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Did you start out on bass or guitar?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Ron Johnson, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. Bass

    42 vote(s)
  2. Guitar

    61 vote(s)
  3. Both

    4 vote(s)
  4. Double bass

    2 vote(s)
  1. Ron Johnson

    Ron Johnson

    Nov 19, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    This question pertains to only guitar, bass, and double bass; not any other instruments you may play.

    Answering this poll with 'bass' also assumes that you play bass primarily.

    I'm curious as to how many bassists out there started on bass, not guitar. So many times have I heard that the bassist in the band is just the crappy guitarist, and I can tell that may be true for many amateur bands today, but most likely not for the people on this forum (since you're definitely passionate about the bass for being on this forum).

    'Brief rant warning'
    It enrages me when I see "bassists" playing on stage that are obviously not bassists. Playing the exact same thing as the rhythm guitar may add low end, but it takes away from half the importance of the instrument. What ever happened to the bassists with groove from Motown, soul, and jazz?
    I mean no offence to those of you who may follow the guitars, as some genres(in their tradtional form) do not allow much room for the bass to have it's own part. For example, old school heavy metal (like Slayer) may not allow much room for the bass to do it's own thing except during drum fills, but prog metal (like Opeth) gives the bass an entirely separate and definitive line.
    Anyways, my answer to this poll is 'both'. I bought a first act guitar and first act bass on the same day at a flea market and learned both simotaneously. I ended up focusing on the bass instead of guitar because low brass is my background and I am accustomed to the rich, mellow tambre of low instruments. I also prefer the more intimate feel of touching strings with both hands rather than using a pick like on the guitar. After deciding to focus on bass, I did all the work I could to practice becoming a bassist rather than just a guitarist with fewer strings.
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    1st Bass-
    Xmas 1972

    In a parallel world, I coulda been a drummer. My Jazz drumming uncle wanted to give me a set of drums (1966). My mom said "No, thanks".
    Looking back, thank God it didn't
    happen. It was a Premier Jazz kit from England. I woulda beat/banged the hell outta them.

    Why bass over guitar? 'Cause I had no clue.
    My older/cooler cousins hipped me onto bass.
    They schooled me with the following:
    1) Every band has a bass...some bands did not have a guitar (they listened to a lot of Rock & a LOT OF Jazz. Many Jazz bands had no guitarist).

    2) Paul McCartney (possibly my most favourite musician in the mid-late '60s) played bass.

    3) Jermaine Jackson (my favourite J5-er) played bass.

    The clincher? A neighborhood friend's older brother played guitar...so I watched. Chords looked more complicated than what I knew about bass. 1-finger, 1-note. Works for me.
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I answered "bass," though technically I played cello for a few years before teaching myself electric bass to play in the school jazz band. Cello was taught as a solo instrument, so playing bass was definitely a different ball game. I've owned a guitar at a couple times of my life, but it never clicked.

    I personally think that you can start on any instrument, and switch to any other, and you can become a good player on either or both.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  4. I started on guitar, mostly because I wanted drums and my parents said HELL NO. It was for the best as I am very uncoordinated and can't play a different rhythm with each limb. I picked up bass because there used to be a heck of a shortage. Now there's simply a shortage of good bands that don't require me to quit my day job to go "on tour".

    A lot of bands don't give a rat's ass about bass. A long time ago, I lost an audition to some chick (who obviously looked better than my ugly mug) who showed up with a borrowed bass and didn't really play. I once got canned from a band for walking between chord changes because I wasn't playing his riffs an octave lower and/or doing root 8th notes.

    Some metal and other genres are horrible with bass parts and EQ-ing us out of the mix. I kinda stopped listening to a lot of metal when I couldn't hear any bass.
  5. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Yes on bass
  6. Started on Piano, then Euphonium (tenor tuba), then Guitar... but learned all the Bass lines by ear at the same time as Bass just came natural to me. I was so green I didn't realise it was a separate instrument.
    Started Double Bass when I was 18yo.
  7. I voted guitar because it's true, but I only started on guitar because I wanted to play an instrument and my dad left his acoustic guitar at our house when he left...

