Bass vs. Electric Guitar: What Are The Differences?

If you’re trying to choose between a bass and an electric guitar, it’s important to understand the key differences between these two popular instruments.

From their size and strings to tuning, sound, playing style, and music genres, each instrument offers a unique playing experience.

Let’s dive into the details and explore what sets the guitar and bass apart.

Differences In Size

The difference in size is one of the first things you’ll notice when comparing a bass and a guitar side by side.

The bass guitar is generally larger than a guitar. Its body and neck are more substantial, and it typically has a longer neck with more frets than a standard guitar. This larger size gives bass guitars a unique feel and playing experience compared to an electric guitar’s more compact and familiar size.

Differences In Strings

The number and thickness of strings on the instruments are one of the significant differences between bass and electric guitar.

Number Of Strings

Bass guitars typically have four strings, while electric guitars usually have six strings. This difference in string count provides electric guitarists with greater versatility and range in playing style, enabling them to execute complex chord structures and solos.

String Thickness

Despite bass guitars having fewer strings, their strings are longer, thicker, and more expensive compared to guitar strings.

Electric guitarists commonly use steel or nickel strings, while acoustic guitarists can choose from metal or nylon strings for a softer, more delicate tone.

Bass players have even more options, with different types of bass strings like roundwound, flatwound, tapewound, and groundwound strings. Each type offers unique tonal characteristics and caters to different playing styles, from slap bass to fingerstyle or pick playing.

Differences In Tuning

The bass is tuned much lower than the guitar. Bass strings are tuned down one whole octave in pitch, resulting in a significantly lower range. For instance, the lowest E string on both bass and guitar will produce a sound one full octave lower on the bass.

Differences In Sound

The sound of the instruments is perhaps the most apparent difference between electric and bass guitar. Bass guitars produce deep, rich, low-frequency sounds that form the foundation of various music styles, from rock to jazz and hip-hop. On the other hand, electric guitars generate brighter, higher-pitched sounds, which are often utilized for lead lines and solos in genres like rock, blues, and metal.

Differences In Playing Style

Bass playing focuses more on rhythm and groove, providing the backbone of a band’s sound. On the other hand, electric guitar playing often emphasizes lead lines and solos, taking on a more melodic role in the music.

Differences In Music Genres

The choice between bass and electric guitar is also influenced by the genres of music you intend to play. Bass guitars are commonly used across various genres, including rock, pop, jazz, and hip-hop, due to their ability to establish powerful low-end frequencies.

Electric guitars, with their versatile and expressive nature, are frequently associated with rock, blues, and metal genres, where they take center stage with melodic solos and vibrant riffs.

Similarities Between Electric Bass And Guitar

Despite these differences, there are some notable similarities between the two instruments. Both basses and guitars are stringed instruments, often with solid bodies and equipped with pickups that require specialized amplifiers. They can be played using a plectrum or various fingerpicking techniques.

Moreover, bass guitars can also function as lead instruments in certain settings, and they can be enhanced with effects units to modify their tone. It’s worth mentioning that both instruments are transposing instruments, meaning that their notation is written one octave above their actual pitch for practical notation writing.


Choosing between a bass and an electric guitar comes down to personal preference, playing style, and the type of music you wish to create.

Both instruments offer a unique and fulfilling musical experience, so take your time to explore each one and discover the instrument that resonates with your musical soul. Happy playing!

You can check out our complete guide on different types of guitar.  

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