What Instrument Should I Go To College For If I Play Bass Guitar: Maximize Your Talents

Choosing the right instrument to pursue in college can be a challenging decision for bass guitar players, as there are many factors to consider and options available. In this blog post, we will explore why you might choose to continue studying bass guitar or branch out into other instruments within your music degree program.

We’ll discuss the unique qualities of bass playing, potential career paths, and various musical instruments that may complement or expand your existing skills.

Why Choose Bass Guitar And Pursue A Music Degree?

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Bass guitar is an essential instrument in any music genre, making it a versatile and in-demand choice for aspiring musicians pursuing a degree.

The Importance Of Bass In Music

The bass guitar plays a crucial role in shaping the overall sound and feel of music across various genres. As the backbone of a band, it serves to provide harmonic and rhythmic foundation, seamlessly bridging the gap between melody and rhythm sections.

For instance, take Paul McCartney’s unmistakable basslines on The Beatles’ tracks or Flea’s powerful contributions in Red Hot Chili Peppers – these iconic musicians have demonstrated how an adept bass player can elevate their respective bands’ sound.

The Versatility Of The Instrument

The bass guitar is an incredibly versatile instrument, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular in music. Its low range makes it a vital component of any band or ensemble.

But beyond playing in just one genre or style, there are limitless opportunities for a bassist with a variety of interests. You can explore styles such as funk, rock, jazz, blues and more.

The electric bass has also become an important instrument in pop music production over recent years – think Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic album or Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories – opening up even more doors for aspiring bassists seeking to make their mark on the industry.

Opportunities For Career Paths

Choosing to pursue a music degree in bass guitar opens doors for an array of career paths. Graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music can lead to lucrative job opportunities like becoming a professional musician, composer, arranger, conductor, educator, sound engineer or producer.

Other than these traditional roles within the industry there are other unique careers that might interest you such as film scoring which involves creating musical scores to accompany cinema productions; music therapy which uses sound/music interventions to improve patient health; and video game audio production where professionals create background music and sound effects for games.

Instruments To Consider In College For Bass Guitar Players

There are several instruments worth considering in college for bass guitar players, including double bass, electric upright bass, jazz bass, music production/engineering, music education and music therapy.

Double Bass

If you’re a bass guitar player considering pursuing a music degree, the double bass might be an excellent instrument to consider. The double bass is a large stringed instrument often played in classical and jazz music.

Like the electric bass guitar, it provides the low-end foundation for bands and orchestras. However, the double bass has unique qualities that make it stand out from other instruments.

Studying the double bass will require learning new techniques such as bowing (playing with a wooden stick known as “the bow”) and plucking (known as “pizzicato.”) You’ll also have opportunities to perform diverse genres of music, including classical pieces written explicitly for the instrument or jazz standards where improvisation is necessary.

Electric Upright Bass

The electric upright bass is a great choice for bass guitar players looking to expand their instrumental range. This instrument has a similar sound and feel to the double bass, but with the added convenience of being electric.

The electric upright bass is also an excellent option for those interested in pursuing music production or engineering as a career path. Its unique sound adds depth and richness to recordings, making it a valuable asset in any recording studio.

Jazz Bass

Jazz bass is another instrument that bass guitar players can consider pursuing in college. It has a distinct sound and style, making it a popular option for those with a passion for jazz music.

Through jazz studies programs, students can develop their improvisation skills and learn to play complex chord progressions.

One example of the success of jazz bassists is Marcus Miller who began playing the electric bass guitar before switching to double bass while playing in Miles Davis’ band.

After developing his skills further as a session musician, he became an acclaimed solo artist known for blending various genres into his music.

Music Production/Engineering

Another option for bass guitar players considering a music degree is pursuing music production or engineering. With advancements in technology, the role of the producer has become increasingly important in creating and shaping the sound of popular music.

Music producers can work with artists to develop their sound, record and mix tracks, and oversee the entire creative process.

Many universities now offer Bachelor of Music programs specialized in music production and engineering that cover topics like audio recording techniques, digital audio workstations (DAWs), studio equipment operation, mixing and mastering skills.

In addition to technical skills related to producing or engineering music, students should also have good business acumen since these fields often involve negotiating contracts with artists on behalf of record companies or managing budgets for projects they are working on.

