How to choose a bass guitar ? In this case, several aspects need to be taken into account. The bass guitar is an amazing instrument! Rhythmic and melodic at the same time, this instrument is applicable in any style, so that the bass player can find a band for any musical taste! The bass guitar may not stand out as much in music as the guitar, but the bass gives depth, shape and extra drive! The bass mediates between the rhythm of the drums and the melody of the guitar. It’s hard to imagine a rock, metal, blues or jazz band without a bass guitar. In addition, the bass guitar is quite simple to use and easy to learn. However, there are a few important things you need to know about how to choose a bass guitar.
All bass guitars work the same way, whether it’s a classical instrument or one designed for death metal playing in low tunings. The ideal instrument is one that fits comfortably on your shoulder, is not too heavy, looks cool, and sounds right for the style of music you play. The most important thing in the appearance of the instrument is that you like it! The more the bass fits you in sound and look, the more you will play and enjoy it!
How to choose a bass guitar for the beginner ?
In recent years, a lot of affordable instruments have appeared that can be called bass guitars for beginners. Many of them sound great for their price! Of course, they are not as good as expensive professional instruments – the build quality, woods and pickups will be of lower quality than on expensive basses, but nevertheless – they are quite suitable for a beginner and will help you learn the basics of playing in the early stages of your musical career.
For beginners who are unsure of their talent or long-term interest in music, these inexpensive instruments provide an opportunity to try out as a bass player without a large financial investment. If you are determined in your desire to become a star in the bass guitar field – take the instrument to the next level! You won’t outgrow your instrument in a short amount of time – besides, a serious instrument will make the learning process somewhat easier and more enjoyable.
how to choose a bass guitar and what to consider?
Number of strings
There are 4, 5 and 6 string instruments, perhaps if you have been interested in bass guitars for a long time – you have seen more – up to 12 strings, these instruments are usually made to order for professionals. If you are just starting out – buy yourself a 4-string instrument! You can play almost any work on 4 strings and at first it is important for you not to complicate your main task – to learn how to play!
The advantage of a 5 string bass is the extra low B note on the 5th string. In today’s funk, gaspel and pop genres, low mids are often used, and a 5-string bass will give you an advantage if you play heavy music in a low tuning. The six-string instrument has an additional high (thin) string that is added to the 1st – this expands the possibilities for playing tapping, and also helps to play an extended solo.
Semi-acoustic and conventional bass guitars
To understand the question of how to choose a bass guitar well, you also need to have information about what it is made of. The body of a conventional bass guitar is made from one or more pieces of wood. More expensive models are usually made from solid pieces of special woods that transmit vibration well – alder, maple, swamp ash, mahogany, etc. Cheaper basses use puffed, pressed or softer woods. There are bass guitars made of plastic.
Semi-acoustic basses have a hollow body like an acoustic guitar, only they have pickups and an equalizer like regular bass guitars. They are used primarily by jazz and folk musicians, or in music where a calmer, more acoustic sound is needed. One of the most famous semi-acoustic basses, the cello-shaped Hofner bass played by Paul McCartney, former bassist of The Beatles, is a great example of how such basses are used in rock music.
Semi-acoustic basses have the advantage of being lighter, but they are usually more limited in sound tuning and do not produce as powerful a sound as conventional basses. There are also variations where small cavities are cut into the body of a regular bass to produce a softer sound, but this is not very common.
Another type of bass is an acoustic bass with piezo pickups. This is a full-fledged acoustic instrument with the ability to connect to an amplifier. As a rule, the piezo pickup is located at the bridge, and the built-in equalizer allows you to adjust the tone of the sound when playing through the amplifier.
Most bass guitar necks are made from maple or mahogany, because these are tough types of wood that can withstand the tension of thick bass strings. Usually the neck is made from one piece of wood, but sometimes several pieces are used for greater elasticity and strength of the neck.
The neck of a bass guitar receives a very strong load due to the tension of the strings, therefore, as a rule, the bass guitar has an anchor (eng. truss rod) – inside the neck. It allows you to adjust the tension, aligning the neck or creating a slight slope.
Fretboards are usually made from rosewood, maple, or ebony. All these types of wood are suitable for lining, but differ in their characteristics. The best fretboard wood should be smooth, dry, and tight enough to resist wear from playing. Fretboards usually have a rounded shape, the so-called radius. Imagine a circle, if you cut out a part of it, it will be convex. The smaller the radius of the circle, the more convex the overlay will be
Attaching the neck to the deck
- Bolted neck. The main type of fastening the neck to the deck is screw fastening. The number of bolts may vary. The main thing is that they hold the neck well. Bolt-on necks are said to shorten the duration of notes, but some of the best bass guitars, the Fender Jazz Bass, have just such a neck attachment system.
