Hmmmm… Bass or Guitar… Bass or Guitar… Errr, I’ll take the Ukulele!
Why am I taking the Ukulele? Because I’ve been driven insane by not knowing whether guitar or bass is easier to learn, and made a misguided choice.
So to make sure you don’t lose your mind like I did, today I’ll be addressing whether bass is easier to learn than guitar or not, and why.
Just don’t succumb to the Ukulele…
Getting Started & Playing Songs
Generally speaking, bass is like a simplified version of guitar when it comes to playing songs. Kind of like Draughts/Checkers is to Chess.
*WARNING: Say that to a bassist at your own peril, they bite...
Bass parts can sometimes be very difficult though, especially fast metal and funk stuff. However, in most cases, the bassist just plays the root note of a chord, rather than the entire chord like a guitar player would do.
And because of this, bass is pretty easy to get to grips with, and you’ll be able to play your first riffs pretty quickly.
You’ll still have to build up some dexterity and strength in your fretting fingers though, and go through the pain of fingertip blisters on your plucking hand for a while… So have fun with that!
But in reality, you’ll get past these problems within your first month of playing. And after that, the world is your tenderly cooked bass oyster!
And Guitar follows a similar path to this. The only difference is that it might take you a couple of weeks longer to get used to learning chords, playing chords and eventually hating chords on a personal level…
But after that, you’ll be able to play loadsss of songs again. Plus, guitar parts will be more fun to play than the bass parts, so I’d say it’s worth it.
Overall though, getting started and playing songs quickly is a little harder on Guitar, so this one goes to the Bass.
Which One is Easier to Master?
Ho ho ho… this’ll be a fun one! If I was to sum the answer to this question up into one word, it would be…
“They-are-both-very-hard-to-master-but-guitar-is-probably-a-bit-harder-although-bass-could-be-just-as-hard”. That counts as one word, right?
The reason why I say this is that a guitar virtuoso is typically expected to be able to do a bunch of techniques really well, and keep everything spotless at the same time.
That means lots of time in front of the metronome, lots of playing and writing solos, and lots of improvising over backing tracks.
But keeping everything clean is easier on bass, since you have fewer strings spoiling the fun and less distortion on your amp.
And as long as you can slap like an absolute beast, play fast at times, and make other guitarists regret not learning bass instead, then you’ll be a bass god!
Wrong! This takes a lot of hard graft, but MAN it’s cool.
And the reason I say that bass could be as hard to master as guitar, is that you can do all those fancy guitar techniques on bass too if you were crazy enough!
Tapping, chords, bending, sweep picking, legato, speed picking, everythingggggg…
It probably wouldn’t sound as good, but it’s still a flex.
So Sam, does that mean that I could also do all those techniques on Ukulele too?
Ha, I’m just going to pretend I didn’t hear that…
What Makes a Good Guitarist/Bassist?
Although guitar and bass are similar, they’re still two different instruments with different functions within a band…
Bass = Rhythm. Guitar = Rhythm/Lead.
Bassists will try to lock in with the drummer, forming the rhythm section of the band.
A good bassist will also take a simple chord progression, and make an interesting part out of it. You can do this by adding fills, emphasizing particular notes of each chord, and turning your amp up loud enough so that the ground shakes.
They’ll be less emphasis on improvising a solo – like a good guitarist would be able to do – but more on decorating the rhythm part.
But guitarists will play the memorable riffs and melodies, and zone in with the other guitarist in the band.
That way, if you’re playing the same thing, you can make sure you sound in sync.
If you’re playing a lead line, you can follow the backing guitar.
And if your buddy guitarist mucks up, you’ll be there to scream at him for ruining the night and make him pay for it after the show.
Bassists are also more in the background, and so are required to know different rhythms, how chords work and how to enhance the guitar part.
But guitarists tend to be in the spotlight more, and need to know how to play clean, play riffs/chords like a boss, and even spin off a solo if lead is your thing.
Should You Learn Guitar or Bass?
I’m assuming you came here because you either want to prove to your friend that their instrument is easier so they aren’t as epic as you – or because you want to learn one of these instruments and were wondering which one would be easier.
But maybe you’re just lying in bed at 1AM and can’t sleep. In that case, high five!
Anyway, there’s a few questions you’ll have to ask yourself when considering which one is right for you…
Are you comfortable being in the spotlight?
Would you be willing to wait a bit longer and put more practice in to play more complex and interesting parts?
If you want to join a band, then what do your surrounding bands want/need?
Would you ever want to solo?
Who are your idols, and which instrument inspires you more?
It’s also worth mentioning that it’s easy to switch between learning bass and guitar if you wanna change halfway through. Both instruments have similar mechanics, and so choosing one is not a be all and end all decision.
Some people will play bass in one band, and guitar in another. And others will start as a guitar/bass player, and then switch because they’re bored or their band wants one.
But don’t worry about that for now. To begin with, I recommend choosing whichever inspires you more, and sticking at it.
If your choice is guitar, then awesome! 🎸That’s the coolest one, and you’re on a guitar website already 🙂 To get started playing, you can view my post on how to play guitar for beginners by clicking here, and take your first guitar lesson, today!
If bass is your choice, then I recommend checking out TalkingBass or talkingbass.net to start learning.
Wrapping It Up
Alright, I’ll say it… Bass is easier to learn than guitar. You ask any bassist and guitarist alike, and they’ll probably say the same thing.
But guitar gets you dates! And that’s the whole reason you learn an instrument in the first place, right?
Plus, you can make a crowd Ooooh and Ahhhh, melt people’s faces with ripping solos and get with the drummer’s girlfriend without him knowing… Betcha can’t do that, bassists!
So make the right choice, people! *And I can assure you, I am 103% not bias.
Anyway, I’ve been Sam Olverson.
P.S. If you want to learn how to play guitar for beginners so that you can get playing real songs fast, then click here to view my post on that, and take your first guitar lesson!