In the early seventies a company called Alembic created the basic design for the high end bass guitars, known as boutique guitars. These were crafted using the highest degree of expertise, with the most highly skilled craftsmen using the finest quality materials. With unique, custom designs, the most premium woods available and some of the most innovative electronic gadgetry included, these boutique bass guitars became well known as the top guitar to have – and brought bass guitars from the back of the stage to the very front – an equal to the standard electric guitar.
Over the next thirty years the designs of electric bass guitars have varied, with new innovations, odd and unusual features and designs, including a headless bass by Ned Steinberger, who also introduced the Trans-Trem tremolo bar. A few years later the Guild Guitar Corporation introduced the astonishing fretless bass, known as the Ashbory. Quite how a guitar would work without frets would challenge any sane thinker – but the Ashbory used silicone rubber strings, with a piezoelectric pickup. The result of this was a sound more like a double bass than an electric guitar.
It was in the nineties that five string basses became popular, and prices began to reduce quite significantly, seeing pre-amplifiers built in to most bass guitars – previously something reserved for the higher end guitar. Today we see electric bass guitars include digital modelling circuits actually built in to the guitar – almost like having a computer built in to the body of the guitar, and able to enhance, distort, amplify and altar the voice of the guitar in such a way that it is possible to program the guitar to sound like any of the well known types of guitar available previously.