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Why You Need an Acoustic Bass Guitar

Wednesday February 7, 2024. 03:00 PM , from Sweetwater inSync
Why You Need an Acoustic Bass Guitar
If you think of the modern-day electric bass guitar as pop music’s evolution of the upright string bass, then the concept of an acoustic bass guitar doesn’t really seem all that outlandish. In fact, acoustic bass guitars serve many valuable purposes in terms of sound, functionality, and convenience.

However, there are considerations to bear in mind when determining if the acoustic bass route is the right path for you. So, Sweetwater answers eight important questions about the instrument and breaks down all of the bassy details. (Plus, we toss in some of our favorite acoustic bass guitar performances!)

What Is an Acoustic Bass Guitar?What Are the Advantages of an Acoustic Bass Guitar?How Loud Are Acoustic Bass Guitars?Can You Plug In Acoustic Bass Guitars?Are There Left-handed Acoustic Bass Guitars?Are There 5- & 6-string Acoustic Bass Guitars?Are There Short-scale Acoustic Bass Guitars?How Do I Know if an Acoustic Bass Guitar Is Right for Me?

What Is an Acoustic Bass Guitar?

For starters, we need to give the acoustic bass guitar a proper introduction. As the electric bass guitar evolved from its long-standing upright predecessor, so, too, did the acoustic bass during the mid-1950s, becoming more commercially common by the early 1960s. And similar to its electric counterpart, the acoustic bass guitar was more space-efficient than an upright bass, housed a fretboard, and could be played with a flat pick — plus, you could wear it over your shoulder.

Henceforth, the acoustic bass guitar has opened up many doors for bassists and guitarists to fill out the low-end mixes of songwriting sessions, campfire jams, and acoustic set lists. As you may be aware, however, the ability to translate those lower bass-string frequencies without the aid of a pickup seems counterintuitive. But the resulting thumpy, resonant, and organic tones of the instrument generate an enticing musical experience and have, in recent years, skyrocketed in popularity — and for good reason!

What Are the Advantages of an Acoustic Bass Guitar?

Whether you already play electric bass or are a first-time bassist looking for an acoustic alternative to vibe with, the acoustic bass guitar serves up a wealth of perks. First and foremost, depending on the model and occasion, you don’t need a bass guitar amp to use it. Anywhere an acoustic guitar would venture, so, too, can the acoustic bass: road trips, acoustic jams, small and low-volume performance spaces, apartments and dorm rooms — the list goes on.

In that same vein, the sonic advantages of the instrument are many. Just like an acoustic guitar, the natural resonance and woody tone of an acoustic bass make an ideal complement to other acoustic instruments involved in the musical setting at hand. It’s all the groovy energy without the overbearing intensity. Nothing else sounds like it, and yet, it sounds so natural!

How Loud Are Acoustic Bass Guitars?

The short answer? Not very. While the builds of most acoustic basses are designed to project and resonate just like an acoustic guitar, their longer scale lengths and heavy gauge strings end up working the instrument twice as hard as a 6-string to push those low frequencies forward in the mix.

However, for quieter and all-acoustic set lists and gatherings, an all-acoustic bass guitar will work just fine! In a lot of instances, though, miking the instrument or utilizing an onboard pickup will give players that presence needed to really leave a lasting impact in concert. Practicing on your own or rehearsing at home with the band? No problem. Playing an acoustic set on a larger stage? It might be time to plug in!

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Can You Plug In Acoustic Bass Guitars?

Absolutely! Fortunately, for those occasions when more volume is a must, a lot of acoustic basses these days come equipped with a built-in electronic preamp and pickup system. This route helps maintain the instrument’s natural acoustic tonality with precision and clarity when broadcasting your sound to larger audiences or while tracking in the studio.

Additionally, acoustic-electric bass guitars come with integrated tone and volume controls as part of their preamp systems, making it much easier to adapt and sonically sculpt your bass’s tone to better fit the performance space at hand. Truth be told, no matter the musical space, you can find a capable acoustic bass guitar to fit the bill.

