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Encyclopedia > Electric bass guitar
Bass guitars typically have four strings instead of six as found on regular guitars. Pictured is a Fender Jazz Bass.
Bass guitars typically have four strings instead of six as found on regular guitars. Pictured is a Fender Jazz Bass.

A bass guitar (also called an electric bass, electric bass guitar, or simply a bass) is an electric string instrument similar in appearance to the guitar, but with a larger body, commonly four strings, a longer scale neck and tuned an octave lower in pitch than a guitar. There are also acoustic bass guitars. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (368x1250, 55 KB)Fender Jazz Bass. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (368x1250, 55 KB)Fender Jazz Bass. ... The Fender logo, often called the spaghetti logo. ... The Jazz Bass was the second bass model created by Leo Fender. ... A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. ... A guitar is a stringed musical instrument. ... Scale (botany) Scale (zoology) Scale (medical) Scale (music) Scale (measurement) Scale (chemical) Scale (social sciences) Scale (spatial) Scale (computing) Order of magnitude Logarithmic scale Scale model Architects scale Engineers scale This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same... In music, pitch is the perception of the frequency of a note. ... Modern acoustic bass guitars The acoustic bass guitar is a popular modern term to describe an acoustic musical instrument based on the configuration of basses pioneered by Leo Fenders electric Precision Bass. ...

Contents


Overview

The instrument is a descendant of the double bass (a cousin of the violin and viola da gamba) and shares design attributes of the electric guitar and features in common with a range of other bass instruments. Electric basses may be fretted or fretless, although fretted basses are more common. Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... The pitches of open strings on a violin The violin is a bowed stringed musical instrument that has four strings tuned a perfect fifth apart, the lowest being the G just below middle C. It is the smallest and highest-tuned member of the violin family of string instruments, which... Various Viola da gamba The viol or viola da gamba family of musical instruments is related to the vihuela, rebec, etc. ... An electric guitar is a type of guitar with a solid or semi-solid body that utilizes electronic pickups to convert the vibration of the steel-cored strings into electrical current. ... There are a range of musical instruments that can be collectively be regarded as bass instruments. ...


The electric bass, in contrast to the upright bass (or double bass), is played while being held horizontally across the body. Unlike the double bass, it is not played with a bow; instead it is usually plucked with the fingers (and sometimes also the thumb) or a plectrum (pick). A plectrum (plural: plectra) is a device for plucking or strumming a stringed instrument. ...


In electric basses, as with the electric guitar, the vibrations of the instrument's metal strings within the magnetic field of the permanent magnets in the pickups (pickups), produce small variations in the magnetic flux threading the coils of the pickups. This in turn produces small electrical voltages in the coils. These low-level signals are then amplified and played through a speaker. A less common variant of pickup uses one or more piezoelectric elements usually in the bridge assembly directly to sense the mechanical vibrations of the strings. Various electronic components, and the configuration of the amplifier and speaker, can be used to alter the basic sound of the instrument. A pickup device acts as a transducer that captures mechanical vibrations (usually from suitably equipped stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, electric bass guitar or violin) and converts them to an electronic signal which can be amplified and recorded. ... Piezoelectricity is the ability of certain crystals to produce a voltage when subjected to mechanical stress. ...


The electric bass is the standard bass instrument in many musical genres, including country, jazz, many flavors of rock and roll, soul, funk, and modern orchestral music. Musical genres are categories which contain music which share a certain style or which have certain elements in common. ... Country music, also called country and western music or country-western, is an amalgam of popular musical forms developed in the Southern United States, with roots in traditional folk music, Celtic Music, Blues, Gospel music, and Old-time music. ... Jazz master Louis Armstrong remains one of the most loved and best known of all jazz musicians. ... Rock and roll (also spelled Rock n Roll, especially in its first decade), also called rock, is a form of popular music, usually featuring vocals (often with vocal harmony), electric guitars and a strong back beat; other instruments, such as the saxophone, are common in some styles. ... Soul music is a combination of rhythm and blues and gospel which began in the late 1950s in the United States. ... Funk is a distinct style of music originated by African-Americans, e. ...


Etymology

There is much debate among musicians and fans of the instrument about what to call the instrument. While "bass guitar" (pronounced "base") is, generally speaking, a more common term among non-musicians, others prefer "electric bass guitar," "electric bass," or simply "bass." Many are happy to use the terms interchangeably but some express a strong preference for one or other of them.


Fender's early dominance in the market for mass produced bass guitars led to the widespread use of the term "Fender bass" to describe the instrument. After the prominent bassist Carol Kaye published her popular bass instructional book in 1969, entitled How To Play The Electric Bass, musicians's unions in the United States followed suit, changing the name from Fender Bass to "Electric Bass" in their directories. Additionally, with the plethora of alternative manufacturers producing similar instruments, the term "Fender bass" has largely fallen out of use. The Fender logo, often called the spaghetti logo. ... Carol Kaye is a bass guitarist who has worked with many artists since the 1960s. ...


Modern bass playing draws on both guitar and double bass for inspiration as well as an increasing vernacular of its own. The vernacular is the native language of a country or locality. ...


