In the two-handed tapping styles, bassists use both hands to play notes on the fretboard by rapidly pressing and holding the string to the fret. Instead of plucking or picking the string to create a sound, in this technique, the action of striking the string against the fret or the fretboard creates the sound. Since two hands can be used to play on the fretboard, this makes it possible to play interweaving contrapuntal lines, to simultaneously play a bass line and a simple chord, or play chords and arpeggios. Bassist John Entwistle of The Who tapped percussively on the strings, causing them to strike the fretboard with a twangy sound to create drum-style fills. Players noted for this technique include Cliff Burton, Billy Sheehan, Stuart Hamm, John Myung, Victor Wooten, Les Claypool, Mark King, and Michael Manring. The Chapman Stick and Warr Guitars are string instruments specifically designed to play using two-handed tapping.
Torzal Natural Twist is a bass guitar body and neck style invented by luthier Jerome Little from Amherst, Massachusetts. It consists of a neck rotated by a total of 35 degrees, with (+)15 degrees at the bridge and (-)20 at the nut. The designer claims that the ergonomic design increases efficiency of the hands, wrists and arms, which reduces the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. This design is also beneficial to players who have already suffered from such injuries. This patented design differs from traditional bass guitar design by twisting the neck, and bringing the strings toward a more natural hand position at either end of the instrument. The rotation at either side of the instrument in the direction of the hand creates a neck plane that models the natural motion of the hand as it reaches outward. The fretboard also forms a straight line at the location of each string, which should improve the ease of performance.
The drum head has the most effect on how a drum sounds. Each type of drum head serves its own musical purpose and has its own unique sound. Double-ply drumheads dampen high frequency harmonics because they are heavier and they are suited to heavy playing. Drum heads with a white, textured coating on them muffle the overtones of the drum head slightly, producing a less diverse pitch. Drum heads with central silver or black dots tend to muffle the overtones even more. And drum heads with perimeter sound rings mostly eliminate overtones (Howie 2005). Some jazz drummers avoid using thick drum heads, preferring single ply drum heads or drum heads with no muffling. Rock drummers often prefer the thicker or coated drum heads.
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In some styles of music, drummers use electronic effects on drums, such as individual noise gates that mute the attached microphone when the signal is below a threshold volume. This allows the sound engineer to use a higher overall volume for the drum kit by reducing the number of "active" mics which could produce unwanted feedback at any one time. When a drum kit is entirely miked and amplified through the sound reinforcement system, the drummer or the sound engineer can add other electronic effects to the drum sound, such as reverb or digital delay.
Another design consideration for the bass is whether to use frets on the fingerboard. On a fretted bass, the metal frets divide the fingerboard into semitone divisions (as on an electric guitar or acoustic guitar). Fretless basses have a distinct sound, because the absence of frets means that the string must be pressed down directly onto the wood of the fingerboard with the fingers, as with the double bass. The string buzzes against the wood and is somewhat muted because the sounding portion of the string is in direct contact with the flesh of the player's finger. The fretless bass lets players use expressive approaches such as glissando (sliding up or down in pitch, with all of the pitches in between sounding), and vibrato (in which the player rocks a finger that is stopping a string to oscillate the pitch slightly). Fretless players can also play microtones, or temperaments other than equal temperament, such as just intonation.
Most basses have a volume potentiometer ("pot" or "knob"), which can be turned up or down, and a tone potentiometer, which rolls off the high frequencies when it is turned to the player's right. Some basses may also have a pickup selector control or switch, to select single-coil or humbucking pickups. Since the 1980s, basses are often available with battery-powered "active" electronics that boost the signal with a preamplifier and provide equalization controls to boost or cut bass and treble frequencies, or both. Some expensive basses have even more equalization options, such as bass, middle and treble.