The acoustic guitar and bass guitar is two of the most prominent musical instruments used today. Both instruments are frequently used in live performances and studio recordings as modern bands are usually using these instruments.
The acoustic guitar is the foundation of your ensemble’s sound. They have a certain percussive quality that makes them very suited to driving rhythm guitar parts. Its bright, chiming sound contrast well with the low frequencies produced by other instruments in the band.
Bass guitar, on the other hand, keeps the band on tempo and adds texture. The bass guitar provides a connection between the drumbeat and the melody that is produced guitar and vocals. It also helps the listeners to identify the beat of the song as well the melodic progression.
A study from Fender shows that about 16 million people pick up a guitar (ex. electric, acoustic & bass) to entertain themselves during the pandemic lockdown. Based on the figures, I am sure that many are still beginners in playing an instrument.
So when you decide to study how to play both acoustic guitar and bass guitar, the question goes, “do you need to learn acoustic guitar before bass or the other way around?”
In learning two multiple instruments simultaneously, your priority is essential to focus better and have a higher chance of being better.
Is it necessary to learn acoustic guitar before bass?
If you intend to learn how to play the bass guitar, learning the acoustic guitar first will hinder your progress in understanding playing the bass guitar. Even though both instruments are related, their purpose and playing techniques are different.
Time is essential in everything. So, if you are trying to attempt to learn how to play the acoustic guitar first for the sake of learning the bass, this also means that learning the bass guitar also takes a back seat. If your priority is to learn to play the bass, there are many benefits in focusing on one instrument and spending as much time as possible.
The bass guitar is the ultimate connection between the rhythm and melody of a song. The bass guitar could be seen as part of the rhythm section and help the drums drive the rhythm, but it must also play notes that work with the other instruments.
On the other hand, the acoustic guitar has a more varied role in a band. It has the freedom to have some embellishments but is also required to support the band—this is why the acoustic guitar and bass guitar need very different techniques in playing it.
When playing the bass guitar, you will also notice that there is a tremendous difference in the length of the neck. A bass guitar needs the additional scale length to produce the lower tones it plays, and thicker gauge strings alone won’t get there.
There are still benefits if you know how to play the acoustic guitar first. Knowing the fretboard, notes, and scales will help since the guitar precisely lines up on the lower strings to the four-string bass in standard tuning. It is better to have little than no music knowledge at all.
So, do you really need to learn the acoustic guitar first before the bass? There is really no need to learn the acoustic guitar first before learning the bass, as you can learn to play the bass without knowing how to play the acoustic guitar at all.
Which is easier to learn, bass or acoustic guitar?
Both acoustic and bass guitar are easy to learn when you put the right amount of time and focus. But when push comes to shove, the bass is easier to learn than the acoustic guitar.
In learning an instrument, it is recommended to play along with a song. For this reason, the bass guitar is an easier option than the acoustic guitar. A large number of songs consist only of single notes played at varying rates and rhythms for the bass guitar, whereas many acoustic guitar songs feature more complex arrangements such as chords.
Finger plucking is easier than strumming. Finger plucking is where you usually use your middle and index finger to pull the string upwards gently. It is the default technique for playing the bass guitar and is more straightforward than strumming a guitar, where you have to hit the strings simultaneously.
All beginners playing the bass guitar do not have to play chords but only single notes. Unfortunately for the acoustic guitar, chords must be played to be able to play it properly. Chords are a series of notes played simultaneously. To do this on an acoustic guitar, you have to arrange your fingers in shapes on the fretboard, which many beginners find very difficult.
The acoustic guitar also has narrower frets than the bass guitar. This means that as you play more quickly, changing notes more often increases the chance of making mistakes as you hit a wrong note. With the bass guitar having wider frets, it gives a better target, reducing the mistake of playing a wrong note.
To conclude, in answering the question of whether do you need to learn acoustic guitar before bass, the answer is no. It is not necessary to learn to play the acoustic guitar first to be able to play the bass guitar, but it actually helps.