To Play Or Not To Play

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by greekbassist, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    Hello Everyone,

    I am not sure if I am posting in the right area, however, I am new to this forum.

    Let me explain my situtation. I am a female guitarist and have been playing guitar for 8 years. I can play rhythm and lead guitar.

    It was always my dream to be a hot shot female guitarist in a local band. I love all kinds of music and practice all the time.

    I have never played professional but ocassionally play with other musician pals of mine.

    Okay so to make the longs story short. I really want to play in a band and someday play professional alot of people tell me I should go professional and that I am wasting my talents playing to the four walls of my bedroom...

    So, I have been looking in our local musician paper for guitarist wanted...Well, guess what I keep finding?

    Bassist player wanted, GOOD bass player need, Dedicated Bass player wanted badly, etc.

    What? What has happened to all the guitar spots? A fellow musician friend of mine who also taught me to play guitar told me that if I really want to work as a musician I should learn to play bass.

    Okay, I am willing to learn bass, and to be truthfully honest I can play with my fingers...I don't use a pick (I dabbled a little in flamenco guitar) and have no problems using my index and middle finger to pluck bass...

    I really want to work as a musician, however, my stupid eqotisic guitar personality tells me that if I switch over to playing bass I would be comprimising to an easier instrument.

    Now wait before you all throw tomatoes at me :bag: I KNOW BASS IS NOT AN EASY INSTRUMENT TO MASTER! But it's the ego guitarist in me that is afraid if I switch over what would my family and friends, think....

    I know that shouldn't stop me from wanting to play....But, as stupid as this may sound I feel like my idenity is a guitarist and that everyone knows me as a guitarist..

    I know this is all mental...I would love to try and be a bassist ...

    If I do make the switch I want to be pretty darn good at my instrument...

    How do I tell my egosticial brain to shut up and get over the guitar ego thing and humble myself to start learning how to groove and keep time...

    Should I just go ahead and try playing an not pay attention to family and friends who know me as a guitarist? Is it possible to get good at both instruments

    I am even starting bass lessons with a promiment bassist and teacher this Saturday...

    I just hope I have the heart of a bass player and not the heart of a guitar player..

    Sorry for the long email and I hope to get some good advise from this cool forum...


  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Only you can answer these questions you have.
  3. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    Thanks Jimmy, I guess your right....
  4. slapcracklepop


    Jun 28, 2005
    Boston, MA
    Learn some more advanced bass techniques, slapping & popping, tapping, etc.. Then it'll prove to yourself, and others that "Wow, that's impressive. Wow thats bass?" Because to be honest with you, a lot of average listeners haven't been exposed to these types of bass playing

    ..Either that or people will just go "OMG SEINFIELD?"

    heh good luck, it aint easy being a bassist.
  5. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I make sure the band I'm in lets me have some fills and do some fun stuff or if not they can start posting looking for bass player adds. I make sure half the people are still looking at me even when the guitarist is doing a solo. When my singer introduces me as a member of a band but doesn't say what I do people seem to assume I'm the lead guitarist.

    and I can always find people willign to kiss my ass to jam with them cause everyone is looking for a bass player :D
  6. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    slapcracklepop, and fr0me0,

    Thanks for the cool advise and the great sense of humor!

    In my heart I truly believe that bass is the MOST underated instrument...

    I just hope I haven't become to corrupted playing guitar...

    That last thing I want to do is play bass like a guitar player who just switched over...Sure a guitarist might be able to physically play bass but they don't have the soul or groove as a bass players...

    Thanks again for all your responses....
  7. I have been playing guitar for 25 years, and have taught and played professionally in both live and session work. I used to dabble on the bass in one of the bands I was in and enjoyed it but never took it seriously.

    When my first child was born, I took a new job and moved states and there was no time for playing. I ended up stopping almost completely for 7 years.

    I had been badgered by some work colleagues to play with them, and they heard I had a bass and started to really hassle me. I held off for a couple of years, and then I made a year's new years resolution last year to get back into the game, but this time on bass. I wanted a chalenge and I thought that a 'new' instrument would be a breath of fresh air.

    I have been practicing almost daily since then and am now playing bass in a couple of bands. A couple of months ago, I sold one guitar and the Marshall stack and bought a bass amp - I am now calling myself a bass guitarist and I love it. And the funniest bit is watching the other guitarists in the band do the big ego trip (especially as an ex-guitarist)!

    I have found the bass to be very challenging in a completely different way. Some of the differences/challenges are:
    - you play off the beat a lot (try singing and playing bass!)
    - you now listen to the drummer instead of the singer/kbd
    - you are always playing 'lead' in effect. People notice your stuff ups much more
    - your timing must be PERFECT and constant, which is especially hard in syncopated beats
    - if you don't know scales, arpeggios, chord construction and keys, you soon will!
    - you are always playing. You don't get a rest.
    - you are always getting gigs. You never get a rest :)
    - wierd but true. I thought I knew the fingerboard, but there is this big gap in my knowledge on the high frets, lower strings. When you solo on guitar you start on the low frets, low notes and go to the high frets high notes - you tend to miss the low notes on higher frets. You don't with bass!
    - your left hand moves in different patterns to when you play lead, so you have to retrain the muscles
    - there is so much more to fingerstyle than just playing with your fingers. Almost all your tone is in your fingers.

