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How do you recognize a bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by levelA, May 18, 2011.

  1. levelA


    May 18, 2011
    Hello @ all, I'm a newbie to this forum. Did not know about this here, although I'm a bass player^^.

    For my bachelor thesis I try do design an extended-range bass. Therefore I need your help:
    I simply like to know how you recognize a bass guitar when looking at an instrument.

    Thanx for your help ;-)
  2. I usually look at the headstock and the tuners. Then, I'll look at the bridge location. Those 2 are pretty good indications from a distance.

    I'm guessing you're wanting to know how we discern a guitar from a bass when watching a band play.
  3. Its bigger, has bigger tuners, usually 4 strings, and emanates an aura of coolness. Also many look like a p or j basses, easily recognizable.
  4. Also, an average scaled bass is longer and has a larger body than an average scaled guitar. That can be harder to see from a distance but a good indicator from row 10 and closer.
  5. Hi.

    Welcome to TalkBass levelA.

    Now that You mention it, it's a very good question, since the erb's have stirred things up quite a bit. As have headless designs.

    For me it's the string thicknesses relation to the scale length.

    A 25" or even shorter ("guitar") scale bass instrument is perfectly doable if thick enough strings are used.

  6. nocontrols


    Apr 2, 2011
    It's bigger. Longer scale length. Has four big, fat strings instead of six little, skinny strings. Makes all the ladies go unf unf.
  7. JulienJeff


    Mar 1, 2009
  8. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
  9. TheMutt

    TheMutt Guest

    Apr 28, 2007
    Normally I recognize a bass guitar by: (usually the order that I notice things in)

    -Pickup type (P/J/MM/Darkstar/etc)

    -Control cavity scheme/pickguard shape

    -Tuning machine layout (4-in-a-line/4+1/3+2/etc)

    -Headstock/body shape

    -Thickness of strings/string spacing

    -Number of strings/width of fretboard

    -Brand (Fender/Musicman/G&L/Ibanez/etc)

    -Technique of bassist (fingerstyle/slap/pick/etc)

    -Scale length of instrument (this includes Bass VI type instruments, but can be harder to distinguish them at first glance or from a distance)

    -Position of bassist on stage (off to the side/next to the drummer/standing in front of a bass amp/in the background/etc)
  10. levelA


    May 18, 2011

    Attached Files:

  11. DarkArwen


    Oct 29, 2009
    Regarding the picture, too long to be a guitar, strings too thick to be a guitar, strings too far apart to be a guitar.
    Having said all that, it IS a guitar. It's a bass guitar. Variation on a theme.
  12. Wild_Cat


    Feb 14, 2009
    Montréal, QC
    To me, that instrument is instantly recognizable as a bass guitar (as compared to a guitar) for the following reasons:

    - The neck is longer, and far wider than any guitar I can think of.
    - The bridge is very close to the tail end of the body (on a guitar, it's 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the way between the neck and the tail end).
    - Also, string-through-body construction. It's not a standard bass feature, but I've only ever seen it on basses, never on guitars.
    - There's more knobs than you'd usually find on a guitar (guitars seldom have onboard EQs, so usually it's at most 4 pots + 1 toggle switch).
    - There's no toggle switch despite there being 2 pickups (I don't know of a single guitar that has a blend pot rather than a pickup selector switch).

    So there: Bass! How low can you go? :D
  13. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    Agreed. I didn't intend for you to plagiarize, just offered it as reading material reference.
  14. though in a solo picture of a 5/6+ string bass, it may look like it would be harder to tell, once you see it in someones hands, that neck will look HUGE.
  15. levelA


    May 18, 2011
    that is a very interesting point...I have to agree.
    I also have to animate an imagefilm for this new bass and...hope that I can show it like a bass without an additional person^^
  16. levelA


    May 18, 2011

    What about sharp C#? ^^ :D
  17. or anything to give it some kind of relative scale.
  18. It's the one being held by the guy without all the ladies flocking to him.
  19. levelA


    May 18, 2011
    I just need some more general comments on how you recognize a bass guitar...it does not matter if it repeats ;-)
  20. Wild_Cat


    Feb 14, 2009
    Montréal, QC
    That would be the famous 33Hz "resonant frequency", wouldn't it? ;)

    Another suggestion, if you want to design an instrument to be more recognizable as a bass guitar, make its pickup configuration be either single P, PJ or single M. Those scream "bass", even to the general public.

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