Bass vs. guitar – which is right for you?

If you’re starting out as a new musician, choosing the instrument that’s right for you is crucial! Bass and guitar are similar-looking instruments, and either will be a lot of fun to play – but which one is right for you?

The basics:

Bass guitars have four strings, while regular guitars (usually) have six. The strings on a bass guitar are thicker, allowing them to hit lower notes. On both instruments, you can play scales, chords, and apply the same music theory you’d use for other instruments. 

Guitar players can choose between playing rhythm or lead – playing the chords of a song, or playing a solo above the main melody.  Because a guitar has a higher pitch than a bass, it often cuts through the sound better. 

If you’re a singer looking to accompany yourself with an instrument, guitar may be the better choice, since it’s closer in timbre to a human voice and easier to play chords that ring out clearly. 

Acoustic guitars are also a good, portable option for musicians who want to play outside or bring an instrument to parties, etc. Acoustic basses exist, but because they have a lower pitch, they can be harder to hear without amplification. 

Are you a rhythm enthusiast? Bass guitar works with drums or percussion to fill out the rhythm section of a band. Bassists help control the rhythm and pace of a song, building the sound’s foundation.

The bass adds a lower harmony that works with the guitar to give a song depth and intensity. It can also drive a song, like these songs with unforgettable bass lines. 

Which is easier to learn?

There’s no simple answer to which instrument is easier to learn. Both instruments involve the same notes and scales, so you can choose to learn bass after learning guitar and vice versa. 

Guitar involves slightly more memorization of chords than bass does, since it has six strings instead of four and relies more heavily on barre chords to get a variety of sounds. 

Since bass guitars are longer, heavier, and have thicker strings, they might be harder to physically get used to playing, although with some practice it should get easier. 

You can learn how to play both guitar and bass with Fret Zealot. Paired with the Fret Zealot app, the paper-thin LED strip lights up in coordination with lessons and tabs, making the learning process faster and easier. 

Check out guitars and bass guitars with Fret Zealot pre-installed here! 

Want to play guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughan?

Your guitar skills will be your “Pride and Joy” with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Player study. This course will teach you Vaughan’s signature brand of Texas blues, including lead playing and rhythm and chord techniques. 


Vaughan was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and started playing guitar at age seven, on a toy guitar he received for his birthday. Young Vaugahn taught himself to play several songs by ear, following along to songs by Texas rock and roll band, The Nightcaps. He also drew inspiration from blues artists like Albert King and Muddy Waters, as well as Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack. His brother Jimmie gave him his first electric guitar, a Gibson ES-125T that he previously owned, when he was around nine years old. 

Vaughan played professionally in bands at local bars and clubs while still in his early teens. He dropped out of high school at age 18 to move to Austin for the music scene, establishing the band “Double Trouble”. Vaughan got the name from the title of an Otis Rush song. 

David Bowie saw the group play at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival and contacted Vaughan for a studio gig. Vaughan ended up playing blues guitar on Bowie’s 1983 album “Let’s Dance”, which resulted in major label attention and a record deal for “Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble”. 

Vaughan put out four albums and was one of the world’s most in-demand blues guitarists. Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he and four others were killed in a Wisconsin helicopter crash after performing at a mountain music venue in Aug. 27. He had several successful posthumous releases and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his Double Trouble bandmates in 2015. 


Vaughan cited Albert King as one of his inspirations – he jammed with the blues legend onstage in 1977 – but his biggest influence was Jimi Hendrix. “I love Hendrix for so many reasons,” he told Guitar World in 1983.”He was so much more than just a blues guitarist—he played damn well any kind of guitar he wanted. In fact I’m not sure if he even played the guitar—he played music.”

Vaughan used unusually heavy strings and tuned a half-step below regular tuning. He heavily used the vibrato bar on his instruments. Vaughan utilized vintage amplifiers and effects in his playing, setting a trend for other guitarists in the 1980s. 


Though his life and career were cut short, Vaughan helped lead a revival of blues rock and inspired players like John Mayer, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Los Lonely Boys. In the months after his death, over 5.5 million of his albums were sold in the U.S., and SONY signed a deal with his family estate to gain control of Vaughan’s back catalog, allowing them to release his work, including “Family Style” which won the 1991 GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album. 

He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. Rolling Stone named him number seven among the “100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time” in 2003. In 2022, Guitar World Magazine ranked Vaughan as #1 on its list of greatest blues guitarists. 

Once you master Vaughan’s signature style, put it to work with these song lessons!

