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Bass Guitar

What is a Bass Guitar?

The electric bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers (either by plucking, slapping, popping, or tapping) or using a pick. The bass is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a larger body, a longer neck and scale length, and usually four strings tuned one octave lower in pitch than the four lower strings of a guitar.

In the 1930s, inventor Paul Tutmarc from Seattle, Washington, developed the first guitar-style electric bass instrument that was fretted and designed to be held and played horizontally.  Since the 1950s, the electric bass guitar has largely replaced the double bass in popular music with several popular models such as the Fender Precision and Jazz bass, Gibson’s SG style EB-0 and later the Rickenbacker 4001 and Ernie Ball Sting Ray basses. The bass guitar provides the low-pitched bass line(s) and bass runs in many different styles of music ranging from rock and metal to blues and jazz. It is also used as a soloing instrument in jazz, fusion, Latin, funk, and rock styles.

The bass has become more and more popular recently with several great rock and jazz electric bass players over the last 50 years like Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, John Entwhistle, Chris Squier, Flea, Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, James Jamerson,  Bootsy Collins, Jack Bruce, Les Claypool and many more! 

Source: “Bass guitar.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Teaching Philosophy

For someone to want to play the bass, they must first know what a bass guitar is, what its function is and be able to hear and recognize the bass part amongst all the other instruments in the music they listen to.  It is because of this that we normally take bass students a little older than we do on the electric guitar.  Most students start at 12 years old or older but on some occasions we may find a student that is ready at a younger age. 

For beginners we can use several reading books like Mel Bay Bass Method 1 and teach basic bass clef reading.  At the same time we teach the student scales, arpeggios and intervals and the bass theory behind them.  With the bass, a supportive instrument in both rock and jazz, ear training is imperative for the young bassist to become a strong entity in the rhythm section of his or her band or ensemble.  As the student develops, several new techniques like how to play a walking bass line in jazz and how to slap and tap techniques can be taught.  The most important way for a student to learn how to play is to listen to the bass players the student likes & learn what it is they like about their bass lines.  This is what helps create a students’ individual style.  Other books used for instruction are: for Jazz, “Building Walking Bass Lines” by Ed Friedland, for funk/slap style, “Slap It!” by Tony Oppenheim, and for more thorough note reading, Mel Bay’s “Note Reading Studies for Bass” by Arnold Evans.

The philosophy of our bass teachers is to learn the function of the bass and that playing it should be a fun creative outlet while we strive to instill a passion for music and all of its aspects that lasts throughout a student’s life. 

Bass Guitar Teachers

Below is a list of teachers that teach the Bass Guitar at the Fabulous School of Music. Click on a profile to learn more.

Tom Groleau

Instruments: Drums, Guitar, Bass

Randy Leventhal

Instruments: Guitar, Bass and Rock Ensembles

Tom Moore

Instruments: Bass, Guitar, Songwriting and Music Theory

Daniel Nichols

Instruments: Brass, Woodwinds, Strings, Piano and Rock Ensemble