Many students that are interested in learning to play the piano don’t start by playing a large grand piano. Because of the high cost and amount of space required, most people who are just starting to learn the piano will buy a digital piano or a keyboard. It’s not uncommon for people to erroneously use the terms “digital piano” and “keyboard” interchangeably. What these people don’t know is that there are many significant differences between digital or electronic pianos and keyboards. In this article, we’ll go into some of the differences as well as what they mean for the music that each instrument is able to produce.
The fretting hand can add vibrato to a plucked or picked note, either a gentle, narrow vibrato or a more exaggerated, wide vibrato with bigger pitch variations. For fretted basses, vibrato is always an alternation between the pitch of the note and a slightly higher pitch. For fretless basses, the player can use this style of vibrato, or they can alternate between the note and a slightly lower pitch, as is done with the double bass and on other unfretted stringed instruments. While vibrato is mostly done on "stopped" notes—that is, notes that are pressed down on the fingerboard—open strings can also be vibratoed by pressing down on the string behind the nut. As well, the fretting hand can be used to "bend" a plucked or picked note up in pitch, by pushing or pulling the string so that the note sounds at a higher pitch. To create the opposite effect, a "bend down", the string is pushed to a higher pitch before being plucked or picked and then allowed to fall to the lower, regular pitch after it is sounded. Though rare, some bassists may use a tremolo bar-equipped bass to produce the same effect.
Electronic drum pads are the second most widely used type of MIDI performance controllers, after electronic music keyboards.:319–320 Drum controllers may be built into drum machines, they may be standalone control surfaces (e.g., rubber drum pads), or they may emulate the look and feel of acoustic percussion instruments. The pads built into drum machines are typically too small and fragile to be played with sticks, and they are usually played with fingers.:88 Dedicated drum pads such as the Roland Octapad or the DrumKAT are playable with the hands or with sticks, and are often built to resemble the general form of a drum kit. There are also percussion controllers such as the vibraphone-style MalletKAT,:88–91 and Don Buchla's Marimba Lumina.
A fully electronic kit is also easier to soundcheck than acoustic drums, assuming that the electronic drum module has levels that the drummer has pre-set in her/his practice room; in contrast, when an acoustic kit is sound checked, most drums and cymbals need to be miked and each mic needs to be tested by the drummer so its level and tone equalization can be adjusted by the sound engineer. As well, even after all the individual drum and cymbal mics are soundchecked, the engineer needs to listen to the drummer play a standard groove, to check that the balance between the kit instruments is right. Finally, the engineer needs to set up the monitor mix for the drummer, which the drummer uses to hear her/his instruments and the instruments and vocals of the rest of the band. With a fully electronic kit, many of these steps could be eliminated.
Among digital pianos, there are several differences. The three main types of digital pianos are standard digital pianos, upright digital pianos, and stage pianos. Upright vertical pianos are built with a large cabinet, not unlike a real upright piano. They are often fitted with the best hammer action key systems and tone generation engines so that they are comparable to real upright pianos. Obviously, they still take up as much space as a real one, but there is less maintenance required. Stage pianos are digital pianos designed to be used in live performances, or on stage. They are much more portable than traditional pianos, and much sturdier than standard digital pianos. Standard digital pianos are intended more for practice and play at home. They are not as large or fully featured but offer an excellent balance of sound and portability.
No matter how you choose to distinguish yourself - acoustic-electric, custom, signature model, extended range or the tried-and-true standbys - one thing that will never change is that music is a personal thing. Only you can decide which bass guitar belongs onstage and in the studio with you, so you've got every reason to check out all the instruments here: chances are you'll know the right one when you find it.
Detuners, such as the Hipshot, are mechanical devices the player operates with the thumb on the fretting hand to quickly retune one or more strings to a pre-set lower pitch. Hipshots typically drop the E-string down to D on a four-string bass. Rarely, some bassists (e.g., Michael Manring) add detuners to more than one string, or even more than one detuner to each string, so they can retune during a performance and access a wider range of chime-like harmonics.
For musicians like us that play bass, we never seem to get the recognition we deserve! Without us serving up those intricate grooves or beefy low-end riffs, the sound of our bands just wouldn’t be the same! Here at Sam Ash, we want you to know that we truly appreciate you as a bass player no matter what level you’re at or what style or genre of music you play!
Once the basic parameters were established, I reached out to colleagues who are piano teachers or musical directors to get a sense of what models were in highest rotation in the professional world. I also played several models at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in January. From there I searched through Amazon, Musician’s Friend, and Sweetwater for available models, then cross-checked that information with manufacturer websites and added anything that was missing. After considering all that information, I decided to limit the price to $500. That was high enough to include several quality-built keyboards that met all (or most) of the criteria without being too pricey. This gave me a list of 21 models from nine different companies.
A number of accessories are designed for the bass drum (also called "kick drum"). Ported tubes for the bass drum are available to take advantage of the bass reflex speaker design, in which a tuned port (a hole and a carefully measured tube) are put in a speaker enclosure to improve the bass response at the lowest frequencies. Bass drumhead patches are available, which protect the drumhead from the impact of the felt beater. Bass drum pillows are fabric bags with filling or stuffing that can be used to alter the tone or resonance of the bass drum. A less expensive alternative to using a specialized bass drum pillow is to use an old sleeping bag.
