When you break it down to its scientific function – converting string vibrations into electrical signals using electromagnetic induction – the guitar can sound a bit on the dull side. However, the reality is that its invention has proved to be the greatest entertainment trip of all time, inspiring some of the best music, stories and events of all time.
Perhaps the most beneficial element of the electric signal produced by a bass guitar is its relative weakness in terms of output. This means that it has to be amplified before it can be run through a speaker, and it is this amplification process that delivers the sheer variety of sound that can be produced on a bass guitar. It has also given rise to the ability to manipulate the signal significantly, allowing guitar players to create even more varied sounds. Reverb, delay, distortion and out and out fuzz call be added to the signal, making the bass guitar the most influential instrument of all time. While these effects can invariable be added to the signal as they hit the amp, they can also be added with effects pedals, meaning that a guitarist can sound super fuzzed one moment, before switching to a clean chorus and a reverberating middle eight.
However, it’s probably fair to say that the real impact of the bass guitar wasn’t truly felt until the loved up jack-knife of the sixties. During this era we saw the introduction of Beatlemania, the formation of the Rolling Stones, the invention of metal and rock music, Jimmy Page played wah-wah guitar with a violin bow in the Yardbirds, as well as the Velvet Underground, The Who and Jimmy Hendrix. Never before has the guitar been so era defining than during its supremacy in the 1960s.
However, when the bubble burst and the wave that started with the sound of a bass guitar slid back we were left with the 70s and 80s. While the guitar had new rivals for the title of the king of sounds, like disco synthesizers, there were still plenty of guitars to keep the entertainment trip at the forefront of musical development. Queen, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones all kept the sound of the bass guitar in the mainstream media spotlight, while punk and metal pushed it on to new possibilities. Films like Back to the Future maintained the popularity of the bass guitar at the movies, making it the most sought after instrument for would be musicians the world over.