Bass Sounds: One Song Highlights the Many Different Sounds Made by Different Bass Guitars

If you’re a sea­soned bass play­er, the diver­si­ty of bass sounds in the “Bass Sounds” videos here will hard­ly sur­prise you. Most oth­er peo­ple — includ­ing many musi­cians — have lit­tle under­stand­ing of the range of the bass, an instru­ment thought to just hold down the low end. Yes, it does do that, but it doesn’t always do it with bass fre­quen­cies. Bass tones and over­tones fall any­where in the range of 40hz — a low rum­ble more felt than heard — to a snap­py 4000hz, the high-midrange fre­quen­cy of snare drums and gui­tars.

That’s a lot of son­ic ter­ri­to­ry for an instru­ment to explore. It includes the sound of Paul McCartney’s Hofn­er Vio­lin Bass on “Pen­ny Lane,” a “bass-heavy tone with almost no mids or tre­ble,” Joel McIv­er writes at Mus­i­cRad­er; the smooth top end of Jaco Pas­to­ri­ous’ home­made fret­less Fend­er Jazz bass; and the buz­z­saw pow­er chords of Lem­my Kilmister’s Rick­en­backer 4001, which he played with midrange turned to 11 and bass con­trols com­plete­ly off.

Of course, ampli­fiers and effects make all the dif­fer­ence in famous bassists’ tones, but it starts at the fin­gers, the body, the pick­ups, and the frets, as bass play­er Bart Soeters demon­strates with a series of clas­sic, mod­ern, and obscure bass gui­tars, accom­pa­nied by the music of Joris Holtack­ers. Bass­es here include such rec­og­niz­able shapes as the Hofn­er, with its cham­bered body and f‑holes, the Fend­er Jazz and Pre­ci­sion bass­es, and the Gib­son SG. They also include unusu­al or unique instru­ments like the NS Design Bass­cel­lo and Soeters’ own Adamovic FBC sig­na­ture bass.

Boomy, woody, even reedy — bass gui­tars can rum­ble and they can croon. They can be imi­tat­ed by an elec­tric cel­lo — as Soeters demon­strates in the fol­low-up Bass Sounds II video at the top — make love­ly acoustic thumps, and gen­er­al­ly sound as per­cus­sive or melod­ic as you like. Will edu­cat­ing oth­ers about the range of bass gui­tar tones change unfor­tu­nate stereo­types about bass play­ers (demon­strat­ed below via inter­pre­tive dance and spo­ken word by The Kids in the Hall’s Kevin McDon­ald and Bruce McCul­loch)? Only time will tell. But it can cer­tain­ly  sharp­en the music appre­ci­a­tion skills of musi­cians and non-musi­cians alike. See all the dif­fer­ent bass­es list­ed on the Bass Sounds YouTube pages here and here.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch Some of the Most Pow­er­ful Bass Gui­tar Solos Ever: Ged­dy Lee, Flea, Boot­sy Collins, John Dea­con & More

The Neu­ro­science of Bass: New Study Explains Why Bass Instru­ments Are Fun­da­men­tal to Music

The Sto­ry Behind the Icon­ic Bass-Smash­ing Pho­to on the Clash’s Lon­don Call­ing

Paul McCart­ney Offers a Short Tuto­r­i­al on How to Play the Bass Gui­tar

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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