- Through neck. “Neck through” means that the neck goes through the whole guitar, and the body consists of two halves that are attached to the side. These necks have a warmer sound and longer sustain. The strings are attached to a single piece of wood. On these guitars, it is easy to clamp the first frets. These basses are usually more expensive. The main disadvantage is a more complicated anchor setting.
- Glued neck. This is a kind of compromise between screw and through fastening, while maintaining the advantages of each of them
The scale length of a fretted musical instrument is the distance between its nut (“zero fret”) and the center of the installed bridge. For bass guitars, the standard scale length is 34″ (863.6 millimeters), there are also bass guitars with shorter and longer scale lengths, as well as Dingwall oblique scales – the design of the instrument is such that the low strings have a larger scale than the high ones. If If you have small hands – short scaled basses will work for you, long scaled basses usually have extra fretted basses or 5 and 6 string instruments.
Fretted and fretless instruments
A fretted bass guitar is more suitable for a beginner. Fretless basses require precise playing and good hearing. For a beginner, the presence of frets will make it possible to play notes most accurately. When you have more experience, you will be able to play a fretless instrument, usually a fretless bass is bought as a second instrument. A fretless bass gives the specific sound of a double bass and is indispensable in some styles of music.
With the help of the bridge, the strings are attached to the deck. The best bridges are made from chrome or nickel plated brass. The bottom line is that a larger and heavier bridge holds the strings better and transfers more string vibration to the wood. Some bass guitars are equipped with a tuning mechanism. A good bridge should have a separate “saddle” (saddle) for each string (allows you to adjust the height and length of the string). This is of great importance when tuning the bass.
bis a device that converts the vibrations of a string into electrical vibrations. It is one or more electromagnets (iron cores with copper wire wound around them). When a string oscillates in the magnetic field generated by the pickup, it changes it, which results in a change in the electric field of the coils. Thus, an electrical signal is created, which is then amplified. By design features, all pickups can be divided into singles and humbuckers.
Singles or Single Coil Pickups consist of one or more magnetic cores and one common winding. Singles transmit high and medium frequencies very well. Unfortunately they are very noisy. If you have a mediocre amp, noise can be a real problem. To combat interference, bass guitar electronics are shielded. This is done using copper plates or a special coating. If you hear the radio when you turn on your bass, then it is poorly shielded.
Humbuckers, unlike single coils, have two groups of oppositely oriented magnetic cores with two or more opposite windings on each. These pickups are characterized by a powerful dense sound. Different pole orientations and the use of opposite windings result in noise suppression. However, at high volumes, even humbuckers produce a little noise. Basically, bass guitars have 2 pickups, which makes it possible to customize the sound of the bass guitar. The closer the pickup is to the neck, the lower and thicker the sound it gives, the pickup at the bridge gives more highs and mids.
Active and passive electronics
The presence of active electronics means that the bass guitar has a built-in preamp. It usually needs additional power, which is provided by a 9 volt battery. The advantages of active electronics are a stronger signal and more sound settings. Such basses have a separate equalizer divided by frequencies (low, middle, high and high-frequency boost / cut settings).
Passive electronics do not have any additional power source, sound settings are reduced to volume, sound tone and switching between pickups (if there are two). The advantages of such a bass are that the battery will not run out in the middle of a concert, in the simplicity of sound tuning and traditional sound, active basses give a more aggressive, modern sound.
These tips are not rules, but will help to significantly alleviate the problem with choosing a tool.
- Buy the best bass you can afford! Remember that the miser pays twice! A good bass will make the learning process more enjoyable and desirable, not to mention the sound quality in rehearsals and concerts!
- Buy a fretted bass until you’re sure you want a fretless bass.
- Buy a standard 34” scale bass, you only need a short scale bass if you have small hands!
- Take a 4-string instrument, regardless of fashion and the advice of friends, the number of strings is not an area where the law “the more the better” applies! If you need a low tuning – you can always lower the 4th string!
- Take a bass whose sound settings will be clear to you right away, you may not need a complex equalizer at all!
- Choose the bass you like. External data will not improve the sound, but it can motivate you to play the instrument more!
- Choose the instrument with your ears and your eyes! Only you can play it!
If you don’t have a very big budget – choose instruments from less popular brands, you can get higher quality for less money, as well as avoid counterfeiting.
Now you know how to choose a bass guitar, good luck !