A player can use the fretting hand to change a sounded note, either by fully muting it after plucking it, or by partially muting it near the bridge to reduce volume, or make the note fade faster. The fretting hand often mutes strings that are not being played to stop sympathetic vibrations, particularly when the player wants a "dry" or "focused" sound. On the other hand, the sympathetic resonance of harmonically related strings are sometimes desirable. In these cases, a bassist can fret harmonically related notes. For example, while fretting a sustained "F" (on the third fret of the "D" string), underneath an F major chord being played by a piano player, a bassist might hold down the "C" and low "F" below this note so their harmonics sound sympathetically.
The "Fender Bass" was a revolutionary new instrument for gigging musicians. In comparison with the large, heavy upright bass, which had been the main bass instrument in popular music, folk and country music from the early 1900s to the 1940s, the Fender bass could be easily transported to shows. The bass guitar was also less prone to unwanted feedback sounds when amplified, than acoustic bass instruments. In 1953 Monk Montgomery became the first bass player to tour with the Fender bass guitar, in Lionel Hampton's postwar big band. Montgomery was also possibly the first to record with the bass guitar, on 2 July 1953 with The Art Farmer Septet. Roy Johnson (with Lionel Hampton), and Shifty Henry (with Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five), were other early Fender bass pioneers. Bill Black, playing with Elvis Presley, switched from upright bass to the Fender Precision Bass around 1957. The bass guitar was intended to appeal to guitarists as well as upright bass players, and many early pioneers of the instrument, such as Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn, were originally guitarists.
By World War I, drum kits were often marching band-style military bass drums with many percussion items suspended on and around them. Drum kits became a central part of jazz music, especially Dixieland. The modern drum kit was developed in the Vaudeville era during the 1920s in New Orleans. In 1917, a New Orleans band called "The Original Dixieland Jazz Band " recorded jazz tunes that became hits all over the country. These were the first official jazz recordings. Drummers such as Baby Dodds, "Zutty" Singleton and Ray Bauduc had taken the idea of marching rhythms, combining the bass drum and snare drum and "traps", a term used to refer to the percussion instruments associated with immigrant groups, which included miniature cymbals, tom toms, cowbells and woodblocks. They started incorporating these elements with ragtime, which had been popular for a couple of decades, creating an approach which evolved into a jazz drumming style.
If the toms are omitted completely, or the bass drum is replaced by a pedal-operated beater on the bottom skin of a floor tom and the hanging toms omitted, the result is a two-piece "cocktail" (lounge) kit. Such kits are particularly favoured in musical genres such as trad jazz, rockabilly and jump blues. Some rockabilly kits and beginners kits for very young players omit the hi-hat stand. In rockabilly, this allows the drummer to play standing rather than seated.
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The fretting hand can also be used to sound notes, either by plucking an open string with the fretting hand, or, in the case of a string that has already been plucked or picked, by "hammering on" a higher pitch or "pulling off" a finger to pluck a lower fretted or open stringed note. Jazz bassists use a subtle form of fretting hand pizzicato by plucking a very brief open string grace note with the fretting hand right before playing the string with the plucking hand. When a string is rapidly hammered on, the note can be prolonged into a trill.
Jump up ^ Tunings such as B–E–A–D (this requires a low "B" string in addition to the other three "standard" strings, and omits the G string), D–A–D–G (a "standard" set of strings, with only the lowest string detuned from E down to D), and D–G–C–F or C–G–C–F (a "standard" set of strings, all of which are detuned either a whole tone, or a whole tone for the three higher-pitched strings and two tones for the E, which is dropped to a low C) give bassists an extended lower range. A tenor bass tuning of A–D–G–C, in which the low E is omitted and a high C is added, provides a higher range.
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.
Although there are far fewer university programs that offer electric bass instruction in jazz and popular music, some universities offer bachelor's degrees (B.Mus.) and Master of Music (M.Mus.) degrees in jazz performance or "commercial music", where electric bass can be the main instrument. In the US, the Manhattan School of Music has a jazz program leading to B.Mus. and M.Mus degrees that accepts students who play bass (double bass and electric bass), guitar, piano, drums, and melody instruments (e.g., saxophone, trumpet, etc.).
"Precision" pickups (which refers to the Fender Precision Bass), also referred to as "P pickups", are two distinct single-coil pickups. Each is offset a small amount along the length of the body so that each half is underneath two strings. The pickups are reverse-wound with reversed magnetic polarity to reduce unwanted hum. This makes the 'P' pickup a humbucking single coil pickup. Less common is the "single-coil P" pickup, used on the original 1951 Fender Precision bass. P-style pickups are generally placed in the "neck" or "middle" position, but some luthiers and performers have used P pickups in the bridge position, or in between two jazz pickups.
Most electric bass guitars use magnetic pickups. The vibrations of the instrument's ferrous metal strings within the magnetic field of the permanent magnets in magnetic pickups produce small variations in the magnetic flux threading the coils of the pickups. This in turn produces small electrical voltages in the coils. Many bass players connect the signal from the bass guitar's pickups to a bass amplifier and loudspeaker using a 1/4" patch cord. These low-level signals are then strengthened by the bass amp's preamplifier electronic circuits, and then amplified with the bass amp's power amplifier and played through one or more speaker(s) in a cabinet.