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Your mindset from bass to guitar?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by the_hook, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    I started on bass, eventually going from 4 string to 5, and now a Fretless 5 string. Recently my son had a friend over and they jammed (my son plays drums, friend plays my son's seldom used guitar). I saw the guitar on the stand a few days ago, got curious and went on-line to see some very easy beginner videos on how to play chords and some pages which show chords.

    I have to say, my mind is not into this guitar way of doing things. I admire guitar players and all the cool things they can do with acoustic and electric guitars, but shaping chords, the thin strings, the shorter neck, just feels weird to me.

    I'm used to playing notes of the chord, seldom playing any chords on bass. I'm used to the 34 and 35" necks, more weight, deep tone and big strings with ample space between them, and I only play finger style. I found myself being extra cautious with the pick strumming and the thin strings, for fear of breaking something.

    If you started on bass and moved to guitar, what did you find you had to change mentally (and physically) to enable you to get good enough at guitar? How do you feel switching back and forth between bass and guitar? Did playing guitar change your view and approach of the bass, or your style of playing bass?
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  2. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I learned to play guitar and drums as well.
    Although I'm a bassist in my heart it helped me realize my place in the mix better.
    When I understood their place in the mix, my world had better vision.
    Hope that makes sense, I haven't had coffee yet.
  3. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    Good to know. I realize while struggling through shaping chords on guitar that it doesn't hurt to understand the guitar and drum roles within songs. I spent most of my bass playing years learning songs from Rush, Dream Theater, Yes and other cool Prog bands.

    I always knew my 'role' in those songs, but didn't really have time to learn and understand the guitar and drum roles. Playing Geddy's bass parts you can't but become aware how linked he is with Peart's drumming. But with Dream Theater I hear Myung's bass linked more with Petrucci's chords. So my awareness on the bass level made me aware of how some bass players 'angle' their playing more towards guitar or drums.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I find the thing that helps the most is trying not to play the guitar like a bass and vice-versa. Different roles.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I think the most important thing is to realize, as you have, that there is a different mindset to each instrument. The willingness to recognize and make the appropriate adjustments I believe opens the door for everything else to fall into place.

    I went from guitar for 10 years, to bass, and I feel it took about a year for me to truly convert. Sooooo many people told me that first year I was playing that I played bass like a guitarist, and I wanted badly to be a REAL bass player. For me, that meant learning a lot of the techniques of the bassists who were well known for what they did. I had to quit listening to Rush, and started learning bass lines from Jamerson, Flea, and lots of other 70s music where the bass really jumped out at me.

    Me thinks to go from bass to guitar it would serve you well to do the same. Find the guitarists you connect with most, listen closely, learn some of their songs, and do the best you can to emulate what they're doing.

    The physical difference between the instruments I think will just fall into place with time. Overthinking that stuff I think would just cause unnecessary problems. Focusing on playing rhythms with a pic would probably be real helpful though :).
  6. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I started on piano as a six year old. Took up guitar around 12, then bass around the same time. Different instruments require different skills and a different understanding of music and of the roles of each in an ensemble. I have guitars with different scale lengths, basses with 30, 32, 34 and 42 inch scales ... not a problem to move from one to the other. How do I feel about it? Great! The more instruments one plays the more opportunities one has.
    allenhumble likes this.
  7. I have always been a bass player, and for the last 5 years or so I've been "learning" to play guitar, very slowly. I don't plan to play in a band or anything; it's really for personal pleasure and for songwriting and a bit of solo recording with my electronic project.

    The first thing I did was learn to strum chords on an acoustic or clean electric. Strumming the whole chord is easy, but strumming string-by-string is still hard for me sometimes. On a bass, my right hand knows where each string is instinctively without having to think about it, but n a guitar I still get tripped up sometimes.

    Playing scales and arpeggios was another thing. Learning to pick correctly. All gets better with practice. If you learned proper bass technique you will pick up guitar with time.

    The mindset is a big one. Bass is a rhythm instrument that can play melodically. Guitar is the other way around. It's supposed to sing. You don't have to be a shredder to play good guitar, either, listen to some blues rock players like Clapton, etc. Just like with bass, listening to players you like will steer your brain in the right general direction.
  8. Once you get the 21 chord shapes into memory (7 major, 7 minor & 7 dominant seven) then strumming rhythm for this specific song comes into the picture. Being able to change chord shapes in time with the music - before it goes off and leaves you - then comes into the picture. Yes it's a different World.

