Bass Instruments – A Complete Introduction & Guide

Before understanding what bass instruments are, it is important to be clear about what the word ‘Bass’ actually means.

Bass Meaning

The quality of sound has frequency, range, and pitch in the zone of 16-256 Hz. Or in simpler terms, refers to a deep/low sound is described as one having a bass quality to it.

Bass instruments, therefore, are devices that produce music, or pitches in low range.

If you want to know whether an instrument is a Bass Instrument or not, you have to use it differently. For example, there is a possibility that a cello is a tenor instrument. It is the one with the second or third lowest pitch in the family. Or a bass one — depending on how we use it.

A trombone, which is primarily a tenor instrument, is occasionally a bass one. Thus, the classification occurs by the vocal range that the instruments produce in comparison to the other ones.

Types of Bass Instruments

The two main types include the Upright Bass and the Bass Guitar. To play the Upright Bass, we hold it vertically, and the Bass Guitar, horizontally.

There are multiple ways a Double bass is also known as — a Jazz Bass, Contrabass, Doghouse Bass, String Bass, Orchestral Bass, Bass Fiddle, and much more.

Upright Bass
Double Bass

To avoid confusion, it is important to realize that these variations in the names occur because of the use of the instrument, and not anything else.

We do the classification of the Double Bass as a bowed string instrument which is also the lowest-pitched instrument in its family. It derives from either the viola or the violin family, but the debate is still open on that. One of its related instruments is the Bass guitar, which is the second kind of bass instrument.

More About Bass Guitars

With a longer neck and scale length in comparison to an electric guitar, the Bass Guitar is a String Instrument. The maximum vibrating length of the strings produces the sound.

The origin of the Bass Guitar was in the 1930s by musician cum inventor Paul Tutmarc from the United States. It underwent quite a few design and structural changes to produce its modern-day avatar.

In most cases, the built of bass guitar is wooden, although, sometimes there is also the use of graphite to construct the neck.

There are two kinds in this category as well, and that includes — fretted basses and fretless ones.

In the first kind, the frets divide the fingerboard into divisions similar to the ones on an electric or acoustic guitar. On the other hand, fretless basses are analogous to a double bass; the string presses down directly onto the wood of the fingerboard, and it thus results in a distinct sound.

A bass guitar with four strings and a fretted fingerboard is the most favorable today in comparison to a five or six-stringed one.

Both the double bass and bass guitars are of different formats. The forms include an acoustic and electric double bass, as well as an acoustic and electric bass guitar. The use of electrics is more than the acoustics as they are smaller and easier to transport.

But as is the case with music and other creative fields, the artists chisel out their instruments based on what they need and want, thereby, leading to frequent changes that happen with the instruments and their usage, more often than not.