PHIL KEAGGY - Grammy nominated and seven-time Dove Award winner, is one of the world’s great guitar players and a pioneer in contemporary Christian music.
- March 20, 2017
- Bass Guitar
First, let’s go over the basic bass guitar parts. Like any electric guitar, there is wood, hardware and electronics. The headstock has 4, 5, 6 or even 8 tuners depending on the amount of strings you chose for your bass. There are string trees to hold the strings tight and in place. There’s a nut or bridge where the strings cross and that’s pretty much the headstock. The neck is usually maple or rosewood but could be graphite or some other material with usually nice fat frets. There are fret markers on the fretboard and along the top of the neck usually in the binding, if it has binding.
Bass Guitar Parts - The Body
The body starts where the neck fits in the pocket. Some basses are all one piece. Bolt-on necks have 3-5 screws that go through the neck and attach to the body with a plate to secure the fit. Now, let’s look at the body top. There’s a bridge with saddles where the strings go through and sit suspended between the bridge and the nut. There are usually set screws and long screws that allow you to set the intonation, or tuning accuracy, of the instrument. These screws allow you to raise the height of the strings and move the saddle back and forth to get the bass set up properly.
The Bass Guitar Electronics
A bass can have several different pickup configurations, but there are some staple layouts like the Fender Precision or Jazz bass. The Precision Bass or P-Bass pickup layout has a single split-coil pickup. This helps to manage hum while producing a strong mid-range tone that is perfect for rock and most other genres of music. The Jazz Bass or J-Bass pickup layout has two single-coil pickups delivering great definition and a deep rich tone with versatility. There are other great basses of course with many different pickup options, but Fender is renowned for these two basic options.
The bass guitar top also has a pickguard to protect the finish from your hands. It has knobs to control your volume and tone and usually a switch to move between pickups. Of course, there are strap pins and an input jack where you plug the cord in but that’s pretty much it. If your strings go through the body from the back, there’ll be a plate on the back or a small device to run the strings through. There can be other additional parts and specialty items, but these are the basics. Now let’s talk retailers.
Finding Bass Guitar Parts
If you are just looking for bass guitar parts, Stew Mac has been around since 1968 and they have one of the largest inventories of parts in the nation. One of the great things about Stew Mac is the help you can get for finding the part and getting your project complete. Some parts are obscure and have to be fabricated. This might require a place like Glaser Guitars in Nashville, TN. Pickguards, for example, are not always available but can be custom cut. The same is true for other obscure parts. Guitar Parts USA is also a nice hookup for bass guitar parts. There are others, just dig till you find your part.
Sites like The Bass Place and Bass Central offer some cool basses and bass guitar parts too. If you’re interested in a bass that’s less traditional, check out these sites. They can get a bit expensive, but you’ll probably find what you’re looking for. Go for it!
Bass Guitar Retailers
As for bass guitar retailers, there are the staples like Guitar Center, Sweetwater or American Music. You can find just about any bass you’re looking for in these massive inventory houses. The beauty of Guitar Center is you have 30 days to return it. With mail order, you take a risk, so if the bass isn’t what you expected it to be, you can always return it.
These days, Guitar Center is also offering a lot of used and vintage instruments on their site. Their stores across America have some real treasures if you take time to look. Guitar Center’s database is pretty up to date so if you find the bass you’ve always wanted, you can likely grab it and have it shipped to your door. That’s cool.
The competition for the retail market is pretty intense, so don’t settle on the first price. Shop around. When you find the bass you really want, make sure you don’t overpay. If you found it somewhere else cheaper, just tell the retailer you’ll buy from them, but they have to match. They usually will. Sometimes finding the right bass guitar means sitting for a while with the instrument. It’s worth the time to just go hang out at the music store and play as many as you can until you find the one that speaks to you. No two guitars are equal. It’s funny how two identical guitars can sound so different. When you find the one that makes you smile, you might be surprised that it’s not the expensive one. Why pay for just a brand name or an American-made bass when a foreign one might suit you better?
Finally, new bass guitars or parts are within reach. Don’t stress over it. If you break a tuner on a 60’s model precision, you might have to look to a vintage dealer, eBay or a mom and pop shop to locate an original, but it’s out there somewhere. As for newer models, most replacement parts are readily available. New bass guitars are in abundance and your only frustration might be narrowing it down to what you actually want. It’s ok to own a dozen of them. Find the one that makes you wanna play and rock on!
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