Five strings usually tuned B0–E1–A1–D2–G2, providing extended lower range. Another common tuning on early 1970s five-string basses added a high note instead of a low note: E–A–D–G–C, known as tenor tuning. This tuning is still popular among jazz and solo bassists. Other tunings, such as C–E–A–D–G are rare. Some bassists like C as the lowest pitch because that's the lowest note on an upright bass with a C, and C is a common note in a few popular keys C (e.g., C major, G major, F major). Some players may detune the lowest string to B♭ or A. B♭ is common for bassists who play in brass bands, as B♭ is an important and common key for this type of ensemble. Relative to a four-string bass, the fifth string provides a greater lower range (with a low B, C, or A) or a greater upper range (with a high C or B is added) and provides more notes for any single hand position. The earliest five string was created by Fender in 1965. The Fender Bass V used the E–A–D–G–C tuning, but was unpopular and discontinued in 1970. The type of low B five-string was created by Jimmy Johnson as a custom instrument in 1975. He bought an E–A–D–G–C 5-string Alembic bass, replaced the nut, and used a new, thick low B string from GHS. Steinberger made a 5-string headless instrument called the L-2/5 in 1982, and later Yamaha offered the first production model as the BB5000 in 1984.
Specific bass brands/models became identified with particular styles of music, such as the Rickenbacker 4001 series, which became identified with progressive rock bassists like Chris Squire of Yes, and Geddy Lee of Rush, while the StingRay was used by funk/disco players such Louis Johnson of the funk band The Brothers Johnson and Bernard Edwards of Chic. The 4001 stereo bass was introduced in the late 1960s; it can be heard on the Beatles' "I Am The Walrus." 
As the music of the world was evolving, so was the drum set. Tom-tom drums, small crash cymbals, Chinese cymbals and hi-hat cymbals were added to the drum set. The hi-hats were the primary way for the drummers of the big band era to keep time. Before 1930, while playing the New Orleans jazz and Chicago styles, drummers would choke the cymbals on the "ands" of eighth note figures as an alternative to playing a buzz roll, the rim of the drums, or on the woodblocks to keep time. This muting method of keeping time by choking the crash and china cymbals proved to be awkward, so the drummers of that time came up with the idea of having a foot-operated cymbal. This resulted in the creation of the snowshoe cymbal, a foot-operated cymbal. It enabled drummers to play the eighth note figures between the right and left foot, improving the ergonomics and facility of drumset playing and helping drummers to keep a more steady rhythm.
If you’re looking for more traditional hand drums, you can travel the world with our assortment of hand drums from all over the world. Djembes are rich-sounding, African drums that can produce a variety of tones. Check out our selection of doumbeks, Arabic drums, usually made of metal, that provide crisp, melodic cracks and pops. Hand drums and other handheld percussions, like tambourines and shakers, are great for impromptu jam sessions and for kids to learn basic rhythms. Our bongos are fun for reliving the glory of the beat poets of the 1950s, or for a foray into the lively musical traditions of salsa, son, or samba.
In the jazz scene, since the bass guitar takes on much of the same role as the double bass—laying down the rhythm, and outlining the harmonic foundation—electric bass players have long used both bass guitar methods and jazz double bass method books. The use of jazz double bass method books by electric bass players in jazz is facilitated in that jazz methods tend to emphasize improvisation techniques (e.g., how to improvise walking basslines) and rhythmic exercises rather than specific ways of holding or plucking the instrument.
The number of frets installed on a bass guitar neck may vary. The original Fender basses had 20 frets, and most bass guitars have between 20 and 24 frets or fret positions. Instruments with between 24 and 36 frets (2 and 3 octaves) also exist. Instruments with more frets are used by bassists who play bass solos, as more frets gives them additional upper range notes. When a bass has a large number of frets, such as a 36 fret instrument, the bass may have a deeper "cutaway" to enable the performer to reach the higher pitches. Like electric guitars, fretted basses typically have markers on the fingerboard and on the side of the neck to assist the player in determining where notes and important harmonic points are. The markers indicate the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th fret and 12th fret (the 12th fret being the octave of the open string) and on the octave-up equivalents of the 3rd fret and as many additional positions as an instrument has frets for. Typically, one marker is on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th fret positions and two markers on the 12th fret.
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Composers using electric bass include Christian Wolff (Electric Spring 1, 1966; Electric Spring 2, 1966/70; Electric Spring 3, 1967; and Untitled, 1996); Francis Thorne (Liebesrock 1968–69); Krzysztof Penderecki (Cello Concerto no. 1, 1966/67, rev. 1971/72; Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra, 1967); The Devils of Loudun, 1969; Kosmogonia, 1970; and Partita, 1971); Louis Andriessen (Spektakel, 1970; De Staat, 1972–1976; Hoketus, 1976; De Tijd, 1980–81; and De Materie, 1984–1988); Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (Symfoni på Rygmarven, 1966; Rerepriser, 1967; and Piece by Piece, 1968); and Irwin Bazelon (Churchill Downs, 1970).
