Bass Body Parts

The bass body generally refers to anything on or in the bass from the bridge of the bass up until the pocket of the Neck.

On the body of the bass, there are generally 3 categories of item: The Body itself, the Electronics and the Hardware.

Lets start with the Bass body.

The body is generally composed of wood that has been cut to a certain shape and functions to provide both tone and a place to store the electronics and hardware.

Most bodies out there are made of wood. There are quite a few different kinds of wood that are made into bodies with Swamp Ash, Alder and Mahogany being a few of the more common ones.

Many higher end and boutique bass builders use exotic woods to give their instruments a unique tone and look.

I've found that basses made of denser, heavier woods tend to sound snappier and brighter than, say, Alder or Mahogany which are less dense and a bit more fundamentally strong.

Parts of the bass

The Hardware:

Strap Buttons (1):

Strap buttons are small knobs that are located on the bottom and the upper horn of the bass body. They are used to keep the strap attached to the bass so that you don't break the bass and/or kill yourself while playing (neither of which are all that great as options go).

On this bass, there are straplocks, which are a great option to go for if you can get some. Straplocks consist of a small mechanism that is made up of two parts. One part is attached to the strap and the other is attached to the body of the bass in place of the strap buttons. They allow you to hook or connect your bass to your strap in a much more secure way than you would be able to with just a strap button. I highly reccommend Schaller Straplocks as they are just plain awesome and cost almost nothing for the security that they provide.

Output Jack (2):

The output jack is the small hole on the side or the front of the bass that connects your cable from your bass to your amp or effects.

Ramp (3):

On my bass, I have a Ramp. I got the idea first from Gary Willis and then Matthew garrison, with the latter being the inspiration for this particular type of ramp. They typically stop you from digging into the strings as much, but allow you to play faster, more evenly, and give you the ability to achieve much faster speed and much more fluid technique when playing with 4 fingers such as Matthew Garrison does.

Pickguard (4):

Originally used to protect the finish of the bass body from picks. While they still do that, they now typically serve to cover up the routing job for the pickups, any sort of large dings in the body, or just look really cool. Recently, pickguards have been made out of many different kinds of materials such as Carbon fibre, metal and even other attractive pieces of wood.

Finish/Paint (5):

Most of the basses that you'll come across are painted with a variety of paints in a variety of ways. Since the paints can be anything from solid colors and metallic sheens to stains and crayon (I'm sure someone has), I'll focus on the finishes.

There are three main kinds of finish used on most basses that you'll encounter:

- Oil
- Polyurethane
- Nitrocelulose

Many basses that have woods that are not only beautiful, but very expensive. Many of these kind of basses (i.e many Warwicks) will be finished with oils in order to give off a unique and attractive appearance. This type of finish takes a bit of maintenance, but many people prefer the natural look and feel that oils offer.

Both Polyurethane and Nitrocelulose are harder, more "plasticy" types of finishes that offer more protection, but are more difficult to apply to the bass than oil. You'll typically see this on most fenders and basses with painted bodies. These are the most common types of finish available.

Bridge (6):

On a typical bass body, the bridge is a hard, metal piece of hardware that anchors the strings on the body's side of the bass and allows for adjustments in the action of the strings (see my page on setting up the bass for more information).

Some basses have a wooden bridge. On some basses (like this one), you can pass the strings through the body to give more sustain and a deeper sound. This requires longer strings and is especially useful when you have a low B string and need a little extra tension.

Pickups (7):

There are many different kinds of pickups available for the bass. If you want more information on the different kinds of pickups available, you can read my page on pickups by clicking here.

Knobs (8):

The knobs on the bass body are what are responsible for controlling the output of each pickup for volume, tone and a variety of other functions. The most common knobs that you'll run into are Tone and Volume. The tone knob is responsible for controlling the treble output or response while the volume is responsible for the amount of volume put out by the pickup.

There are more and more pickups and electronics combinations being invented and improved upon every day, but those are some of the more common settings that you'll see.

Return to the Electric Bass Guitar page from the Bass Body page

Return to the Homepage