Bass- Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021
To emphasize rhythm in a melody, it is best to have a bass in the band. Its deep sound accompanies other instruments and complements them. However, there are so many aspects to consider, such as whether it is acoustic or electric, number of strings, types of wood, etc. So choosing one in particular is not easy. But if you are looking for good options, one can be the Stagg BC300-WS, a 4-string electric bass made of alder wood. On the other hand, if you need an acoustic bass, the Ortega PM SHAMAN made of mahogany, with pre-amp and integrated tuner, can be a very practical model.
How to choose the best basses
If you have any doubts about the features that you could analyze when making a comparison, here we present a guide to buy the best bass, with which you could be clearer about what is considered relevant in these instruments, in order to identify the one that best covers with your expectations in the end for which you have it destined.
Among the broader classifications of bass, we can find the body type, which could be hollow or solid. If it is an acoustic bass, it will be a hollow body, something that mainly influences its lightness and what is sought is that the sound bounce inside. These basses usually have a sound with slightly less definition, but it can also be said that it is capable of producing sounds more bass than an electric one.
To talk about solid body ones, we can say that they are much heavier, but in them the definition will depend largely on the electrical parts that are added to the instrument, which will be of higher or lower quality and thus transmit the vibrations to the amplifier. .
How it is made
Vibrations are a very important issue on a bass guitar, the more solid it is, the better the vibrations of the instrument are perceived. In such a way that it influences a lot if the neck is glued, if it is only screwed or if it is a single piece between the neck and the body.
Generally, this also influences how much the instrument costs, but if the sound it produces is what you want, it may be worth investing your money in the model. However, you can find an inexpensive bass with a good build, it’s just a matter of reviewing this in detail.
Pickup types and location
Another important element in the bass is the pickups, there are active and passive ones, but what does this refer to? The active ones tend to have greater signal clarity, so they can be indicated when looking for greater sound clarity and that background noise is eliminated. For their part, the passive ones, can offer a greater range of sounds, so that in a comparison of bass, we must take this point into account and check if it meets the needs.
The location of the pickups is another important point, as it is not the same to play the strings near the arm of the instrument, as it is near the bridge. So you could analyze your preferences in this regard, to determine where at least one of the pills should be located if it has several.
If you are concerned about comfort when playing a bass, we can say that the long scale, which is approximately 81 cm, is the most common. However, it is a fact that the distance between frets can be more difficult for some players. Or put another way, on a short scale bass, which is about 76cm, it’s probably easier and more comfortable to play fast fingerings, because the fret spacing is shorter.
In terms of sound, those short scale basses may have less tension in the strings and define a little less, but they also reach interesting low nuances. So choosing between a short and long scale bass will depend on the preferences of the musician.
In principle, we can say that the basses began as 4 strings, these were used in almost all the music that we know composed until the mid-80s, but in more recent times we find compositions with a greater variety of sounds, which is why the called broader scale instruments.
Here the basses were also modified, adding the 5-string bass with an extended bass scale and also the 6-string ones, which also add more treble sounds to the instrument. If you are looking for a bass to play modern music, you may find it more versatile to have a 5- or 6-string bass. This way you will not fall short when trying to interpret a melody that needs higher or lower tones.
On the other hand, an instrument not only fulfills its function by generating a pleasant and balanced sound, it is also often sought that it has an attractive appearance, that the finishes are of quality and that it has an ergonomics that helps to play comfortably. So we invite you to also evaluate these aspects in your selection, because with a bass that motivates you to play, you can surely have better results and be better inspired.
If we talk about the materials of a bass, we must mention types of wood. As in other instruments, this aspect will give the instrument a very peculiar sound, being balanced, brighter in the high registers or even achieving a sustain effect in the bass that many musicians look for in a bass. Some of the most used materials are maple, which achieves defined bass, and mahogany, which can be described as fairly balanced in tone.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to tune 5-string bass?
Some musicians turn to this type of bass to have a greater variety of sounds in their melodies. To get a bass with this amount of strings to be in tune, you must start by tuning the thinnest string in the G note, later, as in a 4-string note, the next string will have a tuning in D, following the , E and finally, you will have to tune its last and fifth strings, which is the thickest in Yes. To achieve its tuning, you can use an appropriate tuner for bass or a digital tone generator.
Q2: Is it essential to use a bass amp?
On very rare occasions when there is no amplifier specially designed for bass, it is possible to use a guitar one without this implying a high risk for the amplifier, since nowadays they have a greater resistance, however, you have to Note that a special one for this type of instrument is better prepared in terms of materials and design , to withstand these very low frequencies that are generated by the instrument, so in the case of a melody recording where you want to reproduce a good sound, if it could be considered essential, to give the final product higher quality.
