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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Pop! Goes the music - Bass Guitar

Get the lowdown on the role of the bass guitar in a band
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - March 24, 2011
By: Goh Mei Yi
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Pop! Goes the music - Bass Guitar

The bass guitar, also known as the electric bass, or bass, isn’t as prominent as the other instruments in a pop or rock band, but it has an important job of providing the rhythmic framework (together with the drummer) and harmonic foundation (by emphasising the roots of the chord progression) of the music.

Bass guitars work the same way as electric guitars by using magnetic pickups. Vibrations on the instrument's metal strings produce a very small electric current (or signal) in the pickups. These signals are then amplified and played through a speaker. The bass guitar can have a single or multiple pickups and the placement of the pickups affects the sound quality. 

Various electronic bass effects such as pre-amplifiers, “stomp box”-style pedals and signal processors as well as the configuration of the amplifier and speaker can be used to alter the basic sound of the instrument. Other signal processors such as equalisers, overdrive devices, and compressors or limiters are also increasingly popular.

The bass guitar is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length. The number of strings can be four, five, or six. The four-string bass is most common, and the strings are usually tuned to E, A, D, and G.

The body, neck and fretboard of a bass guitar are typically made of wood, although artificial materials can be die-casted to produce complex body shapes. The fingerboard can be fretted or fretless.

The bass guitar is played primarily with the fingers or thumb using plucking, slapping, popping, tapping, or thumping techniques, or by using a plectrum. The fretting hand – left hand for right-handed players and right hand for left-handers, can be used to shape the tone or timbre of a plucked or picked note.

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