History

The necessity for a louder individual bass instrument can be traced back to the 1920s. Jazz combos had double basses accompanying banjos, brass and woodwind sections, pianos, and drums. Simply being heard was hard, and transporting a double bass was harder. Jazz master Louis Armstrong remains one of the most loved and best known of all jazz musicians. ... Old 6-string zither banjo 4-string banjos The banjo is a stringed instrument of African-American origin, early or original examples sometimes being called the gourd banjo. Its name is commonly thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term mbanza. ... A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose tone is produced by vibration of the lips as the player blows into a tubular resonator (mouthpiece). ... A woodwind instrument is a musical instrument in which sound is produced by blowing through a mouthpiece against an edge or by a vibrating reed, and in which the pitch is varied by opening or closing holes in the body of the instrument. ... A grand piano A piano is a keyboard instrument, widely used in western music for solo performance, chamber music, and accompaniment, and also as a convenient aid to composing and rehearsal. ... For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). ...


The Audiovox Manufacturing Company in Seattle, Washington had an upright solidbody electric bass on the market by February 1935, designed by Paul H. Tutmarc, a musician/teacher/instrument & amplifier maker. Audiovox's sales catalogue of around 1935-6 listed what is probably the world’s first fretted solid body electric bass played horizontally - the Model #736 Electric Bass Fiddle. The change to a "guitar" form and the addition of frets made the instrument much easier (and more precise) to play. Nickname: The Emerald City Motto: Official website: http://www. ...


The first mass-produced electric bass was developed by innovator and manufacturer Leo Fender in the early 1950s. Fender trained as an accountant and was a self-taught electrical engineer who started repairing radios and built P.A. systems before getting into the electronics and amplification of electric instruments. Ironically, Leo Fender could not even play guitar or bass: by his own admission, "not a note." Clarence Leonidas Fender (August 10, 1909 - March 21, 1991) was an American luthier who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, now known as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, and later founded G&L Musical Products (G&L Guitars). ... Accountancy (British English) or accounting (American English) is the process of maintaining, auditing, and processing financial information for business purposes. ...


The Fender Precision Bass was first offered in 1951. Named for the exact intonation a player could achieve with its fretted neck, the Precision Bass was equipped with a single piece, four-pole pickup, and a simple, uncontoured 'slab' body design. In 1954 the body was contoured with beveled edges for comfort. In 1957, the pickup was changed to a single "split pickup" (staggered) design. The pickguard also underwent a radical change, as did the headstock. The Fender Precision Bass, known as P-bass for short, is an early model of the electric bass designed by (Leonidas Clarence Fender) on the electronics and his team crafting the body and neck, and brought to market in 1951. ...


This 1957 design has remained as the standard electric bass, and is still widely available. Another industry standard, the similar, but more highly-engineered Fender Jazz Bass, was introduced in 1960. These designs have become so ubiquitous that pickups based on the ones found on the Precision and Jazz basses are often referred to as "P" or "J", respectively. (Fender also produced a six-string bass, the Fender VI, in the 1960s, although it was tuned higher than a modern six-string bass.) A Fender VI on a stand The Fender VI was a six-string electric bass developed by Fender in 1961 as Fenders take on Danelectros 1956 concept. ...


Following Fender's lead, other companies such as Gibson, Danelectro, and many others started to produce their own version of the electric bass. Some, like the Rickenbacker 4000 series, became identified with a particular style of music. Rickenbackers were pioneered by Paul McCartney, John Entwistle, Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, and other progressive rock bassists. Gibson Guitar Corporation is one of the worlds best-known manufacturers of acoustic and electric guitars. ... Danelectro is a manufacturer of musical instruments and accessories, specializing in guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and effects units. ... Steve Howe playing a Rickenbacker guitar with the progressive rock band Yes in 1977 Rickenbacker is one of the oldest brand names in the manufacture of electric guitars. ... Paul McCartney (1964) Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born June 18, 1942) is a British singer, musician and songwriter, who first came to prominence as a member of The Beatles. ... John Alec Entwistle (October 9, 1944 – June 27, 2002) was the bass guitar player for The Who. ... Chris Squire performing in concert with Yes in 1977 Christopher Russell Edward Squire (born March 4, 1948), better known as Chris Squire is the bassist and backing vocalist for the progressive rock group Yes, and is the only member of the group to appear on every album (co-founder Jon... Geddy Lee (30th Anniversary tour photo 2004) Gary Lee Weinrib OC (b. ... Progressive rock (shortened to prog, or prog rock when differentiating from other progressive genres) is an ambitious, eclectic, and often grandiose style of rock music which arose in the late 1960s, reached the peak of its popularity in the early 1970s, and continues as a musical form to this day. ...


In 1971 Alembic established the template for what would subsequently be known as "high end" electric bass. Key design elements included active electronics, premium woods, and multi-laminate neck-through-body construction. Other innovations by Alembic included the world’s first graphite neck bass and the first production 5 string bass with a low B string - both in 1976. Most bass historians would agree that the most important event in the history of the electric bass was the introduction of the Precision Bass by Fender in 1951. ...