    Plus with guitar you are expected to sing along with your strumming - and that is another skill set that must be learned.

    All in all IMO rhythm guitar is much harder to master. And then there is lead electric and that is also another skill set.

    You are expected to play rhythm harmony to your singing and then yes be able to take a lead break by playing the tune (melody) on your guitar.

    There is a lot more to guitar than most think.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
  9. I started on guitar and moved to bass, but ended up jamming on guitar again this weekend for the first time in about 5 years.

    Like you say, they are tiny little instruments, felt like a move to ukulele after plating bass.

    I noticed my approach to guitar playing had, unconsciously, changed though. Especially rhythmically. Things ingrained from playing bass sort of took over. Leaving room for the snare, letting the bass player created the groove and just using my guitar to accent or decorate. I know my arpeggios now, but struggled to strum anything above a basic chord.

    I think I’ve completely converted to a Bassist who can play a bit of guitar. No longer a guitarist who can bash out a few roots on the bass when no-one else turns up.
    Rumble Thunder likes this.
  10. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    For the first 5 or 7 years that I was a stringed instrument player I split my time evenly between guitar and bass. The thing that made me realize that I "was" a bass player was recognizing that I gravitate towards the functional role of a bass player: When I'm playing bass, I know exactly what to do to fulfill musical expectations. When I'm playing guitar, I tend to either
    - A) confound expectations
    - B) gravitate towards superfluous orchestral filigree that almost requires someone else fulfill more foundational roles
    - C) gravitate towards parts that would be better suited on the bass (!)
    allenhumble and Rumble Thunder like this.
  11. This is exactly what I do as well.
  12. the_hook


    Apr 9, 2008
    A lot of good, interesting (and some funny) stories. Looking forward to hearing more.

    On a good note I have a bit more motivation; my son saw me struggling with my first chords and wants to learn along with me. We have 2 decent electric guitars (both for him, but he dug drums a lot more).

    As for me, after about three times on the guitar, the easier chords are now coming along, and the movement from one chord to another is better and less 'noisy'.
  13. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    what helped me when i made my first steps on guitar was a totally different approach than anyone would usually recommend for a beginner. When practicing chords, i focussed massively on my left hand, to get all my fingers sorted on that tiny neck with all the strings way too close together. When the chord did not ring properly, i figured out what the problem was, correct my grip, then released it and tried again - until i nailed it. I totally ignored that 'being in time' thing every rookie learns - that a dead note in a chord is a minor flaw while breaking your time to get it right ruins the entire song sort of thing. I knew that by heart, as a bass player. I felt progress come quicker that way. I'm still not good, though.
    SlyFoxtrot likes this.
  14. I play guitar as well as bass, but I don't play electric guitar - I play acoustic. I play medium strings so that I can get some good tension and that helps me when I go back and forth between the big strings and the little ones. I only play fingerstyle with both instruments and 'strum with the thumb'.

    I'd say more that playing bass has changed my approach and style of 6-string guitar playing: Where once I used to only play chords, now I interject melodic runs and bass driven lines between chords, sort of "Joe Pass- esque" if you will. Playing bass has given me an understanding of music and harmony than I would have never attained from playing guitar alone.

    I still prefer the bass. :bassist:
    SlyFoxtrot likes this.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Guitars ... skinny little necks with the strings so close together ... and no low B
  16. Is more easy when you play guitar and learn bass.
    I play guitar for 22 years, when started playing bass this help me a lot.
    You can play without pick like Dire Straits if pick is a issue.
    The only thing you can do is practice a lot, use lot of scales can help with the feel of the neck.
  17. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I just started taking lessons on guitar.... being a bassist for the past 43 years, the hardest thing for me to do is play with a pick accurately
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  18. I have always have been a bass player in spirit. I play a little acoustic, but I am with you on electric guitar. strings too thin for me! especially since I am a little heavy handed !
  19. I swore up and down I'd never buy another electric guitar.....but now I'm thinking about it again.. Not for strumming but for playing single note lead style.

    I started out on guitar years ago and then ditched it for keys. Noodled on bass off and on.
    Then got into bass more seriously.

    Whats' a good electric for a bass player to use?

    I usually can't take the tight string spacing. (Tried acoustics but don't like those anymore..even tried classical guitars and they didn't do it for me either).

    Not trying to derail the thread btw...
  20. el_Bajo_Verde


    May 18, 2016
    I prefer classical guitar, wider neck, fat nylon strings great for fingerstyle :D
    Fat Fingers, SanDiegoHarry and dxb like this.