The typical modern Electric Bass Guitar comes in one of three types; the classic four strings, five strings or six strings. Just so you know, there are Electric Basses with more than six strings which are usually custom made Basses played by Bass aficionados, so to speak. The difference between these Basses are the number of strings, obviously, the size of the neck (the very long section of the Electric Bass Guitar…more strings usually require wider necks.), the tonal range and of course the costs.
For the purpose of this article, we will be taking a look at the three most common types of the Electric Bass Guitar. The four string Electric Bass Guitar plays in the range of E-A-D-G with E being the fourth string and the G being the first. The five string Electric Bass Guitar extends the lower end of the classic four string Electric Bass from E-A-D-G to a low B-E-A-D-G with B being the fifth string and G being the first. The six strings Electric Bass Guitar has a sixth string that plays in the upper register and extends the range of the four and five string Electric Bass Guitar from B-E-A-D-G to B-E-A-D-G-C with B being the sixth string and C being the first. This type of Bass is the choice of Bass soloists.
The Head is the section of the Electric Bass Guitar where you will find the Tuning Keys/Machines which are, usually, arrayed in different positions which corresponds to the number of strings a Bass has.
The Nut is located between the Head stock and the Neck. This acts as a guide for the strings as they run along the fingerboard to the individual tuning machines. If you damage the Nut it is a pain to get repaired or replaced, though this rarely ever happens.
The Neck is the long section of the Electric Bass Guitar which comprises the finger board and frets. There are short scale and long scale versions of the Neck.
The Body is the section of the Bass which holds the Pickups, the Tone controls, and the Bridge.
Tuning the Bass
Getting the Electric Bass Guitar in tune is quite easy. You can use the assistance of a guitar player. If you do, have the guitar player play the G note on the third fret of the sixth string (this is the biggest string on the guitar.)
The next option is to use a keyboard and tune from the low note to the high note. On the four string Bass this would be E-A-D-G; on the five string Bass this would be B-E-A-D-G; on the six string Bass this would be B-E-A-D-G-C. There are other ways to tune the Bass such as using a tuning fork or other electronic tuning aid. Also, the more proficient you become with the Electric Bass Guitar you will learn how to tune by ear. A great website to checkout is tunemybass.com which offers a lot of technical assistance for both Bass and Guitar players. I recommend bookmarking this site for future reference.
And now…the fun part…jammin’.
Now that your Bass Guitar is in tune, it’s time to do some jammin’ reggae style.
Reggae music is characterized by a heavy drum and bass rhythm. The bass can be played on or around the drum beat. By this I mean to let the Kick Drum be your guide, try to build a bass rhythm around it. One way to get an Idea is to listen to a few reggae tunes and get a feel for the rhythm. The popular website YouTube has plenty of videos on reggae bass playing, so check it out.
The Bass of choice to play reggae is usually the Fender Jazz Bass Guitar for its fat bottom end. Of course, you can use whatever Bass you choose.
The right hand (plucking hand) positioning is important when playing a reggae rhythm. The notes are played on top of the lower end of the neck at just about the last three frets. The result of this approach is a consistently fat low end.
Now you are ready to go jam your heart out to some wick’d reggae beats.
Rowan Bassey: Follow On Twitter: @reggae4real
Musician/Composer/Producer, reggae music, Dance and Pop vibes.