The first low B string on a bass appeared in 1975, when Fodera collaborated with Anthony Jackson to create a new six-string electric bass. Fodera Bass Guitars Fodera Basses are made in the Fodera Shop in Brooklyn, New York. ... Anthony Jackson, (born 1952) is a contemporary American electric bass player based in New York City. ...


Early uses of the instrument saw bassists doubling the double bass part or replacing that instrument entirely with their new, more portable and easily amplified alternative. The upright double bass became functionally obsolete for a while in many kinds of popular music, allowing bassists to move further up front in the band mix, both visually and audibly. However, the improvement in pickups and amplifier designs for electro-acoustic horizontal and upright basses as well as the trend for "unplugged" performances has led to a revival in interest in the upright bass and the increase in choices for acoustic-electric basses. MTV Unplugged is a series showcasing popular musical artists playing acoustic instruments. ... Modern acoustic bass guitars The acoustic bass guitar is a popular modern term to describe an acoustic musical instrument based on the configuration of basses pioneered by Leo Fenders electric Precision Bass. ...


Innovations and refinements continue through to the present day.


Design considerations

The classic 4-string Fender bass designs remain popular choices. In some musical settings departing from these de facto standards is discouraged.


General open-mindedness toward new technologies and musical instrument design as well as appreciation of fine lutherie by bassists has given the modern bass player a wide range of choices when choosing an instrument. Design options include: A luthier is someone who builds or repairs stringed instruments, that are either bowed or plucked. ...


Body

Bodies are typically made of wood although other materials such as graphite (for example, some of the Steinberger designs) have also been used. A wide variety of woods are suitable - the most common include alder, mahogany and ash. The choice of body material and shape can have a significant impact on the timbre of the completed instrument as well as aesthetic considerations. Other design considerations include: Graphite (named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789, from the Greek γραφειν: to draw/write, for its use in pencils) is one of the allotropes of carbon. ... Steinberger refers to a series of distinctive musical instruments, designed and originally manufactured by Ned Steinberger. ... Species About 20-30 species, see text. ... Genera and Species Entandophragma - Sapele - Utile or African Mahogany Guarea - Pink Mahogany Khaya - Ivory Coast Mahogany - Senegal Mahogany Swietenia - Honduras Mahogany - West Indian Mahogany Toona - Indian Mahogany - Chinese Mahogany The name Mahogany was first used in the New World for three trees of the genus Swietenia, namely (West Indian Mahogany... Species Many, see text. ... In music, timbre, also timber, (French, IPA /tæmbÉ™r/ as in the first two syllables of tambourine) is the quality of a musical note or sound which distinguishes different types of sound production or musical instruments. ... Aesthetics (or esthetics) (from the Greek word αισθητική) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty. ...

  • A wide range of colored or clear lacquer, wax and oil finishes exploiting the amazing variety of natural wood forms
  • Various flat and carved industrial designs for different types of both traditional and exotic woods, large percentage of luthier-produced unique instruments (affecting weight, balance and aesthetics)
  • Headed and headless (with tuning done at the bridge) designs
  • Several artificial materials developed especially for instrument building, most notable being luthite
  • Unique production techniques for artificial materials, including die-casting for cost-effective complex body shapes

One further variable is the solidity of the body. Most basses have solid bodies but variations include chambers for increased resonance or to reduce weight. Basses are also built with entirely hollow bodies. Many of these have enough volume for unamplified performance and are discussed in the article on acoustic bass guitars. A luthier is someone who is capable of crafting and repairing any of the many types of stringed instruments. ... Modern acoustic bass guitars The acoustic bass guitar is a popular modern term to describe an acoustic musical instrument based on the configuration of basses pioneered by Leo Fenders electric Precision Bass. ...


Number of strings (and tuning)

Note positions on a right-handed 4-string bass
Note positions on a right-handed 4-string bass

The standard design electric bass has four strings, tuned E, A, D, G (with the fundamental frequency of the E string set at 41.3 Hz, the same as the lowest string on the double bass). Modern variants include: Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1402x268, 53 KB) This work is copyrighted. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1402x268, 53 KB) This work is copyrighted. ...

  • Five strings (normally B, E, A, D, G but sometimes E, A, D, G, C)
  • Six strings (B, E, A, D, G, C or B, E, A, D, G, B—although E, A, D, G, B, E has also been used). Basses with seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and even twelve (untripled) strings are also available (see also extended-range bass.
  • Double and triple courses of strings (eg, an 8-string bass would be strung Ee, Aa, Dd, Gg while a 12 string bass might be Eee Aaa Ddd Ggg, with standard pitch strings augmented by two strings an octave higher)
  • Tenor bass: A, D, G, C
  • Piccolo bass: e, a, d, g (an octave higher than standard bass tuning—same as the bottom four strings of a guitar)
  • Sub Contra bass : C#, F#, B, E (C# being at 18 hz and the E string being the same as the E string found on standard basses)
  • Detuners, commonly called Hipshots, allow one or more strings to be easily adjusted while playing (most commonly used to give the option of dropping the E string down to D on a four string bass). This type of tuning peg is descended from the Scruggs peg, used on banjos.