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Are There Left-handed Acoustic Bass Guitars?

Sweetwater does carry a couple of left-handed acoustic basses. However, as is the enduringly unfortunate truth for left-handed musicians, the manufactured options are extremely limited. But, thankfully, acoustic bass authorities like Warwick and Kala produce some of their finest acoustic bass examples with lefty bassists in mind! Models like the Warwick RockBass Alien Deluxe Hybrid Thinline and the Kala U-Bass Exotic Mahogany provide full-scale and miniature sizing, respectively, to give our southpaw friends both pro-grade and travel-size acoustic bass options to work with. 

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Are There 5- & 6-string Acoustic Bass Guitars?

They sure do! Though generally less common than 4-string models, 5- and 6-string setups, like the gorgeous acoustic bass guitar options from Warwick, Ibanez, and ESP, are available for players looking for more range from their instruments. And while we can’t guarantee its effectiveness for drop-tuned metal set lists, an acoustic bass with more notes at its disposal makes an extremely valuable and versatile asset to any musical group or jamming party — especially a gathering that’s limited to purely acoustic tones. From expressiveness and melodic range to performance adaptability, having a few more strings on your acoustic bass is a great way to get ahead of the game and stay ready for any musical moment that presents itself.

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Are There Short-scale Acoustic Bass Guitars?

For young beginners, small-fingered and small-framed musicians, or bassists just looking to downsize without sacrificing that charmingly unique acoustic tone, a short-scale acoustic bass is just the instrument for the job. Whether they’re ukulele basses or simply extremely compact examples, small-bodied and scaled-down models continuously impress bassists around Sweetwater with their achievable low and tubby tones. Kala, Gold Tone, Martin, and Lanikai are all fantastic choices when it comes to tracking down an acoustic bass that will accommodate players of varying sizes and scale length preferences without compromising on quality.

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How Do I Know if an Acoustic Bass Guitar Is Right for Me?

While enticingly beautiful and undoubtedly useful in certain cases, the acoustic bass isn’t necessarily the right fit for every bassist out there. In most cases, an acoustic bass isn’t going to be the only bass in your lineup simply due to its practical limitations. However, that doesn’t mean that one wouldn’t make the perfect addition to your arsenal!

If you’re living in an area where quiet hours are a genuine concern — such as an apartment, a dorm room, or even your own home — then the calm and plucky demeanor of an acoustic bass’s delivery is the perfect match.

Love to travel? Find yourself working on the road? Short-scale acoustic bass guitars are a no-brainer for space-conscious and hassle-free van jams and solo groove-outs.

Find yourself jamming more often than rehearsing when you’re with your musical cohorts? Chances are that not every jam will spring up in a soundproof basement! Having an extra instrument on hand to better suit acoustic occasions will make a marvelous impact on the quality of your creative time.

Are you a coffee-shop stage regular or part of an acoustic cover duo? Diversify your sound with an acoustic-electric bass, and round out the low end of your performance’s mix to complement those vocal harmonies and showcase your tunes with as much passion as possible.

We aren’t here to tell you when it’s time to buy an acoustic bass. But before you pull the trigger, consider how these factors apply to your existing or forthcoming musical patterns.

Sweetwater Has the Acoustic Bass Guitar for You!

With all this in mind, what are you thinking? Did any instrument catch your eye or seal the deal on that next addition to your studio? Trust us — as instrument and music gear experts here at Sweetwater, we know considering a new axe can be overwhelming at times. So, if you’re still not quite sure if an acoustic bass guitar is the right move for you, or if you’d like a little more guidance in helping you land on the right bass for your applications, then don’t hesitate to call one of our incredible Sweetwater Sales Engineers at (800) 222-4700. We are standing by to talk gear and to make sure that your next special instrument is truly the best fit for you!
The post Why You Need an Acoustic Bass Guitar appeared first on inSync.

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