Play Bass Guitar, by Peter Pickow. Book/CD, $5.95. Published by Amsco. 40 pages.

First impressions are important sometimes, and at first glance it appears that this book is the king of beginning bass bargain books. At $5.95, it also contains an easy to follow play-along, and compares to simiar books in the $9.95-$17.95 price range. But how does the quality of the info compare? Quite well. For the self-learner, this book contains a well-balanced menu of theory and musical styles for bass. Teachers could also easily integrate this into their lesson plan. Within the first few pages, basics like tuning, reading music, the Root-5th relationship, major scales, and harmonized scales are covered in a easy to read-and-discuss style, with a lot of room for elaboration. After the lesson, a student may go back and read one of many well written passages used to describe the concepts.

This book utilizes standard notation, along with a tab system that is slightly different from the typical method. To show a 4 string bass, there are 5 lines, and the numbers are placed in between the lines. No problem though- you can just grab a black Marks-A-Lot and cross out all the tabs throughout the book. Voila!- No need to change tab systems (pgs. 9-11 show standard notation skills).

Another cool thing about this book, aside from the ridiculously low price, is the nice balance of stuff to play and learn. Learning theory can be exhausting, and just after you have gotten your first taste, Pickow slips a playing example in. Most of these are typical bass cliches, and are not quite as fun as say, an organized plan of real songs that a teacher could prepare for a student. But if you are a beginner and want a nice intro to bass without getting too serious too fast, this is the one. Play Bass Guitar is undoubtedly one of the top beginning method books in its price range. Considering that the average cost of a one hour private lesson is US$30.00, this is a must have for the beginner before taking lessons. Beginners should also keep another thing in mind- this is an introductory text, and excellent volumes have been written on all of the concepts shown. If you get serious after going through this book, seek out other books and videos to broaden your knowledge. And get a teacher.

Partial list of concepts covered:

Tuning, technique, reading music, rhythms, major scales, naming chords by number, fills, walk-up bass lines, chromatic fills, string damping, pentatonic scales, major and minor triads, sixth and seventh chords, style studies of country, blues, rock, rockabilly, funk, and jazz.


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