An instrument, usually with 4 or 5 strings, modeled after the classical double bass (upright bass), which plays in lower regesters than the average guitar.
Some say the bass is easy to learn, which is debateable, but there is no question that the bass (or any instrument for that matter) is VERY difficult to master.
The idea to put a bass in the guitar shape and size came about in the 1930s' when inventor Paul Tutmarc designed the first electric, guitar styled bass, designed to be played horizontally. It was called the Model #736, and was produced by audivox.
Later on, in the 50s' Leo Fender developed the first mass produce bass guitar.His fender precesion bass or "pbass" soon became the standard in industry and was widely copied. It was designed from a single slap of wood, much like a telecaster, and featured a simple four pole pick up system.
In the 1960s' fender came out with the jazz bass. It featured 2 single coil pick ups, one closer to the bridge, the other in the percision bass position. Also, it feature a narrower neck that that of the precision bass. Furthermore, the 'jbass" had volume controlls for each pick up, which made more sounds possible
Since then the bass guitar has evolved with the time to suit the needs of the player and the style of music the bassists performs. Some notable high quality bass guitar manufactures are pedulla, warwick, mtd, alembic, ken smith, modulus, ernie ball, and of course fender. Line 6 has even come out with a modeling bass, which is made to imitate the different sounds of different basses with the turn of a nob. Furthermore, basses are now being made with more than 14 strings, so a bass player will never run out of neck room.
It is improtant to note that as an instrument, the bass is very young. Though there are many styles of bass playing, the sky is still the limit. Great players like victor wooten, flea, les claypool, stanley clarke, stu hamm, and marcus miller are pioneering new styles and techniques every day. And lets not forget the late great Jaco Pastorious, the man who made the bass what it is today. if you want to hear how bass should be played, check out jaco.
Every band NEEDS a bass guitar