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"You should've learned GUITAR first"

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BassOfDiamonds, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. I was out having drinks with a friend tonight - he's a guitarist, and he knows that I'm totally new to bass, and that it's my first instrument.

    He mentioned this earlier in the day, but really went into depth with his stance tonight:

    That I should put bass on hold and "get good at guitar first before messing around with other things".

    Supposedly, it's more fruitful and easier to go from guitar to bass than vice versa, and that it was just necessary to be good in the first place.

    There's a reason I chose to learn bass over guitar right now, I just tend to lock into rhythm more than I do pure melody, though I know both are crucial. I'd have probably taken up drums if not for the noise constraints against practicing, too. :D

    But I see his point in studying other instruments that serve different purposes than bass/drums, and asked whether learning keyboards or saxophone would suffice.

    He said no, because guitar is close enough to bass to be relevant, but different enough to necessitate learning it first.

    Honestly, his explanation didn't really make much sense to me. Sure, if I ever wanted to be in a band, I should know how guitarists play/operate to be in synch, etc.

    But this guy is insisting that I have to actually get GOOD at playing GUITAR (and not any other instrument, like sax). That a working familiarity wasn't enough.

    I do notice that most bassists (even here) also play guitar, but I wonder if it HAS to be guitar.

    Is he right about this? I'm going to be admittedly annoyed if so, as it'll feel like veering off track when I've already gotten into bass. Lol

    (Also, nothing against guitar - there are just other instruments I'm more interested in first).
  2. That said, I'm totally new - so who knows, it might turn out that I'm utterly talentless, making all the hypotheticals about being in a band someday, irrelevant. :/
  3. Skygonzo


    Jul 8, 2012
    Find a new drinking buddy.
  4. 2400


    Sep 4, 2009
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Your friend is incorrect in his assumption that you'd be better off starting on guitar, but correct in stating that knowledge in one instrument will lead do a certain amount of 'head start' in the other.

    It would work the other way around as well. You could tell your friend that he should have started out on bass, to learn what the instrument's function is in a band, and to learn scales and single note lines before moving on to chords and solos.

    I'm not sure he would like to hear that :D.

    Since Leo Fender and his contemporaries, a bass is built like a guitar, but with two strings removed, and tuned one octave lower. It's a misleading shape for some, because depending on your musical preference and technique, it can be played like it's an instrument that has as much in common with a guitar as a saxophone.
  5. braud357

    braud357 Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2010
    Gonzales, LA
    I am a bassist that is NOT a guitar player ! Many people look upon bass players as "failed" guitarists, but we all know that to be untrue. My primary instrument before picking up a bass was trumpet. I wanted to play organ (this was in the 1960's), but they were out of my league price-wise, so bass it was. My "mastery" of the 6 string is about 3 chords ! But, I do consider myself to be a fairly good bass player, so, don't take his comments to heart. We have all followed a different path to get to where we are today !
  6. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    I've been strumming a guitar since I was 10 (I'm 53). I never got very good because I was a lefty taught to play righty and did not have the dexterity for finger picking.

    None of that is an issue for me with the bass. Going on 7 years now and, with a lot of credit due my teacher, it's been a fairly steady progression where I can now say I'm a decent player.
    The only thing that guitar playing helped with my bass playing is that I knew the fretboard from day one. Everything else from technique to rhythm to hand position, etc. were skills I had to learn from scratch.
  7. SuperRich


    Jul 19, 2012
    totally bollocks mateeee.

    I am SO glad i learnt bass first. iv been playing 9 years and have gone on to play guitar, piano, cello, drums, and I plan on getting a trumpet next.

    me learning bass first was very important in learning about music and the mix of music.

    it taught me that music is a mix of instruments coming together to create a song. insted of other instruments playing so a guitar can be heard.

    if you're new and need different kinds of bass lines to learn to progress away from the bassic route note drone then listen to bands like The Strokes, Muse, Rush, RHCP Rage against the machine. with songs like. Is this is, Hyper Music, YYZ, Californian, Bombtrack
    even the bass line to Bon jovis living on a pray, thats a great melodic line and the guitar solo follows the bass

    also bass is really good finger exercise too. learning scales on bass meant when I picked up a guitar I could play with such ease as the strings were so easy to push down!

    tbh I think guitarists should learn bass, broaden there egotistical view on music.

    BUT after a while of playing bass I do suggest you learn some chords on guitar.
  8. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Is your drinking buddy any good at bass playing?
  9. Alrod


    Apr 7, 2012
    Your friend is entitled to his opinion. Take it for what it is though, his opinion. I have been playing guitar for 20+ years and recently started playing the bass. I dabble with keys, percussion, and also recently took up an instrument called Cuatro (puerto Rican version). They all help keep my scatterbrain busy. They also help me come up with new things because each instrument is approached differently.

    But as far as should I have learned one over the other because it would make me a better musician? I think that is nonsense.
  10. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    Ask your friend if he "got good" on piano before he started learning guitar.
  11. To Jazz Ad & Interp -

    He mentioned singing in a band he was in, and said he'd sub on bass once in a while, but claimed he didn't care for it much. He insisted that he still couldn't have subbed without his guitar background though.
  12. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Agree 100%

  13. +1.

    I play guitar and bass by choice. Even though they seem similar, they're different instruments and I approach them each with different approaches.
  14. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    He probably thinks he is because he knows the fretboard but most of the bad bass players I have known were failed (or mediocre at best) guitarists.

    Guitarists tend to have an ego the size of a house which is not necessarily a good attribute in a bass player. Your drinking buddy sounds no different otherwise he would concentrate on improving on his own instrument and leave you to yours. (IMO,IME,YMMV etc.)

    I played lead guitar for 12 years but I started on bass, am back on it now, and always considered it my first and best instrument.

    It requires a totally different approach, once you accept that fact you are half way to being able to play both.
  15. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Not necessary - just understand that everything said in a bar is BS.
  16. As a bass player who started out Many years ago on guitar - I found that one major advantage of having some facility on guitar is the exposure to chord structure.

    When playing bass, which is essentially a single note instrument, there is no real necessity to play chords.

    And understanding chord structure is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for being a decent to good bass player.

    So being a proficient guitarist before becoming a bassist is certainly not a negative, its certainly not necessary. However, understanding chord structure can't be over emphasized.

    Its obvious from many of the posts on TB, that quite a few of the members are totally clueless when it comes to understanding chord structure. And it will be reflected in their 'playing'.
  17. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Couldn't agree more with what the man just said about understanding chord structrure. Do whatever it takes for you to get a good grasp on this and take it from there.
  18. dbd1963


    May 18, 2010
    Northern Virginia
    I think your last paragraph was unnecessary -- plenty of bassists are quite good having never learned anything much of music or other instruments.

    That said, your point is a good one. If you want to be a great player, want to know why you are going where you are going when you improvise in a song, then you can't get very far without learning about chords.

    To the point about the guitarists who think they are good at bass -- I guess we all know about these guys, and to be fair some of them actually are good. But my brother was an excellent guitarist, but totally awful and unimaginative at the bass. Mind you, he thought he was great.. but he didn't have any idea of counterpoint or anything like that.

    I probably don't have to tell you that many guitarists don't really hear the bass when they play or listen to a song.

    So learning to play the guitar is not necessarily the gateway to great bass playing. In fact, I believe you can learn everything you need to know from the bass itself.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    He is making a common mistake. He thinks that knowing where the notes are on the bass is the same thing as being able to play the bass. Guitar and bass are two completely different mindsets.
  20. portlandguy


    Feb 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    He is dead wrong

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