    It was also interesting starting on bass after teaching guitar. I could analyse my own errors in some cases and knew what I needed to do to improve, but in other cases I had no idea. So I found a couple of really good bass teachers, explained what I wanted from them and took some style and technique lessons. They basically set me up and gave me months of work to keep me going. I'm going to do it again this year now I have a lot more technique under my belt.

    I also bought a 'beginner' bass method book and started at page 1, and forced myself to do every exercise. I got the Hal Leonard Bass Method 1+2+3 combined books by Ed Friedland. I blasted through Book 1, walked through Book 2 and pushed through Book 3 - took me a solid year but I now feel I have a really great grounding (really great books Ed if you are out there!). I also used Jay Friedman's Funk Fusion Bass at the same time, and the kids gave me Ed's Slap Bass DVD and Jay's Funk Bass book for Xmas.

    The guys I play with thought I was a long time bass player and were really surprised that I had only been going since Jan last year, but I still think I have so far to go! They said it was because most of the bass players they have worked with seem to just play the root note in quarter time and I don't. From my own previous experience it's quite true of many bass players out there and so my advice to you to get over the 'bass is easier' syndrome, is to work on grooving and being interesting - don't just settle for being like the bassists that give us a bad name!

    Sorry for the long note - your experience is similar to mine and it's very fresh in my mind!

    Good luck!
  8. If you enjoy playing guitar and want to play one in a band, start your own band. Who says you need to join one? If your heart is set on joining a band, place a small add in every music store in your area and also the local colleges.
  9. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    WOW DAFFY!!! Your post/reply was VERY inspiring!!! THANK YOU and AGAIN THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO REPLIED!!!

    Daffy, I am meeting with a bassist/teacher this saturday...I have decieded to give bass a try and believe me I am like you as well..

    I don't just want to be the below average bass players that give great bassist a bad name...

    I put 110% in what I do...

    And Steve66, I have tried running adds and posting messages in my local musician paper and music stores and all get is the wrong people...Some guys tend not to like chick guitarist...

    However, I do see a popularity in chick bassist though :)

    You guys are great...Thanks again!
  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    It really sounds as if you do feel that playing guitar is really right for you and it is what you love. In a way, you might feel that you are "selling out" to play bass guitar, an instrument that seems second best to you, just in order to be in a band.

    You might not like bass at all. The dang thing is much heavier. The strings are thicker and harder to fret and cause callouses. You need different, bigger, heavier, more expensive sound equipment. Plus, bass guitar isn't just about technique, it is also about playing the right bass lines for the song. That last thing takes longer than the technique.

    You talk about the ego of a guitarist, but you also have the heart of a guitarist. You love that instrument. I totally agree with the poster above who says start your own band. Be its star. Don't compromise on your dream.

    I am a woman who played bass in bands. I loved playing, but I never did want to play guitar. Bass was an instrument I loved since my childhood when I sang along to the acoustic basslines of big band music, not the melody.

    Your passion is guitar. Don't sell yourself short. Start a band or keep on trying to get in a band. And as one woman to another, I wish you all the luck regardless of what you decide to do.
  11. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006

    Thank you for your advise and I wish you luck as well...

    I am now starting to wonder if maybe I could be good at both instruments....

    I'll leave my options open, but you are true when you say I do have the heart of a gutiarist to a degree..

    I will give bass a shot for a while and see...I guess only time will tell...

  12. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    I used to play guitar a few years back. I still pick it up every now and then but just my acoustic. I thought I was a guitaristback then. I even tried to convince a friend that he should get a guitar instead of a bass. but he got the bass. Ironically he sold me the bass(my fist bass) and bought a guitar. Now I would never play guitar in a band. Bass is what I know best and bass is what I do best.

    However a band I used to love go and see, their guitarists turned out to be one of the most amazing bass players I've seen live. Yet he played guitar in the band and took bass for one or two songs.

    Whats the point of my ramblings? Just give it a go, everyone is different. You might never pick your guitar up again. you might sell the bass within a week. You might end up playing both proficiently. Which one of these will be you if any?....There's only one way to find out.
  13. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006

    Thanks! In one way I guess there really isn't any reason to put down the guitar....

    Maybe I could be proficient with both instruments. The added advantage I have is that I can physically play bass.

    But, the most important thing I must learn is timing, rhythmic feel, as well as groove..

    To be honest guys, I am not sure how much natural abilities I have when it comes to feel and stuff...

    I was thinking that studying bass might even help my guitar playing...Yes, I know both are different beast, but ya never know...

    Thanks again!
  14. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    I think being able to play guitar is a great advantage when playing bass. I can just look at a guitarist play something and know what he's playing straight off the bat. A bass player that can't do this is already at a disadvantage. Same probably goes for piano. All though I cant play that.

    All though its hard initially to start playing bass as a bass player rather than as a guitarist. Paying more attention to the drums than as was before etc. When I'm out playing I sometimes find myself really zoning in on drums and staying with the kick or hi-hats or what ever. Really hear and feel myself locking in.

