it comes to buying a new bass guitar, many people enter the world of
bass guitars blindly, not knowing whether to go for a 4-string,
5-string, or even being able to answer the question “what is a bass
This article should both shed some light on the
wonderfully powerful instrument that is a bass guitar, as well as
pointing you in the right direction to getting your own bass guitar.
you think about buying your first bass guitar, you will need to
understand the genre of music you want to play. Some people want to play
Country, rock, metal, blues and all mixture of genres. Ones you have
identified what music you want to play then next is the budget. In my
case I do not see it important to buy an expensive guitar if you even do
not know why the guitar is good. Guitars come in different shapes,
colors, picks up and more and if you are not careful you may find
yourself in a confused state. The best place start on is just simple
entry level guitar on a lower budget to make you realise if really you
have a passion for it.
Bass Guitar Construction and Design - Parts And Their Functions
important to have a good understanding of the basic parts of a bass
guitar before you start shopping. Understanding how the instrument is
designed and built, and knowing what the different parts are called will
help you ask good questions and make informed decisions.
neck of a bass guitar, like the neck of any guitar, includes the
headstock, fretboard and internal truss rod, which connect to the body
of the bass.
The headstock is the wide
portion at the top of the neck, where the bass strings terminate at
tuning pegs. These tuning pegs—also called tuning keys, tuning machines,
or tuners—adjust the tension of each string, changing the pitch. The
strings are routed down the neck by the nut—a notched strip of hard
plastic or bone attached to the top of the fretboard where the headstock
meets the rest of the neck.
or fingerboard is usually a thin piece of wood— typically rosewood,
maple, or ebony. All are excellent woods for the purpose but can vary in
quality. The best fretboards are smooth, hard, and dense so that they
wear slowly. Fretboards are usually arched from side to side. This arch
is called the radius, referring to an imaginary circle that would be
formed if the arch of the fretboard were extended to make a circle. Some
bass fretboards are close to flat, while others may have a radius as
short as ten inches. The shorter the radius, the more pronounced the
arch of the fretboard. The fretboard is embedded with frets which are
narrow strips of metal. These frets divide the neck into half-step
increments, and determine where each note is played along the length of
A few electric basses are fretless, allowing
smoother glissando effects but also requiring greater skill on the part
of the bassist. They’re not usually a good choice for beginning
Some basses have fretboards that are an integral part of the neck rather than being a separate glued-on layer.
Do your Research
click the buy now button, you should have a clear idea of what you
want. Doing research in advance will narrow down your options. Check out
product reviews, ads, catalogs and manufacturer websites to become
familiar with the features and specs of various models. Find out what
your favorite bassists are playing.
Youtube is another place to
get information about the kind of bass that you will need to buy.
Youtubers will always either give you a demo of a particular guitar and
how they like it.
Once you’ve pinpointed a few basses that appeal
to you, learn all you can about them. What woods are they made of? What
kind of pickups and electronics do they have? How long is the scale? The
more familiar you are with specs, the easier it is to identify what
features you like.
Never let your decisions be influenced
exclusively by what your favorite players use, peer pressure or
recommendations from a salesperson. “Choose a bass that you like to look
at and always want to play. It’s a very personal decision, almost like
choosing a mate.”
Once you have a good idea what you want, it’s
time to visit a few stores and try out some basses. Once you’re in the
store, focus on the basses within your price range, but don’t be afraid
to try instruments beyond your budget. Trying a more expensive bass can
give you a great perspective on how a well-crafted bass is supposed to
look and feel.
Check out details like the fretwork, how the neck
feels, what the finish looks like and how carefully the hardware is
installed, and compare these features to the basses you can afford. If
an instrument you’ve selected seems similar to a much more expensive
axe, chances are it’s a great value.
the neck first. Run your fretting hand along the neck and note how well
it fits in your hand. Does the fingerboard feel too wide or narrow? Is
it easy to play or do you struggle to fret notes? Don’t worry if you
don’t know how to play or are just a beginner. If the instrument doesn’t
feel comfortable in your hands it’s probably not right for you.
Check how the Bass guitar feels. If the guitar doesn’t feel well from the start, chances are it never will.
holding the bass both sitting down and standing up. Strap on the bass
and release your hands. If the neck slides down and points to the
ground, the neck is too heavy. While a bass with a heavy neck may be
perfectly playable, it will cause muscle fatigue more quickly because
your fretting hand is supporting the neck.
Next, play notes on
every fret on every string as well as the open strings to check for
buzzing and dead spots. If you can’t play well, bring along a friend who
plays or your bass instructor.
The cheapest basses on the market are often constructed of a plywood
“butcher block” amalgamation of wood pieces that are glued together,
heavily sanded, and covered with a single-piece veneer and a heavy
finish. Some of those instruments can sound good but usually the wood is
too heavy and doesn’t resonate well because it is full of glue, which
has no resonant frequency.
