The joy of learning bass, for non-career-bound music lovers

Lay down a good bass line and give the song what it needs

By Jon Liebman
Week of January 31, 2022

Are you hell-bent on making your living as a bass player?

(I didn’t think so.)

More likely, you want to learn bass so you can get together with your friends, play some classic rock tunes, say, and just have a good time.

The topic came up in a conversation with my old friend and superb bassist, Tim Smith, published as this week’s FBPO interview.

When it comes to learning bass, Tim really “gets it.” And when it comes to serving the needs of people who can “kind of” play the bass, or the ones who have always wanted to learn bass, his perspective is dead-on.

“Most of them fall into a category that I call ‘weekend warriors,’” Tim says. Over the years, Tim has seen all kinds of people, from doctors, to retired businesspeople, all longtime music fans who want to learn bass.

One student in particular who got Tim’s attention is a high-ranking epidemiologist in Florida. “His goal in life was to be able to sit in at a blues club and play (a) 12-bar blues,” Tim explains. “This guy is researching some of the highest level diseases in the state of Florida, but that’s his goal.”

Situations like that are not uncommon. Maybe you can relate to that in some way yourself.

In fact, much of the audience at For Bass Players Only is made up of people in their 50s, 60s, 70s… who want to be able to play music they love. 

Tim sees it all the time too, describing them saying, “’Hey, man, I’d like to go be able to play a classic rock (tune),’ whether it’s a Led Zeppelin tune or an Allman Brothers tune.”

Give the song what it needs

I’ve written about some of the things non-career-bound bass players don’t need to know or worry about. But there are certain things you do need to know, like basic groove concepts and how to make the music feel good, things that just aren’t found on other sites because they don’t have these people in mind.

“What you’re doing with your educational site is of so much value,” Tim tells me, “because for so long we’ve thought that unless you’re gonna to be trying to make a living in the music business, you don’t need this.”

You don’t need to pursue a college degree or endure the stress of incessant networking in order to do what you want. You need to know how to lay down a good bass line, and how to give the song what it needs. 

An incredible hobby

“Music is an incredible hobby,” Tim says. “If somebody wants to do it and get better at it, we need to have ways to help them accomplish that.”

Personally, I find it incredibly gratifying to see someone adding so much joy and fulfillment to their lives through learning bass at forbassplayersonly.com.

“What a website like yours does,” Tim says, “it creates community, and that’s incredibly important.”

And what awesome people we have in our community.

What about you? Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. In the meantime, check out my interview with Tim here.

Comments on The joy of learning bass, for non-career-bound music lovers

  1. Brad says:

    Exactly my situation. I accompany a ukulele trio and, until COVID times, did the same for two other, larger, groups. They need someone to keep time and to add some harmonic background, for everything from Hawaiian classics to American Songbook to classic rock. I’ve found little instruction to guide me in this effort.

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