A Quick Guide To The Different Types of Electric Bass Guitars

Bass guitar is kind of like the Alfred to the Batman of lead guitar. Batman is obviously the lead attraction, but there is no way Batman can do what he does without the constant support and assistance of Alfred working away in the background. In music specifically, the bass follows the musical structure and underscores it with the bass notes to keep the structure together. Unless you are a bass player or the song has a particularly catchy bassline, such as “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen or “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, you probably don’t notice the bass, however if you take it out of a song there is a clear feeling of something missing.

There are a couple of models of bass guitars that constitute the standard bass guitars used in rock and in music at large. They all have slightly different tones and uses and we’re going to go over them and describe their essential sounds with musical examples.

Fender Jazz Bass

Fender is of course a huge company in the world of bass guitar just like it is in the world of lead guitar.  The Fender Jazz Bass is probably what most bassists would consider the staple bass, sort of like the bass equivalent of the Stratocaster, a cardinal of bass playing. It is very diverse and versatile, and has an all-around tone of low rumble in addition to punctuated twang. Basically, you can do what you want with it. Its not too low to be poppy and not to poppy to be low and rumbley. Some good examples of Jazz players are Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, John Paul Jones, and later period Geddy Lee.  

Fender Precision Bass

This is the counterpart to the Fender Jazz. Slightly older and more “classic”, it has a deeper bass tone and lower rumble. It was produced before the Jazz bass, and the Jazz was designed to contrast the Precision as a bit brighter with a range of slightly higher tones. The Precision is larger and bulkier than its Jazz counterpart and sounds like it. Its been made famous by Sting, who almost always plays the same beat up 1957 Precision, as well as James Jamerson (the bass player on all the Motown hits), John McVie from Fleetwood Mac, Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, and John Entwhistle from The Who.

Rickenbacker 4000 Series

Rickenbacker 4000 Series

There are indeed other Bass manufactures besides Fender, and Rickenbacker is probably what most bassists would consider the next one on the list. Rickenbacker 4000 Series basses have a unique voluptuous look. There sound is noticeably brighter and higher-sounding than the Fenders that have been previously described. The high-end tones are extremely noticeable on songs and tend to be far more in-your-face than other bass tones, which mostly meld into the background. There two 4000 models that are extremely similar in tone with very minor differences in design, the 4001 and the 4003. They tend to be a bit more expensive than Fenders but most bass players would say the commensurate uniqueness in tone and general high quality manufacturing is the reason why. Three of the most famous Rickenbacker Bass players are all progressive rock musicians, and the Rickenbacker Bass has earned a reputation as the number one prog rock bass. They are Chris Squire from Yes, Geddy Lee on the earlier (and most progressive) Rush albums, and Mike Rutherford of Genesis. Chris Squire in particular highlights the high-end tone of the Rickenbacker 4000 series, whereas Geddy Lee makes it growl for hard rock, and Rutherford is somewhere between the two.

Hofner Basses

The last of the fundamental Basses is the Hofner Bass. It has a distinct smaller frame and very symmetrical body shape. Hofners are not as widely used as the other basses in this article, however they deserve a spot on this list because this is the bass Paul McCartney played more or less exclusively both in the Beatles and throughout his career solo and with Wings. The Hofner has a unique thumpy tone, not quite as high as Rickenbackers and not quite as low as Precisions. The Hofner is responsible for that driving, walking bass tone that is present on almost every Beatles song. Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys is also known to have preferred Hofners, making it somewhat the iconic bass of early rock and roll. It has seen a bit of a resurgence due to its use in the modern psychedelic band Tame Imapala.

Every bass is unique and these models all have their strengths and weaknesses. The perfect bass for every musical need and niche exists somewhere out there if you do the homework, but whatever axe is chosen, it cannot be understated that the fundamentals of tone is always in your fingers. No amount of research will ever replace pure practice and dedication.

Roger Waters Fender Precision Bass Review

roger waters precision bass review

As one of the most successful and celebrated rock bands of the last 50 years, Pink Floyd have earned their name and the prestige which is attributed to them, in no short part due to founding member and bass player Roger Waters.

Roger_Waters_Fender_sunburst

The Fender Precision bass has been Waters choice of instrument since the early 70’s and in 2010 his own signature model was released through Fender. With a couple of additions to emulate the original bass design, Fender has created the perfect piece of gear for any Pink Floyd fan and the subject of today’s review.

roger waters fender precision bass review

This signature model takes the classic design and sound of a standard Fender Precision bass guitar and adds some additional features to give it an authentic Roger Waters feel.

The most recognizable feature of this bass is the dark finish. In addition to both the body and scratch plate; all of the hardware on the lower half of the instrument is in a jet black colour, including the tone and volume control knobs, the strap buttons and the pickups.

In appropriate fashion the bass has a distinctive 70’s look and feel, with the addition of 1970’s styled open gear tuners which have the Fender script logo stamped on the neck of the instrument.

The chrome neck plate continues the 70’s theme, with the classic Fender logo adding another level of authenticity to the instrument.

The bass is fitted with a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Split Coil pickup, also known as the SPB-3; it is one of the most popular bass pickups in the Seymour Duncan range. This pickup gives the bass a “punchy” sound, boosting the mid-range frequencies giving the tone a full and thick texture. This particular tone lends itself well to classic rock; however the pickup allows the instrument to be used in a number of different musical situations and across a variety of different genres.  Or you can just jam out some Pink Floyd with it…

Bassists who also utilise the SPB-3 in their instrument include Mark Hoppus of Blink 182, Jay Bently of Bad Religion and Justin Meldan – Johnsen of Nine Inch Nails and Beck.  Other features of the bass include a thick neck, giving the fingerboard a 9.5 inch radius and a brass nut, which improves the sustain and adds some brightness to the tone.

Pro’s and Con’s

Pros

Sounds and looks like the original – It goes without saying that this bass is hands down the perfect instrument for any bassist who is a big Pink Floyd fan. Although obviously it’s not completely identical to Waters own precision bass, this signature model comes as close as possible to replicating it. Whether you’re looking to start tribute band or if you’re casual bassist, this instrument is ideal for you.

Quality Pick Up – As previously stated the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pick up is the most popular bass pickup in the companies range and for good reason. It gives a slightly more modern tone than previous Seymour Duncan alternatives such as the SPB- 1 and 2 and while commonly used by bass players seeking a hard rock tone, the pickup has a tonal diversity that allows a variety of different genres to be performed.

roger waters precision bass review

Cons

Relatively Expensive – At around $880 at most retailers, the Roger Waters Precision Bass is relatively expensive for a Mexican built Fender model. A similar priced instrument, which is also made in Mexican, will be a fair bit cheaper, for example a Fender Standard Precision bass will be priced at around $600. The Roger Waters model does capture the look and feel of its name sake however and for many musicians; particularly fans of Water’s bass work, these additional features may be worth the extra price tag. 

Conclusion

As has been mentioned throughout this review, the Roger Waters Fender Precision Bass is perfect for the avid Pink Floyd fan. For a musician looking to start a Floyd tribute band this is the obvious choice allowing you to look and sound like the legend that is Roger Waters. This bass is also a solid investment for any beginner bass player, the versatility and reliability that comes with a Fender instrument makes this an ideal choice. In addition to being a signature model, the bass also stands out in regards to its features and quality, with the brass nut and thick neck being just two examples of such components. Although the price of this bass may dissuade some, the unique qualities of the Roger Waters Fender Precision Bass make it worth the additional cost.

Fender Roger Waters Precision Bass – Black

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