Playing bass by yourself is possible and can definitely be fun when using backing tracks that simulate a band.
Bass is usually best played to complement other instruments – although bass solo is also possible.
This is the same question I had when I was new to the guitar / bass world. Playing bass alone seemed like a horrible idea when I didn’t know what backing tracks were.
In this article, I am going to show you 6 fun ways to play bass alone. I guarantee they will keep you playing bass alone for a long long time.
I will also discuss similar bass topics like self-learning bass and playing bass as a solo instrument.
By the end of this article, you will know how to play bass alone and can decide whether it’s a good idea or not.
How To Play Bass Alone (Without Band)
The best way to play bass alone is to always simulate a band – because bass is usually played to complement other instruments.
Unless you are an experienced pro, jumping directly to bass solo is challenging. In the meantime, here are different ways to stimulate your band when playing bass.
1. Backing Tracks
Backing tracks are pre-recorded sounds that you can play as the background when playing instruments like bass.
Playing with backing tracks means you will hear other instruments in the song like guitar and drums where you can jam along with your instrument like bass.
Backing track is a good tool to practice bass because it helps you with the correct timing and it never keeps you bored. Play long enough and you can start improvising while jamming to backing tracks.
Backing track is also great when you need to slow things down and practice slowly (especially when you are new).
Needless to say, backing tracks are just the audio. To really practice, you need to get the bass tabs as well. This way you know what chords / notes to play and the backing track will accompany you.
Here are places you can look for bass backing tracks – some are free and some are paid. It’s just a matter of searching for the right terms. Try “Free bass backing tracks”.
2. Songster / Guitar Pro
Songster and Guitar Pro are tools that can show you musical notes like bass tabs as well as a backing track. Which means, they show you the tabs to play and add the backing track in real time.
Both songster and guitar pros support multiple musical instruments like electric guitars, bass, drums, sax and many more. For any given song, you can choose to practice any of the supported instruments.
Pretty cool right?
If you are a beginner, I recommend you to check out songster first. It’s free and much easier to use. They have a web based app and a mobile app.
With songster, you basically open the app (web or mobile), search for a song and start playing – they show you the tabs in real time and play the backing track at the same time.
They also have a paid play ($9.99 / month). With this paid subscription, you can access other controls like lopping, printing tabs, muting other instruments and more.
(I am not an affiliate to Songster, so it’s up to you to check them out or not)
If you are more advanced and have some cash to spare, I highly recommend Guitar Pro. It’s the standard when it comes to playing guitars / bass using tabs and backing tracks.
Guitar Pro offers everything that Songster offers. Which means, you can choose any available song and Guitar Pro will show you the tabs and play backing tracks in real time.
In addition to Songster, Guitar Pro is actually a whole suite of tools used to create guitar tabs. Once you are experienced enough, you can start creating your custom tab and share that around.
Guitar Pro is a desktop or mobile app. Generally, they provide guitar tabs on their libraries. But you can also browse online and download .gp files into your desktop or mobile. The Guitar pro app can read it and let you practice the songs.
I said earlier Guitar Pro is the standard when it comes to guitar or bass tabbing. You will find it very common that creators online like YouTubers sell you their tabs and the file should include a .gp file.
Once you play bass / guitar long enough, you will eventually purchase a Guitar Pro at $69.95. I think it’s quite reasonably priced – given that it’s a one time purchase.
The functionalities of Guitar Pro are endless. I recommend you search around on YouTube for how to use Guitar Pro.
Yousician is a music app that teaches you how to play instruments as well as let you practise with real time backing tracks. It’s similar to songster or guitar pro – but the focus here is the lesson.
I personally learned electric guitar and bass using Yousician. It’s absolutely great and very suitable for beginners.
Unlike traditional lessons with an instructor, Yousician makes it quite addictive. If you have played games like Guitar Hero, Yousician is very similar to that. Except, you are playing with real guitar and they have great lessons.
But lessons aside, if you are simply looking for a way to play bass with a real time backing track, Yousician could be a great choice.
Though, you cannot simply import songs to Yousician like you could with Guitar Pro (using .gp files). Which means the songs are quite limited (even when compared to Songster)
Yousician costs $19.99 / month and is a great choice if you want to learn and play bass guitars with real time backing tracks.
Rocksmith is a guitar music game for PS, Xbox, Windows & Mac OS. Players can connect their guitar directly and play the game using a real guitar or bass.
Rocksmith is similar to Yousician. You connect your guitar directly into your desktop or console and play the tabs that are shown on screen – along with real time backing tracks of course.
Rocksmith focuses mainly on the game play and not lessons. It’s extremely fun and can be downright addicting – it feels very much like you are playing in a band.
If you don’t care too much about learning the proper techniques and theories, then the Rocksmith game could be perfect for you.
Practising and playing wise, I think Rocksmith is the most fun out of all the options I have listed above.
5. Play Along With Music App (Spotify)
If you don’t care too much about backing tracks, playing your bass guitar directly with any song in Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music could be a great way to practice alone.
This is the easiest and hassle-free option if you don’t care too much about real time backing tracks.
With this option, you literally play a song in the background and start playing along with your bass.
I personally don’t think this is the best approach but is definitely an option if you really cannot find a good backing track for the song you want to play.
Is It Fun To Play Bass Alone?
Playing bass alone can be fun if you are playing along with a backing track. Bass is usually used to complement other equipment – playing it alone without backing track can be boring.
I have given you 5 things you could do to play bass alone. But personally, I think Rocksmith and Songster are the best options to practise and play bass alone.
If you also want to learn bass, then Yousician should be a great choice. I still have subscription to Yousician until this day because the playing along system they have is great.
I don’t recommend you play bass alone without any backing track – it gets boring real fast and its going to inevitably make you quit and forget about bass.
Is Bass Easy To Self-Learn (Alone)?
Bass is easy to self-learn – most of the techniques and theories are the same whether it’s acoustic guitar, electric of bass.
To self-learn bass, I recommend you learn from Yousician, YouTube or any online course. Personally, I use Yousician and it’s great tool to learn and practice (like how I have described it above).
You don’t have to know any advanced things like know musical theories or reading the traditional musical notes – simple guitar tabs are enough.
Many people learn bass and electric guitars by themselves (I am talking about learning from scratch as complete beginner). I am one of them and I can tell you it’s not that challenging – it’s just a matter of practice, practice and practice.
Which is why it’s important to make sure that the practice session is not boring. Practicing bass without any backing track gets boring real fast. Make sure you have a backing track in place.
Even better if you have a headphone amplifier or audio interface. This way you can practice any time, without disturbing your roommates.
Related article: Can Neighbors Hear Your Unplugged Electric Guitar?
Can Bass Be A Solo Instrument?
Bass can be a solo instrument if you are skilled enough. Bass’ supposed role is to complement other instruments in a band or song. But there’s no stopping you from using the bass to play solo.
Generally, when in a band or music, bass is used to play the deep tones – perfect for complementing other instruments in a song and shape the song.
You can definitely use your bass guitar and play it solo. This is great if you really enjoy it and you don’t care about getting in a band or gig.
When playing in a band, bass solo is very rare. I personally don’t know any song with a bass solo. So don’t expect to join a band and be a solo bass player – I don’t think this will happen.
That aside, playing bass solo by yourself to experiment and have fun is absolutely fine. There are a few bass YouTubers who record and play bass solo.
They are amazing. For example a YouTuber Charles Berthoud. Here’s his bass solo