Part melody, part rhythm, no one can deny a bass guitar importance in today’s popular music. Our bass guitar buying guide covers all of the critical information you need to know about the best bass guitar for you.

Which is the best bass guitar for you?

The marketplace for electric bass guitars can be very confusing, just as with most other guitar types, electric guitars, for example. The array of options and configurations can make your head spin. However, we aim to educate you about the instrument to choose and buy the right electric bass for you.

Bass guitars | Construction

Tonewoods | a comparison

Many factors determine the various tonal properties of wood for a bass guitar. The type of wood for the top is crucial for the instrument’s tone.

However, the wood used affects specific properties of the bass’s tone or any other type of guitar. Other design considerations are just as important, the maker’s skill and the tonewood quality used to construct the bass.

Tonewoods, however, can be a deciding factor for the building of an exceptional bass guitar.

Ash and Alder

Alder and Ash’s woods are incredibly similar sonically; both provide good, excellent sustain, and well-balanced tone that is beautifully resonant and rich in nice harmonic overtones. Guitar makers choose Ash’s most common reason is its more attractive grain, primarily when used with a semi-transparent finish.

Agathis

Lots of excellent entry-level basses use agathis as they are relatively cheap. Tonally, it is between mahogany and ash/alder. It offers a rich tone that resonates and emphasizes the lower midrange frequency over its upper frequency.

Mahogany

Mahogany bass guitars are warm and full-bodied sounding. Furthermore, the medium density and its low resonance of mahogany give the lower register of the bass guitar a pronounced emphasis and roll off the faster string attack that you might expect from an alder or ash body.

Basswood

Basswood is a tremendous body wood for bass players who play a diverse range of music. One appealing quality of basswood is blatant softness, which absorbs vibrations. Furthermore, it has a short sustain, which is excellent for fast or more complex playing styles.

Maple

Maple is a dense wood; it offers exceptional sustain along with a bright, sharp tone. Also, many bassists and recording engineers love maple because of its clarity and definition.

6, 5, or 46 Strings?

There are many types of bass guitars, and it’s tempting to say that you’re better off sticking to a traditional 4-string bass if you need to ask. Regular 4-string basses may have, by design, much narrower necks than 5- or 6-string basses tuned in a standard E-A-D-G format. Furthermore, this makes them much easier to handle and learn to play.

However, some styles of music do favor 5-string basses. Modern worship music and country appear to have more songs the root in B. However, its B-E-A-D-G tuning is ideal.

However, regardless of style, 5- and even 6-string basses offer players lots of options to expand their creativity more room to expand creatively. However, if you perform a lot of bass solos, then a 6-string bass tuned B-E-A-D-G-C will let you pull off some nice lines.

Fretted vs. Fretless

Be aware that there are two different fretboards to consider when choosing a bass guitar, fretless and fretted. A fretted neck is the standard guitar neck. It has steel frets that divide each half-step for the chromatic scale.

Fender Bass guitar Fretless
Fender Bass guitar Fretless

The steel frets make finding the right notes much easier, especially when starting on the instrument. However, a fretless bass features a neck that does not have any steel frets; it is just smooth wood, similar to an upright or violin bass.

Many bass guitar players say that fretless basses offer a much more smooth, warmer tone. The pitch for the note being played varies depending on your finger on the fingerboard. Advanced players rely on muscle memory to place their hands properly; however, practice always makes perfect.

Acoustic Bass Guitars

Suppose you’re searching through all the different bass guitars and decide you don’t want a bass that needs an amp. An acoustic bass might be the solution for you. It will have all of the characteristics of an acoustic 6-string guitar. However, an acoustic bass produces sound through a resonant hollow guitar body.

Acoustic Bass Guitar
Acoustic Bass Guitar

It will allow you to play unplugged with a full-bodied and robust sound. It is very suitable for acoustic music.

However, there are many different acoustic-electric bass models from which to choose. It offers you the hollow-body sound of an acoustic bass, which also can plug into an amp for additional volume.

Active Pickups VS Passive

Simply put, there are only two types of bass guitar pickups from which to choose.

Passive pickups

Passive pickups have been around since the beginning of the electric bass. They provide a dynamic sound with a whole warm tone.

Bass Passive pickups
Bass Passive pickups

However, the downside of passive pickups is that they give you less control over your bass guitar’s tone. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you like fat and punchy, then passive pickups are for you.

Active pickups

Active pickups were developed well after passive pickups. Plenty of modern bassists considers them the coolest thing since sliced bread.

However, others are not that fussed. Active pickups do produce a bright, percussive, and clear tone. Furthermore, active pickups also include a built-in battery-powered preamp. Consequently, they create a much higher output than passive pickups.

Note: Remember, you will need to replace the batteries periodically with active pickups.

Neck Through Body VS. Bolt-on necks

There is an ongoing controversy about the better type of neck construction for bass guitars.

Bolt-on necks

The bolt-on neck is the more common and traditional Construction for the neck of a bass guitar. This type of design does have some crucial advantages, the main one being ease of replacement if it’s damaged.

