Why it’s better to learn bass when you’re older

“Oh my God, you’re so lucky!”

By Jon Liebman
February 24, 2023

When was the last time you set out to learn a new skill and you were great at it right away?

Generally, that just doesn’t happen. You don’t expect to hit the ground running you’re when trying to do something you’ve never done before.

So why would learning bass be any different?

You’re not a kid any more, so maybe you feel like you’ve got to make up for lost time. That’s the wrong mindset. You can still learn bass and make great progress, no matter how old you are.

The most important thing is to get started.

Everyone sounds terrible – at first

I had a great conversation with Lamb of God bassist John Campbell recently, published as this week’s FBPO interview. I asked him what advice he had for someone learning bass later in life.

“As far as advice,” John says, “you go slow and you expect that you’re going to be terrible at first. And then you’re going to get great, you’re going to get excited. And then you’re going to plateau and it’s going to be kind of boring.”

Not exactly a rousing pitch to someone who wants to learn bass. But if you read into what John’s saying, it’s actually a realistic viewpoint of something very good. His message was one of encouragement, especially if you’re learning just for fun.

“I think it’s great that the motivation is there,” John says, “that you feel ready to do this. It is a great thing to do and it doesn’t matter what becomes of it.”

Starting late is actually an advantage

There are some important things to know when learning bass. All too often, these things are lost on younger students because they don’t have the discipline and the maturity to focus and practice diligently.

But you’re not like that. You’re motivated. You want to learn. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. According to John, you’re actually at an advantage when it comes to learning bass!

Though John was young when he started learning bass, he still managed to excel on the instrument, despite his youth and inexperience.

“I kind of knew some basics going in,” he says, “but as far as hand position and those things, I didn’t know anything. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to spend a lot of time and get paid to spend that time learning how to play.”

Look at how lucky you are!

Obviously, John picked up a lot of things on his own, but he acknowledges the benefits of following an organized program with the right person to guide you.

“It turns out the correct hand position actually makes sense,” John says. “You don’t have to ‘punk rock’ it. There’s a reason why that is there. Starting young, the ego wouldn’t let me see that, and so I’m saying starting older might be a better thing. 

And if you do have that time, oh my God, you’re so lucky!”

“A lot of these things are really simple”

I bet you never looked at it from John’s perspective. I see it every day in the Bottom Line Club, my membership program at For Bass Players Only. 

More and more people over 50 are coming to the Bottom Line Club to learn bass. And they’re coming prepared to do whatever they can in order to make progress and get results.

No only are they learning proper hand position, muting techniques, and other basics, but how to bring out the style and, most importantly, how to make the music groove and feel good.

“A lot of times you find that a lot of these things are really simple,” John says, “and they all fall in the same box. The more you get into it, the more these concepts come together and start to make sense.”

Still think it’s too late for you?

You should see some of my students in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, grooving away on the bass and having more fun than they ever imagined.

So many people have found joining the Bottom Line Club to be the ideal solution for them, especially if they’re struggling with the thought of getting a late start.

What about you? How’d you like to shed the “Oh, it’s too late for me” feeling and take a chance on learning something meaningful and fun? You won’t be great right out of the gate, but you already know that. The most important thing is getting started.

You’re never too old and it’s never too late to experience the joy and the pleasure of making music.

Let’s play bass!

To join the Bottom Line Club, click here.


Comments on Why it’s better to learn bass when you’re older

  1. Grayden Provis says:

    The biggest advantage to me of starting late is that you realise you simply don’t have the years left to become a Jaco so you focus instead on becoming a bass player that a BAND would actually want. If you become solid you can be simple and people will love you!

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      And you’ll have fun doing it too! 🙂 Thanks Grayden.

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