Most music has always had a bass line, be it written or implied, today the bass part is fundamental to most of the music we listen to. Whether it’s the big bowed orchestral bass, the huge bass pipes of a cathedral organ or the ultra low warm sound of a vintage synth bass, the bass line serves as a root and foundation for most music.
We tend to notice the emptiness of when music lacks a bass line or implicit bass line. With rapidly evolving styles of music in blues, jazz, r&b and rock plus an ever increasing need for portability and stronger, louder bass lines prominently featured in musical hooks, there was clearly a need for a new kind of bass instrument. This is how the electric bass guitar era came into being.
Technically, the electric bass guitar was invented in the 1930’s although it never enjoyed a mass popularity at that time. It’s predecessor has existed for many prior years in the form of the double bass or acoustic bass.
The electric bass guitar offered a distinct change from the sounds that people had grown accustomed to hearing from previous upright basses. With it’s guitar like playing position the electric bass guitar differed from the hard to carry acoustic bass, electric bass strings also were not bowed like those of an acoustic and offered musicians a relatively easier to play and use highly portable instrument.
From a distance, the electric bass guitar could easily be mistaken for an electric guitar as the both look very similar with the same solid body shape, however the bass usually has a longer neck. Also, unlike an acoustic guitar which is hollow, with a sound hole to allow for amplification, the sound of a Fender bass guitar is amplified by plugging it in to an amplifier and speaker.
A bass guitar typically has four strings which are tuned an octave lower than the lowest strings of a regular guitar. It is often played by plucking or thumping the strings, unlike other guitars which are strummed. The Fender bass guitar is definitely a rhythm section instrument. When playing and interacting with a good drummer, a good bassist can help shape the flavor and pocket of the music in a way that non rhythm section instruments cannot. The electric bass is a special instrument and much more than a 4 string guitar.