Why Do Guitarists Make Such Crappy Bass Players?

I think most people will agree that for some reason Guitar Players make the worst Bassists!

I recently featured one of Richard Lloyds Videos, titled Walking Bass lines for Guitarists. I’ve always wondered why Guitar Players make such crappy bassists, they should know the notes, there’s fewer strings to play. But somehow, it rarely works. The main reason is Chromatic lines. Guitarists don’t play 3 or 4 notes beside each other, the way Bassist do. Reason #2, tying the points of the Pentatonic scales together.

To me, I would have guessed it was weaker sense of Rhythm and Harmony. As a lead Guitarist, you don’t have to be as consistent in these areas. When learning the Guitar we dedicate most of our brainpower to remembering string/fret numbers and scale/chord shapes. But when it comes to timing, we’re mostly going by feel.

We learn scales so that we can play fast and play good sounding solos. We are mainly concerned with our own harmony as apposed to the overall harmony. Some players just don’t pay attention unless it’s their turn to solo. To them the song is over when the solo is. A good solo can make or break a song but it should NEVER be more important, than the song itself.

Heres the video again, enjoy.


Here’s more R. Lloyd videos

and “How Not to Play Bass Like a Guitar Player Playing Bass” from Premier Music. Some good points, Guitarist’s play early/slightly Ahead of the beat(or “Front” of the beat). Bassists play at the back/late. Also Guitarists consider the high E string their first string, Bassists call the low E their first string. We are playing the same notes and harmonies, an octave apart but we approach the instrument from a completely different direction.




  1. I think you observations are exactly right. The drums and bass are all about establishing a rhythmic foundation. The guitarists build upon the foundation, but they don’t really need to establish it. It’s a different musical skill set. People may be able to do both. But just because you’re good at one doesn’t mean you’ll be good at the other.

    1. It took me years to realize that good Bass players generally have a better sense of harmony and rhythm Than Guitarists. We can’t really take advantage of an accompaniment/rhythm section if we don’t understand these things. A piece doesn’t have to be Complicated to be challenging. Playing a simple piece, consistently is a challenge in itself.
      A competitive, “you do your job, I’ll do mine” attitude rarely works in a creative/performance environment

  2. My main instrument is the guitar!!!! I also play piano. I sing too!!!!!!!!!!! Anyways, I just recently started playing a little bit of bass and everyone in my youth group band, especially our drummer, thought I was AMAZING!!!!!!!!! I play very good rhythm guitar (not to brag) but that’s probably because I play acoustic really well. I played bass and I was even shocked. I was shocked by how everyone said I was really good at bass. My youth pastor even told me if I practiced bass I could be a BETTER bass player than I am a guitar player!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. The weaker sense of rhythm is actually hurting guitarists on the guitar too, not just the bass. In fact, this is one of Paul Gilbert’s pet peeves as he says “don’t expect the drums to do all the work, you gotta stay on top of the rhythm too”.

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