Q3: What is a double neck bass good for?
These instruments are not very popular, although visually they could be very attractive. In fact, it is difficult to find them and sometimes they are acquired through a special order. This is mainly due to their large size and the high weight they can have, which makes it relatively uncomfortable to use. However, they can put some interesting effects at the player’s fingertips , which they can perform on their own to complement the melody, as each of the arms can provide sounds in different octaves. Thus having two instruments in one.
Q4: Can I use a bass guitar pedalboard?
Yes, it can be used, but because each of these instruments works at different sound frequencies, you may not get the sound you expect with your own bass pedal. Some musicians, however, enjoy experimenting and creating interesting effects by mixing guitar pedals with a bass. So there is not in itself a compatibility problem or an action that could damage the pedalboard. But in most cases it would be better to use a bass pedal for this particular instrument.
Q5: How to turn guitar into bass?
In case you are looking for a versatile and affordable option, to emulate the sound of a bass without meaning to acquire another instrument, you can achieve it with your guitar. For this you only need to purchase a specific pedal for this function such as the Pure octave from the Mooer brand, but there are also other brands. The objective of this type of pedal is to transform the sound it receives from the guitar and make it more serious. It generally has several buttons in which you can configure how many octaves you want to deepen the sound and some other options to emphasize the treble, bass or make mixes.
Q6: What is the difference between a bass and a guitar?
There are several differences that we can mention, such as the most notable, it could be that the bass consists of 4 strings, while the guitar has 6. On the other hand, the sound corresponds in note with the strings of the guitar, but on a lower scale, which helps to accompany the songs, being an instrument preferably to set the rhythm, as does the drums.
Q7: Which bass is better, Fender or Ibanez?
This will depend on the model to be analyzed, since both brands have very efficient models, which are stable in sound and can achieve very attractive effects.
Q8: Is it worth buying a second hand bass?
It is necessary to thoroughly review aspects such as the general condition, the quality of the wood that was used for its manufacture and that there are no fissures or cracks. As well as checking that the clamping pieces such as the tuners and tensioners, are correctly placed. After you’ve run the instrument through a detailed analysis and found it to be in good condition, then a second-hand bass is likely to be a good investment. But when in doubt, it would be best to find a new one.
How to use a bass
This peculiar instrument stands out among others for being tuned in a register of very low notes, this gives a very interesting nuance to the melodies, that is why many musicians add it to their favorite instruments. If you have recently purchased one, here we give you more information about its use.
Make sure you have read the manual
Each instrument is special, it is constituted in a specific way and its mechanical and electronic mechanisms may have qualities that must be taken into account when using it. For this reason, it is a good idea to always educate yourself about these aspects. This way you can give a better use to your instrument.
Check if this is the case, the type of batteries you must install, the way in which you can access the special compartment for this piece and the additional configurations that the instrument offers.
Store your instrument in a cool and dry place
As with other instruments that are made of wood, the bass must be preserved from the damaging effects of humidity, sudden changes in temperature and any accident that may involve the instrument receiving a blow. For this, it is highly recommended that if the percentage of environmental humidity is high in the geographical area where you live, take additional precautions such as always keeping the instrument in an appropriate case with a desiccant that keeps the interior dry.
Avoid making modifications to your instrument without prior analysis
In electric basses, it is very common that parts such as pickups are replaced or others are added. Our recommendation is that before acquiring the replacement part or that you are going to add, analyze the compatibility with the rest of the electronic elements, since they are sensitive parts and it is important that you make sure in advance that the result of the change will be beneficial.
In the same way, if you want to make a drastic change, such as repainting your instrument, it is important that you do it with great care, so as not to alter its basic characteristics.
Maintain it regularly
Among the actions that you must perform with certain periodicity on your bass is maintenance , which will mainly consist of cleaning the strings of any dirt that could remain after playing, especially if you have a marked tendency to perspire through your hands. This can leave substances that deteriorate and dull the sound. To do this, you can help yourself with a special conditioning product for strings. Or in an extreme case, you can resort to removing the strings one by one and subjecting them to a boiling process to loosen this dirt.
You should also regularly check the height adjustment of the strings. This can be checked with a ruler and it will help you to know if the structure of your bass has been altered, but it also serves to make the relevant changes to have a comfortable playing.
The origin and parts of the electric bass
The electric bass is a musical instrument that emits serious sounds, but its creation was not inspired only by the characteristics of the double bass, but also through the electric guitar, two very different instruments. Leo Fender was the one who opted for the fusion between this acoustic instrument of the symphony orchestra and his most emblematic creation, the Fender Stratocaster.
