READ OUR COMPLETE BASS GUITAR BUYING GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS AS WE EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BASS GUITARS!
If you're wondering which bass guitar to buy, or whether the bass is right for you, read our bass guitar buying guide and see why we think it's one of the coolest instruments ever made.
While it's true that many bassists end up in the background, the bass player is an important part of any band, and some of the best-loved rock stars played the instrument, including Paul McCartney, Sid Vicious, Sting, Brian Wilson and Flea (we recommend the Fender Flea Jazz bass).
But which bass guitar is right for your sound? If you want to join the club, here's our bass guitar guide to the different types of bass guitars!
A GUIDE TO THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BASS GUITARS
In this next section, we'll discuss the MAIN types of bass guitars thar are relied upon by bass players all over the world. Of course, this list is not exhaustve but it will give you a comprehensive guide to the main types of bass guitars available.
PRECISION OR 'P' STYLE BASS GUITARS
Arguably, the most popular types of bass guitar are the ones designed by Fender - the Jazz Bass and the Precision Bass. Both models are excellent and used by pros worldwide. Their designs spawned many copies, but, of course, nothing beats an authentic Fender!
Here we have the classic Fender Precision Bass guitar, or otherwise known as the Fender 'P' bass.
The Precision Bass (or simply "P-Bass") was the first-ever bass guitar designed by Fender, and the first electric bass to gain popular attention - it revolutionised music.
Before, most musicians would use an upright bass. The P-Bass was lighter, slicker, with a punchier, more focused sound and more sustain. Thanks to that, music styles such as rock'n'roll, soul and funk could evolve, using the driving rhythms now possible thanks to the electric bass.
If you choose to play a Fender Precision Bass, you'll be playing the most classic, legendary type of bass, that has changed very little in 60-years! No bass guitar buying guide is complete without one!
The P Bass features a split-coil pickup, which provides a punchy, driving sound. It's not quite a humbucker and not quite a single-coil, but it gives you a sound w=somewhere in between. this is a great all-rounder for all styles of music.
Pictured: Fender Player Precision Bass MN, Black
JAZZ STYLE BASS GUITARS
The Jazz Bass was Fender's second bass and achieved even greater success than its predecessor. It is without a doubt the most popular type of bass guitar in the world, today.
It is punchier than a P-Bass, with more midrange and treble (though that kind of difference is not that obvious or relevant for beginners).
The Fender Jazz Bass is used worldwide by musicians of every musical style imaginable, from jazz musicians to rockers such as Flea, Geddy Lee, and many others.
The Fender Jazz bass comes in a variety of different styles and colour schemes, but one major feature throughout is the inclusion of two single coil pickups that you can isolate or blend.
This means you have a more versatile sonic palette to play with, and part of the reason these bass guitars can fit in with any style or genre of music.
Struggling with P vs Jazz bass? Read our comparison between the Fender Jazz Bass and P Bass HERE.
JAGUAR STYLE BASS GUITARS
The Fender Jaguar bass is another style of bass guitar relied upon by players all over the world. Although it's not a particularly common bass guitar to see, it's definitely an incredible option for the discerning payers out there.
The jaguar bass features both Single Coil and Split Coil pickups that you can isolate or combine, providing a massive sound.
Again, these bass guitars are not super common, so if you see one you like - it's best to grab it before they disappear.
Pictured: The Fender Player Jaguar Bass PF Capri Orange
SG STYLE BASS
Besides playing the Jaguar VI bass, Cream's Jack Bruce also helped to make the Gibson SG bass more popular.
Other users of the SG Bass include Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Peter Quaife (The Kinks), Jim Lea (Slade) and Doug Yule (Velvet Underground).
It's a great "rock'n'roll" bass, with a different feel and tone to Fender basses: the neck pickup offers more low end, and narrower neck makes it easier to play.
The dual pickups provide a fatter, thicker sound overall in comparison to a single coil - which some players, especially those in Rock bands love.
Fortunately for those on a budget, Epiphone also make an incredible version that is hard wearing and sounds awesome!
Shop Gibson Bass guitars.
Shop Epiphone bass guitars.
MUSTANG STYLE BASS GUITAR
Another great "rock'n'roll" bass guitar, the Fender Mustang bass has a narrow neck and short scale. Bill Wyman also played a short-scale Mustang bass, like Mikey Way (My Chemical Romance), Dee Dee Ramone (Ramones), Carl Wilson (Beach Boys), Rhys Webb (The Horrors) and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads.
