A quick overview...
This article shall help you to get a general overview and understanding of what types of guitars are out there.
To understand Bass, it is important to know a bit about how music works.
There are instruments to cover the high note spectrum, there are instruments to cover the mid-range note spectrum and there are instruments to cover the low note spectrum. Some cover more, some cover less of that.
So, when people say, “the bass sounds different”, what they mean is, it sounds lower, because usually you play in a lower spectrum.
There are electric basses and acoustic basses, as well as acoustic guitars and electric guitars.
Acoustic guitars have a body that is used for resonance and to amplify the tone by itself. Electric guitars use technology for that. They are equipped with pick-ups, that “pick up” the oscillation of the strings and translate them into electric signals, which can be passed on through cables and directed into an amplifier to return a sound of a played note.
The same kind of technology is used in electric bass guitars.
Acoustic guitars are often easily recognizable by their wooden look.
But this might also fool you, so be careful, there is more to look out for. The most distinguishing trait is the big hole in the centre and a big corpus. This corpus exists, so the sound the strings make can be naturally amplified by the body of the guitar. Compared to electric guitars, acoustic guitars do not have visible sound pickups, either. Check the section about the electric guitars to find out what that means.
Classical guitars have a really warm sound and you can hear it for example in the beginning of “Despacito”. The expressive options are not as broad as with the electric guitar. Techniques like vibrato and string bending are mostly used in vain. Instead the artist rather focuses on playing nice harmonies simultaneously with bass lines while using finger picking to hit several strings at once. Finger picking is a technique quite rarely used with…
The electric guitar is probably the instrument which shaped the musical landscape of the 20th century the most. Here is a typical example of an electric guitar:
As you can see, there is a lot of technical hardware built into the body.
Beneath the strings we have three pickups. They translate the oscillation of the strings into an electrical signal, which is then transported to the cable socket. You can see this in the bottom left corner of the guitar. That is where the cable which leads to the amplifier is plugged in.
Furthermore you have a toggle switch and various knobs, that can alter the sound to get different sound colors.
The switch lets you choose between the pickups, since depending on which pickup is active, you get a different sound, due to the position to the strings, that the pickups take.
The pickup closest to the bridge – that is where the strings end – the punchier the sound is. The more you move up to the neck, the warmer it sounds.
You could describe it like this:
The bridge pickup sounds more like “dadadada” and the neck pickup sounds more like “doodoodoodoo”.
With the knobs you can control the volume output from the guitar and the tone.
The latter in physical terms means, that if you turn it up, you have the full spectrum pretty much balanced out. If you turn it down it takes away from the output of the treble part from the spectrum, leaving more room for bass notes.
I hope you liked this little introduction into the world of guitars.
About the Author
Miika Korte delivers musical results on the guitar for young and old guitar players at his Kitaratunnit in Tampere. If you are in his area, be sure to not miss out his offer for a free introductory lesson. Maybe you will experience, that there is much more to get out of you, than you initially thought.