A Brief History of Acoustic Basses
- 15th Century – An instrument resembling an acoustic bass was documented by scholars traveling throughout Spain.
- 1700’s – The guitarrón is used by Mariachi bands that began to form in Mexico. A guitarrón is a large 6-string guitar designed to produce low-end bass sounds.
- 1950’s – Based on the design of the guitarron, modern acoustic bass guitars were first produced in the United States
- 1970’s – Famed entrepreneur Ernie Ball began manufacturing the Earthwood line of acoustic bass guitars.
- 1980’s – American folk/punk band the Violent Femmes garner success with the release of their self-titled debut album in 1983. The acoustic bass was played by Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie on favorites such as “Blister in the Sun”.
- 1990’s – Popular bands began to shift towards playing songs that used acoustic instruments – including acoustic bass guitars. Bands like Nirvana, and Alice in Chains made appearances on MTV’s Unplugged performing acoustic versions of well-known songs, and newer songs that were written to be played using acoustic instruments. As a result, there is a sharp increase in the popularity and use of the acoustic bass guitar.
Alice In Chains performing an acoustic version of “Down in a Hole” on MTV Unplugged in 1996. Bassist Mike Inez is playing acoustic bass:
- 2000’s and Today – YouTube and other video & music sharing platforms now provide unrestricted access to artists and bands across the entire spectrum of music genres and styles. As a result, exposure to musicians that play the acoustic bass has greatly increased. And with that, the popularity of the instrument has greatly increased as well. Acoustic bass can be used to play a wide variety of music genres & style. Its portability and versatility has led many beginner and accomplished bassists alike to purchase an acoustic bass. Its exposure and popularity will continue to grow as more and more bassists work to incorporate the acoustic bass in to their playing.
Below are a few popular videos created within the last several years, that feature musicians playing the acoustic bass guitar:
Les Claypool’s “Duo De Twang” performing “Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver” – playing a Regal RD-05 Resonator Acoustic Bass Guitar:
Popular YouTuber and bassist Davie504 playing an acoustic bass solo:
Acoustic Bass and Guitars playing a cover of “Minor Swing”:
Acoustic bass guitar expert Dmitry Lisenko playing his song “Prometheus:
Reasons for Owing an Acoustic Bass
- Can be used to play and practice without plugging in. An acoustic bass can be taken anywhere and played without having to bring an amplifier – it’s the “travel bass” that be can transported and played just about anywhere.
- Great for accompanying other instruments in an acoustic setting – acoustic guitars, bongos, banjos, etc.
- Used by bassists wanting to produce an acoustic sound when playing a particular style or genre of music.
- Can be played through an amplifier for increased volume levels. All electric acoustic basses are built with pre-amps and electronics for playing louder through a bass amp.
- Are often used in home recordings to capture a deeper, fuller tone vs. using an electric bass.
Drawbacks of Playing Acoustic Bass
- An acoustic bass played without an amplifier is not very loud. You need to plug into an amp if you’re are playing with other musicians that generate any significant level of volume.
- Most acoustic basses will feedback when reaching a certain volume level when plugged in to an amplifier. Acoustic basses that are designed to play louder can be much more expensive.
Our Recommendation for Entry Level Acoustic Bass Guitars
If you are considering purchasing your first acoustic bass guitar, we recommend keeping your budget to a minimum. There are not a lot of significant differences among entry-level bass guitars. In terms of sound, volume and features, they are all very similar. We recommend purchasing an inexpensive entry level acoustic bass first – to help determine if you want to invest in one that is more expensive.
Here is our list of recommended entry-level acoustic bass guitars – in alphabetical order:
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Best Choice SKY425 Electric Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Equipped with a 4-band EQ-7545R guitar preamp to produce high-quality sound for beginners and pros alike
- The wood composition creates a rich, resonant sound, great for unplugged jam sessions or performances
- Built-in volume control, a 4-band equalizer adjusts bass, middle, treble, and presence
- Ready to use right out of the box, it’s perfect for bassists who want to practice on-the-go
- Crafted with an attractive inlay, chrome die cast tuners, and a glossy finish
Cordoba Mini II MH-E Electric Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Features an extended 580mm (22 7/8”) scale length so it tunes perfectly to Standard E
- Keep it acoustic and the Mini II Bass’s deeper body depth will provide a well-rounded tone
- Use its Cordoba MB103 pickup to plug it in and you’ll be surprised by this portable bass’s rich, robust tone
- Built with all-mahogany woods, the Mini II Bass MHE’s unique voice is mellow, soft and balanced
Dean EABC Cutaway Electric Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Full-sized acoustic-electric bass with a 34″ scale that produces a deeper, fuller tone than basses costing much more.
- Comfortable bass that’s loud enough for jam sessions with acoustic guitar players
- Select spruce top; mahogany back, sides, and neck; rosewood fingerboard; and die-cast chrome tuners
- Cosmetic touches include an abalone soundhole inlay and multi-ply binding.
- Great for home recording without having to mike an amplifier
Fender CB-60SCE Electric Acoustic Bass Guitar
- An acoustic bass that goes above and beyond anything in its class.
- Makes use of the same slim-taper, easy-to-play neck profile found on all Fender Classic Design guitars.
- Its solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides complement the concert-sized body for a smooth and articulate low end.
- Comes equipped with a flexible Fishman electronics system that’s well-suited to the stage or studio.
Ibanez PCBE12MH Electric Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Grand Concert body style acoustic/electric bass with sapele top, back and sides for a warm, full tone.
- The lightly applied natural Open Pore finish optimizes sound vibration and allows the bass to realize it’s full sound potential.
- The Ibanez AEQ-2T preamp w/Onboard tuner is specifically set to tailor the frequencies of a bass and allows operation of the built-in tuner without the instrument being plugged in.
- The PCBE12MH also features a tortoise rosette, chrome die-cast tuners, nandu fretboard and bridge, with Ibanez Advantage bridge pins for improved tuning stability.
Best Entry Level Acoustic Bass Guitars