Music Education

Another option for bass guitar players considering a music degree is music education. This involves pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, where you’ll learn how to teach students at various levels and may even have the opportunity to specialize in teaching bass guitar.

In addition, some musicians find that having a background in music education helps them better understand the mechanics behind arranging and composing songs. They can also use their skills to give back to their communities by sharing their passion with others through teaching.

Music Therapy

Music therapy is a field of study that allows musicians to use their talents and skills to help others in a therapeutic context. It involves the use of music as a tool for communication, expression, and healing, often working with people who have special needs or are dealing with emotional or physical challenges.

Bass guitar players can pursue a degree in music therapy and specialize in using their instrument to assist clients in reaching their treatment goals. Music therapists may work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, community organizations or private practices.

Music therapy requires not only strong musical abilities but also interpersonal skills such as empathy and compassion. Musicians interested in pursuing this path should consider gaining experience with diverse populations through volunteer work or internships before applying for college programs focused on this field.

Factors To Keep In Mind Before Choosing An Instrument And Degree

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Before choosing an instrument and degree, consider your personal passion and interest in music, career goals and opportunities, skills and experience with different instruments, availability of instruction and resources, musical compatibility with the chosen instrument, as well as the degree program requirements.

Personal Passion And Interest

When choosing an instrument and degree in college, it’s important to consider your personal passion and interest. As a bass guitar player, you may have already developed a love for music that goes beyond just playing the instrument.

It’s also worth exploring different genres of music and experimenting with new techniques on the bass guitar to see if there are any other instruments that spark your interest.

Career Goals And Opportunities

As a bass guitar player looking to pursue a degree in music, it’s important to consider your career goals and the opportunities available in your chosen field. While there is certainly demand for talented bassists, it can also be an extremely competitive industry with limited positions.

A popular option for bass players is to study jazz studies or performance studies, which could lead to careers as session musicians or touring artists. Another potential path is music education or therapy, which often require additional certification beyond just a bachelor’s degree but provides more job stability and opportunities to work with diverse groups of people.

Additionally, degrees focused on music technology or production are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s digital age where online collaboration and streaming services have become dominant forces in the industry.

Skills And Experience

When considering what instrument to pursue in college, it is crucial to evaluate your current skillset and experience. If you are a bass guitar player, you may have developed specific techniques and abilities that will translate well into other instruments or areas of music study.

For example, if you have strong rhythmic abilities from playing bass guitar, this could apply to drums or percussion.

It’s also important to keep in mind that regardless of the instrument or area of study chosen, developing your musicianship skills will be critically important. This means focusing on sight-reading proficiency and music theory knowledge as foundational skills for any aspiring musician.

Availability Of Instruction And Resources

When choosing an instrument and degree in college, it’s essential to consider the availability of instruction and resources. This means looking into the quality and quantity of music programs offered by colleges, as well as their faculty members’ expertise in your chosen instrument.

For example, if you plan on pursuing jazz bass studies, you may want to research colleges with a strong jazz program that regularly host guest artists or have connections to nearby venues where students can gain performance experience.

Additionally, finding private instructors who specialize in your chosen instrument can provide invaluable guidance for improving skills outside of formal coursework.

Musical Compatibility With Chosen Instrument

When it comes to choosing an instrument for your college degree, musical compatibility is a crucial factor to consider. As a bass guitar player, you might find yourself naturally drawn to instruments such as the double bass or electric upright bass that share similar playing techniques and styles.

It’s essential to keep in mind that each instrument has its unique sound, range, and technical demands. Therefore, carefully evaluating which instrument best aligns with your personal goals and preferences will help you make an informed decision.

Additionally, researching the curriculums of various music programs can give insight into what instruments are offered and how they integrate into the program requirements.

Degree Program Requirements

When selecting a degree program in music, it is essential to consider the specific requirements for each instrument. Different schools offer various concentrations, so it’s crucial to research which programs cater best to the chosen instrument.

For instance, some colleges may require bass players to take more advanced courses in jazz studies or performance studies rather than music education or composition.

In addition to this, learners should keep in mind that certain majors might be more demanding than others. Music production and technology fields require knowledge of digital audio workstations (DAWs) and software proficiency such as ProTools or Ableton Live.

