Guitar to Bass

The Bass Player's Toolbox
Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:32 pm

Guitar to Bass

Post by fleafunk » Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:50 pm

[*] I am a guitar player and am interested in picking up the bass guitar. I have a few questions for you bass players;

1. I play with a plectrum and have learnt picking technique from my guitar studies, would my picking technique be the same for when I play the bass. I was also wondering would my left hand fretting technique be the same in bass playing, in other words are these techniques the same on both instruments.

2. Would you reccommend getting lessons from a bass tutor, or do you think my guitar experience is a great enough foundation to learn on my own ie books dvds.

3. What advantages does a guitar player have when they pick up the bass. I mean I completely respect they are different instruments in their own right but there are also a lot of things in common, I mean if I play the low E note first fret on either the bass or guitar I am still playing an F note.

4. Do you think learning on an acoustic bass is just as good as learning on an electric one. I mean for the basics and fundamentals. I learnt guitar on an acoustic and didnt seem to have much trouble switching to electric apart from getting used to holding a different size and shape instrument, but that was mainly a feel thing. Is it like that when switching from acoustic bass to electric.

Any help or comments would be greatly appreciated

Kind Regards


User avatar
Gold Member
Posts: 847
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:01 pm
Location: Auckland

Re: Guitar to Bass

Post by timi » Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:40 pm

I think your guitar background will help you a lot, remember that most bass players are failed guitarists anyway :lol:

As far as using a pick, the thing I see guitarists who change to bass is that they often strum rather than pick.
Since you are only playing one string but hitting all of them you get a big "thud" on the muted strings, and it sounds bad.
Work on your picking of individual strings, if you played lots of lead this shouldn't be too hard.

You should also learn to play fingerstyle, but this will hurt a bit at first and you might get blisters.
As far as your fretting hand, everything will feel really big but you will get used to it.

When you say acoustic bass do you mean an acoustic bass guitar or an upright (double bass)?
I don't think either will help you out if you want to play bass guitar, but upright is fun (rapes your fingers though).

Maybe get an instructional DVD and have a play around, and then get a few lessons in a few months time to make sure you are on the right track.

Good luck!

Bronze Member
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 8:51 am

Re: Guitar to Bass

Post by raynor » Mon Sep 17, 2007 4:43 pm

Guitar to bass
I was like you many years ago. Guys use different methods to pick or pluck the strings wether it is plectrun or fingers.Mark Knoffler is a good example. He plays that way because he is comfortable. I suggest you study methods of bass players in other words use your ears and eyes. Play the bass guitar you feel most comfortable, I myself prefer the plectrum as to me it producers a clearer crisper note.As you well know:Make the guitar an extention of your arm.
Hope this helps

User avatar
Gold Member
Posts: 485
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:04 am

Re: Guitar to Bass

Post by Jazzbass » Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:24 am

Already knows the notes on the fretboard - hopefully
Already knows the feel of the instrument (once it stops feeling like driving a truck) :)

Normally overplays and needs to learn the value of space. A lot of bass is about space, whereas a lot of guitarists like to fill all available spaces.
Needs to learn the rôle of bass in holding the band together and working with the drummer, instead of ignoring what he's doing or trying to turn up to drown him out.
Needs to have a better appreciation of timing and off-beats etc than many guitarists use.

All in all - good advantages, just need to accept that it is a different beast, fulfilling a different rôle in the band.

Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:59 pm

Re: Guitar to Bass

Post by ianbass » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:16 pm

Hey Matthew,
I have recently swapped over to bass from being a `guitarist` for 20 years! I also play with a fairly light pick (.52mm) and sometimes palm mute - it`s also possible to double pick with a lighter softer pick which reduces fatigue in the picking hand.
The chunkier strings take a little while to get used to but that`s cool. All in all the bass, especially rock bass is a strong anchor, it`s a different feeling but a great one, I love being a bassist now and play a beautiful Epiphone Thunderbird 4 in my band.
Stick with it, you`ll be surprised just how exciting the bass duties in a band can be.

All the best with the transition Mate!


Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:59 pm

Re: Guitar to Bass

Post by ianbass » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:18 pm

PS I anchor the picking hand, it looks more controlled and professional - leave the mad strumming to the guitarist, hah hah!!

Post Reply