- Max Kuehn
The electric guitar vs bass guitar are both popular instruments in the world of rock music. Both instruments can be used to create a wide range of sounds, from hard-hitting riffs to mellow melodies. So, which one is better? It really depends on what you’re looking for in an instrument. If you want an instrument that can create a wide range of sounds, then the electric guitar is a good choice.
Bass Vs Electric Guitar: The Comparison
A bass is frequently referred to as a “bass guitar.” Is a bass a guitar, then? While the bass is related to the guitar, the two instruments have distinct characteristics.
The term “bass guitar” was coined to distinguish the smaller, horizontal kind of electric bass from the stand-up version. A big, booming stand-up bass was prevalent in many orchestral ensembles (and even some modern jazz bands).
The original electric bass, as we know it, was not invented until the 1930s, and it was designed to be played horizontally. It helped enhance the volume of this smaller version and give it the intimidating sound of its older, stand-up cousin by electrifying the bass.
While a modern electric bass and guitar may appear to be similar, there are several differences between the two instruments, including their size, number and thickness of strings, and the role each plays in a band.
Although inexperienced musicians may find it difficult to distinguish between a bass and a guitar, placing a bass and a guitar next to each other will reveal a size difference. When discussing the size of a guitar or bass, the term “scale length” is frequently used.
While a guitar’s or bass’s overall height might vary, “scale length” refers to the distance between the nut and the bridge of an instrument — from the bottom of the pick guard to just below where the headstock connects to the neck.
A bass is significantly larger than a guitar. While basses come in a variety of scales (long-scale and short-scale), they all feature a neck that is longer than that of a conventional guitar. Depending on the style of bass, the length of the neck, and the spacing of the frets, a bass can contain anywhere from 20 to 24 frets.
- A guitar’s scale length can vary from 24″ to 30″ in most circumstances. Most 6-string guitars, on the other hand, have a scale length of 24″ to 25.5″.
- A baritone guitar’s scale length is normally around 27 inches, not quite as long as a bass or as short as a guitar. In addition to being longer, baritone guitars are tuned a fourth lower than ordinary guitars (BEADF#B), as opposed to most guitars’ standard (EADGBE) tuning. The names “baritone guitar” and “six-string bass” are not interchangeable, contrary to popular assumption.
- A standard scale bass (sometimes known as a “long-scale” bass) is 34 inches long.
A short-scale bass is 30 inches long. Short-scale bases have a reduced fret spacing, making them excellent for performers with tiny hands or guitarists moving to bass. They may find it easier to travel up and down the neck with this shorter, more compact feel.
There is a tone difference between the two if you’re attempting to decide if a long-scale or short-scale bass is best for you. Because it uses a slightly heavier gauge of string, a short-scale bass provides a richer, meatier tone. (I’ll get to that later!)
While shorter-scale basses are more uncommon among players, there are a few notable examples of short-scale basses, such as the Fender Mustang Bass and the Squier Bronco Bass. When it comes to playing bass, whether you go short or long, both sizes produce a beefier, more bottom-heavy sound than the guitar.
One of the most significant differences between the bass and the guitar is the number of strings on each instrument. The majority of guitars have six strings, but the majority of basses have only four. However, there are a few exceptions to the norm.
Guitars with 12 strings
There are 12 strings on some guitars. In order to support additional strings, the neck of a 12-stringed guitar is often thicker than that of a regular 6-string guitar. In addition, because the first (and lowest four strings) are linked with a second string that is just one octave higher, a 12-string guitar provides a fuller tone.
The two highest-toned strings (B and E) of a 12-string guitar are coupled with a second string that matches their tone at the same octave level. Listen for the resonant, choral impact of a 12-string guitar in famous songs like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”
Other Modifications & Basses with More Than Four Strings
Although most bass guitars have four strings, they can be customized with other numbers of strings and even alternative neck features. Models with five and six strings are also available.
The Fender Bass VI, for example, is a six-stringed bass that allows you to experiment with additional alternate tunings and strings to play with. Fretless necks, similar to those seen on a stand-up bass, are another variant on a regular bass.
