Playing bass "like guitar"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BassPlayerRH, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. I've been playing bass for awhile and often hear people that start on guitar say, "It must be easier to play bass since it has fewer strings etc." and the common retort is usually "bass is easy if you want to play it like a guitar." I never really understood what that meant. Alot of bassists believe their instrument is more about feel and groove, but I listen to Rancid, Rufio, etc. and I like Matt Freeman (Rancid) the most. Does he not play bass like guitar? Seems to me that he does...If so, I see no problem with playing bass like guitar. Please respond, Thanks~
  2. Well matt freeman is plays bass like a bassist he just use a pick, but man he knows how to groove those ska lines.
    Playing bass like a guitar in a punk or metal band refer to only play the root notes of the guitar lines and that, a trained monkey can do it.
  3. junglebike

    junglebike Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    When I first started my move from guitar I tended to gravitate to the sort of pentatonic wanking mediocre guitarists like myself love so much :rolleyes:

    Guitarists tend to try and play "lead bass". A good way to get around this is to limit yourself at first to the low notes -- try staying in 1st position (Joel DiBartolo's "Serious Electric Bass" has first position exclusively for the first ~70pgs!)

    If you're having the lead bass syndrome, I'd also suggest actively *trying* to limit yourself to root-fifth stuff for a while, just so you start to focus on the essence of bass -- the groove. Think of it like a percussion instrument!
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Bass guitar is a guitar. No reason to limit yourself.
  5. hellboy


    Nov 5, 2002
    What's wrong with "lead bass"?
  6. junglebike

    junglebike Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Ask your lead guitarist, Jaco. ;)

    Nothing wrong with it, unless you're trying to play straight blues, jazz, funk, country, hip-hop, latin, etc...
  7. stuie86


    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    i say do what right for the song and for you, dont worry about all that stuff.


    just do what you feel is what i guess im trying to say.
  8. junglebike

    junglebike Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Thing is, if you've been playing guitar for a long time, what "feels right for the song and for you" is gonna be a guitar part, and it's gonna sound like crap when played on bass. Hence the original post. You've gotta re-adjust your mindset, and start studying the masters, before what "feels right" starts to approximate what sounds right.
  9. stuie86


    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    ok your reading to far in to my post
  10. Yeh, I like playing my bass like a guitar. I also like guitar distorions/overdrives over most bass ones. Doesn't really make sense though. I still play that smooth slow bass and regular bass behind a guitar but when I turn on the distortion I definently sound like I'm playing a guitar.
  11. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I hate when people say that. "bass is easier then guitar because it has 4 strings". I think by saying "if you play it like a guitar" means with a pick, with no slap, or other bass techniques that you cant do on a guitar. Because really, half of playing bass is slapping, and i think slapping takes some skill that guitarists dont have. Its more of a physical rhythm and stuff.
  12. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    I've managed to make it through every performance I've ever done and only slap once. Techniques mean absolutly nothing. If you have a groove you are a good bass player. If you can make people dance to your playing you are good. If you do all this by licking the strings then who cares? If someone plays a bass like a guitarist and pulls it off then all the power to them. Techniques work on both instruments. Tell Reggie Wooten that you can't slap on a guitar.
    Need Gigs and Imaginary Pony like this.
  13. fallon


    Jul 6, 2003
    Comparing the bass to the guitar is like comparing
    soccer with rugby(in the uk)People have managed
    to bridge the gap between bass/guitar but as yet,
    scoring a goal is totally different to winning a try.A six string bassist sounds like a guitarist to me...sorry.A good slap-bassist should be down there in the low rhythmical end of
    the musical spectrum,complimenting the other component so essential to power...the drummer!
    Maybe I'm wrong and if so,time will prove me right! ;¬) That said,stay cool.Scotland's slap bassist "Fallon".
  14. Corbis

    Corbis Guest

    Feb 19, 2003
    Wamego KS
    I think adding more strings is easier. My five is way easier to play then my four. And whenever I'm lucky to play a 6 its really easy. You don't have to keep changing postions. So whenever someone says 4 strings are easy I know their just stupid :D :D

    Thats just me though.
  15. actually no bass guitar is a electrified double bass, its called guitar cause it looks like one
  16. It's a guitar because it's mechanically identical to the guitar family.

    As for how you play it, guitaristic playing on the bass can be fabulous and enjoyable. Or entirely lame. Just like everything else, really. As long as you can function musically and provide what the music needs, it doesn't matter too much - most of the time I suspect providing what the music needs will involve understanding how to use the bass as a bass voice, but not always.

    And none of this has the slightest thing to do with how easy it is to play bass well.
  17. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I think all you "lead bass" guys are just letting your egos get in the way of good playing. The only reason you feel the need to play complicated, melodic, difficult lines is to impress people. If you stop listening to your ego and start listening to the music you might realize that a basic groove that is right on the money sounds ten times better than the crap you are playing. If you want to impress people, do it like a drummer, keep a nice groove goin most of the time, but tear it up on the little fills.
  18. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    What? Well how come so many RnB bassists that live in the lower registers play 6-strings - do they sound like guitarists to you? It's got nothing to do with what instrument you play, it's how you play it!


    P.S. And then there's that Anthony Jackson guy...
    Need Gigs likes this.
  19. cwbassist


    Aug 23, 2003

    nothing but keep the balence. with every lead bass part I beleive their should be two supportive groove parts
    Need Gigs likes this.
  20. Well, to talk about the original post, which seems to have been lost here... I think that when people say "bass is easy if you play it like a guitar", what they mean is that if you just play the root note of the chord whenever it comes by, then it's easy. That's what I mean when I say it anyways, lol. 'Cause what really takes time to master on the bass is how to add the subtle notes and rhythms in the right places to make it sound so much better. Good bass players IMO make the rest of the band sound way better without making it obvious. Non-musicians all the time say they can never hear the bass and stuff, but they just don't know that they can. That's why bass players can't survive w/ egos unless they solo. And IMO I don't think lead bass is all that bad, or solos for that matter, but there's a time and a place for it.