If you are stuck with deciding to pick up the bass or guitar, unfortunately, it’s not always an easy decision as there are many things that go into each instrument, and the further you look into it, the harder the decision may be.
In this guide, we will cover each of these instruments whilst using language that a beginner would understand as it can get quite overwhelming!
We will begin with the bass which is slightly larger in comparison to the guitar. It has only four strings that are at an octave lower than the guitar.
Since it has a lower sound, the bass’ role in a band is to provide a strong foundation along with the drums for the guitar to play on top off.
It depends on what kind of genre the band is playing, but the bass can also be used as the melodic instrument in some more unique cases.
Most guitars have six strings and have the main role of carrying the melody of the song, they are easy to hear in comparison to the rest of the band as they take center stage.
They also tend to play a solo or riff which can be very complex.
Bass And Guitar Similarities
Even though they do have their differences, the bass and guitar also share a lot of the same aspects.
In a way, the bass is almost identical to the guitar except that it has four strings instead of six and is tuned lower. The theory is the same though as all the chords and scales are applied in the same way.
Knowing how similar these instruments are to one another may help make the decision of what one to start playing.
When you gain some experience on the guitar, it can then be carried over to the bass and vice versa, how great is that?
There can even be basses that have five to six strings and guitars that have seven to eight, but once you have a better idea of the basics of each instrument, these things won’t seem so daunting.
Is Bass Easier Than Guitar?
One of the most common questions in regard to this subject is if learning and playing the bass is easier than the guitar.
There is a common saying that the more you play the guitar, the easier it gets but the more you play the bass, the harder it gets.
Generally, as you progress with the guitar you will likely play more complicated pieces that are fast and sporadic.
However, you cannot play the bass in the same way as the strings are too thick which makes it too difficult and the sounds of the chords won’t be as defined anyway.
Bass playing also tends to be slower than that of a guitar because it needs to keep the song in the correct rhythm instead of getting fancy with the melody which is the guitar’s job.
This does not mean that if you play bass you have to play slowly as there are a lot of bass players out there who play faster.
One of the reasons why people believe that the bass is easier than the guitar comes down to root notes. The root note is the lowest note of a chord and therefore has the strongest sound.
It’s very common for bassists to play root notes and can sometimes rely on them completely to carry the song.
Root notes are reliable and simple to do and can work as strong stepping stones between more complex playing.
Not everything is easier on bass though as the instrument alone is much bigger than a standard guitar.
As well as the body being larger and heavier, the neck is wider too which will make your fingers have to stretch even more to reach the strings and if you have a bass that has six strings, you will have a hard time in the beginning.
Having a strong back, neck, and shoulders will go a long way when you start playing the bass as, over time, it can put quite a bit of strain on your upper body.
Some basses are heavier than others and can weigh on average about 12 pounds so if you have a particularly heavy bass you might want to work on your strength in order to prepare for it.
Even though basses have the root note to fall back on a lot of the time, the music theory is still tricky and since the sound of the bass is easy to pick out, one mistake can make the rest of the band stumble.
For example, when a bass plays a particular note, the rest of the band must center their instruments around that same note.
Therefore the bass is not always easiest as a lot of responsibility comes with it too!
Which Instrument Is Best for You?
After learning a bit more about each instrument, you might still be confused as to which instrument is best for you which is why we will look at it from a subjective point of view as everyone is different in the way that they learn and play.
If you are a young child, it is probably not best to play the bass because it can be very heavy , and the wide neck is not the most accommodating for small hands.
The strings are also thicker and having to press them down a lot can be a bit sore when you are young.
Picking up the guitar when you are young is great because once you understand the basics of technique, as well as building up your dexterity with your fretting hand, you will find it much easier to switch over to bass.
If you like to take center stage and play cool solos in a spotlight, then the guitar would be best for you as you will likely be the frontman and all eyes will be on you! Just remember to support your fellow band members and keep at the same speed as everyone else.
If you prefer to stay a bit out of the way but still love to play good music, then the bass might be the better option for you.
You get to keep out of the center of attention whilst remaining as the essential piece to the band.
You should also like a bit of responsibility because a bad guitarist can get away with more if the bassist is good, but unfortunately this does not work the other way around.
However, with every instrument that you pick up, the sound that you will get out of it fully depends on how much work you are willing to put into it.
You will need to put a lot of time into practicing the basics before you will feel that you sound even a bit as good as you want to.
Staying Motivated To Practice
If you have either picked up the bass or guitar and have had a few practice sessions but are finding it hard to stay motivated because it’s proving to be more difficult than you had hoped, here are some of the ways that you can stay motivated.
Future you will be incredibly grateful that you stuck out the hard moments and kept on track with your practice because playing an instrument can open up new doors for you both professionally and socially.
The first thing you should do when practicing a new instrument is set yourself goals.
Setting goals for yourself will keep you much more focused and driven and has been shown that those that set goals are more successful than those who don’t.
Start off with a goal that is effortless to achieve and short term such as wanting to learn a new chord.
Even if the short-term goal is proving too daunting, you can break it down further into micro goals which could be something minimal such as taking your bass from the garage and tuning it.
You can write it on a sticky note and put it on the wall of the room that you practice in so that you are always reminded of it.
Setting yourself short-term goals will give you the motivation to complete the long-term ones that can take a few months such as wanting to learn a new song or learning to read music fluently.
Be Held Accountable
You can tell someone close to you that you are learning a new instrument so that they will help you feel accountable for doing it.
If you know someone who also plays an instrument, it will make it even better as they will be like-minded and can encourage you to come to jam sessions.
Getting a tutor is another great way to be held accountable because they will give you something to work on for the next lesson and if you don’t do it, they will hold you accountable.
Having a tutor will help you stay motivated in another way as they will make it easier for you to learn the instrument and make it a lot less overwhelming.
Keep engaging in the things that made you want to play the instrument in the first place.
For example, if it was a band that inspired you to learn guitar, keep listening to them and watching their videos because it will reignite that motivation within you again.
Seeing live bands as well will give you a real feel for the instrument, and you will likely find yourself walking out of the venue with a new feeling of inspiration.
Don’t Burn Yourself Out
Unfortunately, you can do too much of a good thing which is practicing your instrument, and it can end up in you burning yourself out.
By doing too much and investing everything you have into it for a long period of time, it will start to feel stale and boring but can also make you feel frustrated with it especially if you come up against a learning curve.
As long as each practice session is focused, it does not have to be hours long, and just doing a bit every day is much more effective in keeping you interested.
It’s also healthy to have a balance of things within your life, going for a walk or seeing friends is important too!
Give yourself a rule that if you start to feel frustrated with your practice session, put down the instrument and take a break.
This is not to say that feeling a bit frustrating when learning something is a bad thing because it is very natural and can even help you feel determined to beat it.
However, feeling too frustrated will make you throw your hands up and give up because it is starting to feel impossible, and your dream is moving further and further away into the distant future.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that bass is easier than guitar because they both have aspects that make them easier than one another.
They do have some minor differences such as the number of strings and how they are played, but the theory is almost identical.
If you are a younger person such as a child, it would be best to play the guitar, to begin with because it will give you a much better understanding of the basics that can then be transferred over to bass when you get older. It will also be easier to play as it will not be as big and heavy.
If you are an adult and are stuck between the bass and guitar, think about which one sounds more fun to you and if you can see yourself taking center stage or carrying the rhythm in the background.
Also, if you pick up the guitar for example, and feel like you made the wrong choice, you can transfer what you know from the guitar over to the bass easily.