Can six string guitar players play bass without lessons?

Is it natural for a guitar player to pick up a bass and start playing? Or do you need lessons? I’m sure that a trumpet player would need lessons if he wanted to play tuba because the breathing would be different.
But is it easier/harder to play bass if you’re a six string guitar player?

In my experience as a guitar player (though way out of practice) a guitarist CAN pick up a bass cold and play. But nowhere near as well as a bass player could.

I usually play with a four string. Then I tried out a five string, it seemed a bit more challenging. But after awhile of playing, it starts to feel natural again.

Yes. A regular guitarist can pick up a bass and play with no problem. The strings on a bass are the same as the bottom four strings on a guitar, just an octave lower in pitch.

Seconded. That is not to say you should play exactly like you play on the guitar. Depending on the kind of bass you play (I play an acoustic bass-guitar) you’ll want to change your plucking habits for certain types of music. My standard plucking involves making a victory sign with my fingers over the strings and then pressing them down to pluck the string, as it were. The thickness of the strings require that. But if you play an electric bass, you can often play exactly like you do on an electric guitar, even with a pick.

Yeah, you won’t play as well as a regular bassist. You won’t necessarily know all the runs and fills and other tricks that a regular bassist would know, but if you know the song, you can at least play the roots and follow the song.

Basically, if you’re used to playing a regular guitar, a bass just feels like an oversized version of the same thing.

It’s not uncommon at all for guitarists to fill in on bass for bands in a pinch. I’ve done it myself.


Well, I know where all the notes are on the fretboard anyway. I would by no means call myself a bassist, tho. All that slappin’ and pullin’ takes some time to get down. Plus the frets are waaaaaaaaaaaay too far apart for me to play some of my guitar licks comfortably on the bass.

But yeah, I was able to just pick it up and start jamming. I didn’t sound like Jack Bruce or Les Claypool, but I was playing the bass.