It’s funny how sometimes you can hang on to something for a long time but never actually get around to using it until years later. Â Such is the case for me with Robby Garner’s book “Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass“. Honestly, I bought this book back in the mid-nineties, before the World Wide Web was the phenomena it is today. Â If I recall correctly I ordered it through a mail-order ad I found in the back of Bass Player Magazine. Â At the time my knowledge of Music Theory was primitive at best. I had taken a couple of music classes at Community College, but never really understood the whole mechanics of it. Â When I received the book I set to work on it, completed the first chapter, and as I did with most instructional books of this type back then, put it on a shelf, not looking at it again in earnest until very recently. Â Back then I had no real comprehension of theory at all. Â I was playing in a punk band and had hoped the book would make me a better player. Â Unfortunately for me, I had at that point received no formal training on how to play the bass and was pretty much winging it. Â As such, I just did not possess the discipline needed to sit down and work through these types of books. Â The thing about me though is, I know when I find a good thing, and I hang on to it. Â Fast forward 15+ years, and I still have a very usable book that I am just now truly utilizing.
Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass is a fantastic introduction to music theory concepts as applied to the electric bass.Â Aimed at the complete beginner, this book covers intervals, triads, major/minor scales, and harmonization of the major and minor scales.Â Â Well written and easy to understand, the book is so well laid out that it almost seems effortless to follow along.Â Filled with clear explanations and diagrams, it immediately switched a light on in my head, finally I started to get it.
Each chapter finishes up with a set of review questions allowing you to test your knowledge before moving on.Â Once you’ve mastered all 6 chapters, there is Final Review at the end.Â The review questions can really be a challenge if you are new to theory, but at the same time, they help you to absorb the material in a meaningful way. It can take a while to work through some of them but it is worth it.
While mainly aimed at the beginner, even an old dog can learn a thing or two from this book. If you are a bass player of any level and want to gain a better understanding or solidify your knowledge of Music Theory, this is definitely a good place to start.