    The first instrument I bought was a bass though. About three weeks after playing/learning the guitar, a friend showed me how to play the main bassline to Pink Floyd's "Money", and I became obsessed with playing it, but it never sounded right on a twangy guitar. I knew what sound I needed, and what sound I wanted to have. I bought my first bass the following day.
  8. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    I thought most bass players were former guitar players.
  9. Ron Johnson

    Ron Johnson

    Nov 19, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    If you want to hear bass in metal, check out Beyond Creation, Opeth, and of course Black Sabbath. I never listened to modern metal until recently, and I found if you're patient enough to sift through loads of talentless crap, you find a few very good bands. Beyond Creation even has a fretless bass with plenty of solos.
  10. I enjoy playing fast more than the next guy. The modern metal has that detuned, mid-scooped guitars, super fast with little/no dynamic feel. I like some progressive rock/metal that's more aligned with classic metal/prog. I guess I'm too old and no longer a target demographic.
  11. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I started out taking drum lessons for a couple years starting at age 10. However, I also got a guitar at age 10 but did not learn how to play it then. At age 12, I met a kid who played guitar and had a band. He started to teach me some things on guitar. My first two paying gigs were as a percussionist (tambourine, maracas, etc.). I joined the band as a second lead guitarist and when the bass player left soon after, I switched to bass at age 14 and have never been out of work since 1970. And, the rest is history as they say.

    I did play some piano and eventually took violin lessons for six years late on; but, bass guitar was always my main instrument.

    I was in a band as a teenager where the drummer also played bass and he and I would switch instruments on some songs. That was fun.
  12. I started on guitar.

    I think what helped my guitar and bass playing was that I played in a jazz combo and listened to funk, besides other music, when I first started. That gave me a different approach on how guitars/basses (and all instruments) are arranged in songs.

    If I end up playing guitar, and see someone already jamming on chords, I'd normally switch to playing single-note lines or chords in other areas of the fretboard. My thoughts would be adding a new layer of sound, not copy another.

    If I end up playing bass, my attention is closer to the rhythm, connecting chords with specific lines if the song warrants it.

    Since I play bass in a cover band, I just try to stay as close to the spirit of the song as possible. However, if I played guitar in that same cover band, I would purposely use jazz chords and other rhythmic-styles just to throw everyone off and laugh. I get a kick out of seeing how fast band members can react to improv'd changes.
  13. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Bass guitar. I still have never learned how to play guitar.

    As to the OP's "rant". With all due respect, there are far more matters to be enraged by than anything to do with music.
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I did play guitar before switching to bass but I played other instruments before guitar.
  15. Oldschool94


    Jan 9, 2015
    My first instrument was actually bass clarinet. I got a guitar in middle school. I really liked playing guitar, and have continued to play it. However, as time goes on I find myself more and more unable to think like a guitar player. I really feel like I'm pretty much trained to hear and think like a bass player at this point. I picked up bass when I went to an audition for the church band and there were tons of much more talented guitar players and not a single bass player. Essentially the usual story, but I've come to love the instrument.
  16. sketch


    Oct 16, 2013
    Tacoma, WA, USA
    Poll: "other - violin"

    I started playing Violin at age 7. Dabbled with viola, cello, and contrabass in junior high, before taking up guitar at 14. Had an electric bass as well by 16.
  17. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    always played bass-

    you would think it would carry over to guitar but it didn't really...for me anyways.
    I cant play a guitar in tune; unless its an acoustic. my hands are too strong I guess. those dinky little strings just don't do it for me.

    I play bass because of the subtleties; the undertow-the harmonic power...and of course, for the earth shaking low end.
  18. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains

    Then I switched to bass when none of my bands could ever find bassists because everything me played guitar. Best music decision I ever made, other than learning to play in general. I still play guitar for fun and wouldn't make ne joining a band as a guitarist but I don't think that's in the cards right now.
  19. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I don't remember a time when I didn't want to play guitar--so it came before bass--but about 2 1/2 years after I started guitar I started bass.

    I'm still more a guitar player than a bass player--but the percent of each is gradually getting higher for bass.
    I don't see a day bass will pass guitar overall--but there are periods of time that bass is more common.
  20. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    My mom bought me an acoustic guitar when I was 11 or 12, but I never really went anywhere with it. When I was 14 I expressed interest in bass, but given the fact that she wasted money on the guitar, she refused to buy a bass. I saved up the money and bought it myself. Still the best thing I ever did.
    zontar likes this.

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