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Thread: Which one to begin: electric or bass guitar?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Which one to begin: electric or bass guitar?

    Hi there,

    Let me first introduce myself. I'm Cedric and live in Belgium. I've been playing and studying music since I was 8. I'm currently following classical piano, jazz piano and chamber music courses, but I also studied keyboard, violin, oboe, music culture and music theory. Next year I want to enter a college of music (conservatory) and play pop piano. However, to get in, they require adaptness on a certain instrument (which is piano, in my case), and have some basic skills on another instrument in a typical rythm section (guitar, base guitar or drums).

    Now, I want to learn to play the guitar, electrical or bass. Since a month or two, I've set my mind on the bass guitar. However, now that I'm planning to buy one, I'm starting to doubt. Which one should I learn as a beginner? Here a few pros for the bass guitar:

    • It only has four strings, and you play only one of them most of the time. Also, the intervals between the open snares are uniform (all fourths, this is not the case with a standard electric guitar). So maybe a bass guitar is more suitable and approachable for beginner guitar players?
    • I will train my ears more if I play bass than the electric guitar. I'll develop a certain feeling for music foundations.
    • I'm good with chords on keyboard and piano and have a certain knowledge of music theory, so when I play bass I can benefit from this skill and knowledge by applying them in my accompaniments.

    Are my arguments valid? So now a few pros for the electric guitar:

    • I like chords a lot! One time I want to be able to play them on a guitar.
    • I'm more of a solo guy than someone who participates in a band, so maybe the electric guitar is more my cup of tea?
    • I like the sound very much, especially the clean sound without any effects or distortion (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...OD-XPbDE#t=206).

    So now my question. I won't ask you which instrument you prefer, because I'm planning on playing them both in the future. However, which instrument should you begin with? Which one is more suitable for beginners? And if you play bass, is it harder to learn guitar, or is it better to do it the other way round? Which instrument has the steepest learning curve?

    Thank you a lot!

    - Cedric

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    I would suggest not overthinking the issue of which is more "suitable for beginners", but just jumping into whichever one it is you actually most want to play - which, from what you've written, sounds like guitar to me...

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    I'd go for guitar first - esp considering your first two "pros" for guitar .

    Another pro for bass, however, is it's a more unusual instrument than guitar. Not only might ability on bass impress a college more than guitar (which is boringly common), but if you get halfway good at it you'll always be in demand for work. There are not enough competent bassists, and way too many competent guitarists! Bass may be easier, but most beginners have ambitions (like you to be a "solo guy", while bassists need to be happy in that backseat supporting role. But a good bassist is a widely respected musician, literally "fundamental" to the sound of a band.
    You're quite right that your knowledge of chords and theory from piano will give you a huge advantage in learning both bass and guitar.
    I agree with walter, don't concern yourself with what you think is "easy for beginners". You're not like most beginners, with your enormous experience of music in general. I suggest trying out a few guitars and basses, and go with your instinct.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    almost everything is chord tones, with the other notes (7, 2, 4) being passing notes due to scale-wise moves between chord tones.

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    Last edited by faris; 07-26-2014 at 09:23 AM.

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    I play both 6 string guitar and 4 string bass. For what you want the 6 string guitar IMO would be the way to go.

    I play bass about 75% of my time. Bass in one band and guitar in another. I enjoy the bass more. Bassists are in short supply. There are a zillion guitar players sitting by the phone hoping for a call.

    Food for thought, if you go bass, go stand up double bass. Starting price around $1,500 (US$) That plus the monster does not fit in most cars, and is a bitch to lug around, but, the way I think you are going the double bass would be the way to go if you decide to go bass.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 01-10-2014 at 12:37 PM.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    I have a very simple question for you: which one do you feel like learning first? I don't think you will be disadvantaged if you learn one before the other. If you have a passion to learn, you will learn both well no matter the order in which you do them.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Keep in mind these are 2 very different instruments. They both have strings and that's about where the similarity ends. Bass music is written in the bass clef and guitar music in the treble clef. The perform 2 distinctly different functions. The electric bass is not a "bass guitar" or a lower pitch guitar with 4 strings. It isn't "easier" than the guitar, contrary to what some people might have told you. It's serious instrument. More than one guitarist has learned that the hard way when they thought they could take my spot as the bassist in a band.

  8. #8
    great work

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    being passing notes due to scale-wise moves between chord tones.

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