Playing the Acoustic Bass

If you've ever tried to play an Acoustic Bass, you have no doubt noticed the difference in playing the Acoustic over the Electric.

Because the Body of the Instrument is generally quite a bit larger than its Electric counterpart, it tends to vibrate more. This is especially true as the notes get lower down the neck, especially as you reach the nut. Playing the E string can sometimes feel like a small earthquake, and if you have a low B string, you may cause the very ground beneath you to split open and consume you whole (probably not, but be careful just in case :).

Now, that may not actually happen (I'm pretty sure that that may not ever have happened), but I felt that it would be my way of describing the rather heavy vibrations associated with playing such a large acoustic instrument.

Another difference between the two types of Basses (Electric and Acoustic) is that the Strings on the Acoustic generally feel "stiffer". Because the Acoustic Bass relies more heavily on vibrations directly from the Strings to the Body than the Electric does, it needs a bit more "pull" to get the notes to ring clearly. Most Electric Basses can get away with having strong Electronics to enhance the vibrations of the Strings since they don't need to be as taut.

In order to get the best sound from your Fingers (if playing fingerstyle), you may want to play closer to the Bridge. This will allow you to get a cleaner, more defined tone than rings clearer than if you were playing up near the Neck. While the strings tend to feel stiffer there, the tone of the Bass tends to make up for that.

When you first get your new Bass, you may want to get it set up by a professional Luthier. Usually the action is very high when you first get it, so having the action lowered will more than likely help you to play with less effort. The downsides to having lower action are that you may have some fret buzz if the Strings are too low and the lower the Strings are set, the softer the volume of the Bass becomes. However, being able to actually play your Bass is the most important thing, so it’s really up to you.

Just make sure that you get it done professionally the first time to avoid any mishaps or mistakes. Also, be sure to ask some questions about what the Luthier is doing. You can usually get some good pointers and information about how you can keep your Bass in good playing condition, so don't be afraid to ask.

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