How to Hold a Bass Guitar

image of man showing how to hold a bass guitar

How to Hold a Bass Guitar


  • Even if you want to play in a seated position, use a strap to distribute the weight of the bass.
  • Ensure that the bass is about waist height for the most comfortable playing position.
  • Rest your thumb on the bass pickup so your fingers can accurately pick the notes without straining. 

So, you’ve just bought yourself the best bass guitar you can afford, and now you’re wondering just how you’re supposed to hold it. While your favorite players may have a distinct style, mastering the basic technique of holding a bass will grant you hours of comfortable playing. In addition, you’ll be able to reach the basic bass chords more quickly if you grab a comfortable strap and read this guide on how to hold a bass guitar.

How Should You Hold a Bass Guitar

While there’s no one-size-fits-all method to how should you hold a bass guitar properly, bass students will be grateful if they work  a comfortable playing position and hand placement into their muscle memory early on. This early discipline will pay off big time, especially as users take on more challenging pieces in their bass guitar career. So, let’s jump into an easy method for building the foundation of efficient bass technique. Also, learn how to clean a bass guitar so you can smoothly move around the fretboard.

While some bass techniques might be more difficult for beginners, consider learning how to fix a bass guitar input jack if you’re experiencing serious sound issues.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: 2 minutes
  • Total Steps: 4
  • Tools: Bass guitar, Shoulder Strap, Guitar Pick (optional) 

Step 1: Attach the Bass Strap

Whether you want to play seated or standing, we recommend using a strap. It protects your bass from unintentional falls, and they help transfer the guitar’s weight to your shoulders. The ends of the strap should slide over the strap buttons.

Step 2: Adjust the Strap

Adjust the length of the strap so that the bass is at about waist height. This makes reaching the notes on a modern bass guitar much more manageable.

Step 3: Place Right Hand on Bass Pickup

Place your right hand over the bass pickup or thumb rest, and place your index and middle finger on the top two strings of the bass. You may also consider using a guitar pick.

Step 4: Place Left Hand Along the Fretboard

Place your left hand on the neck of your instrument, and position your fingertips along the first four frets to check that you have a comfortable hand rest position. Rest your left thumb on the back of the fretboard. 

How to Hold a Bass Guitar FAQs

Why don’t bass players use picks?

This decision mainly depends on your intended music style and your bass teacher. Although uncommon and sometimes stigmatized in the bass community, plenty of bass players use a pick, which is up to personal preference. Most experts recommend playing with whichever tool feels most comfortable to you. In addition, musicians can enjoy better precision and faster notes with a pick, but some appreciate the fuller sound that can be had from finger plucking. 

How do you hold a bass pick?

A bass player looking to play with a guitar pick should hold it firmly between their thumb and index finger. Ensure that you use a light enough grip to make the downward pick motion without stressing your hand. In addition, having a relaxed forearm will help you stay loose while mastering your pick technique.

Why should you learn bass guitar?

Bass guitar players and drummers provide the foundation for rhythm in a music piece. Since the bass strings cover lower tones, they often slip underneath the guitar position or vocals that typically soak up the attention. So, if you want to fill the critical role of being the bass guitar player, we say go for it!


Paul Tutmarc of Seattle, WA, invented and sold the first commercially available electric bass guitar in 1935, and he sold about 100 units. (source)

Tips & Warnings


To avoid sounding off when playing, always ensure that your bass guitar is tuned correctly ahead of your practice sessions. 


As a beginner, focus on learning clean bass techniques, such as learning beginner chords and proper bass fingerstyle, rather than playing the latest heavy music to save yourself a lot of frustration.

Coby McKinley
[email protected]
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