    When I played guitar and if I saw myslef playing straigth eights on bass I would of said that was boring (although I liken it to playing straight eight power chords) Now one of my fav songs to play is straight eights mostly. Another example my band plays "breakfast at tiffinies" by that band that no one seems to remember. I think its a really crap song but enjoy playing it live because I can really feel a groove when I do. Bass is a completely different attitude. But you'll most likely learn that along the way. Just give it a go for a while all that you need to know will come eventually...ok well not *all* no one is ever finished learning....but you know what I mean

    Plus it's hard to find a guitarist that doesn't make an idiot out of themselves when the play bass (not to discourage you but guitarist seem to think its easy and can just pick it up and play straight away as I first did). With crap technique strings buzzing. Not realising there's actually more than one string etc. So it could be an advantage to you to actually sit down and learn something about the instrument even if you don't switch over. Could be a way of combating these guys not liking the whole chick guitarist thing.

    I also seem to see more females playing bass on TV than I do guitar.

    This turned out to be a bit longer than I anticipated.
  15. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    Yes your right and I am grateful that being a guitarist will help in what you are saying

    Okay this is what I will have to learn if I truly am going to start to play bass....I guess this will come with practicing with a drum machine as well as live drummer...

    True bass is completely different attitude...I will give it a go...I do have a bass and I do play on it quite a bit...I still practice my guitar and then I practice my bass as well...To be honest I think I could enjoy playing bass...It's just getting in the mental frame of it.....

    LOL, truthfully your right I have seen a lot of guitar players who think they can play bass....Maybe physically they can but they lack feel, time, and groove, and everthing in between...That is one thing I don't want to happen to me. I don't like being some cocky guitarist who thinks they can play bass and that is exactly why I am starting lessons Saturday with a bassist/teacher....

    Your right it doesn't hurt to learn another instrument it may even make me a better guitarist.....I will keep my options open!

    I agree...Now a days there seems to be more chick bass players then chick guitar players. Either way it's great to see girls embracing the instrument....I like Gail Ann Dorsey....She switched is one female who made the switch from being a guitarist and then switching to bass...Now she gigs with David Bowie and also Gwen Stefani...She can play both instruments pretty decent....

    Thanks again for your cool advise...
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think you'll be fine, Greek. You sound like you're developing the right mental attitude to play both guitar and bass as they're supposed to be played. I don't know if you've done this yet, but you should fill out your profile so the stalkers on here can easily find people can help you with finding things you may need if they're in your area, and so we know what kind of equipment you use.
  17. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    Awesome JimmyM, I will fill out the profile sometime today so everyone can know a little bit more about my rig and stuff....

    Thanks again for EVERYONE'S GREAT advise and replies!!!!

    This forum is GREAT!
  18. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    You've kicked off an interesting thread here GB.

    My guess is that you'll love bass. And either way you'll come off with an appreciation and solid grounding in another instrument. So even if you don't play bass for the rest of your life, you'll be a better allround musician and you'll work better with bass players in the future. You can't loose.

    Personally, I think guitar players that pick up bass bring a unique feel to the instrument. And it can be right at home, especially in rock. For example, are you familiar with "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones? Well Keith Richards played the bass on that (I forget the story of how that happened). It's a busy, active, line, which you might expect from a guitar player. And it's a killer.

    And by the way, if you want to challenge yourself further, try playing fretless.

    Good luck. And keep in touch with us, we'd love to hear from you again.

  19. greekbassist


    Jan 5, 2006
    Hi John,

    Thanks for the words of encouragement...And yes, I am familiar with the song "sympathy for the devil", by the Stones.
    I could agree with you more the song has a killer bass line in it...

    Pretty good trivia as well as I had no idea that Keith Richard played bass on it....

    Oh, and I will stick around to let everyone know how I am doing with bass...

    I am actually starting lessons this Saturday with a bassist/teacher.

    I love all kinds of music, but one day I would love to go more into jazz music...

    I don't know if this is every been done, but I think it would be cool to have heavy jazz chord progression with a punk drum beat..LOL!! Ya know rather then the typical I, IV, V

    Of course I could totally change my mind...Seriously, I don't know where to begin because I do love so many styles of music....

    I guess I'll figure it out....

    Thanks again for your reply!
  20. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Actually there is no harm in branching out to other instruments, even if it is just an experiment. I studied drums for six months. I also dabbled in piano. But bass turned out to my main love.

    But there is definite value in trying other instruments because you get a deeper knowledge of music as a whole and when you do finally get in a band, you will have a greater appreciation of the other members' challenges and roles in the band.

    I have discovered that I have a real curiosity about how other instruments are played, the demands they make on the player, and what specifics are peculiar to that instrument alone. If I had started in music much, much younger, I would have tried to learn to play several.

    Of course I think you should still specialize in one. But which one? By learning something about several kinds of instruments, one might discover one has a special talent for an instrument or a special gift for playing that instrument. You don't know if you don't try.

    Definitely give the bass a chance. You already have an excellent foundation by being an accomplished guitarist.