Should I buy a Bass ?

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Hi All,

I want to buy something !! How sad is that, but I’m blaming Covid for wanting to cheer myself up ....

Trouble is I can’t find anything to buy. I’ve been looking at guitars and to a lesser extent amps but I really don’t need anything else. I want to give all five of my electrics a fair rotation so buying another seems pointless and maybe even counterproductive. I have two acoustics that will last me a lifetime and any more amps than my current three seems unnecessary. I’m not bothered about pedals.

So I’m wondering about a 30 inch scale “guitar players” Bass for some variety. I thought about a Baritone but went off that idea as I want to stick with standard tuning on a 6 string.

In your experience does spending time with a Bass help or hinder one’s evolution as a guitar player ? Part of me thinks that there’s more than enough for one lifetime focusing purely on guitar and that any time spent elsewhere is not optimal. But the other part of me thinks that learning to groove a bit on Bass might be a real benefit to my guitar playing.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Des
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 15368
    edited October 14
    I just built a bass and I’m loving it. But would suggest getting a proper bass and learning to play bass - rather than “guitar player’s bass” - would be a much bigger benefit. 

    Otherwise, have you considered drums? That’s a bigger challenge imo and more fun [hides from resident bassists].

    Or at the other end of the scale, have you tried alt tunings for guitar?
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 3373
    IMO if you're sacrificing guitar practice time to practice bass then it hinders your guitar playing. If it doesn't then it has no effect.

    I don't believe that playing bass helps with guitar playing much at all really. Maybe finger strength.

    Personally I think that if you want to buy a "guitar player's" bass and play it like you would a guitar then it's a waste of time unless you happen to need to record bass parts or fill in for a band. If you want the enjoyment of learning a new instrument I'd say to get a normal bass and learn to play it the proper way (which is way different to guitar or how guitar players play bass).
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  • McSwaggertyMcSwaggerty Frets: 392
    I needed a bass for home recording. 
    I bought a Gretsch Junior Jet short scale bass. 
    I'm having a lot more fun with it than l thought l would..... 
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  • markvmarkv Frets: 217
    I bought a bass a couple of years ago, mostly so I could add (very simple) bass lines to my own recordings.

    I'd say that even learning the tiny amount about bass playing that I have has improved me as a musician.

    Although I wasn't ignorant enough to think it would be easy because I already play guitar, I was still surprised by the realisation that it is a different instrument - not mechanically (I mean, of course I can play notes), but in terms of the approach. What also became quickly apparent is that it would take me (ymmv) a fair amount of effort to become properly proficient, and I still haven't decided yet whether to take the plunge.

    But it's fun to have something different to play.

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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 3373
    markv said:

    I'd say that even learning the tiny amount about bass playing that I have has improved me as a musician.
    As a very wide generalisation - and I really just mean in general terms, I don't want to sound inflammatory on this forum - I'd say that bass players (who choose bass and aren't guitarists who drew the short straw) tend to have better overall music knowledge than guitarists.

    It makes sense because playing the bass is about connecting the other instruments together and serving the track, there's no solo work. You can't even really just sit and play the bass by itself the way guitar is often played, it only really makes sense to play it as part of an ensemble.

    So I think learning bass the proper way is quite possibly a good route to a better understanding of music as a whole. Although I still think that buying one with the intention of playing it as if it's just a lower pitched guitar wouldn't have that benefit.

    And you're so right that it's a totally separate instrument to guitar - more than most people would assume.

    A tip I'd give is to start out only using fingerstyle for bass. Not because picked bass isn't equally as great, it would just prevent you from playing it like a guitar.
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  • PonchoGregPonchoGreg Frets: 378
    Yes. Always yes. :)

    Bass really is a fun instrument to play. But coming from a very similar background, I would say that playing bass on your own is certainly more challenging than guitar, until you're that proficient that you can improvise interesting bass lines without being bored in the space of a minute. I like to play bass but always over something else, or at least a basic drum beat.

    As to whether it benefits your guitar playing, I would like to say yes, but again more from a "what can I add to this existing song?" perspective. It really encourages you to develop a good hear for understated, rythmic and/or melodic little flourishes that have to sit nicely in a groove and soundscape.

