The bass guitar. The stalwart of the band. The steady rhythm through which all melodies go. And, for many, the sweetest sound of them all. The resounding timbres of a good bass guitar in the hands of a great bass guitarist has been a musical bedrock for many years. However, a bass guitar need not be expensive to be good, and as long as you keep the following in mind when you begin your journey you’re bound to pick up a bass guitar that will serve you will on your musical journey.
Bass Guitars vs. Standard Guitars: The Difference
There are a few main differences between bass guitars and their standard counterparts.
An electric guitar has six strings with the standard tuning being E-A-D-G-B-E. In this arrangement, the lowest string is usually tuned to the note E. The next note is A and so on and so forth.
On the other hand, a bass guitar features four thicker strings and is usually larger than a guitar itself. While a bass guitar looks like a standard guitar, it has two less notes, leaving E-A-D-C. That means it also has two fewer strings.
Then there’s the difference in the pitch range of the instruments. Compared to a standard guitar, a bass guitar will play notes in a lower octave. Usually, the lowest note you’ll hear in music is a result of bass.
If you learn to play either a bass guitar or a standard guitar, then it might be easy to switch between the two. The skills are transferable but you’ll still have some practice to do. Despite having two strings less, a bass guitar is not necessarily easier to play.
It’s good to keep in mind that you’ll come across guitars and bass guitars with varied tunings and different variations. For instance, if you take a 7 strings guitar, then you should expect a bass with 5 strings.
Why Is Bass Important in Music?
Science suggests that bass plays a significant role in music than people care to appreciate. And although bass will often be in an arrangement’s background, it has a massive influence on the shape and structure of songs. It goes without saying then that that highlights why bassists are integral in any music.
Bass Amplifies the Rhythm
McMaster University researchers in Canada found out that our brains establish a song’s rhythm better if it occurs in lower tones. From the study, participants managed to spot errors far much better if they occurred at bass tone (lower tones).
Clearly, that explains why bass lines dominate the songs’ background, giving room for performances with high-pitched instruments.
It Highlights the Melody
Bass also sets the foundation for harmony as well as the melody in music, without which you haven’t got a song at all. Often, the bass will define the chords that set any song’s melody in context.
Bass Gives Music the Power to Inspire
Another study at Northwestern University found out that music with heavy bass is more efficient at inspiring power among listeners and drawing in more fans. W
It doesn’t matter if you beginner, intermediate or pro bassists, science backs the role you play in music. And you should play your instrument knowing that you contribute so much to the musical landscape.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Bass Guitar
What music genre do you play? It’s only after you’ve determined your style that you should set out looking for a bass guitar for that particular genre. Then you can know the features you want in a bass.
Suppose you’re a hip-hop bassist. Then you’ll be on the lookout for a 5 or even 6 strings guitar bass complete with roundwound strings plus active electronics.
An artist in a different music genre will probably be looking for a short-scale bass with a hollow body and flatwounds. The rule of thumb? Know your style first.
How You Plan to Use It
If you’re bassist planning to take your baby out for daily performances, then you’ll want a bass with excellent features and electronics, but is not heavy to carry.
If your bass will be resting in your bedroom or on the studio desk, then tonal versatility will be more of your concern than the weight.
Bass Guitar Type
There are many types of bass guitars, but we’ll highlight on the four major ones – electric bass, acoustic bass, acoustic-electric bass, and semi-acoustic bass.
- Electric bass: These are the most common and they create the sound through pickups. It’s the pickups that play the function of transforming the vibrations emanating from the strings into an electric signal. Something really cool about electric bass guitars is that they offer lots of freedom. Depending on the amplifier you use to send out the sound, there’s a lot you can change from the volume, tone to the mix of your frequencies.
- Acoustic Bass: Usually output sound by sending the string vibrations into the paddles, which then relays the signals to the soundboard. The soundcard will them amplify the vibrations to create a sound. They have a hollow body which makes them a little taxing to play. But then they’re great because no sound amplification is required and they produce remarkably powerful sound.
- Acoustic-Electric Bass: It’s a hollow bass guitar with pickups and is lies somewhere between an acoustic bass and electric bass. This type of bass is the perfect instrument for the bassists who love to play acoustic but will need to amplify the sound when performing at shows.
- Semi-Acoustic: This a hollow one and features an inbuilt microphone which helps amplify the sound. Now the hollow body design brings to the table remarkable sonic qualities. As a beginner, you might find it a little difficult to work your way around this semi-acoustic bass.
Bass guitars vary significantly in quality and price. Have you determined how much you want to spend? Sure, you’ll find sophisticated basses sporting better electronics, superior tonewoods, and the latest hardware. These produce show-stopping sounds, last longer but don’t come cheaply.
Fortunately, if you’re a beginner or intermediate bassists and are not prepared to spend much on a single instrument, then there are affordable, cheap bass guitars under $500/$1000. While the quality of the hardware and electronics may not be at their best, the sound and tone quality is still impressive.
There’s no way you’ll learn or enjoy playing any bass guitar if it’s not comfortable to hold and play. An excellent bass should feel like an extension of your body. The body style and the neck profile will determine how comfortable it is using a particular instrument. Some bassists might find larger bodies cumbersome while others might be okay.
Choosing a bass guitar shouldn’t be hard. It begins with identifying your music genre and having an idea of what sort of song you want to create. After that, it will be easy to choose an instrument based on the type, the features it packs, tone, sound output, and how comfortable and easy it is to play.