The guitar and bass may look similar but are two very different instruments. For a beginner, it’s difficult to understand which one you should pick up. Everyone has different musical styles, preferences, and talents.
You should understand yourself as a musician, but you should also understand both instruments.
The key point when picking up a bass or a guitar for the first time is understanding what works for you.
Do you appreciate melody? Are you better with rhythm? Do you see yourself playing solos? Or would you rather keep up the beat?
For beginners, it’s best to focus on one instrument. But you can always learn the other later down the road. So should you learn guitar or bass? Read on and find out.
You Prefer Playing Leads Over Rhythm
Jimmy Paige. Eddie Van Halen. Jimi Hendrix. David Gilmour. Slash. Steve Vai. John Petrucci. What do these names have in common? They play leads.
While there are legendary rhythm guitarists, most music fans recognize that illimitable guitar solo. Even fans of The Beatles remember every George Harrison solo as much as they remember every lyric.
Listen to your favorite bands and songs. If you notice yourself becoming hooked to a guitar solo, you’re destined to play leads.
Understand learning lead electric guitar takes a lot of practice. To learn guitar leads, you need a strong knowledge of scales, a powerful ear, great songwriting technique, and the ability to improvise.
You Have a Strong Sense of Rhythm
Every song needs rhythm. No matter the incredible talent of the singer or the noodle-solos from the guitarist, every band needs a solid rhythm section. This is where the bassist and drummer come in.
The bass guitar is an exciting instrument. It draws the line between melody and rhythm. You’re keeping up with the guitarist while holding down the rhythm for the drummer.
When you listen to music, do you tap along to the drummer? Do you count the beat or identify time signatures? This means you have an excellent sense of rhythm, and the bass could be your instrument.
But a beginner bassist might think: isn’t the bass harder than guitar? It is for some people, or if you spend hours listening to funk bands.
But even major bands in metal and rock n’ roll have easy bass lines which help you become acquainted with the instrument.
Always remember: in the beginning, follow the drummer and support the guitarist. Identify necessary lessons such as chord changes before getting into intricate techniques.
What Feels Comfortable
Maybe you don’t have a preference for lead or rhythm. So if your playing style isn’t a determining factor for you, should you learn guitar or bass?
It’s simple: walk into the music store, pick up an instrument, sit down with the instrument on your lap, and put your hand in position.
No need to plug the instrument in or play anything. For this lesson, you only need one material: a pick.
For a guitar, choose one at random and sit down. Hold the pick between your thumb and index finger.
Place the pick up the top (E) string. Identify other aspects of the guitar: the frets, the knobs, the strings, and the whammy bar. Does this feel comfortable?
Now, move to the bass. Once again, choose a bass at random and sit down with it.
But don’t take out the pick — take your right hand (or left if you’re a lefty playing a left-hand bass) and place your index and middle finger on the top (E) string.
Like with the guitar, feel around the bass. Do you notice the frets are wider? Are the strings thicker? But the body is a little slimmer.
From here, choose which one feels comfortable. Feel free to search simple tabs and experiment playing with each. Choose an instrument you see yourself enjoying and becoming comfortable with.
Choosing By Genre Preference
Most musicians have a certain playing style or fit the mold in a specific genre. While you should always branch out and learn new styles of playing, bass and guitar serve different roles in various musical genres.
For example, most music fans see the guitarist as the one in the limelight. But that’s because they only listen to rock n’ roll, where the guitarist was always shredding in the spotlight.
But if you check out some old funk, you would see the bassist up front before the band.
Certain techniques are different for each genre of music. A jazz guitarist is different from a country guitarist, just like a heavy metal bassist is different from a blues bassist.
Study the music you listen to and picture the type of band you want to play in. Study their musicians and see if you relate better to the guitarist or bassist. From here, you’ll understand if you should learn guitar or bass.
The Truth — Neither is Easier
Bass and guitar both require intricate abilities and challenging technique. The fact that one is easier than the other isn’t true — what it boils down to is you.
For both, learning the basics is easy: standard tuning, basic chords, and beginner fingering techniques. But both become harder when you learn advanced technique, complex scales, odd time signatures, and chord changes.
The instrument you pick depends on many factors: what you prefer, what you feel comfortable playing, and what genre you see yourself playing.
Whether you play guitar or bass, understand learning an instrument is challenging, but rewarding.
Learn Guitar or Bass and Become a Rockstar
The instrument you decide should depend on your preference and expectations. Bass and guitar are different instruments but have similar guidelines when determining which one to start playing. The most important rule to understand is both are complex instruments, and you need to devote a lot of time to perfect your skill. Learning an instrument is an incredible experience. Guitar or bass are both great for beginners. If you want to learn the easiest way to play guitar or bass, I can teach skills to musicians of all ages via online bass lessons and online guitar lessons.