The 10 Best Bass Guitar Books (2024)

Bass guitar books are a great resource for learning. Aside from professional lessons, there’s nothing like a book to go through and practice with on your own time and at your own pace. This article is meant as a helpful guide for those looking for some of the best bass guitar books out there.

My main recommended book is Music Theory for the Bass Player as it comprehensively covers both basic and advanced music theory for bass players, helping them to play with more freedom and confidence.

For a second recommendation, I suggest the Slap Bass Bible, which is a great resource for bass players who want to learn and improve their slap technique. It covers a wide variety of slap bass songs to build a solid foundation for aspiring bassists.

For this article, I conducted thorough research into the most popular and highly recommended books available. I evaluated each book on several factors, including the level of detail and comprehensiveness of the content, the teaching style and approach, and the overall usefulness of the book for players of different skill levels.

I also considered the cost of each book, as well as any additional features such as accompanying audio tracks, video lessons, or practice exercises. After evaluating each book on these criteria, I selected the top options that I believe would be the most beneficial for bass players looking to improve their skills and knowledge.

Music theory is a daunting challenge for any musician but Ariane Cap’s well-researched, 184-page book makes it an engaging experience for bass players. The book provides detailed and organized lessons that make learning music theory enjoyable for all skill levels.

Featuring many illustrations, it covers a wide range of topics from bass-playing techniques to ergonomics, mechanics, and creating interesting musical lines. Respected musicians and producers like Kai Eckhardt, Keith Olsen, and Dan Callaway have endorsed this book. 

Covering topics from proper bass-playing form to the connection between bass and music theory, this comprehensive guide is essential for bass guitarists of all levels, including professionals and enthusiasts. Some beginners might find the technical information overwhelming, but overall, this book is incredibly helpful for learning music theory on bass.

2. Slap Bass Bible

Comprehensive slap songbook for a strong foundation
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Hal Leonard LLC is one of the top providers of music education and performance materials worldwide. The Slap Bass Bible is a great book that offers a range of resources for musicians of various skill levels and musical groups.

The Slap Bass Bible has become very popular in recent years as it features works from famous songwriters and performers across different genres. This book is essential for any bassist, whether experienced or just starting out.

This book is really useful for learning slap techniques and includes 30 slap songs. The book captures the unique art of slap bass and ensures its appreciation lasts for future generations. Unfortunately, there is no content or exercises for complete beginners. This omission could make the book less appealing to those just starting to learn slap bass techniques.

3. The Evolving Bassist - Millennium Edition

Over 900 pages of music instruction and study material
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This massive 999-page guide is great for musicians, covering a wide range of content and instruction. It explores various styles and techniques, making it suitable for beginners and advanced players. 

One great feature is the detailed lessons on improvisation and songwriting. It encourages creativity and originality, providing musicians with the skills to compose on the spot. This book is useful for both new and experienced players, making it a must-have for any music library.

The book includes exercises for bass players, music theory, scales, chords, and sequence development for all skill levels. In addition to teaching music skills, this book also shares tips on guitar maintenance, so your instrument stays in top shape.

4. The Jazz Bass Book

A definitive guide to jazz bass technique and tradition
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Exploring the lives and methods of more than 70 famous jazz bassists, this fascinating book is a gold mine for fans. It covers well-known legends like Charles Mingus and Ray Brown, as well as lesser-known talents, by delving into their distinct contributions to jazz.

I enjoyed the historical timeline of techniques and carefully-selected examples, provided alongside well-crafted profiles. The striking images enhance the stories and show the development of jazz bass, making for an engaging and educational read.

Authored by acclaimed jazz bassist John Goldsby, the book is not only interesting but also thoroughly informed. Goldsby’s expertise adds credibility to its examination of the exceptional techniques and traditions that define this art form. This makes the book suitable for all readers, regardless of their musical knowledge.

5. Teach Yourself to Play Bass

Learning the bass made easy for complete beginners
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Since most books on this list offer well-rounded content for all skill levels, an introductory bass book is a must. “Teach Yourself to Play Bass: A Quick and Easy Introduction for Beginners” is just what the name suggests – a complete beginner’s guide to learning the instrument even for non-musical people.

This book helps complete beginners learn the bass guitar through tablatures combined with rhythmic symbols instead of conventional music notation. Offering a simple yet effective method for beginners to understand and successfully start playing the bass, this 56-page book is a popular choice with lots of useful content.It includes everything from bass scales, arpeggios, and finger positioning to guitar tuning tips. Beginners can learn from chord symbols, musical charts, and easy-to-understand diagrams and illustrations. For complete beginners looking to learn to play the bass, this book is a good choice!

6. Hal Leonard Bass Method - Complete Edition

Includes online audio examples for each lesson
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The Hal Leonard Bass Method Complete Edition is a great all-in-one package, containing Books 1, 2, and 3 in a single easy-to-follow volume. Designed for beginner electric bass students of all ages, it features well-paced lessons for anyone from beginner to intermediate level.

