I have been playing piano since the early 1980s, and I earned a Bachelor of Music with an audio production and piano focus from Ithaca College as well as a Masters in Music in keyboard collaborative arts from the University of Southern California. For the past 20 years, I’ve been a professional music director and have performed myriad musical styles on different instruments in concert halls and on nightclub stages. I also taught music for 10 years at a private Los Angeles middle and high school.

Cymbals of any type used to provide an accent rather than a regular pattern or groove are known as accent cymbals. While any cymbal can be used to provide an accent, the term is applied more correctly to cymbals for which the main purpose is to provide an accent. Accent cymbals include chime cymbals, small-bell domed cymbals or those with a clear sonorous/oriental chime to them like specialized crash and splash cymbals and many china types too, particularly the smaller or thinner ones.
The Berklee College of Music in Boston offers training for electric bass players. Electric bass students get private lessons and there is a choice of over 270 ensembles to play in. Specific electric bass courses include funk/fusion styles for bass; slap techniques for electric bass; fingerstyle R&B; five- and six-string electric bass playing (including performing chords); and how to read bass sheet music.[64] Berklee College alumni include Jeff Andrews, Victor Bailey, Jeff Berlin, Michael Manring, and Neil Stubenhaus.[64] The Bass Department has two rooms with bass amps for classes and ten private lesson studios equipped with audio recording gear. Berklee offers instruction for the four-, five-, and six-string electric bass, the fretless bass, and double bass. "Students learn concepts in Latin, funk, Motown, and hip-hop, ... jazz, rock, and fusion."[64]

In some styles or settings, such as country music clubs or churches, small venues, or when a live recording is being made, the drummer may use a transparent perspex or plexiglas drum screen (also known as a drum shield) to dampen the onstage volume of the drums. A screen that completely surrounds the drum kit is known as a drum booth. In live sound applications, drum shields are used so that the audio engineer can have more control over the volume of drums that the audience hears through the PA system mix or to reduce the overall volume of the drums, as a way to reduce the overall volume of the band in the venue. In some recording studios, foam and fabric baffles are used in addition to or in place of clear panels. The drawback with foam/cloth baffle panels is that the drummer cannot see other performers, the record producer or the audio engineer well.
Bassists trying to emulate the sound of a double bass sometimes pluck the strings with their thumb and use palm-muting to create a short, "thumpy" tone. Monk Montgomery (who played in Lionel Hampton's big band) and Bruce Palmer (who performed with Buffalo Springfield) use thumb downstrokes. The use of the thumb was acknowledged by early Fender models, which came with a "thumbrest" or "Tug Bar" attached to the pickguard below the strings. Contrary to its name, this was not used to rest the thumb, but to provide leverage while using the thumb to pluck the strings. The thumbrest was moved above the strings in 1970s models (as a true thumbrest) and eliminated in the 1980s. Nevertheless, some reissued versions of vintage Fender basses in the 2010s do include a thumbrest.
In 1918 Baby Dodds (Warren "Baby" Dodds, circa 1898–1959), playing on riverboats with Louis Armstrong on the Mississippi, was modifying the military marching set-up and experimenting with playing the drum rims instead of woodblocks, hitting cymbals with sticks (1919), which was not yet common, and adding a side cymbal above the bass drum, what became known as the ride cymbal. Drum maker William Ludwig developed the "sock" or early low-mounted high-hat after observing Dodd's drumming. Ludwig noticed that Dodd tapped his left foot all the time. Dodds had Ludwig raise the newly produced low hats 9 inches higher to make it easier to play, thus creating the modern hi-hat cymbal.[12] Dodds was one of the first drummers to also play the broken-triplet beat that became the standard pulse and roll of modern ride cymbal playing. Dodds also popularized the use of Chinese cymbals.[13]
A three-piece drum set is the most basic set. A conventional three-piece kit consists of a bass drum, a 14" diameter snare drum, 12"–14" hi-hats, a single 12" diameter hanging tom, 8"–9" in depth, and a suspended cymbal, in the range of 14"–18", both mounted on the bass drum. These kits were common in the 1950s and 1960s and are still used in the 2010s in small acoustic dance bands. It is a common configuration for kits sold through mail order, and, with smaller sized drums and cymbals, for kits for children.
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"Jazz" pickups (referring to the original Fender Jazz Bass), also referred to as "J pickups", are wider eight-pole pickups that lie underneath all four strings. J pickups are typically single-coil designs, though there are a large number of humbucking designs. Traditionally, two of them are used, one of them near the bridge and another closer to the neck. As with the halves of P-pickups, the J-pickups are reverse-wound with reverse magnetic polarity. As a result, they have hum canceling properties when used at the same volume, with hum cancellation decreasing when the pickups are at unequal volume, and absent if the player uses only one pickup. 'J' Style pickups tend to have a lower output and a thinner sound than 'P' Style pickups. Many bassists combine a 'J' pickup at the bridge and a 'P' pickup at the neck, so they can blend the two sounds.
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In "miking" a drum kit, dynamic microphones, which can handle high sound-pressure levels, are usually used to close-mic drums, which is the predominant way to mic drums for live shows. Condenser microphones are used for overheads and room mics, an approach which is more common with sound recording applications. Close miking of drums may be done using stands or by mounting the microphones on the rims of the drums, or even using microphones built into the drum itself, which eliminates the need for stands for these microphones, reducing both clutter and set-up time, as well as isolating them.
An acoustic piano produces reverberation in its soundboard and in the room where it is played. Digital pianos often have a feature to electronically simulate reverberation as well. Other digital pianos may have additional reverberation options such as a "stage simulation." Some also have chorus, tremolo, and phaser effects, all of which are generated by digital signal processing.
Of course, for any student or beginner, Sam Ash carries a full assortment of sheet music and books specifically geared toward budding piano players. We recommend starting with a piano instructional book or piano instructional DVD to learn the basics of music theory, chord progressions, and techniques like which fingers to use on certain scales and the proper ready position. We also have manuscripts for tracking your progress. Once you master the essentials, you can move on to piano music books that will teach you how to play your favorite songs on piano. Here at Sam Ash, we have an incredible selection of music books ranging from books focused on specific albums to compilation books that offer guides to mastering the best hits from a certain decade or genre.
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.

