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5 Essential Items Every Bass Player Needs to Know

The bass forms the foundation of every band or musical piece alongside percussion instruments. Many players pick it up due to its groovy nature; others prefer it over the guitar thinking it’s a bit simpler to play. Regardless of what scenario you belong to, there may be a couple of things you don’t know about your instrument that are the absolute core essentials.

Today we are going to discuss the five most essential items every bass players needs to know about, so let’s get to them straight away:

1. Bass amp

The first thing every bass player needs to understand that bass amps work differently than guitar amplifiers. Not only are they hitting different frequencies, but they also normally feature different control knobs and settings.

Furthermore, a bass guitar may ‘overload’ the speaker of the guitar amp it’s plugged into at louder volumes, not to mention the fact that the overall tone will invariably be saturated with unnecessary gain.

Even so, there are certain similarities between bass amps and guitar amps. Both are constructed in more or less the same way, and both are designed to reproduce the ‘electric’ sound of their respective instruments.

Additionally, bass amps also come in Combo, head, cab, and valve variations, just like guitar amplifiers. As a matter of fact, that’s precisely the reason why beginners normally can’t differentiate the two.

2. Bass strings

Basses and guitars are normally pre-strung when purchased, regardless of whether you’ve bought your instrument from a friend or in a music store. That’s the reason why many players don’t think too much about the strings before the time comes to restring it.

Even though it’s pretty obvious that bass strings are substantially thicker than guitar strings, not many people know much about the actual differences between them.

First and foremost, standard guitars are outfitted with six strings whereas basses are equipped with four. Now, the standard gauge (thickness) of electric guitar strings is 9-42 whereas the normal gauge of electric bass strings is 45-100.

Now, there are also several similarities between them. Both guitar and bass strings come available in light, normal, and heavy-gauge variants, although the gaps between these categories are a bit more pronounced when it comes to bass strings. Without delving too deep into technical ‘waters’, the increments between guitar string categories vary by 1 while the increments between bass string categories vary by 5.

Another important aspect of the construction of bass strings is the ‘wounding’ type. Round-wood strings are generally most common, featuring ridges on their winding. Half-round is slightly slimmer, a bit more playable, which results in a warmer tone. Flat-wound strings are smoother and more rewarding to ‘sloppy’ players as they reduce the overall finger noise. Lastly, tape-wound are supplied with an outer wrap (typically made of nylon) that substantially reduces the decay time.

3. Bass tonewoods

Both electric guitars and basses are made from wood materials. Some materials, such as Mahogany, Maple, or Basswood are used in the construction of both basses and guitars, but certain materials such as Bubinga or Wenge are almost exclusive for basses.

Furthermore, the processing techniques of guitar and bass tonewoods are also strikingly different. Even so, the aesthetics, size, and weight of these two instrument categories are relatively similar, which is the reason why it’s easy to confuse them.

Another important difference here is that the same material will react and behave differently when used on bass as it would on a guitar. Understanding the characteristics of tonewoods, such as which type of sound spectrum they influence the most, how heavy they are, and how much playability they afford is important if you want to familiarize yourself with your bass.

4. Bass pedals

Effect pedals can be used with pretty much any electric instrument (even violins and contrabasses) with different end results. A distortion pedal that normally sits perfectly well with a guitar may completely mess up the sound of a bass whereas a bass-exclusive chorus may not feel as present if used with a guitar.

Again, we’re talking about contraptions that rely on different frequencies. This means that it’s important to make a distinction between guitar pedals and bass pedals.

5. Bass accessories

While the majority of guitar accessories can be used to complement the performance of bass as well (such as guitar cables and cleaning tools), several items are designed for bass guitars specifically.

For instance, bass gig bags are taller and offer more room and space; while these bags can accommodate a guitar, most guitar gig bags wouldn’t be able to fit electric basses.

Furthermore, even though most tuners offer both guitar and bass options, bass-specific tuners provide more accuracy and overall reliability. Wrenches, screwdrivers, cleaning cloth & rubbing alcohol can be used to maintain any instrument.
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