The Extended-Range Bass, (ERB) as a term, refers to an electric bass guitar with more range (usually meaning more strings, but sometimes additional frets are added for more range) than the standard 4-string bass guitar. ... Detuners are mechanical devices used to simplify the retuning of a stringed instrument during performance. ... allows you to tune out of standard instrument range- (refer to detuners) ... Old 6-string zither banjo 4-string banjos The banjo is a stringed instrument of African-American origin, early or original examples sometimes being called the gourd banjo. Its name is commonly thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term mbanza. ...

Pickups

"P"-style split pickups
"P"-style split pickups

The earliest basses had a single coil, but later split coil magnetic pickup. Modern choices include: Image File history File links Bassguitarpickups. ... Image File history File links Bassguitarpickups. ...

  • Active or passive electronics (active circuits use a battery (usually a 9V PP3) to boost the signal and/or provide active equalization)
  • Magnetic pickup type (single coil, split coil, dual coil "humbucker", triple coil "humbucker")

Pickup type:

  • "P-" pickups (name taken from the original Fender Precision) are actually two distinct single-coil halves, wired in opposite direction to reduce hum, each offset a small amount along the length of the body so that each half is underneath two strings.
  • "J-" pickups (name taken from the original Fender Jazz) are wider single-coil pickups which lie underneath all four strings.
  • Soapbar pickups, found, for example, in MusicMan basses, are the same height as a J pickup, but about twice as wide (much like an electric guitar's humbucker). The name comes from the rectangular shape being similar to a bar of soap.
  • Non-magnetic systems, eg. piezos or the innovative new optical systems (by Lightwave Systems) allowing the bassist to use non-metallic strings
  • Pickup configuration. Many inexpensive basses (as well as older/vintage basses) have just one pickup (typically a "P" or "J"), but multiple pickups are also quite common, the two most common configurations being a P near the neck and a J near the bridge (e.g. Fender Precision Deluxe), or two J pickups (e.g. Fender Jazz). For single pickup systems, the placement of the pickup greatly affects the sound, with a pickup near the neck joint thought to sound "fatter" or "warmer" while a pickup near the bridge is thought to sound "tighter" or "sharper."

Frets

The majority of basses use frets to break the fingerboard into semitone divisions, although fretless basses are also widely available. The original Fender basses had 20 frets but some modern basses have 24 or more frets covering a range of two or more octaves per string. The neck of a guitar showing the first four frets. ... The musical interval of a half step, semitone, or minor second is the relationship between the leading tone and the first note (the root or tonic) in a major scale. ... In music, an octave (sometimes abbreviated 8ve or 8va) is the interval between one musical note and another with half or double the frequency. ...


There are also further variations on the theme of frets. Some fretless basses have 'fret lines' inlaid in the fingerboard either because they have been converted from fretted necks or as an aid to intonation. Some fretted basses feature a "zero fret" on the fingerboard just in front of the nut, which is alleged to offer tonal and setup advantages. Some fretted basses have scalloped fret boards for easier string bending. Intonation is a term used to cover particular uses of tones in linguistics and music. ...


In addition to frets, many basses have further markers inlaid into the neck as a guide to position. A typical arrangement would be single dots below the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th frets and double dots at the 12th fret, all repeated at the equivalent positions an octave higher. However, there are many variations, including decorative shapes, large blocks and small dots on the side of the neck.


Adding to the many choices is a decision for a bass player to use a fretted or fretless instrument. Fretless basses are known for the smoothness of glissando and similarity in tone to the double bass, but require precise fingering. Jaco Pastorius was one of the players to bring the fretless bass into the spotlight, having created the instrument (which was at that time unavailable on the market) himself by physically pulling the frets out of a fretted bass and then filling in the grooves in the neck with plastic wood and coating it with marine epoxy. This procedure is still utilized by some players who wish to convert their fretted bass to a fretless one. Fretted basses remain the common choice although some bassists own both types of instrument. Glissando (plural: glissandi) is a musical term that refers to either a continuous sliding from one pitch to another (a true glissando), or an incidental scale played while moving from one melodic note to another (an effective glissando). ... Jaco Pastorius, born John Francis Pastorius III (December 1, 1951 – September 21, 1987) was a jazz bassist and composer, notable for his virtuoso technique and playing style. ... Epoxy or polyepoxide is a thermosetting epoxide polymer that cures when mixed with a catalyzing agent or hardener. Most common epoxy resins are produced from a reaction between epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A. The first commercial attempts to prepare resins from epichlorohydrin occurred in 1927 in the United States. ...


Occasionally, strings wound with tape are used on the fretless bass to avoid the metal strings wearing down the wooden fingerboard. The fingerboard, also known as a fretboard, is a part of most stringed instruments. ...


Playing styles

Sitting or standing

Most bass players stand while playing, although sitting is also accepted, particularly in jazz band, orchestral, or other large ensemble settings. It is a matter of the player's preference as to which position gives the greatest ease of playing, and what a bandleader expects. When sitting the instrument can be balanced on the right thigh, or like classical guitar players, the left. Balancing the bass on the left thigh positions it in such a way that it mimicks the standing position, allowing for less difference between the standing and sitting positions.


