Guitarist as instructor?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by td1368, May 8, 2001.

  1. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    I've been playing for a couple years and finally decided to start taking lessons. Considering location and convience I found a guitarist who also teaches bass. I know some people don't think that's such a good idea and I'm wondering if I should reconsider.

    Are there any drawbacks/ advantages? Any thoughts?
  2. I took lessons for several months with a jazz guitar player. The guy was an excellent teacher.. too bad I wasn't a better student. He knew music theory inside and out, and could readily demonstrate every concept.
    I think if your goal is to learn about music.. theory, etc.. then taking lessons from a guitar player is fine.
    If you're wanting to learn about bass-specific things, like technique, then a bass player might make a better teacher.
  3. I agree completely with Dave. When I first started playing bass, I took lessons from a jazz guitarist. He was really good and he knew his theory well. He got me started with the sight reading and gave me a good foundation of theory. THe problem was that I was too inexperienced to appreciate it at the time. I was 14 and just getting started. I learned all the things he was teaching me, but I was still discovering what the bass was capable of. I wanted to explore slapping and tapping and all the bass specific techniques and tricks. As a guitar player, he wasn't able to show me those things. As a result I wasn't 100% happy at the time and I quit taking lessons for a while.

    After that, I tried out a handful of bass teachers. Some of them were really good players, but I haven't found anyone who knew how to teach or was dedicated to teaching as much as he was. This was when I used to live in England. If I were still there, I would look him up and take some lessons today.

    My conclusion is that music is music regardless of the instrument. If you have already understood the technical aspects of your instrument and want to learn about music, then any instrumentalist can be of great help IMHO. But for more inexperienced players who need to learn about the specifics of the bass and the "role" of the bass, a bass teacher might be a good place to start. It's especially visually helpful to see another bass player play when you're learning technique.
  4. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    I agree, a guitarist (or even a pianist) can teach you the music theory side of things just as well as a "bass only" teacher. Some teachers will only teach you your favorite licks and starve you on the real food you need. However, a bass teacher who has "been there" can help you think like a bass player, to develope your "voice" or "place" when playing in a band situation. With our obvious superior intelligence and coolness quotient over other musical types, we are able to think on a different plane than the lowly guitarist and keyboardist;)! Seriously though, I feel that I take a different approach, position, whatever you want to call it, within our band than the lead guitarist or keys will. I find myself thinking and playing more in rhythmic terms, as a drummer would play, as opposed to a guitarist or keyboardist who might think more melodically. I know there are many of you who disagree with that approach, and use your bass as a lead instrument and solo with the best of them. But in my particular situation and current talent level, I am not called on to provide melodic support as much as holding down the groove. Bottom line, define where you want to go and find someone who can help you get there.
  5. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Hey thanks for the replies. I'm about at an intermediate level and want to build my skills to start gigging. I was thinking playing with an experienced jazz guitarist, like my instructor, can help me build confidence to get there. It always help to get another opinion though.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    JEEZ, here's another agreement with the previous posts? How long has it been to see such consistent love, peace, and happiness in a thread? :D

    Two weeks ago, I finally met this guy, an 18 year vet he said, that I was possibly going to take lessons from at the music store. I had my bass with me to ask about a "pinched" sounding G on it and try out some of the new Ashdowns they had. Having played for decades, I wanted advanced technique instruction - look for holes in my current ability and also expand my repertoire. He starts playing my bass, all basic fingerstyle. I asked him what other kind of stuff he plays and he replied that he doesn't use other techniques.

    Disappointed in what I heard, I start trying out an amp, doing some slaps combined with double pops. He comes over and says, "How are you doing that?" :eek:

    Now, I imagine this guy may be excellent for learning how to read notation and becoming at least capable on the electric bass. It turns out he also plays double bass and about 6 other instruments. Electric bass is something he teaches because he can. It is not his game. So, I'm still looking around.

    Also, a teacher who understands what you want to play is important, IMO. My first lessons, back in the `60's, were from a flamenco guitarist. That was fine for learning the rudiments, but when it came to practice material, I was nearly pulling my hair out. He could have geared it towards the kind of music I wanted to accomplish with the instrument.

