Is Bass Easier Than Guitar?

It can be hard to decide which instrument is right for you, especially if you’re new to playing music.

There is a lot of debate surrounding the question, is bass easier than guitar? On one hand, it’s simpler to learn how to play and doesn’t require as much dexterity.

However, the bass guitar is more physically demanding and can be more difficult to master. It may only have 4 strings, but the neck is longer and the instrument is heavier, which can be a challenge.

The guitar is challenging because it requires more technique. The bass guitar is also simpler in a way because you don’t have to memorize the same type of chords.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between bass and guitar and see what will be your best bet!

is bass easier than guitar?

Is Bass Easier Than Guitar?

When it comes to deciding whether the bass is easier than guitar, there are a few factors to consider.

The number of strings is one consideration. While the guitar has six, the bass only has four. This can be a plus or minus for some, but depends on your level of experience.

If you’re just starting out playing an instrument altogether, four strings are likely going to be less overwhelming than six.

However, if you’re already an experienced guitarist and are looking to switch to bass, it might feel a bit limiting. The scale is also different from that of the guitar, but there are also no technical chord configurations.

The bass is also tuned one octave lower than the guitar, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re learning how to play.

There is also the question of size and weight. Bass guitars are often heavier than other types due to their long necks made to support larger strings. This can make them more physically demanding for some players.

This can be very challenging for anyone under 12 years of age, as the instrument is just so much larger than a 6-string guitar. So bass will be easier for some, but not for others.

Advantages of Playing Bass

When it comes to the advantages of playing bass guitar, there are many to consider.

Lower String Count

To start with, the bass is a simpler instrument to learn than the guitar. It has only four strings as opposed to six. This means that there is less to tune and get used to overall. This can make it easier to grasp the concepts around a stringed instrument.

And because the bass is tuned down an octave lower than the 6-string guitar, tuning is less complex.

Single Notes

Bass guitar lines are also easier to play as they mainly consist of one note. While there are more complex ways of playing the instrument, it’s easy to grasp when most songs rely on a more simple approach of one note. This also makes the rhythm and timing easier and is a great way for a beginner to grasp musical theory.

Larger Frets

While the neck on a bass is longer and can be a challenge for some, the advantage is that the frets are nearly double the size of a guitar. This has the advantage of being able to fret the notes with more accuracy. When getting used to a fretted instrument, this can be great for beginners.

The chance of error is lower, resulting in inspiration to continue to learn. Mistakes happen when learning, it’s just part of the process. But when there are fewer of them, this can help certain types of people remain focused with more small wins.

Supportive Instrument

Another advantage of playing bass guitar is that it’s a more supportive instrument. While guitarists often take center stage in a band, bassists often lay down the groove and provide the foundation for the music.

This can be a great role for anyone who is looking to collaborate with other musicians but isn’t interested in being up front.

Guitar

Advantages of Playing Guitar

The guitar is a popular instrument for a reason. It has a lot of advantages over other instruments.

Flexible

One of the biggest advantages is that it’s so versatile. With six strings, there are a lot of possibilities for playing different types of music. You can play lead guitar lines, accompany other instruments, and solo in a variety of styles. This is something that the bass guitar cannot do as easily.

Then there are chord progressions that can create melody and harmonies that are full and broad. Riffs and licks give the guitar a very musical edge!

Smaller Size

Because the guitar is smaller than the bass, it’s easier to play for a lot of people. The neck is shorter, thinner, and depending on the model can be very well-balanced. Part of learning how to play an instrument is how to hold it and develop motor skills around it.

If the instrument is big and long like a bass, this can be too much for certain players. Especially young children who are 12 years old and younger. In this case, the guitar is a better size.

Strings are Easier to Play

Another benefit of choosing to play a guitar is that the strings are much thinner than a bass. Because the bass has heavier strings, they can be harder to press and require more finger and hand strength. This is not the case for the guitar, and is much easier to press.

For a beginner just starting, training and strengthening your fingers takes time. It’s easier to do it with a guitar initially to build them up and create accuracy when fretting.

Bigger Roles

It’s no secret that most people want to learn to play because of the guitar heroes they have come to love. Part of being a musician for some people is the ability to lead a group. The guitar is the type of instrument that is front and center, which makes the role a desirable one for many.

Those who are well known in the music world are normally guitar players who are living the dream. This inspires others to learn, and one day will create the next generation of famous artists!

bass guitar

Differences between Guitar and Bass

When considering which one to select, it’s best to know about some key differences between these two types.

Picking Method

While you can fingerpick with both instruments, you won’t see it commonly with the guitar. The bass guitar is played properly with your fingers, this gives you the benefit of slap and pop and other some styles. We don’t recommend starting with the bass using a pick.

The Guitar on the other hand uses a pick more often. Strumming is done by players who fancy the plectrum and get quite good at using one, especially with soloing. A pick gives the string a different sound, and so they are favored.