    Anyway - do it, it's cool and definitely a nice change of pace
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 8457
    If you want a bass, get one, but I think 34 inch would be better

    I'd recommend getting a lap steel first
    It's a more guitarist-oriented instrument, and you can get ones that play well very cheaply
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  • chrisj1602chrisj1602 Frets: 1633
    I bought a Hofner bass last year, I’m really glad I did, so yes.
    Chris.
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  • CrankyCranky Frets: 550
    edited October 14
    I got a short scale bass while back.  It's okay, but I find piano/keyboard to be a lot more fun and more mentally stimulating.  It helps with applied theory a lot more because it's linear and the sharps/flats are so obvious.

    Also, if you get a bass you gotta get another amp.  I happened to have a bass cab simulator already, so adding the bass wasn't a big deal.
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  • JerkMoansJerkMoans Frets: 5194
    Get a Bass VI, tire of it, then sell at a substantial loss in the classifieds. Would be my strategy in such circumstances.
    Inactivist Lefty Lawyer
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1499
    Buy a synth and learn about a whole new world.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 3928
    A few years ago I bought a bass.  Mainly to try to see what a bass does in a band context!  I discovered that bass playing requires/benefits from fretboard knowledge and a basic level of music theory.  My fretting hand got much stronger, thus barre chords on the guitar became easier to play.  The group of friends that I play music with, in pre Covid-19 days, gigged occasionally and I played bass on those gigs.  Playing bass reignited my interest in guitar too.  So my answer is go for it.  Get yourself a standard P or J bass and you won't look back.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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  • SchnozzSchnozz Frets: 1298
    34" scale is important unless you're just gigging.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 50177
    If you don't have one then yes. I don't think scale length is actually that important - although as a short bloke with short arms and small hands I do find a P-Bass at the upper end of the comfort range, it's still playable. It's not 'familiar' in the same way any different guitar is either way, and that's not a problem because you play it completely differently. If anything it's the body size and neck width (on some) of a P that I find difficult, not the neck length. I like some short-scale basses too, but not because they're short.

    In my opinion it will make you a better guitarist and musician even if it does take away practice time from guitar. It makes you think about music in a different way, which is always good.

    You also don't need a bass amp if you're just going to be playing quietly at home - it's better to have one, but you can get away with a guitar amp as long as you're not pushing the volume. The risk is to the speaker, not the amp - as long as you use a clean sound (which you'll usually want to anyway) and keep it well down below the point you start to hear any distortion or the speaker struggling, it will be fine. That said you can buy a perfectly good home practice bass amp for about £100, or less second hand.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • Yes, it will not only improve your guitar playing, but also allow you to gig or record as a bassist. 
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  • Wow. Loads of great replies. Many thanks to all.

    Unfortunately I’m not a lot further forward as opinions clearly differ.

    I have a lot of time for both the “stick to guitar and don’t dilute your practice time” and the  “improves your general musicianship and groove” arguments. So I’m unsure .....

    But I still want to buy something that isn’t another Fender type guitar ....

    So far lap-steel, drums and keyboards have also been mentioned.....


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  • Or I could just buy yet another Tele .....
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 15368
    ICBM said:

    In my opinion it will make you a better guitarist and musician even if it does take away practice time from guitar. It makes you think about music in a different way, which is always good.

    This would be my take - especially the bold bit. As long as you’re good enough on guitar to play whole songs, and to listen to songs and pick out guitar parts, then playing another instrument will help. 

    If you’re still in the very early beginner stages then I would suggest maybe not, but it still could make you a better musician, even if it slows down your progress as a guitar player somewhat. 


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  • CrankyCranky Frets: 550
    DesWalker said:

    Wow. Loads of great replies. Many thanks to all.

    Unfortunately I’m not a lot further forward as opinions clearly differ.

    I have a lot of time for both the “stick to guitar and don’t dilute your practice time” and the  “improves your general musicianship and groove” arguments. So I’m unsure .....

    But I still want to buy something that isn’t another Fender type guitar ....

    So far lap-steel, drums and keyboards have also been mentioned.....