Plectra vs. fingers or thumb

Most bassists prefer to pluck the instrument's strings with the fingers but some also use plectra (often called picks). Picks also come in many shapes, sizes and thickness. This often varies according to the musical genre—very few funk bassists use plectrums, while they are almost a necessity for punk rock. Using a plectrum typically gives the bass a brighter, more punchy sound, whilst playing with fingers makes the sound more soft and round. Some bassists use their fingernails flamenco-style to provide some compromise between playing fingerstyle and using a pick. Bassists trying to emulate the sound of a double bass will often pluck the strings with their thumb, and use their fingers to anchor their hand. A plectrum (plural: plectra) is a device for plucking or strumming a stringed instrument. ... Musical genres are categories which contain music which share a certain style or which have certain elements in common. ... Funk is a distinct style of music originated by African-Americans, e. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... A plectrum (plural: plectra) is a device for plucking or strumming a stringed instrument. ...


James Jamerson, one of the most influential bassists ever, was well-known for his work in many popular Motown songs and is widely considered one of the greatest, most musical bassists of all time. Jamerson played the bass with only his index finger (which gained him the nickname "The Hook") but created intricate bass lines that have proven challenging even for modern bassists using the more usual two-fingered (typically index and middle) technique. James Jamerson (c. ... Motown Records, Inc. ...


Right hand support and position

Variations in style also occur in where a bassist rests his right-hand thumb. A player may rest his thumb on the top edge of one of the pickups. One may also rest his thumb on the side of the fretboard, which is especially common among bassist who have an upright bass influence. Also, bassists with more than 4 string basses may utilize a low string which isn't often used as a thumb rest. By resting their thumb to anchor their hand while they use their index and middle fingers, bassists create a fuller and louder sound. Early Fender models also came with a "thumbrest" attached to the pickguard, below the strings. Contrary to its name, this was not used to rest the thumb, but to rest the fingers while using the thumb to pluck the strings. The thumbrest was moved above the strings in 70's models, and eliminated entirely in the 80's.


Striking or plucking position

Bassists also have different preferences as to where on the string they pluck the notes. While the influential bassist Jaco Pastorius and many with him preferred to pluck them very close to the bridge for a bright and sharp sound, many prefer the rounder sound they get by plucking closer to the neck, mostly near the neck pickup. Geezer Butler, among others, plucks the strings over the higher frets. Jaco Pastorius, born John Francis Pastorius III (December 1, 1951 – September 21, 1987) was a jazz bassist and composer, notable for his virtuoso technique and playing style. ... Terence Geezer Butler (born 17 July 1949 in Birmingham, England) is the long time bassist for the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. ...


'Slap and pop' and related techniques

The famous slap and pop method, in which notes and percussive sounds are created by slapping the string with the thumb and releasing strings with a snap, was pioneered by Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone in the 1960s and early 1970s. In the 1970s Stanley Clarke developed Graham's technique further, adding the popping and speed that are a hallmark of contemporary playing. Today, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers exemplifies slap and pop with a foundation in funk, and Les Claypool of Primus is known for playing extremely complex slap and pop basslines. In music, the term slapping is often used to refer to two different though related playing techniques on the double bass and on the (electric) bass guitar. ... Larry Graham, Jr. ... Sly & The Family Stone, circa 1969. ... Stanley Clarke (born 30 June 1951) is an American musician known for his innovative and influential work on double bass and bass guitar. ... Michael Balzary aka Flea Flea (born Michael Peter Balzary on October 16, 1962 in Burwood, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia) is the bassist for the alternative funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers. ... The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a Californian rapcore / Funk-Rock movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s. ... Funk is a distinct style of music originated by African-Americans, e. ... Les on stage with Primus in 2004 Leslie Les Edward Claypool is a bassist and lead singer, best known for his work with the alternative rock band Primus. ... Primus is a rock band formed in California in the mid-1980s. ...


An even more recent development is the two-handed tapping style, where both hands play notes by tapping the string to the fret. This makes it possible to play contrapuntally, or to play complicated chords and arpeggios. Since this gives the bass a wide audio spectral range and a brighter sound, it is mostly used by bass players who act as the lead in their music. Notable examples are Stuart Hamm, whose music is metal-oriented, as well as Victor Wooten and Michael Manring, who have a more jazzy/new age style. Counterpoint is a musical technique involving the simultaneous sounding of separate musical lines. ... Stuart Hamm (born February 8, 1960) is a bass player. ... Victor Wooten Victor Lemonte Wooten (born September 11, 1964) is a highly respected electric bass guitar player and is regarded by many of his peers as one of the finest players to emerge in the 1990s. ... Michael Manring is an electric bassist from the Bay Area (Northern California). ... Jazz master Louis Armstrong remains one of the most loved and best known of all jazz musicians. ... New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. ...


Tony Levin, the longtime bassist for King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, pioneered the use of two wooden dowels (called "funk fingers"), which are affixed with velcro to the index and middle finger of the right hand and used to strike the strings of the bass, producing a percussive attack and timbre similar to the "slap and pop". Tony Levin (born June 6, 1946) is an influential and prominent bass player. ... The famous cover of King Crimsons debut album In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), painted by Barry Godber. ... Cover art from the album So, Gabriels biggest commercial success Peter Brian Gabriel (born February 13, 1950, in Cobham, Surrey) is an English musician. ... Velcro is a brand name of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners used for connecting objects. ... In music, timbre, also timber, (French, IPA /tæmbər/ as in the first two syllables of tambourine) is the quality of a musical note or sound which distinguishes different types of sound production or musical instruments. ...


