Whether you are a beginner bass guitarist or an expert player, you likely recognize that you have much to learn about the instrument. While there are many great online resources to help you learn the bass guitar, some people prefer to learn by reading books. If you are one of those learners, you may be wondering what the best bass guitar books are so you don’t waste your money or time.
In the following article, we’ve compiled what we believe to be some of the best books for taking your bass playing to the next level. Whether you are a novice or an advanced player, this list has a book for every player.
Music Theory for the Bass Player
Music Theory for the Bass Player is a comprehensive and immediately applicable guide to making you a well-grounded groover, informed bandmate and all-around more creative musician. Included with this book are 89 videos that stream from the author’s blog.
Starting with intervals as music’s basic building blocks, you will explore scales and their modes, chords and the basics of harmony.
Packed with fretboard diagrams, musical examples, and exercises, more than 180 pages of vital information are peppered with mind-bending quizzes, effective mnemonics, and compelling learning approaches.
Extensive and detailed photo demonstrations show why relaxed posture and optimized fingering are vital for good tone, timing, and chops.
The critically acclaimed Hal Leonard Electric Bass Method Second Edition in a handy composite edition! Contains all three books along with audio tracks for demonstration and play-along.
The only book to teach groove development strategies that includes drum notation and tips on programming drum machines, Bass Grooves and its accompanying CD give bass players both the musical background and training needed to get on with their grooving. With lessons guided by a metronome and presented in various musical styles and rhythmic applications, bassists increase their ability to internalize rhythm. The book also breaks down classic styles and grooves from rock, blues, R&B, jazz, Afro-Caribbean, and other traditions. Each illuminating example includes a notated version of the drum part and details how to program it into a drum machine.
Standing in the Shadows of Motown
Bassist James Jamerson was the embodiment of the Motown spirit and groove the invisible entity whose playing inspired thousands. His tumultuous life and musical brilliance are explored in depth through hundreds of interviews, 49 transcribed musical scores, two hours of recorded all-star performances, and more than 50 rarely seen photos in this stellar tribute to behind-the-scenes Motown. Features access to 120-minutes of audio!
The Bass Player Book
This is the right-hand man for players who live and breathe bass, or for beginners who want an all-in-one guide to the instrument that “shakes the low end” of rock, pop, jazz and more. This handbook details the ins and outs of buying basses and equipment; provides set-up and electronics tips; and explores unique characteristics of landmark bass models. Chapters on technique cover bass basics, theory, fretless playing, acoustic bass, the essentials of various music styles, recording, gigging, and more. Seminal interviews with great bassists include Jeff Berlin, Stanley Clarke, John Pattitucci, Bill Wyman, and many others.
The Jazz Bass Book
More than a player’s manual, this book portrays jazz bass as a vital element of 20th century American music. Citing examples from key recordings in the jazz canon, the book defines the essence of the musical contributions made by more than 70 important jazz bassists, including Ray Brown, Eddie Gomez, Charles Mingus, Milt Hinton and many others. Bassists get expert guidance on mastering proper technique, practice methods and improvisation, plus new insight into the theoretical and conceptual aspects of jazz. The companion online audio features bass plus rhythm section which allows readers to hear technical examples from the book.
Bass Guitar For Dummies
Whatever you’re playing—funk, soul, rock, blues, country—the bass is the heart of the band. Bassists provide a crucial part of driving force and funky framework that other members of any and work off. From John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, to “The Pixies’’ Kim Deal, to James Brown’s favored bassist, Jimmy Nolan, bass players have made big names for themselves and commanded respect throughout music history.
In Bass Guitar For Dummies, Patrick Pfeiffer—who coached U2’s Adam Clayton, among others—is your friendly guide to laying down the low end. Starting from the beginning with what bass and accessories to buy, the book shows you everything from how to hold and position your instrument to how to read music and understand chords. You’ll develop your skills step-by-step until you’re confident playing your own solos and fills.
The Evolving Bassist
A comprehensive new edition based on major revisions to Reid’s The Evolving Bassist and Evolving Upward. Contains more transcriptions of Reid’s recorded solos, original compositions arranged as duets, new etudes, and additional ways to learn tunes and conceive better bass lines. The Evolving Bassist will continue to be an all-inclusive bass player’s reference book as well as a classic method book.
Blues Bass Method
The Hal Leonard Blues Bass Method is your complete guide to learning blues bass. This book with online audio uses classic blues songs and standards to teach you how to lay down your own solid blues bass lines. Learn to play by studying the songs of famous bluesmen such as B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan (Tommy Lee Shannon), Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Albert King, The Allman Brothers, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Louis Jordan, and many more.
Ultimate Slap Bass
Ultimate Slap Bass is most comprehensive book ever written on the popular slap bass technique. Released back in 2005, this HUGE book covers every aspect of the slap technique from the absolute basics through to advanced techniques such as double thumbing, open string hammer-ons and how to combine slapping with other techniques.
The slap bass technique is one of the funkiest ways of playing the bass. In this comprehensive book you’ll not only learn the fundamentals of the style, but you’ll also learn all of the additional variations employed by top bassists such as Victor Wooten, Flea, Marcus Miller, Stuart Hamm and Mark King.
Which Bass Guitar Book Is Best For You?
As you browse through this list of books, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the options. Which book should you choose?
As you consider which bass guitar book is the best option for you, think about your current level of playing and your goals as a bassist. Choose the book(s) that are the most interesting to you and will help you stay motivated to keep learning the instrument.
Regardless of which book you choose, the most important thing is to remain consistent as you learn.
Do you have a favorite bass guitar book? Let us know in the comments below!