Learning Guitar to improve at Bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by spanndrew, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. spanndrew


    Oct 14, 2013
    Atlanta, Ga
    Greetings TB,

    I've been playing bass for just under a year now and while the progress is slow, I can definitely see a huge improvement. Lately I've been thinking a lot about purchasing an acoustic guitar with the idea that it will help me progress with my bass playing. I was thinking that learning and understanding chords could help me make faster/better decisions when improvising and work on my relative pitch skills. As a side note, I've also started writing music with some friends and it seems like it would be easier to do so on a guitar. Does anyone have any experience with guitar helping out their bass skills? Any feedback would be awesome.

  2. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Learning another instrument can help you with some things, but it can also take away practice time.
    But sometimes you need that break-it can help to get out of a rut for example.

    Learning chords will help with bass.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    No question you can write melody better on something else. First choice; keyboard, second choice rhythm guitar for the harmony and your voice for the melody.

    Strumming chord progressions - over and over - does help your ear lock in on the chords being played. And will help with how chords help with moving the story along in a verse. Chords do two things, move the story along with the chord progression and then harmonize the melody by sharing notes in the melody line and chord line, so it's a balancing act between melody and harmony. Little time studying how to write songs is in order.

    Also no question my time on rhythm guitar did help my bass playing. But, I must bring up the problem of practice time. Do you have time right now to learn how to play two instruments?

    Some study time on how harmony and melody work together and then some time on how to write songs will be of benefit. IMO theory time is in addition to practice time, i.e. thirty extra minutes each day. I would take on some added theory time and not try to learn another instrument - right now. Later on, sure each new instrument will flow right into what you are doing now.

    Good luck.
  4. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Do it. it will help you hear chords.
    I have always kept an acoustic guitar for that purpose.
  5. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    This. If you have enough time to work on two instruments, keys will give you the most benefit. Understanding chords is key to playing any instrument well, and keys lay the chords out more clearly than guitar.
  6. A lot of the bass players here started out on guitar, like I did. In my opinion learning guitar will definitely help you become a better bass player. It'll help you with chord structure and sound, and it'll help your sense of time and rhythm. Don't worry about becoming the next Jimmy Page, just learn enough to be able to play a song all the way through.
  7. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    Anytime spent holding a guitar shaped object - mandolin, ukulele, banjo, electric or acoustic is a good thing. Playing bass is what I enjoy the most and what I do best but unless I'm in a working band I spend my time hacking on the guitar and piano. Always and without a doubt my bass playing improves with it just sitting in the rack. My right hand touch is better and my familiarity with the fretboard improves. I know very little theory and couldn't play a sus4 dim9 if my life depended on it but over the years I've learned what note each fret represents and once you're there the mystery goes away and it just comes down to how well you can pull them out. Plus - you can buy a stomp box that makes you sound like David Gilmour because they haven't made one yet that makes you sound like Jaco. :bassist:
  8. spanndrew


    Oct 14, 2013
    Atlanta, Ga
    Thanks for the responses! Keyboard is definitely something I want to pursue as well, the problem is living in a dorm at college and having space for one. But I'll definitely think about it for this summer. I have put quite a bit of thought into practice time, but I think it's manageable (I'm on the hour a day thing with my bass studies, throwing in a half hour of something else probably wouldn't crowd up a day too much). As far as theory practice goes, that's worked into my actual bass practicing, but I think I'm going to add in even more. Mostly I'm just very excited that the whole music thing is starting to pick up a little, it's more fun than I could have imagined.
  9. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    After 12 years of just bass, I've been doing this on keys. Huge help with chord structure, melody, and songwriting, just don't let it fully replace bass time.
  10. ziggy2010


    Aug 4, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I started playing bass to strengthen my playing on the guitar. I also fell in love with the bass in the process, so now I play both, but learning the bass absolutely made me into a better guitarist and a better musician by extension so I can't imagine that it doesn't work the other way around too. It brings you out of your box and lets you understand what the other parts are trying to accomplish so that you can work with them better too.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think anyone serious about music owes it to themselves to learn how to play more than one instrument. Even if you never get really super good at it because it's not your main focus, it's good to know how to do it. Keyboard is especially recommended, but guitar is also good.
  12. I saw a masterclass and Q&A session with Ron Carter on youtube, and somebody asked if learning another instrument would help. RC seemed really miffed, insulted even, and wasn't exactly nice answering the question. He said something along the lines of: I've devoted my whole life to this instrument, do you think I'd have gotten where I am wasting time on another instrument? If you're serious and going to play bass you better devote yourself to bass only and nothing else.

    As much as I like some of the man's music, I don't agree with [Vinnie Barbarino Accent] Mr. Carter [/Vinnie Barbarino Accent] on this point. As I started playing late in life, I'll never achieve anything close to being close to RC's abilities. I'm not worried about it, I'll do my best to be the best me I can be. And that means...

    Ukulele! Uke (4-strings) has helped me understand chords better, even better than my dabblings in guitar (6-strings).

    I'm a HORRID drummer, but I'd like to try to learn and play a little to help me better understand, and develop, timing.
  13. You are on to something here. A friend of mine's father was a professional musician. In fact, he had a position in an orchestra playing French horn but injured his lip a week before he was to start. Whenever anyone asked his advice for their children to learn music, no matter what instrument, his advice was always the same; "Get 'em six months of drum lessons."