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Does anyone think guitar is harder than bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MistaMarko, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    When I think about it, guitarists are usually playing solos that are way faster, they are more exposed so mess-ups are more noticeable, they are playing more than one note at a time. So, is a guitar harder to play than a bass? I mean, a couple little eighth notes isnt hard. What makes a bass so significant then?
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    It's music that's difficult to play- not the instrument. Try playing the same thing your guitarist is playing on your bass. And reverse the role for the guitarist- a couple little eighth notes on a guitar isn't hard either.

    Certain assigned roles may be more difficult than others, but that doesn't make a difference as to the inherent difficulties of specific instruments.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    This has been discussed countless times, but I still love when it comes up for some reason.

    Guitar is harder. Period. Ya'll can kid yourselves if you want, but it's simply the truth.
  4. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    I think that guitar techniques are harder for the beginner to learn, but that it is ultimately harder to learn to master the bass because the playing techniques are so deceptively simple, and you do not have the advantage of higher register polyphony as you do with the guitar.

    While guitar technique may be more physically demanding in certain aspects, the nature of bass guitar is such that I believe it requires much more development of interpretive skills in order to truly be considered a "master" instrumentalist.

    In any case, what's more important is learning to not only master the role of the particular instrument in an ensemble setting, but to be able to step outside the traditional role and find challenging new territory without losing sight of the essential nature of the instrument.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I can play moron guitar just as easily as moron bass. When you take it past moron levels, there are certain aspects of bass that are easier, but once you get to the advanced stages of playing either instrument, then the easiness factor of bass goes away.
  6. There are so many more things to think about when playing bass. The release noise is much more of a problem, as is playing in the groove with the drummer. Then add in the depth of techniques such as slapping. The physical aspects of bass are more difficult in my opinion. The strings are thicker (harder on your fingers), and the frets are wider (more difficult to play fast). If the bass doesn't cut it, the music just doesn't happen. It's a very important part of the musical group. The bass has it's part in holding rhythm as well as the harmonic side of music--where as guitar usually floats on top of this foundation.

    My native instrument is keyboard, but I play both bass and guitar, so hopefully my opinion counts for something.

    EDIT: Oh, and about the guitar being able to 'play faster' part... is that really important to music that you can play 64th+ notes? Well, maybe if you truly believe that "speed = emotion"...
  7. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Bass is easier to learn. With guitar, you jump into chords from the start and there are 6 strings you have to worry about, before you realize how they are related. Bass is 4 strings (well, most of the time) and 1 note at a time.

    Mastering an instrument, on the other hand, is hard no matter what. If you're busy arueing that it's harder to master guitar than bass, and therefore you are better or vice versa, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

    And speed =/= emotion, like others have said. I started out on gutiar, but decided to switch to bass because I just like the tone better. I think I can express myself better with that tone. I HATE it when people do something just because it gives them prestige.
  8. I play both (guitar and bass) IMO guitar is easier to master . The strings are ligther so Playing is much easier . Try doing tappings on bass It is incredibly difficult to do without making string noise .

    Also Guitars usually are covered up by distortion and other effects which blur out mistakes in technique. A bass player must know the guitar chords so he can play in the correct mode and scale .

    just my 2 pesos .
  9. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I can play bass, but I can't play guitar. The strings are just to close together for me!

    That said, I can play fingerstly on a classical guitar alright.
  10. Basses are a lot harder to play than guitars! Like Bryan said, try playing a guitar part on your bass (use a six string tuned an octave lower than the guitar if you like). It's a little harder, isn't it? Basses are pretty obviously harder to play. "But guitars have so many difficult techniques," people always say. Try them on a bass then. Both are constructed in the same way, so you can perform the same techniques on them. In most cases, the bass will be harder to play. So there you go. Who's got the more difficult instrument now?

    Which instrument generally has the most difficult part to play is a better question to ask, but it's still just a dumb contest. "Who's the most talented instrumentalist, me, or my guitarist buddy," is the question you're really driving at. The "difficulty" of the instrument always gets caught up in it. To a sane person, being easy to play is a good thing. Forget about proving how great you are by convincing everyone that you're doing something hard. Masochism != greatness. You play the bass because you like it, right? What else matters?
  11. My bass is made of hard rock maple, and is harder than many guitars.

