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Bass Basics

All You Need to Know about Bass Guitar

Since its introduction in the 1930s, and especially since its rise to prominence in the rock era, the electric bass has taken its place among the world’s most loved and important musical instruments. For those who are curious to find out more about this great instrument, or for those considering learning to play, we offer this article of bass basics.

The Bass’ Role in Music

Over the centuries, many different instruments have been used to hold down the bottom end in western music. During the early years of jazz, that role was largely taken by the tuba, which gave way to the upright or double bass.

As the rock & roll era began, more and more musicians turned to bass guitar because of its relative portability and bigger sound, designed to keep up with the increasing volume of guitar and drums. Although bass guitars had been developed in the 1930s by Audiovox, they did not achieve prominence until they began being mass produced by the Fender Musical Instrument Co. in the 1950s.

In most musical groups, the bass holds a crucial role. It is the link between melody and rhythm, adding both a root and countermelody to the musical piece, and helping keep the rhythm moving at the same time.

Playing Styles

There are various playing styles for each genre of music that uses the electric bass. But the important thing to consider is that, by and large, the bass’ role in a song is that of support. A good bassist will use just as much or as little as needed to make a song successful. One song may have a playful, bouncy progression of notes, where another song may simply require hitting the 8th note every time it comes around. It is best to stay open-minded and play to the needs of the individual song.

When it comes to the actual “business” of playing the strings, two methods are employed. Simply put, you either use a pick or you don’t. The majority of players do not use a pick, instead plucking the strings upwards. On the other hand, a pick can be very useful if you are playing in a genre that requires speed, precision and aggression, like speed metal or punk.

Getting Started

When beginning, it is a good idea to start off with a basic 4-string model. Most basses have what are called passive electronics, which means the bass pickup uses magnets to translate string vibration into sound signals. These signals travel to the amplifier, where they are produced into sound. These are fine to start with.

How much should you spend? Even with so-called “beginner” models, prices can vary widely depending on the brand, the materials used in the manufacture, and the country in which the instruments are made.

A good first choice, offered by many major guitar makers, is a beginner’s “kit.” They typically include the bass, a small practice amp, and all of the other accessories necessary to get started right away. They start at around $400 and are a great value.

Get Started!

Hopefully, you have learned a thing or two about the bass guitar. Check out what is available and get started. You’ll be glad you did.

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

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