Should I learn bass or guitar first? If you are a complete beginner and you’re really determined to learn both of these instruments, we recommend learning the guitar first. You can play and sing along to numerous songs with this instrument, allowing you to develop your rhythm and accuracy in playing notes and chords.
If you are trying to begin your musical journey, the best option you have is the guitar. However, there are many different types of guitars. There’s the electric guitar, the acoustic, the classical, and the bass.
Of all these variations, the most distinctively different ones are the acoustic and the bass guitar. One has six strings, while the other has four. Additionally, each of them is also played differently.
So, the question now is, if you’ve just begun your journey, which among these two should you learn first? The acoustic or the bass guitar? Here’s a quick guide that might help you out.
Bass vs. Guitar
Before you decide whether to learn the bass or the guitar first, it’s important that you fully understand the differences between these two. This will help you gauge which instrument would be more impactful in your musical journey.
The first major difference between these two is also the most obvious; their number of strings. A traditional guitar has six strings with the standard tuning of E-A-D-G-B-E. On the other hand, a bass guitar, traditionally, has four strings with the standard tuning of E-A-D-G, which are the top(thickest) four strings of a regular guitar.
There are some bass guitars that have five or six strings, but their tuning would be different than a regular guitar. That’s because bass guitars follow the perfect fourth interval, which means the tuning would either be E-A-D-G-C, B-E-A-D-G, or B-E-A-D-G-C (for the six-stringed bass guitar).
The next major difference between these two instruments is the playing style. Traditionally, bass guitars play notes while regular guitars play chords, which are basically compilations of notes.
Because of this, playing a regular guitar requires you to fret multiple strings at once. On the other hand, bass guitars often require you to fret just one string on a certain fret to play a note. Nonetheless, regular guitars may also be played using notes only instead of chords.
The last difference between these two is the role they play in a band. Bass guitars function as the foundation of the song. Without them, the band would fall apart. The songs would sound as if something was missing from it. They also tend to give the songs a certain groove.
On the other hand, regular guitars can either be the rhythm or lead of the band. Rhythm plays the main melody of the song, while the lead often plays notes that give the song flavor. Ergo, neither of them is superior. Both of them work hand-in-hand to make the band sound good.
Which One is Better to Learn First?
Now that you know the differences between these two, it’s time to find out which one is the best instrument to learn first. Ultimately, the answer depends on you. However, you might want to consider the following before making a decision.
Guitars are often standalone instruments, while basses are usually accompaniment instruments. What we mean is that the magnitude of songs you can play on the guitar alone is tremendously bigger than songs you can play on the bass alone.
This means that you have better chances of learning more songs on your own with a guitar and singing along to them as compared to playing the bass only. Because of this, you get to develop your rhythm in switching between chords, and you get to develop your skill in accurately positioning your hands and fingers along the fretboard.
Guitars have a wider range of notes and pitches. They are much more vibrant, bright, and exuberating than bass guitars, unless, of course, you’re an advanced bass player. Because of the versatility of sounds you can play on a guitar, you have better chances of coming up with an inspiration for a song.
Ergo, if you also wish to pursue songwriting in the near future, the guitar is perhaps the best instrument you can learn first.
Ease of Playing
When it comes to ease of playing, the bass guitar takes the victory. Of course, this is only true if you just wish to play the basics. Most music is written in 4/4 time signature. This means that most of the time, you only have to press one string on one fret for four beats.
On the other hand, in the same 4/4 time signature, playing the guitar means you have to press multiple strings in various frets for four beats. That’s because guitars play chords instead of notes.
Because of this, bass guitars tend to be easier to play than guitars. However, adding flavor or groove to your music would obviously require more.
Playing in a Band
If you don’t love being in the spotlight, the bass guitar is the better option. Bassists, except for a handful of people, don’t often capture the public eye. That’s because, as we’ve said, they are often the foundation of the band, unlike lead guitarists who sometimes play electrifying solos.
Additionally, and strictly speaking, there is a much higher demand for bassists than guitarists. That’s because there’s a significantly higher number of people who can play the guitar, but not a lot can play the bass. So, if you’re looking to be part of a band, learning the bass guitar could be your golden ticket.
On the other hand, if your long-term goal is to take people’s breaths away with your performance, learning everything you can from the guitar is a better option.
At the end of the day, what really matters most is what excites you. The passion and motivation to create music are still the driving forces necessary to be great at what we do, no matter what the instrument we choose is.
If the guitar excites you, go for it! If you feel a certain type of connection with the bass, learn that one first! Either way, excelling in one will help you understand the other better.