the thumb and fingers (or sometimes a plectrum), using various techniques such as plucking, tapping, or slapping the strings. Playing guitar chords on a bass guitar is unusual.

Most bass guitars have four metal strings, tuned to E A D G, one octave lower than the four lowest strings on a standard guitar. Variations include acoustic, 5 string and unfretted versions, but I don't recommend these for a beginner.

Teaching Approach

Teaching starts with learning how to tune the instrument and the correct way to hold it. It then moves on to understanding the Bass Guitar's role in a band context, developing rhythmic patterns and riffs from scales and arpeggios, and understanding chord construction.


I can offer tuition for Registry of Guitar Tutors in association with the London College of Music Preliminary Grade and Grades 1-8 examinations, and Preliminary Performance Level and Performance Levels 1-8. (Download PDF)

What To Buy

The bass guitar is very popular and any good music store will have a good range of instruments. Expect to pay £150 for a good beginner's instrument, but don't forget you'll also need to buy an amplifier with it! Many players use a combo amp - an amplifier combined with a loudspeaker in a single package. You should choose one suitable for a bass guitar, and it will probably be quite large to be able to handle the deep bass notes.


Instrument montage