Amplification and effects

An electric bass must be amplified to be audible in a live setting. The choice of amplification will have a significant impact on the bassist's overall sound.

2 x 10" stacked on top of a 15" cabinet, with separate head unit
2 x 10" stacked on top of a 15" cabinet, with separate head unit

Bass amplifiers may be categorised as either: bass amplifier stack An Acoustic 360 head with two Anthony Eden bass loudspeaker cabinets. ... bass amplifier stack An Acoustic 360 head with two Anthony Eden bass loudspeaker cabinets. ...

  • combo units - the amplifier and speaker combined in a single unit; or
  • head and speaker (or "cabinet") - amplifier and speaker are separate.

Head units may, in turn, be either:

  • integrated units, in which the preamplifier and power amplifier are combined in a single unit; or
  • separate pre/power setups, in which one or more preamplifiers are used to drive one or more power amplifiers.

Amplifiers may be based on solid state (transistor) or thermionic ("tube" or "valve") technology. Tube amps are generally regarded as giving a warmer, more natural sound while solid state amps are lighter and lower maintenance, but this is an area of much debate. A common setup is the use of a tube preamplifier with a solid state power amplifier. There are also an increasing range of products that use digital modelling technology to simulate many different combinations of amp and cabinet choices. In physics, the solid state is one of the three phases of matter (solid, liquid, and gas). ... Thermionic emission is the flow of electrons from a metal or metal oxide surface, caused by thermal vibrational energy overcoming the electrostatic forces holding electrons to the surface. ...


Loudspeakers

The requirement to reproduce low frequencies at high sound pressure levels means that most loudspeakers used for bass guitar amplification are designed around large diameter drivers, with 10", 12" and 15" being most common. Some speakers are 18" or larger, while there are also commercially available systems using drivers of 8" or smaller. Sound pressure level (SPL) or sound level Lp is a logarithmic measure of a particular noise relative to a reference noise source. ... Closeup of a loudspeaker driver A loudspeaker, or simply speaker, is an electromechanical transducer which converts an electrical signal into sound. ...


The speakers are built into speaker cabinets, which contain one or more drivers. The sound of these cabinets is influenced not only by the choice of driver but also their construction. Bass speaker cabinets are either sealed or ported with openings designed to elicit a specific frequency response. Speaker cabinets are largely designed around a single type of driver (common examples are 1x15, 1x12 and 2x10 or 4x10). Many players stack two (or more) cabinets containing different size drivers to obtain a particular sound.


It is also common for high frequency "tweeters" to be included. These extended range designs were initially developed in the late 1970s in response to the better quality pickups and electronics being built by Alembic and other high-end manufacturers and to better reproduce the more percussive bass playing styles that were becoming popular at the time. A Sony tweeter. ...


Surveying the sites of the manufacturers mentioned below will give a good indication of the range of speaker cabinets currently available.


Amplification manufacturers

The 18 watt 1 x 12" Michael-Bell Bassamp, a closed-back amp designed specifically for upright bass, kicked off the modern era of bass amplification in the late 1940's. The upright basses were fitted with an Ampeg (short for "amplified peg") described in the 1946 patent application as a "sound amplifying means for stringed musical instruments of the violin family."


In 1949, after the Michael-Hull company break-up, the Ampeg Bassamp Company was founded by Everett Hull in New York. Ampeg is an American manufacturer of bass amplifiers, cabinets and accessories. ...


Other well known manufacturers of bass amplifiers or loudspeakers include: Accugroove loudpeakers, Acme loudpeakers, Acoustic, Aguilar, Alembic (preamps and filters), Crate, Fender, Gallien-Krueger, Hartke, SWR, Marshall, Orange, Trace Elliot, Peavey, Ashdown Engineering and Ampeg. Acoustic Control Corporation was a manufacturer of instrument amplifiers, based at Van Nuys, California. ... Aguilar is a town located in Las Animas County, Colorado. ... Most bass historians would agree that the most important event in the history of the electric bass was the introduction of the Precision Bass by Fender in 1951. ... Crate Amplifiers is a company that produces low-cost electric guitar amplifiers. ... The Fender logo, often called the spaghetti logo. ... A Gallien-Krueger is a large brand bass guitar amplifier, as used by Duff McKagan. ... Hartke Systems is a brand of electronics best known for their bass guitar amplifiers and cabinets. ... SWR is a company in Los Angeles, California, founded by Steve W. Rabe in 1984. ... Marshall amplifier Marshall Amplification is a British company which designs and manufactures electric guitar amplifiers. ... Corporate logo of Orange Amplification Usage of these images is restricted. ... Peavey may refer to: peavey tool, A logging tool used to move timber Hartley Peavey, the founder of the Peavey Electronics Corportation. ... Ashdown Engineering is a British manufacturer of instrument amplifiers, particularly for bass, but also recently moving into the guitar amp market. ... Ampeg is an American manufacturer of bass amplifiers, cabinets and accessories. ...


