The bass guitar is a four stringed instrument that may be played using a guitar pick, or the thumbs and fingers. This style of instrument is very similar the electric guitar when it comes to appearance and build, although it has a longer scale and neck. The four-stringed guitar is most common, however, there are some with five, six or even eight strings. There are numerous different ways of playing the bass guitar.
The bass guitar is used as an instrument in many different styles of music because it is so versatile. This versatility means that there are wide variety of different sounds that can be produced, from blues to metal, pop to punk, reggae to jazz, country and good old rock and roll. Other genres like funk (where would funk be without the bass?), Latin and fusion and even electronic dance music also make use of this versatile instrument. In fact, it would be easier to list the genres that don’t count the bass guitar amongst the tools of their trade. Overall, the bass lines tend to vary depending on the musician but the main role of a bassist is similar in all types of music: to anchoring the harmonic framework as well as providing the main beat (the bass line) in co-operation with the drummer (when there is one).
To be good at playing the guitar and utilizing various techniques, the player needs to be familiar with the different parts of the instrument. Knowing the anatomy of a bass guitar is key for any aspiring bassist. This unit is a stringed instrument and as such there are strings on it that create sounds from vibrations. Generally, these models have fours strings: G, D, A, E. Each one is tuned to a different note.
The frets are the metal strips that divide the instrument into the top and bottom sections. By placing a finger on a part of the string between two frets a note can be produced. The further up the frets, the higher the note produced. The vibrations of the strings require amplification in order to make them into more than barely audible sounds. The sound is picked up and amplified to produce the distinctive bass notes you will be familiar with. Other parts of the bass include the body, neck, headstock, nut, tuning pegs and pick-ups.
It is essential that the instrument is held correctly. If one develops a habit of holding it, technique could be ruined. It may also result in serious pain or injury to the back or shoulders.
Whether playing standing up or sitting down, use of a guitar strap is recommended whilst playing. This puts the weight of the instrument on the shoulders and back, freeing the hands for the important task of playing the instrument. Make sure that the strap puts the guitar in a comfortable position across the chest, or in the case of some bassists, just above the knees! Your posture is important whilst playing. Try to stand or sit up straight and avoid slouching or bending.
Thumbstyle, also known as slap and pop method, is common in funk. It involves creating percussive tones and sounds by striking, slapping, or thumping a string using the thumb, while snapping strings using the index or middle fingers. A plectrum, or pick, may be used to play with more speed or because of musician preference. Use of the pick is common in rock and punk rock. Pick size and material will vary.
Palm-muting is another playing technique. In this method, the outside of the picking hand palm rests on the bridge whilst picking and is then used to mute the strings, or reduce the amount of sustain. Fretting can also be used to produce a number of different effects, including vibrato, trills, and glissando. With two-handed tapping styles striking of the string against the fret or fretboard is used to make sounds.