    If it helps, I have several electrics, several acoustics, electronic drum set, a piano, and a bass.  The bass I play the least by a good margin. Sure, it's good for strength and mechanics.  But usually my non-guitar time is spent either hitting drums because it's fun and high-energy or playing piano because it sounds nice and is good for theory, piano allows me to play bass and melody aka bass and guitar at the same time.

    However, if recording is involved, bass jumps up the list.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 22152
    Be careful. 

    It ruined my guitar playing as I liked it more and stopped guitar completely.

    Then I discovered fretless...

    So far it’s cost more than buying flipping guitars did.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 7015
    Bass is not an instrument. It is a way of life. (You’ll love it.)

    As alluded to above, bass is a foundational role within an ensemble. It requires a different mindset than lead/rhythm guitar. It is also the element in a song to which people dance.

    Playing both guitar and bass can bring a cross-fertilisation of ideas. Knowing what a guitarist would prefer to play over (hopefully) encourages one not to overplay on the bass. 
    Be seeing you.
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  • Bass has a different musical role. Us guitarists frequently play across the beat. Bassists play on it.
    My bassist buddy used to watch the drummers foot to absolutely nail the timing. 

    I also bought a bass for recording, but though I've used them for a few years now, I am not a bassist. If I keep it simple, I can do a good job, but if I try to get clever I usually start playing across the beat again.

    What is great fun is to play a simple bass line along to a song, and just feel a bassist's groove. Its utterly different. It feels great.
    I sometimes think, therefore I am intermittent
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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 917
    I bought a bass to add to recordings 25+ years ago. In the end all the gigs I have played have been on bass. The only part of my guitar playing that "suffered" was the lead playing. But I prefer to play chords any way.
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  • Thanks to all for contributing to an interesting thread. There’s clearly no right and wrong answer so I will keep thinking....
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  • LitterickLitterick Frets: 99
    DesWalker said:


    But I still want to buy something that isn’t another Fender type guitar ....




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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 3373
    Bass has a different musical role. Us guitarists frequently play across the beat. Bassists play on it.
    This sounds potentially interesting to me, I wish I knew what you meant. I'm a bassist and guitar player in equal measure, if not slightly more of a bassist, and I've been thinking about this post for the past couple of days but can't figure out what you mean.

    Can you be bothered explaining it?
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 1251
    ICBM said:

    In my opinion it will make you a better guitarist and musician even if it does take away practice time from guitar. It makes you think about music in a different way, which is always good.

    This would be my take - especially the bold bit. As long as you’re good enough on guitar to play whole songs, and to listen to songs and pick out guitar parts, then playing another instrument will help. 

    If you’re still in the very early beginner stages then I would suggest maybe not, but it still could make you a better musician, even if it slows down your progress as a guitar player somewhat. 


    Yes I'd agree with that. 
    It's not a competition.
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  • AlexlotlAlexlotl Frets: 37
    Don’t assume you’ll need a short scale just because you’re used to guitar, but also don’t dismiss a short scale as not being a “proper bass”.

    Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, Bill Wyman, Trevor Bolder, Tina Weymouth and many more played shorties in their heydays, and I’d say they’re proper bassists! I hear the guy from Royal Blood also exclusively plays short scale, but I’m insufficiently down with the kids to know much about that.

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  • CrankyCranky Frets: 550
    thegummy said:
    Bass has a different musical role. Us guitarists frequently play across the beat. Bassists play on it.
    This sounds potentially interesting to me, I wish I knew what you meant. I'm a bassist and guitar player in equal measure, if not slightly more of a bassist, and I've been thinking about this post for the past couple of days but can't figure out what you mean.

    Can you be bothered explaining it?
    I was thinking about it, too.  Mainly because, as a fan of funk music, it doesn't sound accurate.
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  • Yes, buy a bass - it is good for your soul.

    I wouldn't say that playing bass has helped my musical understanding per se, but it does something physically that guitar lacks.

    Don't know what I am saying other than I have been infatuated with guitar for the last couple of years, and only recently pulled my Precision out of the cupboard, and within ten minutes of playing felt that "ahhhhh, I am home" feeling.

    And this isn't because I am a virtuoso on the bass - it was a resonant bond.
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