Help Choose My Focus - Drums or Bass

Zeus Mutation

Senior Member
Well, This is probably a strange question... Looking for opinions.

I'm wondering which instrument to focus on, drums or bass?

I'm 43 and doing this for the joy of music. No thoughts of grander, just to play out at some bars or something.

Been on drums for 5 years, in my 6th now. I've been in a few bands... unfortunately, I just left my most promising project due to a work relocation. Another state.

The drums come really easy to a point, I can play a bunch of basic beats. When I listen to music the drums dominate my conscience listening.

I feel my fills are too similar and unless doing a shuffle or fast punk type groove (for lack of a better description) my beats are all the same. I move the snare to the 3 instead of 2 & 4. I put kicks into the E, &, and the A's, but still feel like I'm playing the same beat over and over. I should also add that I ghost note the snare a lot. That's the most comfortable beat. I play to a lot of Chili Peppers, Zeppelin, and Queens of the Stone Age.

A couple issues with drums... lugging gear around, practice space... lugging gear around. lol

I also dabble on bass... I know some theory and can play some songs. On drums, I don't really have songs memorized like I do on bass. I can play grooves I feel, but not verbatim.

I can play simple bass songs like Walking on the Moon - Police, Tush -ZZ Top, I feel Good - James Brown to more complicated things Like Running Free, Run to the Hills, and Phantom of the Opera by Iron Maiden.

Bass is easy to play all day everyday, playing drums is a planned event.

So, any opinions on weather or not I should drop one and focus on another? A current guitarist I jam with said I should play both... but drums in our project. lol. When I asked what I play better, his thoughts were I picked up bass quickly but improve daily on drums... so, he's no help there.

Thanks in advance!


Senior Member
???? im kinda reversed. played pass long ago, so i love the drums and admired drummers, so recently i decided to play music again , i did the
been there done that with bass, learn the other great item , drums
so i would say bass, see how the other side lives :)
things always seem so much easier , till you focus on them


Senior Member
I would agree with your guitarist, and keep playing both! I do and both are great.

As you mentioned, you are playing music purely for the joy of it, and in my opinion you will get the most joy from playing both. If you stick to one, sure you may increase your technical ability on whichever you choose. But with bass and drums, they really interplay on each other and I think you benefit many other aspects of your playing when you practice both.

My opinion would be to continue both, and if a project comes up where you can play bass, give it a go. You may find yourself naturally gravitating towards one instrument after some time.

Matt Bo Eder

There's no harm in continuing to play both. A guy like Gary Husband is both an awesome drummer (first heard him with Allan Holdsworth on Atavachron) and an awesome pianist currently playing keyboards with Billy Cobham.

If it's all about enjoyment, then enjoy both!

Zeus Mutation

Senior Member
Just James - It depends on the band... Usually the drummer, But I do watch both. By example, when it's Primus is both, Queens of the Stone Age, not as much.


Gold Member
Play both. The thing to consider is that you don't have to be a whiz kid in order to play an instrument well, and the fact that you say you play a lot of the same beats over and again supports this. In popular music, repeating familiar patterns is the norm. In most cases in pop music, playing like a virtuoso simply detracts from the music. Pop music audiences don't come to see virtuosos - they come to hear their favorite tunes and to groove to the music. It's your job as a bass player or drummer to make sure that that groove is working hard. Being a good musician in this context is based on patterns that are a bit simplistic for most experienced players. If you can do that on either bass or drums, you really are a virtuoso of groove! So I say, do both, and feel highly blessed that you are able to serve the band in either role.



Platinum Member
If you want to spice up your drumming, take some lessons, read music and have at it.

Otherwise, not sure that you need to focus on just the one instrument, and your answer to my earlier question showed no clear winner, so keep on keeping on.


Silver Member
I'm in the "why not play both?" camp if they both peak your interest. I play 2 instruments, though I do sometimes think I could progress a little quicker and it'd be easier if I focused entirely on one, but nothing like a challenge ;-)

It may be you find yourself focusing on one much more than the other eventually, and then you have you're answer..

Ultimately only you can decide. I can't pick your next pair of shoes or your next meal.. It's very personal.

Zeus Mutation

Senior Member
I've had lessons. Fortunate to have been with two pro's. I can read drum sheet music. Copying songs isn't my problem.

As for playing both... I hear everyone. I'll take the advice, it's not like it'll hurt anything.

I was going to sell my really nice kit and buy a better bass, or a proper bass rig. I have two kits, so, I would keep the lessor quality one. I'm talking shells only, I'd be keeping all my good hardware and cymbals.

Anyway, I'm just gonna stay the course of playing both...

Thanks everyone!


Platinum Member
I'm also 43 and also play both drums and bass. I have ended up on drums over the years, even though I played the bass before the drums. While I don't play bass quite as often as I used to (I took a 15-year break from it, in fact), I keep up with it to remain versatile and explore other sides of my musicality. After all, there's no law saying how many instruments we are limited to playing. Keep up with both, and concentrate on your personal satisfaction and enjoyment of music.

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I started out playing drums, but started playing guitar in college because I couldn't take my drums with me. So, for a long time drums took a back seat to the guitar. That went on awhile, but I still played drums. One day I realized that I'm a much better drummer than a guitar playing songwriter, so my focus went to playing mostly drums. Plus they were funner to play. Nowadays, I hardly even touch my guitar, but I'm proud to say I can play it and I do now and then, but mostly I am obsessed with drumming. Now I have GAS, excuse me.


Platinum Member
Bass is easy to play all day everyday, playing drums is a planned event.
Amen to this. My drums are at my practice space, but my bass (and guitar) are in my living room. So yeah, bass is easy to make time for, whereas playing drums takes some planning.

