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Beginner Bass Lesson #1 With Billy Sheehan

Well, hello everyone my name is Billy Sheehan and I’m a bass player and I’ve played for over 40 years, thousands of gigs. So I came here today to explain some things about bass. Having had that much experience, I feel it’s a good thing that I had been through so much on bass, it makes it possible for me to explain to others the things that you need to know, all of the most important aspects about bass, what it is and we’re going to start out here and do a bunch of things for a player that is beginning.

However, if you aren’t a beginner, and you have played for a long time, some of the things in here that we talk about may be valuable to you as well. You can go over a whole bunch of things and the first thing you do when you get a bass, of course, you’ve got to put it on, you’ve got to hold it.

It may seem ridiculously stupid to get that simple but in fact, some people don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to hold the thing. Generally, I have this thing sit on my lap. Most basses have a little cutout here and sits right there. If I stood up, it would be right about the same spot.

My arm rests on here to get my hand access to the side. Here it is over here, pretty easy. Very simple, I know, but some people overlook that and they spend a lot of months in the early developing time with all this wrong, pick up bad habits and have to break them later.

Also another important thing is the strap. When you’re standing up, this strap’s got to be adjusted so the bass feels right to you. Down low it looks really cool, harder to play but it looks great and feels more rock, I guess. In the middle somewhere it’s a little bit easier to play but it looks different. And then a lot of the guys who get into a lot more technical playing get it up really high because it’s a lot easier to play.

So you’re going to have to make a choice at some point what you want to do. And you can adjust it and change it. Anything about the bass is changeable and adaptable. And so whenever you feel like you’re fenced in or pained into a corner with any particular type of adjustment you do, all those things are different.

And also a lot of times you get hunched over on an instrument like this, you get lost down like that. When you’re performing live, you’ll get to want to stare at your friends out there and look at all the pretty girls in the audience and say, “Who want to get up here?” You’ll find a spot where it’s comfortable enough for you to play but you’re still in a posture that makes sense. So you have access to the instrument.

Like I’ve said, it’s incredibly simple and ridiculous as it might seem to go over up and point like how you hold the darn thing. Some people miss it, some people miss it at the very beginning. And I thought I’d throw that at you first just as a beginning intro step and we’ll go on to many more.


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