Bass or Guitar for Over 50 Journey

So, I started playing bass in my late teens, played in a few bands over the years, but also have intermittently had numerous years of ‘time off’. But, now that I’m getting older (54) and the kids will soon be moving out, I’m getting the itch again. However, I’m really at a bit of a crossroads in that I’m trying to decide whether to pick up the bass again (still have all the needed gear) to really hone my craft - I never really learned how to properly slap, have many songs I never learned, etc. - or take up learning guitar. I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever play in a band again, so the guitar seems appropriate for my personal enjoyment and playing solo, but every time I crank up a great rock tune, I’m locked in with the rhythm and bass line with the eq always having bass cranked up to 11. Would welcome input and perspective from others that might help me decide which I should put my time and effort in to . . . thanks!


I’m addicted to the low end. So a completely biased view.

Which excites you? go with your heart, not your brain

Bass is also a guitar and nothing says you can’t be melodic, especially with blues


When I decided to start plaing again, I had the same question. I came to the conclusion that anything played on guitar would be something I would rather play on bass.

It wasn’t about what I like or don’t like, it was about what sounds I wanted hear me make. So, I got another bass and have no regrets.

I hope this makes sense and welcome to BassBuzz!


If you ask anyone here which instrument to learn/play, you can pretty safely bet the answer is…wait for it…


That said, there are a whole lot of longtime/lifetime guitar players in the forum, myself included, who have come over to bass for the sheer joy of it. That doesn’t mean we don’t play guitar as well; it’s just that bass offers different tactile (thicker/fewer strings, longer neck, heavier instrument), sonic, and technique experiences than the guitar.

But, to address your question: Choose the instrument that best suits your goals, i.e., if you want to play chords or lead lines, go guitar; if you get a fluttery feeling when you hear a particular driving thump in tunes you like, go bass.


This. So much this. :sunglasses::+1:


I said go with your heart, but @MikeC said it better.


Why does it have to be an “or” decision? I started out learning how to play the guitar and then found Josh’s course, and decided to learn the bass at the same time. I only want to play for myself on the porch or in the house on either instrument. I feel I have progress farther on the bass than the guitar, but the bass lessons helped me understand the guitar better. I have connected better with Josh as a teacher than I have with any of the guitar courses I have taken.


While I’m not in the same age range, I started messing about with bass at a younger age and now that I’m older and in more of a mindset to actually learn if picked up the bass again but at the same time I’m learning guitar while doing Josh’s B2B course… Still prefer the bass but my family bought me a new guitar so feel obligated to learn it aswell.

Always do what your heart tells you, your mind can lie to you.


I thought Josh did a video on this exact question but I can’t find it. Does anyone else remember this?

Edit: This is the one I was thinking of.


Good time to get back into playing.
More good basses available now than ever before, both long-scale and short-scale.


Music is such a personal journey and I think it comes down to what makes you feel all kinds of things - could be what makes you want to jump up and dance, bop your head to, get lost in the music as a means to relax and/or just give you a warm fuzzy feeling that you can’t necessarily explain, you just know if feels good.

I’m in my mid-40’s and first tried guitar around the age of 20 but didn’t last long. I’ve come back to it multiple times over the past 10 or so years, but life in general only allows for limited playing time and I’ve never really got myself a good routine. I think it was about 8 years ago I decided to try bass and followed a similar pattern.

For me personally, I like to alternate. Yesterday for example, I was trying out some funk drum beats and couldn’t help but plug by bass in a jam along. I think it was only a 4 bar loop, but I happily bopped along for probably 15mins on the same loop - at that point, nothing else mattered but locking in with the drums and just feeling it throughout my body and mind.

Earlier in the day, I felt like playing some melodic lead on my guitar. I’m also exploring recording and making some music and really like the idea of laying down my own guitar and bass playing. I even tapped out a drum beat just for something different.

I know when I went through B2B, many of the playalong videos just felt great to be playing along to regardless of whether it was a genre I usually listen to.

I think, if you already have bass gear, jump back in and see how you go. If it feels like something is missing, then maybe see if you can borrow a guitar or go into a store and play one. If that feels like it would fill the gap, then maybe get a guitar and enjoy both. You can get some pretty decent guitars without spending a heap and can certaily play using cheap or even free plugins.

Whatever you decide, enjoy the wonders of music :metal:


Yeah. There really is no wrong answer here.




I say just do what feels right. I chose bass because I always got told “it’s easy, anyone can play bass, guitars are hard cause chords”, and while I always looked up to guitarists, I don’t think I could ever get the same love for playing guitar as I have for bass.

I don’t know if I’m ever gonna play with others again either, but I really don’t think I’m missing out by not playing guitar. I was messing with Sir Duke today, and while I’m very far from having the entire thing locked down, it’s just one of those songs that’s so fun to play, and without the bass, it would be a very boring piece of music.


Thanks for all the replies. After reading the replies, doing some soul searching, and listening to my favorite tunes (including this for the 1000th time:, bass just speaks to me. Yeah, I could probably do both guitar and bass, but time is precious (my kids keep me uber busy) and I love how bass bellows through my very being. . . while I may never play in a band again (but ya never know), I have fond memories of feeling the bowel adjusting vibrations of my bass pushing through me and out beyond the stage. Recently read a great quote too . . . “if you crave attention, guitar; if you crave power, bass.” Love it!


And just a quick shout out to Josh for making going through the bass journey fun - love his teaching style.


That’s exactly it MikeC. It’s the internal flutter you get when you feel the rhythm of a song - I’ve had this all my life but it just didn’t occur to me it was because I needed to play bass. Everything just makes sense now! :heart_eyes:


I am kind of trying to learn guitar, mainly because I want to know more about theory etc, I play with guitar players and admire what they can play but I don’t feel the love.
When I hum something it sits under the melody like bass.
I have just learned the intro solo to Wish You Were Here but I prefer playing the bass line, for example.
I am a bass player who isn’t a failed guitar player, just not as interested in guitar


Part of the reason that I love bass and prefer it to guitar is that I always hated learning chord shapes and playing them. The strings are so thin and they really made my fingers uncomfortable. I also love bass because it’s probably the most under appreciated instrument in (most) bands. Plus something about that boom of the low end just hits home for me. I think since you have all the gear already and are familiar with bass that you’ll enjoy being able to relearn and get comfortable on the instrument sooner. Guitar is cool I guess, but you are on a bass forum so the only acceptable response here is BASS


If you play both bass and guitar then keep doing it. Practice time should be spent with both.

I’ve played in bands and at hundreds of jams for over 50 years and although I tend to prefer playing bass I’ve had more opportunities open up because I’m competent enough on guitar and on vocals to fill either spot in many situations. I still consider myself a bassist first and a guitarist second but if I can handle the role of guitarist I’ll accept that gig as well.

Be versatile. It helps plus my guitar playing has always helped me a a bassist as well.