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Piccolo basses are cosmetically similar to a four-stringed electric bass guitar, but usually tuned one whole octave higher than a normal bass. The first electric piccolo bass was constructed by luthier Carl Thompson for Stanley Clarke. To allow for the raised tuning, the strings are thinner, and the length of the neck (the scale) may be shorter. Several companies manufacture piccolo sets that can be put on any regular bass, thereby converting any bass into a piccolo bass. Because of the thinner strings, a new nut may be required to hold the strings. Some people prefer a slightly shorter scale, such as 30 or 28 inches (762 or 711 mm), as the higher tension required for longer scale lengths coupled with the thinner gauge of higher-pitched strings can make a long-scale piccolo bass difficult to play. The tuning varies with the personal tastes of the artist, as does the number of strings. Joey DeMaio from the heavy metal band Manowar plays with four strings on his piccolo bass. Jazz bassist John Patitucci used a six-string piccolo bass, unaccompanied, on his song "Sachi's Eyes" on his album One More Angel. Michael Manring has used a five-string piccolo bass in several altered tunings. Michael uses D'Addario EXL 280 piccolo bass strings on his four-string hyperbass, made by Zon Guitars.
While digital pianos may sometimes fall short of a real piano in feel and sound, they nevertheless have other advantages over acoustic pianos. Digital pianos cost much less than an acoustic piano and most models are much smaller and lighter in weight than an acoustic piano. In addition, digital pianos do not need to be tuned, and their tuning can be modified to match the tuning of another instrument (e.g., a pipe organ). Like other electronic musical instruments, digital pianos can be connected to a keyboard amplifier or a PA system to produce a sound loud enough for a large venue. Some digital pianos can also emulate other sounds besides the piano, the most common ones being pipe organ, electric piano, Hammond organ and harpsichord. Digital pianos are often used in music schools and music studios to replace traditional instruments.
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.
In traditional music such as country music, folk rock, and related styles, the bass often plays the roots and fifth (typically the fifth below the root) of each chord in alternation. In these styles, bassists often use scalar "walkups" or "walkdowns" when there is a chord change. In Chicago blues, the electric bass often performs a walking bassline made up of scales and arpeggios. In blues rock bands, the bassist often plays blues scale-based riffs and chugging boogie-style lines. In metal, the bass guitar may perform complex riffs along with the rhythm guitarist or play a low, rumbling pedal point to anchor the group's sound.
Instruments handmade by highly skilled luthiers are becoming increasingly available in the 2010s. Exotic materials in high-end instruments include woods such as bubinga, wenge, ovangkol, ebony, and goncalo alves. Some makers use graphite composite to make lightweight necks More expensive basses often feature exotic woods. For example, Alembic uses cocobolo as a body or top layer material because of its attractive grain. Warwick bass guitars are well known for exotic hardwoods, making most necks out of ovangkol, and fingerboards from wenge or ebony. Some makers use solid bubinga bodies for their tonal and aesthetic qualities.
Eight and twelve-string models are both built on the same "course string" concept found on twelve-string guitars, where sets of strings are spaced together in groups of two or three that are primarily played simultaneously. These instruments typically have one of the strings in each course tuned an octave above the 'standard' string, although a fifth above is also used. Instruments with ten and fifteen strings, grouped in five courses, also exist, as do "extended-range basses" or ERBs with non-coursed string counts rivaling those of coursed-string basses.