Recording Studio: The early days of bass playing must have been a nightmare! Low resonance plus the need for audible volume meant huge instruments like the Mandobass (mandolin style) and the Regal Bassoguitar, which was a monster cross between an acoustic guitar and an upright bass.
Recording Studio: The Dobro Resonator Bass
The Dobro Resonator Bass was a little smaller in comparison thankfully but still unwieldy so it’s no wonder that the upright bass as we know it remained a constant favourite for the first half of the twentieth century.
The bass revolution really started with the introduction of electronics and amplification and for the earliest examples we have to look at the Vega Electric Bass Viol from the 1930s, the Electrified Double Bass from Regal in 1936 and Rickenbacker with their Electro Bass-Viol from around the same time.
These were essentially the centre part of an upright bass from headstock to end pin so no prizes for guessing where the designs for the skeletal electric uprights of the 1990s came from!
Each came with an amplifier but the Rickenbacker was curious as along with featuring their classic styled horseshoe magnetic pickup the endpin included a jack plug and the whole thing slotted into the top of the amp so no leads were needed.
Recording Stuido: Bass Progress and revolution
Gibson took things a step forward with their recording studio Electric Bass Guitar in 1938 which was still an upright instrument with a hollow body in spite of the encouraging name.
It stood about five feet tall and was indeed like an archtop bass guitar with a proper looking magnetic pickup and two controls but it still used an endpin. In fact Wally Kamin used one of these during his time as the bass player in the Les Paul Trio, but very few were actually made.
The true birth of the bass guitar and bass playing as we know it today really started in the 1950s with the birth of the Precision Bass in late 1951. Leo Fender always had an affinity towards bass players who were finding it harder to be heard within the band or ensembles of which they were a part.
Hauling a double bass around was a pain to say the least so Leo’s Fender Precision Bass was nothing short of manna from heaven for the players of the time. There had been attempts before but Leo’s instrument was the one that defined a look, a scale length and a practicality hitherto unknown.