The Electric Bass Essay

1709 words - 7 pages

The creation of the electric bass, or an electric guitar envisioned double bass, has revolutionized the way music is both written and performed and will continue to be a driving force behind virtually every genre of music. Even though the electric bass* can be seen as a necessary creation in order to match the ever-increasing volume of live music, especially rock, it can also be viewed as a breath of fresh air and new outlook on acoustic instruments. The electric bass has both physically and functionally had an interesting development since its birth, but one thing for certain is that even trailing behind the electric guitar at first, this instrument has stepped away and cemented its place into music.
Electric basses share some of the basic physical aspects of their acoustic brethren, the upright double bass, but also have their own defining characteristics that make the electric bass what it is. Generally speaking, an electric bass is composed of three major parts on which it is further subdivided: “You can divide the bass into three sections: The neck, the body, and the innards. The different parts of the neck and the body are easy to see, while the innards aren’t so obvious” (Pfeiffer, Patrick). Looking to the neck, one can see that there is actually at least four other important parts, those being: the headstock, tuning machines, nut, and fretboard. Their functions, respectively, are: to provide a spot to which the tuning machines can reside; tunes the strings up or down to achieve a particular pitch; keeps the strings held off of the fretboard and spaced evenly; the place in which you fret notes to be played. The body of the bass is where most of the resonation will come from and the tonewood will dictate the overall character of the basses sound. The body is also where the neck connects and where the electronics reside. The electronics consist of the controls (think equalization if active and potentiometers if passive) and the pickups.
Pickups on an electric bass are what pick up the vibrations produced from a string being plucked and turn that vibration into an electrical signal that is sent out through the output jack going to the amplifier to be amplified to an audible level. As a whole, pickups come in only two varieties: active and passive. Active pickups require the use of an onboard battery, which almost in all cases is a 9-volt, to power the pickups and act as a preamp. In other words, active pickups cannot be used if the battery is missing or dead, and it preamps (or amplifies the output level from the pickups going to the amplifier) the sound signal from the source. Passive pickups on the other hand do not have an onboard preamp or battery, which means that there is no worry about dead pickups resulting from a dead battery. It is to be noted that pickups were passive when they first were invented and are still very much in use today, creating two camps in the pickup industry. Passive pickups tend to have a warmer and more...

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