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When does a bass stop being a bass - DISCUSS

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ga_edwards, Mar 11, 2003.


  1. ga_edwards

    ga_edwards

    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    Just curious to other's thought... in these days of multi stringed monsters.

    Guitars have trad had 6 strings, and played in a certain range.
    The bass was built to play in the err...bass register.

    We now have baritone guitars that sit somewhere in between, rather like the male voice between bass and also. And the piccolo bass, which sits more or less in the same range.

    the trend nowadays seem to be to have vastly extended ranges, nearly always on basses, not guitars (they tend to only get 7 strings for low end grindy goodness).

    Are these instruments strictly 'basses' anymore?
    Should they get there own designation...maybe a full range guitar, or tenor guitar?

    DISCUSS

    PS I'm not knocking people who play multi stringers, I play a 5 string, and am hankering after a 6.
     
  2. Ziggy

    Ziggy

    May 9, 2001
    Orange County, CA
    Edwards,

    If I may, please allow me to be the first to agree... bass guitar was made to play 'the low' notes. Isn't the first octave of 'C' on the bass, the first 'C' that appears in the "Treble" clef??

    I've messed around with a five string now and then, but my four string Fender 'P' has plenty of notes on it for me to use. Besides, if I ever need some note/s not typically found on the neck, I've discovered an easy way to resolve that problem. If you turn those knob thingys attached to the headstock, it alters the tension of the string... doing so, changes its vibrating frequency. That, in turn, also changes its pitch! Cool, ha??

    But seriously folks; if the music you're playing is mostly Broadway plays, you need to reach notes at the low end of an 88 key piano, and / or your guitarist's soloing was state of art in the late 50's, by all means, pick up a 5, 6, 7, 10, 12... string bass and have at it. (remember when an 8 string bass was a speciality item used on few old Cheap Trick tunes??)

    In the mean time, as Tony Levin says; "play the low notes."

    If owning and playing a 5 - string, or being able to do guitar solos on your 6 string bass is the pre-requisite for landing a gig??
    Well, I'll be at home jamming on the old Fender 'P' ... all four strings of it.

    michael s.
     
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    You should note that the typical seven string bass offers only five additional semitones above the upper range of the old standard P bass.

    The range is added below the "standard" four string range. So, I would argue that it doesn't stop being a bass, but rather is MORE bass!

    Chas
     
  4. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Not entirely sure what you mean there, Ziggy - but the first C that appears in the Treble Clef is the 3rd C you can get on a standard 4-string - i.e. the C you get by stopping the G string at the 17th fret.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree - my 5 string BG and DB are certainly more bassy and can produce much lower tones as well as a bassier tone, when playing higher up the neck on the E and B strings .
     
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Nope. That's where middle C is written, but the sounding pitch of middle C is the 5th fret of the G string.
     
  7. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Only in bass music, as bass music is played an octave lower than it is written.

    The C @ 17th fret on the G string sounds middle C.
     
  8. tuBass

    tuBass

    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    Pacman, To get a note that sounds middle C, don't you have to play on the 17th fret of the G string? Is that what you meant to say? I think you wrote it backwards.
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    If that's what he meant to say, then he was agreeing with me in the first place!
     
  10. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001

    :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    Seriously, who are you to tell anyone how to play? If you had stated the previous as your preference, no problem, but you did not.
     
  11. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    When the bassist never plays below the 12th fret.
     
  12. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    Someone mentioned that guitars remain unchanged, and this may be why its not a fair comparison:

    The reason, I think, that guitars have remained essentially unchanged for all these decades is because, unlike bassists, guitarists are not nearly as open minded to trying new things. For example, the standard amp for jazz guitarists is still the old Polytone amp. Those things sound like ass. For rock players, they're still stuck in a long gone era where Marshalls ruled the planet. Not that that's such a bad thing, I love that searing Marshall guitar tone. But, think of how far basses, bass amps and subsequently bass tone has come in just the past 20 years. And yet electric guitar technology seems to have ground to a screeching halt somewhere around 1965.

    This is not intended to slight guitarists in any way, in fact one of my guitar playing buddies agrees with me on this. Its just an observation.

    YMMV :cool:
     
  13. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    If I have a bass in my hands is it my choice or yours whether I play below the 12th fret or not? You may not like it, but that doesn's make you right.
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I have played guitar in bands although nothing like as much as bass and my view on this is that effects have much more impact on the sound than anything else - so with the range you are talking about effects pedals can make far more difference to your sound - so when flangers and digital delays appeared in the 80s they almost defined the sound of the New Wave.

    And I can remember buying cheap and expensive guitars which didn't sound all that different when you put them through a few effects pedals!!

    BUT - for bass, we work in a part of the sonic spectrum that is generally much lower than where effects work - they just add hiss and don't affect the low end much at all.

    So I think that to get better or more varied BASS tone, bassist have looked more to high-end basses and high-end amps to proviode that - as it is the only way to get better pure bass tone.

    So - I often think that you get kids coming round here, who hear how thier guitarist friend buys a new pedal and changes their tone radically and think it will work with their bass - but generaly the answer is no - you want good bass tone it doesn't come from effects pedals, which just work in the range that guitars work in!
     
  15. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    you're right, I'm an idiot.


    I shouldn't post while at work!
     
  16. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    On that we agree.









    DID I JUST SAY THAT??!! :D :cool:
     
  17. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    While I agree that a bass is supposed to play the low notes, I like to think of it less as an instrument than as a function.

    I think the instrument called "bass guitar" has a tonal character all its own regardless of register and playing it in different registers allows for interesting (and unexplored) textures in music when the right person is/people are playing it. Our fellow TBer Dave Grossman plays Bach pieces on the 7 string and it's brilliant. It's like an undiscovered art form.

    Imagine a band with two or three 7 or 8 string bassists and no guitars. Between them, the guitar function could be covered and there's be a lot of creative ground to explore.

    I don't own a 7 string yet, but I will one day. When I get it, I don't plan on limiting myself stylistically, but that's just me.
     
  18. Gabu

    Gabu

    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Since there is overlap, I don't imagine that it ever "stops" being a bass. Also, it's not uncomon to play bass on a guitar. There have been a lot of times when I was listening to some really tastey folk song, enjoying the bass... and it was all fingerpicking on a guitar.
     
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I don't know.... did the bass stop being a bass when they added frets? How about electricity?

    Silly question.
     
  20. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    It is. These threads bring out the same sort of crap as the "I'm cool because I hate to solo" threads.