10 Mistakes Beginner Bass Players Make

Beginner bass players, especially self-taught bass players, tend to form bad habits and make mistakes during their learning process. This is only natural not just for bassists but for any musicians out there. However, fixing these mistakes can really set you in the right direction.

Bad habits and mistakes are common issues when learning any instrument. Bass players, in particular, tend to make several common mistakes when learning their instrument. It is crucial to root out these mistakes and habits to prevent injuries before those habits are set in stone.

I’ll be going over some common beginner bass player mistakes as well as how to prevent or fix them down the line.

1. Not Taking Bass Lessons

Although there are many self-taught bass virtuosos out there, snubbing bass lessons might just be the biggest mistake any beginner player could make. In this day and age, you don’t even have to take private lessons, there are online bass lessons that can do the job very well too.

The reason why bass lessons are so important is that a teacher can help negate bad habits from forming from the get-go and provide a structured curriculum for you to follow. Learning in a linear manner with experienced advice is the best possible approach.

2. Not Spending Time on the Fundamentals

The fundamentals are key with any instrument, not just bass. Most beginners learn a thing or two and jump straight into learning songs. Granted, you can learn most basic songs being a complete beginner by just holding one note at a time (providing the beat), however, once you get into more complex songs, it can be discouraging if you don’t have the proper tools.

The fundamentals include fretboard knowledge, proper fingering, scales, and chords. Not spending enough time learning them can result in problems down the line. Even learning basic music theory can help. Just knowing the difference between whole notes and half notes makes a difference for any beginner.

If you focus your time on the fundamentals, you’ll find yourself playing with ease when something more complex comes your way. Plus, building a strong foundation is extremely beneficial wherever your musical journey takes you.

3. Not Tuning Before Each Session

This is a common habit beginner bass players have. Every beginner must learn to tune their bass guitar before each playing session and form the habit of doing it every time. An out-of-tune bass not only sounds bad but plays a vital part in ear training.

Countless online tuners can help, even tuner apps, and clip-on tuners. Since all of these options are either very affordable or free, there is no reason not to take advantage of them. It might not bother you (at first), but it will annoy anyone playing with you, especially bass tutors.

4. Being Impatient

This point touches on the second mistake mentioned above. Most beginner bass players don’t have the patience to learn slowly and with a structured curriculum. Of course, we all want to jump straight into the good stuff, however, patience is a virtue. Taking things slowly, learning the basics, then learning some songs, and improving your technique gradually is the best approach.

Being impatient can result in some serious and harmful habits that may even lead to injury. All that does is discourage beginner players and they might end up giving up. Give it time! Know that taking it slow will have so many benefits down the line and will make you a better bass player.

5. Snubbing the Metronome

The idea of playing with a metronome is something beginner bass players stray away from. A poor time-keeping ability, however, is not overlooked. Training your rhythm from the start is extremely important and that’s why a metronome is so valued for practice.

Many useful bass exercises involve the metronome to help you improve your timing and overall groove. Including a metronome for each practice session will work wonders for your playing and will help you down the line when you play with other musicians.

Here are some useful exercises you can learn:

6. Not Practicing Every Day

Everyday practice is one of, if not THE most important thing for any beginner bass player. It can be as little as 20-30 minutes to an hour or two. Just sticking to a structured regime and practicing daily will work wonders for your style, technique, and overall skill.

Granted, daily practice does sound overwhelming to most, however, all of us can crunch in at least half an hour per day, with no excuses. Plus, you don’t even have to plug in your bass, just play around with it to keep your momentum going or plug in some headphones for a quiet practice session.

7. Limiting Yourself

As individuals, most of us lean toward a particular style, and that is natural. However, limiting your horizons and only focusing on a particular style (practice-wise) is detrimental in so many ways. Every beginner should be open to different styles and practice different techniques. You’re a musician, after all.

Learning as much as you can from various styles of music can be beneficial because you can then implement and combine certain techniques with your preferred genre. Expanding your skill arsenal should be a top priority for all beginners. Don’t limit yourself to just metal, or just jazz, try some reggae, try some blues, and expand your knowledge.

8. Not Learning Music Theory

Music theory is a concept that is snubbed by a lot of musicians, especially beginners. But, it is a vital component if you want to learn properly and become a more well-rounded player overall. Today, there are countless music theory books and music theory apps that can help with the process, at least to a beginner level.

Once you start learning, you’ll see that it’s not that complicated and that it’s very useful when you practice, especially down the line when you improve and hopefully start playing with other people (session musicians).

9. Overwhelming Yourself

Everyone wants to learn everything all at once, but that’s not how it works. Beginner bass players often make the mistake when they try to obtain lightning speed overnight. This can be discouraging as this level of technique comes with years of practice. Playing fast is cool but playing correctly is even cooler!

When in the beginning stages of learning bass, it is important to take your time and develop solid technique instead of overwhelming yourself trying to attain a certain level. Take things slow and correctly, don’t focus on the quantity, but rather learn quality.

10. Not Having Fun!

All things aside, many beginner players might take everything to heart and just stick to the structured regime that is known to be a foolproof plan. While this is the way to go, it is also important to have fun and throw in some interesting exercises or learn a few songs to keep your motivation high.

It is important to be dedicated but it’s also important to be worth your while. Have some fun with your instrument, experiment, learn songs, play around with techniques, anything that will get you hyped up and helps you keep playing daily.


Mistakes are common when learning any musical instrument, however, if you have the chance to correct them, have at it. Most beginner bass players share these common mistakes and form nasty habits that are a pain to get rid of down the road. Spend time on the fundamentals, practice daily, use a metronome, and have fun while learning. It’s not too late to correct these mistakes.

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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