Everyone always seems to want to learn the acoustic or electric guitar, but often forget the importance of the bass guitar in bringing a band or piece of music together. Bass is used in pretty much every genre of music, so there's a lot of variety that can be enjoyed by those who choose to play this fantastic instrument.

Unfortunately as with many instruments, learning to play the bass guitar can come at a steep cost in terms of buying your gear and paying for lessons. In this article we'll look at a few different ways you might be able to alleviate that cost and secure some free lessons to learn the basics of bass guitar.

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Taking Bass Lessons with a Music Club

For many people, teaching themselves how to play the bass guitar through various online resources can be an excellent way to save money whilst learning the instrument. However, some people need the expert guidance of a teacher to get them on the way - especially when they are completely new to playing the bass.

The problem arises when the cost of tuition gets too much: Maybe you have other more important expenses, or can't justify spending as much on hobbies or something you aren't sure if you're serious about yet.

The bass is an integral part of any band
If you're truly passionate about playing the bass, you could one day be on stage in a famous band! (Source: Unsplash)

Before committing your hard earned cash to bass guitar lessons, you want to be sure that you will have the motivation to practice at home and keep on learning. There's no point spending a few hundred dollars on lessons for you to then think, "Actually I'd rather just listen to other people play the bass".

If you can't afford private lessons straight away, or you want to discover if you're truly passionate about learning the instrument first, then you could always look into joining a local music group or club.

Music groups are usually held at recording studios, theatres, community/youth centres, or libraries; Basically any local space which is accessible to the community.

Here you can find other aspiring, or professional, musicians who want to share their love and create music with one another. These clubs often have a great community feel to them meaning you'll feel comfortable and be able to make many new friends.

Music clubs usually host regular welcome nights, where new members can come and see what it's all about and get involved with a group class which teaches you the basics of your instrument.

After a free session or two, you would probably have to buy a membership with the club if you enjoyed it enough. Whilst membership isn't free, it's often much more affordable than private lessons; With the added benefits of socialising and meeting other musicians who you could even start a band with or practice with outside of the club.

Skill Swap to Get Bass Lessons

If you don't have much money to spare on bass guitar lessons, have a think about any valuable knowledge or skills that you might have already!

More and more people seem to be getting behind skill swapping nowadays, whether it's two people who speak different languages meeting up to teach each other how to speak it, or a carpenter doing a small job for plumber who returns the favour.

If you already play another musical instrument, or are a good singer, you might be able to find a bass guitar player who wants to learn those skills and is happy to trade lessons with you. This benefits both parties without any money exchanging hands.

It doesn't have to be a musical skill either, there are plenty of interesting things you could trade for bass lessons:

  • A foreign language
  • Gardening or home grown vegetables
  • Dancing lessons
  • Lessons about different cultures
  • Cooking lessons

It might be hard to find people wanting to swap the same skills as you, but there are plenty of online communities and Facebook buy/swap pages where you might have some luck!

Even if you've no particular skills you'd feel comfortable sharing, you could offer services like cleaning, cooking, gardening, or DIY instead of paying a monetary fee for lessons.

It's always worth asking your bass teacher if this is something they would be interested in, but remember it's not something they are obliged to accept.

Use Online Resources to Teach Yourself The Basics

If you've got the motivation and patience to begin your musical journey by teaching yourself to play the bass guitar, then there is a plethora of free online resources that you can use to learn the basics.

Reading sheet music and tabs is essential for any guitar player
If you want to learn to play the bass at home you'll need to be able to read and understand sheet music and guitar tabs (Source: Unsplash)

Self teaching at home does mean that you will need to have bought a bass guitar, amplifier, and other gear that you require, as well as having some basic understanding of how to read sheet music and guitar tabs. It is still probably the most cost effective way to learn how to play the bass guitar.

There are plenty of free websites where you can find guitar tabs of your favourite songs and start learning them, but you can also find YouTube video tutorials, free bass courses run by professionals, and easy to use mobile apps which can get you started and keep you practicing.

The biggest issue with this method is that you won't have a bass guitar teacher leading your lessons and keeping you motivated to practice every day or week. That will be down to you! 

As long as you feel passionate and motivated to learn, you will soon find a pool of resources that suits you and will allow you to comfortably start practicing at your own pace.

Similarly to your local music clubs and groups, online musical communities can be just as welcoming. Many will have active forums on which you can ask any questions to be happily answered by more experienced players.

When self teaching it's important to set reachable goals for yourself to ensure that you keep progressing at a pace you feel comfortable with. It's certainly not for everyone though, so don't feel defeated if you struggle and want to find a tutor to teach you how to play the bass instead.

Utilise Free Resources and Lessons to Your Advantage

Having had a look at some of the ways you learn bass guitar at a beginners level for free or cheap, let's see how to best put this into practice when it comes to starting your journey.

First of all you need to think about getting your equipment, which can be a large upfront cost. Let's have a look at what you might need and how much it could set you back:

  • Electric Bass Guitar or Acoustic Bass Guitar
  • Amplifier
  • Distortion or Loop Pedals (Optional)
  • Guitar Strap

You can pick up a kit that includes all of your basic needs for as little as $200 from various online music stores, but the quality of the amp and guitar isn't necessarily amazing. It's still a good place to start for a beginner who is just starting out though.

Alternatively you can find second hand shops or buy and swap online pages where you could search for fairly priced bass guitars and equipment. Each city will have their own pages like this, if you live in greater VIC and can't find anything nearby, there will always be stuff to look at in Melbourne if you're willing to drive.

Guitars and amps can be expensive
Getting decent gear like guitars and amps can be expensive, but there are ways to get a few dollars off (Source: Unsplash)

After you're all set, it's time to look up your local music studio, academy, or club and see if they have any taster sessions coming up where you can bring your bass and have a free or very cheap lesson with a professional. This will be enough to get you started and see if you enjoy the instrument.

Once you have the basics down, try to find some free online resources like tabs and YouTube video tutorials that you can practice with at home in your spare time. If this works for you then keep at it until you feel like you need to be challenged more, and if you find that practicing at home isn't for you then you can always look for tuition!

All this can only get you so far though so after a while of using those free resources, and maybe enrolling at your local music studio club, it might be time to look for a music tutor.

Self teaching is great, but working with a tutor can be very beneficial and help you to efficiently learn a variety of techniques and help you play a multitude of styles and genres of music, such as:

  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Rock
  • Pop
  • Reggae

You can choose what you want to focus on of course, but it's good to have a wide range of experience so you can learn to use all the different techniques and styles with your bass guitar, you could even see if your tutor has a double bass that you could try!

When looking for tuition, you can try your luck with skill swapping and see if you can essentially trade for your bass lessons. If this doesn't work out, then using tutoring websites like Superprof is an easy way for you to find good value for money bass guitar tutors.

Your first lesson with a Superprof tutor is free too, so you can see if you like the setup of the lesson and decide if you want to take regular classes.

Having one on one lessons with professional bass players is one of the best ways that you can learn to play the instrument. In your private classes you will have the teachers sole focus as the help you to improve in all the areas you need.

Superprof provides music students all over Australia with quality tuition courses, whether you live in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, or anywhere else!

Hopefully this article has given you some useful advice that can save you a bit of money on your way to becoming a bass player. Spending a bit of money on a hobby like this is unavoidable, but you can take steps to reduce it!

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Sebastian

I am an Englishman living in Melbourne. I have a passion for travelling and exploring the world. I love photography and spending time in the fresh air. I have worked as a chef for a number of years and would preferably eat a Sunday roast for every meal.