Types of bass lines vary widely, depending on musical style. However, the bass guitarist generally fulfills a similar role: anchoring the harmonic framework (often by emphasizing the roots of the chord progression) and laying down the beat in collaboration with the drummer and other rhythm section instruments. The importance of the bass guitarist and the bass line varies in different styles of music. In some pop styles, such as 1980s-era pop and musical theater, the bass sometimes plays a relatively simple part as the music emphasizes vocals and melody instruments. In contrast, in reggae, funk, or hip-hop, entire songs may center on the bass groove, and the bass line is usually prominent in the mix.


The string can be plucked (or picked) at any point between the bridge and the point where the fretting hand is holding down the string on the fingerboard; different timbres (tones) are produced depending on where along the string it is plucked. When plucked closer to the bridge, the string's harmonics are more pronounced, giving a brighter tone. Closer to the middle of the string, these harmonics are less pronounced, giving a more mellow, darker tone.

A drum solo is an instrumental section that highlights the virtuosity, skill and musical creativity of the drummer. While other instrument solos such as guitar solos are typically accompanied by the other rhythm section instruments (e.g., bass guitar and electric guitar), for most drum solos, all the other band members stop playing so that all of the audience's focus will be on the drummer. In some drum solos, the other rhythm section instrumentalists may play "punches" at certain points–sudden, loud chords of a short duration. Drum solos are common in jazz, but they are also used in a number of rock genres, such as heavy metal and progressive rock. During drum solos, drummers have a great deal of creative freedom, and drummers often use the entire drum kit. In live concerts, drummers may be given long drum solos, even in genres where drum solos are rare on singles.


The bass guitar is an electric instrument that performs in both lead and backing roles. They are commonly used across a huge variety of musical genres and are attractive for their versatility, sound, and design. Manufacturers such as Fender and Ibanez offer a variety of both modern and vintage bass guitars, and each has multiple models with their own characteristics.

If you’re looking for something that better mimics an acoustic piano and can serve as the focal point of a room, check out our digital console piano recommendations, which are better at emulating the action and sound of a traditional piano than the keyboards in this guide. However, they are also much heavier and cost three to four times more than our most expensive pick here.


