The Bass Guitar

The old upright 4-string bass fiddle (or double bass) is one of the grandest and most fundamental acoustic stringed instruments common to all of folk music, especially bluegrass, over the last several centuries in America. While types of bass lines vary widely from one style of music to another, the bassist usually fulfills a similar role of anchoring the harmonic framework and establishing the beat. The addition of the bass adds the "bottom" that gives both depth and richness to the folk music band and sets the tempo for all other instruments to follow. Since the early 1960s, the upright acoustic bass fiddle has given way to the more compact 4-string acoustic-electric bass guitars, which for the most part adequately substitute for the bass fiddle and add the vital bass part to the acoustic sound. However, like an electric guitar, the bass guitar must be plugged into an amplifier and speaker for live performances. Bass guitars are tuned one octave lower than the lowest pitched four strings of a guitar. Thus, the bass guitar's standard tuning is E, A, D, G (lowest to highest string). The instrument is played primarily with the fingers or thumb by plucking, slapping, popping, tapping, thumping, or picking with flat pick. Whatever the style of play, no band's sound is complete without the bass