Top 10 Bass Guitars
What's your favorite bass guitar?
Whether you are a bass player, or just a bass fan, what's your favorite? What's the BEST? Fender Precisions and Jazz Basses are classics, or what about Alembics, or Status basses.
Here's my list of 20 bass guitars, who plays them and which models epitomise the brand. Vote for your favorite bass maker and let me know what you play, or what your guitar hero plays.
If you'd like a piece of Gene Simmonds-style axe bass goodness (like in the picture), take a look over here.
Does the bass matter?
I think it does. The wooden basses have a warmer, mellower sound, but I also like the thudding sound of a Fender P-bass. Depends on the set-up, of course, and what type of strings and amps you're using.
To start things off though my favorites are Alembics and Jaydees - I'm torn between these, and can't choose a winner!
Maybe you can: cast your vote below, or add another bass if your favorite isn't there.
At the moment, I own two basses:
- The first one I got is a white Encore E4, currently with light-gauge strings, a split pick-up and 21-fret. It's basically a Fender Precision copy.
- The second is an alder wood Wesley Monarch. Much lighter, and a little smaller than the Encore, but with heavy gauge strings - which I need to change to preserve my sense of touch! It's a 24-fret with double humbucker pickups.
Buy Your Own Bass - With Basses, There's Something For Every Budget
Mark King, bassist and front-man with Level 42, always recommends spending as much as you can afford on a bass guitar. It's not because he has company stock with bass manufacturers! Rather, it's because, as he says, bass is a tough instrument to learn, especially when you're starting out. A higher quality instrument will be easier to play - and if you decide later on that it's not for you, and you want to go off and play drums instead, you can put up your bass guitar for sale, and your expensive bass will keep its value better. A cheapo bass will be worthless if you want to ditch it later on.
Bass Guitar Tuners and Tuning - Playing In Tune And Time Is Crucial
It's very important to make sure your bass is in tune if you want to play in a band with other people. Otherwise, the whole thing will sound awful. You can buy bass guitar tuners these days to help. They often have metronomes also, which is the next critical stage of playing music - to stay in time.
You can easily tune your strings relatively once you have one of them tuned correctly. Use the fifth fret of the E-string which should be the same pitch as the neighboring open A-string. Work you way through the strings, tuning the 5th-fret A to open D, and 5th fret D to open G.
The other way is to tune the 5th-fret harmonic on the E-string to the 7th-fret harmonic on the A-string, and similarly work your way through. But always remember to underpin your pitch by getting the absolute pitch of one of the strings using a tuner. Personally, I use a tuner for all four strings, and then just double check using the harmonics method.
Bring on the basses, like NOW!
Fine handcrafted basses & guitars
Alembic was formed in 1969 by Ron and Susan Wickersham. It is still a distinctly family affair to this day, employing 26 people.
Notable basses include: the Signature Standard and Deluxe, and the Series I and Series II basses.
Artists who play Alembic include: Mark King and Stanley Clarke.
For more info visit Alembic.
Custom basses & guitars
John Diggins - aka JD - set up Jaydee Basses & Guitars in 1977. Initially, the company repaired and customised guitars, but followed a natural progression, and began making them also.
Notable basses: Supernatural Mark King Series, and GA24s.
Artists who play Jaydee: Mark King and George Anderson.
For more info visit Jaydee.
The Sound of Wood
Warwick is a German bass maker founded by Hans-Peter Wilfer in 1982.
Notable basses: Corvette, Fortress, Streamer and Vampyre.
Artists who play Warwick basses include: John Entwistle, Sam Rivers, Prince, John Deacon, Tye Zamora and Russell Thompson among many others.
For more information visit Warwick Basses.
Fender is perhaps one of - if not the - best known makers of guitars and basses (and other music equipment, eg amps). It is famed for its iconic lead guitars, the stratocasters and telecasters. But Fender is equally a giant in the world of bass.
Notable models include: the Precision or P-bass, and the Jazz or J-bass.
Artists who play Fenders: Sting, Marcus Miller, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, Jaco Pastorius among many others.
Check out Fender on their site.
From England to the World
Notable basses: S2-Classic, KingBass and Empathy.
Artists who use Status basses include: Mark King, Tony Levin, Pino Palladino, Suzy Quatro, John 'Rhino' Edwards and others.
Visit Status-Graphite at their site.
by Ernie Ball
Notable examples: StingRay and Bongo.
Artists who play Music Man basses: Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Louis Johnson (The Brothers Johnson), Dave 'Phoenix' Farrell (Linkin Park), Tony Levin and many others.
For more info visit Music Man.
Handmade custom basses by Bernie Goodfellow
GB is a custom bass and guitar maker in Brighton on the south coast of England.
Notable examples: the Standard, Spitfire & Rumour
Artists who play GB: Mark King
For more info visit GB Guitars.
Custom Guitars, Professional Guitar Manufacture
Moon is a Japanese guitar and bass manufacturer.
Notable models: JJ4 and JB4 Series
Artists associated with Moon: Larry Graham, Mark King
For more information, visit Moon Guitars.
Ibanez is a Japanese guitar and bass maker with a long history. Originally called Hoshino Gakki Company in 1908, the association with Spanish guitar maker Salvador Ibanez started in 1929. The modern era started over the 1950s and 1960s.
Notable models: the K5, SR1006, ICB200.
Artists playing Ibanez: Fieldy (Korn), Sean Andrews (Redemption), Sharlee D'Angelo (Arch Enemy), Terry Butler (Six Feet Under), Paul Gray (Slipknot) and loads of others!
For more info, visit Ibanez.
Celebrating 75 Years 1931-2006
Rickenbacker are a US company - based in Santa Ana, California - which produces guitars and basses. They started making basses, the 4000 series, in 1954. Later, in 1961, the very popular 4001 series were produced.
Notable models: 4001 and 4003.
Artists who play Rickenbacker: Chris Wolstenholme (Muse), Geddy Lee (Rush), Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister (Motorhead), Paul McCartney (Beatles/Wings) and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and many others.
For more info, visit: Rickenbacker.
A part of the Gibson family of brands
Epiphone was founded in 1873, but the company was bought by Gibson in 1957. The more expensive Gibson and Epiphone guitars have a similar look (similar to Fender and Squier).
Notable instruments: Viola bass, Blackbird and Rumblekat.
Artists associated with Epiphone: Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna).
More about Epiphone.
Slap Bass For Beginners - Bass Basics Book On Main Slap Techniques
This is my first book on bass guitar, covering one of my favorite techniques - slap bass. I deliberately wrote it as a "no-nonsense" primer for people who want to add a bit of rhythm and percussion to their bass playing skills, and since I didn't opt for fancy graphics or TAB software etc, the price is super-cheap at the moment.
But you'll still get the lowdown on all the main techniques, including:
Basic Left & Right Hand Slap
Pops & Double Stops
Double Pop Triplets
Machine Gun Triplets