An instrument that is used in nearly every modern day genre, the bass guitar is a versatile and important instrument that was invented in the 1930s by Paul Tutmarc in Seattle, Washington. The bass guitar is modeled after the electric guitar but has a longer frame and uses only four strings at a much lower pitch than the electric guitar. The bass guitars main role in an ensemble or band is to provide support for the other members of the band, rhythm-wise and strengthen the rhythm alongside the drums. The bass guitar is an important and simple instrument that has no boundaries on creativity and applications.
We’ve composed this buyer’s guide to help you make the right decision when selecting a bass guitar. It'll help you:
Choose the right type of bass guitar,
See useful tips about that type of bass guitar,
Select the right brand of bass guitar,
Types of Bass Guitars:
The different number of strings:
4 String Bass Guitar:
The most common bass guitar.
Best for beginners and young musicians due to its slimmer neck.
5 String Bass Guitar:
The 5 string bass guitar is better for a professional and someone with larger hands so that they can reach all the notes on the thicker neck.
6 String Bass Guitar:
The 6 string bass guitar has the thickest neck of all types of bass guitars.
The 6 string bass guitar is better for a professional and someone with larger hands so that they can reach all the notes on the bass guitars neck.
The different types of fretboards:
A fretted bass guitar is better for beginners as it helps one locate the notes better and with more precision if they are not at a high level of playing.
The fretless bass guitar is better for professional and those who have a lot of experience playing bass guitars as the notes are not indicated by frets on this type of bass guitars neck.
Short Scale Bass Guitars:
A short scale bass guitar has a string length of between 30” and 32” unlike the standard length of 34”.
It is better for your childer or someone who has smaller hands and arms as the neck is short than a normal bass guitar.
Items that Can be Used with Your Bass Guitar:
Electric Bass Guitar Bags:
This is a specially designed bag to store your bass guitar in and transport it that is not as heavy as an electric bass guitar case but it is softer and can’t prevent damage from rough handling.
Electric Bass Guitar Cases:
This is a specially designed case to store your bass guitar in and transport it and any accessories safely.
Bass Guitar Straps:
This is a strap that you connect to the bass guitar and use to help you play when standing up or moving
This is a cable that you use to connect your bass guitar to your amplifier and get more volume.
Bass Guitar Tuner:
This is a small device that you clip to your bass guitar and use to help you tune your strings to the appropriate pitch.
Electric Bass Guitar Strings:
After a lot of playing, strings tend to break and it is therefore wise to purchase and keep spare strings handy for any emergencies.
Bass Guitar Stand:
This is a specially designed stand for you to place your bass guitar on when you are not playing or when you don't need to place it in a case.
This is a cloth that you use to keep your guitar clean and pristine with no smudges or dust on it.
This is a type of speaker that you plug instruments into amplifying their volume and in some cases change the treble and bass elements of the instrument.
Tips for Consumers:
Different Types of Tonewoods:
Tonewood refers to the different types of wood used to make your bass guitar and how it affects the sound of the instrument.
Mainly used for the body of the bass guitar.
A popular and affordable wood.
There are two types of ash:
The brighter and colder of the two types of ash woods.
The softer and warmer of the two types of ash woods.
Good for short complex bass passages as it has very little sustain.
The heaviest of the tonewoods that also provides a warm low sound.
Used by most professionals, maple has a bright tone with great sustain.
Walnut is much like maple, with great sustain but it is slightly lighter and has a warmer tone.
A Hawaiian wood that is low supply but provides a musical tone and a beautiful look.
A warm sounding guitar with a large range of volume and sustain.
Ebony is mostly used on fretboards but provides a bright tone and is durable compared to other woods.
This is used mainly for the neck of the instrument and is great for bass guitars, as it supports and emphasizes mid to low-range notes.
Parts of the bass guitar:
Volume & Tone Knobs:
The volume knob is a button that allows you to control the volume of your electric bass guitar without having to change it on your amplifier.
The tone knob is a button on the electric bass guitar that allows you to change the tone of your playing by adding less or more treble and/or bass.
A pickguard is a hard slab of material that is used to protect the wood of the top of the bass guitar from being scratched by your pick or nails when playing.
Frets are the raised lines on the neck of the bass guitar that indicate where you should play the chords to achieve a certain pitch.
A nut is a line that separates the headstock and the neck of the bass guitar.
These are little metal pieces on the headstock of the bass guitar, that the strings go through to ensure the correct amount of vibration.
Headstock refers to the piece wood on the end of the neck of the bass guitar, to which the tuning keys are attached.
This refers to the knobs on the top end of the neck of the bass guitar, that a bassist can use to tune the bass guitar and make sure all strings are in tune.
This refers to the gap between the frets on which you place your fingers to play certain notes or chords.
The average length of the bass guitar is 34” but you can get bass guitars with necks between 30” and 32”.
This is a post that one can attach a strap to in order to play easier whilst moving about or standing up.
The bass guitar generally has two pickups on the body, one near the fretboard and one nearer to the bridge.
The pickup that is closer to the fretboard receives a low and smooth sound whilst the pickup closer to the bridge receives a sharp, warmer sound.
The body of the bass guitar is the entire section below the neck of the bass guitar.
This is the small raised rectangle on the body of the bass guitar, to which the strings are attached.
It is important to make sure that your bridge is adjusted and set properly for proper playing, this can be done personally through online tutorials or through a professional at a musical instrument store.
Different Brands of Bass Guitars:
Ibanez is a Japanese guitar company that is owned by Hoshino Gakki. Starting off as a company importing guitars to one of the biggest guitar producers in the world. Ibanez is currently found in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan and ships to countries all over the globe.
Ernie Ball Music Man:
Ernie Ball Music Man was created in 1974 as a family business making many string instruments and incorporating active electronics into the instruments. Ernie Ball Music Man was responsible for the invention of the Stingray body type of bass guitars. Ernie Ball Music Man is currently located in San Luis Obispo, California.
Rickenbacker was founded in 1931 by Francis C. Hall, from a company he purchased called Electro String. Rickenbacker revolutionized the use of pickups on electric guitars and the electronics used on electronic guitars. Rickenbacker Headquarters can be found in Santa Ana, California.
Schecter was founded in 1976 by David Schecter in Van Nuys, California as a small repair shop called Schecter Guitar Research. Shecter is now one of the premier and elite guitar manufacturers around the globe. Schecter headquarters are currently located in Sun Valley, California.
Hofner was started by Karl Hofner, after he apprenticed for Anton Schaller, in 1887 when he sold his first violin. Hofner began producing on a large scale during the first world by Karl and his two sons and thus became world-renowned. Today Hofner is currently located in Hagenau, Germany.
Squier was started in 1881 by Jerome Bonaparte Squier when he moved to Boston to repair instruments with his son. Squier was later acquired by the highly renowned company, Fender, in 1965. Squier headquarters can currently be found in Scottsdale, Arizona.