In all kinds of music, each instrument has its own role. In a rock band, however, there are often certain instruments that are allowed to dominate. Here, the guitar and singer are especially thought of. But one can actually go so far as to say that an electric bass guitar is more important. This is because every piece of music must have a bottom end – a “foundation”. And the electric bass along with the drums is what keeps the ball rolling.Electric bass guitars on Amazon
The two instruments are the rhythm section and, therefore, essential for the music. Along with the drums, bass guitar is what creates the underlying rhythmic and harmonic palette and support for other instruments, like guitar or vocals, to shine. Therefore, the bass guitar is an extremely important instrument. For this reason, skilled bassists are also incredibly respected in the music industry (even though there are quite a few jokes about bassists!).
Top 5 Best Electric Bass Guitars
I want to make it easy for you to choose the electric bass. Below I have selected some of the market’s best products. What all the basses have in common on this list is that the quality is top notch while the price is at the bottom. Good luck with the purchase!
Overall Winner: Best Electric Bass Guitar Right Now
Best Electric Bass for Beginners
Best Electric Bass for Intermediate & Advanced Players
Best Budget Electric Bass
Best Electric Bass Under 300back to menu ↑
Electric bass guitar history
The first electric bass – also called electric bass guitar – arose in the 1930s. It is called the electric bass because it is built on many of the same principles as the electric guitar. However, it does have its particular elements, which are different from the electric guitar. It was built by Paul Tutmarc, who was already a well-known lap steel guitar builder. The reason the new type of a bass instrument was invented was simply for practical reasons. For a long time, people have been struggling when transporting large double basses around the world. Furthermore, it was actually quite a challenging instrument to learn as it had no frets. The fact that it had no frets made it difficult for novices to play it accurately.
This, however, had an impact on a revolutionary design for the new electric bass. The new instrument was not as big (and quite often clumsy) as the double bass. This meant that it was now easier to transport the bass, while at the same time having the opportunity to move on a stage more easily and fluently. This in particular also led to another revolution of the electric bass guitar: the horizontal neck. The horizontal neck enhanced the arm’s movement, allowing the musician to easily access the notes all around the fretboard.back to menu ↑
Electric bass techniques and how to play it
The electric bass is normally held like a regular guitar. Then the strap is attached on both sides of the body of the bass – having straplocks will secure the instrument and prevent it from detaching from the strap. This means that the musician is able to move according to his desire, and this of course makes it much more fun to be at the concert – both for musicians and the public. A bass guitar is usually plucked (played with the fingers), but it can also be played with a pick(also called a plectrum) or slapped.
All these techniques are a normal part of a bass player’s technical repertoire, however different techniques are used in different styles and genres of music. The choice of a technique depends on the sound you want to achieve. If the strings are plucked, the sound is typically warmer and rounder as opposed to when played with a pick. It is often in slightly harder genres, such as rock and heavy metal, that the bassists use plectrums in order to get a more aggressive sound.
A bass player’s left hand does a very similar job to what a guitar player’s left hand would do. However, the neck of a bass is longer and the bass strings are thicker than guitar strings. Therefore it may be harder to play fast on a bass than on a guitar. But as with everything else, it is something that a bassist learns during his/her musical journey as he/she develops their skills on an instrument. As with the electric guitar, the electric bass guitar is connected to an amplifier, where the electric signal from the electric bass pickup is amplified and sent out through speakers, so that the audience can hear the sound. Also it is possible to add effect pedals that change the signal between bass and amplifier, that way changing the actual sound of an instrument. However, it is not as common to use a lot of effect pedals with a bass as you would with a guitar, and that’s why you would often see a bassist having just one pedal – a tuner.back to menu ↑
Electric bass guitar construction and parts
As mentioned earlier, the electric bass guitar has a construction very similar to the guitar. This is not a coincidence, as that’s where it originates from. The main difference between an electric bass and an electric guitar is that the electric bass has only four strings. These four strings are tuned exactly like the four lower strings of the guitar (E, A, D, G), however the bass strings are much thicker which gives a deeper and fuller sound. Next, the bass has a longer neck than the guitar. This is because long strings vibrate more slowly than normal strings, and this effect gives a deeper tone. It is precisely the deep, solid and thick tone that you are looking for in a bass, as it must form the foundation of the band’s music – and in particular to keep the rhythm together with the drummer.
An electric bass guitar basically consists of three main parts. These parts are the body, neck and head.
The body is the place on the bass, where the sound resonates. It usually consists of one or two pieces of wood that are either glued or bolted together. There is also a bridge. The bridge is the part on which the strings in the bottom are stuck. There are different kinds of bridges depending on the model and manufacturer, but unlike a guitar, it is extremely rare that a vibrato arm (or a whammy bar) will come on a bass guitar bridge. Furthermore, the pickups are mounted on the body, underneath the strings. A bass typically has one or two pickups, and that takes care of capturing the vibrations that the strings transmit.
