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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

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Contents

Getting Started

Bass, or bass guitar (not to be confused with the double bass) is, as the name suggests, an instrument that plays in the bass range. It typically has the same features as most guitars: a neck, head, body, etc., although some modern versions will do without the head. The bass usually has only four strings, but five, six and even seven stringed instruments are becoming more common.

The usual tuning of the bass, starting from the largest string, is E-A-D-G, tuned in 4ths, like a double bass. There are other tunings such as drop d tuning D-A-D-G. Unlike a double bass, the bass guitar is worn like a guitar with a strap. The bass can be played with either the fingers or with a pick. Both are standard.

Sound is produced through an amplifier, an instrument cable goes from the bass to the amp. There are amps made specifically for bass guitars but if one is not available a keyboard amplifier will work well. Using a guitar amp works fine, although the lower frequency notes lose their tone and the overall sound will not be as distinct.

Scales

The best way to begin learning bass is to study and practice scales. For example, an open A Major scale is easy to learn and is the foundation for learning many other scales.


Open A Major Scale: Ascending

  G:-------------1-2-|
   D:-------0-2-4-----|
   A:-0-2-4-----------|
   E:-----------------|


When learning and practicing scales, it is common to work your way up and then down the scale.


Open A Major Scale: Ascending and Descending

  G:-------------1-2-|-1----------------|
   D:-------0-2-4-----|---4-2-0----------|
   A:-0-2-4-----------|---------4-2-0----|
   E:-----------------|------------------|


Begin slowly and deliberately and increase speed as you become more comfortable with the scale.

Also, as you get more comfortable with the fingering, try transposing the scale up. for example:

  G:-------------2-3-|-2----------------|
   D:-------1-3-5-----|---5-3-1----------|
   A:-1-3-5-----------|---------5-3-1----|
   E:-----------------|------------------|

Parts of The Bass

Body: this is the main piece of wood from which the bass is made of

Neck: the long part over which the strings are stretched

Pickups: Located on the main body under strings. Uses electromagnetic forces to detect sound. In the case of an acoustic bass guitar, this function is performed by the soundboard.

Tuners: Adjusts string tension, allowing the musician to control the pitch

Volume Knob: Controls volume

Tone Knob: Controls the treble

Bridge: Located near the bottom of the bass, this is what holds the strings in place.

Techniques

Plucking: The use of fingers to pluck strings to resonate sound.

Picking: The use of a plectrum to pluck strings.

Slap: The use of a variety of different hitting and hard plucking techniques.

Links

Free Bass Lessons

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