The electric bass is a classic instrument in modern music. It is responsible for low frequencies in almost every genre, including jazz, blues, country, and pop. It was designed to replace the double bass on the stage and has many practical uses. We are pleased to present our timeline of the evolution of the bass!
Why did the double bass become the electric bass?
The low-frequency range of live music was reserved for the double basses until 60 years ago. Then, the bands became louder in jazz, swing, blues, and later, rock ‘n roll. This was because drums and electric guitarists were suddenly integrated into popular music. You had to keep up with the bass players in this storm. Due to its design, a double bass can’t deliver this volume, so the electric bass took over and took its place in many genres.
Problems with pragmatic transport
Due to its size and weight, the double bass was still a powerful instrument. Music was played everywhere, and the club and the live scene grew popular. However, the double bass was tough to transport. This was a logistical issue of the musical variety. How can you transport such a massive instrument from one job to another? You could try a bass wheel, but they don’t work everywhere (think about the steep hills and stairs and all the potential dangers).
From vertical to horizontal
Bass players had many jobs, which was not the case today. However, there was always a shortage of qualified bassists. As a result, guitarists were often offered gigs as double basses players. However, they couldn’t always play them because they would need to retrain for “vertical monster instruments.” This was why a solution was required. And, coincidentally, for bassists, this solution was mobile. The horizontal construction and the playing position made this possible. They could hang the electric bass above their shoulders. You could do the same with a double bass.
Why was fretting added?
Remember that music was constantly changing, and so were the demands for the bass lines. It was not easy to get a correct intonation, especially for fast passages. Although a double bass doesn’t have frets to help one orient themselves, a practical solution was found. The ability to use fretted strings was already present on electric and acoustic guitars. Why not combine the ideas of double bass and guitars?
How the strings changed
The electric bass sound is possible today because of the critical role played by string manufacturers. Roundwound strings can produce brighter sounds, which are much more common today thanks to modern manufacturing techniques. The sound of the first electric basses was more like that of the double bass. Flatwound strings were used to make them sound similar to the double bass’s gut strings.
Double bass strings are so thick that fingers can feel strained when slapping. Bassists tape their fingers quite often. The electric bass is different. You can get blisters on your fingertips. However, this is not the same as double bass strings.
Fender, the innovator in the early 1950s
Leo Fender and George Fullerton created the first series-produced electric basse. The legendary Fender Precision Bass was introduced to the market in 1951. “Precision” was the name given to the instrument’s first frets, which made it possible to play with precise intonation.
For live musicians, the P-Bass was a revolution. The double bass was a popular instrument in the 20th century. However, it was also a permanent part of bands that played low frequencies. It was, however, tough to transport due to its size. However, the electric bass could be easily transported to gigs.
How the bass was electrified
Leo Fender’s first Precisions were quite essential. They only had a single-coil pickup and a straightforward tone controller with one volume control and one tone control. To get the sound of double bass, you could reduce the treble.
Another argument was the fact that electric bass was less susceptible to feedback. The electromagnetic pickups allowed the vibrations from the steel strings to be picked up, amplified, and then reproduced through amp and speaker. This allowed for higher volume so that the bass could be heard clearly in louder environments.
The development of the electric bass between 1950 and 2020:
Over the years, the instruments became more comfortable to use and improved over time. There have been many variations, including 6-string, 5-string, and even exotic versions. The electric bass has evolved from a foundational instrument in a band to an individual instrument due to its improved sound quality and playability. Musicians continue to love the popular reissue models inspired by the 1950s and 1960s. Retro factor, from the bass cellar