21 May Bass Guitar
The bass guitar is an often misunderstood instrument. Many people seem to think that the bass guitar is an inaudible instrument, or simply that it is a like a big guitar that’s easier to play. These ideas about the bass guitar could not be more wrong. While the bass isn’t usually out in front playing flashy leads and solos or providing bombastic crashes of percussion it is the glue that holds all of this together. While the drums play rhythm and the guitar plays melody the bass plays rhythm and harmony. Voila! You have a band.
BASS GUITAR HISTORY
The bass guitar made its appearance in the 1930s and subsequently replaced the double bass (orchestral, stand-up bass) in most of Western Pop music. Along with the electric guitar, it quickly made its way into blues, jazz, country, and popular bands. While the electric guitar may “symbolize” rock music, the bass guitar, along with the electric guitar and drums, make up rock’s Holy Trinity.
WHEN TO START
We recommend that kids start playing the bass guitar no younger than five or six though there are definitely exceptions. Since the bass is typically used to play harmonies it often requires some understanding of more melodic instruments like guitar or piano to fully understand. The bass is also bigger than the electric guitar and the strings are a heavier gauge so it can require more hand strength to play than a guitar. Also, it is definitely a good idea to start out with four-string bass and, if desired, move up from there to five or six-string basses.
Of course, Gibson and Fender make great bass guitars and Rickenbacker basses were Paul’s favorite with the Beatles. Other brands like Epiphone and Ibanez can be good, inexpensive starter basses, but Fender and Gibson are the only consistent producers of quality inexpensive starters. When buying a bass guitar it is important to check the integrity of the frets and the neck, and to also play every fret of, at least, the first string to make sure it sounds like its intonated properly. With any electronic instrument it is also necessary to check the connections and make sure that they not only work, but sound good.
For some great bass guitar inspiration check out the music of Rush, Primus, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Police, and Jaco Pastorius.
For those who already play the bass guitar and are looking to increase their skill set there is slap & pop, picking, palm-muting, blues and jazz improvisation, fretless bass, alternate tunings, finger-tapping, etc….