Are you ready to start your journey as a musician but are dealing with questions of identity? Is it true that, really, you’re a bass guitar player after all? Or, all you want is to play the most dazzling lead electric guitar solos. Those questions are expected.
There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s no way to determine which instrument has the greatest worth in the “bass Guitar vs electric guitar” battle. The only differences are in how the two sound and, consequently, how you’ll integrate within a band.
Choosing a bass guitar over a six-stringed electric guitar, or vice-versa, is a question that rattles at the gates of your individuality. In today’s article, I’ll cover the fundamental differences between the two, base the info on my years of experience playing and, hopefully, help you find the right instrument for you.
Understanding the Basics: Bass Guitar vs Electric Guitar
Yes, yes, the top bassists or electric guitarists can play either one of the two instruments competently. But that doesn’t mean different techniques aren’t involved. It also means that the musicians are aware of the differences in regard to the tone.
Definition of bass guitar and its role in a band
Traditionally, bassists perform two essential and integral duties within any band or ensemble: They provide rhythmic stability as well as harmonic support.
Nothing is stopping you from creating an influential rock band without bass parts. However, be aware that your music won’t possess as much depth of sound as traditional rock songs do and rely on what instruments are already at hand when creating.
There are exceptions, though. Certain bands feature bass as an instrumental lead instrument. This is an approach made famous by Metallica bassist Cliff Burton in the early 80s with his emphasis on bass guitar solos and playing chords. Some metal bassists such as Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead or Tom Araya from Slayer even sing lead vocals while playing their instrument!
Definition of the electric guitar and its role in a band
The electric guitar has emerged as an immensely influential and beloved instrument since its introduction 50 years ago in American music. It has created lasting changes and shaped modern musical genres and sounds.
Guitar and bass instruments play vital roles in any band. Both provide essential rhythm section support as well as melody. However, each has its own special place within a band structure. Typically, the electric guitar provides lead melodies and soloing, while the bass often serves more supportive roles behind.
What about songwriting? The electric guitar is frequently employed when writing songs. Since multiple notes are being played simultaneously on this instrument, an electric guitar serves as a valuable way of creating chord progressions. In other words, it’s easy to assemble the building blocks for creating songs.
Overview of the physical differences between bass guitar and electric guitar
A guitar has six strings, while a bass guitar has four. Typically, the four strings of bass are tuned one octave lower than the four lowest notes on an electric guitar.
There’s also a difference in terms of scale length. A typical bass guitar can be 34″ (86 cm) long. Electric guitars tend to range between 24” to 30”, and an acoustic guitar typically has a length of 25.4”–25.5”.
Guitar strings range more in gauges than their bass equivalent, creating more variety of sound with higher notes in tone than thicker bass strings do. This allows bass guitarists to hit lower notes for added depth in music.
Playing bass requires its own set of skills and knowledge bases. That’s why it shouldn’t necessarily be easier to play than an electric guitar.
The bass guitar will typically be louder than the two instruments due to lower frequency levels. Our ears find these easier to hear. Furthermore, most bass guitarists amp their instruments using loudspeakers in order to increase their volume even further.
Playing style differences between bass guitar vs electric guitar
One of the primary differences in playing styles between a bass guitar and electric guitar lies in their respective roles within a band.
A bass guitar typically provides steady rhythms and notes to support harmony and melody, while electric guitar players typically improvise solos, riffs, and melodic embellishments that stand out in music.
Furthermore, bass players typically employ fingerpicking techniques, while electric guitarists may opt for picking or fingerstyle playing techniques. Each instrument lends itself well to specific genres such as funk, reggae or soul music, while electric guitarists might perform solos or solos when soloing solos or embellishments that stand out amongst melody or harmony.
Techniques involved in playing a bass or a six-stringed guitar
Fingerpicking or using a pick are the two primary techniques for playing bass guitar. Fingerpicking involves plucking strings with fingers, while using a pick is using small plastic or metal tools to strike strings directly.
Slap bass is a technique often seen on bass guitar, in which players use their thumbs to strike strings to produce percussive and rhythmic sounds. It has become synonymous with funk music and other genres. Slapping on an electric guitar is also possible but is usually not part of its playing style as much.
