I was wondering, for people who play multiple different instruments, has anyone found that certain skills acquired on one instrument helps on bass, or vice versa?
I played classical violin (very briefly and very poorly haha) in high school, and have recently made the shift to traditional/folk fiddle, which I love. Some tunes I can’t get enough of lately are these, from phenomenally talented Scottish fiddle player Adam Sutherland:
I’m not sure if my brain is just playing tricks on me, but since starting fiddle, I could swear I’m better at following rhythms and keeping time on bass. It could be coincidence - but as a mentor of mine said, for folk fiddle, “It’s very rhythmic and percussive - you’re basically just whacking a violin with a big stick”
Has anyone had any similar experiences? What are some other instruments you’ve learned or are learning? Do you find the experience on one instrument transfers or does interesting things to your ability to play on another?
For me, playing different instruments has been very helpful for learning/playing bass, particularly the years of playing rhythm and fingerstyle guitar.
Rhythm guitar is chord/fill-based, which emphasizes supporting the melody and reinforcing the groove along with the bassist and drummer.
Fingerstyle guitar involves using each hand independently of the other, with the right hand simultaneously playing bass and melody while the left hand frets lines.
Piano also requires splitting your brain as you play bass and chords with the left hand while playing the melody (and chords) with the right.
All to say, yes, playing different instruments can definitely help one learn and play bass.
15 years before I took up bass, I learned the accordion a bit. Lots of theory there, and it’s a sustaining instrument (no decay of tone). I also sing regularly, and just last week I started a little bit of guitar (10 minutes a day). I think it all works together, and it’s helped my bass playing.
Welcome to the BassBuzz Accordion Group.
Guitar and bass are close enough that practicing one will improve the other.
I am really glad I learned music theory on keyboards as well, it’s much easier and has lots of visual references.
I started with piano back when I was 12. Then moved to keyboards and synthesizers. Picked up rhythm guitar at some point along the way. The fundamentals are the same no matter which instrument you start with.
Watching my wife learn to play having never played any instrument at all in her life has been eye opening. When you know something and the longer you know something, the more difficult it is to remember what it’s like not knowing it. Some of the questions she asks makes me realize how much of what I do now is just second nature. The counting of beats, for example, has been particularly difficult for her to get her head around. She asked me how I’m able to do that and still play at the same time and it was like “I don’t. You eventually just get a feel for it and the only time I count out stuff is when I’m learning the song initially”. Blew her mind.
I think the best instructors are not only the ones that understand things well enough to be able to explain to anyone but also those that remember what it’s like not knowing.
Which brings me back around to the original subject: You’ve learned more than you realize with a first instrument regardless of how well you play it. I sucked at piano. I’m decent with keyboards and synths. I’m relatively (and increasingly) happy with my skill on bass. Every instrument has been a foundation for the next one.
Learning is not a smooth slope upwards. It’s a set of stairs built by a drunken carpenter who eyeballed everything…a series of uneven cliffs and plateaus.
Accordion, didgeridoo, bagpipes, Native American flute, the list goes on.
Learning bass has definitely helped my guitar playing. I never really learned the fretboard, just chords.
I played drums on and off for about 18 years before I started playing bass. My music theory knowledge was almost nonexistent. But being able to play in time when I started bass helped a lot.
An interesting instrument for sure. The left side with all the buttons is built around the circle of 5ths. Looks complicated, but like the bass, learn a pattern and move it around. The Ivory and Ebony keys are actually harder…which is why the buttons are on the left side. Come to think if it, the buttons are the bass chords (or notes is accordion is equipped with a “free bass” shift).
Every musical thing I’ve ever tried has informed all the other ones.
Every time I learn a new instrument or try and improve on any instrument I think it helps the part of my brain that thinks in musical terms and language, and it spreads to everything.
Also, because bass is most often an accompaniment instrument, I also find that when I know what other instruments are doing and how they operate, I can hear and understand their parts better in a tune and it better informs my bass playing.
There’s a lot of benefits playing different instruments, some cases it’s direct and most are indirect. If you play bass, then guitar, keys, and drums, (extra kudos if you play reeds/ woodwinds or horns) you’d be able to intimately recognize the section where those instruments would shine and you can pick the right moment to come in and put the spotlight on the right part.
Good Bassists can put the delectably tasty fills, great bassist put them at the right moment.
Having played keyboards, brass, wind, bass, and guitar now, plus done drum programming, I would say that keyboards will teach you the most about music itself. If you want to prioritize another instrument for theory and structure learning I would recommend it, especially for moving on to chordal instruments like guitar. You will understand what is going on with guitar chords much better with some time on keys behind you.
For pure physical skill transfer, guitar is a no-brainer, as bass and guitar are very similar. This does not mean you will find learning guitar easier though. To make an analogy with the B2B course, if you pick up guitar after bass, you would be able to easily breeze through the guitar equivalent of modules 1 and 2, maybe part of 3. After that, it’s just as hard for you as anyone else.
Interestingly enough, so far the guitar course only uses E, A, D, G strings so far, the same one on bass. I recognize the blues patterns, etc. All the same on bass. The big difference is…the pick. String crossings have been a bit of challenge with the pick and the closer spacing of strings.
It helps to learn the general music theory, and of course, it’s also helpful for bass