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Bass vs Guitar – Key Differences and Which is Better to Learn?

Stringed instruments are among the most versatile pieces to learn and master.

Most people who are starting to express their love for music almost always reach out to a bass or a guitar.

Even when both instruments are stringed, there are key differences between the two.

And each of these differences make them stand out, and put together the entire musical piece for a harmonious song.

Bass

Hearing the term bass guitar is nothing new if you started out your music lessons early.

The bass is under the guitar family, and its own pitch and unique qualities complete a band’s show.

Also Read: 10 Best Bass Guitars in 2021 (Reviews): Great for All Styles & Budget

Guitar

The guitar is one of the most common instruments that people reach out for.

It is a stringed instrument that has acoustic and electric versions for various musical or band performances.

Size

One of the key differences that is readily noticeable between the two stringed instruments is the size.

In many scenarios, musicians refer the size difference unto the “scale length”.

This term generally refers to the distance between the bridge and the nut.

Overall, the bass is larger than the guitar. A typical electric guitar usually runs in around 24-26 inches on average, while a bass has an average of 34-inch scale length.

There are “short scale” basses that almost have the same size with the guitars, but are around 30 inches in scale length. They can still be a bit chunkier than the regular electric guitar.

Strings

It is not hard to notice that the bass and the guitar have different strings.

From the number to the quality, these string differences matter greatly for each instrument.

The strings from the bass and the guitar bring out the quality that only one or the other can provide.

The electric guitar typically has 6 strings. The bass guitar only runs on 4 strings.

Sometimes, there are exceptions to the rule.

Some guitars have 12 strings, while there are basses with more than 4 strings, or some can have other modifications.

Another string difference between the two is the quality of the strings.

The bass guitar has a thicker, longer, and is generally more expensive than the ones from a guitar.

There are also a lot of options for both the guitar and bass when it comes to string materials.

You may also note that bass strings are not typically strum compared to the guitar strings.

It is an ongoing debate whether the bass is played with a pick or with fingers, but most will tell you whatever you feel comfortable is fine.

 

Tuning

The simplest difference a musician can note between a bass and a guitar is how they are tuned. The bass is simply tuned lower, compared to the guitar.

The major difference is that the bass is tuned down on an entire whole octave in terms of pitch.

Imagine hearing the lowest-toned string on both instruments on E.

Note that the lowest string of the bass is a whole octave lower compared to the lowest E string on the guitar.

 

Role in the Band

Even with two-stringed instruments in a band, the role of each musician differs and they both give essence to the overall performance.

There are major sonic differences from the two, and you need to know the role for each to precisely differentiate the two in a musical piece.

The bassist holds down the rhythm of the song.

It guides the entire ensemble and it keeps the groove of the tune at a more consistent pace.

The bass has these roles in a band, and its melodic function makes it a perfect instrument to make the whole musical piece grounded with all the other melodies from the different instruments.

The guitarist has a more varied role compared to the bassist.

The guitar can be the lead or the rhythm in a band. Guitarists are more musical compared to the tuned pace of the bassist.

These musicians have a great attention to detail for their riffs and solos for the entire song.

Conclusion

The bass and the guitar are great instruments for aspiring musicians to learn.

They are versatile instruments, and there are a lot of classes that offer the basics for the two.

Both instruments play vital roles in the entire musical performance.

The bass and the guitar work hand in hand, they both have their own time to shine in a musical piece.

The overall choice on whether the bass or the guitar is right for you depends on personal preference and comfort while playing the instrument.

Also Read: Acoustic Guitar vs Bass Guitar – Which is Better for Beginners?

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