Beginner Lesson Number 1 – Absolute Basics

2019-01-08T11:14:59+00:00January 26th, 2015|Categories: Beginner Bass Lessons|70 Comments

This lesson is an introduction to bass guitar for complete beginners and deals with the absolute basics of holding the bass, tuning the bass and playing notes on the fretboard.

Anatomy Of The Bass Guitar

First of all, let’s have a look at the basic anatomy of the bass. The following diagram gives an overview of the three main parts of the bass guitar. The body, the neck and the headstock:

Holding The Bass

You can sit the bass on either leg. The right leg is fine but I tend to hold the bass on the left leg (classical style) in order to facilitate a wider stretch in the hand and fingers.

The left hand grips the neck with the thumb around the back while the right arm comes over the body allowing the fingers to pluck the strings.

Bass Hardware

Beyond the basic body, neck and headstock we also have several additional pieces of hardware attached to the instrument that we need to cover. The following diagrams display the standard parts found on most regular bass guitar bodies:

  • Strap Button – Used to attach the strap to the bass
  • Bridge – Secures strings to the body of the bass
  • Pickup – ‘Picks up’ the sound of the bass strings
  • Output – Connect lead here for sending signal to the amplifier
  • Volume – Adjusts the bass volume
  • Tone – Adjusts the bass tone (bass/treble)

  • Nut – Sets the height and spacing of the strings
  • Tuning Keys – Adjusts the tension and pitch of each string

  • Frets – Divide the neck into notes. Each fret corresponds to a different note.
  • Fret Markers – Used for easier navigation of the fretboard.

The Strap

If we’re going to stand with the bass, we need to attach a bass strap. These are really easy to fit to the instrument. We just push the strap buttons through the holes on the strap.

Important Tip: Aim to set the strap height so that the bass is at the same position whether you are stood or sat. Also be sure to avoid any positioning that forces you into bending too much at the wrist. You don’t want to be adding unnecessary pressure to the tendons.

Strings Of The Bass Guitar

The strings of the bass guitar are named according to the standard tuning of each open string. They are (from thickest to thinnest): The E String, A String, D String and G String:

Tuning The Bass

To tune the bass we need to turn our Tuning Pegs at the headstock up or down until each string is at the correct tension and pitch.

To do this we need a reference tone. I’ve provided audio files of the open strings below. Just play the file for each string round and round while you alter the tension using the tuning pegs. Try to determine whether the note is too low or too high. Eventually you should hear the wavering of the note disappear as the recorded tone and the open string sound the same.

E string:

A string:

D string:

G string:

Fret Numbers and Markers

The frets of the bass guitar neck are numbered in ascending order from the headstock to the body as follows:

It’s important to know the fret and marker numbering so we can start learning the location of all the notes. It’s also essential when starting to read tablature.

Playing A Note

In this lesson we’ll just look at simply pressing down a few notes and plucking with the thumb. Remember, we place the finger just behind the fret. DON’T place the finger ON the fret. The note will be muted and you’ll create a terrible rattling noise.

  • First try the 1st fret on the E string (this is the note F)
  • Next we have the 3rd fret on the E string (the note G)
  • Finally we can try the 3rd fret on the A string (the note C)

Press down quite firmly to avoid any buzz and watch the plucking hand to ensure you pluck the note cleanly. Be sure to pluck only one string. It needs to be a clean pluck with the thumb.

Plucking Exercise

To finish, we can play a simple rhythm moving between two notes:

  • C note (3rd fret of the A string) x4
  • G note (3rd fret of the E string) x4
  • Hold each note for a count of 2. So we count 1, 2, 3, 4 and play the notes on beats 1 and 3.

This exercise is a good introduction to plucking in time and moving from one string to another.

For A Complete Step-By-Step Introduction To Every Aspect Of Bass Guitar & Bass Playing Check Out The Talkingbass Starter Pack.

56 Lessons Spread Over 12 Hours Of Video. Your First Year Of Bass Practice All In One Complete Package! Check It Out Today!

Remember to LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, SHARE THE POST (just click on your preferred social platform below) and then …

Sign Up To Talkingbass For FREE!

Join over 40,000 members and R.A.I.S.E your Bass Game Today!

FREE Ebook Downloads, Practice Tracks, Drum Tracks and MUCH MORE!

Join Now!!


  1. James Okai April 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    Great introductory lesson

  2. Norbeth John May 1, 2015 at 1:52 am - Reply

    I love ur classes, I wana be matchless in bass. Thanks for this teachings

  3. Devon Eastman May 3, 2015 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    This helped SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much,and its only the first video!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Mark Butler May 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Excellent introduction, looking forward to the rest of the course.

  5. Annette Chaidez June 8, 2015 at 12:02 am - Reply

    I’m new here Looking forward to learning! ^.^

  6. Toye Rafael June 15, 2015 at 8:48 am - Reply

    i am near here pls i luk forward to learning here as a beginner nd also hw can i download video frm here

  7. Thankgod Obuzor June 17, 2015 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    nice lesson

  8. Jackie Buck July 12, 2015 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Enjoyed my first time in class today.

  9. Paul Haynes July 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Enjoyed the first lesson Mark at 53 I hadn’t touched a Bass for 40 years.

