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Ways The Bass Is Harder Than Guitar

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Vinnyboonbots, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. Vinnyboonbots

    Vinnyboonbots Inactive

    May 25, 2012
    Let me say right up front, I also play guitar and think all bass players should play some guitar. Whenever I hear someone putting down guitar players I assume they're not professionals and most likely young teens.

    I will also admit -- if a guitar player never played bass, he'd be able to play some songs on a bass, whereas if a bass player never played guitar, he would not be able to play any songs on one. That's just the way it is.

    But here's the kicker --

    Assuming most pop tunes are written on acoustic guitar, there are essentially 3 basic rhythm strums that are used. But there are hundreds of different bass patterns. When writing music, the bass part requires more thought if the song is to "come alive."

    In cover band situations, a guitar can just lay out or play percussively over changes he doesn't know. The bass player has to know the song! And in a jazz context, the guitar can throw in little comps here and there, but the bass has to outline every beat, and make it swing!

    That's just a couple of examples .

    Can you think of any others?
  2. How 'bout we stop competing and make their lives easier? Let's be the bigger (stringed) people here.
  3. The strings are thicker. And the bass weighs more.
  4. Chef FourString

    Chef FourString

    Feb 4, 2011
    Ha. We must acquire greater physical strength and dexterity than guitarist. Bigger strings equal bigger problems.
  5. Really? Only three?

    I had no idea.
  6. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    It's a musical instrument. Not sure harder makes sense. Physically taxing? Depends on how hard you play. A singer can use more energy than a drummer at an energetic gig.

    More technically difficult? Depends on the music. You can make anything ridiculously intricate - a prolonged, dense and non-repeating set of polyrhythms on a snare can be near impossible at breakneck tempos.

    Guitar is usually more expressive, but played less tight... If playing 'tight' is hard.... guitar is a lot easier, and rhythm guitar is harder than lead. I'm not convinced. As far as I can tell really great music that communicates well is rarely very complex, and bass and guitar for it are pretty much even in level of difficulty, from what I can tell.
  7. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Having played guitar for many years before picking up a bass, it's my experience that its a bit more difficult to sing and play bass at the same time.

    Most of the time a guitar player is singing they can strum chords that fit. If they break into a solo, they usually aren't singing.

    Bass lines however, are often a kind of counterpoint to the singing being done, and it takes a bit of time and patience to get it right. It's not like its way more difficult, but it is, IME, more difficult.
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Ahh, my favorite argument. Although it's getting a little played.

    I don't believe the bass is harder in any way to play, than the guitar. They can both be taken to crazy levels of expertise, but there is way more you can learn and do with a guitar than a bass. And it is much easier to be a successful bass player (on any level) than it is to be a succesful guitar player. This is one of the few things I can't be convinced otherwise about. And yes, I play guitar too. It was my first instrument for 10 years, before I took on the bass full time.

    Let the pages of this thread begin to grow....
  9. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
  10. Vinnyboonbots

    Vinnyboonbots Inactive

    May 25, 2012
    Now you do. : )
  11. Seb Peters

    Seb Peters

    Oct 21, 2011
    Bass isn't harder - it's just more of an acquired taste, in my opinion.
  12. Vinnyboonbots

    Vinnyboonbots Inactive

    May 25, 2012
    Mmmm, I think that's true on the lower levels. I'd say acquiring the skills comparable to Anthony Jackson is a bit more difficult to the skills of Ace Frealy.

    Bottom line: it's art, not a competition. I was speaking clearly from a technical standpoint.
  13. boynamedsuse

    boynamedsuse Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010

    Pretty much what I would have posted--but written better. :D :p
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I think different instruments lend them selves to different people. I have a lead guitar player that is very good at what he does, but when he tried to play my bass for one song he couldn't lock in with the drummer and couldn't keep up with the song. Just like if I tried to play a guitar solo, it would sound like a hot mess. Either of us can strum chords on a six string though.

    Personally I don't agree that every bass player should learn guitar like was said in the OP. As a matter of fact, I think drums, and piano would strengthen a bass players skill set more as a secondary instrument.
  15. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    +1. Drums and piano are huge chunks that a musician needs a working understanding of. Drums for groove, and piano for applying theory and working on composition (It works for me anyway). Also piano or brass can allow exploration into the middle and ending of notes, where guitar and bass (at least played bassically:D) tend to mainly emphasize the beginning of notes/chords.
  16. Waster


    Nov 24, 2011
    If you are implying that simple eight notes on the root won't make the song 'come alive', I know a certain Mr. Clayton who would disagree
  17. BKuettel


    Apr 8, 2011
    Oneonta, NY
    I think one thing that makes bass difficult to play for some people is the size of the frets compared to guitar.

    Notes on bas require a harder touch and a wider range for your hands. I can hit a span of 6 or 7 notes on one string if im on bass, but that number goes to like 8 or 9 on a guitar simply because the spacing is smaller.

    Then again, I have huge hands. This is a main reason why I picked bass over guitar. Bass was easier imo. Its kinda hard for me to play guitar because my hands get cramped and its difficult to play those notes that close together.
  18. When I think of whats more difficult for either I always come down to two things. I think the bass is more physically taxing for most (Regards to higher action, Thicker strings, Bigger string spacing, Weight and size of instrument), and the difference in what makes a good player.

    To me in a typical rock format it is easier for a bass player to play the bare minimum needed for a song then the corresponding riff for guitar. Thats why guitarists think it's so easy to play bass. They believe that all they need is straight 8ths and they are a "bass player". To be an amazing Bassist you need alot more musicality then the average "rock god guitarist". It seems to me now adays all you need is a super fast shredding guitar solo and now your the best guitarist in the world. Not saying there isn't alot of great musical guitarists, it just doesn't seem as neccessary as when trying to be a great bass player.
  19. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've been playing in a zep tribute for about year now. JPJ and Jimmy Page were 2 instrumentalists that nobody would argue were at the top of their game. 2 of the best. I learned in the past year about 45 zep tunes, with about 80% of what I learned being note for note. Amidst my other bands and responsiblities is was a bit of a chore. Especially the Lemon Song, which I'm still working on. In the midst of my complaining to myself one day, I thought of what it might be like if I were playing guitar in this band, instead of bass. I quit complaining to myself.

    And Page doesn't shred.
  20. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    To the OP - if the questions is "Ways the bass is harder than guitar?"

    Then the answer would have to be - it depends on the materials of construction and the instrument design. I'd much rather get hit over the head with a 6 pound acoustic guitar than an old 15 pound Dan Armstrong Lucite bass. Because in that case the bass would be harder than the guitar.

    Seriously, I'm with Joenerve on this. I play both (one much better than the other) and I just plain struggle at the guitar. Tiny strings, tight spacing, fat fingers, short fingernails, not a real pick person, bizzare chord patterns across 5 and 6 strings with only 4 fingers, a different pedal for every sound etc. all make it harder for me to play the guitar. But I also do find lead singing while playing an active bass line equally challenging.
    All that said, I've seen very very few guitar players that I considered to be good at playing the part of a bass player in a band vs playing the part of a guitar player playing the bass in a band - both very different in my book.

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