Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced bass player, there are more than a handful of gadgets you should own to make your life easier. This guide will discuss essential bass accessories that should be a part of all bassists’ toolkits and will help you find them if you don’t have them already.
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Whether you play guitar or bass, a tuner is one of the most useful devices you can own. Sure, learning how to tune by ear is an excellent skill to have, but that comes with time and experience.
In the meantime, you must grab yourself a tuner so you can get all of your strings accurately in pitch and sound good. In addition, it will save you a lot of time and frustration trying to figure out why your bass doesn’t sound right. A lot of the time, you’ll be in the right direction, but just a bit off where it’s noticeable.
The bass is the glue that holds the band together, and the majority of the time, you’ll be locking in with your drummer. Developing a solid sense of rhythm and time is very important for all musicians, but since you’re actively a part of the rhythm section, you’ll need to spend plenty of time working on it. Therefore, you’ll want to practice with a metronome so that you know how to play in time, which will make you sound better than any effects pedal out there.
Check out my guide to some of the best metronomes where you can find an affordable one today. They’re one of the best investments you can make and will take your playing to the next level if you practice with them consistently.
There will be times when you need to transport your instrument around, such as when you need to get a repair or a setup or to jam with your friends, to name a couple of examples, and to keep your instrument safe and secure, you’ll want to pick up some type of case to store it when you’re on the move.
Naturally, hard cases are more durable and offer more protection than a soft gig bag, but the latter can be sufficient, and if you’re on a budget, you can find nice padded bass gig bags that get the job done.
Having a stand of some sort is one of the simplest accessories that you can have, and it offers a lot more than you think aside from just a place to store your guitar.
You can keep your guitar in a case and store it there when you’re done playing, but I think a stand is much more convenient, especially if you have multiple instruments. If you have your bass in a place where it’s easy to access, you’ll be able to simply pick up and play, which will lead to you practicing more often.
If you have a bass, it can be tough to hear how you genuinely sound without having something that produces a tone for you, and that’s precisely what an amp is for. Of course, you can technically play without an amp, but you’ll improve much faster by having one because you will be able to get a better picture of what your playing sounds like and can find things to improve upon.
I have compiled a list of excellent practice amps for bass that you can find for pretty cheap that sound great for their price. Be sure to check that out to see if there’s one that interests you – there are all kinds that are suited for different styles and come with multiple features for you to enjoy.
It doesn’t make much sense to have a bass or an amp if you can’t connect them together, so you’ll need to get a reliable instrument cable with a decent length so you can get some sound coming out. There isn’t a whole lot to say about cables since their job is pretty straightforward, but you’ll want to try to get one that’s reliable.
Also, if you decide to pick up some bass pedals, some extra cables, mainly small patch cables, can come in handy too. They’ll save you some space rather than using ones that are too long for your needs.
An underrated accessory by many, but I personally think it’s incredibly advantageous and can help you get a lot of mileage from your playing, is a pair of headphones that you can plug into your amplifier.
Many amps these days have a headphone jack that supports a ¼-inch connection, and by using one, you can practice in private at all hours without disturbing anyone. Basses can be noisy and even worse with an amp, and by taking out that variable from your practice sessions, you can get in a lot more playtime if you don’t have to worry about making a racket.
Sure, you might spend the majority of your time practicing sitting down, but it’s also worth dedicating a bit of it to standing up, and in order to do that, you’ll want to invest in a comfortable but durable strap. Who knows, maybe you’ll actually prefer playing while standing up!
I’ve selected a handful of the best bass straps that should serve you well no matter what your budget is. Typically, they run for around 20 to 50 dollars depending on the model, so you’re bound to find something that works for you.
Bass strings don’t break as often as guitar strings, and they tend to last considerably longer, but there will come a time when you’ll need to replace them eventually.
Some people like to extend the lifespan of their strings by boiling them in water, but this isn’t exactly the same as getting a fresh set of strings on your bass, so you’ll want to have some available when you need them most. I personally love getting the Ernie Ball Regular Slinkys for my four and 5-string basses because they’re affordable, reliable, and sound great to me.
Over time, grime and dirt will accumulate on your fretboard, fingerprints may begin to cover your guitar’s finish, and dust and debris will probably get trapped around the pickups and other hardware. Some people don’t really mind this, but if you want your bass to look its best, a nice cleaning kit will make it simple to do this.
In addition to cleaning supplies such as guitar polish, fretboard oil, cloths, and a string cutter, you should also consider getting some tools that let you make basic adjustments. This kit from Elagon has everything you need, and I highly recommend it, but there are other products like the Music Nomad stuff you should take a look at, too, if you get the chance to.
“What About This?”
The bass accessories talked about in this article are vital for various reasons, but I know some of you reading may have felt that I’ve left a thing or two out that you personally would have put in, such as your favorite pedal. Let me explain why, starting with pedals.
Pedals are often a mainstay in many bass players’ rigs, especially bass overdrives, compression, flanger, octave, EQ, and many others, but are they truly essential?
Some would argue yes, and that they’re an integral part of their sound, but in my opinion, there are far more critical accessories out there, and having pedals won’t impact your ability to perform. They can definitely inspire you, but they are not essential for everyone, especially beginners.
Another cool accessory that millions of guitarists and bassists love is the fretwrap, which can help clean up your sound. While this sounds fantastic, and it’s an excellent solution for unwanted string noise, I don’t think it’s necessary because new and intermediate players should focus on dialing in their technique, particularly muting.
I believe that advanced players will get the most out of fretwraps, and I think they’re a must-have for those who are recording. If you’d like to learn more about fretwraps, I’ve written an entire guide that covers their benefits and why you should consider getting one if you’ve been playing for a while.
And last but not least… picks! For some people, these are a must (including me!) but there are many people who play fingerstyle exclusively and don’t have a need for bass picks. However, if you’re interested in some reasons why bassists should give picks a chance and why a lot of players love them, check out my guide to some of the advantages of using a pick for bass playing.
There are a lot of fun and useful gadgets out there, but if you’re looking for the most indispensable accessories for bass guitar, this list has got it all. Hopefully, my recommendations and other resources that I’ve dedicated to talking about these tools will help you pick up exactly what you need so that you can be equipped with the essentials. While you’ll use some things more frequently than others, if you play electric bass, you’ll need all of these at some point and it’s best to be prepared.