Electric bass guitars are typically what is called solid-body. This means that the body is made of a piece of wood that is not hollowed out. The result of that is that the resonance is very weak and the bass is almost impossible to hear if it is not plugged in to an amplifier. This is a big difference between an electric bass and a double bass (although a double bass can also be fitted with a pickup system). In addition, you can also find the tone and volume control knobs on the body of the bass, which you can use to increase and decrease the volume as well as adjust to tone of the bass. These knobs are used all the time by bass players in order to create a sound that is their very own, or that matches the music they play. Quiet pieces may be better served with slightly warmer tone than a hard rock piece. Nothing is right or wrong, and it is up to the musician to make the decision. Last but not least, you can also find the jack input on the body (where the jack lead is pushed in) and the straps buttons on which the strap is attached.
The next part on the electric bass is the neck , which is usually glued or screwed to the body. The neck is where the bassist’s left hand is located. The front of the neck is called a fingerboard. This is where the bassist shifts the position of his fingers to change the notes he plays. This principle is the same for virtually all string instruments (guitar, bass, violin, mandolin, etc.). The reason why it is possible to switch between tones is because of the so-called frets. A fret is a metal insert on which the string is pressed. When the bass player presses his string down on a given fret, the length of the string (a distance between the bridge and the fretted note) is shortened which results in a changed pitch. In other words, the shorter the string, the higher the tone you get and the more it vibrates. The longer the string is, the deeper the tone you get, and the less the string vibrates. The fretboard also often contains what is called inlays. These are small dots, blocks or the like that help the bassist navigate through his fingerboard. There are also fretless basses. Fretless bass guitars have no metal frets to shorten or lengthen the string, and therefore the bass player does it manually. That means that the bassist must be absolutely sure that he presses it at the right place for the note to be in tune. I would always recommend buying / using an electric bass with inlays.
Finally, we have the headstock , which is where the other end of the strings is attached on the bass. To tune your bass you will be using what is called a tuning peg – there is one dedicated for each string. The general principle here is the same as with the frets – the more you tighten the tuning pegs, the more tension there is put on a string which results in a higher pitch. If a string is tuned too high, loosening it with a tuning peg will drop its pitch, and vice versa – if a string is tuned too low it needs more tension. You will also normally find the bass model and manufacturer written on the headstock. The model is usually written on a small piece of plastic that has a cosmetic backing. Next to it you will find what you call a truss rod. A truss rod is a long metal stick that goes all the way across the inside of the neck. This is used to stabilize the neck so that it does not yield to the constant pressure of the strings, which can bend it or (in extreme cases) even break it. Read our electric guitar article to get an illustration of the bass/guitar parts.back to menu ↑
Electric bass guitar buying guide
It can often be difficult for a beginner to find the right bass, but one should not give up. There are a couple of things worth mentioning when it comes to looking for the right electric bass guitar. Let’s take a closer look at them.
First and foremost, the difference in quality is generally harder to notice between the instruments, especially when it comes to cheaper basses (that is not the case with regular guitars). This means that you can get a very decent instrument without busting your bank. It comes without saying but the best way to see if the bass suits you is to try it. One should especially concentrate on feeling the instrument – not only does an instrument have to sound good, it must also feel comfortable to hold it in one’s hands. Spending a significant amount of time with the bass in a shop will give you a better idea of what you like and want in an instrument. There is a number of different bass guitar brands, models and shapes to choose from. Bass guitars can also be made of different types of wood. Each type has a different sound, and because of that it is a good idea to know what wood your bass guitar is made of. There are quite a few to choose from, but a beginner should stick to a more standard woods. The normal types are usually cheaper as they are mass-produced.
Scroll to the top of the page to find the electric bass guitars I recommend. There’s something for everyone!
Needless to say, but since we are dealing with the electric bass guitar, don’t forget to plug it in to an amplifier when trying it at a store. The amplifier will reveal the true sound of the bass. In fact, one might find that an electric instrument sounds amazing acoustically, and not as convincing plugged in to an amplifier. If the tone doesn’t satisfy you when powered up, a pickup replacement can be a relatively easy solution. However, I would advise not to worry about that too much for your first bass guitar and if the instrument doesn’t sound right to you then try a different one. It is always good to take an experienced friend who already plays the bass or a professional with you and test the instrument, if you have an opportunity to do so. Their experience will help them spot an instrument that will suit your needs. Also, they will be able to tell you what they like as well as what they don’t like about the bass.