Thick or Thin

The string difference between these types of instruments is rather grand. A bass guitar has much heavier strings and is limited in how they can bend them and are far tenser. They require more hand strength to press them down and harder fingertips.

The guitar on the other hand has much thinner strings. They are more malleable and will allow for bending and stretching for a more adaptable sound. They are easier on the fingers and don’t require as much strength as a bass guitar.

Chord Arrangements

The technical requirement to master the guitar is also very large. This is a skill that will continue to grow for a lifetime. The reward however is the ability to play chords fast and solo like nobody’s business. It’s an amazing experience to rip into solo and do it well.

The bass doesn’t have the same type of chord structure. Now that isn’t to say that it isn’t as good because that simply isn’t true. But it is different, and it’s important to recognize this. The groove is more simple, and chords on the bass might be too busy for certain song arrangements.

Small or Average

By this, we mean you. A big difference between who can play these instruments comes down to your size. Now, anyone can use either one, we are not saying that you should not go after the one that excites you. But it’s important to recognize that one size does not fit all.

The bass is larger than the guitar and is heavier! So while it’s a bigger instrument, you may have to try a few out if you are a smaller person. There are many sizes available, so go after the one that you can feel comfortable with, even if it is bigger.

Changing Between Bass and Guitar

Perhaps you are already a guitar player who is quite skilled, considering picking up the bass. In most situations, it is because you want to put tracks in a recording.

Or, maybe you are going to play bass guitar in your band for a bit? Whatever the reason, you are curious to know if moving to another instrument will be difficult.

For a guitar player, moving to the bass is quite easy. Now there is still some skill to develop like stronger fingers, and you need to get used to the larger size.

But you will find that because you already have experience with a more technical instrument, the bass will be easier to jump into. However, it will take time to master.

If you are moving from the bass to the guitar, this is a bit different. While you will appreciate the smaller size and thinner strings, the level of difficulty with chords and play style will be a shell shock.

But, because you have developed skill on the bass, you are still far better off than someone starting from scratch.

Should You Learn Bass or Guitar First?

While difficulty level plays somewhat of a role in deciding which one to start with, it should come down to what will inspire you to learn.

When you venture out to learn anything, there needs to be some kind of interest in it, otherwise, you won’t last. So a beginner should focus on the instrument that better fits their interest.

If you want to play a certain type of music that only the guitar can do, choose that instrument. If you are more into slap and pop and dig the rhythm style, choose the bass.

Either one is going to present a level of difficulty, to overcome it, you need to be passionately interested.

Create a list of all the reasons that you want to learn either one of these instruments. For example, list things like:

  • What type of music do you like?
  • Who is your Favorite musician?
  • What instrument do they play?
  • Plan to join a band, what role do you see yourself in?

Add to this list until you have decided on either the guitar or the bass. Then it’s time to commit to it and get started!

Is Bass Guitar Easy To Learn?

When it comes to learning the bass guitar, it is a lot easier to begin playing notes in a few days than most other instruments. A beginner without any experience can begin playing easy songs so much faster. The rate of reward comes sooner, but this doesn’t mean that it is an easy guitar to master.

Basic Skills

Because the bass guitar doesn’t require difficult chords, it is much easier to pick up basic skills. Playing notes along to your favorite songs can come very easy. You will still need to learn how to hold the bass guitar and get used to the strings, but this can be done quickly.

Once you begin to get comfortable with it, picking up notes is relatively easy. A person can get going much faster on bass than guitar, but it still takes time to find your groove and master the instrument.

Summary

So Is Bass Easier Than Guitar? Well, in some circumstances it is. But there is still a rather steep learning curve for those who have not learned an instrument yet. If you are seeking to do so, then don’t choose it because of the ease to learn, select one based on your interests, and you will go so much farther!

Bass and Guitar FAQ

Deciding on which one to choose can be difficult, we hope our answers to the most frequently asked questions help you decide.

Is Bass Guitar Fun to Play Alone?

Absolutely! And to be honest, depending on the skill level you have moved up to with all the practice you do, the bass guitar is more fun to play alone sometimes. This is because you can get busy using chords and techniques that you normally cannot in a band setting.

Because the bass guitar is a supportive instrument in some arrangements, sometimes it’s required to keep it simple. And so in this case, playing solo can be an awesome experience that allows you to open it up!

Why is Bass So Easy?

While the bass is easier than guitar, I wouldn’t say that it is easy. There are still some incredible learning curves and hurdles that need to be overcome with a great deal of practice. But to master the bass, it’s not easy and requires just as much commitment as the guitar.

Can a Guitarist Play Bass?

Yes, and we encourage it. When moving from guitar to bass, a lot of the initial hurdles are already worked out. The increased difficulty will help you get accustomed to bass guitar much easier.

This does not mean you will simply dive in and have it mastered, it will still require practice and strength building. But you are already off to a great start!

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear.I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!