Electric Bass Guitar The Complete Guide by Laurence Canty, Described As The Best Bass Tuition Book On The Market, Ideal For Bassists At Every Level, Now With 130 Pages And Free Accompanying CD

'Electric Bass Guitar - The Complete Guide' by Laurence Canty

Laurence Canty's beautifully presented new edition of his ever-popular 'Electric Bass Guitar - The Complete Guide' is the perfect 'everything you want to know' book for the bass guitar student. The book has five sections and is ideal for bassists at every level. Whether a beginner, intermediate or advanced student, the book covers everything from the very basics through to the essentials of harmony, scales and chords, advanced harmonic ideas, notation reading, rhythm patters, walking bass lines, chording, harmonics and slapping etc. Now bigger and better than ever before with one hundred and thirty pages and free accompanying CD to play along to. Described as "the best bass tuition book on the market" and forwarded by Laurence Canty's ex-pupils Colin Greenwood (of Radiohead) and Yolanda Charles (bassist with Robbie Williams, Paul Weller, Gabrielle etc), 'Electric Bass Guitar - The Complete Guide' is a must for all bass students and for the bass teacher who wants a complete and comprehensive tuition method to work through with their students.

Testimonial by professional bass player Freddie Thompson

My bass playing background is primarily steeped in Gospel music. I first picked up the bass at the age of 13. After about four years of playing I was regarded as possessing a certain amount of raw talent. However, I knew I did not really have solid technique and that, if I was to pursue bass playing seriously, this had to be addressed.

In 1982 I purchased a copy of Laurence Canty’s Electric Bass Guitar. It transformed my approach, my confidence in navigating around the instrument and my playing through any chord changes. Later, I had the opportunity to have lessons with Laurence. He taught me how expand on what I had learnt from the book, and how to practise reading music.

30 years later, with a career involving many tours and recordings, I decided it was time to revisit my technique and make sure it was as solid as it should be. I‘d read many instructional books over the years, but there was one that was the foundation of my technique - Electric Bass Guitar. I knew I wouldn’t still have the original book, so I browsed the internet and ordered the new and updated edition.

It has been a pleasure just to go through the exercises again, discovering where I had acquired bad habits, and addressing them. Also, remembering Laurence’s simple but very effective way of teaching scales and chord studies, gave me the confidence to pursue my own journey. To me this book is the bass instructional book.”

Freddie Thompson has worked with the likes of Westlife, M People, Deniece Williams, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, George Michael, Tom Jones and J-Lo to name but a few.

The Book : Sections For Bassists At Every Level

For the beginner, all the basic technique points are covered in detail with no previous knowledge required. For the intermediate player and advanced player, the essentials of harmony are explained, with exercises to illustrate the musical points plus sections on advanced harmonic ideas, reading music, walking bass, chording, harmonics and slapping.

Section 1 : Basics

(1) Technique (2) Exercises (3) Fingerboard (4) Tuning (5) Notation

Section 2 : Scales And Chords - Basics

(1) Major Scale (2) Thirds (3) Triads (4) Seventh Chords (5) Chord Symbols

Section 3: Scales And Chords - Advanced

(1) Modes (2) Chord Function (3) Minor Key (4) Secondary Dominants (5) Chord Substitution

Section 4: Reading Music

(1) Notation (2) Rhythm Patterns (3) Key Signatures (4) Examples (5) Triplet Rhythms

Section 5: More Techniques

(1) Walking Bass (2) Chording (3) Harmonics (4) Slapping (5) Bach's Cello Suites


The first section of this book assumes nothing and covers the basics. At first an amplifier is not essential. Once you've developed some technique and an understanding of the fingerboard you're ready to play. Initially play only the root of each chord. Provided you change to the next note at the right time there's no need to know about different types of chords or scales. Listen to the other musicians and fit in rhythmically.

The second section explains different chords and will enable you to add other notes to your bass lines. It includes exercises to develop technique, extend musical knowledge and train your ear. The phrase playing by ear is misleading because your ears can only check what your fingers have already done, so develop an awareness of what sound will be produced by a given fingering. To practise this, play exercises slowly and imagine the sound of the next note before you play it.

The third section develops an understanding of the links between chords and scales. This will help you to play from a chord chart, improvise, and extend your ideas. All this can be achieved without reading music, although it is there for those who can or want to.

There are three areas that seem to cause confusion and difficulty; modes and minor scales, which are dealt with in the third section, and reading music, which is covered in the fourth. In each case the approach here is very different from elsewhere. For example, reading music intuitively by recognising familiar patterns rather than the usual counting approach. Learning to read music will help you practise more productively and explore new ideas more easily. Eventually you may develop the skill to sight-reading standard and be able to use it professionally.

There is no need to work through the book in sequence. While looking at the second or third section you could start on the fourth. Even the fifth section, covering advanced techniques, can be understood without reading music. Finally there's a selection of pieces by Bach that, although technically demanding, are easy to read, so you don't have to leave them until last. Probably it is better to study the various sections of the book in parallel.

