Guitar vs. Bass: Which is Better to Learn?

By Monica | Guitar Techniques

Jun 06
guitar vs bass

A music enthusiast would eventually enter the dilemma in choosing between a bass and guitar. Unfortunately, there are several factors that you have to consider first before you should pick which one to master. In the guitar vs. bass match, who would really win?

Such question is quite vague, as these instruments vary in their intended functions and use. Although they are both stringed tools and share a good physical semblance, the guitar and bass are still different.

This question tears even those that are in the middle of their journey. You might be already learning the ropes of guitar, and suddenly, some of your friends asked you to switch to bass. Of course, the opposite could happen. However, we all know that switching is not an easy thing to do. There are a lot of things that you have to weigh before you can actually decide.

Moreover, this involves money as well. Obviously, you will have to buy a new instrument if you will jump from one boat to another. Even for amateurs, this implication is still applicable. Therefore, you need to decide firmly which of these musical tools would benefit you. After all, we don't want the feeling of regret to strike us later on.

In this article, we will try to elaborate the difference between a guitar and bass. In this way, you will get some useful information that could help you decide. Read on!


Guitar vs. Bass: Their Difference

If you are a novice in the world of music, there is a good chance that you don't know the contrast that divides these two instruments. Of course, that should not count as a joke as all of us are beginners at one point in our lives. Surprisingly, a bass and guitar share almost the same nuances.

The Guitar

electric guitar

The guitar is a 6-string instrument. Moreover, it has a tuning that looks like this: EADGBE. The latter indicates that you should tune the lowest string on the E note, while the succeeding one on the A. You should do the same mechanism on the higher notes as well. But for this time, we should not delve too much into these technical concepts. Our goal here is to differentiate a guitar from a bass.

The Bass

guitar bass

On the other hand, a bass is usually a 4-string instrument. Furthermore, it is notably larger than its counterpart. When it comes to tuning, a bass is still using the same pattern as a guitar. However, each of the note has a one-octave-down pitch. As a result, the string of a bass has a tuning like this: EADG.

The Similarities

Aside from the number of strings and tuning, a bass and a guitar are pretty similar. They share the same chords and scales. In fact, their music theories are somehow related to each other! Should these facts comfort you? Apparently, they should. After all, it is a realization that you have to take.

Specifically, there are a lot of people who think that they have to learn a bass or a guitar before switching to another. If you already know that these instruments are close cousins, then you can learn them at the same time. Moreover, it would eventually reduce your stress in choosing. In short, you can just make switches anytime you want!

However, you should take into account that both of these instruments have tuning variations. For example, there is a 7-string guitar and a 5-string bass. Fortunately, these should not worry you. As long as you understand the fundamentals of these instruments, then you can easily hurdle these obstacles.

Guitar vs. Bass: Their Roles

Although it is true that a bass and guitar follows the same music theory, they are still sonically different. Therefore, you can never use a guitar as an alternative to bass. Same as to the other. It would never really happen, as their intended applications are different.


It is undeniable that a guitar has a more flexible role than a bass. After all, we can consider that bass and drums are both "rhythm" instruments. On the other hand, the guitar is quite versatile. A guitar player has the right and freedom to do a lot of unscripted solos and sound additives.

However, a lot of musical genres require the guitar to have a rhythm accompaniment, such as rock and metal. Fortunately, the entire composure of the band would not sway off if the guitar misses a beat.

Moreover, you should not confuse the "lead" guitar and the "rhythm" guitar players as the same. Generally, both of these fields are using guitars to play their role. However, rhythm players usually play chords while lead guitarist tend to play a lot of solos and other complicated passages. In real-life applications, a band can have two players to do each of these respective positions. But some bands let one player deal these two tasks.


The bass is quite the misunderstood one. Many amateurs even ask why a particular rock or metal band has a bassist. We can't blame them somehow, as such question came to us when we are just starting. Most of the time, it is hard to indicate the sound of the bass in a certain rock song. The heavy dropping of the guitar, drums, and the vocals just dampen the bass easily.


We cannot deny this scenario. That's why many great bass players are seemingly unrecognized. Sometimes, they would just become the "background" of the band. But despite this, you should never underestimate the role of this instrument. In fact, a bassist should know how to moderate the entire tempo of the band.

In genres like jazz, the bass is the backbone that holds all the instruments together. In short, the bass dictates the entire rhythm of the drummer. For genres like rock and metal, the bass is the complementing part of the riff. Of course, the riff is the ever-powerful sound that could destroy your eardrums. It is beautiful and compelling at the same time.

Therefore, an experienced and skilled bassist is someone that any band would chase. If you decided to learn this instrument, then you are truly noble and awesome!

Guitar vs. Bass: Level of Difficulty

Which is harder to play among these two instruments? Some people think that bass is easier to deal with because it has only four strings. Well, it is not really the case most of the times. The truth is, both of these instruments prove difficult to master. Moreover, the amount of difficulty increases depending on the genre that you want to pursue.

For example, the legendary Kurt Cobain is not an incarnate of a guitar god. If you listen to each of their songs, most of his playing styles are truly basic. However, he had this unique medley that made his composition unique.

Meanwhile, other notable names in the industry such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen had twisted the entire core of the guitar. They are the ones who brought the instrument to a new level. They have pushed their skills to the limit. As a result, they were able to produce some immortal tracks and pieces, cementing their status today.

Of course, you could apply the same to bass. You can either settle on the basics or push yourself further. That's a decision that only you can take! On the physical side, we could agree that a guitar is easier to play. After all, it is lighter and has thinner strings unlike its counterpart. But don't worry, the difference is minimal.


At the end of the day, we could say that both the guitar and bass are intricate instruments. It requires dedication and practice before you can master any of these musical tools. That's why in the bout of guitar vs. bass, we would declare it as a draw. These two instruments have their unique nuances and qualities that make them unique and necessary!

Did you learn from this article? Which of these instruments do you want to play? Tell us your answers in the comment section below!


About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!