Originally Posted by alparrott
I actually learned bass before picking up drums, but I consider drums my primary instrument. Like you, I think my hands are a bit small to bridge octaves and major chords on a 34" scale. However, I'm pretty much done growing (chuckle), so I don't think it's getting any easier. I do play quite a bit, and not just for amusement any more, I do play bass in a local group as the opportunity presents.
How much time you put into it will pretty much determine what you get out of it. So what do you want out of it?
If learning music theory (chord structure and such) is your goal, while you *can* learn those things on the bass, guitar and piano are more "gateway" instruments because they are normally played by playing chords. The bass uses chords and scales mostly to compose basslines; it's rarer to play more than one or two notes simultaneously.
However, the bass is kind of the bridge between the rhythmic and melodic/chordal worlds. In my mind, it's a logical choice, and you *can* pick up some of the knowledge you are looking for playing it. But probably only as much as you apply yourself. There are many bassists who learn songs by tab only and know nothing of the theory behind their instrument - - similar to the reading vs. non-reading controversy that sometimes flares up in these pages.
I'm not really interested in music theory... I just know it's good to learn more than one instrument, and bass seemed like a good choice. I'm sorta just trying to expand my musical knowledge, and get experience with a variety of instruments, while still keeping drums my primary. (I play a bit of piano too... Nothing serious though.)