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Splitting time between two instruments

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BehindTheMoon, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. OK, I am forced to choose everyday between spending time playing guitar or time playing bass. I try to do enough of both to keep me in some sort of shape.

    I usually tend to have periods of concentrating more on one than the other. At the moment it's guitar over bass, but that will change.

    I don't really prefer one over the other, and I have no idea which one I'm going to end up playing if I ever wind up in a band.

    I'm pretty sure that at some time my life will become busy enough that I have to choose one, or suck at both. I'm not happy about that, but I'd rather be proficient at one instrument. And I don't like the idea that I might end up being steered into one or the other by a combination of circumstance (time restraints) and the accident of whichever instrument I happen to be focusing on more at the time.

    Your thoughts and advice, please.
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    At this point, I would suggest that you focus on the similarities of the two instruments and not the differences.

    I also play acoustic guitar. (I don't have, never have, never will own an electric guitar) But I enjoy playing acoustic and study American folk finger picking and and bluegrass flat picking. Hands down, I am a better bass player, but I work on playing guitar regularly.

    I try very hard to simply learn the music. That is, first I understand what is happening musically and then simply apply that to which ever instrument I happen to be playing.

    After all, it is an electric bass GUITAR!!

    Personally I think the things that I draw from my studies make me better at both instruments rather than both suffering. I have often gone great periods of time without playing the acoustic guitar at all, but when I pick it up, whatever I have been studying and using playing bass easily applies to the guitar.

    Don't think that you are selling yourself short by playing more than one instrument. Study and concentrate on being the best musician that you can be, no matter what tool you are using.

  3. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    i started as a bass player. then when time, finding people became a big problem to set up a good line up for a band i started to play the guitar too. to be honest i'm not that great at bass nor at guitar, but now i'm quite happy. i play bass in a band and i have a personal home recording project that's my main hobby. i enjoy a lot creating my little music and sharing with friends. i'm at amateur level. i think that the best for you is go on as possible with both instruments, then the circumstances will help you decide! good luck
  4. I have a couple of electric guitar and I just picked up and electro acoustic (traded another electric) in addition to my basses.

    I consider myself first and foremost a bassist (not a particularly good one, but what I do works well in our band). However, I also play about with the guitar to come up with riffs ,tunes etc. I'm pretty sure that the number of songs I've written are about even in terms of from bass or guitar.

    I like to play both to expand my musical horizons! I'd like to find time to learn some drumming and piano too - I think that would help me develop as a musician and also a band member (not necessarily to play these instruments, but to maybe help come up with ideas for pieces of music or even just to help understand what other musicians are trying to say/do!)
  5. Learning music is more important than a particular instrument. If you understand music then playing any instrument comes down to developing the physical skills needed to make the music happen. I have been toying with the idea of buying some kind of wind type instrument to mess around with.

    Play all the instruments you want. Just make sure your understanding of music is growing.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    My Experience:

    I played guitar for almost 15 years, then switched to bass and rarely, if ever, touch a guitar anymore. In the time that I played guitar I also played keyboards, a little drums, acted, and did about 12 other things related to the arts. Bass is now where 90% of my artistic focus goes, and I'm happy about that. My life is much easier now, and I'm progressing a lot more quickly in my playing.

    I needed to go through the process I did to find that the bass was my true love, and I feel the other experiences enriched me a great deal and helped my playing, BUT, I do somewhat regret the fact that I didn't realize the bass was my instrument many moons ago. Hindsight has shown me some clues that bass was #1 as far back as I can remember..... expamples....

    I played "air bass" more frequently than air guitar

    I keyed into great bass lines more often than great guitar lines

    I hit a plateu on guitar after about 3 years and never got much better

    Playing the guitar by myself was always a chore, although I loved playing with other people

    I'm happy that bass is what I do now for lots of reasons. I'd have been lost in the sea of guitarists had I continued with it - there are billions of great guitarists. A solid, dependable bass player is a true commodity however, especially round here. There are many, many more opportunities for bass players than guitarists.

    I'd recommend settling into both right now and not being too concerned. Learning guitar at this point will probably only serve to help your bass playing if that's the instrument you ultimately decide on.
  7. I agree with count_funkula. Music is more than shredding on one instrument. I was a trumpet player for 12 years. Taught myself guitar and bass along the way. When I went to college to study music, I decided I wanted it to be on the bass. I dropped out, studied privately for 2 years, and went back to finish my music degree on the bass.

    If you're interested in different instruments, follow your interests. Your chops will suffer on the ax that you put down for awhile. But as long as you learn everything you can about those instruments, you'll end up a better musician.

