Acoustic bass guitar
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The acoustic bass guitar (also called ABG or acoustic bass) is a type of acoustic guitar based on the configuration of the electric bass pioneered by Leo Fender's electric Fender Precision Bass.
The first modern acoustic bass guitar was developed in the early 1970s by Ernie Ball of San Luis Obispo, California. Ball's aim was to provide bass guitarists with a more acoustic-sounding instrument that would match better with the sound of acoustic guitars.
About his invention, Ball stated:
- "I always thought that if there were electric bass guitars to go with electric guitars then you ought to have acoustic basses to go with acoustic guitars. The closest thing to an acoustic bass was the Mexican guitarron commonly seen in mariachi bands, so I bought one down in Tijuana and tinkered with it. I installed frets and tuners on it, but I never could get it just right."
In collaboration with George Fullerton, a former employee at Fender, Ball developed the Earthwood acoustic bass guitar, which was introduced in 1972. Production of this instrument ceased in 1974, resuming a few years later under the direction of Ernie Ball employee Dan Norton, until production finally ended again in 1985. The Ernie Ball company describes Ball's design as "an idea before its time," and, indeed, the instrument did not become de rigueur for acoustic musical performances such as the MTV Unplugged television program until the late 1980s
The Earthwood acoustic bass guitar was quite large (and deep) in contrast to most instruments in current production, which gave it more volume, especially in the low register.photo 1photo 2
Construction and tuning
Unlike the electric bass guitar, which is generally a solid body instrument, the acoustic bass guitar usually has a hollow wooden body similar to (though usually somewhat larger than) that of the steel-string acoustic guitar. The majority of acoustic basses are fretted, but a significant number are fretless instead. Semi-fretted versions also exist, although they are quite rare.
Like the Fender Precision Bass and the double bass, the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings, which are normally tuned E-A-D-G, an octave below the lowest four strings of the 6-string guitar. Like the electric bass guitar, models with five or more strings have been produced, although these are less common. In part, this is because the body of an acoustic bass guitar is too small to produce a resonance of acceptable volume at lower pitches. One solution is to tune a five string bass E-A-D-G-C instead of B-E-A-D-G; another is to rely on amplification.
Because it can be difficult for a strictly acoustic bass guitar to be heard over other instruments — even unamplified acoustic guitars — many (but by no means all) acoustic basses have pickups, either magnetic or piezoelectric or both, so that they can optionally be used with an amplifier.
There are also semi-acoustic models fitted with pickups and intended to be always used with an amplifier. The box of these is principally designed to produce a distinctive tone when amplified, similarly to semi-acoustic electric guitars. Thin-body semi-acoustic basses such as the violin-shaped Höfner made famous by the early Beatles and several Fender models are not normally regarded as acoustic basses at all, but rather as hollow-bodied bass guitars. As with semi-acoustic electric guitars, the line between acoustic instruments fitted with pickups and electric instruments with tone-enhancing bodies is sometimes hard to draw.
Saga Musical Instruments produces a four-string bass resonator guitar under their Regal brand name.
Other manufacturers of acoustic bass guitars (not mentioned above) include Alvarez, Breedlove,Jerzey, Dean, Eston, Gibson, Washburn, Ibanez, Maton, Ovation, Michael Kelly, Prestige Ribbecke Halfling Bass and Tacoma.
Hispanic acoustic bass guitars
Traditional music of Mexico features several varieties of acoustic bass guitars.
The baja sexto, with six pairs of strings, resembles a twelve-string guitar tuned an octave lower. The heavy gauge strings generate a large string tension, yet the guitar is built relatively lightly. The baja sexto began to be used in Texas in the 1920s with the rise of "Tex-Mex" music, where it continues to be used to play the parts which would be played by the piano in traditional American popular music. A Mexican variation of the baja sexto is called bajo sexto. The tuning of these instruments is (capital letters are an octave lower than small letters):
- BAJA SEXTO - Ee Aa Dd Gg Cc Ff
- BAJO SEXTO - Ee Aa Dd gg bb ee
The guitarrón or chitarrone is a very large, deep-bodied Mexican 6-string acoustic bass guitar played in Mariachi bands.
Other Latin American acoustic bass guitars exist as well, see: Bordonua
Also, due to the fact that classical contrabass guitar shares the same range as an ABG, it can considered as one.
- Acoustic bass guitars
- The Uccello Grasso Acoustic Bass Guitar Description and downloadable plans for an archtop ABG
- The Bassola Acoustic Bass Guitar Description and summary assembly instructions for a large archtop ABG
- 5 string ABG tuned B-E-A-D-G
- Ribbecke Guitar Co. - http://www.ribbeckehalfling.com