Choosing the Bass Guitar or Guitar
Within bands the world over, there is an almost comical sibling-like rivalry between guitar players and bass players. Lead guitarists chide bass players as those who switched from guitar to bass because they couldn’t hack a more complicated instrument, while bass players consider guitarists divas that like to take over and don’t play nice with others. The truth is that both instruments have their challenges and their specific places within the musical world. The rest is up to the player.
While the two instruments have many similarities, they also have many profound differences. Both are wonderful instruments for beginners, and each complements the other for a well-rounded sound. There are several factors to consider when you are making the decision to learn a new instrument. Which one is right for you?
The bass guitar is quite larger and heavier than the typical guitar. If you have a smaller frame, short fingers, or back problems, then you might find that the bass is a little more difficult for you to handle. Conversely, if you have very large hands, you might not like the cramped feel of a guitar. The fretboard is much thinner and the strings smaller and closer together, so you would want to give the bass a serious thought before you choose this lighter instrument.
Don’t let your size be the only factor, however. Plenty of small people – guys and gals – play the bass guitar, while several giants have been known to play the lead guitar. Ultimately, you will overcome any obstacles if you have the passion to do so.
Barring any limitations, next ask yourself where you want to sit within the band. Do you enjoy a more supportive and cooperative role, perhaps filling in the music and laying down the “groove” that gets people up and dancing? You might just be a bass player. There is rarely a chance for bass guitar to take off alone for a lead, but, rest assured, everyone hears what it does for the sound.
Do you instead see yourself in the front, performing solos and carrying the melody? If you like the flash and glamor of the front stage, then you may want to learn the guitar. Keep in mind that the guitarist generally doesn’t get to provide the rhythm for the rest of the band. It’s the bass that’s the driving force in setting the pace of a song.
Your interests & expectations
When you first decided that you wanted to learn how to play a new instrument, you may have formed a picture of yourself playing it in your mind. What did that picture look like? Were you playing and singing along with your friends around the campfire? This scenario doesn’t work so well with a bass guitar. While bass players can sing along to their own playing, it is the guitar that is best suited for accompanying singers. Basses aren’t really made for strumming along. Many bassists choose to learn how to play a little guitar for just such a musical emergency. You may consider this, too.
If you truly do prefer to play with a group, and want to get as much play time as possible, there is the law of supply and demand to consider, as well. If it seems that you are completely surrounded by decent guitar players, you most likely are. Everyone wants to play the guitar at some point in their lives, right? A truly good bass player is not as easy to find – so you may find yourself in high demand, depending on where you live and what type of music you specialize in.
A good fit
Each of these elements considered alone is not enough to make your decision, but combined they do help you get a better feel for what instrument might work best for your size, personality, and interests. Also, bear in mind that you aren’t locked into this decision for life. Once you are proficient at one, the other will be much easier for you to learn. There are several famous lead guitar players who also play the bass guitar – and are good at both. There are also several masters of each that stick solely to the instrument they love. Ultimately, you will decide based on what motivates you to learn, grow, and play. Happy picking!
If you want to discover more about getting guitar lessons be sure to call Glenn Sutton at 619-306-3664.