Poll: Bass or Guitar
Poll Options
View poll results: Bass or Guitar
Bass
4 67%
Guitar
2 33%
Voters: 6.
#1
I've been playing acoustic for 1 year now, self taught, and once my final exams are done I'm finally going to get an electric. I play with some of my friends in school and since I can play bass and not suck as much as the other guitarist, I play bass occasionally in school. In school we have an electric and a bass, and both sound cool to me. 
My current band members are cool and all, but they aren't as serious as the drummer and me, so we want to form a duo. But being a broke high school kid with a low allowance I can only afford to buy either a bass or an electric guitar. What would be better?

We'll be playing just about whatever we like, but we'll lean on rock, blues, and re-arranged EDM.

I know that guitar is more expressive and versatile, but bass has a holy relationship with drums. I don't mind playing either, but with no access to a bass outside of school I'm obviously better at guitar. I can't afford to do that second cab + octave pedal shit, at least not starting out. So with either decision, I'll basically be going all out. I've thought of getting an electric and playing bass lines, then pitch shifting them down an octave (software) for recordings, but not sure about this. I'd love to hear the opinions of more experienced musicians. Please help
#2
Why does it have to be a duo?

I think duos only work if you know exactly what you are after. Neither way will work well unless you know exactly what you are doing.

I would suggest playing the instrument that you enjoy more. I don't think finding a bassist or a guitarist that is more serious about music should be too difficult. Just jam with the drummer until you find one.

One option would be acoustic guitar + cajon until you find a bassist. That's going to sound a lot better than electric guitar + drum set.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#3
Duos can work but as Mag said you have to have a specific idea in mind. Bass/drums is probably better but neither is ideal. Also keep in mind that one of you needs to sing because there is no way you are doing instrumental music as a guitar/drum duo unless you are seriously talented with looping or sampling. Really just hold out for other musicians.

Also for the record the octave+2nd amp (you need a whole second amp and not just a cab to run octave on one side) is not really a great solution. Guitar players still don't seem to realize that a guitar with an octave pedal does not sound like a bass.
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#5
there are good examples of both working, but you need a very solid idea of what you want your sound to be and how you want to brand yourself if you're gonna take this approach. it heads towards "gimmick" territory as you have to toe the line between every song sounding the similar (an album of one song structure ad nauseum) or getting too creative and making it hard for the music to be cohesive (an album of a collections of singles that work alone better than as a whole)

i wouldn't recommend this structure for a beginner. it's deceptively difficult because it's so simple that you have to nail everything. additionally, you're gonna want great gear to carry your tone

Quote by theogonia777
Also for the record the octave+2nd amp (you need a whole second amp and not just a cab to run octave on one side) is not really a great solution. Guitar players still don't seem to realize that a guitar with an octave pedal does not sound like a bass.


i'll expand on this by saying that, while guitar will never sound like a bass backwards, you can run a bass through a distorted guitar amp and octaver and get a pretty similar tone (or at least the same effect as having an electric guitar). royal blood does this, and they've been quite successful. but between them, DFA1979, and a few others i'm forgetting, there is a point where if you're just gonna have drums, riffs, and vocals, it's all gonna blur together after a while

you could take a primus approach, where it's basically just a drummer and bassist establishing the core of a song, treating the guitar like an ornament on everything in most of their tracks

to go back to the root question, though, i think the real thing is: should you buy a guitar or bass? i'd say bass. you said guitar is more expressive, but i'd say the exact opposite. once you really get into what you can do on a 4-string, it becomes kind of hard to fathom the idea that bass is just to lock in with the drums.
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#6
Hail

I think the important thing to take away from this thread is that the only practical drum/? duo is drums and accordion.
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#7
yo TS get a drumkit and you can have a drum-drum duo
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#8
Or get two accordions and have an accordion-accordion duo.
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#9
No luv for drum/lute?

Of the two choices offered, I prefer drum/guitar...but not by enough to vote. Either way, you're usually losing something, except in the case of The Charlie Hunter Duo.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

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Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#10
Any way you could get me to attend a duo gig like that would be either

1. drums+bass and a hell of a good singer

or

2. acoustic guitar and percussions, not a full drumset. Like congas or a small kit or whatever.

Drums and bass sound fine, but without a good lead they sound really boring. On the other hand, electric guitar + drums will sound very hollow, they're not a great mix on their own, but if instead you use an acoustic guitar with a "less cluttered" percussion sound it would probably sound dope. Just my ideas.

For a duo, having a full drumset is very fickle. Drums are a great band instrument, but as a solo or a duo instrument I think there are better options since drums just take away too much space, both literally and figuratively. If you want a full drumset, you should either play bass and get a guitarist for more textures and stronger lead section, and if you play guitar you need to get a bassist to glue things together.

