Can you have a rock band without a bass? Between the guitar and drum solos, the bass's deep tones supporting everyone seem to get lost - until you take them out of the mix.
Bass players hold a key role in rock bands and jazz combos, being the force that keeps the beat going and rounding out the chords the guitars, winds and other strings are producing. And, the rich, intense notes produced by the bass guitar give the collective sound the depth it needs.
What is a Bass Guitar?
It's hard to believe, but the bass guitar truly goes back to the double bass - the upright instrument seen at the back of an orchestral string section. Much like the electric guitar, the electric bass emerged during the jazz and big band era in the first half of the 20th century. At that point in time, the stringed instruments in the ensemble required a pickup to sustain their notes and keep up with the brass and winds' volume.
As the first true bass guitar to emerge, Audiovox released its Model 736 Bass Fiddle - inspired by the double bass but smaller and featuring frets on its neck like a guitar.
Nodding to the instrument's jazz usage, Fender introduced an electric bass guitar in 1951, dubbing it the Precision Bass. More commonly called the P-Bass today, its framework was based on the Telecaster electric guitar but featured a four-string design tuned in descending fourths.
The next advancement, Fender retooled the instrument's upper and lower registers for its Jazz Bass, based on the Jazzmaster electric guitar.
Today, an electric bass guitar features at least four metal strings pitched an octave under an electric guitar's range. Through the magnetic pickup, the strings vibrate, and these signals are transmitted, via cable, to an amplifier, which creates a louder sound.
Playing a Bass Guitar
Bass players pluck their instrument with a pick or fingers. Unlike with electric guitars, however, bass playing isn't directly chord driven. Instead, bass lines tend to be single note and linear, complementing the chords the rhythm and lead guitarist are playing.
Traditionally, the bass guitar's strings begin with a G and then go down to a D, A and E. Five- and six-string formats extend this combination with B and C strings, respectively.
Also, realize that not every bass guitar is electric. Acoustic bass guitars blend this string arrangement with a larger-bodied acoustic guitar. Due to the instrument's range, using a pickup is recommended to achieve optimal resonance.
Browse Bass Guitars at Alamo Music Center
If the bass guitar's tones speak to you, browse Alamo Music Center's selection of new and used instruments by Fender, Taylor, Ibanez and more brands, plus amplifiers and accessories. Along with an extended warranty for your purchase, we offer a choice of financing and layaway solutions, including 12- to 48-month no-interest options at times.