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Chinese troops used tàigǔ drums to motivate troops, to help set a marching pace, and to call out orders or announcements. For example, during a war between Qi and Lu in 684 BC, the effect of drum on soldier's morale is employed to change the result of a major battle. Fife-and-drum corps of Swiss mercenary foot soldiers also used drums. They used an early version of the snare drum carried over the player's right shoulder, suspended by a strap (typically played with one hand using traditional grip). It is to this instrument that the English word "drum" was first used. Similarly, during the English Civil War rope-tension drums would be carried by junior officers as a means to relay commands from senior officers over the noise of battle. These were also hung over the shoulder of the drummer and typically played with two drum sticks. Different regiments and companies would have distinctive and unique drum beats only they recognized. In the mid-19th century, the Scottish military started incorporating pipe bands into their Highland Regiments.[9]
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The first fretless bass guitar was made by Bill Wyman in 1961 when he converted a used UK-built ‘Dallas Tuxedo’ bass by removing the frets and filling in the slots with wood putty.[25][26][27] The first production fretless bass was the Ampeg AUB-1 introduced in 1966, and Fender introduced a fretless Precision Bass in 1970. Around 1970, Rick Danko from The Band began to use an Ampeg fretless, which he modified with Fender pickups—as heard on the 1971 Cahoots studio album and the Rock of Ages album recorded live in 1971.[28][29] Danko said, "It's a challenge to play fretless because you have to really use your ear."[30] In the early 1970s, fusion-jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius had the fingerboard of his de-fretted Fender Jazz Bass coated in epoxy resin, allowing him to use roundwound strings for a brighter sound.[31] Some fretless basses have "fret line" markers inlaid in the fingerboard as a guide, while others only use guide marks on the side of the neck.
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.

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.[18] 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,[19] 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.
On early recording media (until 1925[15]) such as wax cylinders and discs carved with an engraving needle, sound balancing meant that musicians had to be literally moved in the room.[15] Drums were often put far from the horn (part of the mechanical transducer) to reduce sound distortion. Since this affected the rendition of cymbals at playback, sound engineers of the time remedied the situation by asking drummers to play the content of the cymbals onto woodblocks, temple blocks, and cowbells for their loudness and short decay.[citation needed]
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.

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.
Dual coil "humbucker" pickups, sometimes abbreviated to DC pickups, have two signal-producing coils that are reverse-wound around opposed polarity magnets (similar in principle to the two individual J-pickups or the two halves of a modern Precision pickup, only in a single housing). This significantly reduces unwanted noise from electromagnetic interference compared to single coil pickups. Humbuckers also often produce a higher output level than single coil pickups, though many dual-coil pickups are marketed as retrofits for single-coil designs like the J pickup and advertise a similar output and tonal character to the stock single-coils. Dual coil pickups come in two main varieties; ceramic or ceramic and steel. Ceramic-only magnets have a relatively "harsher" sound than their ceramic and steel counterparts, and are thus used more commonly in heavier rock styles (heavy metal music, hardcore punk, etc.).
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.[20]
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