Practicing with different bass guitars

Does anyone other than myself use two different bass guitars to practice on?

When I decided to take on the playing bass, My wife just shook her head and pretty much knew that she was in for another “wild ride” on the music train!

You see, having played music (not bass) for many years, Connie always understood that when it comes to music for me ( I’m a Vietnam Vet), that it’s what has always kept me focused in life. I guess it’s why she (after 41 years of marriage), understands and has accepted the fact that no matter what,… oh hell, enough of that $h1t!!..

Bottom line, I practice with two different Yammy’s… One of the biggest differences (playability related) is that they each have different type pickups. On one, I have no problem hitting all strings, the other, I get lost trying to pluck the G string - especially after successfully running all the other three. Anyway, what I can do on one, I can’t do on the other, and visa-versa,… so depending on what I gotta practice and play dictates which guitar I’m gonna use…

Hell, I my six strings are different too… Tele,… Strat,…

Just thankful that I’ve got an understanding wife!..

Am I nuts, or just old?.. Wait a minute,… that’s not the question… The question is,…

Do you practice with more than one bass guitar??


Interesting question, but no, @Lanny . . . I only own one . . . lol :slight_smile:

If I had a second, I probably would switch between them, though :+1:

All best, Joe


I do play and practice on multiple axes, @Lanny

The only time I get real messed up is if there’s extra strings involved, or different tunings.

It would be roughly equivalent to getting into a different car and driving. When you’re new to driving, all differences are going to be magnified, and potentially distracting.

Over time, you’ll be comfortable enough with the physical tasks and the machine in general that you’ll start to make adjustments automatically. It will still be weird getting into a new bass (or car) - touchy brakes, different turning radius, etc… but it will smooth out in time and experience.


I own two basses and I try to play both to the same amount. Now, after 9 months of playing, I am also starting to more clearly feel and understand some (more or less subtle) differences between the two basses - one is an entry level P bass copy (4 strings) and the other is a high-end 5-string Yamaha that I found used.

As @Gio also mentioned, the extra string is the biggest challenge. Very often, I find my fretting finger on one string and my plucking finger on another string when going from the 4-string to the 5-string, because I think I know “where I am”, but I am obviously not. But, it really is an extra exercise in slowly becoming more comfortable on your fretboard and intuitively know your way around your bass(es).

The more subtle differences are in the playability - it is more clear to me now why one bass is/was much more expensive than the other. Still, I like them both and I try to do exercises (plucking exercises, arpeggios) on both of them.

I haven’t experienced the problem you describe, and I am not entirely sure I understand… are the pickups sort of getting in your way when playing on the G string??


Thanks @Gio,… I think my major challenge is getting more comfortable with the bass overall - especially after 60 years of playing electric, acoustic, and classical guitars. Even though I played all of them, I’d still find myself making mistakes moving from one to another - especially between my classical and acoustic’s due to the width of the fingerboard.

Right now I’m at the half way point in my lessons and have grown to understand that an old dog CAN learn new tricks!


@joergkutter, I think I just realized what’s going on. It’s the anchor point I’m using on each bass. I installed a thumb rest on one, and on eat other I simply use the pickup. To play the one where my fingers were getting lost trying to pluck the G string, I have to reach down a little farther with my plucking finger - especially if I were using my index finger since it’s a lot shorter than my middle finger. I guess it’s just a matter of ‘focus’ on my part… I’ll get there - eventually…


Hi all, I have followed your discussion with interest. I have a beautiful Music Man Sting Ray 5 that I bought 15 years ago and played a few years before I got too busy to play. I went to the 5 string after playing a Yamaha 4 string. The reason I switched was that there was just something about those few lower notes that the B string gave me that were exciting in some songs.
I have never been able to fly like those musicians around me, however, after many years of not playing, I decided to give it a go again and found Josh and BassBuzz.
It is awesome starting over with a teacher like Josh.
This brings me to our subject. I have wrestled some with the idea of going back to my 4 string while doing these lessons, but then I wonder if I would be lost when I went back to the 5 string. What do you guys think?


@sbgower: my short answer would be that it is a matter of doing it regularly enough such that you no longer get “lost” or confused when switching. I try to “force” myself to switch between the 4-string and the 5-string quite often. I still do get confused sometimes, meaning typically that I play on the “wrong” string, but it does get better as I keep challenging myself in that way.

People in here have followed the course with both 4- and 5-strings (I don’t think we have six’er) and done well. Good luck!


I think you are in a perfect position to run this experiment.
Go back to the 5, and let us know!

If you plan to use both in your playing, use both in your practicing - that would be my advice.
And any question that you can answer in the comfort and safety of your practice time is a question that you should definitely tackle head on.

As a long time 5 string player, and now a mostly 4 string player, I will say that the back and forth feels very natural now… but there can be a learning curve. Once you get through the basic reorientation, it’s like a bike. They transition back and forth very easily.

Please do let us know how it goes!


And feel free to show us some pictures over here… Show Us Your Basses.

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Thanks for the good words Gio. I will give it a go and let you know how things go.


I will try and do that Eric. Have a good day.

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Ironically I just started doing this a week ago. I’m very new to the bass and in the past 2 months I’ve already acquired 4 bass guitars, it seems when I start something new I tend to overdo it just a tad. Anyway, I always practice early in the morning after work and I’ve found that when I become fatigued I switch to another bass and I almost feel renewed. Maybe it’s all mental but I honestly believe it’s helped further my practicing and development. It’s also fun to see how all of my basses feel, sound, and even play different. My Thunderbird feels great but I can’t seem to nail my playing as much as I can with my Yamaha. I guess that’s another reason why I switch instruments because I want to get comfortable with all of them. Kinda like with children you want to believe you love them all equally but there’s always one or two that stand out just a tad more.


It’s amazing how different basses can feel. It sounds like you’re like me and prefer fast, thin necks like Yamaha and Ibanez tend to have.


I think you’re right because my Fender Precision seems to have a thicker neck and it takes a little more effort. I’m not experienced enough yet to troubleshoot my abilities with various instruments, but I’ve definitely noticed how I can do better or worse with the different necks.


@howard - Agreed! One of the main reasons I have two Yamahas and one Ibanez. Love the thin neck feel for fast playing. And I do believe that thicker single wood necks play a little different than thinner laminated necks.

So true @rickpalacios1973. I play and practice with all of my bass’s and even have some strung differently using strings that I feel sound the best for that particular bass. For instance, my Yamaha active sounds best with half round strings while my Ibanez active/passive sounds best with coated round wounds. My Yamaha passive sounds best with regular round wounds. Also, the set up on each one is a tad different on each one which allows me to play them differently.

Although I do practice all songs with each bass, I typically have one bass that sounds best for the genre/style of song that I’m playing to.

Keep on Thumpin’!!


From what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound unusual for a studio engineer to request a bassist uses a different bass for a recording. I think this has particularly happened when they want a P-Bass instead of a J-Bass. Apparently P-Bass sits better in a mix, buy lots of people love J-Bass (including me) and play on that as their main instrument. In any case, if studios are happy to do this then it shows you that it’s not a big deal at all to play different bases, given same tuning and number of strings of course.


I plead guilty to that one as well, @JT . . . :slight_smile:

I also have a Gibson bass, but rarely practice with it.

Cheers, Joe


Everything else being equal I would buy a J-Bass before a P-Bass. I would buy a P/J P-Bass before either though :slight_smile:


I was VERY close to buying a Sadowsky PJ. Was my 2nd choice behind the J-Bass I’ve ordered. I’ve convinced myself that with the Orange Bass Butler bi-channel pre-amp, I won’t need to worry about sitting in a mix well.