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Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

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Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Old 09-09-12, 07:55 PM
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Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

For the longest time I've wanted to learn bass, and now that I'm ready to start with lessons on something I've started thinking about guitar instead.

When listening to music, or watching youtube videos, I prefer advanced bass or advanced guitar playing. However, when listening to more basic stuff I probably prefer guitar. The bass does seem like it could be pretty boring to play at times.

Another issue with the bass, is that I have a hard time hearing it out in some songs that i listen to.

Is one more difficult to learn than the other? How much of a cost would it be for a basic beginner equipment setup?

The only instrument I've played before was the trumpet for a couple of years in school.

I thought there was a thread on bass vs. guitar before but I couldn't find it in a search.
Old 09-09-12, 08:28 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by Lee Harvey Oswald
The bass does seem like it could be pretty boring to play at times.
Listen to The Who, Yes & Rush. Then talk to me. And yes I am a Bassist. Not as good as the ones in the groups I've mentioned, but still love it.
Old 09-09-12, 08:50 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

I've been playing bass for 24 years and guitar a couple years less than that. I am a bassist first though.

If you think you want to write songs guitar would be the way to go - that's why I started playing guitar too. But I always play bass in bands. Bass players are much harder to find so even if you're only half way decent you can get in a band.

I won't lie - playing bass is not sexy. But it's what holds thing together. Playing with a good drummer can make playing bass extremely fun and rewarding. I never find it boring when I'm playing original bass lines. Some covers are boring for sure.

I'm also not surprised you have a hard time picking out bass. Mixes these days are marginalizing it more and more in favor for kick drums that own all the low end. Like inri mentioned you won't have a hard time picking out with bands like Rush or Yes. Or even bands like Pearl Jam for that matter.
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Old 09-09-12, 09:45 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Been playing guitar for nearly 30 years. I recommend leaning guitar, as you can parlay that skill into acoustic, electric, bass, 12 string, etc. It makes you much more versatile. I own two basses and pay them often, even if my primary passion is the nylon-string acoustic
Old 09-09-12, 11:19 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Honestly, I don't think my opinion will matter as I'm not very good at music, but start with guitar and you can then translate that into bass. Even better start with piano, move to guitar and go from there. Best advice is probably to learn music theory and then almost anything can come from there. But, once again, I suck at music.
Old 09-10-12, 02:01 AM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Yeah, I'd say go with the guitar first. It's much more fun (at least initially) to play alone. If you have a buddy to play drums I agree it's a lot of fun to play bass. But if you learn guitar you can use those skills to undertand bass later and rock the house with either.
Old 09-10-12, 07:15 AM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Do you want to be in a band, write songs, sing, or just learn to play for your own satisfaction? If you want to be in a band, learn bass guitar. If you want to play and sing songs (alone, or in front of people at an 'open mic' environment, e.g.), learn guitar. If you want to learn to write music, learn both. I play both, and even though I write on guitar I always have a bass line in mind when I do so.
Old 09-10-12, 11:16 AM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

For those how love to rock guitarist here what do you think of the lessons on JustinGuitar? For beginners that is.
Old 09-10-12, 11:20 AM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

You want the chicks? -> learn guitar

You want to remain anonymous even whilst playing in a famous band? -> learn bass
Old 09-10-12, 12:01 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by The Black
You want the chicks? -> learn guitar

You want to remain anonymous even whilst playing in a famous band? -> learn bass
Often that's the case, but Gene Simmons would disagree.
Old 09-10-12, 02:03 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Just for the record, bass is not guitar with two less strings.

I did it the other way, and the skills that matter translate both directions. Specifically, learning how to fret strings, learning notes - the very basics. But after the very basics, there are more differences than not IMO. Bass requires an entirely different approach musically. Unfortunately there are two many players out there who take up spots in bands because they can't get work as guitarists, and they're only too happy to double the guitar or just play root notes.

If you learn guitar first, I'd say there's a pretty good chance you're going to play bass like a guitarist. However, it wasn't the case for me doing it the other way around. I don't feel any of my guitar playing sounds like it came from a bassist.