What makes this edition special compared to older ones is the interactive audio access that goes with the material. Using online audio examples, it makes the experience more engaging and convenient. Additionally, the updated content exposes users to various musical styles like slap funk, expanding their horizons and improving their overall bass abilities.

The step-by-step lesson structure and organized table of contents help learners move forward efficiently while tracking their progress through each stage of their musical journey. However, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t include tablature for those who can’t read music. This may make it less useful for some learners who prefer tabs to standard musical notation.

7. Bass Guitar For Dummies

Great for both beginners and experienced players
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Enter the bass guitar world with this complete guide that provides helpful knowledge for both new and experienced players. “Bass Guitar For Dummies” covers essential techniques and various genres, helping you turn scales and chords into catchy tunes. Learn from the expertise of professional bassist, composer, and teacher, Patrick Pfeiffer.

The book’s content is easy to understand and well-paced, making it a useful learning resource. Refresh your basic bass maintenance skills, including string replacement and proper care. This updated edition also helps you choose the perfect bass guitar to match your unique needs and preferences.

You’ll learn how to develop a customized practice routine with warm-ups and exercises designed to improve your bass playing. The included CD offers bass tracks, groove samples, scales, chords, and techniques for better understanding and practice.

8. Slap It!

Includes standard notation and tablature for easy learning
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Exploring slap bass is easy with this comprehensive tutorial. The well-planned guide teaches beginners and advanced players essential techniques while fostering a love for funk – a popular bass-playing style.

Featuring over 150 music illustrations, the book makes practice enjoyable and useful for players at all skill levels. I appreciate the helpful lessons it offers for learning the slap technique. It also includes an audio CD with 98 high-quality samples for practicing, making it an interactive and immersive way to learn.

The content combines standard notation and tablature, catering to various learning styles and playing preferences. The clear presentation, expert advice, and helpful tips ensure a fun and rewarding learning experience. This guide not only teaches slap bass techniques but also promotes the development of a unique and distinctive playing style.

9. Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Complete collection of top soul songs for bassists
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This music book is packed with 191 pages on R&B and Soul, offering good material for musicians and music writers to explore. Whether you want to improve your guitar skills or grasp the essence of these soulful genres, it has everything you need.

Hal Leonard’s renowned quality music books continue with this exceptional guide. Derived from their vast music industry experience, you can be confident the knowledge and techniques in this book come from a reliable and respected source.

This book provides helpful information for bass players and can take your playing to new heights. Additionally, I really like the detailed look at James Jamerson’s life and music, along with the accurate transcriptions of his bass lines.

10. Building Walking Bass Lines

Learn to master the walking bass line
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The “Building Walking Bass Lines” book is a popular and reliable resource in the music world, published by the well-known Hal Leonard company. Since its debut in 1995, this 64-page book has been a valuable tool for bass players of all levels, featuring clear images and diagrams.

This book continues to be successful in music education, with updates and enhancements perfect for modern bassists seeking to improve their skills with useful exercises and examples. When used alongside additional resources like audio or video content, Building Walking Bass Lines becomes a comprehensive guide for mastering guitar techniques.

One appealing aspect of the book is its simple, step-by-step approach to constructing walking bass lines, benefiting a wide range of readers with its straightforward explanations. However, the lack of tablature and focus on sight reading could be a drawback for some readers and may limit accessibility for certain learners.

Things you should consider when getting a Bass Guitar Book

Your skill level, the teaching method, preferred musical genres, and techniques are just a few things you need to consider before committing to a bass guitar book.

Skill Level

When considering the best bass guitar books to invest in, your skill level is crucial to keep in mind. There are many books available for various experience levels, from beginners to advanced musicians, so finding the one that suits your needs is essential.

For instance, “Bass Guitar For Dummies” is an excellent resource for beginners, covering basic maintenance, playing techniques, and different styles of bass guitar. On the other hand, more advanced books like Ariane Cap’s “Music Theory for the Bassist” can cater to intermediate and advanced players who wish to hone their music theory knowledge and skill set. 

Teaching Method

When selecting the best bass guitar book, the teaching method within the book should be a key consideration. Some books, such as Ariane Cap’s “Music Theory for the Bassist,” use a psychological approach, focusing on the process of becoming a musician first and a bass player second.

This type of teaching method can be highly beneficial for learners who want a holistic methodology that deeply engages with a range of aspects including technique, ergonomics, and music theory.

On the other hand, some bass guitar books, such as Theodore Presser’s “Slap It! Funk Studies for the Electric Bass,” concentrate more heavily on specific techniques and styles, making it an ideal choice for those who want to focus on specific aspects of playing, such as slapping or working with unique bass styles.

Musical Genres

When choosing the best bass guitar books, it’s essential to consider the specific musical genres you’re most interested in learning and exploring. Different books cater to various styles, ranging from jazz to funk, rock to R&B, and even classical.

For instance, John Goldsby’s “The Jazz Bass Book: Technique and Tradition” is a must-read for aspiring jazz bassists, whereas Theodore Presser’s “Slap It! Funk Studies for the Electric Bass” offers an in-depth look at the art of slap bass playing for those interested in funk.

