This is an understandable confusion, as both instruments occupy the same frequency band—i.e. they both have low-down sounds. They also tend to work together to create the rhythm part, so their notes often overlap and they make a similar musical contribution in the band.

Here are a few things which can help you distinguish bass guitar from bass drum:

1. Bass Guitar Pitch vs. Bass Drum Pitch

The bass drum will always have the same pitch, while the bass guitar will play different notes.

People generally have more difficulty hearing differences in pitch with these low notes than with higher instruments (e.g. a singer, guitar, piano, etc.), so this may not be obvious at first. But practice listening to bass guitar (e.g. with the sound clips from our Bass Tone series) and your ear will get better at tracking pitch in t