A bass guitar is a plucked string instrument that resembles an electric guitar but produces lower notes. When its metal bass strings vibrate above one or more magnetic pickups, it creates sound (although non-magnetic pickups are sometimes used as well).
In this article, I’ll explain the basics of bass guitars and how they produce sound.
So without further ado, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?
What is a bass guitar and what does it do?
A bass guitar is a stringed instrument with four strings. It is mainly played by using a set of “frets” – stainless steel strips – which are fixed onto the neck and divide the bass guitar’s fretboard into narrow segments.
The bass guitar’s low pitch and deep sounds make it an important part of the rhythm section in a band. It is played by plucking or strumming the strings with the fingers, or a plectrum – a small, flat piece of plastic or metal.
So is a bass guitar electric?
Bass guitars can be acoustic or electric. Acoustic bass guitars have a hollow body and electric bass guitars have a solid body.
The sound of an acoustic bass guitar is produced by the vibration of its strings which are amplified by the body of the guitar.
The sound of an electric bass guitar is produced either by an “active” electronic pickup or a “passive” magnetic pickup, which is installed in the guitar.
There are two different types of electric bass guitar pickups:
- One where the vibrations of the strings are sensed using electromagnetic induction to produce an electrical signal
- One that uses piezoelectricity to produce an electrical signal.
So the answer is: Yes, a bass guitar is electric and uses either electromagnetic induction or piezoelectricity to produce its sounds.
Why use an electric bass instead of the standard acoustic model?
The main reason someone might choose to play an electric bass guitar instead of the standard acoustic model is because of the sound it produces.
The electric bass has a much deeper and “thicker” sound than the acoustic bass, which can be better for certain styles of music.
The electric bass is also a lot easier to amplify, which is an advantage for live performances.
There are a few differences between the way a bass guitar and a standard acoustic guitar are played:
- The strings of an electric bass guitar can be plucked with either fingers or a plectrum to produce different sounds.
- The production of different sounds can also be controlled by the player changing the way they pluck or strum the strings.
- The volume of an electric bass guitar can usually be controlled using a volume dial that is on the body of the guitar.
Electric bass guitars are often used in genres such as rock, R&B and metal to provide rhythm accompaniment for the lead guitar and vocals.
Is bass guitar harder than electric?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the individual and their level of experience.
Some people find the bass guitar harder to learn than the electric guitar, while others find it easier.
The main difference between the two instruments is that the bass guitar has a lower pitch and deeper sounds, which can make it more challenging to play.
When learning to play the bass guitar, it is best to start with a low action – this means that the strings are closer to the fingerboard.
This also makes it easier for beginners as the closer you get a string towards a fret, the more tension there will be on it and this can make playing certain notes harder.
Can you play bass without an amp?
In terms of playing bass guitar without an amplifier, there are a variety of techniques. If you just want to hear it yourself, try using guitar headphones or a tiny bathroom with excellent acoustics.
If you want to perform in the open air, your computer or an effects pedal can serve as a sort of amplifier.
To get a good, full sound, an amp is always nice.
However, there are some bass players who have made a name for themselves by playing unplugged in intimate settings.
It just takes a bit more finesse and attention to dynamics when your only power source is the person in the front row tapping their foot.
In short, the answer is yes – you can play bass guitar without an amplifier, but it is always preferable to have one.