Check manufacturer specs for details
like a one-, two- or three-piece body. Don’t be fooled by terms like
“solid” body or “wood” body, as this may not tell the whole story. While
it’s getting more and more difficult to spot plywood construction, it’s
often revealed when you look at the finish from a variety of angles.
Look for uneven surfaces separated by straight lines, which are
tell-tale signs that various pieces were glued together.
Bass Guitar Types
guitars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. However, the right
bass for you will come down to three main factors: the number of strings
it has, whether or not the neck has frets, and the pickups it uses.
guitars typically come in 4-, 5- and 6-string models. For those who are
just starting, you’re better off sticking with a 4-string model that’s
tuned to the standard E-A-D-G format. Most well-known rock groups go
with this, and a 4-string bass will definitely be easier to play in the
beginning stages. The neck of a 4-string bass guitar is also slimmer
than a 5- or 6- string model, which makes it ideal for younger players
with smaller hands. Of course, you can always move on to a 5- or
6-string bass guitar over time.
The two fretboard layouts you’ll encounter are known as fretted and fretless. The standard bass guitar neck is fretted,
containing steel frets along the entire length of the fretboard. Basses
with frets are naturally better to learn with, since they make finding
the correct notes easier. On the other hand, fretless basses (as
the name suggests) have no frets. Although fretless basses have a warm
sound and play smoothly, beginners should stick with a fretted
instrument so they can learn the proper fingering positions.
pickups on your bass have the job of turning string vibrations into
electrical signals, which makes them a crucial part of the instrument.
Usually, bass guitars have two sets of pickups: one near the fretboard,
and another closer to the bridge. The pickup near the fretboard tends to
create a smoother, low-end tone, while the one by the bridge produces a
brighter, high-end sound.
guitars, bass pickups come in both single-coil and humbucker styles.
Single-coils were the first pickup type, and are known for their sharp
and focused sound. To help fight feedback, humbuckers were created soon
after single-coils. Aside from cancelling out the hum commonly found
with single-coils, humbuckers also produce a thicker tone.
these are the two most common pickup types, you can also find a
single-coil pickup that functions like a humbucker. These are called
split-coil pickups, and combine the hum-free convenience of a humbucker
with the bright sound of a single-coil. A good example of a split-coil
can be found on the classic Fender Precision Bass.
bass guitar’s strings terminate at the bridge, where their vibrations
are transmitted to the body creating the resonance and tone that the
pickups capture and amplify. The strings pass over notches, called
bridge saddles, which can be moved up and down to adjust the action, or
forward and back to adjust the intonation. Better bridges are made of
brass, and are often plated with chrome or nickel silver. A bridge with
more mass and weight will usually anchor the strings better and transfer
more vibration from the strings to the body.
There are three different bridge types on most electric bass guitars:
· String-through body
· Bridge and tailpiece combination
a through-bridge, the strings are threaded through the back of the
bridge, and over the saddles. On a string-through body bridge the
strings are fed through the body of the bass and over the saddles. A
bridge and tailpiece combination feeds the strings through a separate
tailpiece that’s unconnected to the saddles.
type of wood that is used in the body of the bass guitar will impact
its tone and resonance. New players don’t need to be too concerned with
the type of wood used for their bass guitar body. But if you are looking
for a specific sound from your bass, then the body wood could be an
Alder is often used for bass guitar bodies. It creates a very balanced tone, with great clarity and a very full sound.
is a popular body wood because it is relatively inexpensive. It
provides a fairly balanced tone with a slight emphasis on low-mid tones
that gives it a rich sound.
There are several
species of ash used on bass guitar bodies, with subtle differences, but
in general the wood produces a bright, full sound, similar to alder.
Swamp ash is especially desirable due to its beautiful grain.
used on less expensive instruments, it is a softer wood that does not
resonate as much as other tonewood options. Some bass players think this
creates a flat sound, while others feel the short sustain is ideal for
fast, complex playing techniques.
a popular tonewood for bass guitars because it produces a soft, warm
tone that emphasizes the low-mid and lower-range tones, and creates
longer sustain. It is a dense wood, however, and will feel heavier on
your shoulder than ash or agathis.
is also a dense wood, so it creates a well-sustained sound like
mahogany. Maple, however, produces a bright, clear tone that many
musicians find valuable in a studio setting.
other woods are used for bass bodies. High-end models may be made of
exotic species such as bubinga, wenge, koa, or cocobolo.
So Which Bass is Right for Me?
Here are a few guidelines (not rules) for the first-time bass buyer:
· Buy the best bass you can afford. A good bass will make learning easier and you won't outgrow it as quickly.
· Choose a fretted instrument, unless you are ready for the challenge of a fretless.
· Choose a short-scale bass if you are young, small, or have unusually small hands.
· For simplicity's sake, choose a 4-string instrument.
· Select a bass with simple controls so you can focus on the strings and not be distracted by knobs.
Choose a bass in a color and shape that appeals to you. Its looks won't
make it sound better, but a cool-looking bass can motivate you to play