Neck-though-body design

The neck-through-body type of neck spans along the entire length of the instrument. Furthermore, neck-through-body provides greater sustain and a more direct transfer of energy.

Basses that utilize this type of design are made from several pieces of wood glued together. An upside of this type of design is that the wood is usually of exceptionally high quality, which technically increases the quality of this type of bass.

Jazz Basses vs. Precision

Fender’s Jazz and Precision Bass dominate the world of bass guitars, and it does not surprise Leo Fender, along with his team, invented the first electric bass guitar over 50 years ago.

Fender Precision bass
Fender Precision bass

Although there have been many changes to all the different types of bass guitars over the past 50 years, today’s Precision or Jazz bass still employs the same tradition of the original classics.

Fender Jazz Bass
Fender Jazz Bass

Yeh, so what are the differences between these iconic models? Why do players choose one over the other? The main differences are easily summed up in these three areas: the neck, the body, and the pickups.

All types of bass guitars | Body Designs

Fenders Precision Bass was quite a radical design in 1951. However, its forward-raked design and deep double cutaways were revolutionary back then. They were like nothing the guitar world had ever seen back then.

Furthermore, in 1954 the Precision Bass, which had been a “slab body” until that point, used the contoured body of the new Fender Stratocaster.

The sculpted recessions at the top and bottom made it much more comfortable to hold and play. Also, the original Precision body was Ash, and you can have it with either Ash or Alder bodies.

Fender’s Jazz Bass, released in 1960, offered players an offset-waist body drawn from the Jazzmaster guitar introduced a couple of years earlier.

This change moved the body’s mass-forward and out of the way of the player’s right arm. Furthermore, the Precision Bass, Ash, and Alder body models of the Jazz Bass were made available.

The “C”-shaped Neck

Most Jazz and Precision bass guitars used the Fender “modern C shape” neck. All of the model’s Necks were maple. The fingerboards used Pao Ferro or maple.

Regardless, the Precision neck maintains a fairly consistent thickness. It tapers a small amount as it moves toward the nut.

Bass shaped necks profiles
Bass-shaped necks profiles.

The Jazz, however, uses noticeably narrower spacing at the nut. It has a distinct “tapered” feel that some players like because it’s easier to play.

Various Pickups

The Precision Bass used a single-coil pickup with a chrome-plated cover when first released. However, Fender moved to a split-coil pick-up in the subsequent few years, offering more solid bass and defined sound.

The Fender Jazz Bass has dual 8-pole humbucking pickups that offer players many different tones. The result was a bass some players consider to have a much cleaner sound, with more tonal variation through a pan knob that adjusts the balance between the pickups.

Bass your decision on the facts!

It’s challenging to describe guitar concepts like “playability” and”feel” in print. However, our guide has given you the basic concepts surrounding your choice for electric bass.

Bass Guitar | What you should look for

The Body Style

Electric bass guitars are usually solid-body electrics. However, a few semi-hollow bodies are another option if you’re looking for a rounder and acoustic type of sound.

The Neck

The neck for your bass should feel comfortable in your hand as you play. Necks come in many shapes: flat back, round, vee, oval, and asymmetrical (thinner on the treble or bass sides).

Guitars Scale Length

Longer necks offer a more defined sound from the low strings. However, a shorter scale is acceptable for 4-string bass and suitable for players with smaller hands.

Bass Guitars Scale Length
Bass Guitars Scale Length

The Tuning machines

Enclosed machine heads are less prone issue to be caused by rust and airborne corrosives. Furthermore, they tend to be more trouble-free than open types of tuning machines.

Fender Bass The Tuners
Fender Bass The Tuners

The guitar’s intonation

The guitar’s intonation is a term that refers to whether or not all the notes play in tune as the guitarist plays up the neck. All notes should be in tune in any position on the fretboard.

The neck | Bolt-on or Neck-Through

Neck-through basses are generally more robust. They offer better sustain and note resolution. However, bolt-on necks have a punchier sound but are more prone to dead spots.

The Fingerboard

Coated fingerboards help produce a whining, trebly “fretless sound” along with better sustain. However, Uncoated fingerboards tend to have a warmer, natural sound.

The Number of Frets

Most basses offer 21, 22, or 24 frets. However, since most bass playing takes place in the lower positions, it’s down to your taste.

The Pickups

It is the pickups that, more than anything else, affect your bass’s final sound. Pickup offers very different results between various bass guitars.

Wood types

The critical question about the wood is whether you like the instrument’s sound. Choice of woods, the tone, and the guitar’s weight; consider how you will use the bass (i.e., playing long gigs or sitting in a studio).

Conclusion

Enjoy your journey searching for your new electric bass guitar. Be sure to try as many bass guitars as you can. Be aware that a bass guitar amplifier significantly impacts the bass sound.

Take your time, as it is with any guitar; the right bass will speak to you.


References

Bass guitar. (2022, January 12). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bass_guitar