    Specifically, your reading, your ear, your knowledge of theory, your understanding of your place in a band or ensemble. . . you get a bigger perspective.

    So don't feel like you're doing the wrong thing. It can be to your benefit.

    Jeff in Chi-Town
  8. I don't find it too tough to play more than one instrument. Bass has been my primary instrument for 7 years now, I'm not perfect, but I don't suck either. Now I'm learning how to play the didgeridoo, which is unlike any other instument I've ever played. Balancing the two is more a matter of "what do I wanna do more." Some days, I just wanna jam on the bass, playing the stuff I've been playing for years, or learning new stuff. Other days, I look at my basses, and think, "hmmm... I think I'll fool with the didge for a little bit instead." Usually, I'll end up playing the bass anyway, just cuz it's nearly impossible to ignore, especially when I got a new one.

    I don't play guitar, but imagine if I did, I would be thinking about basslines when I was jamming on the guitar, then probably go play those basslines.

    But thats just me.
  9. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    After two false starts on guitar (14 and 16) I bought a guitar and a bass within 3 months of each other and earnt to play both. I played bass in a band so that one took off. I actually bought the bass so I could play in the band. I was nearly 19. I am 40 soon and I have played a lot more bass due to less competition.

    Like Barroso I have a home recording project. I also play the drums. It sort of went mad and I have a sort of gigging band with me as the frontman. My best mate plays the bass (I taught him in 84).

    Currently i split my time between acoustic eletric guitars and fretted and fretless bass (ones a 5) just to make things different. Recently I put some strings on the old classical. I played a lot of slide between 90-95 I have played a lap steel and would like one.

    Personally I feel at home on most stringed instruments (except the violin family ((I did do one gig on DB)) Thats the upside.

    The downside is that I am not amazing on any one instrument. My fretless playing is sorely neglected and I have only got used to the 5 again as I spent most of autumn/fall and winter playing guitar.As soon as I get 'good' one one then others suffer.

    Its my choice and I wouldnt sell all the other stuff.
  10. *ToNeS*


    Jan 12, 2001
    Sydney AU
    i find that with most instruments, there is always something about one (and vice-versa) which helps the other - i would hazard a guess that playing more than one is more of a help rather a hinderance. in my case it was the drums. at 15 i was god-like on percussion, a prodigy of sorts (i know, i know, huge wanking session :p), and eventually came to pick up the bass through my love of all rhythm instruments. due to my prowess on the 'kit, i had an immediate grasp of all the rhythmic qualities of the bass (slapping came very easily and naturally to me, as did the implementation of dead notes and the usage of uncommon time signatures within a riff).
    i can only guess that since guitar works on rather similar technical and theoritical principles to the bass, that continuing to play both will only serve to make you into a better, more versatile musician. keep going the way you are, man.
  11. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    Its also fun to be able to switch instruments in the middle of a show. I switch with the guitarist or drummer occasionally. I am better at bass than guitar and TEN times better at guitar than drums but it is still fun. Just to switch things up a little
  12. Lazy


    May 30, 2001
    Vancouver BC
    I know I'm gonna get killed here, but If I had to choose between the two then I'd choose the guitar! All the songs I write are written on the guitar and even some of the basslines as well. My school of thought is that tha bass is already "in" the guitar somewhat so you can do a bit more on the guitar!

    Mind you, I might be singing a different tune if I was a better bassist or If I was playing bass in a band regularly.

    IMO, do whatever you can to keep the two and don't worry about losing skill on one if you play the other a little more because that won't happen. If you do get rid of one,you will miss it alot!
  13. Thanks guys. Good thoughts.

    I guess I'll just keep plodding away with both.

    At the moment I'm trying to figure out open-G tuning on the guitar, and relearning all those Jack Bruce lines I've forgotten at the same time on bass.

    Man, I'm busy. And my fingers hurt a bit. In a good way.

    A good time to pick up slide guitar and start working on my dead fingerpicking chops, I think.

  14. I think that sums it up quite well.;)

    I play bass, guitar, and piano/keyboard. At one point I decided I needed to dedicate all my time and energy to just one instrument. I wanted to become real good at one instead of just decent at all of them. I sold all the other instruments I owned at the time and focused exclusively on bass. While I think there were a lot of positives in this decision, there were also times where I 'hit the wall'. If I was able to spend time on another instrument, I might not have those problems.

    At a certain point I was struggling with my song writing, which I did on the bass, and decided to buy a guitar to see if that wouldn't help alleviate the problem. I now do almost all my song writing on the guitar or piano. It's easier to define the colors your going for.

    I do think it's more important to be a good musician rather than a good bass player.

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