7 Myths About Playing the Bass Guitar

Despite being the topic of many music-related jokes, bass players are the pillars that hold the band together and are responsible for providing a full and complete sound. That being said, there are many myths about the bass guitar that you may or may not know to be true or false.

The bass guitar has always taken a back step to its more popular counterpart – the guitar. However, no one can deny that both instruments are just as important to a complete and whole sound.

As time goes on, some things are still unclear to many people regarding the bass guitar, whether it’s beginner musicians, bassists, or just curious audiophiles. Today, I’ll go into more detail about the 7 myths about playing the bass guitar.

1. Bass is easier to play than the Guitar

Let’s start with the most obvious and popular one which is “Bass is easier to play than the Guitar”. Now, while this may be true (on some level), it is, in fact, a myth. The bass guitar is NOT easier to play than the guitar when you consider its entirety.

Sure, in the beginning, the bass can feel a lot easier to grasp than the guitar. First and foremost, the notes and chord shapes on the guitar feel more complex to an absolute beginner while the bass relies on single notes and pressing down hard.

However, as time goes on, all bassists and guitarists will agree that mastering the instrument is almost equally hard as the guitar. Many renowned bassists in the world are still learning new tricks and techniques as with the guitar and guitarists. All in all – the learning process never ends.

2. Bass is an accompanying (background) instrument

This is another myth, not just in my opinion, but one shared by many. The bass does serve the purpose of being an accompanying instrument that holds the musical piece and band together, however, in recent history, the bass has taken a step forward as a solo instrument, even one that gigs and festivals revolve around.

Many bass virtuosos like Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller have taken the instrument further to the point where the bass is the crown jewel of a concert. Many jazz festivals around the globe have bassists performing (headlining) original pieces and crowds piling on to listen to such masterpieces.

One of my favorite examples would be Marcus Miller from Estival Jazz Lugano back in 2008.

3. Bass is not interesting enough for people

Now, among the many myths you may encounter here on this list, this is indeed a fact to some extent. Bass is simply not interesting enough for the majority of people, excluding real music fans and audiophiles that really enjoy the instrument, the sound, and its role.

Since the bass takes on the role of an accompanying instrument (almost all the time) with bands around the globe, it does not shine in the forefront as a guitar would. Therefore, the bass simply fades into the background, resulting in many people not even noticing the instrument.

However, many music aficionados respect the bass greatly, even if it’s just a simple bass line in the background that gives that extra thump to a song. Personally, I don’t enjoy acoustic sessions when the bass is excluded or even the drums for that matter. It simply sounds empty. Sure, there are acoustic bass guitars but it’s just not the same feeling.

4. Bassists are less-competent musicians

This myth came about from the many examples of musicians who took on the instrument simply because of the fact that it uses single notes and seems easier to play than playing the guitar. But the fact remains that this is STILL a myth.

Bassists are not lesser musicians in any sense of the word as many great bassists are responsible for some of the greatest hits in music history. When you consider this on a professional level, all bass players are extremely knowledgeable musicians who either have an innate ear for music or are vastly educated and talented when it comes to playing the bass.

For a deep insight as to why bass guitars and players are just as important, the YouTube channel Warmoth Guitar Products has an interesting video about the topic.

5. You need big hands to play the Bass

Another myth in the midst is that you need big hands or long fingers to play the bass. This could not be more untrue. Sure, bigger hands and longer fingers will aid in a bass player’s flow over the fretboard and the pressure that is required to press the strings, however, that does not mean smaller hands cannot play the bass.

Another important thing to consider here is that there are many mini or 3/4-sized bass guitars on the market today that address this issue, not only for people with smaller hands but for children too.

Bass guitars usually have a 34″ scale size or 30” for a short-scale bass. A 3/4 or mini-bass has a scale length of around 26”, making it easier for many small-handed players.

Recommended mini bass guitar – Squier Mini Precision Electric Bass

6. Bass guitars are expensive

This is yet another myth. Bass guitars are no more expensive than a guitar when you consider their quality level side by side. Sure, an Ernie Ball Music Man DarkRay Bass is expensive but there are also very affordable and moderately-priced bass guitars that are excellent intermediate-level basses like the Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass ‘77.

Ernie Ball Music Man DarkRay Bass
View Price at Amazon

Not to mention the fact that guitars can also be on the pricey side, depending on the brand and quality. Especially when you consider special edition guitars. So, in the end, I would say bass guitars are no more expensive than guitars.

7. You must progress to a 5 or 6-string bass

Last but certainly not least is the myth that every bass player must progress to a 5 or 6-string bass guitar once they reach the next level of skill. This is not true as there is no rule for this and many bass virtuosos across the globe have rarely played on a 5-string bass and even prefer a 4-string one.

This includes Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius, Jeff Andrews, Flea, and many more legendary bass players.

Check out this video from the YouTube channel Scott’s Bass Lessons to learn more about this subject.

Conclusion

Bass players have been shunned for a long time now and their instrument has been the subject of many untrue statements across the decades. While many things are true to a certain extent, mostly all of these statements are simply myths. Whether or not you enjoy the sound or role of a bass guitar, it is undeniable that without it, music would not be the same!

Milan Trajkovikj

Milan Trajkovikj

Milan Trajkovikj is a touring and recording bass guitarist who loves to share his passion for all things music.

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