The most important function of a bass player is to create effective bass lines. Inevitably you'll only play within your technical and musical limits. By extending these you will be able to produce better and more varied ideas, instantly if necessary.

Remember that a book can compress a lot of information in a few pages. Allow time to understand and absorb any new idea, until you can play it without thinking you don't really know it.


Laurence Canty bought his first bass while still at school. He was rehearsing with a band within two weeks and on stage soon after. He studied at Lancaster University, formed a band and returned to London to seek fame and fortune. He started teaching bass, first privately and then also at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and gradually moved into freelance playing, everything from night clubs and theatres to radio and television. He has contributed articles to Bass Player in the US and Bassist in the UK. He wrote a monthly column called 'Bass Case' in the magazine 'Making Music' and co-wrote the book 'What Bass' with Tony Bacon. Today, Laurence is one of the most respected figures in the UK bass tuition World.


Colin Greenwood (Bassist and founding member of Radiohead)

"I've been playing bass with Radiohead since its inception. I'm into the space a bass can occupy between the drums and the harmonies of guitar and voice, and how the instrument can become part of the soul of the band. After recording 'The Bends' in 1994, I decided that I wanted to find out more about the instrument. I was lucky enough to have a series of lessons with Laurence, using his book 'Electric Bass Guitar'. The book helped me to understand the freedom that harmony and chord theory can give a bass player. It also helped reinforce and develop what I already knew about rhythm and technique. One of the books many strengths is that it can be used by any player, at any level; it is a very clear, concise introduction to the instrument. It has been repeatedly useful to me over the years, across several tours and albums, in fact, the bass line on Airbag (the first track of 'OK Computer') was the result of a lesson on chord theory with Laurence. I'm still using this supportive, challenging, and confidence-inspiring book for tuition and reference".

Yolanda Charles (Bassist with Robbie Williams, Paul Weller, Mick Jagger and many others).

"I met Laurence when I had been playing bass for a year. During our relaxed lessons, he shared with me his approach to becoming a good bass player and it's all here in his book. I've found knowledge of theory and the construction of chords invaluable. My technique, developed with Laurence's guidance, has helped me to avoid any physical problems such as RSI. Attention to the actual sound I was making, note-length, string muting and how the right hand influences the overall sound, have added much to my playing and musicianship. This awareness has helped me succeed as a professional musician.

The book starts by emphasising the importance of understanding the instrument and how to practise comfortably. It explains the patterns and ‘shortcuts' to enable you to get around the neck, and become ‘gig ready' within weeks. The more advanced player will find notated exercises, harmonic ideas and technique suggestions, which all add to a greater understanding of the bass."


1978, Electric Bass Guitar - A Complete Guide (59 pages)

I had started giving private lessons in 1974 and the idea of a book soon occurred. Then, in December 1975, Stuart McGowan, a guitarist I had played with at Lancaster University, told me that Chappell''s were interested in publishing a bass tutor. However, in a February 1976 meeting, they revealed that they might translate a French tutor they already published. Then, in July, they decided to proceed with my book, and the contract was signed. The original draft was hand-written in a week during an August break in Lancaster. It was typed and delivered on time at the beginning of October, just as I was starting to teach bass at Goldsmith's College, the class had been started by Mo Foster the previous year. There was then a long delay before it was published in December 1978, although this did allow for various additions, with the basic rhythm patterns being included at the last moment. The book was entirely designed and illustrated by John Stoddard. Its modern look was very different from other music books of the time.

1984, How to Play Bass Guitar (98 pages)

Chappell's had merged with EMI to become IMP. In 1983 IMP and Elm Tree Books wanted a bass book as part of a How to series. This provided an opportunity to revise and make additions. The work was typed during a summer season on the Isle of Man and published in 1984. It also appeared in French and Spanish translations.

1990, Electric Bass Guitar - The Complete Guide (95 pages)

After convincing IMP that it was time for a new revised, improved and enlarged edition; it emerged in 1990. The previous text was typed into a word processor and then the changes were made. The new material was inspired by the variety of freelance playing I had been involved in and this book formed the basis of my teaching, especially for the classes at Goldsmith's College where I continued teaching until 1997 and required that this information was presented as clearly and simply as possible.

2009, The New Electric Bass Guitar - The Complete Guide (130 pages and a CD)

Once the previous version was out of print, I was able to regain my copyright. So in 2008, thirty years on from the original publication, and back in Lancaster, I started working on this new version which was published in December 2009. Now the whole process is computerised, from the writing to design and printing. The original drawings (which were created from photos) have been replaced by photos. A consistent feature has been the bass on the front cover. When built in 1976 by John Diggins (of John Birch Guitars) it was all maple. On the latest cover, it now has an ash body and ebony fingerboard, both by Dave Wild (of Wild Guitars). The new book now comes with a CD and after many discussions with the printers, the book is printed with a wrap around (Half-Canadian bound) cover and spiral rings allowing pages to sit flat on a music stand.