This is a musical instrument of the string family. Additionally, it belongs to the guitar
family, with a larger body and longer neck allowing longer musical distance or scale
length. Bass guitars are usually built with 4 strings, tuned one octave lower than the
guitar. It's fingered or picked to vibrate its strings and therefore produce sound.
Bass guitars have been in the music world for centuries. The 15th century “Viola da Gamba” was among the earliest known bass instrument. It was over 8 feet tall, with 6 to 7 strings, tuned similar to the present day double bass. With a fretted neck, a bow was used to play it.
This overall look of the “Viola de Gamba” did not change for centuries.
The size, shape, tone, parts, and woods of bass guitars were much the
same although there were several variations in the number of strings.
BASS GUITARS EVOLUTION
The succeeding centuries would use strings ranging from 3 to 7. Throughout Europe, 3
and 4 string basses were played for 300 years. Germany and Austria had the 4 and 5
string ones until the 19th century while Italy, France and England prefered mainly the
3-string configuration until 1870. The next decades saw the dominance of the 4-string.
After this, drastic changes were introduced initiated by Paul Tutmarc in the 1930's. He
designed an instrument that was very similar to a guitar, hand-held and carried and to
be played horizontally. This concept was followed by Leo Fender in the 1950s and 60s.
The Leo Fender one became the master model for the mass produced bass guitars.
In 1971, the boutique or high end electric bass guitars were presented. In 1979
new products were born such as headless bass guitars - the tuning machines are
in the bridge. In the 1980's other innovations using new materials like graphite
were marketed. In 1987, the Ashbory bass was launched with ultra small body,
100% portable/light weight, nylon strings with an unexpected big bottom sound.
MATERIALS AND CONSTRUCTION
The usual material utilized for electric bass guitars is wood (most common alder for the body, or exotic woods like bubinga, wenge, ovangkol, ebony or goncalo alves; maple or ash for the neck or graphite and carbon fiber for lightweight necks; and rosewood for the fretboard).
Apart from aesthetic reasons, careful selection of materials is crucial 'cause they
have a significant effect on the tone of bass guitars. For the final finish, lacquer,
wax and oil is used. With the advent of artificial materials such as luthite, unique
production methods such as die - casting are employed to allow more complex
body shapes that would in turn bring convenience for holding the instrument.
The majority of bass guitars have solid bodies - but can have hollow chambers too, for increased resonance or to lessen the weight of this instrument. But caution must be noted as hollow bodies change the tone and resonance of bass guitars. For its strings, all - metal (roundwound or flatwound) with coverings of either tapewound or plastic-coatings and non-metal strings made of nylon are popular|| |
BASSES AND GUITARS
Though from the family of guitars and other stringed instruments, bass guitars have striking differences from regular guitars. The simplest and basic difference would be the pitch range of the instruments. Bass guitars notes are one octave lower than the ones on the guitar.
Another unique differentiation is in the quality of sound produced. Bass guitars have a unique way of producing sound if played with the fingers or plucked. If played with the fingers using 2, 3 or 4 fingers, bass guitars can create different rhythms and produce tonal differences that wouldn’t be possible if they are played with a pick.
Another difference should be the role the instrument plays in a musical group. Although bass guitars are extremely critical in the band, it normally would play a secondary role on stage. Though bass guitars could have solo acts and could played like a guitar, traditionally (what is commonly expected by people), an electric guitar is more visible.
Though typically playing secondary roles, these roles played by bass guitars performers varies depending on the type of music. The degree of prominence may also differ depending on the genre. Bass guitars are here to provide the low-pitched lines in pop music and jazz. It is often used as a solo instrument in jazz, fusion, Latin, and funk styles. Rock and Roll, heavy metal, punk, reggae, and soul players use bass guitars as a solo instrument as well.
Bass guitars are able to play varied roles for orchestral settings. Traditionally, orchestral settings employ double bass guitars - modern composers begun to experiment with electric bass guitars.
FAMOUS BASS PLAYERS
Some of the famous bass guitars players are Jimmy Blanton and Charles Mingus. Jimmy Blanton was a virtuoso bassist playing like a horn producing melodic lines. He is considered as the first true master of the |
jazz bass. Charles Mingus was an American jazz
musician credited with hot and soul feel jazz music.
Other excellent bassists are Flea , Stefan Lessard and James Jamerson. Stefan Lessard is the player for the Dave Matthews Band. The phenomenal Victor Wooten is regarded as one influential bassist and is member of the Bela Fleck & the Flectones, a Grammy-awarded group
Flea or Michael Perter Balzary was born in Melbourne Australia, migrated to
the U.S. and is one of the members of the famous L.A. band, Red Hot Chili
Peppers. James Jamerson is an influential bassist from the band Motown.
BASS GUITARS TECHNIQUES
Various methods are created for playing the diverse types of bass guitars. The
“slap and pop” method - popularized in the 1960s till 1970s by Larry Graham
of the Sly and Family Stone is produced by thumping a string with the thumb
finger and then snapping bass guitars strings with the index or middle fingers.
This funky technique produces percussive sounds and was further improved by Stanley
Clarke and Louis Johnson and is in use by other bassists in other genres - rock bassists
Flea, JJ Burnel and Les Claypool; jazz-fusion bassist Victor Wooten. Later on , Wooten
developed other innovative methods for electric bass guitars. He popularized the "double
thump" method wherein one string is slapped twice, on the upstroke and a downstroke.
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