The bass guitar is a bass stringed instrument played with the fingers either by plucking, slapping, popping, or tapping or using a pick. The bass is similar in appearance and construction like an electric guitar, but with a larger body, a longer neck and scale length, and usually four strings tuned, one octave lower in pitch than the four lower strings of a guitar.
Materials used for making a bass guitar
The bodies of these special instruments are typically made of wood although other materials such as graphite have also been used. The most common type of wood used for the body is alder, for the neck is maple, and for the fret board is rosewood, though a wide variety of woods may be used to make the body.
Other regularly used woods include mahogany, maple, ash, and poplar for bodies, mahogany for necks, and ebony for fret boards. The choice of body material and shape of these guitars can have a significant impact on the timbre of the completed instrument as well as on aesthetic considerations. Other design options include finishes, such as lacquer, wax and oil along with flat and carved designs. Bass guitar necks, which are longer than regular electric guitar necks, are generally made of maple.
A brief history
In the 1930s, inventor Paul Tutmarc from Seattle, Washington, developed a guitar style electric bass instrument that was fretted and designed to be held and played horizontally. Unfortunately, Tutmarc inventions never caught the public imagination, and little further development of the instrument took place until the 1950s.
In the 1950s, Leo Fender developed the first mass produced electric bass. In the 1950s and 1960s, the term Fender bass was widely used to describe the bass guitars, because of early popularity of Fender in the market for mass produced bass guitars.
Different components of the bass guitar
Thi skind of guitar uses various components to produce music. Some of these components are strings and its tuning, fret or fretless bass, pickups, amplification and effects.
Frets and fretless bass
Frets are a raised metal strips inserted into the fingerboard that extend across the full width of the neck. On a fretted bass, the frets divide the fingerboard into semitone divisions. The original Fender basses had 20 frets. Fretless basses have a distinct sound, because the absence of frets means that the strings must be pressed down directly onto the wood of the fingerboard.
Strings and tuning
The standard design for the bass guitar has four strings, tuned E, A, D and G, with the original frequency of the E string set at about 41 Hz, making the tuning of all four strings the same as that of the double bass. This tuning is also the same as the standard tuning on the lower four strings on a 6 string guitar, only an octave lower.
Most electric basses use magnetic pickups. The vibrations of the instrument metal strings within the magnetic field of the permanent magnets in magnetic pickups produce small variations in the magnetic flux threading the coils of the pickups.
Amplification and effects
The electric bass is always connected to an amplifier for live performances. Electric bass guitarists use either a combo amplifier, which combines an amplifier and a speaker in a single cabinet, or an amplifier and a separate speaker cabinet.
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