easier to learn: 6 string guitar or 4 string bass?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by sweetmarie58, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. sweetmarie58


    Feb 9, 2009
    Just starting to learn the 4s bass. Doing a lot of reading, notes, bass clef, staff, etc.
    Started reading about finger length after seeing a couple of videos on youtube. Wow, it seems that everybody that choosed to play bass all have snake fingers.
    Maybe I bought my bass to quick. Then I read about short scale basses?

    My index finger is only 3 1/8 inches. I thought I had average size hands for a man. Seeing that finger chart poll, I'm surely the minority. Here are the specs for my Hamer Slammer Chapparal bass. For a beginner, that doesn't play either instrument, is it easier to learn the 6 string guitar or the 4 string bass? I thought it was the 4 string, because I have four fingers, not 6, lol. Plus mostly play single notes, less chords, no?
    Will this bass be a problem for a very new beginner?:confused:

    Neck - Maple
    Body - Hardwood
    Fingerboard - Rosewood
    Frets - 20
    Pickups - Split-P
    Tuners - Chrome Die Cast
    Control - 1 Volume, 1 Tone
    Tailpiece - Standard Chrome
    Scale - 34"
  2. I think that'll be a fine bass for someone starting out. It specs like a standard precision bass, and that's always a fine instrument to start on.

    As far as the question of "is it easier to learn a 4 string bass or a 6 string guitar?"....hmmmmm... I think that depends a little bit on the individual, but I heard a maxim that I trust, and that's this: "A bass is easier to learn, but is at least as hard, and perhaps harder to master."

    Feel free to disagree with that fellow TB'ers, but that's my input. Maybe it's just because I'm a better bass player than a guitar player. :)
  3. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    I just encourage my bro in law to pick up bass...he has small hands with stubby fingers lol. I would say IMHO that bass is easier to pick up and dont worry about small hands. I dont have huge hands and I do just fine. My bro in law got a short scale bass though and it so far it has been best for him. Go for it.
  4. sweetmarie58


    Feb 9, 2009
    When you say go for it, are you suggesting I consider a short scale?
  5. 3toes


    Aug 30, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I don't think you need to be thinking about it in a PHYSICAL sense. To answer your question, you'll have to answer mine... :)

    When one of your favorite songs comes on the radio (or any song for that matter, really), do you find yourself:

    A) Humming along to the melody

    B) Bobbing your head/tapping fingers/feet to the beat

    C) Both A and B

    D) I only listen to Talk Radio
  6. I play both and find both of them are very challenging. The chords, ehhh once you learn the shapes and everything it's easy easy stuff. But, comparing to other instruments, both the guitar and bass are fairly easy to start and learn the basics, but just like other instruments nearly impossible to master.
  7. Which is easier, learning to walk or learning to talk? The bass and the guitar are 2 totally different instruments, functionally speaking. The guitar is an instrument that is easy to play poorly. Both are difficult to play well.
  8. TheVoiceless


    Jun 11, 2008
    New Jersey
    I would say that bass can be a bit harder on the hands then the guitar for a beginner. But I will agree with the other guy that "bass may be easier but it is just as hard to master the instrument as guitar"

    I have small hands for a man. But I trained myself to work around that. You just need to be able to switch positions faster.

    Both guitar and bass is going to be hard for a beginner. Its just a matter of what you prefer. Bass for me is my comfort zone. I can play guitar, not as well but I am decent. And it just doesn't appeal to me as my main instrument.
  9. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    is it faster to new york than by bus?
  10. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    When I started playing I bought a 32 scale because I thought I needed it. I have average sized hands. Now I play 34, and can also play 35. As you learn, your hands will move more freely along the board and you won't be stuck with a frozen palm. Relax and stick with 34.
  11. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    For me it's the opposite. I pick up a guitar (very infrequently) and it's physically painful to play compared to a bass. Those skinny strings feel like they're cutting my fingers open, and there's no room on the fretboard. And I have relatively short, skinny fingers... not prototypical "bassist's hands" by any stretch. The only nice thing about a guitar vs. a bass is the guitar is much, much lighter.

    Of course I have been playing bass for 28 years so quite a bit is "programmed in" by now.
  12. bass player 48

    bass player 48

    Nov 17, 2008
    I learned bass as an adult. I played for 8 years, took a break, and started learning guitar.

    IMHO - Guitar is harder to learn, and much harder on your fingers. This makes people kinda crazy around here because this is a bass site - but I say deal with it people. It's easier to learn the mechanics of bass, it's easier to learn how a bass functions in a group, and it is easier on your fingers. All in regards to beginers just starting out. Sorry if that rubs anybody the wrong way.
  13. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I'm 6'1" but I have somewhat small hands for my height, and I've come across some really talented bass players who play a normal scale bass with hands much smaller than yours.

    Just for reference, check out Tal Wilkenfeld. She has pretty small hands and plays just fine.

    If you can spread your fretting hand fingers so that you can cover 1 fret per finger in first position (1st finger-1st fret, 2nd finger-2nd fret etc) then you have all the reach you'll need.

    And even if you can't but are close, playing for a even a few weeks will increase flexibility in that hand.

    As for guitar vs bass, that's a whole different conversation that really doesn't have much to do with hand size IMO.

    Good luck.
  14. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    That's just your opinion...

    I've been playing both guitar and bass for 21 years now and I find guitar easier. Maybe if you call playing bass doing 8th notes all day long, that's easy, but actually grooving with the drummer and playing on a solid tempo is a lot tougher than playing regular guitar stuff, and sorry if that rubs you the wrong way...
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Eh, I didn't want to chime in on that aspect of the OP's post initially, but here's my take.

    IMO it's easier to become a "functional" bassist than it is to become a "functional" guitarist, meaning just getting enough basics down to play with other people without embarrassing yourself.

    Becoming really good on either is a whole different story and certainly debatable.
  16. yamaha


    Apr 7, 2006
    I've pretty much always said (and I play both), that Bass is easyer to learn the basics, but more difficult to master than the guitar.

    You can do easy a uncomplicated blues progression on the bass, and there you go. You can now play 10% of all songs that exist. Maybe not the perfect way, but decent. Or many of those 80's rock 3 note songs. But, if you want to groove, and anticipate, and feel the fills, changes, and extended range scales, then you must put a lot into it.

    On guitar, you know your basic major and minor chords, power chords, and a decent blues box scale, and you can play 25% of any recorded popular song. This takes a little longer to learn, but you can get by for quite a while with just those tools. To get better on guitar, fret and string size, action, and neck size make it (IMHO) easyer to get better than on a bass.
  17. Captain_Arrrg


    Jan 23, 2008
    Mountains of Colorado
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    14 years ago, my first teacher told me my hands were too small to play bass. He was an idiot.

    Tenacity is key, keep at it and your hands will learn.
  18. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    If you like bass better than guitar, it will be easier to learn, and vise versa. Now once you've learned either, or both, it will obviously vary with the individual - but the OP wants to know which is easier to learn not play. It's really amazing how a simple question gets juxtiposed around around here.
  19. That's a very good way to put it and I agree totally.

    FWIW, I'm an accomplished guitarist and bassist (according to my definition of "accomplished" anyway...) and have very small hands. I never once focused on that as an obstacle. JUST DO IT and don't use it as an excuse.
  20. C'mon man... Of course he meant which is the easier intrument to "learn" AND to "play."
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