Therefore if you plan on pursuing a career in music production directly after graduation, then specializing in this area is critical; otherwise other areas might be more suitable for your goals.

Preparing For College And A Career In Music

Practice regularly with the chosen instrument, study music theory and sight-reading, attend music camps and workshops, network with other musicians and professionals in the industry, explore internships and performance opportunities to gain practical experience.

Practice And Improve Skills With The Chosen Instrument

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing an instrument to pursue in college is your level of skill and experience. Once you have chosen an instrument, it’s essential that you practice consistently and work on improving your skills.

By honing your skills, you’ll be better equipped to handle the rigorous demands of a music degree program in college. Additionally, developing strong musicianship skills will provide a foundation for pursuing any number of career paths once you graduate, from performance and composition to education and production.

Learn Music Theory And Sight-Reading

Understanding music theory and being able to read sheet music are essential skills for any musician, especially those pursuing a degree in music. Music theory involves learning the rules and language of music, including scales, chords, and harmony.

Sight-reading is the ability to read sheet music on sight and play it accurately without prior practice.

Developing strong musicianship skills such as these can greatly enhance your proficiency on your chosen instrument – in this case bass guitar – as well as give you a deeper appreciation of all types of music.

Learning how to read sheet music can also help with collaboration with other musicians during performances or recording sessions.

Attend Music Camps And Workshops

Attending music camps and workshops is an excellent way for bass guitar players to improve their skills, learn new techniques, and meet other musicians. These events provide a focused and immersive environment where you can receive intensive training from experienced instructors.

Some of the best-known music camps in the United States include Interlochen Arts Camp, Berklee College of Music Summer Programs, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. For workshops, consider attending those hosted by renowned institutions such as The Juilliard School or specialized programs like Victor Wooten’s Bass/Nature Camp.

These events cover a range of topics that will help you become a well-rounded musician – from mastering your instrument to learning about industry trends and business practices.

Network With Other Musicians And Music Professionals

Networking is a crucial part of any career, and the music industry is no exception. To succeed in the music world, it’s important to connect with other musicians and music professionals.

Attend concerts and events where you can meet other people who share your passion for music.

When you’re networking, be sure to exchange contact information with fellow musicians or professionals. You never know when an opportunity may arise that requires collaboration with someone else in the industry.

Explore Internship And Performance Opportunities

When in college studying music, it is crucial to explore internship and performance opportunities. These experiences provide practical training that can enhance your skills and build a network within the industry.

Internships in studios or with music production companies give hands-on experience, while performance opportunities improve stage presence and musical adaptability.

Seek out local venues or open mic nights for performances, or join a band to gain live performance experience. Apply for internships at local recording studios to explore the behind-the-scenes of producing music.

Additionally, reaching out to professionals in your desired field for mentorship can offer valuable insights into making connections and finding job opportunities after graduation.


Choosing the right instrument and degree program for college can be a challenging decision, especially for bass guitar players. However, it’s important to remember that with passion, hard work, and dedication anything is possible.

Consider factors such as personal interests, career goals, skill level, and resources available when making your decision. Whether you choose to pursue double bass or music production/engineering, always strive to improve your musicianship skills through practice and learning music theory.


1. What other instruments can someone who plays bass guitar consider studying in college?

Some popular options include electric and acoustic guitar, drums, keyboard or piano, saxophone, and trumpet.

2. How do I determine which instrument to study alongside bass guitar in college?

Consider your personal interests and goals as well as the musical genres you enjoy playing most often. Additionally, research the requirements for programs at various colleges to see what additional instruments they offer courses for.

3. Will studying another instrument help me become a better bass player?

Yes! Studying other instruments can increase your overall musicianship skills by improving your understanding of music theory, rhythm, melody and harmony while also helping develop new techniques which could be applied back to playing the Bass Guitar.

4. Do I have to be advanced on both instruments if I want to dual major in Bass Guitar & another instrument at College level?

It is not mandatory but generally it is recommended that students have some proficiency on both instruments so they will not fall behind or struggle with parts upon entering college-level coursework classes.. If you are admitted into a program where dual majors are offered then there will likely be an expectation that you’re proficient enough on each instrument before beginning college level coursework – this may differ depending upon instructor philosophy however since expectations may vary widely across institutions we recommend checking specific admission criteria carefully before making any decisions about the process moving forward.

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