The bass guitar (also called electric bass, or simply bass; /ˈbeɪs/) is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb, by plucking, slapping, popping, tapping, thumping, or picking.
The bass guitar is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and four, five, six, or eight strings. The four-string bass—by far the most common—is usually tuned the same as the double bass, which corresponds to pitches one octave lower than the four lower strings of a guitar (E, A, D, and G). The bass guitar is a transposing instrument, as it is notated in bass clef an octave higher than it sounds (as is the double bass) to avoid excessive ledger lines. Like the electric guitar, the bass guitar is plugged into an amplifier and speaker for live performances.
Since the 1960s, the bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music as the bass instrument in the rhythm section. While the types of basslines performed by the bassist vary widely from one style of music to another, the bassist fulfills a similar role in most types of music: anchoring the harmonic framework and laying down the beat. The bass guitar is used in many styles of music including rock, metal, pop, punk rock, country, reggae, gospel, blues, and jazz. It is used as a soloing instrument in jazz, fusion, Latin, funk, and in some rock and metal styles.
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Famous quotes containing the words guitar and/or bass:
“Swiftly in the nights,
In the porches of Key West,
Behind the bougainvilleas
After the guitar is asleep,
Lasciviously as the wind,
You come tormenting.”
—Wallace Stevens (18791955)
“How are we to know that a Dracula is a key-pounding pianist who lifts his hands up to his face, or that a bass fiddle is the doghouse, or that shmaltz musicians are four-button suit guys and long underwear boys?”
—In New York City, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)