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Anyone make/not make a complete transition from guitar to bass?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by _Some Dude, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. _Some Dude

    _Some Dude

    Sep 14, 2016
    Not sure which sub-forum this should go in...

    Last year I wound up playing bass in one band and lead guitar in another. I felt I couldn’t perform up to my full potential because I had to divide my attention and practice both instruments. I focused on bass because I felt that project was more interesting and had the most potential, then mailed in my performance with the band I was playing guitar in.

    Both those projects have ended (both due to drummers) and this year I’ve decided I don’t want to repeat that mistake. All my guitars/amps/cabs are in cases and in storage, and if someone asks I’m thinking about telling them I don’t play guitar anymore.

    I’ve even considered selling my guitar kit off, but that might be taking it a step too far.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2019
  2. I used to play guitar only. Over the years when getting together with musicians, bass players were hard to find. Eventually, to keep making music that had all of the instruments, I decided to play bass. That was about 15 years ago. I mean, play bass in a band and try to be a bass player (not a guitar player playing bass, I find there is a difference ). I fell in love with playing bass. It's awesome! I don't play guitar much anymore. I have found a love of playing piano in the last 5 years, but I still love bass more. I have now even added playing mandolin and tenor guitar to the list of instruments that I play. So, I'm a multi-instrumentalist. But bass is my main instrument. I find that by playing many different instruments, it gives me a deeper understanding of of music in general, which helps me be a better musician. If it were me, I wouldn't sell your guitar. You may find that songwriting comes easier on guitar (or another instrument?) I hope this answers your question.
    bpmben, redwingxix and Mr_Moo like this.
  3. Inara

    Inara Fretless Femme Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    I wanted to play bass starting from when I saw the local high school jazz band as a kid. The bassist had a white / tortoise unlined fretless Jazz, and I was completely smitten (with the bass, not the bassist, lol). My stepfather, who was a pro jazz trumpeter and son of a pro jazz guitarist, thought I should learn to play guitar first, so he bought me a classical guitar. I studied classical guitar for a few years, and then he and my mom got me an electric. After another couple of years, and getting pretty good on guitar, I finally bought myself a bass and began studying bass. I've very seldom played guitar in the decades since. I do own one currently (a MIM Stratocaster), but it's for sale, lol. Bass is what I always wanted to play, and once I started, I didn't really enjoy guitar any longer.
    Mr_Moo and KarateChris like this.
  4. AlexBassMP


    Feb 5, 2014
    I started playing guitar about 1990 and I've been playing bass since mid 90's. My friends and I started a band and we couldn't find a bass player so I bought a cheap used jazz bass copy and started to play.

    From mid 90's until this day I've been playing in different bands and it's ok...but I still play guitar and I use it as a songwriting tool.

    I guess that I'll never do the complete transition because I like to play guitar at the same level Iliek to play bass...
    BurnOut, KarateChris and Mr_Moo like this.
  5. kohanmike

    kohanmike Gold Supporting Member

    I played guitar for almost fifty years, often being told I should play bass because I had good feel and rhythm, but I didn't want to be encumbered by a large electric bass guitar, forget a standup bass. Then a little over five years ago I started playing ukulele in a sixty member seniors ukulele group. A year later the leader asked if anyone would like to take up the bass to fill in our sound. When I discovered bass ukes and other small bass guitars, I went for it. I'm up to nine ukuleles and twenty-five 21" to 24" scale basses and haven't touched my guitars since.
    Alivefor5 and pcake like this.
  6. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i first sang in public in 1963 (and yes, i was a little kid), started playing acoustic/classical guitar in 1968 and didn't play bass till 1994. the only reason i all but stopped playing guitar is i fell in love with the bass. i kept an acoustic guitar around anyway and still sing every so often.

    is there a reason you can't spend a few hours one night a week playing guitar while still focusing on bass? do you just not want to?
    BurnOut, KarateChris and Mr_Moo like this.
  7. I did, in 1973 :) Never looked back !
  8. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I tried playing guitar and just couldn't cut it. What throws me off is the B string which is not tuned in the cycle of 4ths and running a riff was difficult for me. Chords! Like putting my finger up against 6 cheese cutter blades!

    I'm glad I never learned guitar because I have a total bass mentality. Bass and only bass!

    IMO, guitarist do not make good bass players. They can be adequate bassists but not good bassists. Their mentality is geared for guitar and that is just not how a bass is played. Guitarist lack "soul" when they play bass. Just my opinion. I can hear it and feel it when "they" try to play bass.

    I'm glad I never learned guitar! I like bass!

