Learning to play a multitude of styles will make you a better bass player
By Jon Liebman
Week of August 31, 2020
What’s your favorite style of music to play on the bass? Do you have more than one?
There’s nothing wrong with specializing. In fact, it can be helpful when someone needs something very specific. But it can be even more helpful if you learn to play as many styles as you can. It will also give you an infinitely greater perspective on music and grooving.
For this week’s FBPO interview, I was talking with Butcher Babies bassist Ricky Bonazza, who has some things to say about the subject. When Ricky came to LA from Europe, he didn’t know a soul. Not a good time to put on blinders and set limits for yourself.
“To me, it’s important to play as many songs as you can, in all different genres,” Ricky says. He wisely kept his options open, met as many people as he could, and learned to play whatever he was called upon to play.
“In LA, they have all these jam nights,” he says. The music at those jam nights is about as diverse as it could get. “And so that helped me a lot,” Ricky says, “even though I consider myself an advanced player.”
It’s easy to get fixated on a particular style. Go ahead and do your deep dive and get really good at that style or technique you love so much. But don’t hold yourself back by not exploring new territory and learning new things.
That’s one thing For Bass Players Only students love about learning bass here. In addition to all the lessons on theory, sight reading, and building bass lines, they’re devouring entire courses in blues, jazz, rock, funk/R&B, reggae, and more. And the stories they tell about how much their lives have changed since they learned to play bass are more than inspiring!
Even if you’re not setting out to make your living as a musician, if you just want to learn bass so you can get together with your friends and have fun making music, it’s always good to learn as much as you can about different styles of music. It will make you a better, more well-rounded bass player. And you’ll have even more fun!
“Playing songs from different artists and different genres,” Ricky says, “from heavy metal, Lamb of God, to a Katy Perry pop song, to a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, I think that’s key to really improve your skills even more.”
How about you? Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. In the meantime, you can check out my interview with Ricky here.