Is Bass Easier Than Guitar?

Is Bass Easier Than Guitar

If you want to play a musical instrument and you can’t decide between the bass and the guitar, then you have some thinking (and research) to do! The two are very much alike and are both examples of string instruments. Technically-speaking, they are played the same way, except that the bass has two fewer strings and a lower tuning range. Right now, you may be wondering to yourself, “is bass easier or harder to learn than the guitar?”

Is bass easier than guitar? Based on my research, I would have to say ‘no’.  The bass guitar is usually considered a more ‘physically demanding’ instrument to play than a regular guitar. The neck is longer, the strings are thicker and heavier and the pressure you need to apply with your fretting hand is greater. Also, the bass is a heavier instrument overall compared to a guitar. Ultimately, however, the answer to the question lies in your own personal interests, experiences, and preferences.

Now that you know it is often considered more difficult to play the bass than the guitar, let’s explore these two instruments in more detail. We will discuss their differences, why bass can be seen as ‘harder to play’ and which is better for you to learn first. We will also discuss the role personality and artistic impression play in your choice to play one over the other. So, if you are ready to learn more, then please continue reading…

What’s the Difference between Bass and Guitar?

The main differences between the bass and the guitar include the following:

  • Pitch range. Bass guitar plays notes the same way as a guitar but at an octave lower. The guitar has standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) whereas the bass is tuned starting from one octave down (E-A-D-G).
  • Number of strings. The guitar is a six-stringed instrument and the bass is a four-stringed instrument. The strings on the bass are thicker (and heavier) than those on a guitar. There is more tension applied to bass strings than guitar strings.
  • Basic design. The bass has a longer neck than the guitar and is a ‘heavier’ instrument. It requires more raw materials to make and takes longer to produce as well. A standard guitar has a measure of about twenty-four inches whereas a bass measures in around thirty-four inches.
  • Role in modern music. The bass tends to take a ‘back seat’ to the guitar. Most bands nowadays are very drum and guitar-heavy and it is often difficult to even hear the bass in a song! Guitar has a more varied role in a band than the bass and more freedom of play.
  • Playing technique. Guitars are often ‘strummed’ or played with the thumb and fingers sweeping down and across multiple strings. The bass, however, is ‘picked’ or ‘plucked’, with only one string ringing at a time, most of the time.
  • Price difference. In many cases, bass guitars are more expensive than regular guitars. This is likely due to the design (longer neck and heavier weight) and materials (thicker strings and longer development time).

To sum things up, the bass is (more than) a guitar with two fewer strings. It has a different tone, scale, length and feel than a guitar. It also plays a different musical role in a band and requires a unique approach, both conceptually and technically. Bass guitars often cost more than other guitars and weigh more too! Now you know! For information on the differences between a guitar and bass, here is a great article from Spenditty

Which is Easier Guitar or Bass?

At first glance, the bass may seem easier to play, as it has only four strings as opposed to six strings, like the guitar. This is not necessarily the case! Physically speaking, the bass is harder to handle than a guitar. It has a longer neck, thicker and heavier strings and requires more finger strength to fret the notes correctly. The bass is also a weightier instrument overall and some musicians find it more difficult (especially on their backs) to play.

Musically speaking, it is harder to ‘hold your own’ as a bass player compared to a guitar player. Guitarists are generally considered more melodic and expressive. They have a more varied role to play in a band and can go ‘off script’ with solos and embellishments. Bass players, however, are considered part of the ‘rhythm’ section and need to play accordingly, following the music more closely.

Career-wise, some may say that it is easier to get a job in a band as a guitarist rather than a bassist. Because great guitar riffs and high-energy solos seem to be in the forefront of popular music today, it may seem to be the better choice. However, a good bassist is a very valuable musician and will help ‘support’ the band by acting as the ‘backbone’ on which all other instruments are carried.

Of course, this is all relative. Depending on what musical genre you are interested in and how badly you want to play a certain instrument, you could learn either the bass or the guitar and find each to be equally easy or difficult to master. Whether you find either (or both) easy (or difficult) to play will always be based on your own personal interests, experiences, and preferences.

Which is Better to Learn First Guitar of Bass

It is fairly easy to play a few notes on the guitar. Start by learning the acoustic guitar first and work your way up to a bass. By learning as many scales as you can on the guitar beforehand, you are likely to have an easier time playing the bass, as the bass is a very scale-oriented instrument. As well, the progression from guitar to bass will help you better learn intervals, thus aiding in chord development.

This is, of course, just an assumption, based on my research. You can learn to play bass without playing the guitar first. However, if you have the time and resources available, it is definitely in your best interests musically-speaking to learn both!

How to Choose Between Bass or Guitar

Whether to play bass or guitar is not an easy choice. Ultimately, the best way to decide may involve you taking a look at your personality. How you answer the following questions is ‘key’:

  • Do you like the ‘spotlight’ and being the center of attention?
  • Are you a type-A personality – outgoing, ambitious, proactive, very status-conscious and highly competitive?
  • Do you want to ‘drive’ the band creatively by writing music?
  • Are you willing to learn music theory?
  • Is personal creativity and unique expression your main reasons for playing music?
  • Do you consider yourself to be unconventional, not ‘mainstream’?
  • Do you enjoy being part of a ‘team’?
  • Are you moved more by rhythm than melody when it comes to music?
  • Are you okay with not always being ‘recognized’. Is the work its own reward?
  • Would you rather blend in and not be the center of attention?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any or all of the top five questions, then it is likely you will be happier playing the guitar. If you answered ‘yes’ to any or all of the bottom five questions, then you probably will enjoy playing the bass instead. Of course, this is all relative and is only meant to guide your decision, not influence or make it!


It is often believed that playing the bass guitar is more difficult than playing a regular guitar. The reasons for this include the bass being considered a more ‘physically demanding’ instrument than a guitar. The neck is longer, the strings are thicker (and heavier) and the pressure needed to fret the notes correctly is greater, meaning there is more tension involved. As well, the bass is a heavier instrument overall than a guitar and can be harder for musicians to hold, carry and play as a result.

Ultimately, however, the choice to play one instrument over the other lies not in the difficulty level, as both (or either) can be viewed as equally easy (or difficult) depending on your individual interests and skill level. It lies in one’s own personal preferences and experiences. Why not broaden your musical horizons and learn both, if you have the time and resources, that is!  Good luck in your future musical endeavors. And now, it is time to pick up that instrument and strum, pick or pluck those strings!

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Bass Easier Than Guitar

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