The bass guitar is an electrified string instrument used for producing low musical sounds in various genres of music. Generally composed of four, five or six strings tuned an octave lower than standard electric guitars, its main purpose is producing deep musical vibrations with each note played.
Solid-body basses are the most frequently encountered type of bass guitars. These instruments may feature either bolt-on or set-neck (Gibson-style) features.
Body & Neck
Bass guitars differ from their electric or acoustic cousins in that they feature four strings tuned an octave lower. This unique configuration makes bass guitars vital components in bands as they help establish rhythmic patterns within songs. Furthermore, basses tend to sound warmer and mellower than other guitars within bands, providing a foundation upon which other instruments may build upon.
A bass guitar’s neck is typically constructed of wood or other lightweight materials such as graphite. Additionally, they feature a fretboard with markers to show where strings should be positioned when played; on some basses this feature may be combined with an adjustable bridge assembly which fastens them directly to their bodies for even further tonal adjustments.
Many bassists opt for using a pick when playing, which yields sharper sound than plucking it with one’s fingers. Some even combine picking with muting techniques for unique tones. Furthermore, where one hits on the fretboard can also influence how each note sounds; oftentimes hitting closer to the bridge will create deeper and fuller sounds than hitting further up the neck.
A bassist’s primary function is to set and sustain the beat of each song, using chords unique to that tune to do this. By moving from chord to chord in an unbroken rhythmic pattern, they help guide other musicians into playing as one collective unit; and provide rhythmic drive which drummers can build off of.
When purchasing a bass, it’s important to keep in mind that while wood type will have an effect on tone, electronics such as pickups and bass amplifiers have more of an effect than that. Therefore, we advise against becoming fixated on finding “the ideal bass.”
Bass guitars contain electromagnetic pickups that convert string vibrations into electrical signals, which are then relayed by a preamp and amplifier into sound of the bass itself. Pickup quality and placement play a vital role when it comes to shaping tone – pickings that have high quality components will result in distinct sounds for an unforgettable bass playing experience.
Solid-body electric basses and acoustic-electric bass guitars are the two primary categories of bass guitars. Solid-body basses feature a cavity in which all electronics such as electromagnetic pickup(s), controls and preamps can be housed; such a setup allows the instrument to plug directly into standard amplifiers that amplify low frequencies.
Acoustic-electric basses feature hollow bodies to enable vibrations from strings to travel freely through them and into an amplifier, producing similar sounds but not producing the same quality of sound production as electric basses.
Your choice of bass depends on both your preferences and playing style. For easy playability in larger venues, an electric bass may be best; among the popular options include Yamaha BB-8, Ibanez SRM805 and ESP LTD B-1005 models.
Fretless basses provide another excellent choice. While playing fretless bass may require slightly more precision when it comes to note fingering, its versatility is unsurpassed and has been used by artists such as Jaco Pastorius, Les Claypool of Primus, and Bernard Odum (James Brown’s bassist) to craft some of the most iconic sounds ever heard in music history.
As another way of altering the sound of a bass guitar, an effects pedal – which acts as a device that modifies audio signals – can provide distinct tones like growling low-end or more subtle midrange notes. These effects pedals should usually be placed between your bass guitar and amplifier for best results.
Preamps & Pickups
Bass guitars, unlike their acoustic counterparts, are electric instruments and require amplifiers in order to produce usable sound. Once plugged into an amp, solid-body electric bass guitars can produce any volume desired when connected via headphones and may come equipped with onboard controls such as bass and tone knobs for tonal flexibility. Furthermore, these instruments may feature active or passive pickups depending on personal taste or musical genre preferences.
Passive pickups act as simple transducers that convert electrical signals into soundwaves; active pickups employ a preamp module which boosts electric signals before sending them out to an amplifier, creating more dynamic range in an active bass guitar while having lower output than its passive counterpart.
Some basses feature humbucking pickups, which use two coils to cancel electromagnetic interference (EMI) and produce a rich and full tone. A bass guitar with these pickups can be used across many musical genres but is particularly well suited to heavy metal and other genres that demand strong yet deep tones.
Bass guitar pickup types that are commonly found include single-coil pickups with bright, snappy tones. These pickups can often be found on precision and jazz basses and offer players looking for versatile tones an alternative choice. Some basses even incorporate both types of pickups – known as split-coils – offering both humbuckers as well as single-coils without losing brightness of sound quality.
The standard 4-string solid-body electric bass guitar is the most frequently seen type. This instrument can feature either passive or active pickup and come in various shapes, sizes and finishes; you may even find short scale basses designed specifically for smaller players or genres.
Although acoustic basses may not be as portable, advances in amplification technology has made them more suitable for live performances. Crafted from wood such as maple or rosewood, these instruments come with various finishes available – some intended solely to be played unplugged; others can be amplified via onboard speakers or through external sound systems.
As an amateur or professional bassist on the road for gigs, or a hobbyist whose guitar rarely leaves the house, ensuring your investment remains safe requires quality protection for its voyage. Gig bags, hard cases, or other styles protect against damage while preserving dust-free operation of your instrument in transit.
Selecting an appropriate bass case depends on its size and weight as well as how often you will transport it. If gigs will only occur once every few months or less frequently, soft cases such as gig bags may be suitable options because of their lightweight portability.
Hard cases provide more protection than bags and can be locked for added security. They come in both generic models that fit any bass as well as custom molded ones designed to specifically fit certain shapes of basses; custom cases tend to provide better protection as they will keep your guitar from shifting around within its confines and potentially becoming damaged during transportation.
Gator GW-Bass Laminated Wood Bass Case is an excellent option for musicians who travel frequently and require a case that will withstand air travel and road trips. Featuring rugged 3-ply cross-grained Luan wood construction covered with tough vinyl for durability, attractive contrast stitching, comfortable matching handle, metal feet on bottom and sides to protect floors, plush interior accessory compartment, heavy-duty latches & locks for security, plus heavy-duty latches & locks to secure contents, this case features rugged 3-ply cross-grained Luan wood construction covered by vinyl for durability & more!
The Headlock design keeps your bass safely strapped in during transport, protecting against both side and rear impacts that could break its neck. Integral ABS panels and Hypalon piping (the same material used to manufacture inflatable military rafts) add strength while making this case significantly lighter than its traditional counterparts of equal thickness. Most MONO cases are also Tick-ready so you can add the Classic Tick Accessory Case as extra protection; browse Reverb to find one perfect case!