Theory and Technique Coverage

When selecting the best bass guitar book, it’s crucial to find one that offers comprehensive coverage of both theory and technique. A well-rounded book should impart musical knowledge while also providing exercises and instructions for improving technical abilities.

For instance, Ariane Cap’s “Music Theory for the Bassist” explores fundamental and advanced music theory concepts while also addressing playing techniques and ergonomics. Similarly, “The Evolving Bassist” offers a vast collection of songs and exercises along with in-depth information on bass guitar techniques and theory.

Author Credentials

When evaluating the best bass guitar books, one crucial factor to consider is the author’s credentials. Their experience, expertise, and reputation in the field directly impact the quality and accuracy of the book’s content.

For instance, Ariane Cap’s “Music Theory for the Bassist” demonstrates her extensive knowledge and skill in bass guitar playing, ensuring that readers receive trustworthy information and useful guidance. Similarly, John Goldsby’s “The Jazz Bass Book: Technique and Tradition” showcases the author’s expertise in jazz bass and distinctive understanding of various techniques and traditions, providing an invaluable resource for aspiring jazz bassists.

Types of Bass Guitar Books

There are various types and categories of bass guitar books, each targeting a specific audience. Some of these types include:

  1. Beginner books: These books are designed for people who are just starting to learn bass guitar. Examples of beginner books include “Bass Guitar For Dummies” and “Hal Leonard Bass Method – Complete Edition.”
  2. Technique-focused books: These books focus on specific techniques such as fingerstyle or slap bass. For example, “Slap It! Funk Studies for the Electric Bass” targets slap bass techniques.
  3. Genre-specific books: These books are dedicated to a specific music genre like jazz, rock, or funk. For example, “The Jazz Bass Book: Technique and Tradition” is a must-read for any aspiring jazz bassist.
  4. Songbooks: These books consist of a collection of songs and their bass guitar arrangements. Some examples include “The Ultimate Bass Songbook” and “Slap Bass Bible.”

Comparing Bass Guitar Books and Online Tutorials

The digital era has led to an influx of online tutorials and online videos, which can be an alternative or complementary resource to bass guitar books. When comparing both methods, consider the following pros and cons:

  • Books: Pros include structured content, comprehensive material, and the ability to study at your own pace. Cons include a lack of interactive learning, and some people may find it challenging to understand concepts without visual demonstrations.
  • Tutorials: Pros include visual learning, interaction with instructors in some cases, and access to a wide range of lessons. Cons include being overwhelmed with too much information, variable quality, and possible dependence on an internet connection.

In the end, consider your learning preferences and decide if you want to go with books, tutorials, or a combination of both.

Criteria for Selecting a Bass Guitar Book

When selecting the perfect bass guitar book, consider the following factors:

  1. Quality: Ensure the book is well-written, easy to understand, and has relevant content.
  2. Author credibility: Research the author’s background, experience, and reputation in the bass guitar community.
  3. Reviews: Read reviews from other bass guitar players who have used the book.
  4. Recommendations: Seek advice from other musicians, instructors, and forums for their favorite bass guitar books.

Tips for Effective Learning and Practice with Bass Guitar Books

  • Establish a consistent practice routine.
  • Maintain discipline and patience during your learning journey.
  • Set realistic goals for your progress.

In summary, take the time to research and assess your skill level, learning preferences, and the content and credibility of bass guitar books. By doing so, you will find the right book to embark on a successful bass guitar learning journey.


What skill level are bass guitar books suited for?

Bass guitar books are designed for beginners or those with intermediate skills who want to improve their understanding of the instrument. However, there are also advanced technique-targeted books to help skilled bassists further improve.

Do bass guitar books cover different playing styles?

Yes, bass guitar books cover various styles, including rock, blues, jazz, and funk, making them versatile for any player’s preferences.

Do bass guitar books come with exercises and practice routines?

Yes, bass guitar books include exercises and practice routines to help players develop good habits and improve their skills.

Are there any supplementary materials that come with the books?

It depends on the publisher, but some bass guitar books come with accompanying audio tracks or online resources to aid in the learning process.

Can bass guitar books be used for self-study, or is a teacher required?

Bass guitar books can be used for self-study, but it’s recommended to have a qualified teacher to provide guidance and feedback for optimal learning and improvement.


In conclusion, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned musician, investing in a bass guitar book can be a great way to improve your playing and expand your knowledge. Aside from professional lessons, there’s nothing like a book to go through and practice with on your own time and at your own pace.

My main recommended book is Music Theory for the Bass Player. This book comprehensively covers both basic and advanced music theory for bass players, helping them to play with more freedom and confidence.

My second recommended book is the Slap Bass Bible. This book is a great resource for bass players who want to learn and improve their slap technique. It covers a wide variety of slap bass songs to build a solid foundation for aspiring bassists.

Milan Trajkovikj

Milan Trajkovikj

I’m the Deputy Editor for Musician Wave and a touring and recording bass guitarist. I love to share my passion for all things music. I’ve been playing music for over ten years and I love exploring it further through writing. You'll also find me on the Musician Wave YouTube channel.

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