1956 saw the appearance at the German trade fair "Musikmesse Frankfurt" of the distinctive Höfner 500/1 violin bass made using violin construction techniques by Walter Höfner, a second generation violin luthier. The instrument is often known as the "Beatle Bass", due to its endorsement and use by Beatles bassist Paul McCartney. In 1957 Rickenbacker introduced the model 4000 bass, the first bass to feature a neck-through-body design in which the neck is part of the body wood. The Fender and Gibson versions used bolt-on and glued-on necks.
Fender also began production of the Mustang Bass; a 30-inch (762 mm) scale length instrument used by bassists such as Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones ("P" and "J" basses have a scale length of 34 inches (864 mm), a design echoed on most current production electric basses of all makes). In the 1950s and 1960s, the instrument was often called the "Fender bass", due to Fender's early dominance in the market. The Fender VI, a baritone guitar, was tuned one octave lower than standard guitar tuning. It was released in 1961, and was favored by Jack Bruce of Cream.
"Jazz" pickups (referring to the original Fender Jazz Bass), also referred to as "J pickups", are wider eight-pole pickups that lie underneath all four strings. J pickups are typically single-coil designs, though there are a large number of humbucking designs. Traditionally, two of them are used, one of them near the bridge and another closer to the neck. As with the halves of P-pickups, the J-pickups are reverse-wound with reverse magnetic polarity. As a result, they have hum canceling properties when used at the same volume, with hum cancellation decreasing when the pickups are at unequal volume, and absent if the player uses only one pickup. 'J' Style pickups tend to have a lower output and a thinner sound than 'P' Style pickups. Many bassists combine a 'J' pickup at the bridge and a 'P' pickup at the neck, so they can blend the two sounds.
Bassists trying to emulate the sound of a double bass sometimes pluck the strings with their thumb and use palm-muting to create a short, "thumpy" tone. Monk Montgomery (who played in Lionel Hampton's big band) and Bruce Palmer (who performed with Buffalo Springfield) use thumb downstrokes. The use of the thumb was acknowledged by early Fender models, which came with a "thumbrest" or "Tug Bar" attached to the pickguard below the strings. Contrary to its name, this was not used to rest the thumb, but to provide leverage while using the thumb to pluck the strings. The thumbrest was moved above the strings in 1970s models (as a true thumbrest) and eliminated in the 1980s. Nevertheless, some reissued versions of vintage Fender basses in the 2010s do include a thumbrest.
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.
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.
Timbales are tuned much higher than a tom of the same diameter, and normally played with very light, thin, non-tapered sticks. They have relatively thin heads and a very different tone than a tom, but are used by some drummers/percussionists to extend the tom range upwards. Alternatively, they can be fitted with tom heads and tuned as shallow concert toms. Attack timbales and mini timbales are reduced-diameter timbales designed for drum kit usage, the smaller diameter allowing for thicker heads providing the same pitch and head tension. They are recognizable in 2010s genres and in more traditional forms of Latin, reggae & numerous world music styles. Timbales were also used on occasion by Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Gong drums are a rare extension to a drum kit. The single-headed mountable drum appears similar to a bass drum (sizing around 20–24 inches in diameter), but has the same purpose as that of a floor tom. Similarly, most hand drum percussion cannot be played easily or suitably with drum sticks without risking damage to the head and to the bearing edge, which is not protected by a metal drum rim, like a snare or tom. For use in a drum kit, they may be fitted with a metal drum head and played with care, or played by hand.
Maybe you're looking for something a bit more conspicuous, that you can make into the centerpiece of your music room? If so, you'll want to investigate options like the Yamaha Arius YDP-142 and Suzuki Micro Grand Digital Piano. These advanced instruments sound every bit as gorgeous as they look, and they offer the ability to record your and store your performances to listen again later or even to playback as accompaniments.