Electric bass guitar [bass guitar].
- Tony Bacon
- and Arian Sheets
Electric guitar, usually with four heavy strings tuned E′–A′–D–G. Early forms of the electric bass guitar were brought to market by Vivi-Tone of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the early 1930s, Rickenbacker (or Ro-Pat-In) of Los Angeles in 1935, Audiovox of Seattle in 1936, Vega of Boston in 1939, and Regal of Chicago in 1939. Gibson also made several electric basses prior to World War II, but did not formally market them. Early electric basses employed a variety string types and pickups, but most had longer scales and were fretless, designed to be played in a manner similar to conventional acoustic upright basses. Audiovox, with its short-scale, fretted version, was a notable exception.
The modern full-scale fretted solid-body electric bass guitar was introduced by Leo Fender and was first marketed as the Fender Precision Bass in late 1951. The instrument was introduced to meet the needs of musicians playing the bass part in small dance bands in the USA: they wanted not only a more easily portable instrument than the double bass, but one that could match the volume of the increasingly popular solid-body electric guitar, and could be played with greater precision than their large, fretless, acoustic instruments. Fender’s electric bass guitar answered all these requirements. It was based on his already successful Broadcaster (later named Telecaster) six-string electric guitar, with a similar solid body of ash and neck of maple. The four strings were tuned to the same notes as the double bass (an octave below the bottom four of the six-string electric guitar), and a single pickup fed controls for volume and tone; the fretted fingerboard offered players the precision they wanted....