Should I Play Bass or Guitar?

Compare bass and guitar to choose the right instrument for you.

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Many of us, young and old, have been inspired by our favorite musicians to take up the guitar. Not every stringed instrument you see up on the stage is the same, though. Take a moment to consider whether bass or guitar is the right instrument for you.

Different Sizes

Bass guitars are larger than six-string guitars. The necks are longer in order to accommodate longer strings, which have lower pitches. Bass guitar strings themselves are also thicker and spaced apart more. A bass has a larger sound as well. A bass will let you wield deep, rumbling notes that can shake up a stage, while a guitar is used for higher melodies and harmonies that don't need as much volume.

Different Methods

Most bass players pluck out bass lines with their fingers, while guitarists are more likely to strum chords with a pick. On a bass, you usually play one note at a time and get to move all over your instrument. Shredding solos aside, your average guitarist spends most of the time playing all (or most) of the strings at once, with fingers carefully arranged to produce harmonious chords. Thick fingers will make it hard to sound every string in a guitar chord, but they will help you firmly lay down confident bass notes.

Different Roles

Another important consideration when choosing your instrument is what role you'd like to play in the band. If you love music for its melody lines or interesting structures of chords and harmonies, you may have more fun playing the guitar. If, however, you take more musical joy from the rhythm or the force of the sound, you'll like being a bass player. Generally speaking, it's the bass (and yes, the drums too) that get a crowd up and moving.