What Is A Bass Guitar? Development Over the Years

If you want to see the effect of bass on a song, just take your favorite tune and remove that bass from it. You will probably not like the song as much as you did when the bass was still around.

This is the reason why the bass guitar is one of the most important instruments in music composition. Anybody who wants to play this instrument successfully will need to first answer the question, what is a bass guitar?

The aim of this article is to look at the bass guitar more closely. We define what it is, look at how it has developed over the years, and what it looks like now.

The discussion also looks at some of the aspects that are considered when designing this guitar.

Defining the Bass Guitar

The bass guitar sometimes referred to as an electronic bass, is a musical instrument which is strung. This instrument produces sound when played either using the thumb or other fingers. To play it, you can either slap, pluck, pop, tap, thump or pick using a plectrum.

In appearance, the bass guitar looks like an electronic guitar. A close look will show that it has a neck and scale length that is much longer. It also has between 4 and 6 strings.

The most popular bass guitar is equipped with 4 strings. The 4 string bass guitar is mostly tuned the same way as your double bass.

The bass guitar belongs to a class of tools known as transposing instruments. This means that the pitch of the music as notated is not the same as the pitch that will actually be heard. This is done to avoid ledger lines that are excessive.

Just like you would have with the electronic guitar, this type of guitar has what are known as pickups. When used in large live performances, the guitar will be connected to a speaker as well as an amplifier on stage.  The guitar can also be connected to a public address system, during live events.

Parts of a Bass Guitar

The bass guitar can be divided into 3 major parts; the neck, body, and innards.

The Neck.

The neck of the bass guitar belongs to the territory of the fretting hand; which in most cases is the left one. In the neck of the guitar, you will find the headstock, tuning machines, the fingerboard, strings, frets and the back of the neck.

The Body.

The body is in the zone of the striking hand. This is usually the right hand.  Some of the parts you will expect to get in the body include the pickups, controls, bridge, strap pin, and the jack.

The innards.

Unlike the neck and body, the innards are hidden inside the instrument. However, they are important parts of the bass guitar as they have an impact on the sound.

Some of the parts you can expect to find in the innards include the truss rod, all the electronics, and the batteries if the guitar has them.

The History

The bass guitar was the brainchild of Paul Tutmarc in the 1930s. At this time, the instrument was designed in a manner that it could only be played horizontally.

The instrument was later adapted to look like the modern guitar with the aim of making it easy to carry during a performance and transportation. Frets were ten added to the instruments so that the player could play their tunes with more ease.

The first products did not get a lot of success in the market as records show that only just around 100 units were sold between 1930 and 1940.

Mass produced electronic bass guitars only made it into the market in the 1950s when Leo Fender teamed up with one of his employees George Fullerton. The instruments in the era were revolutionary in their own way.

They could be carried easily when musicians were going to shows. They also seemed to have mitigated the problem of feedback that was common with other acoustic instruments when amplified.

The 1960s and 70s

The popularity of rock music in the period of the 1960s, the manufacturing of electronic guitars became a lucrative business. Many other manufacturers entered the fray.

This was the period when the Jazz Bass was introduced. This would soon become the period of other types of bass guitars such as the Mustang Bass. The design of the instrument also started to look like the current version of the bass guitar.

The 1970s was a time of growth for the bass guitar as it was a time of the introduction of the version with powered electronics. The different models started being identified with different types of music.

The 1980s to Today

The 1980s was a period of development that produced the instrument that looks like the kind we still have today. The 1990s saw the introduction of the 5 stringed basses.

Part of the reason why it became more popular is that it had become more affordable by this time. More musicians in different genres such as gospel and metal started using the five-stringed instrument.

The bass guitar of this period started coming with built in equalizer circuits and preamplifiers. Before, these could only be found in the most expensive products in this class.

Even though the period of the year 2000 saw a lot of technological improvements such as digital modeling, the traditional bass guitars of the yesteryears still remain popular.

How Bass Guitars Are Designed

The most popular material used for manufacturing the body of the bass guitar is wood. Other materials such as have also been used.

These include the likes of graphite and other such materials which are compact but lightweight. The most popular types of wood used include ash, alder, and mahogany for the body.

The most widespread type of wood for the neck is the maple and the fret band is usually made of ebony or rosewood.

Whatever you call it; a bass guitar, an electronic bass guitar or any other name, this instrument is an important one. It is important to know the parts of the tool and how it was developed in order to fully appreciate what it can do for you as a musician or even a lover of music.

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