Effects

Due to the particular role the bass plays in modern music, effects are not commonly used compared to the electric guitar, where the use of effects is the norm. Consequently, there is a much smaller variety of bass-specific effects available. Of these, "chorus" and "compression" are the most widely used effects for bass. "Wah-wah" and "synth" bass effects are also commonly associated with funk music. Some bands have experimented with "fuzz bass" where the bass is distorted either by overdriving the amp or by using a distortion unit; heavy distortion is typical of many metal bass players. Although many of these effects sound similar to guitar effects, players often use specialized bass effects units, which are adapted to work with the lower frequency range of the bass. The chorus effect is a condition in the way people perceive nearly the same sound coming from more than one source. ... Audio level compression, also called compression or limiting, is a process that manipulates the dynamic range of an audio signal. ... Wah-wah is an imitative word for the sound of bending or altering musical notes to improve expressiveness, sounding much like a human voice saying the syllable wah for each note. ... Funk is a distinct style of music originated by African-Americans, e. ... A distortion is the (usually) undesirable alteration of the original shape (or other characteristic) of an object, image, sound, waveform or other form of information or representation. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Heavy metal music. ...


Musical role

Another variable is the differing role of the bass within different types of music, and the position in the music that bassist prefers to occupy. Paul McCartney of the Beatles tends to favor a subdued, melodic approach a little further back in the mix. Progressive rock bassists have been revolutionary by making the instrument a more important and recognizable voice in their respective bands, a trend that caught on in many bands that have followed them. John Entwistle of The Who and Jack Bruce of Cream introduced a more aggressive styles with the former's trademark trebly tone and the latter's very smooth tone. Chris Squire of Yes took the instrument one step further in the early 1970s, combining McCartney's melodicism with Entwistle's energy and employing an aggressive, overdriven tone that expanded even further the bass's role as rhythmic and harmonic foundation. Geddy Lee of Rush has been experimenting with bass chords, layered bass lines, and flamenco-style fingerpicking in the group's recent recordings. Outside of the rock genre, Jazz-funk bassist Jaco Pastorius evolved electric bass playing to a new extreme in the band Weather Report and in his own solo work. Jaco then inspired bassists such as Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey and Stu Hamm, who have taken the bass' role in music to a new extreme with the addition of many new techniques on the bass, such as "Double Thumping" and the development of techniques such as tapping. Other bassists that have moved the bass forward in their participation and role in music include Les Claypool and Marcus Miller, who have in turn inspired a promising stable of talented bassists who are even able to sing and play bass simultaneously. The bass and the drum is an inseparable duo, as the bass provides tone for the drums, and the drums provide kick and power for the bass. Paul McCartney (1964) Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born June 18, 1942) is a British singer, musician and songwriter, who first came to prominence as a member of The Beatles. ... The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 as part of their first tour of the United States, promoting their first hit single there, I Want To Hold Your Hand. ... Progressive rock (shortened to prog, or prog rock when differentiating from other progressive genres) is an ambitious, eclectic, and often grandiose style of rock music which arose in the late 1960s, reached the peak of its popularity in the early 1970s, and continues as a musical form to this day. ... John Alec Entwistle (October 9, 1944 – June 27, 2002) was the bass guitar player for The Who. ... The Who is a British rock band of 1960s and 1970s fame. ... Jack Bruce (born May 14, 1943) is a British musician; a multi-instumentalist, composer, singer and, most importantly, a very influential electric bassist. ... Cream was a seminal 1960s British rock band which featured guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker. ... Chris Squire performing in concert with Yes in 1977 Christopher Russell Edward Squire (born March 4, 1948), better known as Chris Squire is the bassist and backing vocalist for the progressive rock group Yes, and is the only member of the group to appear on every album (co-founder Jon... Yes is a progressive rock band that formed in London in 1968. ... Geddy Lee (30th Anniversary tour photo 2004) Gary Lee Weinrib OC (b. ... Rush is an acclaimed Canadian progressive rock band comprising bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Geddy Lee (real name Gary Lee Weinrib), guitarist Alex Lifeson (real name Alexander Zivojinovich), and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart (pronounced: Peert) (IPA: ). Releasing their first album in 1974, the band became known for their virtuosity of... Jaco Pastorius, born John Francis Pastorius III (December 1, 1951 – September 21, 1987) was a jazz bassist and composer, notable for his virtuoso technique and playing style. ... Victor Wooten Victor Lemonte Wooten (born September 11, 1964) is a highly respected electric bass guitar player and is regarded by many of his peers as one of the finest players to emerge in the 1990s. ... Stuart Hamm (born February 8, 1960) is a highly respected bass player, known for his session and live work with numerous artists as well for his virtuosic style of playing. ... Les on stage with Primus in 2004 Leslie Les Edward Claypool is a bassist and lead singer, best known for his work with the alternative rock band Primus. ... Marcus Miller (born June 14, 1959 in New York) is a jazz musician and composer, perhaps best known as a bass guitarist with Miles Davis and David Sanborn. ... Bass may refer to: Look up bass in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). ... For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). ... For other kinds of drums, see drum (disambiguation). ... Bass may refer to: Look up bass in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Influential bassists

There is an extensive list of bass guitarists linking to articles about many famous and influential bassists. The following are famous bass players, whose primary instrument is the electric bass, mostly in the fields of metal, rock, and jazz. ...


