Guitarist Gone Bassist: Did you become a REAL bassist?

sanrico

Senior Member
Messages
12,240
I've had the privilege of working with some top-notch, versatile bassists, which has given me a deep appreciation for the instrument played well. This is a departure from my younger days when we would make the crappiest guitarist switch to bass because "bass is easier...just look at Nikki Sixx."

I've been toying with the idea of buying a quality bass and amp, and taking it up seriously. The only thing stopping me is that I HATE hearing a bassist who is obviously a guitarist. They can be pretty easy to spot. I really wonder if I can successfully make the change to where I sound like the kind of bassist I would like to be.

Have you switched from guitar to bass? And if so, are you a real bassist, or do you play it like a guitar? What would a real bassist say about your playing?
 

swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,485
I've dabbled. I have trouble hearing the bass in a band mix. bassists (good ones) just seem to live in a groove that I'm not sure many guitar players hear. Kinds like guitarists fill a different space than bassists... so I know what you are sayin'. Not what the answer is, there were some great bassists that started as guitar players though.
I don't have much trouble finger picking for the short time I've done it, that would be allright if I focused on the bass I think. Seems like I hear different bass grooves than what real bassists play though!
 

oldtelefart

Member
Messages
4,660
Over a 30-year-plus playing career, about 50% of my work was on bass.
As a kid I loved bass just as much as guitar. Jamerson, McCartney, Jack Bruce, were up there with Clapton and Hendrix.

Listen to lots of different great bass players, play with your fingers, find a good drummer to jam with, get a cheap drum machine to practice with. Learn to lock in and groove.
A great bass player once told me: "Know every note you could play in a song, then leave out all the unnecessary ones."

(Of course, you will get laid less than the other band members.)
 

sacakl

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,285
I have a friend who switched over and he's booked for a lot of gigs. He went into it knowing that it was going to be different. Bass lessons helped. The music theory he knew from playing guitar for years translated well, too.
 

Crowbar

Member
Messages
575
Yeah man I'll brag a bit, I am a fine bass player. You won't spot me as a guitarist. I walk all night and don't step out of line.
 

hotpaul

Member
Messages
432
Funny you mention this, as I have been toying with the same idea lately.

For me its been because I'm starting to think that I am actually a bassist at heart, I just never realized it. I've always felt like something has always been missing from my guitar playing and I am starting to think that its driving that rhythmic pulse that I actually find interesting.
 

scelerat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,186
I started playing bass in a band almost five years ago. As a result I get asked to join many more bands. :)

Yes, it's different than playing guitar. I play fewer notes. Most notes are 1 and 5 notes, almost never any 3rd or 7th, except in passing. Bass, along with drums, is the rhythm section. You're adding a tone to the bass drum, primarily. Keep that in mind, know your role, everyone is happy.

I love playing bass. Bass, done properly, adds so much character to a song, to a band as a whole.

I like to think I'm a "real" bassist at this point. My bass playing doesn't sound anything like my guitar playing.

My favorite bassists to listen to and learn things from: James Jamerson, Carol Kaye, Paul McCartney, John Entwistle.
 
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ChrisP

Member
Messages
2,451
I did....but at 3 years I thought I was a real bassist and I wasn't. Eventually I got it.
I am kind of slow, though.
 
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Messages
1,480
Can play both, but it takes concentration to not go all Entwhistle on a tune. Jamerson is The Man, though; make him your guru and it really helps with your need to throw in extra notes.
 

tjontheroad

Just Wanna Be Misunderstood
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,908
I started playing bass about the same time I started playing guitar 30+ years ago. A "real" bassist (or whatever instrumentalist) knows their place in the music. It isn't how many notes you play. It's how you play them.

Keep on groovin' baby.
 

fjblair

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
14,238
I've had the privilege of working with some top-notch, versatile bassists, which has given me a deep appreciation for the instrument played well. This is a departure from my younger days when we would make the crappiest guitarist switch to bass because "bass is easier...just look at Nikki Sixx."

I've been toying with the idea of buying a quality bass and amp, and taking it up seriously. The only thing stopping me is that I HATE hearing a bassist who is obviously a guitarist. They can be pretty easy to spot. I really wonder if I can successfully make the change to where I sound like the kind of bassist I would like to be.

Have you switched from guitar to bass? And if so, are you a real bassist, or do you play it like a guitar? What would a real bassist say about your playing?

How do you spot this person?
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,509
Have you switched from guitar to bass? And if so, are you a real bassist, or do you play it like a guitar?
I switched from guitar to bass because I couldn't find a bass player for my band and the other guitarist was better than me.
I camped out on root notes a fair bit, with some walks and some thirds and fifths, no octaves.

I just fit in with the drummer and keep the song moving along, same thing I do on guitar unless playing lead licks/solos.
Played it kinda like a guitar, I guess. My rhythm guitar work is along the same lines as what I do on bass. :/
What would a real bassist say about your playing?
Never got a comment on my bass playing, ever. Was always on the vocals.
That band carked it about 4 years ago, and I went back to guitar and have been having way more fun on my instrument.
Really didn't find bass fun at all. I respect bassists and understand they are more important than the guitarist most of the time, still.. not a fun instrument for me.

I think a lot of bassists try too hard. I love a driving, root note bass line more than any dicking about with walks and octaves etc etc most the time (not for rockabilly though LOL).
I play bass on both songs on this page, and sing "Trashed" and do backing vocals on "Headlights".

https://www.facebook.com/InsufficientFundsBand/app_2405167945
Pretty basic stuff. Our timing is all over the shop on "Trashed", I dropped the pick and yeah, trainwrecked it.
 

Gas-man

Unrepentant Massaganist
Messages
18,611
I've played a lot of gigs on bass--lock in with the kick, don't be too busy. Concentrate on the groove. Not that hard.

Boring though.

Other than for making money why switch from guitar?
 

germs

Member
Messages
6,024
i played lead guitar for about 10 years in a band, then quit due to burnout.

wanted something completely different, so i switched to bass.

biggest difference is that i play in a hard rock/metal band - finding a groove to walk is quite a challenge. most everything i do is with a pick, and i'm shadowing guitar lines for the majority.

does that make me LESS of a bassist? or more of a guitarist trying to be a bassist?

i dunno, seems all the bass players i watch in the bands we gig with are "overplaying" with all these crazy slides and riffs between riffs...maybe it's part of the genre.
 

blackmore11

Member
Messages
778
I play guitar in a thrash band, and bass in a country band. I have heard from other bassists in the area that I am really good and don't sound like a guitarist convert. I sure feel like one, though!
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Messages
19,072
In addition to good timing and keeping it simple harmonically, I would add that "real" bass players learn to control the attack and release of each note. These elements can totally change the feel of a song. I only play enough bass to make home demos, but recording those has taught me that getting the right attack, sustain and release is what makes a track work.
 






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