The Bass Guitar and Why it Rocks

Posted by | Posted in General | Posted on 25-07-2011-05-2008


The Bass Guitar and Why it Rocks

This post will introduce you to the bass guitar, touch on its history, its evolution and mention some of the amazing bass players that have graced the instrument. Read on to learn more about the bass guitar.

Welcome to the world of the bass guitar; if you’re reading this then you’ve taken an interest in the electric bass and have decided to pursue it further. Maybe this post will reaffirms your decision to play bass guitar, or perhaps it will be the final argument for you to start playing the bass yourself.

The bass guitar is a pretty cool instrument. It may not be as flashy as a drum kit, or command as much attention as a pimped out electric guitar, but it has a subdued, laid-back vibe all its own. A standard bass guitar has four strings and is tuned E-A-D-G; an octave below the lowest strings on a guitar to provide a sonic foundation for the melody to build upon.

While you may give up the fame and glory of the spotlight when you choose to become a bass player, you gain full control of the key of the music, and full dominion over the bass frequencies.

This is almost a mystical power that most people won’t even realize that you have. Many won’t even realize that it is the bass player and the way he chooses to play certain notes, leave others out, and the space and rhythms in between these that are hypnotizing them into dancing. It is a great responsibility that you take on – called the groove – without it; any music you play will be lame.

So besides this, why take on the bass guitar? What is it about the bass guitar that is cool, or should be attractive to someone just starting out that just wants to play SOMETHING? Well, getting up and running with a bass guitar is much easier than most other instruments. You don’t have to have four-way independence as with drums, you don’t have to memorize all the chord fingering patterns like you would with a guitar, and you don’t have to spend years to get a sound that doesn’t sound like a cat being tortured as you would with a violin. You can pick up a bass guitar and start playing bass lines almost immediately – the good news is that the easier it is to play an instrument along to music you like when you’re starting out, the more likely you’ll stay with the instrument for good.


Another great reason why the bass guitar is cool is that EVERYONE needs a bass player. You make the other band members sound good, and there are many styles of music out there that use the bass guitar. That means that if you’re a good bass player, you’re willing to work hard, learn and you have a great attitude –you’re going to have many more job opportunities than many other musicians would have.

Being a bassist is as much a state of mind as it is a position in the band. You need to put the song and the other musicians before yourself. You are the glue between the rhythm and the melody – you straddle the line between the drummer and the guitarist, giving the music that third dimension that makes music so exciting. If you’re willing to put your ego on the back burner, you can become a truly great bassist that is in demand.

Is playing the bass guitar easier? Yes it is. But to master any instrument is virtually impossible. Playing bass guitar is initially much easier than guitar; you can outline chords one finger at a time as opposed to learning the fingerings for each chord. You also have fewer strings to change than the guitarist, but keep in mind that bass guitar strings are thicker – so in some ways, playing the bass guitar is more difficult because you need to play just as fast as the guitarists but with thicker strings. This means that you’re moving more mass in the same amount of time or energy.

What you may not know about the bass guitar is:

There is something to be said for a simple bass line that does what it’s supposed to do, get some asses out of the chairs at the bar.

Bass guitars can be beautiful and expensive, they can break your heart and if you get used to playing them – playing bass guitar can indeed be habit forming!

The electric bass guitar was responsible for making rock n’ roll music come to life in the fifties – the bass could now be heard (as well as felt!) and helped to drive the new-fangled rock n roll bands mercilessly into the spotlight.

The electric bass guitar started out with 4 strings and remained that way for several decades, before evolving to 5, 6, 8 and even 12 stringed versions beginning in the mid-70s. These multi-stringed basses owe a large debt of thanks to Anthony Jackson who helped open the door to more than 4 string basses by commissioning the first six string bass guitar to be built in the 1970s!

Some famous bass guitarists include Paul McCartney, Sting, Geddy Lee, Jaco Pastorius, James Jamerson, Flea, Les Claypool, Victor Wooten, Billy Sheehan, Stanley Clarke and John Entwistle.

You can get started with a bass guitar kit that includes a bass guitar, a <a rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/outgoing/article_exit_link/736410']);” href=””>bass guitar amp</a>, a guitar strap, an bass guitar instrument cable and a tuner for around 0 or you can even rent a bass guitar from many major music instrument retailers. Even if you don’t know of any teachers in your town, you can surf Youtube and find plenty of lessons for free that can get you started. There’s no good reason to sit on the fence anymore, playing bass guitar can be an affordable hobby that can actually make you some extra money if you choose to play out in bands.

Choosing to play the bass guitar has given me plenty of opportunity to learn and grow as a human being. It’s allowed me to experience the thrill of performing in front of large audiences while sharing the stage with some amazing bands and meet terrific people. Playing bass guitar is a great way to be creative, relieve stress and have fun!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there, find a bass guitar and start playing today!

Michael Ippersiel has been playing and performing on bass guitar for over 18 years and writes about it frequently. He also gives advice for Indie Bands about the music business.

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