If the options you've provided are literally your only options, only thing I have to say is that I like neither option much, but I like drums+electric guitar even less.
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#11
Thanks a lot for the detailed answers guys. The general consensus I seem to be getting is that I shouldn't do such a duo without knowing what I'm going for, so I'm looking at a couple things now.
Firstly, I'm not leaving my band to form the duo, that band stays. It's like a side project. Since we don't have a bassist yet, I guess in the context of that band it makes perfect sense to buy bass. However, I have no idea how serious those guys will be later on, so I was kinda thinking of focusing more on the duo.
In context of the duo, I'll have to admit I'm leaning guitar, because the guitarist in a trio always seems to get the glory.
So if I can get a bassist to form a trio, I'll buy a guitar, but if not, I'll get bass for the other band and just jam with the drummer. What would you have to say on the expressiveness of bass?
#12
Quote by pratyaksh69
What would you have to say on the expressiveness of bass?








aside from the obvious solo stuff, something to consider as well, should you go serious with music...most music doesn't involve a guitar player, and especially not one hogging the spotlight. you basically have your rock and metal, as well as some areas of jazz fusion. the rest is designed for other timbres to own the spotlight, and the vast majority of them lean on bass instruments in some way or another

with bass, you can do a country gig, carry your rig across the street and play in a jazz trio, throw an extra cab into the mix with some distortion and you can compete in a metal band, etc.; guitar isn't that simple
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Last edited by Hail at Sep 11, 2017,
#13
Quote by pratyaksh69
I'll have to admit I'm leaning guitar, because the guitarist in a trio always seems to get the glory.


You know how people talk about "in it for all the wrong reasons" or whatever?

Quote by Hail
with bass, you can do a country gig, carry your rig across the street and play in a jazz trio, throw an extra cab into the mix with some distortion and you can compete in a metal band, etc.; guitar isn't that simple


As much as I like the point you're making and agree with it about bass being more musically versatile and more interested in many genres than guitar, you could not have picked worse examples since metal is based on guitar for the most part, like every country band has a lead guitar player, and guitar/bass/drums jazz trios are common enough.

Honestly while bass guitar is certainly ubiquitous in modern music outside of electronic music, so is guitar. Even if the guitar is doing the simplest thing imaginable (and it can get really boring) there still is almost always going to at least be guitar in almost every band that has a bass guitar.
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#14
What would you have to say on the expressiveness of bass?


Honestly, the limitations on expressiveness in bass- and on most instruments- are mostly set by the player, then a bit by genre and target market, not the instrument itself.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#15
dannyalcatraz

I disagree with that.

There are certain qualities such as timbre, how fixed pitch is, ability for ornamentation, etc that can make an instrument more expressive. Things like bending strings and ability for a range vibrato and other things that give the instrument a "singing" quality are considered to make an instrument expressive. Bowed string instruments and steel guitar certainly leaders in that area. And like I said, timbre makes some instruments more expressive than others.

But a consideration is how versatility of expression compares to greater expression in one area. That is to say how does a jack-of-all-emotions instrument compare to a particular instrument that really only expresses a couple of emotions or moods or feelings or ideas but does them extremely well? My primary instrument is the five string banjo. It has a certain character to it that makes it strongly suited to expressing certain ideas or moods, such as a rural car chase or reeling in a big catfish, better than any other instrument and it's not even close. But outside of expressing a few things well, it doesn't express others well.

And of course, when talking expression, it becomes impossible to seperate the instrument from association. The morin khuur is linked to the lifestyle of Mongolian nomads and therefore it expresses the ideas involving the nomadic life on the steppe better than anything else. The panpipes are the sound of the Andes and evoke life in the remote mountains. The great highland pipes are Scotland in an instrument and sounds played on the pipes represent brave Scottish soldiers marching into battle and love ones being laid to rest and the pride of a nation.

Etc.
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#16
I'm going to give you some advice I wish I heard when I was younger.
Play the bass. If you become competent in the bass guitar, you will always be in demand from a band standpoint.
Keep playing guitar, too. You can always change it around later.
Play bass until you get the band to a good place, find you a good lead guitar player, then later, if you want to switch, you can start hunting for a bass player, but your band won't be sidelined while you're without one.
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A steadily growing supply of pedals
#17
I'll stand by my statement, theogonia777.

I've heard bands in Austin- most famously, the Bad Livers- use banjo to play bluegrass-metal (covers & originals) that had nothing to do with "a rural car chase or reeling in a big catfish". More recently, Mastodon incorporated banjo into some of their tracks.

They all did so by not accepting the preconceived notions about the instruments limitations.

I've also been watching more and more "world music" artists fuse modern western acoustic & electric instruments with ancient traditional "ethnic" instruments & motifs to great effect. Sepultura used indigenous South American percussionists on their album Roots. Kodo's Modo Head features musicians and instruments from at least 4 continents. Rabin Abou Khalil's oud work has been supported by harmonicas and stand-up bass. The Yoshida Brothers pair their shamisens with drums and synthesizers these days.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#18
dannyalcatraz

I didn't say instruments can't do other stuff. Some instruments just lean towards something in particular and that instrument still evokes a particular sound. Listening to a few Bad Livers tunes, even if the lyrics are not traditional, the instruments still have a rural or hoedown kind of feeling which is in the same trailer park as car chases and catfish.

