Can I learn how to play the bass through regular guitar lessons?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by epsonecotank, Aug 15, 2021.

  1. epsonecotank


    Jul 30, 2021
    Can I just take the stuff I learned in regular guitar lessons and apply it to bass?
  2. mojomike001


    Mar 28, 2013
    South Florida
    Certainly some of it such as the music theory, scales and such, but then there are some unique bass related material you would need to learn.
    sonojono, BBQisgood, spvmhc and 4 others like this.
  3. kjp360


    Feb 11, 2014
    Playing bass requires a completely different mindset than playing guitar in most situations. On top of that, the difference in techniques can be pretty significant. So, yes...but no.
    sonojono, Mechanical, Mili and 3 others like this.
  4. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I played guitar for a few years way back in the '70s...maybe '71 to '75...just a little rhythm.
    Started learning bass eight years lessons.
    I have to think being familiar with the 6-string did help.
    So, to some degree...yes!
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2021
    DanDBassist and Ggaa like this.
  5. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    Sorta, yeah.

    How much your guitar lessons apply depends on your definition of “bass” and your goals with “bass”.

    Some people’s definition of “bass” is Guitar For Dummies, for others it’s Pianist’s Left Hand, for some it’s a Low Tuned Ballsy EQ’d Lead Guitar, there’s a handful of Slappy Tappers still around, still others it’s a Melodic Kick Drum, and then there’s ERB players…

    Guitar will be useful for visualizing chord, scale, and mode shapes on the fretboard as well as developing some somewhat useful amount of muscle memory in your fretting hand- and a good bit in your plucking hand if you get into classical guitar.

    Piano & Voice lessons go farther in mapping notes out in your brain.
  6. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer

    Jun 3, 2009
    Los Osos, CA
    that depends entirely on what you learned in regular guitar lessons.
  7. Knavery


    Feb 24, 2004
    Westminster, CO
    Theory-wise yes. I played guitar first and switched to bass. The hardest thing to unlearn was playing the same rhythm parts on bass as the rhythm guitarist. I know some bands do it, but the role of the bass player is so much more.
    u2brothr likes this.
  8. I started by playing Bass back in the seventies. All I could do, back then was read music. I took up guitar to make me a better bass player. it does help, that said, ANY music experience (even if it's on a kazoo) will help. Bass lessons, however, will give you a better grasp of your instrument, so, if you are intending to play Bass as your primary instrument, then Bass lesssons would serve you better than guitar.
    MattZilla and Mastermold like this.
  9. TOOL460002


    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz
    A quality guitar teacher would refer you to a quality bass teacher. Only taken a few actual guitar lessons, but first two "bass teachers" were guitarists. One was okay with bass, but he was a good guy and gave me the best reference of my life when he could no longer help me to improve.
  10. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    When I was learning late '60s there were no bass guitar teachers. But I did take lessons from local Musicians Union guitar players who taught out of music stores. These guys were jazzers, but they taught me a lot about basic theory and chord progressions, chord tones and inversions, and scale patterns up and down the neck. Was taken through the complete Carol Kaye Electric Bass series and a couple of books by Valda Herrerick. That was more than enough to get me started playing in high school jazz bands and dance rock bands.
    marchone likes this.
  11. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    Certain things yes, but the same thing can be said about any instrument, some musical elements are not instrument exclusive.

    I dont see a problem but ideally you would take bass lessons if your goal is to also be serious about learning bass. Id even say drum lessons are more helpful than guitar lessons for new bassists.
    Pdaddy1978, Mili and BarfanyShart like this.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    There’s certainly some crossover. Especially with the scales and other fundamental elements. It could get you started and you could learn the finer points as you go.
  13. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Good bit of it. But you may need to learn the function of the instrument. Keep in mind, in most cases it’s not a solo instrument, the scales you use for leads on a guitar may sound out of place on a bass. But have at it. it’s a great instrument.
  14. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I would say "yes and no" to be encouraging, but it's probably more like "no and no." I think it is good to know how to play some guitar if you play bass, it helps you identify chords by sight and makes you better at picking up and playing with any rando guitar player. Bassists pick up so much guitar through osmosis, I figure most bass players could sit in as a rhythm guitarist if they had to.
    DanDBassist and Mili like this.
  15. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    Some of it, yes. Chords (chord tones), scales, theory, etc. all apply. If you know your way around the fingerboard of a 6 string guitar, you already know your way around the fingerboard of a 4 string bass. You probably know - the role of a bass player is different. Therefore the approach to playing is different. If you plan on teaching yourself (i.e. no formal lessons), it may help to listen to songs you like, then pick out and learn the bass parts. This will sharpen your skills to pick out bass parts (ear training), and help to understand what notes are played and why.
    dougjwray and DanDBassist like this.
  16. MikePlaysBass


    Oct 3, 2011
    Just turn the question around. Could you learn enough to play guitar well from just taking Bass lessons?
    There is a lot of overlap, but they’re still different instruments that play very different roles in a band. If you can separate out those differences, then you could probably be able to pick up one from knowing the other. It’s not as much about the notes as it is about technique. Some people pick that up fine on their own or through online lessons. For others, a few lessons from a good instructor could get you on the right track much faster.
  17. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Since many bass players started out as guitar players, I would say "yes". Then you'll pick up more basscentric things as you progress.
  18. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    I play bass (and sing harmony) just barely behind the note. I play guitar and sing lead just on the note. That difference alone makes for very different approaches for me. And it took me some time to learn the distinction.
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  19. BassFalcon


    Nov 18, 2020
    Can you learn Spanish in English class? Sure the basic language mechanics and parts of speech and stuff you learned in English class will come in handy learning Spanish. You’ll even recognize some words that sound very similar and have similar meanings, but you won’t be a fluent Spanish speaker. If you want to learn to play bass, learn to play bass. It is one of the easiest instruments to get started on at least for blues/rock/rock-influenced music. Pound out 1/8th notes on the root of the chord and you sound like a pro already. Keep learning and you’ll keep sounding better and better.
    drumvsbass likes this.
  20. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Pretty much but you might be better off learning from bass material. It depends if you just want to learn or if you want to be a bass player.
    How do you propose to learn feel?
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2021