What Is an Electric Double Bass?

The electric double bass, a stringed instrument with a built-in sound amplifier and electronic controls, was invented in the early twentieth century instrument makers. To avoid confusion with the bass guitar, musicians refer to this instrument as the electric upright bass. The musical octave played this instrument, which is one octave below the cello, or single bass, is known as double bass. The original double bass is an acoustic stringed instrument that looks like a giant violin.

Different designs for the electric double bass appeared on the market as early as the 1950s. In the twenty-first century, two main styles have survived. A smaller version of the classic acoustic double bass is one of the designs. It retains the basic shape of the original acoustic double bass, but it is typically no larger than 75% of the acoustic instrument’s normal size. Only the post that holds the instrument’s strings and electronics is retained in the second design, known as a stick bass.

Both of these designs offer musicians advantages over the traditional instrument, in addition to the increased sound volume provided the amplifier. Electric versions are lighter and more compact, making them easier to transport. They also allow musicians to place the instrument on a stand during practice and performances, reducing the physical strain on bass players who normally keep the instrument upright leaning their bodies forward.

Four or five strings make up an electric double bass. They’re usually made of light-weight steel. Each of these strings must be properly tightened before playing, using the screws at the top of the handle, to eliminate any slack that could distort the instrument’s sound. This instrument is played with a bow or a pick.

The double bass and electric double bass have the lowest tonal range, or voice, of any stringed instrument. All of the music for the electric double bass is written in the bass clef of a music score. Bassists play notes that are one octave lower than the lowest note on the bass clef.

The musical part for an electric double bass in classical compositions is similar to that of percussion instruments like drums. Accomplished bassists who play the amplified instrument can take advantage of the instrument’s enhanced capabilities and contribute lower-range notes to the harmony of a composition. An electric double bass is frequently used in jazz performances to play solos that emphasize the melody of the piece.