In contrast to the upright bass (also called "double bass"), the electric bass guitar is played horizontally across the body, like an electric guitar. When the strings are plucked with the fingers (pizzicato), the index and middle fingers (and sometimes the thumb, ring, and little fingers as well) are used. James Jamerson, an influential bassist from the Motown era, played intricate bass lines using only his index finger, which he called "The Hook." There are also variations in how a bassist chooses to rest the right-hand thumb (or left thumb in the case of left-handed players). A player may rest his or her thumb on the top edge of one of the pickups or on the side of the fretboard, which is especially common among bassists who have an upright bass influence. Some bassists anchor their thumbs on the lowest string and move it off the lowest string when they need to play on the low string. Alternatively, the thumb can be rested loosely on the strings to mute the unused strings.
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Palm-muting is a widely used bass technique. The outer edge of the palm of the picking hand is rested on the bridge while picking, and "mutes" the strings, shortening the sustain time. The harder the palm presses, or the more string area that is contacted by the palm, the shorter the string's sustain. The sustain of the picked note can be varied for each note or phrase. The shorter sustain of a muted note on an electric bass can be used to imitate the shorter sustain and character of an upright bass. Palm-muting is commonly done while using a pick, but can also be done without a pick, as when doing down-strokes with the thumb.
As for the experienced and more dedicated guitarists who’d love to set their standards higher, the high-end guitars are the ones to go for. These come with a better electronic system and the top-notch hardware; the same also goes for the tonewoods. Besides sounding better to the ear, a high-end bass guitar will serve you longer and of course, you will feel better.
Various electronic bass effects such as preamplifiers, "stomp box"-style pedals and signal processors and the configuration of the amplifier and speaker can be used to alter the basic sound of the instrument. In the 1990s and early 2000s (decade), signal processors such as equalizers, overdrive devices (sometimes referred to as "fuzz bass"), and compressors or limiters became increasingly popular. Modulation effects like chorus, flanging, phase shifting, and time effects such as delay and looping are less commonly used with bass than with electric guitar, but they are used in some styles of music.
There are a range of different string types including all-metal strings, which are available in many varieties of winding or finishing, each of which produce different tone, including roundwound, flatwound, halfwound, ground wound, and pressure wound); as well as metal strings with different coverings, such as tapewound and wound with plastic coatings. The variety of materials used in the strings gives bass players a range of tonal options. In the 1950s and early 1960s, bassists mostly used flatwound strings with a smooth surface, which had a smooth, damped sound reminiscent of a double bass. In the late 1960s and 1970s, players began using roundwound bass strings, which produce a brighter tone similar to steel guitar strings, though flatwounds also remained in use by players seeking a vintage tone. Roundwounds have a brighter timbre (tone) with longer sustain than flatwounds.
The fretting hand—the left hand for right-handed bass players and right hand for left-handed bass players—presses down the strings to play different notes and shape the tone or timbre of a plucked or picked note. One fretting technique is a finger per fret, where each finger in the fretting hand plays one fret in a given position, giving the advantage that full chromatic scale of over an octave and a half can be played with no up-down wrist movement. Also, the double bass-style technique can be used for fretting. This technique involves using four fingers in the space of three frets, especially in the lower positions (i.e., the fretting positions closer to the nut, where the space between notes is the widest). When considering the spacing between notes, this is a comfortable distance for the average person's hand size, however it requires more up-down hand movements. The main advantage of the "four fingers in three frets technique is less tendon strain, leading to a diminished likelihood of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The image below (of a bassist performing tapping) shows the four-in-three.
Think of some of your favorite songs. Maybe they get your toes tapping, or get you pumped up and ready to take on the world. Regardless of your musical preferences, the odds are that one thing all of our favorite songs have in common is an absolutely killer bass line. The bass has played a key role in holding down the rhythm throughout the history of popular music, and continues to make an impact to this day. Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Been Caught Stealing by Jane's Addiction, Money by Pink Floyd, Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith, and Longview by Green Day are just a few examples of songs that are taken to the next level thanks to their incredible bass lines. Now it's your time to make your mark on this instrument with some serious grooves of your own. You'll find bass guitars for every skill level and playing style in this section.