Best Online Bass Lessons (our Top Pick)
JamPlay's Bass Program
The bass section of JamPlay is a separately-priced entity, autonomous from the program's guitar material. Not unlike their guitar content, JamPlay's bass lessons are top-notch and one of the only truly structured sources of online bass lessons.
On the internet, bass lessons are still surprisingly rare. Unlike online guitar lessons, streaming bass courses are a good deal more difficult to come by. This is especially true if you want a well-organized, professionally written program. In that case there are just a few places that I would recommend. To put this list together I've used primarily three sources:
Within these three websites, there are established bass lesson programs and courses that are either free, or well worth the price of admission. I'll take an in-depth look at each program and the contents.
Best Online Bass Lessons (our top 4 picks)
Keep in mind that the best online bass lessons should have a few defining qualities.
- Proper organization and topical order
- A defined target audience (skill level, musical style or both)
- Confident explanation of music theory
The bass lessons I recommend are defined by these three features. Within JamPlay, TrueFire and YouTube, we also have three different ways to purchase or structure the material:
- JamPlay: Monthly or Annual Membership
- TrueFire: Single Course Downloads
- YouTube: Free subscription and viewing
How you want to invest or "commit" to a particular program should be considered. Typically, programs that you sign up for a monthly or annual membership will provide more material. However, that isn't always the best arrangement for prospective students, especially intermediate or advanced players who might just want to work on a particular aspect of their playing.
We'll cover all three of these options in plenty of detail. Let's start with JamPlay.
1. JamPlay's Bass Lessons
JamPlay's bass program is a fully-developed, beginning to end set of courses that is best-suited for beginners. The strength of this setup is that you get topics arranged in a properly-ordered way, taking you from the basics into whatever styles and more advanced disciplines you want to explore. If you'd like to checkout their guitar program, I cover it fully in my JamPlay review.
JamPlay's Bass Lesson Pricing
The first thing I want to cover in regards to JamPlay's bass program is their pricing structure. They are a membership site, offering several different ways to subscribe, all of which give you access to the entire collection of bass lessons and material. As of January 2019, here are the membership and pricing options:
All of these plans can be easily canceled or added within your account dashboard. From there, you can easily add the bass or guitar program individually or together. If it's not for you, JamPlay has a 30-day refund policy.
2. TrueFire Online Bass Courses
TrueFire's format is setup differently than JamPlay, in that TrueFire is a collection of individual courses and not necessarily a chronological program. As a result, they have a massive amount of material and a much wider range of instructors. While you can subscribe to a monthly account that gives you streaming access to all the material (similar to Netflix), you can also purchase and download individual courses for a one-time cost.
For example, Stu Hamm's "Bass Basics" course can be purchased on its own for a one-time cost of $29. This allows you to either stream or download this specific course and saves you the trouble of a monthly fee.
Notice this particular course is 40 videos and about 128 minutes of material. If you login with a full access account, you can view the contents of the course on the right hand sidebar.
The Video Interface
TrueFire uses a very robust and sleek video platform called Soundslice, which is designed specifically for hosting music lessons and educational material. Most bass lessons are filmed with multiple angles and shots, giving you views of the instructor, as well as the fretboard. Here's a look at one of Arianne Cap's lessons in the Pentatonic Playground for Bass course.
In addition to the video content, many lessons have a lot of extra material like jam tracks, PDF charts and tab files. Here one from the above pictured lesson:
As you can tell, this supplemental material is often rich in music theory, fulfilling one of my requirements for great bass lessons. And while its inclusion and design depends somewhat on the instructor, it's largely reliable to bet that TrueFire's supplemental content will be thorough and well put together.
Additional Bass Courses from TrueFire
One of TrueFire's greatest strengths is its diversity of instructors, many of whom have national notoriety. Tony Franklin, Stu Hamm, and Andrew Ford all have courses for sale on TrueFire.
TrueFire is known for their guitar-related content and provides a lot more material in that department than they do for bass. However, it's the quality of their electric and acoustic guitar material that is perfectly translated to the bass content, making it easily one of the best online bass lesson resources I can recommend.
In total, they offer nearly 6000 bass lessons spanning 41 courses and 16 instructors. It's remarkable to say that it's not one of their primary focuses.
Best YouTube Bass Lessons
YouTube has very distinct strengths and weaknesses when it comes to music education and guitar or bass lesson content. It can be summed up in two parts. For the strength:
YouTube is very strong when it comes to answering specific questions in a thorough manner.