Conversely, electric guitar players can access more varieties of playing techniques when it comes to fingerpicking or picking with a pick. Furthermore, the electric guitar is often associated with techniques such as bending and vibrato, which add expressive character to a musician’s playing.
What genres will you be able to play with a bass guitar vs electric guitar?
Bass guitar and electric guitar have long been featured in different types of musical genres. Bass can typically be found providing rhythmic support in genres like funk or soul.
On the other hand, electric guitar tends to be found more commonly associated with rock or metal (for soloing/riffs). However, certainly, there may be exceptions. Both instruments may appear across a wide variety of musical genres.
You don’t need to go to music school necessarily. Or to have taken piano lessons as a child. Individual study can help you become an accomplished musician. However, getting guidance from a teacher can help, particularly in the early stages of your journey. A teach can help you soak up the basics and allow you to advance in your studies at a quicker pace.
Advantages of playing a bass guitar vs electric guitar
When it comes to playing bass guitar versus electric guitar, both instruments offer benefits and drawbacks. Bass guitar can help develop your sense of rhythm and timing while becoming increasingly sought-after for bands.
The bass guitar can also provide the foundation of music genres like funk and reggae through genre-defining basslines. Its style may involve steady rhythms with features like fingerpicking or slap bass techniques employed while looking cool. Yes, you often get stuck in the background more often that a guitarist will, but it’s a never-ending journey of course!
Electric guitar can allow you to create dynamic solos and riffs that make songs stand out. The electric guitar is popular among genres such as rock and metal music, where it often serves as the lead instrument. Guitarists may use a pick or fingerpicking when performing.
However, electric guitar requires extensive practice and skill before being deployed successfully within a band setting as it competes with other instruments for space in the mix.
When choosing between bass guitar and electric guitar, it is essential to consider your musical preferences and goals as well as physical abilities and budget.
If you like playing steady rhythms that provide the foundation of songs on bass guitar. However, those seeking flashier solos and riffs or want something with greater versatility on electric guitar. Keep in mind that both instruments take time and dedication to master; make sure it is one that you enjoy and feel motivated to practice regularly!
Is a bass guitar more expensive than an electric guitar?
Budget concerns associated with purchasing either an electric or bass guitar can vary considerably based on brand and model preferences, although, in general, bass guitars tend to cost slightly more due to their larger body and heavier material requirements required to produce low frequencies. Furthermore, bass guitars typically boast multiple strings and more complex electronics, which also add cost.
Basses do not, necessarily have to cost less or more than guitars for beginners. A decent electric bass costs approximately $200, while experienced players might spend as much as $1,000 for mid-high-range models depending on individual factors that impact price. No, it’s not expensive to start learning to play bass
The same can be said of electric guitars. In recent years, especially, numerous high-quality, low-cost options have entered the market. You can pick up a Fender Squier or Yamaha Pacifica for under $200. Or, you can even find mid-range options from companies like reputable Gretsch or Epiphone for under $500.
There are numerous affordable electric and bass guitar options for beginner or entry-level instruments, including beginner electric and bass models, so it is wise to make an educated purchase decision. You should include in your calculation the upfront cost of purchase and any necessary additional accessories (such as the guitar amp or cables).
Bass guitar or electric guitar: that is the question
Is Flea cooler than Jimmy Page? Was Jaco Pastorius a more competent musician than Al Di Meola? There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions.
The truth is that learning to be a great musician takes work, no matter what instrument. For most, looking cool while playing also requires practice.
The most important thing is to know the differences between the bass guitar and the electric guitar so that you can make an informed choice. Once you find the instrument that makes you want to play all the time, you’ll advance with ease.
Finally, you want to avoid ending up playing both. I did. And while I am much less skilled at playing the bass guitar, I still love it, and it saves me a lot of money when recording my own music.
There are many difficult questions life throws at us. “Should I buy a bass guitar or an electric guitar?” is not one of them. It’s a query that opens our life to the magic of being able to play music.