In rock bands and jazz combos, the bass gives each chord a foundation and lays down the rhythm with the drummer.
The bass guitar evolved from the double bass - the bowed, stringed instrument that's a fixture of orchestras and jazz music. While they appear visually dissimilar, the bass guitar and upright double bass cover the same pitch range over four strings tuned in fourths.
About the Electric Bass Guitar
Yet, while the electric and acoustic double bass share the same range, the similarities end there. Bass guitars are played in the same style as a traditional electric guitar, with either a pick or fingers, and also feature frets along a thin neck and fingerboard.
Functionality wise, the bass and electric guitar operate the same way: the string vibrates over a magnetic pickup, which then sends a signal through a cable to an amplifier. The amplifier not only increases the sound's intensity but also allows the player to sustain notes and add effects.
Historically, the bass guitar appeared in the 1930s - around the same time the electric guitar entered the market. Audiovox introduced its Bass Fiddle in 1935, and by the 1950s, Fender debuted its own model, the Precision Bass. Now commonly known as the P-Bass, this Fender bass guitar is based on the Telecaster, except that it features four strings and plays in a lower range.
As a follow up, Fender continued to expand its bass guitar lineup, introducing the Jazzmaster and Jazz Bass models over the next couple of decades.
Today, most bass guitars continue to utilize the four-string format. But, as you'll often see with rock bands, five- and six-string bass guitars also make their way into the mix.
What About the Acoustic Bass Guitar?
Is there a such thing? The answer is, yes, but this instrument is played only in select contexts - for instance, Mariachi music.
Not to be confused with the double bass, itself also an acoustic bass instrument, the acoustic bass guitar looks like a traditional steel string acoustic guitar. However, the hollow wooden body is larger - necessary for the instrument's lower pitch range - and includes four, rather than six, strings tuned in fourths.
Because of the lower range and inability to sustain pitches, players are recommended to use an amplifier with an acoustic bass guitar. As such, many models include a magnetic pickup for this option.
Find Your Bass Guitar at Alamo Music Center
Be the rock holding your band or jazz combo together with a quality bass guitar from Alamo Music Center. Browse four-, five- and six-string instruments from Fender, Ibanez, Gibson, Yamaha and other well-known brands. We offer multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month, no-interest options at times, plus trial lessons and an extended warranty.