Influential manufacturers

The following manufacturers are among those that have produced widely regarded basses:

Most bass historians would agree that the most important event in the history of the electric bass was the introduction of the Precision Bass by Fender in 1951. ... Carl Thompson (1939 - ) is a luthier specializing in the construction of high-quality custom bass guitars, based in Brooklyn, New York. ... Danelectro is a manufacturer of musical instruments and accessories, specializing in guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and effects units. ... The Fender logo, often called the spaghetti logo. ... Fodera Bass Guitars Fodera Basses are made in the Fodera Shop in Brooklyn, New York. ... G&L is a guitar design and production company founded by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt in the late 1970s, after Leo left the company he founded and that still bears his name. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Karl Höfner GmbH is a German manufacturer of musical instruments, now part of The Music Group. ... Ibanez Jem This article is about the guitar manufacturer. ... C.F. Martin & Company is a guitar manufacturer established in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin. ... Modulus Guitars is an American manufacturer of musical instruments, most notably bass guitars built with carbon fiber necks. ... MTD may refer to: An unemployed workers movement of Argentina (Spanish Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados) — see Piquetero; A mass transit district, such as the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District; The Makkal Tamil Desam Katchi, Peoples Tamil Land Party, a political party in Tamil Nadu, India; MTD Products, Inc. ... Music Man is a guitar and bass company started by Leo Fender in 1976, after leaving Fender, which he had sold to CBS Corporation in 1965. ... Roland Sherwood Ernie Ball (1930? - September 9, 2004 in San Luis Obispo, California) was a pioneer maker of guitar strings used over the past 40 years by such guitarists as Matthew Bellamy of Muse, Daron Malakian of System of a Down, James Hetfield of Metallica, Albert Lee and Eric Clapton. ... Peavey Guitars are musical instruments manufactured by Peavey Electronics List Of Current Models Electric Guitars Hartley Peavey Signature Cropper Classic Generation EXP Generation ACM Predator Raptor Rotor EXP V-Type NTB Bass Guitars Cirrus Series 4 String 5 String 6 String Fury Grind BXP Milestone 4 String 5 String Millennium... Steve Howe playing a Rickenbacker guitar with the progressive rock band Yes in 1977 Rickenbacker is one of the oldest brand names in the manufacture of electric guitars. ... A Sadowsky Vintage 5-String in 59 Burst Sadowsky Guitars Limited (Professional Guitar Services) is a Brooklyn, New York based high-end guitar, bass guitar, and preamp manufacturer. ... This article refers to the Spector Company. ... Steinberger refers to a series of distinctive musical instruments, designed and originally manufactured by Ned Steinberger. ... Gibson Guitar Corporation is one of the worlds best-known manufacturers of acoustic and electric guitars. ... Warwick is a bass guitar company founded in Germany in 1982. ... The Yamaha Corporation (ヤマハ株式会社; TYO: 7951 ) is a Japanese company with a large number of product areas. ... Zon Guitars [1] is a manufacturer of professional-level bass guitars founded in 1981 by Joseph Zon. ...

See also

Modern acoustic bass guitars The acoustic bass guitar is a popular modern term to describe an acoustic musical instrument based on the configuration of basses pioneered by Leo Fenders electric Precision Bass. ... Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... Dean Pace 4 string EUB The electric upright bass (abbreviated EUB) is an electronically amplified version of the double bass with a minimal or skeleton body, to reduce size and weight and cost. ... The Fender Precision Bass, known as P-bass for short, is an early model of the electric bass designed by (Leonidas Clarence Fender) on the electronics and his team crafting the body and neck, and brought to market in 1951. ...

External links

Wikibooks
Wikibooks Guitar has more about this subject:
Bass Guitar
  • Guitar Tabs has some cool bass tabs available for free use, easy way to learn how to play.
  • The history of guitar-like instruments from 1900 B.C. through modern times is summarized at Classical Guitar Illustrated History
  • Basstopia - features bass news, a bass tab search, and other resources for bassists.
  • Talkbass - extensive resources for bass players, including player interviews, equipment reviews and arguably the largest bass-oriented online forum.
  • The Bass Guitar Scale Page - has free lessons on standard and exotic bass scales.
  • Mxtabs.net - lots of bass, guitar, and even drum tabs
  • The Bass Tablature Search Engine - includes bass magazine, lessons
  • Ultimate Guitar - Massive database of tabs, lessons, and articles.
  • ActiveBass - An online bass community featuring interactive lessons.
  • JimLeeMusic.com Downloads for bass guitar.
  • Site with vintage guitar photo galleries including bass guitars - Bass Guitar photos.
  • Wiki Guitar Community Guitar site with bass tabs, articles, resources, and lessons.

As of Monday 12th December, 2005, tabs are considered illegal by the music industry , and numerous prominent sites providing tabs, such as Mxtabs.net, have been closed down. Image File history File links Wikibooks-logo-en. ...


 
 

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