    ...and Lemur has an excellent point

    ...and who the heck cares anyway? your friends?:rolleyes:

    I thought it was about the music..but I could always be wrong!:eek:
  12. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    it's like saying "which is harder to play, football or basketball?"

    they're as hard or as easy as you make them

    I think to develop the bare minimum skill to get by in a typical rock band, bass is a little easier than guitar since you don't have to memorise chord shapes, but that's 'hardness due to orchestration' not 'hardness due the inherent physical properties of the instrument" :)
  13. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    Bass is easier to play only on the punk-rock level (5-5-5-5-3-3-3-3). When it comes to complicated stuff, bass requires much more energy in seemingly any aspect. It takes more energy to pluck the string, to fret (especially with the pinky), to change positions, to perform bends and vibratos... Bass tends to be more demanding in quality of playing, since the distortion of guitar hides the technique defects.
    Bottom line - a good bassist can pick up a guitar, get used to the dimensions, and start shredding (tapping on guitar is really a joke). The opposite isn't applicable.
  14. morf

    morf Banned

    Feb 17, 2006
    I think if you take two guys, one a bass player one a guitar player who are on the same level (tho that'll be quite hard to compare, but lets say they are) I think that no matter which level they're at (beginner, advanced, pro, whatever) so long as they have the same level, it'll be harder to play what the guitarist plays than what the bass player plays.

    This is true only for me though. I think I'd have more trouble with the guitar than with the bass, while others have more difficulties playing bass over guitar. It's a matter of individuals, I dont think you can say one is harder, or the other is harder. All depends on what you can adapt to better.
  15. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN

    Sheer ignorance. The simple act of PLAYING the guitar is not harder than the simple act of playing the bass. Give me an hour, and I could teach a novice to play 8th notes on a bass. Or, give me an hour, and I could teach a novice how to strum power chords on the guitar. Neither act is necessarily harder than the other.

    You are making a comparison between apples and oranges. There are plenty of people that can play things on the bass that would confound most guitarists. Whenever I see these comparisons made, they are typically made between a lead guitarists, who has mastered his instrument and a bassist content to thump root notes. You are comparing musicians, not instruments.
  16. skewh


    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    There have been some very good posts made which I will reiterate before continuing to add my own opinions. First of all, it is music that is hard and not the physical mastering of an instrument. If I had started playing drums when I was twelve years old I would be as proficient as I am on bass today. Secondly, in my experience, most bassists can play better guitar than guitarists can play bass. Finally, I think that either instrument is of the same level of difficulty. It takes more than technique to "master" an instrument, and the physical instrument has little to do with what the music is trying to say.
  17. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    If you suck at guitar, you still have a good chance at being a decent bass player - if you suck on bass you don't stand a chance as a guitarist.
  18. It's kind of a ridiculous question, really. To become a really good musician is about equally hard no matter what instrument you play. The technical comparisons are meaningless.
  19. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Or a rythym guitarist. Or a punk guitarist playing power chords through heavy distortion. Get it yet? You can play any instrument simply. Adding a couple of strings doesn't make guitar any more difficult.
  20. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I disagree. It's a lot easier to play a tambourine, than piano. A harmonica than a guitar. A recorder than a flute. Lots of instruments are easier than the violin.

    I think it's a valid question also. If a kid for whatever reason doesn't have the time or talent to put into an instrument, and asks "Which would be easier?", to say guitar would be a lie. Just about anyone can play a song in 1 day on bass, not on guitar. My girlfriend doesn't play bass and for fun once I showed her the beastie boys "you gotta fight for your right". She jumped on the stage with my bass and did an excellent job. OK. She did a decent job. :) That would be impossible on guitar. Just to play a simple bar chord takes time and practice.

    Also - ANY guitarist can play bass if they had to in a pinch. Many bass players couldn't do the same on guitar. If a bass player and guitarist in a band were to swap instruments for a gig, the guitarist learning bass would have a MUCH easier job than the bassist. It would be the exception to the rule for it to be the other way around (jaco like bassist in a band where the guitarist just keeps the rhythem).

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