Sorry about the length of this post in advance. If you read it all, you get a gold star!

I've been saving up for an instrument for the last few years, and getting closer to my money goals for the quality of instrument I hope to get. I currently have two guitars, both acoustic. One can plug in, and sounds pretty nice. I'm the kind of person who would much rather have one really nice instrument than two mediocre. Plus, with my growing family, I'm sure we have more important things to do with our money than buy lots of expensive guitars. Bottom line, I'm only getting one more instrument during this phase of my life.

For the longest time, I've been sure I'm going to get an electric guitar with this money. But recently, I've been thinking about maybe getting a bass instead. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I'm of the opinion that if you get another instrument, it ought to be able to open up lots of possibilities that weren't available with your existing instruments.

I'm finding more and more that I can do most of the stuff I want to on my accoustic guitar. I'm not too interested in hard rock, mostly just popular classic rock and current hits that I can play at work parties, softer stuff to play at wedding receptions, chord melodies that I can play at rest homes (and once they get good enough, play those at wedding receptions too). I'm mostly interested in improv and covering popular songs. Some time down the road, I'd like to put a jazz group together. I'm thinking the main benefits of an electric guitar would be easier on the hands to play during an extended gig and more possibilities of different sounds.

I've been deliberating recently if I should get a bass instead. You really miss the sound of a bass if it's not there, it has such a rich, low sound. For the kinds of songs I play, do people care if it's electric vs accoustic if you're a talented musician? I also think bass sound really good with the piano which my wife plays (like Ben Folds 5, The Fray). I have a lot of friends with acoustic guitars, and I've come to the conclusion that any more than 2 acoustic guitars is muddy. I think of a bass as the potatoes that go with steak--somebody has to play it. And, I love walking bass lines in older jazz songs.

The big question in my mind: which one will I enjoy more? Is the bass boring to you guys? My brother-in-law is a very good guitarist, and he joined a band with two other really good guys. There band was more or less established, he's just replacing the bassist who went off to college. I see him playing the old bass lines they had, no problem. He looks bored, frankly. The other two guitarists are quite good, and like to show off. And, it seems like you can't have everybody showing off at the same time, someone needs to 'hold down the fort'. I've come to see bass as more of a need than a want, but it sounds so good.

So, my question to you who have played bass or deliberately stayed away, what do you like about it? Do you have an favorite bands that showcase the bass? Do you feel like you are fulfilled when you play it? Do you feel like you can progress as far as a musician if you are 'limited' to bass? What advice do you have for someone who is debating between an electric guitar and a bass, and wants to be good at improv, and maybe lead other musicians?