Key Differences Between the Guitar and Bass

For nearly two decades, Geoff Scovil has headed his private practice, Geoffrey D. Scovil, Attorney at Law, out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beyond his activities as an attorney Geoff Scovil enjoys listening to John Coltrane and other jazz musicians. He is currently learning to play bass guitar.

The major difference between the standard electric guitar and the bass guitar involves the pitch range each instrument is capable of producing. The bass guitar can achieve a much lower pitch, and in fact the same note played on a guitar and bass will reverberate a full octave lower on the bass. For amateur musicians, the song “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen is a good reference point. Not only does the opening bass line represent a memorable sequence of bass playing, but it also demonstrates a few of the lowest notes that can be played on a traditional bass, including the low E.

When played as part of a band or musical group, the role of the bass differs considerably from that of the normal electric guitar. While guitarists frequently engage in flashy solos and other melodic adventures, the bassist is primarily concerned with rhythm. It is the job of the drummer and bassist to keep the beat and provide a song’s foundation; more often than not, individuals nodding their heads or tapping their toes to a song are following the bass line.

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