Still, guitar will probably be right for you. It's definitely the more accessible instrument. You can have a lot of fun playing guitar by yourself for people, but bass you pretty much need a band unless you want to be a bedroom rock star only.
Old 09-10-12, 04:44 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by bunkaroo
and they're only too happy to double the guitar or just play root notes.
As a guitar playing songwriter, unfortunately that pretty much sums up most of my bass playing.
Old 09-10-12, 05:30 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

What kind of player do you want to be? Like anything else, the guitar requires a ton of practice to really get good at it, but it also can pretty forgiving to hacks who only know a couple of chords. If you just want something fun that you can pick up from time to time and have a few songs you can play, I think the guitar would be the way to go. You would be pretty surprised at how easy some songs are to play.
Old 09-10-12, 08:33 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by inri222
Listen to The Who, Yes & Rush. Then talk to me. And yes I am a Bassist. Not as good as the ones in the groups I've mentioned, but still love it.
I was referring to basic bass playing as potentially being boring, not the more advanced playing.

Right now, I'm just looking to learn an instrument for my own amusement and then go from there. Maybe I'll seek out a few instructors and see what they say and maybe I can get a feel of the bass or guitar in my hand.

And, someone mentioned learning the piano. I'd love to learn, but don't have the place for one.
Old 09-10-12, 11:08 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by Lee Harvey Oswald
And, someone mentioned learning the piano. I'd love to learn, but don't have the place for one.


Old 09-11-12, 01:00 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

I've always chosen to play bass in bands, but could always rival the guitar player or piano player. Be a well rounded musician. It is very true about bass players getting little love, unless they are the singer as well.
Old 09-11-12, 02:37 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

I think these images will help you make up your mind:


Old 09-11-12, 02:52 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

I play guitar in an original rock trio and just dabble with bass to make demo recordings when writing songs. I would say bass is probably easier to learn initially but as difficult as guitar to master depending on how far you want to take it. If you listen to boring bass players then it'll sound boring, there are a ton of great bass players who are probably as proficient or more so than the guitar players in their bands. But that's considering you pretty much need to be in a band or play with a drummer to get the most of out the bass. If you don't intend on playing with others then guitar might be better for you.
Old 05-27-20, 09:32 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by The Black
You want the chicks? -> learn guitar

You want to remain anonymous even whilst playing in a famous band? -> learn bass
John Deacon must be twisting with that answer of yours.
Old 05-27-20, 10:29 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

You want to remain anonymous even whilst playing in a famous band? -> learn bass
John, George, Ringo and ummm, ummmm, geez I just cant remember that bass player...
Old 06-01-20, 04:22 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

If I were in it for the fame, definitely pick guitar over bass.
Old 06-04-20, 11:17 AM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger
If I were in it for the fame, definitely pick guitar over bass.

This may have been true 25+ years ago when guitar heavy (or god?) type stuff actually had any cultural cache in western society. Stuff like van Halen, malmsteen, etc .... where the guitar player overshadowed the lead singer. (In practice, the main focal point of a rock/pop band was almost always the lead singer).

Nowadays it doesn't make much of a difference anymore, unless your intention is to attract women who are over age 35 or 40 (ie. genY or older).

Since the death of grunge, guitar emphasis (or god) type stuff has been more or less in decline/hibernation. For millennials, the notion of a "rockstar" has been very different than previous GenY, GenX, Boomer, etc ... generations.

Current popstars/rockstars don't seem to have the same stature/emphasis in western society, compared to previous decades. Nowadays there are many more ways to achieve "fame", which doesn't require any mastery of fretboard technique nor the ability to sing in tune.
Old 06-04-20, 02:37 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Well this was quite the thread bump. Does anyone play either anymore?
Old 06-05-20, 04:28 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Well, yes, I know Rock is mostly dead with the youths of today. If you are looking for fame, become a rapper.
Old 06-08-20, 05:22 PM
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Re: Help me decide between learning bass or guitar

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger
Well, yes, I know Rock is mostly dead with the youths of today. If you are looking for fame, become a rapper.
My best friend's kid took up guitar about a year ago and is absolutely mad for it. He's like 13 or 14 and texts me all the time asking about tunings and truss rod adjustment and this and that. It's hilarious. Apparently he's gone from learning Metallica riffs and is now, as of a few hours ago, into Blink 182. I feel for my friend.

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