In the mid-1970s, Alembic and other boutique bass manufacturers, such as Tobias, produced four-string and five-string basses with a low "B" string. In 1975, bassist Anthony Jackson commissioned luthier Carl Thompson to build a six-string bass tuned (low to high) B0, E1, A1, D2, G2, C3. In comparison with a standard four-string bass, Jackson's six-string adds a low B string and a high C string. These 5 and 6-string "extended-range basses" would become popular with session bassists as they reduced the need for re-tuning to alternate detuned configurations like "drop D", and also allowed the bassist to play more notes from the same position on the fretboard with fewer shifts up and down the fingerboard, a crucial benefit for a session player sightreading basslines at a recording session.
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.
Electronic drum pads are the second most widely used type of MIDI performance controllers, after electronic music keyboards.[19]:319–320 Drum controllers may be built into drum machines, they may be standalone control surfaces (e.g., rubber drum pads), or they may emulate the look and feel of acoustic percussion instruments. The pads built into drum machines are typically too small and fragile to be played with sticks, and they are usually played with fingers.[20]:88 Dedicated drum pads such as the Roland Octapad or the DrumKAT are playable with the hands or with sticks, and are often built to resemble the general form of a drum kit. There are also percussion controllers such as the vibraphone-style MalletKAT,[20]:88–91 and Don Buchla's Marimba Lumina.[21]
The five-piece kit is the full entry-level kit and the most common configuration. It adds a third tom to the bass drum/snare drum/two toms set, making three toms in all. A fusion kit will normally add a 14" tom, either a floor tom or a hanging tom on a stand to the right of the bass drum; in either case, making the tom lineup 10", 12" and 14". Having three toms enables drummers to have a low-pitched, middle-register and higher-pitched tom, which gives them more options for fills and solos.

Five strings usually tuned B0–E1–A1–D2–G2, providing extended lower range. Another common tuning on early 1970s five-string basses added a high note instead of a low note: E–A–D–G–C, known as tenor tuning. This tuning is still popular among jazz and solo bassists. Other tunings, such as C–E–A–D–G are rare. Some bassists like C as the lowest pitch because that's the lowest note on an upright bass with a C, and C is a common note in a few popular keys C (e.g., C major, G major, F major). Some players may detune the lowest string to B♭ or A. B♭ is common for bassists who play in brass bands, as B♭ is an important and common key for this type of ensemble. Relative to a four-string bass, the fifth string provides a greater lower range (with a low B, C, or A) or a greater upper range (with a high C or B is added) and provides more notes for any single hand position. The earliest five string was created by Fender in 1965. The Fender Bass V used the E–A–D–G–C tuning, but was unpopular and discontinued in 1970. The type of low B five-string was created by Jimmy Johnson as a custom instrument in 1975. He bought an E–A–D–G–C 5-string Alembic bass, replaced the nut, and used a new, thick low B string from GHS. Steinberger made a 5-string headless instrument called the L-2/5 in 1982, and later Yamaha offered the first production model as the BB5000 in 1984.

This guitar has got a maple C-shape neck with a 9.5-inch radius and 20 medium jumbo frets. Most bass playing occurs in the lower fret positions that make 20 frets ideal for bass playing. The single coil feature is quite simple to use and it will create both a bright and focused sound quality. If you are looking for a bass guitar that plays on a small scale, this is just the right one for you.
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The snare drum is the heart of the drum kit, particularly in rock, due its utility of providing the backbeat. When applied in this fashion, it supplies strong regular accents, played by the left hand (if right handed), and the backbone for many fills. Its distinctive sound can be attributed to the bed of stiff snare wires held under tension to the underside of the lower drum head. When the stiff wire are "engaged" (held under tension), they vibrate with the top (snare-side) drum skin (head), creating a snappy, staccato buzzing sound, along with the sound of the stick striking the batter head.

Depending on the individual features of each digital piano, they may include many more instrument sounds other than regular piano samples. Many less expensive or average-priced digital pianos often include basic instruments such as string ensemble, electric piano, organs, harpsichord, guitar, and vibraphone, while a more expensive and advanced digital pianos may have a wider range of instruments such as synthesized sounds, wind instruments, traditional instruments, violins, drums, percussion, and a variety of effects, similar to that of a typical digital keyboard or synthesizer. Some digital pianos may also have a complete set of General MIDI implementation, in addition to the aforementioned basic sounds.
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