Fender recently reissued the Mustang bass as part of their American Performer and Vintera series.
These new models are quite probably the best ever Mustang bass guitars ever made, and are still one of the most versatile basses Fender has ever made.
It's very comfortable to play, and features upgraded pickups: one Jazz Bass pickup and one P-Bass pickup - the new Fender Mustang bass is pretty much like a bass guitar "best of" from Fender!
Pictured: The Fender Vintera 60s Mustang Bass PF Fiesta Red
THUNDERBIRD BASS STYLE GUITARS
The Thunderbird bass is perhaps the most "rock'n'roll" of all bass guitars! The Gibson Thunderbird seems a top choice for bassists in loud rock bands: this type of bass was played by Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith), Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), Kris Novoselic (Nirvana), Adam Clayton (U2), John Entwistle (The Who), Jared Followill (Kings of Leon) and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth). So you're in good company when you pick one of these up.
The dual humbucking pickups within these bass guitars offer a versatile, yet instantly recognisable tone. You can really hear the Thunderbird bass on recordings as they seem to cut through the mix far more than most bass guitars out there.
Although this is a regular scale bass guitar at 34" long, when playing it does give the illusion that your neck is a lot longer than other bass guitars. This is down to the wider frets, which can feel a little weird at first, but you'll find that you get used to it and start enjoying the freedom wider frets can bring. The Gibson models can fetch a higher price and are some of the best expensive bass guitars in the world, so expect to pay for it.
However, should you want more budget-friendly option, the Epiphone models are available at a lower, but still reassuring price.
Shop Gibson Bass guitars.
Shop Epiphone bass guitars.
Pictured: Gibson Thunderbird Bass Tobacco Burst.
VIOLIN STYLE BASS GUITARS
The most legendary non-Fender style bass has got to be the famous Hofner violin bass, with its distinctive violin-shaped body. You know, used by some guy, who played it in some famous band from Liverpool...
In common with most of those different types of bass guitars, the Hofner has a narrower neck as well, but it's also much lighter than other basses. It's a dream to play!
These bass guitars are usually supplied with flatwound strings to give you that classic nylon/acoustic/boomy bass sound that is instantly recognisable on Beatles records.
We recommend a set of Rotosound Tru Bass 88 String Set 65-115 strings to get that classic upright bass sound that is associated with this bass.
RICKENBACKER BASS STYLE
Finally, at the most high-priced end of the spectrum, the Rickenbacker bass is certainly one of the most desirable instruments for any bassist. It's been used by Paul McCartney (Beatles and Wings), Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), Lemmy (Motorhead), Geddy Lee (Rush), Mani (Stone Roses / Primal Scream) and many other top names. It's a very distinctive bass and one of the best money can buy. It looks and sounds awesome and a bass guitar buying guide would look weird if it didn't include this iconic bass!
There are two key features bass players love about the Rickenbacker bass. The first is the dual inputs, which mean you can split the signal of your bass into two different amps, with one amp running the bridge and another the neck pickup.
The second feature is the slimline neck. This can be a little off-putting to bass players who are used to the likes of a Fender, but you'll soon find that the slimmer design is easier to play and provides a particularly ergonomic, comfortable playing experience.
Plus, they sound absolutely awesome with some distortion!
Pictured: Rickenbacker 4003S Bass Guitar Jetglo
WHAT ABOUT BASS AMPS & EFFECTS PEDALS?
Here at PMT we have a great range of bass amps and fx pedals for your bass. We recommend you check our Bass Amplifiers section to find an amp that suits your needs - we stock bass amps to suit every situation, from small 10w amps for playing at home, to massive 300w rigs ideal for touring pros! In the past, bassists didn't have a great choice of effects pedals specially designed for them and usually had to use pedals originally meant for electric guitars. One of the pioneers was Paul McCartney, who plugged his bass to a guitar fuzz pedal on The Beatles' track "Think For Yourself", from 'Rubber Soul'.
Today, things have changed dramatically and bass players are well served with a wealth of great Bass Fx Pedals to choose from, including fuzz, wah, EQ & much more! They are a great addition to any bass player setup if you want to widen your bass' sonic palette. One of the best choices is to get yourself an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff - bassists love it! No bass guitar buying guide would be complete without it!
Now that you know the basics... get ready to turn up the bass! We hope you enjoyed our bass guitar buying guide, but feel free to speak to our bass guitar experts at your local PMT store today should you have any other questions!