There are two main types of bass instruments:

  • The upright bass, which is held and played vertically.
  • The bass guitar, which is held and played horizontally.

The upright bass and bass guitar are used in many genres of music, and are usually tuned to the same notes: E1, A1, D2, and G2.

The Upright Bass

upright bassUpright basses, sometimes referred to as a ‘double bass’, can be either acoustic (unplugged) or electric.

The upright bass is quite an old instrument, and is more common to orchestras, ensembles, and jazz groups than in pop and rock bands.

This striking looking instrument, which looks much like a large cello, can be played using a bow (arco), or by plucking (pizzicato). The upright bass has no fret boards, and has four, sometimes five, strings.

The electric upright bass was invented in the 1930s. These are smaller and easier to transport than the acoustic upright bass. In addition, the design and materials are optimised for electric amplification.

The Bass Guitar

bass guitarJust like the electric upright bass, the bass guitar was invented in the 1930s by Paur Tutmarc. In the 1950s, Leo Fender began to sell the bass guitar to the mass market.

The most popular type of bass guitar is a four-stringed instrument with a fretted fingerboard and solid body. Five and six string instruments are available too. The common electric bass guitar uses two types of strings: round wound and flat wound. Round wound strings have a bright, tinnier sound, and flat wound strings have a more muted timbre.

In addition to the electric bass guitar, there is the acoustic bass guitar. The acoustic bass is hollow-bodied for natural amplification, has a fretted fingerboard, and four strings. The acoustic bass is common in Mexico, and folk-influenced musical groups. Brain Ritchie of The Violent Femmes used an acoustic bass to coin the band’s unique punk-acoustic sound.

Learn a Bass Instrument

Bass instruments are essential to most musical compositions. If you’d like to learn a bass instrument, don’t hesitate to get in contact. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Call on 02 9602 9774, or fill out the form on this page.