The very popular theory which was highlighted in a 1993 psychology paper states that one needs 10,000 hours to become a master at something. That’s a little over nine years if you practice for 3 hours every day.
Thankfully, we aren’t looking at being masters yet, but simply answering the question “how long does it take to learn bass guitar?”
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that the ability to play the bass guitar is a skill just like any other skill out there. And there is really no shortcut to these things. However, different factors can determine how much time it would take a particular person to learn the bass guitar.
What’s Your Musical Background?
If you have a solid musical background, then it would definitely take you a much shorter time to learn how to play the bass guitar. This is because, before a teacher starts teaching you any instrument at all, they have to teach you what music itself is.
Therefore, if you already have a good foundation and you know what music is, then you can easily skip that step, thereby, making the whole process a lot faster.
Still on the topic of musical background, if you can play another musical instrument, you have a significant leap in terms of the time it would take you to learn the instrument.
Every single instrument makes use of the same music rules. However, some are more highlighted than others, depending on the instrument. For example, if you’re a drummer and you want to learn to play the bass guitar, you would only need to learn how to play the notes, because you already know rhythm and timing.
What’s Your Goal?
Getting good at playing the bass guitar is very subjective and would defer from person to person. Some people want to be good enough to go on world tours and have millions of fans all over the world, while some people just want to be good enough to play their favorite song.
Your goal would ultimately decide how long it would take for you to learn the play the bass guitar. If you want to be a master, then you should be ready to sacrifice 3 hours every day for the next 9 years.
If you just want to play your favorite song or two, then you should be well on your way in a couple of months.
Do You Have The Resources?
In all honesty, it’s not really about the instrument but the person playing it. However, there are still some things you just cannot learn without the right instruments, as well as, other resources.
When we talk about resources, we don’t just talk about the guitar body. We’re talking about the amplifiers, the headphone, the effect pedal, and even money to pay teachers.
With the right resources, you can definitely shorten the time it would take for you to learn this instrument by a lot. If you have the money to pay for an excellent teacher, do it. The knowledge is definitely worth it. If you have the money to buy a 6 string bass, do it. You can’t learn certain things with a four-string bass.
However, as we said earlier, it’s really about you, not about the gear. So, even if you don’t have these resources, it might take a little longer, but you’ll definitely get as good as you want.
Now that we’ve seen the factors that determine how long it takes to learn bass guitar, let’s now look at the numbers. Before we proceed, please note that this is merely an estimate. It is not a hard and fast rule that you must judge yourself by. Some people might learn a lot faster, some people might learn a lot slower. This is just a rough estimate.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Bass Guitar (According To Skill Level)
This is the very first stage. For this stage, you don’t need to have any prior musical knowledge. You might not have touched a musical instrument before, even.
Everyone is on this stage at the beginning. It doesn’t take any time or effort to reach this level.
Level 1 (Beginner)
At this stage, you’re just getting familiar with the concept of music. You’re learning how to play single notes, developing your picking skills, and doing a lot of finger exercises.
You don’t need to know how to do any of the aforementioned well. You just have to have started. You might even already be able to play a combination of several notes, learned how to play according to the rhythm, and maybe even simple riffs here and there.
If you’re a very fast learner, it should take you about 6 months — 1 year to get to this stage. Remember all the factors we’ve talked about above can change this time frame drastically.
If you’re at this level, we suggest you watch the video below. It’s a really helpful video for beginners who are trying to learn how to play the bass guitar.
If your goal was simply to learn to play your favorite songs, congratulations! You’re now a bass player. If more, let’s keep moving.
Level 2 (Intermediate)
For a bass player, the intermediate level is when you can play complex rhythmic patterns. At this stage, your musical ears are so sharp that you can play a song even if you’re just hearing it for the first time.
Songs like “Billie Jean” with a complex rhythmic pattern should give you an idea of what an intermediate bass player should be able to play comfortably.
The intermediate level is probably the level you’re going to be on for the most part. In fact, you can definitely make a lot of money simply by being on this level. A few shows here and there, some paid gigs, you should even be able to join a band comfortably.
You can get to this stage between 1 – 3 years of consistent practice. However, it can also take as many as 5 – 8 years. It depends on your commitment to practice and your natural-born talent.
Unfortunately, some people get too comfortable at this stage and don’t bother to go further. Again, if this is your goal. Then, it’s fine. If you still want your world tour, then let’s keep going.
Level 3 (Master)
This is after you must have put in your 10,000 hours. At this point, you are able to play riffs that would blow even you away. You look at yourself and you can’t fathom how you got here from the first time you held a guitar and knew nothing about it.
As a master bass player, you can slap and pop your bass like it’s gum. You can learn how to play almost anything on the bass guitar at this point. Furthermore, because not so many reach this level, you are highly sought after. Which in turn means you are of high value.
If you put in 3 hours every day, this should take about 9 – 10 years.
If your goal was to go on world tours and have fans all over the world, then it’s very possible at this stage. Most bass guitarists retire at this stage and are very happy with their careers. You would be too, trust us.
Level 4 (Legend)
Only a select few get to reach this stage. The difference between a master and a legend is that with a master, you can learn almost anything, given some time. However, with a legend, you can pick up anything and play it exactly, almost instantly.
At this point, you would have already created a signature sound that every other bass player would try and imitate. You’ve created a new sub-genre inside your genre. And even when given something from another genre, you are still able to pick it up almost instantly.
How long it takes to be a legendary bass player is something we can only guess. With a practice time of about 14 hours every day, you should be able to get there in about 10 years.
Although it might seem like such a long time from now, it’s not. As a bass player, you have to enjoy the journey from holding the guitar for the first time, to keeping it in front of thousands of fans.
Every step of the journey should inspire you and motivate you. And even if you never become a legend, at least you would be much better than those who didn’t try.