Classification criteria for Bass types
Most of the people, they tend to think that a bass its an instrument similar to electric guitar, but with fewer and larger strings. And they do not usually distinguish, or know, different types of bass.
Because of course, we are used to it to see one great variety guitars: what if acoustic, Spanish, electric or semi-acoustic guitars. But how many types of basses are we used to seeing?
The answer is easy, we are used to seeing just one type of bass: the bass electric.
But the truth is that there is a great variety of bass, and making a general classification by categories can be difficult since many combine the same characteristics, but with different nuances. That is, the different types are divided into categories and subcategories.
So stop answer to the question of how many types of bass are there today, we are forced to make a double classification:
Types of electric basses
No, of course not all basses are the same. Many people think that it is a “guitar with 4 strings” and that’s it. But yes, it is an instrument with its own name, and yes, they exist different types of bass (not all are electric).
Regardless of the characteristics of the different models that we will see later, and like guitars, the bass can be built with or without electrical components.
And this is the main feature to define that, in essence, there are 3 types of bass in the market:
As we have seen, the main and most relevant difference between the electric bass and the acoustic one is that it has electric components that allow you to amplify your signal.
And the components that make this possible are basically two: the pickups and the inner circuit.
- The pills are the microphones that pick up vibration of the ropes, and the circuit takes care of turn that vibration into an electrical signal.
The subject of pills is a world apart, and we tell you all about them in this Mega guide about the bass pickups (operation, types, characteristics and recommendations).
Why are we telling you this? basically because this is the basic operation of the electric bass, and because as you may have guessed, not all the pickups, nor all the circuits work in the same way.
In fact, if you notice, there is a little detail that is repeated in the description of all the models: that of passive or Active.
And what is this of passive or active? By this we are referring to electronic circuit type that they integrate in their manufacture, and, therefore, to the type of electric bass
Therefore, we mainly differentiate 2 types of electric basses:
Of course, from this classification we can find another type of electric basses, regardless of the type of circuit they incorporate.
Therefore, the bass classification is a bit more complicated when we also refer to all the include electrical circuitry.
Electric Bass Type Index
In an exhaustive way, we can distinguish all types of electric basses in function of:
- The type of circuit
- Pickup configuration
- The number of strings
- The absence of some parts
- The length of the fingerboard or neck measurement
Bass types according to your pickups
We also differentiate the basses by their pickups. Or rather, by the pickup configuration (types and number).
In this way, the most common is that we differentiate between electric basses kind:
- Jazz bass (J)
- Precision bass (P)
- Combination of both (PJ).
And it is that, regardless of the configuration of the internal circuit of the bass (active or passive), there are different pickups that give a characteristic sound or another.
Although there are other types of pills, as a general rule we usually say that these are the 3 basic types of basses according to this component (You can know the details of each pill by clicking on the images)
Note: If you want to know the main differences between the two kings of the groove, we invite you to review our article on the difference between precision and jazz bass.
Bass types according to the number of strings
Sure, active or passive, jazz or precision, electric basses don’t always have the same number of strings. It is true that, as you well know, a standard electric bass has 4 strings, but it is not always so far from it.
What happens is that the most common type of electric bass, which you will find without problem in any music store, stage, etc. is this.
But there are also other models with a greater number of strings. All basses that have more than four strings are called extended range bass.
Note: surely you are interested in this Article in which we tell you how many strings can a bass have.
The electric bass Fretless, also know as Fretless bass, is a type of bass that has a completely smooth fingerboard, just like a classical string instrument.
That is, it presents a fretless neck like a violin, or rather, like his father the double bass.
This model is very common among jazz bassists, and has a unique and easily recognizable sound by either ear.
On the one hand, this feature allows you break through the 12-tone barrier of conventional bass. And, since it does not have frets, a great infinity of tonalities can be played, being a super expressive instrument.
On the other hand, having no frets (and often no position marks) makes it more difficult to execute without going out of tune.
The Headless electric bass, also know as Low headstock or headless, it is in every rule a “normal” bass, but without a blade.
Well okay, yes, it is not so normal, but its sound, construction, sound, etc. it’s like other electric basses. The difference is that since it does not have a shovel or pegbox, it does not present to the naked eye no chance to tune the ropes.
But obviously they can be fine-tuned, only through other mechanisms. What happens is that the strings are much better attached, and has the great advantage of better maintain tuning, and according to some a lot more precise.
Some need double ball strings to trap the strings at the end of the neck. Others simply use a system of set screw to hold the strings.
Also, these are smaller (generally long, but some of the steinberg brand have a very small body), so they can fit in some guitar cases or cases.
And finally, we cannot finish without talking about the different types of basses according to their scale.
How? What is this about the scale? Are there still more types of bass? indeed, yes. So we continue with the extensive list of bass subcategories.
Surely, on some occasion you have seen a bass that seems smaller, with the shorter neck. Or it may have seemed to you excessively large, with the longer neck.
Well this is the visual sign of a short scale bass (30 inches) or long scale (34 inches up to 36 inches). And the Main differences techniques lie in:
- The comfort and ease of playing.
- The number of frets.
- The range of notes.
What kind of bass purchase
We have already reached the end of this page where we have done a review of all the types of basses that you can find in the market.
And, as you can see, since its creation, the electric bass has evolved in an incredible way, encompassing a huge variety of models.
So it is normal that on more than one occasion you ask yourself:what kind of bass is right for me?
Well, if you are a bearish with a certain level, there are no shortcuts to know which low to buy. You will have to analyze what sound you like the most, what type of bass you feel most comfortable with, etc. That is, to comprehensively compare the different models and brands of bass based on your preferences.
But if you are a beginner bass player, or just starting out in the bass world, if there are some general recommendations what for buy a bass Be a easy, simple and safe process.