The guitar and bass guitar are two of the most popular musical instruments to learn. Bass guitar is often ignored in favor of the more popular guitar, but it’s essential for tying a song together. It’s the bass guitar that brings melody and rhythm together. However, beginners to the bass guitar often wonder, “Is bass guitar easy to learn?”
All musical instruments require hard work, dedication, and practice, but most experts agree that the bass guitar is one of the easier instruments to learn. This article will delve into whether this is the case and why the bass guitar is perceived to be easy to learn.
Is Bass Guitar Easy to Learn and Master?
Bass guitar is an especially beginner-friendly musical instrument. Even individuals with no background in music and instruments can quickly pick up the bass guitar. Once they get used to the tabs, they can start holding a bass line. However, while starting as a bass guitarist may be easy, this gets more challenging as you start coming across more advanced techniques. To truly master the bass guitar, you don’t just have to master tabs and play well – you also need a sense of harmony and rhythm and complement other instruments.
How Is the Bass Guitar Easy to Start Learning?
Now that we have the answer to the question, “Is bass guitar easy to learn?” it’s time to move on to why starting out is easy. One of the reasons for this is that individuals can learn how to play the root note in the chords and start playing the bass easily. After practice, individuals become familiar with the fretboard and learn the scales and the notes.
The following are some reasons why the bass guitar is relatively easy to learn.
1. Fewer Strings Than the Guitar
While guitars usually have six strings, bass guitars only have four strings. The fact that they have fewer strings makes them much easier to manage. Because of the fewer strings, there are less notes to learn and fewer notes to keep in mind and manage when playing a song because of the fewer strings. As such, you can pick up the instrument faster than you would the guitar.
2. Bass Guitar Doesn’t Need as Much Dexterity
The bass guitar is by no means a piece of cake to master. It requires time and practice, just like any other musical instrument. However, it also doesn’t require as much dexterity as the guitar. In addition to larger strings, bass guitarists also have the advantage of larger distances on the fret. As such, you don’t require as much dexterity and accuracy. While learning songs isn’t necessarily easier, physically playing them on the bass guitar is.
3. Finger Plucking Is Easier Than Strumming
While this is debatable and varies from individual to individual, most people report that finger plucking is easier than strumming. Therefore, utilizing a plectrum to strum guitars is more difficult than simply finger strumming a bass guitar. While you can also use finger strumming on a guitar, it’s more common to do so with a bass guitar. Additionally, finger plucking is easier when all strokes are upwards instead of having to master both upwards and downwards strokes.
4. The Strings on the Bass Guitar Hurt Less
Since the bass guitar has fewer strings, these strings are also further apart and have a larger gauge. Guitar players know the discomfort that comes along with mastering their instrument. Playing the guitar requires sacrificing smooth hands and dealing with cuts and callouses. While the bass guitar also causes these issues, there’s less pain and discomfort, making the instrument easier overall.
5. One Note at a Time
While mastering when and how to play notes isn’t always easy, playing one note at a time is. This isn’t always the case but is generally what bass guitarists require. That being said, it’s essential to ensure you’re playing the night note at the right time, which can prove challenging for beginners.
6. No B String Offset to Worry About
One of the things guitarists have to worry about is the offset of the B string. There’s no such worry with the bass guitar, making patterns easier. Whether it’s bass lines, triads, arpeggios, or scales, you can easily replicate these.
7. You Can Master Notes Instead of Chords
Lots of bass guitarists master chords as well as notes. However, mastering chords isn’t essential to playing the bass guitar. Therefore, you can get away with playing single notes. Some argue that you can do this with guitars too, but this applies to very few songs. The truth is that if you want to play a variety of songs instead of being severely limited, you’ll need to learn chords. This is true even as a beginner to the guitar.
It’s easier to play songs with no such requirement for bass guitar beginners. Bass guitarists don’t have to master finger arrangements on the fretboard – something that many guitarists find complex.
Bass Guitar Isn’t Completely Straightforward
Despite many factors making the bass guitar an easier instrument than most, it can be complex. This is especially true when you start progressing and learn advanced techniques. Beginners to bass guitar may find it easy, but it takes dedication to master this instrument.
One of the major challenges of learning bass guitar is knowing music theory. The role of a bass guitarist is to tie together the melody and the drums. They’re there to support the rest of the instruments, including the guitar. As such, mastering music theory isn’t optional. To improvise and know how to tie the song together, a bass guitarist has to be well-versed in music theory and needs to know how to apply this knowledge in real-life situations.
Bass guitarists also have to master timing and tempo and have great rhythm. It’s essential to keep accurate timing with the drums and pay attention to the drummer at all times.
No instrument is completely straightforward. The answer to the question, “Is bass guitar easy to learn?” might be yes, but the instrument comes with its own set of challenges. To be an excellent bass guitarist, you have to focus on your craft, become an excellent listener, and practice frequently. We would also recommend investing in professional lessons and recording your playing so you can listen to it and improve upon it. If you keep these tips in mind, you’re sure to pick up the bass guitar fairly quickly.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.