Bass sounds and their importance in music
The human ear has always taken into account sounds in a general way, that is, it has not only been interested in the medium and high frequencies, but also the bass. Consequently, in the world of music there are various instruments that respond to these tastes of the ear, for example, the Ukulele, which emits high-pitched sounds or the electric bass, since the latter provides bass sounds.
This means that perhaps, in an attempt to find better musical harmony, man was interested in creating an instrument that emits only bass sounds. This is how we can highlight the bass as an important instrument in orchestras and bands of various musical genres. Also, what would our favorite songs be without the bass sounds, maybe they were a bit boring or empty.
The importance of bass in music is so important that even brands of stereo equipment have created features in their products that increase the level of the bass or simply make it stand out more.
The origins of the electric bass
According to historians, the electric bass has its origins in 1951, after Leo Fender created the first model. This bass was made because the double bass was a very large instrument to transfer to rehearsals and concerts, in addition, it took up a lot of space on platforms or storage places.
This is how an electric bass, the Fender Precision Bass, first appeared in the world. It is an instrument with the strings of the double bass. That is, another design, but with the same musical notes for each string, G, D, A, E. In other words, the name of the strings was Sol, Re, La, Mi, the first being thinner and sharper than the others.
Advantages of the Fender Precision Bass vs. the Double Bass
The first bass created by Fender was pluggable as it had an electrical circuit with a volume knob and microphones. By this we mean the pre-amp system, which did not have a double bass. Thanks to the electrical circuit it can be connected to speakers or bass amplifiers, professional live sound or mixers in recording studios. Also, the strings of the Fender Precision Bass were smaller or thinner than those of the double bass, which made the playing easier, with less injury to the player’s fingers.
Instead, the double bass was an acoustic instrument that required the use of an external microphone in order to amplify it. Of course, this was not a problem for jazz musicians and symphony orchestras, as they loved the thick sound of the double bass.
On the other hand, the Precision Bass electric bass had a very peculiar characteristic, that the fingerboard was not smooth, but fretted. These last elements are what divide the tuning fork into various musical notes, making the way of playing the instrument much easier. This means that in the electric bass the musician did not require the ear and the complex technique that he uses in the double bass or the other stringed instruments of the symphony orchestras such as violin, viola and cello.
However, the sound of the double bass is still preferred by various musicians in jazz orchestras or other bands, so the electric bass did not eliminate this instrument entirely. Even today some bassists know how to play both instruments, to use them and adapt them to their musical groups according to the needs or preferences of the moment.
On the other hand, if you want to buy the best bass , it is best to first determine which one you really need, because there are different sizes and models that offer differences in terms of sound. For example, there are electric double basses known as baby bass, which emit low sounds but with a thicker and deeper tone.
The highlights of the bass
Basically, the electric bass has the parts of a Fender Stratocaster guitar, because in its origins this model was its closest influence. Next, we will briefly explain each part.
It is the part of the bass where the strings are held or wound to make their respective tension. In the double bass this part is composed with a volute, but the electric bass changed that aspect, having a head design similar to that of electric guitars.
On the head are the pegs, which originally number 4. There each string is held and the complete set is called a pegbox.
It is the piece of wood that joins the head with the body of the instrument. This part of the electric bass has the fingerboard in the front and behind it has an oval design, similar to that of an electric guitar.
Normally, this part is made of a sheet of wood of a different color and density compared to the handle, for example, rosewood or ebony. This is where the spaces corresponding to each fret are distributed.
It is the small piece of bone or hard plastic that the bass strings rest on. Also, this piece causes the strings to separate a bit from the fretboard.
This area is where the strings near the microphones are held and lifted so that the strings do not rub against them. The headstock and bridge are indispensable parts and one of these elements cannot exist without the other.
They are the ones that give the musical notes and sounds to the bass, without them it is not possible for the instrument to sound. There are almost always 4 strings, but there are also 5 or 6 basses. Brands like Ibanez and Yamaha use to make electric basses with that amount of strings.
It is the widest place on the bass, where the electrical circuit, the buttons, the bridge, the microphones, etc. are located. Each brand makes the body design their own style, so Fender basses have a different body than Ibanez.
Although not all basses come with a pickguard, the Fender Precision Bass and others do have it, placing it on the front of the body. This part protects the bass from scratches while playing it with straws.
This is the pre-amplifier and is made up of buttons, microphones, output jack for the audio cable, etc. It is the part that makes it possible to connect the electric bass to an external sound equipment.