Life By The Drop 

Pride and Joy 

Cold Shot

Want to learn to play guitar like B.B. King?

Want to learn to play guitar like the King of the Blues, B.B. King?

The B.B. King Player Study will teach you the key aspects of King’s legendary playing style, including his phrasing, use of vibrato, and incredible tone. 


Riley B. King grew up singing in the gospel choir in his Mississippi hometown. The minister there played guitar during services, and taught King his first three chords. King bought his first guitar for $15, a month of his salary at that time. He joined a gospel group to play at area churches before following Delta blues musician Bukka White to Memphis for nearly a year. He performed on local radio programs and had regular gigs at a club in West Memphis. 

King’s nickname “B.B.” came from his nickname at a radio station, where he was a DJ and singer – “Beale Street Blues Boy”, shortened to “Blues Boy” and later, “B.B.”. He was a fixture of the Beale Street blues scene by the late 1940s and 1950s, playing in a group called The Beale Streeters. He was signed to RPM records, and began touring across the U.S. with his band, The B.B. King Review. 

King became one of the biggest names in R&B in the 1950s with hits like “3 O’Clock Blues”, “You Know I Love You”, and “Every Day I Have the Blues”. He started booking major venues like New York’s Apollo Theater, and in 1956 alone, he booked 342 concerts and three recording sessions. 

King and other Black American blues artists inspired a crop of young musicians in the United Kingdom, including Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. King opened for the Stones’ 1969 American Tour. 


King prioritized quality over quantity in his playing, using his expressive phrasing to give his guitar a voice. “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille,” King famously said. (Lucille was the name given to all of King’s guitars). 

He utilized a style that became known as the “B.B. Box”, using a pentatonic minor shape down the neck of the guitar and focusing on ⅘ notes. He also stepped outside of the traditional minor pentatonic scale and use microtonal bending – bending notes less than a semi-tone for a subtle effect. 


King famously named all of his guitars – usually Gibson ES-355 or variants – Lucille. King said the name originated in the late 1940s, when he was playing a show in Arkansas. A fight broke out in the venue, causing a fire and forcing King and the crowd to evacuate. King returned to rescue his guitar and found out that the men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. As a reminder not to fight over women or tempt fate by entering any more burning buildings, he named the guitar (and all the subsequent guitars) Lucille. 


King was inducted into the Blues all of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He won the international Polar Music Prize in 2014. King, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, was a spokesperson for the fight against the disease. He also supported Little Kid Rock, an organization that provides instruments and instruction for kids in underprivileged areas of the U.S. In 2011, Rolling Stone ranked King #6 on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. 


Want to learn how to play guitar like Eric Clapton?

Want to play guitar like John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers?


Power chords and barre chords for guitar – how and when to use them

Power chords and barre chords will both add power and dimension to your guitar playing, especially when playing with a group. There are a few differences between these two heavy hitters and when you should use them.

Power Chords

Think of the unforgettable riff of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The distinctively grungy sound is achieved through a series of power chords (and plenty of distortion). 

A power chord includes the root note and the fifth of the root note, with the option to add the octave of the root note. On a guitar, this forms a specific shape, which is easy to move up and down the guitar neck to create different chord progressions. 

You can find the “fifth” of a root note by counting five notes up the scale from the root. So if you’re playing a “C” power chord, the power chord will contain C (the root note), G (five notes up from C), and C one octave above the root. 

Since power chords don’t contain a third note, they’re neither major nor minor. Power chords are usually written with a “5”, i.e. A5, C5, etc. 

Power chords aren’t solely the  purview of rock music – they can be found in all genres, including pop. They can also be played on piano. 

You can master power chords with this Power Chord Workout for Guitar. 

Barre Chords 

Barre chords are a little more complex than power chords. To play a barre chord, you’ll need to press your index finger along a fret, holding down five or six strings at once. Some chord positions may call for you to barre just two or three strings, which you can do with the tip of your index finger.

“A♯ minor chord on guitar with barre” by Lucian Popescu is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Doing this essentially shortens the guitar’s strings, allowing you to play a chord without being restricted by the tones of the open strings. This helps create chords with different tonalities, like minor, sharp, flat, and 7th chords. 

Most barre chords are “moveable”, meaning you can play them up and down the neck to play different chord progressions. 

If you’re just starting out playing barre chords and having a hard time, don’t stress! Properly barring a fret is one of the trickiest tasks for a new guitar player, but your fingers will gain strength the more you practice. 