    Looking forward to learning more and at my own pace.



    • Joe Chamberlin February 4, 2016 at 3:26 am - Reply

      Congrats Paul…I am a beginner bass guitar player at the age of 54! Learning electric guitar and piano also. I am retired/disability and wanted to do something constructive with my time. Hopefully, I will be playing in a band in the near future. What plans do you have with your playing?

    • Danny Bowers July 16, 2018 at 5:34 am - Reply

      I am 62 and just got my first bass. Love these lessons. Would love to get good enough to join a band, but if it never happens, it’s good to learn a new instrument. Have been diagnosed with dementia and this helps strenghten my mind. Thanx.

  10. william moore July 28, 2015 at 2:03 am - Reply

    Love it

  11. Gavin French July 30, 2015 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Great first lesson.

  12. Ben mcgraw August 14, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    this is great resource for my students thanks

  13. Peter Maher August 17, 2015 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you very kindly Mark ,you are truly lovely.This was just what i needed

  14. joseph leroy September 12, 2015 at 3:49 am - Reply

    thank you this is exactley what i needed i just started and already i pick the bass up every morning before work thanks again mark

  15. Boma Prosper Jack September 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    I really love your lessons. They’re great, really interesting lessons.

  16. ko naing October 15, 2015 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you

  17. christopher Webster October 16, 2015 at 10:03 am - Reply


  18. ko naing October 17, 2015 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks again and I wanna go to the lesson # 2 but I can’t find out.

  19. sharik khan October 24, 2015 at 9:57 am - Reply

    I am a beginner in bass..can i really learn bass of your lesson..

  20. ko naing October 28, 2015 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Dear Mark
    I would like to learn more about Intervals and Approach Notes Please.
    If you have chance show me and teach me Please and Please.

    Thank you Sir
    ko ko

  21. dinhnhat dinh December 18, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

    thank you

  22. henry clemings December 27, 2015 at 6:18 am - Reply

    Just got my bass. Thanks to you. I’m on my way..this is so exciting.

    • Michelle Paget December 30, 2015 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Me too 🙂

  23. Michelle Paget December 30, 2015 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    The first video was great. Feel ready for lesson 2 🙂

  24. Eshiet victor December 30, 2015 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    really do love your lesson.. thanks to you

  25. Jim Conrad January 12, 2016 at 1:51 am - Reply

    Mark–Thanks for your “very understandable” lessons. I feel I have acquired more knowledge in the past three weeks—than I had when I put down my “Green Bass” in 1970. If there is hope for me, this will help anyone with a good work ethic. Keep up your GREAT work–it appreciated by many!!!

  26. Jill Garcia February 13, 2016 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Ditto Jim C. comment. “back in the saddle again”

  27. Samuel Jurca February 15, 2016 at 4:15 am - Reply

    This was really detailed and constructive. I just played my first fret note. Never though it was that easy!

  28. Flynn McLaren February 21, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

    This was extremely helpful for getting started, I have been looking for free, virtual lessons for quite some time now.


  29. Leo Chikaponya April 15, 2016 at 11:30 am - Reply

    thanx a lot. that educative

  30. Sarah Morgan April 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much! I don’t actually own a bass guitar yet, as I’m in my teen years and am still saving money to get one, but I’m excited to be learning about it and can’t wait to begin playing!

  31. Roger Silva Santos Aguiar July 12, 2016 at 1:13 am - Reply

    I loved this introduction! Congratulations!

  32. Mark S Beretta July 25, 2016 at 1:37 am - Reply

    Mark is this Squier your first bass guitar.

  33. Bismark Adu Larbi August 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    This introduction is awesome it has answered all my questions as a fresh beginner learning how to play the bass guitar all alone. If I watch the videos on YouTube I am a Dope bassist.
    Thank You Smith Mark.

  34. She Harvel October 24, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply


    Thank you for being thorough.

  35. Juan Cruz October 27, 2016 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Love it. I always wanted to learn to play an instrument. I chose the Bass because at my age easy has to be. I had my Bass now for 2 years, but wasnt able to find good tutorials for my level. My level is I love music. I sing a little bit. But I have no musical knowledge, meaning notes, tempos, reading sheets…..none, zero. But this video was excellent, brought it down for me. So now I will attempt a lift off.

  36. Warren Blackwell November 30, 2016 at 2:12 am - Reply

    Simply Awesome, I just ordered my first bass from Sweetwater and will start learning an instrument at the age of 65 and retired. I used to be a drummer until age and disability set in, so the bass was my first choice of what I hope will be an easy transition. I also love the sax but thought it would be to hard to start with not having the wind etc… After seeing this first video I am truly encourgaed that after a month or two of practice I might even be able to play along with some of the old time riffs you showed for beginners. I really like your mannerisms and explanations. wish me luck , and guaranteed I will be signing up for Gold memebership.