Same thing with the world instruments. Haven't listened to the Yoshida Brothers in a while (since my last shamisen kick) but the shamisens still sound like shamisens and even with other instruments it still brings Japan to mind when you hear it. Same thing with most world fusion. I won't acknowledge the Sepultura example because I like to imagine none of their material from the 90s exists. But anytime you take some particular instrument that has a strong attachment to something, it's going to bring that to mind. In so much world fusion you can very clearly hear the influence of their ethnic music no matter how much rock, blues, funk, synth pop, etc they mix in.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#19
I would counter that the phenomenon you describe is largely an artifact of the newness of these fusions. Over its centuries of existence, the guitar has grown far beyond its roots, for instance. But even today, people assert Telecasters are only good for C&W.

Give it time. For any given instrument, it may not happen in our lifetime; it may not happen at all. But artists may well find a way to "modernize" and broaden the base of musical genres for more than a couple of those "limited" instruments.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#20
When you have instruments that are hundreds of years old, some well over a thousand, that are part of musical traditions of equal age that are so heavily ingrained into a culture, your not going to just break that association away until the culture has forgotten it.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#21
The guitar happened to be in the right place st the right time. It was a part of what would become the militarily then economically dominant "western culture" as more artists began to experiment with it. It was one of the preferred instruments of the cultures that moved heavily into broadcast and recorded entertainment.

Now, after @100 years of that, everyone else's culture is producing artists pushing back, using modern tech to spread a fresh version of their culture.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#22
I think the most important question is, do you want to play the bass or the guitar? If you want to play the guitar, focus on playing the guitar (nothing wrong with learning to play other instruments too, but if guitar is what you actually want to play and you would only play the bass because of a random jamming duo that is most likely not even going to sound that great, I would suggest just playing the guitar). But if you really want to play the bass, then yes, get a bass.

I'm pretty sure after a while you will start searching for a new band member because your duo just will not sound that great. When you play as a duo, I would suggest using acoustic guitar and percussion, until you find a bassist (or a guitarist). Also, since you don't own a bass guitar or an electric guitar yet, starting as an acoustic duo would make even more sense. Save some money and once you find a bassist, get a good electric guitar and a good amp.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#23
Quote by theogonia777



As much as I like the point you're making and agree with it about bass being more musically versatile and more interested in many genres than guitar, you could not have picked worse examples since metal is based on guitar for the most part, like every country band has a lead guitar player, and guitar/bass/drums jazz trios are common enough.


i was talking about gear-wise with those examples. you can bring the exact same bass and rig to almost any show, maybe throw a couple pedals in the loop, and you're good to go
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#24
Quote by Hail
i was talking about gear-wise with those examples. you can bring the exact same bass and rig to almost any show, maybe throw a couple pedals in the loop, and you're good to go


A well rounded guitar and amp with a small multi-fx unit (versatile 1×12 combo optional) and you're good to go for almost any gig that doesn't require an acoustic. I pretty much gig these days with the Tele, an ME-80, and a little 10 watt Peavey that is more of a personal stage monitor in this application.
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#25
Offhand I can safely say I have been in two bands where the bass player was the real glue of the band although I am sure very few if anyone in the audience knew it. The front players and singers get all the glory but if you have a bass player and drummer who are locked in sync and holding down the bottom there is nothing better for a band and it's such a pleasure to play with them. If you have that tight bottom, the guitar, keys or any other instruments are free to just play without having to constantly worry about holding the rhythm together. It's there and you can feel it when it's got that solid bottom from the bass and the drummers kick. In my experience too many bass players are just frustrated guitar players who are too busy playing runs and a lot of notes notes when two or three would work much better for a song. I think the reason a question like the original post here even comes up is because there are so many bad bass players that take away the  credit that should be given to really good bass players. If you ever play with good solid bass player, you will never consider the idea of working without one. A good solid, simple bass player who is sympathetic to the music and doesn't feel the need to show off his talent by overplaying is a rare and valuable addition to any band.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Sep 12, 2017,
#26
Quote by Rickholly74
If you have that tight bottom, the [...] keys [...] are free to just play without having to constantly worry about holding the rhythm together.


Except for when you don't have a bass guitarist so as the keyboard player you're the de facto bassist on top of having to play melody.
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#27
Quote by pratyaksh69
In context of the duo, I'll have to admit I'm leaning guitar, because the guitarist in a trio always seems to get the glory.

In a trio, maybe.  But you're talking about a duo.  If you're the bassist, you're out front, like a guitarist.  Plus, your instrument is bigger and more macho than a guitar...

It's true that bass is less expressive, but not much.  These guys do OK:
Last edited by jonriley64 at Sep 13, 2017,
#28
For the record though, fiddle or pipes and bodhrán. That's the best.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#29
Neither option sounds very tempting. How about you guys find another bass player and form a new band.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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