The joys of learning bass in your 60s… and beyond

“Everybody’s invited to the show!”

By Jon Liebman
August 12, 2022

Does the thought of playing the bass in front of people scare you? I’ve worked with a lot of people “north of 50” who’ve always wanted to play bass, but never got very far with it. In some cases, they’ve never even tried it.

Let me tell you, my friend, there’s no shame in being a late starter. People do it every day.

A couple weeks ago I was having an amazing conversation with my old buddy, Anthrax bassist Frank Bello, published as this week’s FBPO interview. Frank loves playing the bass so much. In fact, he encourages everyone to give it a try, no matter how old they are.

Here’s why you should play bass

“I want everybody to play bass!” Frank says. “I want everybody to be happy.”

Frank shares his passion for bass every chance he gets. “I want people to feel what I feel,” he says. “At my clinics, it’s great because I have (everyone from) 11-year-old boys and girls to 50- and 60- and 70-year-old men and women. Everybody’s invited to the show. That’s the way I look at it.”

Frank says the best way to feel that excitement is to strap on a bass and just start playing.

“I’ve had people in their 60s just starting to play bass,” he says. “I want to put my bass on them. I want them to feel my rig. I want them to play those first couple of notes on the stage in front of people.”

Relax, it’s okay

Frank is sensitive to how intimidating that might be for some people. He guides them along, gently, encouraging them every step of the way.

“I think it’s so important than I’m there, he says. “I want to be a safety cushion for them. And the face that they have on when I put that bass on them is not only priceless, but it’s everything that I want to do!”

There’s nothing like it

If you’ve every performed live, you know there’s nothing like the excitement you feel when you plug in you bass, turn on your amp, and experience those vibrations that can only come from a bass.

“Every time you put on a bass and you play bass,” Frank says, “I want you to feel that excitement. It’ll encourage you to learn. It’s gonna make you want to do more. You want that high.”

Frank’s been playing bass a long time, nearly 40 years with Anthrax alone. For him, that high never goes away.

The thrill of a lifetime

“To me it’s still a joy,” he says. “I want to push forward and make people feel comfortable with learning. I think it’s important.”

If you really want to learn bass, don’t let fear and intimidation get in the way. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then, just do it. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Remember, everybody’s invited to the show.

Your turn: How about you? How would you describe your first experience playing bass in front of other people? How did you confront fear and intimidation? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Then watch my interview with Frank here.

Comments on The joys of learning bass in your 60s… and beyond

  1. Allen says:

    Gee I’m 64 and I still have a hard time

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Sorry to hear that, Allen. Reach out to me through the “Contact” link and let me know what’s going on. I’m happy to help!

  2. Charlie Irwin says:

    I’m about to turn 76 and still learning every day. I’m not worried anymore about being the next Jaco or Flea. I’m just working on being a better me and I can do it at my own pace. (On the day Ray Brown died, he was in his motel room practicing scales…)

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Glad to hear it, Charlie. That sounds like just the right approach. Interesting fact about Ray Brown too! Thanks.

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