    But in those day, teachers for electric bass were like finding a rapper with an IQ higher than their shoe size. If your location doesn't restrict your choices, I'd seek someone who plays bass as their primary instrument. For one thing, you won't have to look around for another teacher who doesn't know anything about you when it comes time to learn the finer points.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    add me to the list of (good) guitarist-as-teacher supporters.

    it really helped me because in the end, i ended up playing with guitarists, so it helped me to understand them by learning theory from their point of view. i've since had lessons from good bassists and they didn't help me nearly as much.
  8. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Right. I agree. I also had a guitarist for a teacher for a while. It definitely helped me get used to playing with other instruments.
  9. Ughh! There's too much love in this thread. Next thing you know, we'll all be breaking out in some Carpenter's song :) Someone has to disagree.....

    But it isn't going to be me. Learn your music from anybody who knows music (even your local kazoo player will do). But look for a bassist for guidance on technique. Hey!... Isn't that what everyone said? Sort of? Maybe?
  10. Hey does anyone have the Tabs to
    (They Long to Be) Close to You ?


    I started with a Jazz guitar player also, after a couple of months I left and found a Bass player that was a teacher but left him because no matter what I asked he only wanted to teach Slap and Tap, he was great at it but at the time had no desire to learn it. Went back to the Jazz guitar player and learned lots of theory.

    Now I do take lessons from a bass player but it is because I am learning the DB and I don't feel that the Guitar player will know very much about DB.

    I still learn alot of riffs and the such from Guitar player friends.
  11. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Well I've had guitar players, keyboard players, a vocal coach, two drummers, and a few real honest-to-goodness bass players as teachers.

    I liked the one best who is both an electric bassist and a double bassist. He plays electric bass in a Led Zeppelin style band and is the first chair double bassist in the state symphonic orchstra.

    Why I liked him best is that he had such love of the bass as an instrument and was able to pass that love and respect for the instrument to me. Plus he had such depth of knowledge of who the great bass players are and were, both electric and double bassists.

    He knows theory, but also knows how to create bass lines. Guitarists who double as bass teachers don't seem to have that tremendous appreciation of the instrument and don't really know exactly how best to approach a bassline. I'm not saying all such teachers fail in the area, but I'm saying if you could ever find a teacher like mine, you will see the difference in attitude and learn much more quickly.

    Unfortunately for me, I left the country and can no longer take classes with this inspiring teacher. I've tried a couple teachers here, but he was so good, the others pale in comparison. I wish every bass player looking for a teacher could find one like the one I have described.
  12. Yeah - isn't it funny how small their feet are too? :)
  13. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    my first bass teacher was a guitarist. he was so awsome at guitar and then he was always saying "guitarist make crappy bassist" and then he would play some amazing bass riff. hes probably still better than me and i had to stop taking bass lessons since no one in town can teach me anymore (well the ones that teach)
  14. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Melvin, when you say no one in town can teach you anymore do you mean you learned alot or
    did you reach a level where you could no longer learn anymore from the guitar teacher?
    Just curious.
  15. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    I actually learned with a guy who was both a bass player and a guitar player (he also played at the timeas a guitarist in a Fusion band which was very well known around here and took part in the Red Sea Jazz fest every summer).

    to my surpprise and although my initial doubts, this guy was amazing at both bass and guitar equally.
    and I can say it was great learning from him, he could play the guitar solos and riffs over my bass playing which a bass-only teacher cannot, he also would make proggramed drums and keyboards with his sequencer to go along.

    now, I also have this friend who plays jazz guitar, he is taking lessons from a pianist not to improve his theory but rather on how to play with emotions and how to use his theoretical and technical knowledge and employ it in the context of the music he plays.
  16. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    well i shouldve metioned this earlier. the first guitarist had put out a cd and was then offered to be like a producer or something like that in california so i could no longer take lessons from him. then the next teacher taught me some crazy stuff that is completely guitar oriented (like the kind of tapping in guitar solos) and then he helped me with harder stuff (primus, the metalica bass solo) but then he just didnt know what to teach me so i decided to stop. i wish i wouldve kept getting lessons from him so i could have learned more guitar oriented things. but he is also moving now.