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FAQ Main Menu > Bass Guitars

Bass Guitar Information and FAQs


A large guitar tuned one octave below the bottom four strings of a normal guitar.


Bass guitars usually have four strings, tuned to E A G D (one octave below the bottom four strings of a guitar). Five string (and occasionally six string) basses are becoming more common lately. They are either played with a plectrum (some players prefer a bass pick which is larger than a normal plectrum) or by finger picking. Can have either an acoustic hollow body or a solid electric one.


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The tuning and fingering of a bass guitar is the same as the bottom four strings of a guitar, which makes it simple to learn, particularly for guitar players. Fender experimented in the early days with 5 and 6 string bass guitars, but these did not do well at the time, and have only become popular more recently, as styles of bass playing become more varied.


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Bass Guitar Origins
The double bass first appeared in the 16th century very much in the form it is in now. In the first half of the 20th century it was still widely used in jazz and popular music, but in the forties its limitations started to become apparent. As music was increasingly amplified, the low volume of the double bass became a problem. In the 1940s an electric double bass was introduced, but this did not overcome the other physical problems of the double bass, namely that it was not overly portable, it made it diffuclt for the bass player to sing (with the microphones of the time) and that a lot of skill was required to play it well. None of these factors was ideal for the rock'n'roll and pop music that emerged in the 1950s.

The first bass guitar was made by Leo Fender in 1950 and became available commercially in 1951. This was the Fender Precision Bass, and the quality of its design is highlighted by the fact that the design of electric bass guitars has hardly varied since that time, and in fact many electric guitar makers started and continued to use the same double cutaway design shortly afterwards.

Acoustic bass guitars have been around since at least the 1960s. Unamplified they are fairly quiet (though much louder than an unplugged electric bass!), but with a pick up fitted they can provide an audible acoustic sound within a band.


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There are now many different types of bass guitar suited to different styles of playing. Fretless, fretted, 4 string, 5 string (and some 6 string), acoustic, electro acoustic and electric being the main variations.


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They are used in a great many different styles of music, including jazz, pop, folk, country, blues and more. At bare minimum they add a desirable depth of sound to any band, but bass players have been exeprimental over the years, and discovered there is much more you can do with the sound, ranging from catchy bass riffs to intricate bass solos.