This is a never-ending question, and the answer varies. Some people say that bass is a lot easier to play because of its simpler chords, while others claim it’s just as hard as guitar. The truth is that it all depends on who you are asking and what they’re used to playing. If you’ve never played either instrument before, then both will probably seem like a challenge no matter which one you choose to start with.
If you’re just starting out, the answer is probably YES! Bass is generally easier on your fingers, and it’s less challenging than playing lead or rhythm guitar.
But there are also many ways to play bass that take a great deal of experience and precision. Players like Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, and Marcus Miller have worked their way into the top ranks of bass players by becoming masters of the instrument.
If you have no experience playing either guitar or bass, then it’s difficult to be objective about which is easier or harder. The most straightforward answer is that bass generally takes less effort than guitar because it doesn’t require fingers as agile as guitarists’.
In this article, you will learn why bass generally takes less time to learn and why it can be more complicated than a guitar for others.
1. You don’t need to learn a full chord in bass
One of the main reasons bass is easier to learn than the guitar is that you don’t have to learn a full chord. This has to do with rhythm playing and chord progressions. In bass, you can typically just play a single note at a time and get away with a song.
In guitars, you need at least three fingers to play a chord, while in the bass, you just need one finger pressed on the bass string at a time to play a normal rhythm. There are a few other chords, but they aren’t really used in the bass.
2. Bass is a lot less versatile than guitar
A second reason why bass is easier and less challenging than the guitar is because of its simplicity. You don’t need to do complex fingerings on the strings as compared to the guitar. Many bassists just pick the strings with their thumb and play open chords. For that, there are only basic shapes for bass.
In guitar, you need to learn complex chords and fingerings, which may not be necessary for bass. You can get away using only two fingers on the strings in bass and even just left-hand picking.
Depending on your ability on the instrument, it may be easier or harder to learn guitar chords and fingerings.
2. Finger plug is easier than strumming
For bass, there is no need to learn how to strum, which is a must in guitars in order to play a chord.
Strumming a chord means you have to use more than one finger to press down the strings at the same time. Learning how to strum is not that easy for beginners; that is why bass can be a lot easier as you don’t need to learn the strumming technique. You just need to plug the string with your fingers which is a lot easier compared to strumming.
In guitars, you need to learn strumming chords, alternate picking, and fingerpicking in order to get good at playing lead guitar. It can be very time-consuming if you’re not used to doing this kind of stuff.
3. Bass players don’t have to learn fretting
Another reason why bass is easier than the guitar is that you don’t have to learn how to fret the strings. The problem here is that it’s hard for some people to memorize a specific pattern of frets on a guitar neck.
4. Learning songs can be easier
In most cases, if you want to cover some songs and want to learn the music, the bass will most probably easier than the guitar play.
So, if you’re picking up a bass for the very first time, you might get to learn songs faster with less time and effort.
5. You don’t have to learn how to read music in bass
When it comes to learning how to read music, bass players will find it easier than guitar players.
With the guitar, you need to know where every note is sitting on the score or chart in order to play them. However, this is not so with bass, and it makes it a lot easier than guitar.
6. Bass has lesser strings as compared to guitar
A normal bass guitar has four strings, while a guitar has six strings, making it easier for a bass player to get around the fretboard a lot quicker.
Trying to play with four strings will always be easier than trying to play with six strings guitars.
Also, some bass players focus on playing just one or two strings on the fretboard to make their life a lot easier. This will not be possible in a guitar, which makes it a lot harder compared to the bass.
7. Bass is easier than guitar for beginners
In most cases, if you’re just starting out on the guitar, it’s recommended that you learn to play songs rather than trying to learn how to shred guitar solos.
This will not be possible in bass and makes it a lot easier than the guitar.
It also takes less time as well which makes it even easier for beginners.
8. You are not the center of attraction on stage
If you ever watch a live show of some band playing, you will pretty much see that bass players are not the center of attraction. This means that the bass player will not feel the pressure a guitarist has to face while doing a shred or a solo.
So, for a guitarist, you have to prepare hard to play even under huge pressure, while a bass player will probably don’t have that kind of pressure to face, making it easier to play bass than guitar.
9. You don’t need to worry about guitar effects
Guitarists love to use different kinds of gadgets and effects when playing guitar.
However, when playing the bass, you just need to plug in the power amplifier, and you can start playing. This makes it a lot easier for bass players as they don’t have to worry about all those effects and can start playing immediately.
We have now listed 9 points why bass is generally easier to play than guitar. Now let’s talk about why bass can be harder to learn than guitar to some musicians:
1. Bass players need to have strong fingers
Bass strings are much thicker than the guitars, and there it is much more physically demanding, especially for someone who hasn’t got that much experience with bass. It will be pretty hard for them to press the strings when learning how to play bass guitar. It’s not easy as you might think it is.
However, with practice and daily exercise, your fingers will get stronger and handle them without any problem.
2. Bass rhythm might be more complex than a guitar in certain genres
As I mentioned before, the bass is usually the driving force of the band. In classic and country music, bass playing or rhythm guitar playing is relatively simple. However, it can get really complicated in rock and metal genres where they try to play fast, complex riffs, which are usually hard for beginners to follow.
Also, in a genre like Blues music, the bassline can be very hard to play mainly due to the notes’ placement on the fretboard, which can be very difficult to follow at first.
3. The most basic technique will be different
Guitarists can sometimes start playing with just a few chords and eventually learn entire songs without ever strumming a chord and playing only single notes. However, trying that with bass would be nothing short of impossible.
4. Bass slapping is hard
The slap technique in bass can be very hard to master, especially if you want to do it with your thumb. It’s usually more difficult than slapping with a pick or even downstroke rolls.
5. Bass Guitar with more than four strings is hard
In today’s world, a bass guitar can sometimes have 5,6, or even 7 strings. This type of bass guitar is very hard to play, especially for beginners, as there are much more width and distance to cover than a guitar because of the large fretboard.
6. Playing bass with a pick is hard
Playing bass with the picking technique is hard. It’s challenging to keep the pick in the correct place, and you have to be very precise on every note you play. The disadvantage of playing bass with a pick is that during fast passages, for example, during vamps, bass can be very difficult to play correctly.
7. Keeping up with the bass drum can be hard
Bass plays a very important role in keeping the rhythm and tempo check. They need to keep up with the bass drum. However, this is not easy as the song’s tempo and beat can change drastically or suddenly, and it’s hard to keep up with the bass drum.
8. Bass is very demanding
This may be a bit controversial, but I’ve seen people play bass guitar like they just picked up a guitar for the very first time. They don’t do any finger exercises and try to copy what they hear, which can be very difficult as it’s completely different from guitars.
Final thought – Is Bass Easier Than Guitar
I have now pointed nine reasons why the bass guitar is easier than guitar and eight reasons why they might be more difficult for some, which makes it even harder to answer the question of whether bass is easier than guitar or not.
Hopefully, this article can help you to make a good decision on what you need to learn and start playing right away.
However, if you’re a beginner, you should not be thinking about these points as they might confuse you even more. If you feel that bass is right for you and want to get good at bass, this article will hopefully help you on your musical journey!