Today we'll talk about the boring part of being a bass guitar player – cleaning your musical instrument.
It's similar to cleaning your house or replacing the oil in your car – you don't have to do that and will get away with it for a while – up until something breaks.
To avoid the need to buy a new guitar every couple years (and sometimes even more often), you need to take care of it.
This guide will do a great job explaining the ins-and-outs of maintaining your bass guitar in an excellent condition to make it last longer.
There is nothing complicated here – just a routine. Follow the tips here, and you'll be set for success (considering you'll also do something besides cleaning).
Wipe the body and the neck of the bass carefully with a dry cloth after playing. Flannel is an excellent material for cleaning, as it does not shed many fibers that can get between the instrument’s hardware.
Metal parts (frets, strings, pickups, tuning heads, strap pins) are especially susceptible to tarnish because of the sweat from your hands.
Rub these with a bit of machine oil (WD-40) immediately after playing and leave a small amount of oil if possible. This will help maintain the hardware’s shiny appearance.
Instruments like basses are best stored inside a hard or soft case.
It should be stored somewhere dry at a comfortable temperature.
Although electric basses are relatively more robust instruments compared to acoustic guitars and other hollow body instruments, you should avoid leaving them in places that can get very hot, like the inside of a car, as this can warp the wooden parts.
Let's also look into the practice tips you need to get better at playing the bass. They are crucial to make sure your instrument won't end up collecting dust in the corner (and then you'll have to clean it again, which is extremely boring to do).
Correct practice habits are essential to your growth as a bassist.
Simply practicing without being systematic and structured can be a waste of time.
There are many things you need to do when practicing, but before anything else, you will need to establish when and where you will practice.
Here are some tips on where to practice playing your bass:
- Find a comfortable place where you will be able to play at a high volume without disturbing anyone.
- Concentration is key. Find a place where you will not be distracted by anything or anyone. Avoid turning on your computer, answering calls and the like.
- Find a place where everything you need for practicing is within your reach.
A professional musician usually spends several hours in continuous practice every day. This is the best way to improve.
However, if you do not have this luxury, you will need to find some way to squeeze in a bit of regular practice time.
Further, learning music is very similar to working out: Just as muscles need time to rest after the gym, your fingers, hands, arms and even your mind need time to relax and “absorb” everything that you have learned during practice.
Without rest, you also run the risk of getting “burnt out,” physically and mentally exhausted, including causing damage to your hands.
Long practice sessions are not bad, but frequency should always take precedence over the duration.
As mentioned earlier, you will need to focus on different aspects of your playing every time you practice. You will need to divide your practice time among several areas of study, so you will be able to learn more efficiently and systematically.
Main activities include:
- Warm up and drills — spend some time at the beginning of your practice time to warm up your fingers. A good warm-up routine for beginners would be to play the major scale at different positions at the neck. Start slow to give your hand time to adjust to the movement. It is essential that you use a metronome, drum machine or anything that will help you keep the correct beat. This will help you build a strong internal tempo.
- Sight reading — this is often neglected by musicians who have not undergone formal training, but it is crucial for your development as a player. A person who knows how to read music can perform almost anywhere or anytime, as long as he has sheet music. You must focus on training how to read notation and not tabs. The notation is the standard for all musicians and will give you complete information about any piece of music.
- Ear training — this will probably take up the majority of your practice time. A good ear-training activity would be to learn songs you like without using notation or tabs. Learning songs by ear would not only train your ear to recognize different notes and patterns, and it will help you add more songs to your repertoire.
- Learning songs — this is also a much better practice than working on drills since you will be able to work on scales and arpeggios in a musical context rather than by mere repetition.
Jamming and Improvisation
Jamming may come later, after you get used to playing scales across the fretboard. Improvisation helps you learn the notes all over the fretboard and brings out your creativity as well.
Practicing these areas will help you develop into an overall well-rounded player.
Take a 15-minute break every hour you practice. You may feel a bit of pain or tension building up in your fingers, wrist and arms after playing for a while.
If so, simply shake your hands and arms to release tension, and do not forget to stretch your back and neck.
Stretching is important and will help you avoid pain and permanent damage in the back and arms.
Passion and Inspiration
Now that you know the basics of how to play bass, you can try playing your favorite songs or even compose your own.
Further, the bass is not limited to providing grooves in the background; it is a very versatile instrument with which you can create melodies.
Many famous players like Victor Wooten and Billy Sheehan are able to play the bass as a solo instrument.
However, the most important thing is for you to be able to play for your own enjoyment. Passion for music is essential in this journey.
Your instrument is your voice; it will sing for you. Practicing and training will give you the skills to express yourself better through your instrument.
Mastery will take hard work and dedication, but these will not be obstacles for someone who is passionate about his craft.
You will need constant sources of inspiration, whether it is your life experiences or the music of others.
Since playing is an expression of personal feelings, your playing will show how inspired you are, and your listeners will be sure to notice this.
Alright, this article must've given you an idea of how important it is to take proper care of your musical instrument – taking a few minutes every now and then doesn't seem like that big of a deal anymore, does it?
Your guitar is your most important tool after all.
Here is a little video tutorial for those who are more into visual learning!
If you liked this post, you'd be happy to find out that Blue Buzz Music has a ton of other stuff to learn – from musical instruments to building your own recording studio!