Try this course to learn some easy barre chords for guitar! 


How to add tabs to Fret Zealot

What’s the difference between lead guitar and rhythm guitar?

Songs with unforgettable basslines

How to add tabs to Fret Zealot

Did you know that you can upload any song tabs to the Fret Zealot app, including your own original tabs?

To upload, go to and log in using your Fret Zealot username and password.

Then, use the form “upload song” and select a Guitar Pro file you want to upload. You can upload tabs as “public” or “private”. If you upload “public”, anyone will be able to view and use your tabs with the Fret Zealot app. If you select “private”, the tabs will only be available in your Fret Zealot account. 


Different types of acoustic guitars

Acoustic guitars come in many different shapes and sizes, which can contribute to their sound, playability, and overall feel. Here are some of the most common shapes and types of acoustic guitars.


This is probably what you picture when you think “acoustic guitar”. The dreadnought body shape is distinguished by its large body and square shoulders and bottom. The neck is typically attached to the guitar at the 14th fret. They’re considered a standard guitar in bluegrass music. 

The first dreadnought-style guitar was produced by C.F. Martin & Co. in 1916. The term “dreadnought” referred to a type of large battleship that was used at the time. 

Here are some dreadnought guitars available in the Fret Zealot store: 

Yamaha FG800 Dreadnought

Yamaha A1M Dreadnought 

Dean AXS Dreadnought 12 String


Jumbo acoustic guitars are the largest standard acoustic guitar type. Its extra-large size provides a deeper tone with lots of volume. 

The big sound this style produces makes it perfect for strumming music, including pop, folk, and country. This style is popular in Nashville for this reason. 

Epiphone PR-4E Player Pack


On the other end of the acoustic guitar size spectrum is the parlor guitar. Parlor guitars are small acoustic guitars that are also narrow, making them great for fingerstyle playing. They produce a high-end midrange tone. 

They get their name because they were frequently played in parlors in the 19th century. 


Auditorium guitars have plenty of similarities to dreadnought styles, but they’re slimmer in the waist – which also results in less depth. They feature a brighter tone and are quieter than dreadnoughts. Auditorium guitars are better suited for fingerpicking than dreadnoughts, but dreadnoughts are better for strumming.

Auditorium guitars come in regular and grand auditorium sizes. 

Classical guitars/Nylon string guitars 

Classical guitars are traditionally strung with nylon string and are usually used in classical music. Classical guitars have been around longer than modern acoustic and electric guitars. Their origins can be traced back to stringed instruments used in Spain in the 15th and 16th century, which eventually became the baroque guitar. 

The proper playing of a classical guitar is slightly different from other acoustic styles. The musician props the guitar up on their left leg to allow their strumming or plucking hand to be closer to the sound hole.

Yamaha SLG200N Silent Guitar

Ten romantic rock songs to learn for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast. If you still need a surprise for your person, grab your guitar and start learning one of these romantic rock songs!

With or Without You – U2

One of Irish band U2’s most popular songs ever, “With or Without You” was also used in NBC’s sitcom “Friends” as the theme song for Ross and Rachel’s relationship.

More Than Words – Extreme

Extreme lead guitarist Nuno Bettencourt described this song as a warning that the phrase “I love you” was becoming meaningless.

“People use it so easily and so lightly that they think you can say that and fix everything, or you can say that and everything’s OK,” he told the AP in 1991.

“Sometimes you have to do more and you have to show it—there’s other ways to say ‘I love you.’

Sweet Child O’ Mine  – Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash came up with the guitar riff for “Sweet Child” as a joke, saying it was a “circus melody”.

Within an hour, it was well on its way to being a full song – lead singer Axl Rose finished the lyrics by the next afternoon, basing them on his girlfriend Erin Everly. 


Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper 

Singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper was inspired by a movie name she saw in TV Guide, “Time After Time”, and was inspired to write this song for her debut solo album. The track has landed on several lists of “The Best Love Songs of All Time”.


505 – Arctic Monkeys

The organ chords used in this 2007 track are the same from the soundtrack for “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”.


Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol 

According to Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody, the phrase “chasing cars” came from his father’s advice about a girl Lightbody was infatuated with. Lightbody said his dad said, “”You’re like a dog chasing a car. You’ll never catch it and you just wouldn’t know what to do with it if you did.”


Dreams – Fleetwood Mac Stevie Nicks wrote “Dreams” in about ten minutes while the band was recording their celebrated “Rumours” album.