  9. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I can see how limited time and headspace could lead you to choose one or the other. For me, guitar is how I make music for myself, and bass is for playing with others. Lately I've been working on ways to combine them, using short-scale six-string guitar-tuned basses and fingerpicking, with some success.

    I won't limit myself artistically, but beyond that there's something to be said for being ready for that two-axe show call or that band situation with a better bass player than I am.
  10. kohanmike

    kohanmike Gold Supporting Member

    After playing uke for just a short time when I picked up my guitars, I felt like I'm driving a Mack truck. The uke is so comfortable and accessible and fun, I much prefer it, so yes, I don't want to. I gave my Telecaster and Ibanez archtop to my nephew and am thinking of selling my Ibanez exotic 6 string and Ovation 12 string.

    You shouldn't make such a blanket statement. As I said, I played guitar for almost fifty years and after only 4 years on bass, I told I'm pretty good. When I play bass my mentality is geared to bass, when I play uke, my mentality is geared to uke, when I played guitar, my mentality was geared to guitar. One of my best friends is a very accomplished guitarist, and also a very good bassist. My nephew who started playing guitar at 9 and is also very accomplished, is now a composer and also plays bass very well. And then there's Paul McCartney. I could go on and on with examples, but I think I made my point.
    Misfit Wookiee, BurnOut and lfmn16 like this.
  11. sm49341


    May 12, 2013
    Bass is my first love and main instrument. (Not counting trumpet thru all high school years jazz/marching/symphony). I also play guitar. I split time practicing, but honestly spend more time on guitar, theres just so much there. I play some 6 or 7 guitar songs in our band, for a different sound.
    I suggest keeping the guitar, and playing enough to keep your skills up. Like someone else said, its definitely great for making music by yourself.
    BurnOut likes this.
  12. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I played guitar. Then I sought counseling. I’m okay now.
  13. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Absolutely! What you say. I was only stating my opinion which is meaningless because everybody has an opinion, including you.

    Obviously, from all of the instruments you play, you are very talented. I can't say that. I play only bass.

    My "general" experience with guitarist when they pick up a bass is they start playing "Stevie Ray Vaughn" licks and such. Incorporating guitar riffs over to bass lines. I say that sarcastically because not of them do.

    I've also heard other guitarist play bass and they play pretty darn good but IMO a bassist plays bass with the feel, soul and spirit of a bassist. And I'm sure that you do too since you've made a transition.

    "Play bass!"
    KarateChris likes this.
  14. redwingxix

    redwingxix Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    I get it but I wouldn't do it that way. I played strictly guitar for years until I joined my first band. We didn't have a dedicated bass player so one of the drummers and I would switch off when the other drummer was playing which was great because I'd rather play guitar. After a year of that we get a dedicated bass player and I started missing bass. After leaving that band I was not the superior guitar player in my next one and strictly played bass. Haven't played guitar in a band setting in probably ten years and haven't missed it once. I'll moving out west in a year and the keyboard player has already told everybody that when I leave they need to get a keys player because he is taking over bass.

    As far as denying your guitar abilities I wouldn't. You never know what a situation might call for and being able to be more useful to a group is an asset, not a liability. I get the time constraints for practice and focusing on what you want is what you should do but if people looking to play with think you might have an edge over other candidates, I see no reason not to use that.
  15. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    luckily for me, none of the bands or artists i've played with agree with that assessment since i've never been fired from a band or even received negative comments.

    i'm so sorry - i was addressing the OP, not you! he (she?) is talking about giving up playing guitar altogether.

    your lightweight basses are an absolute dream to play!
  16. kohanmike

    kohanmike Gold Supporting Member

    Ah, got it, and thanks, I like them too.
  17. _Some Dude

    _Some Dude

    Sep 14, 2016
    The band mentioned in the OP had a terrible bass player. I think he was trying to play bass like it was a rhythm guitar, except he also wasn’t a very good rhythm guitarist. On lead I found that incredibly frustrating, but it took me awhile to understand why I was frustrated.

    I left that band a bit burnt out on guitar but with fresh resolve to be a better bass player, so if I have a few spare hours to work on guitar I’d rather play my bass.
  18. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    I still play both, but it's so much easier to find work on bass. If anyone asks, I am a bassist.
    Nick Danger and BurnOut like this.
  19. I've played both guitar and bass in bands over the years. For some reason , I prefer playing bass with the bands. Occasionally I still do some guitar work solo and busk once in a while on my 12 string when I'm on vacation. It pays for the evenings drinks.:thumbsup:
  20. primusfan1989


    Jan 17, 2005
    new jersey
    I love and play both. Honestly getting more work on guitar lately but bass is definitely more of my comfort zone. I have to work harder to play good lead guitar

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