“The bass player's function, along with the drums, is to be the engine that drives the car… everything else is merely colours.” – Suzi Quatro
For those of you who are deciding between learning the guitar or something else? I say… ‘something else’.
And that ‘something else’ my friend, as the title says, it’s all in the bass!
Every piece of instrument plays its part in an ensemble, but the bass, as its name states, is the foundation (together with drums of course) in keeping everything in harmony.
Look at it this way, a building can be all cool, flashy and colourful in its design, but without a good solid foundation, it’ll fall to pieces. And your role as a bassist is to hold everything together in a band performance.
So does this mean that you should learn the bass guitar?
ABSOLUTELY!!! And here’s why…
Bass Guitar Are Generally Easier to Learn
Because the bass guitar only has 4 strings (by default). So right off the bat you already have 2 less strings to worry about.
Partly intended as a joke; but the truth is with the bass guitar, you’re the heart and soul of the music and hence you’re more focused on the rhythm than on the melody.
With that being said, you do not have to worry yourself with learning the scales and melodies like you would with the guitars as a beginner.
While on the subject of being the heart and soul of a band, the drums are just as vital an element in keeping the beat in place…
BUT, with the drums we’re looking at a lot more components.
You’ll have your Hi-hats and cymbals, 4 different toms and a snare drum (with their respective pedals and stands). And this is only the set up of a basic drum set.
It’s always good to accustom yourself with your own instrument during the learning stage, but try bringing your own drum set to a drum lesson.
With the bass guitar, all you need is your bass guitar, an amplifier, and maybe a pick if you use one. Voila! You’re ready to rock and roll.
Practice like a Ninja
Of all the instruments in a band, the bass guitar is the quietest of all. If you’re worried about being kicked out by whomever you’re living with, or annoying your neighbours, the bass guitar is definitely your choice of instruments.
The gauges of bass guitar strings are very thick. A standard set of electric guitar strings goes from 0.010 ~ 0.046, whereas the thinnest string on a bass guitar is already 0.045.
In this case, you can practice all you want, way past midnight, and like the ninja you are, no one’s gonna find out. And if you need to hear yourself better, just slap on some headphones and you’re good to go.
Notes are King
With the guitars, you’ll need to learn a number of chords as a beginner in order to be able to start playing something decent. But with the bass guitar, in most cases you’re really just playing single notes… and in many cases they’re the same note.
There are of course chords for bass guitar as well, but rarely are they being used and even if they are, it’s often made up of simpler notes and less complicated than the guitar.
What Does it Take to be a Bassist
Finally, the main thing I want to talk about is what it takes to be a bassist.
It seems that learning the bass guitar is somewhat easier than learning the guitar, but it can be physically more demanding as the bass guitar is slightly heavier in weight and longer in length.
And because the strings are thicker, it requires more finger strength to hold and play them. And some of the techniques involved, like ‘Slapping’, might also prove to be a challenge for some.
Last but not least, you may never be the star of the show, but trust me, you’re definitely the backbone of the music.
the difference between the guitar and the bass is that when you make a mistake on the guitar, the audience will hear the difference. But when you make a mistake on the bass, the audience feels it.
If you’re a frequent goer to live music scenes, you’ll know what I mean. Remember, bass is the heart and soul of the music, it gives rhythm and groove to the music.
Here’s an example of how a bass can set the mood in a LIVE performance (performer: SMR Bass Instructor Travis)
So, being a bassist means that you are responsible for setting the right atmosphere for the entire performance. You are the link to all the other instruments in the band and you need to have a good sense of rhythm.
This is why most bass players are usually well composed, down to earth, and generally very pleasant people to be around with, because they’re team players.
I hope the above was helpful in helping you decide if the bass guitar is the right musical instrument for you. And don’t forget to check out our other articles in helping you make your beginners’ journey much smoother.
Rock On nn/,