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In terms of profitibility for a Bassist: Piano or Guitar?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mz91, May 18, 2005.

  1. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    As a bassist first and foremost, with little time but a Piano and a gitarre lying around the Appartment i am not sure which one to dedicate myself to when not playing bass?

    What in your opinion would be more profitable to a bassist and why? I have made myself a small home studio, and i find myself sitting at the piano or with the gitarre to try come up with melodies! Since i want to delve into music theory, both intruments would help. But which one would you choose?

    Im leaving this thread a little open (not to specific) to see what kind of answers arise!

    Thanks in advance!

    Discuss! :D

  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It depends what kind of music you want to make. For example, if you're on a folk / rock kick, guitar would probably be a better choice. However, for building your understanding of theory, I suspect piano wins out - with the 'colour-coded' keyboard (natural notes white / sharps and flats black), only one place to play any given note (rather than the choice on guitar type instruments) and the ability to contrast notes across a wide range or play them bunched together (both limited in guitar type instruments) it's going to be a better tool for sounding out the different aspects of theory you explore.

  3. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Hey Wulf,

    Thanks for the reply... Thats a thing... I dont really have a favourite kind of music. It changes all the time! I respect both intruments utterly, but i am looking for one that will be more profitable to me...

    Piano: I think that if i go that route, it will take ALOT more time to learn competently. Im not sure if there is any truth to that. But i have the feeling that Piano will take alot more time to get into etc. But i guess it will be more profitable considering song writing and theory.

    Guitar: Alot easier to begin with. But i am not sure how much it will help me after. When i start looking into theory, i have a feeling that i will get stuck with the guitar! Like, i will only be able to play so many chords, and will have a block in terms of what the guitar allows me to compose.

    Im not sure if im making sense... But anyone, that plays both these intruments? Thoughts?


    good point on the "color coded" aspect of piano.. I suspect, that on the piano the light bulb moments of studying theory come out alot quicker just because u can physically "see" the theory working! :)
  4. RLT


    Jul 10, 2004
    South Central OH
    Around here guitar players are every where. Piano/keyboard players are hard to find. Look at it from a supply and demand point of view. Profit is made by supplying what is in demand.
  5. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Very True RLT...
    Thats what scared me somewhat though.. I mean, i am a bassist first and foremost.. And i guess there is so little Piano players cause its a harder intrument (no idea if this has any truth to it, jus my perception). And i wont be dedicating all the time i have to piano playing.. So its a hard decision to make! but point taken!
  6. I think that if you're looking at it as an aid to learning theory, piano might be more useful to you. And I say that as someone who plays guitar as well as bass. I *play* bass, and I *play* guitar, but I *don't* play piano. However, I understand it well enough to be able to figure things out on it, though I have no real physical facility on it. I think there are certain concepts that, for many if not most people, may be more easily grasped by looking at a keyboard.

    But it's not as if you can't learn theory on guitar. If that instrument speaks to you more, go for it. (But even so, I'd stiill try, if I were you, to at least get familiar with the notes on a piano, even if you never learn to play it very well.)
  7. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Hey Richard,

    I see what you are saying.. But again, its kinda scary thinking not to many people can *play* the piano. Cause that would be my goal! As of now i can pick up the guitar and strum some chords.. And just muck around and get something out of it! I wish i could do the same on the keys!! I really want to be able to express myself as i can on the Bass.

    But, i know its a hard question to answer.. I just want to hear the general opinions.. So keep em comin'
  8. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Yup. There are always too many guitarists no matter where you go. You may never be able to play complex piano concertos well but basic piano skills aren't hard to acquire. And it is a great instrument for learning theory, writing songs and arranging polyphonic harmonies.
  9. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    Well piano is my first instrument and it made learning bass a breeze in the theory department. I was told Miles Davis required everybody in his combo play piano. Not sure how true that is.
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    How much are you doing it for another instrument to peform on and how much is to further your musical understanding as a bassist?

  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...it is a color-coded instrument. ;)
    Speaking as someone who 'plays' bass & who used to 'play' guitar as a 2nd instrument...my vote is keyboard/piano. Every musician should be familar with it.
  12. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland

    Good Question!
    I am doing it for both reasons! I want to write music on the Piano, for my personal recordings! And then lay tracks down on bass. The piano stuff will be simple stuff. Bass will be the focus. But the piano will be my primary "melody" writing intrument. And to be able to write melodies, i need to learn theory! am i making any sense at all? :smug:

    And, thank u guys for the replies thus far! Definately leaning towards the piano right now! : - )

    I think i am going to have to get rid of the guitar to take away the temptation of sitting down with that thing!

  13. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I played both piano and guitar long before beginning bass.

    Playing the guitar helped my finger agility and fretboard knowledge, but I feel that playing the piano provided a bigger benefit.

    Because of the piano's graphical nature (as you move to the right on the keyboard the notes always rise in pitch), it's easier to see (literally!) how a chord is constructed.

    This is difficult on a guitar.

    Also, playing individual bass notes with my left hand helped me learn how the bass complements/supports the chord being played in a higher range.

    In my teen years, I figured out the chords and bass lines to numerous Beatles songs and I feel that this was of benefit to me when I picked up the bass.
  14. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    Thanks CJK84!
    Another good post!
    'Preciate it guys!
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    That is a HUGE benefit of the keyboard...
    When I did try to write tunes/grooves, I would ask the guitarist to voice the chords with only the D-G-B-E strings; leave the bass notes to me. ;)

    An example of someone who actually does this very well is Steve Khan; listen to how much freedom Anthony Jackson has on those Eyewitness albums.
  16. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Why not just learn both?

    If you have to pick, I'd suggest piano. It's a better aid to learning basic music theory than guitar. Also, you'll learn to read both clefs (without transposition) and to operate both hands independently. And, despite the popularity of the guitar, it remains the "lingua franca" for musicians in general.

    I don't think guitar is necessarily easier than piano. I just started learning to play keys a few months ago and find my initial progress with the keys faster (and less physically challenging) than my first few months struggling with the guitar.
  17. Sprudellio


    Oct 16, 2002
    That's a no-brainer: piano
  18. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    Keyboards, no question. You have too many technical similarities to the guitar to consider moving from bass to guitar as enlightening. Don't get me wrong, there are differences, but they are subtle compared to the keyboard.

    There are so few good keyboard players that even if you get relatively good, you'll be an in demand musician. The song-writing on a keyboard is easy as well. The link (in your mind) between keys and strings will strengthen your ability to play/read/transpose.

    Hands down, the keyboard would be your best bet.
  19. Allow me to wholeheartedly support this.



    You will learn both faster if you learn them at the same time. No, I don't mean you will save time by doing them at the same time but that the actual time spent learing will be more productive. The first reason is that it will protect you from the great learning destroyer: boredom over monotomy. The second is that they are instruments that compliment eachother in that they are both chord-based melodic instruments.

    I agree that the piano would be more "profitable" but you will have fun and grow your bass with guitar too from some of the same angles as piano and some new angles.
  20. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I do both.

    So far, I've found Piano to be much more useful.

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