I've played drums almost exclusively for over 30 years, but have casually noodled on guitar and bass for years, though never anything serious. Now with more time available, I'm playing bass like a fiend and it's great. Wish I'd taken the time for it all along, but no use crying over spilled milk.

Some of my friends were all like, "You're switching to bass? What for?" which has been a little surprising. It's not a switch at all - it's both. I don't see any reason to make it an either/or, so I don't. Neither should you if that's what you want.

The beauty is that both are part of the rhythm section so your skill on one spills over to the other.

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I was going to sell my really nice kit and buy a better bass, or a proper bass rig. I have two kits, so, I would keep the lessor quality one.
Playing both drums and bass makes you more marketable and you get more gigs.

I don't like this idea of selling good drums. What bass gear do you need?

Zeus Mutation

Senior Member
No Way Jose - I need a legit amp really. I have a small amp, ampeg BA108, and a used Fender Baseman 15" cab with a separate Fender M-80 head, which has no box, cover etc. it's fully exposed. The guy I traded with cut the ends off and shoved it into the bassman cab... it wasn't secure and rattled, so I took it out.

I was going to go to Guitar Center and trade in some items for a new crash, or, towards a better bass amp.

My main kit is a 1976 Ludwig Classic maple (26x14, 14x14, 16x16, 18x16) and a '71 LM402. I was going to trade in the shell pack too towards an amp, but you know GC won't give me much and these size drums are not for everyone. CL in my new state is terrible. Shipping such sizes isn't gonna happen either... I'll keep them at this point.


Platinum Member
...I'm wondering which instrument to focus on, drums or bass?...

...A couple issues with drums... lugging gear around, practice space... lugging gear around. lol...

...Bass is easy to play all day everyday, playing drums is a planned event...
...My main kit is a 1976 Ludwig Classic maple (26x14, 14x14, 16x16, 18x16) and a '71 LM402. I was going to trade in the shell pack too towards an amp, but you know GC won't give me much and these size drums are not for everyone. CL in my new state is terrible. Shipping such sizes isn't gonna happen either... I'll keep them at this point.

Wow - you're between a rock and a hard place with the gear.

About the choice: Couple thoughts - first; honestly, do you prefer one over the other?
Then - it could also depend on how much time you have for it.
The learning stage requires quite a bit more time than the maintenance stage.
Also, if you're working a demanding day job, it can take a lot out of you.

About the gear though:
You talk of a main kit - do you have another one?
Those are some pretty huge size drums.
I can see where lugging them around all the time could be a PITA. Like you say, I wouldn't want to ship them either.
Ya - if you choose drums, you're probably best off to keep them.
It might be worth at least checking out what some place like GC could do for you - I wouldn't expect much though.

Is playing drums a 'planned event' because of the noise issue?
If so, there are ways to minimize it, like mutes or using brushes.
Bass is so easy to make quiet.

Your small amp wouldn't cut it for gigs, and the head/cab is far from ideal.
You could also check out trading both of those in for a more suitable amp.
My local GC usually has a fair amount of used bass amps.
If you don't mind going with a bit older (and heavier) gear, you probably could work out a deal for something useable.
If you choose bass though and can swing it financially, there's some real nice, lightweight, powerful, Class D stuff available.
Most of that stuff is fairly new, so even used stuff should be in decent shape.

For myself, I like both, but don't do gigs with either. I've played drums forever, and picked up my first bass a few years ago.
Made pretty quick progress with it because I've toyed with keyboards for quite a few years too, and some of that theory knowledge transferred over to bass.
Never got real good with keyboards though.

I'd be interested in hearing where this goes for you, if you care to keep us updated.

Zeus Mutation

Senior Member
Wild Bill -

I do prefer drums once I'm playing... I mean, is there any comparison? LOL
Bass is similar in rhythm, but totally different to my mind... I pick up my bass daily now, and I never, ever, tap out on my practice pad. I know, terrible habit.

The deal is I've only recently, the last 5 months, focused on the bass. I've owned one for 6 years... dabbled here & there, but it never clicked. I approached it too technically I think. I couldn't get that free flowing "just go for it" attitude as with the drums. I was over thinking it. I've had bass lessons too... I knew about the major scale, triads, arpeggios, and memorized all the notes... but, still It was a locked door. One day, it just all of a sudden made sense and I can't put it down now.

I do have another smaller kit, Tama Rockstar. I bought it used & complete for $200 bucks, the wrap is warping, lot's of scratches, but the shell's are in great shape otherwise. They sound pretty decent too.
I wanted something I could leave at peoples practice spaces and not worry about em.
I can live with lessor drums, but never lessor cymbals!

I plan to continue playing both... If I had a rig I'd try playing bass with people too... I can play 10-12 songs on bass close to perfect against the recordings. Plus 12 bar blues patterns, I know that's nothing special, just saying...

The Ludwigs are beautiful, the powerful sound is awesome!

I live in a poorly built condo, in a gated community, with an over-active HOA. lol. My neighbors are cool and said I can play away, but I know it's intrusive to them... they're just being nice. That said, I don't like lugging them to play for two hours or so once a week. So they sit set up in my living room, my wife is awesome!

So, maybe I'll see what GC will give me for the shells... and go from there. They come with custom cases too.

I've started to play the drums twice a week with a guy... and I'm trying out for this other project on Thursday. If I can get into that, maybe I'll start playing 4 times a week... That'd be best. 4 days of drumming, 3 days of bass playing.

Zeus Mutation

Senior Member
Drumming Sort of Person - I was a music critic for 20 years, not professionally mind you... but once I started to play, every song I've ever heard sounded new and 10x better than before. lol