Can You Play Bass if You Know Guitar?


You have been playing the guitar for some years, and you are interested in playing bass. Since they look similar, you think you should be able to play the bass, making you search in your browser, ‘Can you play bass if you know the guitar?’   

Yes, you can play bass if you know the guitar. But you can not play it as perfectly as someone who plays the bass. And you might only be able to play the most basic bass. Some guitarists may be able to play it well if they use a picker instead of their fingers.  

How You Can Play Bass as a Guitarist

If you are already a guitarist, you will have more fun learning the bass, and it will be more straightforward for you than someone with no knowledge of playing guitar or bass. But to become a more professional bass player, you need to learn these things.


Learn the Similarities and Differences Between Bass and Guitar.

In addition to the obvious differences between the bass and guitar, you must learn the different techniques used in playing the two instruments.

You can play the bass like a guitarist because it has more similarities than differences. Guitars and bass use the same music theory,chords, and scales.

Sometimes when you do not learn the differences, you can get statements like ‘’You play the bass like a guitarist.’ This is because bass players and music experts can spot the difference in hand positioning and how you pluck the strings.

Differences Between Bass and Guitar

The bass is bigger than the guitarOnly thee lead guitar comes close to the bass size
It is a lead instrumentIt is a  supporting instrument
Its note are an octave lowerHigher octaves than bass
It has 4 or 5 stringsIt has 6 or 7 strings

When you pick up the bass after being used to the guitar, one of the first things you notice is how fat the strings are; this is why guitarists are usually advised to use a picker until they can handle the strings with their fingers.

Also, because the number of strings differs, and the string and fret spacing on the bass is more than that of the guitar, meaning you will have to stretch your fingers wider than you used to with the guitar.  

Position With Other Instrumentalists

Another thing you should know as a guitarist is that, while as a guitarist, you depend on other instrumentalists to know your rhythm, it is not the same with the bass. The bass is a lead instrument, and other instrumentalists mainly count on you to provide the beat. So, if you are the lead guitarist, you will find it easier to be a bass player.

Learn Some Bass Songs

With all the differences between the bass and guitar differences, you should not jump into playing the bass without some practice.

While practicing the bass, you will notice that you need more strength in your hand, and you have to apply more pressure to pluck the strings.

So, you will need some practice and exercises to ensure you play the bass confidently and without injury. Play some simple bass songs until you can play the advanced ones.

Another way to learn is by playing the guitar parts of a song on the bass. The guitar and bass parts are similar in many pieces, so once you can play it on the guitar, it will be easy to play it on the bass.

Learn the Walking Bass Lines

Once you have incorporated the basics you know from guitar, it is time to go deeper and start thinking like a bassist. And one of the primary steps to thinking like a bassist is learning the walking bass lines.

And even though not all styles of music use the walking bass lines, when you learn the walking bass lines, you understand more about the bass and get t think and play like a bassist.

The walking bass line uses the music theories, so if you have excellent knowledge of music theory, you will find it easier to create walking bass lines with incredible sounds. And one of the talents you need in playing the walking bass lines is good timing and consistency.

Practice With Other Instrumentalists

Since the bassist is the lead instrumentalist, you should learn how to rhythm with the other instrumentalist, especially the drummer. So, if you know any drummer and instrumentalist you can practice with, reach out to them.

Or you can get drum audios and practice with them if you can not practice with live drummers. Playing with drum audios might not be as effective as practicing with drummers, but it will go a long way. 

Which Is Easier to Play Between the Guitar and Bass

Technically, there is no complex or easy instrument; it depends on your interest and determination.

Newbies to musical instruments usually say that learning the guitar is more manageable. A few people who have learned the two testified that it is easier to understand the bass if you know about playing the guitar before than the other way round.

Learning the bass can seem more complicated because of its thicker strings, and newbies sometimes find it difficult to fret the notes correctly.


Which Should You Learn First Between Bass or Guitar?

Your interest should be the only determinant of what instrument you should learn first. If you are more excited about learning bass but decide to learn guitar due to all that we have said, it might affect your enthusiasm for learning, and you might not be perfect either.

So, choose either one that suits your preference and learn it similarly. But if you wish to know the two and would like to start from a beginner’s level, learn the guitar first.


Converting to a guitar player from a bass player is a common trend among guitarists, especially those who want to be in a band. If you are also considering it, then you can see from this article that it is possible and much more accessible than learning from a beginner level.

And if you are learning from scratch, you do not have to learn the guitar before learning the bass.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

Recent Posts