Layla – Eric Clapton

Another Clapton track, “Layla” was inspired both by a 12th century Persian poem and his secret love for Pattie Boyd, who was married to his friend George Harrison at the time.

Iris – The Goo Goo DollsThe Goo Goo Dolls’ signature song, “Iris” was written for the 1998 movie “City of Angels”. Lead singer John Rzeznik wrote the song after watching an early cut of the movie, saying in a 2013 interview, “I was thinking about the situation of the Nicolas Cage character in the movie. This guy is completely willing to give up his own immortality, just to be able to feel something very human. And I think, ‘Wow! What an amazing thing it must be like to love someone so much that you give up everything to be with them.’ That’s a pretty heavy thought.”


What’s the difference between lead guitar and rhythm guitar?

Want to learn how to play guitar like Eric Clapton?

What’s the difference between lead guitar and rhythm guitar?

If you listen to most music that features guitars, you’ll hear that there are often two guitars playing simultaneously – one keeping the beat and the other playing a melody. The guitar that keeps a beat is called “rhythm guitar” and the one that plays a separate melody is called “lead guitar”.

Both parts can be crucial to a piece of music. Let’s break down what they do:


Rhythm guitar

The rhythm guitar part usually consists of chord progressions that keep pace with the drum’s tempo. Rhythm guitar can be easier for beginners to learn than lead guitar (a lot of famous songs can be played with only three chords!) However, it’s still a vital part of making a song memorable. Learning rhythm guitar can also be preferable if you’re a singer-songwriter, or just someone who wants to sing along with a song.

In many metal or hard rock songs, the rhythm guitar part utilizes “power chords” to make a maximum impact while supporting the lead guitar part and vocals. Power chords utilize the root note and fifth of a chord. Because there is no third note, the chord is neither minor nor major. Playing these creates a meaty low end sound that’s perfect for heavy music.

The technique you use to strum chords can give a song a specific sound. For example, using only downstrokes can give your playing a punk-rock vibe, while ska music usually utilizes an upstroke. You can also use techniques like arpeggio, palm-muting and fingerpicking to get the sound you want.

Try the Power Chord Workout for Guitar to master all of the power chords! 


Lead guitar

Feeling like the star of the show? Lead guitar utilizes riffs (series of notes that make up the main melody of the song) and solos (different melody lines that often stand alone in a song). Lead guitarist can use a variety of techniques to create different sounds, including finger-tapping, hammer-ons, and string bends.

While solos might sound like a group of random notes to the untrained ear, they’re actually made up of notes from scales – usually major or pentatonic scales. Mastering the scales can make you better at soloing, both writing parts, improvising, and playing solos in cover songs.

Interested in being a lead guitarist? Lead Guitar Beginners Level 1 can get you started!

Do you prefer playing lead or rhythm guitar? Let us know in the comments! 

Songs with unforgettable basslines

A great bassline can be the difference from a song being good and being iconic. Here are some of the funkiest, most famous, and  most unforgettable basslines of all time. 


Stand By Me – Ben E. King 

Singer-songwriter Ben E. King was inspired to write “Stand By Me” as an update to a 20th-century hymn called “Stand By Me. Producer Mike Stoller came up with the bassline for this modern standard.


Another One Bites the Dust – Queen 

Featuring a simple but insanely catchy bassline, “Another One Bites the Dust” was written by Queen bassist John Deacon. Deacon had been hanging out in the studio with disco band Chic, which inspired him. 


Under Pressure – Queen 

Queen teamed up with David Bowie in 1981 for another song with an iconic bassline, “Under Pressure”. The line was sampled (uncredited) by rapper Vanilla Ice, resulting in a lawsuit. 


My Generation –  The Who 

This 1965 track features one of the most famous bass solos in history. Bassist John Entwistle’s line created a call-and-response effect with the other instruments, influenced by American rhythm and blues music. 

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) –  Sly and the Family Stone 

This pioneering 1969 funk track includes a slap bass line – pulling the strings away from the fretboard for a distinct tone. 

Come As You Are

The main “bass riff” you hear on this grunge classic is guitarist Kurt Cobain’s guitar in drop tuning, but bassist Krist Novoselic imitates the line for a double dose of low-end. 


Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers

RHCP bassist Flea slaps and hits ghost notes through this very memorable bassline. 


Learning bass? It’s easier with Fret Zealot for bass guitar, available now! Over 50,000 bass tabs are available in the Fret Zealot app along with three bass guitar courses.