Have you ever felt like you’re not a “good enough” bass player? 

Here’s why learning bass is much more attainable than you think

By Jon Liebman
June 9, 2023

Just about everyone who sets out to learn bass has these thoughts at one time or another:

“I’ll never be good enough.”

“I have so far to go.”

“Everyone else is passing me by, leaving me in the dust.”

Ever feel like that?

Well, stop it.

“Good enough” for what?

First of all, what do you think you’ll never be good enough to do? Play a simple bass line that grooves? Come on.

Let me ask you something…

Do you like the music that you want to play? 

Of course you do.

Do you need at least some basic proficiency on the bass in order to lay down a groove for the band? 

Yes. But it’s nothing you can’t learn.

Do you need to play like Billy Sheehan or Jeff Berlin or Jaco Pastorius in order to give the music what it needs?


You need to be solid and you need to be consistent. But you don’t have to kill yourself in the process. Just focus on laying it down, playing in time, and locking in with the drummer.

But I have so far to go…

Maybe you’re not as far off the mark as you think, even if you’re a beginner. When you approach learning bass with a mindset of continuous improvement rather than feeling like you need to reach perfection, that removes a ton of pressure, right off the bat.

Every once in a while, it’s good to take a step back and make note of what you can do today that you couldn’t do a year ago. Or 3 months ago. Or even one month ago.

Steady progress, no matter how fast or slow, is always incredibly satisfying and rewarding. Remember the old proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Everyone else is so much better than I am

So what. Do you want to learn to play bass and have fun or are you trying to win a contest? 

There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by others who are better than you. But why make it a competition? Instead, turn that negative feeling into a positive one and see what you can learn from others. 

There’s nothing wrong with being a beginner. There’s nothing wrong with being an “okay” bass player. You’ll be much happier doing it for the enjoyment and moving at your own pace.

Just play a nice groove

I was talking with my old friend Bjorn Englen recently (Yngwie Malmsteen, Quiet Riot) for a conversation published as this week’s FBPO interview. When the conversation turned to adults learning bass, Bjorn shared some healthy insights.

Bjorn acknowledges that the technical stuff is important, but what’s even more important is knowing how to apply that technique to making music. 

Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. 

“Learn the notes on the neck,” Bjorn says, “but keep it simple and just play a nice groove.”

Bjorn cites the early generations of great bass players who took that approach. “You can look back at the old funk and disco and even the Motown stuff,” he says. “Just simple, simple grooves.”

Not only does it take the pressure off you when you realize you don’t have to play a million notes a minute to be considered a good bass player (in fact, that generally has the opposite effect), but it’s a blast! 

“It’s so much fun to play,” Bjorn says. “It goes a long way and also drives the song.”

You don’t have to play what they’re playing

Another thing people struggle with is thinking they have to play the exact bass line they hear on the record when they’re learning a song. That may be true in some cases, but most of the time it’s not. 

I shared with Bjorn how I’m always explaining to my students that they can still capture the essence of a song by playing a simple bass line, often a lot simpler than the one on the record. In fact, sometimes all you need is a couple notes per bar to make the music groove and feel good.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Bjorn says. “I think you’re 100%. Simplifying it, you still have the same tune and it still feels the same. So, absolutely.”

I’m not saying learning bass means you don’t have to be good. I’m saying you don’t have to be a shredder and you don’t have to play every note you know. That’s not what people want from a bass player. People want someone who can lock in with the drummer, set the foundation for the band, and make the music feel good. 

And in most cases, that’s done by laying down a simple bass line that grooves.

How about you?

Do you want to get rid of those feelings of “I’m not good enough” and “I still have so far to go?” You can do it. Let me your guide. I’ve helped over 130,000 people shed that lack of confidence and become solid bass groovers, all at their own pace. The solution is in my membership program, the Bottom Line Club. Get all the info and join here.


Comments on Have you ever felt like you’re not a “good enough” bass player? 

  1. Grayden Provis says:

    Wise words indeed. As groove-meister drummer Rob Brown says “no one hires you to play a solo”.

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      How true! Thanks, Grayden.

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