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A Bass Guitar Buying Guide

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Music

Buying a bass guitar is not one of the easiest things that you have done in your life. I mean, of course, the buying part is easy. You give them the money, they give you the item. So far, no complication. But ensuring that you get your moneys worth is most often not as simple. This is because, all guitars do not provide a uniform quality of sound. There are bound to be some good guitars and some bad.

The best thing to do, if you are going to buy a bass guitar, is to take a friend who knows about guitars along with you. Otherwise you can easily find yourself at the wrong end of a rough deal. There will be a lot of variety to choose from, and it will be one of the most confusing times of your life. You can always go by the suggestions of the shop owner, but you would probably do better if you trust your friends opinion more. The owner has a motive for passing on a dud to you; you friend, I hope, has none.

First things first though. What is a bass guitar and how is it in any way different from any other regular guitars that you see?

Well a bass guitar is, as its name suggests, an instrument that is supposed to play the bass notes. It is not that dissimilar from the regular six string guitar that you have, only that the strings are more like cables than like strings.

The bass guitar has become an almost inevitable accompaniment in the music of the Western world. At times inaudible, the bass instrument is always a needful accessory in a musical ensemble. A double bass has always been an indispensable part of orchestras in Western classical music. Later it got adapted to jazz, blues and other such stuff. The bass guitar is a more recent derivative of this tradition, tailor made for the needs of a band.

The bass guitar is generally an electric guitar. But you can perhaps find an acoustic bass if you look hard for it. The problem with an acoustic bass is, of course, if you are playing on stage or with a musical ensemble, it will be very difficult to pick out your sound. I would recommend an electric pick up for your bass regardless.

But there are other things to consider too. The fact is, the guitars that you see at your local musical shop are not at all uniformly good quality. You might find out after you have bought your dream machine without expert advice that some notes are not playing in the exact way that you expect them to play. For all you know, the measurements of the fret board might not be exact. And such small flaws often render the instrument quite useless for any kind of serious use.

If you are not a pro, you will probably also fail to take notice of many other apparently insignificant details the action of your guitar, for instance. An action is the height of the strings from the fret board. And it is a very important factor in guitars. If the action is too high, it might be very difficult to play, too low might be the same.

So when you are feeling ready to go out and get yourself this very important component of contemporary music, you should have at least some idea about what to watch out for, and for the best results you should also have with you someone who has been playing the bass guitar for at least five years.