Despite the fact that bass strings are normally just four in number, they are longer, thicker, and more expensive than guitar strings. Steel or nickel strings are the way to go if you’re playing an electric guitar. If you play acoustic guitar, however, you can choose between metal strings and softer nylon strings for a more delicate tone.
While guitarists have plenty of string selections, bassists have even more. The following are some of the numerous varieties of bass strings:
- Roundwound bass strings: Roundwound strings have a steel core wrapped in a stainless steel or nickel round wire, giving them a bright, powerful tone. Their larger build makes them an excellent alternative for those who want to experiment with slap bass.
- Jazz bassists like flatwound bass strings because they feature a steel core wrapped in a flat wire for a smoother, more mellow tone.
- Tapewound bass strings: Tapewound bass strings contain a layer of nylon wrapped around either a flat or round metal winding wire. A distinguishing aspect of this sort of string is that it is frequently black in color. Tapewound bass strings have a softer tone and are easier on the fingers, making them perfect for bassists who like to play without a pick.
- Groundwound (or Half-Round) bass strings: A combination of roundwound and flatwound strings, groundwound strings are the least prevalent of the bass strings discussed here. They begin as roundwound strings, but their outer layer is flattened by pressing or grinding. This produces a brighter tone while reducing fret wear.
You may be able to determine which sort of strings are best for you based on your own bass playing style. In the never-ending controversy over whether to play bass with a pick or your fingers, some bass string kinds, such as roundwound strings, are heavier and may be more suited to a “slap and pop” style of bass, since they can sustain forceful plucking and striking of the strings.
Softer tapewound bass strings are a good option for bassists who want to use a gentler touch while still playing with their fingers. In addition, guitarists who prefer to use a pick on their strings may prefer the tone of a flatwound or groundwound string.
These instruments’ pitches also differ.
Electric and acoustic basses are tuned an octave lower than standard guitars.
The notes remain unchanged; just the octaves are altered.
While each string’s octave tuning is distinct, the way scales function is quite similar across instruments. Bass guitar scales are the same as conventional guitar scales, but without the higher two strings.
As a result, knowing scales is a talent that can be transferred from one instrument to another.
Scales on the bass feel comfortable thanks to the muscle memory of playing guitar scales.
Any music theory you’ve studied can be applied to this and other instruments.
Bassists think about music theory and scales in a somewhat different way due to the reduced string count. Bass players are known to employ more arpeggios than scales since they are better suited to the instrument’s limitations.
Some guitarists use six-string basses, which are designed similarly to guitars but are a full octave lower. The additional strings are frequently tuned one fourth above and/or below the main strings.
Frequency & Tone
The tones of these instruments are also highly distinct in general.
Both instruments have radically different frequencies and harmonic content.
In comparison to a bass, electric guitars have a brighter, thinner, and more cutting sound. Electric guitars contain a higher proportion of mid and high frequencies than acoustic guitars. The fundamental frequency of the lowest E note on an electric guitar is 82.4Hz, while the low E on a bass guitar is around 41Hz.
The sound of a bass guitar is regarded as warmer, richer, and with a greater concentration of low and sub frequencies.
The frequency content and overtones differ from model to model, owing to the wood, pickups, and strings used. The fundamental frequency ranges of the instruments, on the other hand, are nearly an octave apart. Although, unlike a regular guitar, a bass guitar does not have the same upward range as a regular guitar.
The tones are also considerably varied due to the harmonic structure of these instruments and their strings. The harmonic structure of electric guitars is more complicated, with more overtones and harmonic partials.
The rhythm section is made up of a skilled bassist and a drummer. When playing tunes, these players must maintain the groove. They have the freedom to express themselves at the same time.
It’s not only about the instrument; it’s also about the equipment that emits its sound.
Amplification is a big part of both guitar and bass setups, although they’re not always compatible.
There are Bass Amplifiers and Guitar Amplifiers when it comes to amplification, and it’s best to utilize the proper one for the right instrument. They are radically different in design, and using the wrong one with the wrong instrument might cause damage to the speaker cones.
There are a few distinctions in this area.
The amplification circuits will be constructed with the instrument’s specific frequencies in mind. Bass amplifiers are set for lower frequency ranges, whereas guitar amplifiers are tuned for the mids and highs.
