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Bass Guitars 

The bass guitar is a similar looking instrument to the guitar, but there are several characteristics that make it a completely different instrument.

The main differences are:

  • Standard bass guitars only have four strings, tuned one octave lower than the lowest four strings on a guitar
  • They have a longer scale length to accommodate for the lower tuning

The electric bass guitar has been common in popular music since the 1960s and is used in many different styles of music. You can hear the bass guitar on almost all pop, rock, country, blues, metal and funk releases since it became popular.

Typically the bass guitar acts as part of the rhythm section in most contexts. However in certain genres of music such as jazz fusion and Latin it often acts as a solo instrument.

Electric bass guitars are most popular. They are designed to be plugged into an amplifier to make them usable in live performance and recording scenarios.  Acoustic bass guitars are also available.

There are several different ways a bass can be played but three of the most common methods involve plucking or slapping the strings or picking the strings with a plectrum.

When purchasing a bass guitar there are a number of aspects you might want to consider. If you are a beginner then a lot of these things won’t matter much to you as long as you find your instrument comfortable to play.

Size

  • Bass guitars come in a number of sizes
  • Adult sized players will want a full size instrument but ¾ size models are more manageable for younger players

Pickups

  • Many different pickup configurations to choose from
  • Affects the tone of the bass guitar
  • Passive pickups have lower output and more dynamics but less tone shaping options
  • Active pickups have higher output, less dynamics, more tone shaping capabilities and require power from a 9V battery

Extended range

  • Extended range bass guitars are available
  • Most commonly have 5 or 6 strings
  • Increases the total available range of the instrument
  • Prevents the need for extreme drop tuning
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