At a basic level, YouTube is a search engine, not a subscription service or necessarily an educational resource. To that end, it's an excellent place to find specific answers for specific problems. For example, if I go to YouTube and search for "How to Place C Minor Scale on Bass" I get an answer that requires less than two minutes of my time.
Where YouTube is far less reliable as an educational resource is when you must rely on it for an ordered sequence of information.
YouTube is very weak when it comes to providing properly ordered or sequenced content.
For example, if you search in YouTube for "Learn Bass Guitar" here's what you'll see:
What you get is a lot of list material and (unfortunately) click bait, which is normal for most YouTube searches, regardless of how "academic" they might be worded. However, that does not mean that some of the best online bass lessons can't be found entirely for free on YouTube channels.
The unfortunate problem with trying to learn something from YouTube is that it is designed to distract and not to inform.
I've found that the better tactic with YouTube, both for guitar and bass-related material, is to go by channel instead of by search. In other words, find a reliable channel that publishes bass lessons regularly, subscribe to their channel and forgo the search browsing.
Here are a few examples of bass lesson channels I'd recommend.
YouTube Bass Lessons I'd Recommend
To curate these lessons I'm primarily looking at reputable channels, then going through their playlists to see how they have everything organized. Because while YouTube search results can be really hard to pin down, playlists within channels can be very well organized. The unfortunate problem with trying to learn something from YouTube is that it is designed to distract and not to inform.
First, Make YouTube a Little Less Distracting
If you're going to start browsing YouTube bass lessons, I'd recommend first making it a little less distracting. The DF Tube (distraction free YouTube) extension is a huge help.
For Chrome, you can download the extension here:
Once the extension is installed you can click the DF Tube icon in the top right corner of your browser to activate and configure settings. Set everything to hidden accept Playlists.
Now, when you go to YouTube, the only thing you'll see is the top search bar.
This will help you focus on your goals instead of being distracted by "recommended videos" and click-bait titles. If you're anything like me, it's almost impossible to navigate YouTube without getting off the rails within minutes. With this extension, that's a non-issue.
Now that we're ready to browse without distraction, there are a handful of bass YouTube channels I'd recommend for serious learning.
3: Scott's Bass Lessons
- YouTube Channel Home
- Subscribers: 618k
Scott's Bass Lessons is one of the most popular and well-designed bass resources on YouTube. He's sort of the Justinguitar of the bass world.
When you go to his channel, you'll see the "Uploads" section first, which usually isn't going to be all that helpful (it'll just be the channel's latest videos). Try not to get distracted by these.
Instead, click the "PLAYLISTS" tab on the top menu.
Scott has carefully categorized his material into a lot of different playlists that give you some starting points, as well as some good topical coverage. For example, you might want to simply start with the "BASS LICKS" playlist.
You can now go through each video in the order Scott presented them. Now, this method is imperfect, because Scott isn't necessarily building a course with his playlists. That means certain playlists might or might not be ordered like a formal course. It really just depends on how thorough or organized the author of the channel chooses to be.
Still, it's a far better way to use YouTube for bass lessons than just browsing search results and being hopelessly distracted.
Scott's bass lessons is a great place to start getting your feet wet.
4: TrueFire's Bass YouTube Playlists
- YouTube Channel Home
- Subscribers: 335k
TrueFire's YouTube channel is long-running and well-stocked, primarily with electric and acoustic guitar content. But if you go to their playlists section and look for "bass" content, you'll find five bass-related playlists, with one titled "Top Bass Guitar Lessons" which weirdly starts out with a Justin Timberlake video (no clue why).
Most of the lessons here are somewhat short, but they're well-designed and professionally filmed. Again, the playlist will be displayed on the right side of the video player, making it easy for you to browse through material.
- YouTube Channel Home
- Subscribers: 187k
TalkingBass is both a YouTube channel and website, setup by a guy named Mark J. Smith from the United Kingdom. He initially comes off as a little cheesy, but his videos are well-organized into playlists and many of them are more than 20 minutes long. Overall, there's a lot of material to work though.
His channel essentially covers the full spectrum of beginner and intermediate bass guitar study.
If we take the best online bass lessons and categorize them by subscription type, we can get a clearer picture of our options and what levels of commitment we can choose from. Because not everyone wants to sign up for a monthly membership, and not everyone wants to settle for free YouTube content.
There's value to be found in all these mediums, depending on your own goals as a bass player. It's worth the effort to explore each option and to sift through the junk to find the best material.
Because while there are a lot of bass lessons online, it doesn't all meet the same quality standard.
If you have questions about the JamPlay or TrueFire bass programs, or even the YouTube channels I've recommended, feel free to leave me a note in the comments section and I'll do my best to help out.