The electric bass guitar has a unique role in music, providing both rhythmic and harmonic support for the other instruments and voices in the band. The typical bass guitar has four strings that are tuned E-A-D-G, a full octave lower than the bottom four strings on a guitar to provide the low end in a supportive role. Advancements in bass guitar amplifiers and speakers along with revolutionary players such as Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten have revealed the melodic side of the instrument.
The 1950s release of the Fender Precision electric bass changed the live music landscape forever as it supplanted the acoustic bass guitar as the low-end instrument of choice in contemporary music. Leo Fender's design addressed the need for an easier-to-play and more portable bass frequency instrument that could be amplified to louder levels than previously possible. Key design features included the 34-inch scale length, a bolt-on neck and inlaid frets to make it easier for the bassist to play in tune.
Fender continued to innovate by introducing the Fender Jazz bass in the 1960s, which featured two single-coil pickups and a narrower bass guitar neck; this was to make it easier for a guitarist to double on bass guitar. Fender's instruments were so popular that up until the late 60s, the term "Fender bass" was synonymous with "electric bass." Since the 70s, the bass guitar has continued to evolve with five-string and six-string versions of the instrument now available and more affordable than ever.
Buying a bass guitar can be confusing for beginners; there are hundreds of options available to you. Typically a good beginner bass guitar can be purchased for between $300 and $500. There are dozens of brands to choose from including Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha and Peavey. Play as many basses as possible to determine which one sounds and feels best to you. Starting with a four-string bass with simple controls is recommended for novices. Brands like Fender tend to have a better resale value should you opt to upgrade later.
Some stores allow you to rent bass guitars by the month; this is a great alternative for those that want to try before they buy. Don't forget that you'll also need to buy guitar accessories, including a bass guitar amplifier, a guitar cord, a guitar tuner and a guitar strap to get the most out of your electric bass. You can learn how to play the electric bass by purchasing instructional DVDs or searching for bass videos online. Also, bass guitar tabs can show you how to play songs without having to learn how to read music notation.
Playing bass guitar can easily become one of your favorite hobbies, and it is even more rewarding when you interact with other musicians to play your favorite songs. Don't lock yourself up in your basement or bedroom – get out there and make some music!