Different controls in the amp circuits may also be provided to you.
The frequency response of a bass guitar differs significantly from that of an electric guitar, with the latter being concentrated in the lower, sub frequencies. As a result, the circuits must be balanced differently in order to work best with the bass frequencies.
Differences in cab and speaker cones:
The speaker cones and cab designs for these two instruments are also distinct.
Larger speaker cone diameters are used in bass cabinets than in electric guitars.
Smaller cabinets are used in bigger volumes by guitars. Bass cabinets often (but not always) use a single speaker cone, whereas guitar amps use two, four, or even eight!
To produce tones at lower frequencies, larger cones are required. This is why subwoofers are always enormous. Speakers are limited to producing frequencies that are as low as their physical properties allow. Bass cabs have substantially larger speakers because of this.
Smaller speakers, on the other hand, are better at producing high and mid-range frequencies. This is why professional mixing speakers typically include three cones: a subwoofer, a midrange, and a tweeter.
As a result, each speaker cone is adjusted to operate well within its needed frequency range and does not have to create frequencies that are outside of its capabilities.
Attempting to play frequencies over incompatible speakers will quickly deteriorate sound quality, especially if the volume is turned up high.
Electric Guitar Vs Bass Guitar Sound
While no instrument is superior to another, each has its own distinct sound that contributes to the overall composition. It’s easier to hear the guitar over the bass when listening to a song. This is due to the guitar’s higher pitch, which sets it apart from other instruments.
When two vocalists harmonize in a song, we usually pay attention to the individual singing the higher harmony. The story of a bass and a guitar is similar. The bottom harmonic of whatever the guitar is playing is usually called bass music.
Bass is used by musicians to provide depth. They accomplish this by playing in a lower harmony while retaining a steady rhythmic base.
Bass solos can be found in a lot of well-known tunes. Listen to Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust or The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army to grasp the idea. When you listen to the intros to both tracks, you’ll notice that the bass plays the melody entirely on its own.
The tune then progresses to include more instruments. This offers you an idea of the bass’s potential in a song, both on its own and in conjunction with other instruments.
Should I Learn To Play The Bass Or The Guitar?
So, after reading this far, you’re still undecided about whether you should learn to play bass or guitar. While some of these instruments’ distinct characteristics may appeal to you, music is about emotion and feeling, and you may be more drawn to one than the other based on how the sound of either a guitar or a bass makes you feel.
- Do you like to listen to music with the bass turned up or with the treble turned up
- When a guitar solo cuts in, do you find yourself bobbing your head to the beat of the music and getting into the groove, or do you find yourself blissfully tuned out?
- Do you desire to be known for your work or do you prefer to stay in the background and enjoy the process of creation?
In response to the last question, while many guitarists are the driving creative force behind a band’s music and receive a lot of attention, that isn’t to say that there aren’t more introverted guitarists (Motley Crue’s Mick Mars, for example) who are more of a quiet presence in a band compared to bassists like Les Claypool, Flea, Bootsy Collins, Geddy Lee, and Gene Simmons, who are all songwriters and recognizable
Playing bass may appeal to you for a multitude of reasons if you enjoy playing with others and collaborating as part of a team. While many musicians choose to take up the guitar, finding a decent bassist might be tough due to the abundance of guitarists.
If you want to join a band someday, learning to play bass may boost your chances of meeting musicians who are looking for a bassist.
Is It Easier To Play The Bass Than The Guitar?
The bass may appear to be easier at first appearance, however this is not the case. The bass has thicker strings and is larger, heavier, and heavier. Overall, it’s more difficult to deal with. In fact, beginners may initially find the guitar to be easier.
Are The Chords For Bass And Guitar The Same?
Nearly. Guitar chords can be played on bass, however because to their deep tone, it’s best to fret them a little.
What Is The Significance Of Bass?
Rhythm, depth, and low-end sound are all important. The harmonic basis is provided by the bass player in collaboration with the drummer.
If I Play Bass, Do I Need An Amplifier?
No, it isn’t. Playing without it during practice can be beneficial. If you’re going to use an amp, it’s ideal to practice first so you can get a feel for how it sounds.