  37. JUSTIN BOX December 3, 2016 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Love the lesson. it has even shown my wife some things she has never thought of. she has been playing off and on, on the guitar for about 23 yrs. great teaching thanks and look forward to more lessons.

  38. Kadir I January 15, 2017 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much. Awesome!

  39. Jennifer Pritchett February 20, 2017 at 2:48 am - Reply

    By far the best introduction to bass video I have found!!!! Looking forward to learning all I can!!!!!

  40. rajesh sr February 21, 2017 at 8:16 am - Reply

    hi…. how can i download the book

  41. Ari DIAZ April 1, 2017 at 3:27 am - Reply

    awesome one step closer….yay

  42. Timothy May 13, 2017 at 12:45 am - Reply

    hey what is the beat bass to buy for 300$

  43. Elco Wallé August 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    how i can download the lesson & vido’s

  44. Elco Wallé August 16, 2017 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    for beginners

  45. Khaing Lynn September 17, 2017 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I love your Bass lessons and
    Thank you so much, Sir !

  46. Peter Gale October 1, 2017 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Great 1st lesson thank you

  47. Troy Tangeman November 8, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    I am very thankful for these lessons Mark!

  48. Amin Momorelle November 17, 2017 at 2:46 am - Reply

    i’m already feeling like a player !!

  49. Paul Robinson December 8, 2017 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Great teaching

  50. Daniel Reid January 13, 2018 at 12:25 am - Reply

    This is really amazing, i started off watching the youtube videoes online and had to come to the website and sign up.. i hope one day i become famous for playing the guitar, so i can make a big thank you speech to the wonderful work ya’ll are doing

  51. George Black January 18, 2018 at 2:00 am - Reply

    I have spent some time going through both Mark’s lessons and another Brit’s online lessons. Mark’s are much more suited for structured step by step instruction. Each lesson gives you enough to chew on to improve your skills. I only have about an hour or less to practice each day and can notice a difference in just a few weeks. Thanks, Mark!

  52. Prasanth T February 6, 2018 at 7:38 am - Reply

    Sir, What a woderful. thank q very much sir, God bless you.

  53. Peter Vrinceanu February 15, 2018 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    U da Best!!!

  54. JC Hernandez March 31, 2018 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Great lesson!

  55. leon hudspeth May 1, 2018 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    2 hours into my 10,000 hrs to be great.

  56. Chris Schibeci May 28, 2018 at 3:04 am - Reply

    I never touched a guitar really, but I always wanted to learn bass, this was a stepping stone and I really want to continue. Thanks so much

  57. Verna Hill June 22, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Great lesson

  58. Emmanuel Oppong June 30, 2018 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Woow! Great Tutorials

  59. Bill McPherson August 7, 2018 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    Great instructor, enjoyed it.
    My big problem I’m going to have is I have 3 fingers, middle, ring, and pinkie, but I’m going to give it a go.

    • Emma Webber August 15, 2018 at 4:41 am - Reply

      Never give up, Bill. Django Reinhardt played gypsy jazz guitar with only 2 working fingers, so there’s plenty of hope for you.
      Best of luck, Emma 🙂 .

  60. Emma Webber August 15, 2018 at 4:39 am - Reply

    Hi Mark, this is an awesome beginner lesson, and so very well explained. I will certainly be going through more of your videos, as this has been very enjoyable.
    I am 53 and just starting bass, though I was a jazz trombonist, so I can read bass clef without any problems.
    Best wishes from Surrey, UK. 🙂

  61. Emmanuel Akena September 28, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I love it. This site is awesome

  62. Tony Hall October 29, 2018 at 3:15 am - Reply

    What do I needed on my end to take lessons

  63. Joseph Ruzon October 30, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    I love this already…this is what I have been looking for.

  64. Clarence November 12, 2018 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Comment… I really really thank God for making me to contact this website place I love the introductory part of this course please drill me in bass i love this instrument I believe learning from you I will become a better bassist thanks a lot for your consideration …..

  65. Cynthia Widiyanti December 31, 2018 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Hi, i’ve always been fascinated by the bass sound and at 39 i finally trying to learn. The thing is, i have no bass, no budget to get one.

    I came across my late Dad’s acoustic guitar when i was taking care of his belongings several days ago.

    I can’t play guitar either. But i took the guitar with me, watched this video and try to learn the bass using the first four strings of the guitar. Hope that this will work eventually and i can get myself a real bass oneday.

    Thanks a lot!

  66. Jan Magito February 19, 2019 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    it’s getting worse 8;) My story is the one of a 66 years old dude grown up with Mel Scharcher, Felix Papalardi, Chris Squire etc. Bought me a Toby Deluxe IV which hung against the wall for several years. Now I started to take (5 till now) private lessons. However I like the lessons of Marc a lot better! At least he has respect for the absolute beginners!!

Leave A Comment