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Thread: Is the bass boring to you guys? Bass vs Electric Guitar

  1. #1
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    Is the bass boring to you guys? Bass vs Electric Guitar

    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?

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by urucoug View Post
    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?
    I play rhythm guitar in one band and electric bass in another.
    I like doing both.

    Bass can be boring if all you are doing is playing roots or your generic will fit anywhere bass lines. I jam on the bass, i.e. play with out sheet music and find that exciting and fulfilling.

    If you think of yourself as the solo guy, bass is not for you. Get the electric guitar and learn how to play the melody, however, if you like to accompany - with your rhythm guitar, then the bass could be an extension of that.

    Two different instruments both played differently, but, your rhythm experience will slide right into your bass lines.

    Deciding factor - do you see yourself as a solo guy or providing accompaniment? I enjoy harmony so I enjoy rhythm guitar and the electric bass. Would love a double bass (stand up bass) for jazz, but, my hobby budget will not stand that.

    Like most instruments the bass will keep you learning new things for the rest of your life - if you are open for new things.

    Here is a glimpse of what you will be doing. 90% of your bass work will be play chord tones or scales one note at a time. I use the major scale box and think in scale degrees, i.e. see a Cmaj7 chord and know that R-3-5-7 scale degrees of the C scale will make a good bass line. Now I may only use the R and if I decide more will be better then R-5-R-5 enter into the picture. Need more the 8 is always a safe note R-5-8-5 and then at other times the full chord tone of R-3-5-7 may fit better. Pick what will let you lay down a steady groove. We get paid for root on the 1st beat and keep the job if we can maintain a steady groove AND call attention to the chord change coming up. So you see it need not get boring.

    Bass Patterns based upon the Major Scale box.

    Major Scale Box.

    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    D|---6---|-------|---7---|---8---|
    A|---3---|---4---|-------|---5---|
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string

    Basic Chords
    Major Triad = R-3-5
    Minor Triad = R-b3-5
    Diminished Chord = R-b3-b5

    7th Chords
    Maj7 = R-3-5-7
    Minor 7 = R-b3-5-b7
    Dominant 7 = R-3-5-b7
    ˝ diminished = R-b3-b5-b7
    Full diminished = R-b3-b5-bb7

    Scales
    Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7 is home base
    Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 leave out the 4 & 7
    Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale pattern with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted
    Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 leave out the 2 & 6
    Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 use the minor pentatonic and add the blue note b5
    Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 natural minor scale with a natural 7
    Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 major scale with a b3

    Major modes
    Ionian same as the Major Scale.
    Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple.
    Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7.

    Minor Modes
    Aeolian same as the Natural Minor scale.
    Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6.
    Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2.
    Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5.

    Generic Notes.
    The root, five and eight are generic and fit most any chord. Remember the diminished has a flatted 5.
    The 3 is generic to all major chords. R-3-5-8 will work with any major chord.
    The b3 is generic to all minor chords. R-b3-5-8 will work with any minor chord.
    The 7 is generic to all maj7 chords. R-3-5-7 ditto........
    The b7 is generic to all dominant seventh and minor seventh chords. R-3-5-b7 or R-b3-5-b7
    The 6 is neutral and adds color, help yourself to 6’s. R-3-5-6
    The 2 and 4 make good passing notes. Don’t linger on them or stop on them, keep them passing.
    In making your bass line help yourself to those notes, just use them correctly.
    Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 and 7 will play a lot of bass.

    Good luck with what ever you decide.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-06-2012 at 01:02 PM.

  3. #3
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    Bass, if not used creatively, can be boring.
    If you know something about harmony you can find it appealing. If not....

  4. #4
    chewing bubble gum Chim_Chim's Avatar
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    Not at all.
    Singers can be boring these days though.
    They seem to be putting out less and less effort
    as the years go by. It's kind of sad.
    Some days I seem to do OK. Other days I feel like just shoving an M-80 right up my guitar's butt.

  5. #5
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    Thanks for your replies, guys.

    What about accompanying with a piano? Does anyone have any experience with that? My acoustic guitar sounds good with the piano. I'm sure a bass would be great. The only electric guitar/piano duo I can think of is Wes Montgomery. There's probably several other jazz groups, but most electric guitar/piano groups I can think of also have a bass. My wife isn't particularly interested in learning improv, and it seems that most piano/guitar 'arrangements' you can find these days are pieces completely spelled out for piano, but leaving no room for guitar since the piano is playing the melody and harmony, basically playing the entire triad twice. It seems like there's almost always room for a bass. What is your experience with that?

  6. #6
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    I think you're right there's "almost always room for a bass" - and good players are always in demand.

    There are people who play in a "lead" sort of style, if that's your thing - Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, etc.

    Honestly I'd suggest posting your query on a few higher traffic forums - TDPRI, The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum, The Gear Page and The Acoustic Guitar Forum are a few where I think you're likely get good input from knowledgeable, experienced bass/guitar players.

  7. #7
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    Please don't forget that an instrument is what you make of it. Any instrument can be exciting and any instrument can be boring if you make it so. But my advice is get the instrument that will inspire you to play it the most.

  8. #8
    Carrots!! All_Ľour_Bass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Honestly I'd suggest posting your query on a few higher traffic forums - TDPRI, The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum, The Gear Page and The Acoustic Guitar Forum are a few where I think you're likely get good input from knowledgeable, experienced bass/guitar players.
    Add talkbass.com to that list, you could also ask around sevenstring.org where I hang around quite a bit, really nice, fun folks over there, and it's very high traffic-you'll get lots of replies in relatively little time.

    Also bass is only as boring as you make it. You could try writing your own tunes that make the bass more prominent, I have a hard time finding tunes that are fun to play that don't involve just copying the guitar part.
    Last edited by All_Ľour_Bass; 06-23-2012 at 12:22 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chim_Chim
    Be different.

    Do it for the OATMEAL.

  9. #9
    Registered User ernzzz's Avatar
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    Its all about how you use your instrument; its about being expressive and melodic.. do you merely play a root note, or are you adding to the whole picture??

    can you play melodies? can you tell storyes?

    can you squeeze time and harmony and bring the groove to new levels of tightness?


    in short: Victor Wooten, Edgar Meyer

    anybody who says they are boring, is three times a liar!!!
    Last edited by ernzzz; 10-22-2012 at 08:06 PM.
    -----------------------------------------
    www.ernz.tk

  10. #10
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    If you don't use the Bass creatively then it will fall boring. Whatever you will use can be interesting and exciting depending on how you will use it. You can compose a song and try to play melody on it using your Bass.

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