While the electric guitar is mostly played with a pick, the bass or jazz bass can be played with either a pick or your fingers. Because of the sensitivity of the pickup on the bass, the two tend to produce somewhat different tones. For example, finger style play can create additional sound from the impact of the strings against the frets, while playing with a pick offers a sharper, more staccato sound. Neither style is better than the other, and there are many famous examples of players using each one. Sometimes, there are conventions of play for a particular genre, but more often it comes down to how a bassist originally learned to play.
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Whereas Fender basses had pickups mounted in positions in between the base of the neck and the top of the bridge, many of Gibson's early basses featured one humbucking pickup mounted directly against the neck pocket. The EB-3, introduced in 1961, also had a "mini-humbucker" at the bridge position. Gibson basses also tended to be smaller, sleeker instruments; Gibson did not produce a 34-inch (864 mm) scale bass until 1963 with the release of the Thunderbird, which was also the first Gibson bass to use dual-humbucking pickups in a more traditional position, about halfway between the neck and bridge. A number of other companies also began manufacturing bass guitars during the 1950s: Kay in 1952, Hofner and Danelectro in 1956, Rickenbacker in 1957 and Burns/Supersound in 1958.
If you’re a beginner, we offer a range of bass guitar starter kits, which typically come with an electric bass guitar, a bass amp, and the necessary bass accessories you’ll need to kick off your bass career! We also have short-scale bass guitars in our inventory, which may feel more comfortable in your hands if you’re a younger or smaller player. If you’re looking to start taking lessons or you want to teach yourself how to play the bass guitar, we have a plenty of instructional bass books that you can check out!
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Many drummers extend their kits from this basic configuration, adding more drums, more cymbals, and many other instruments including pitched percussion. In some styles of music, particular extensions are normal. For example, rock and heavy metal drummers make use of double bass drums, which can be achieved with either a second bass drum or a remote double foot pedal. Some progressive drummers may include orchestral percussion such as gongs and tubular bells in their rig. Some performers, such as some rockabilly drummers, play small kits that omit elements from the basic setup. Some drum kit players may have other roles in the band, such as providing backup vocals, or less commonly, lead vocals.
A unique effect can be created by striking an open hi-hat (i.e., in which the two cymbals are apart) and then closing the cymbals with the foot pedal; this effect is widely used in disco and funk. The hi-hat has a similar function to the ride cymbal. The two are rarely played consistently for long periods at the same time, but one or the other is used to keep the faster-moving rhythms (e.g., sixteenth notes) much of the time in a song. The hi-hats are played by the right stick of a right-handed drummer. Changing between ride and hi-hat, or between either and a "leaner" sound with neither, is often used to mark a change from one passage to another, for example; to distinguish between a verse and chorus.
In most genres, a "clean" bass tone (without any amplifier-induced "overdrive" or "distortion") is desirable, and so while guitarists often prefer the more desirable distorted tones of tube-transistor amplifiers, bassists commonly use solid-state amplifier circuitry to achieve the necessary high output wattages with less weight than tubes (though smaller tubes can often still be found in the low-power "preamplifier" sections of the system, where they provide a warmer, smoother character to the bass tone for relatively little additional weight). A few all-tube bass amplifiers are still available, notably from the Ampeg brand.
Like the electric guitar, the electric bass guitar is almost always connected to an amplifier and a speaker with a patch cord for live performances. Electric bassists use either a "combo" amplifier, which combines an amplifier and a speaker in a single cabinet, or an amplifier and one or more speaker cabinets (typically stacked, with the amplifier sitting on the speaker cabinets, leading to the term "half-stack" for one cabinet setups and "full stack" for two).
Drummers using electronic drums, drum machines, or hybrid acoustic-electric kits (which blend traditional acoustic drums and cymbals with electronic pads) typically use a monitor speaker, keyboard amplifier or even a small PA system to hear the electronic drum sounds. Even a drummer playing entirely acoustic drums may use a monitor speaker to hear her drums, especially if she is playing in a loud rock or metal band, where there is substantial onstage volume from huge, powerful guitar stacks. Since the drum kit uses the deep bass drum, drummers are often given a large speaker cabinet with a 15" subwoofer to help them monitor their bass drum sound (along with a full-range monitor speaker to hear the rest of their kit). Some sound engineers and drummers prefer to use an electronic vibration system, colloquially known as a "butt shaker" or "throne thumper" to monitor the bass drum, because this lowers the stage volume. With a "butt shaker", the "thump" of each bass drum strike causes a vibration in the drum stool; this way the drummer feels their beat on the posterior, rather than hears it.
Several factors determine the sound a drum produces, including the type, shape and construction of the drum shell, the type of drum heads it has, and the tension of these drumheads. Different drum sounds have different uses in music. Take, for example, the modern Tom-tom drum. A jazz drummer may want drums that are high pitched, resonant and quiet whereas a rock drummer may prefer drums that are loud, dry and low-pitched. Since these drummers want different sounds, their drums are constructed and tuned differently.
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