Bass guitars are bigger than the common guitar and their tonal range is much lower than for electric and acoustic guitars.
Their low, percussive sound is found in almost any style of music, making them the groove centre of any band.
Points to think on
The different bass guitar manufacturers produce instruments that have a particular feel, each different to those produced by the others.
It makes it important to look around to find the type of bass guitar that is comfortable to you - that will excite you and motivate you to play your best.
Popular brands are Fender, Gibson, Ibanez and Yamaha - to name a few.
Along with your new instrument, you will need to purchase an instrument cable, amplifier, spare strings, a bass strap and cleaning supplies. Also, if it is not part of the instrument price - you will want a case for it.
Different Bass Guitar styles
Of the many different variations of bass guitar, the 4 string is the easiest to learn, and also the most common. The strings are tuned to E, A, D, and G.
Other popular styles include:
5 string bass guitars:
The extra string is tuned to B, lower than the common E, A, D, and G.
These are commonly used in metal and rock music. It gives the bassist an even lower note range.
6 string bass:
This is like the 5 string bass, with the extra low string, i.e. the B, E, A, D, and G strings. However, the reason that it is known as an extended range bass guitar is because of the addition of a high C string above the G. The higher string gives the instrument the ability to produce higher notes, and it is excellent when used for bass solos.
Acoustic bass guitars:
These basses are very effective when used in a folk band or a singer/songwriter setting.
In an intimate setting, acoustic basses do not require an amp to be heard.
Similar to an acoustic guitar, the body of this type of bass is hollow and acts as a natural amplifier to project the sound.
Some acoustic basses come with pickups in them for times when you are playing them in a bigger space, and still require that acoustic sound.
Fretless bass guitars:
As the name suggests, the fingerboard of these guitars lack frets - which makes them more difficult to learn to play. However, once you have mustered where to place your fingers to be in tune, they are fun instruments to play.
The resulting sound is smoother and slippery, suiting the sound played by jazz and fusion bands.
Hollow Body Bass Guitars:
These combine the sound of an electric bass and an acoustic bass.
They are electric, but with the hollow body, the result is a direct electric sound with the natural reverb of an acoustic.
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney was famous for playing a Hofner hollow body bass.
These instruments are gigantic, and stand on the ground. They lack frets and can be played by plucking with the fingers or with a bow.
In this, they are closer to a violin than to a guitar and are commonly heard in jazz and classical music.
What to know about buying a new Bass Guitar
Choosing to buy a new bass guitar is a great choice. It is the only way to get the newest models. It also removes the worry that there might be unseen damage to the instrument due to a lack of care by a previous owner.
With the purchase of a new guitar, many of the leading manufacturers offer a good warranty. This is reassuring in the case that something is damaged.
What to know about buying a pre-owned Bass Guitar
Buying a cheap pre-owned bass guitar can be a good investment - providing it is in good shape.
Prices vary a great deal depending on the style of the bass guitar, the brand and the instrument’s condition.
Pre-owned instruments are often cheaper than buying new. There is a huge range of used bass guitars for sale on-line, as well as in stores. You will need to do your homework and not rush into a purchase.
There is also a large market for vintage basses since building methods have changed over time and some people prefer the older styles.
To get the best bass guitar for you, be sure to demo the instrument if it is in a store. Or if it is on-line, ask for a live demo before you decide to purchase.
If purchasing from a dealer, it is a good idea to look into the warranty options that are offered.