Bass Guitar App Wanted
September 8, 2016 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the best app for learning to play bass guitar.

Our high schooler got a bass for his birthday! Now he needs an app for learning to play the thing. Requirements:

1. Compatible with iPad
2. Good for lefties

He already goes to YouTube and various tab sites, but we'd like something he can chip away at for memorizing standard note positions, intervals, etc. Ideally, he could plug his instrument into the iPad and have to play along with a metronome (or pre-recorded song). He loves 70's and 80's rock if that is at all relevant to the app's particulars.

Please tell us about your new favorite bass learnin' app!
posted by klausman to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
When I started out a couple of years ago, I found the bass version of the guitar-learning game Rocksmith fun and helpful.
posted by layceepee at 11:37 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a lame amateur bass player (with some previous music experience) and, sorry, an Android user. But, things I've found useful:

- a metronome app: there's lots of free ones, pretty much anything will probably do.
- a tuning app: ditto
- a subscription to some streaming service. I use Google Play Music (also gets you ad-free youtube), but Tidal or Amazon or whatever would be fine, as long as it gets you on-demand access to a big catalog of music to study and play along with.
- this app for ear training. There are more full-featured apps but I thought this is very simple and to the point.
- irealpro will take any chord progression and generate an accompaniment for you to play along with. You can tell it to turn off the bass in the accompaniment. Large libraries of songs for it are already included or available for free, or you can enter them yourself.
- occasionally a drum machine app too. I don't have a particular recommendation.

I've also used a fretboard-memorizing app but didn't think it helped much.

For playing along I personally plug my bass and phone both into a behringer ma400. I think a B1on is another popular alternative (an inexpensive bass multi-effect pedal with an aux in for the phone/tablet). Or maybe one of the irig devices--but I've got no experience there.

I realize that almost none of that is bass-specific. Personally I got the physical technique, fretboard, theory, and reading from teachers and classes (highly recommended, maybe check your local community college if the high school doesn't have something?), books (I like this Hal Leonard/Ed Friedland book), and youtube.

Oh, also, I like this ear-training book, which emphasizes learning to hear bass lines and harmonies, and which I believe has an ipad version, but I think it already requires a bit of theory and ear-training as a prerequisite.

Try to encourage him to rely on learning tunes by ear and by traditional music notation, not tab. Learning those two skills is a difficult lifelong process, but with a much bigger payoff.
posted by bfields at 11:45 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

For ear training, I like the exercises here enough that I bought their app Tenuto. Not bass guitar specific but very very useful for any musician.
posted by thelonius at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2016

Roland CUBEs are solid starter amps. I'd keep an eye on craiglist. You should be able to pick one up for just over $100.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:53 PM on September 8, 2016

"For playing along I personally plug my bass and phone both into a behringer ma400."

Erg, sorry, I forget that uses an XLR input meant for a microphone, so only works if you also have some kind of D.I.

Assuming you're already getting an amp then just check that it has a second input for the ipad (and probably a headphone output for late-night practice), and that's probably all you need. (The Roland amp humboldt32 links to does.)

(The only reason I don't do that myself is that my amp makes a pretty annoying hiss when using headphones; may be something to check for if you're trying out amps in person.)
posted by bfields at 7:07 PM on September 8, 2016

My husband really liked yousician to learn the baritone ukulele. I'm sure their bass app would be great.

He only did the free stuff, although he was thinking seriously about upgrading. (He was able to find an actual human teacher instead.)
posted by leahwrenn at 7:46 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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