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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