Ask most people who created the modern electric bass guitar and they will tell you it was Leo Fender. However, there were at least five other prototypes resembling the now well-known design of the modern bass, each created well before Fender introduced the world to the Precision bass in 1951. The modern bass is a direct descendant of the double bass, which dates back to the 17th century. However, it was not until the early twentieth century that the design of the bass was changed to be more practical. | |
In the 1920’s, Lloyd Loar, working for Gibson, designed the first 'electric double bass’. The bass used an electro-static pickup, but amplification of bass frequencies was as yet undeveloped, so there was no practical way of hearing the instrument. In the early 1930’s, Paul Tutmarc became the first known individual to refine the double bass to a more practical size. The first prototype was about the size of a cello, and featured a rudimentary pickup, but this was found to be too heavy, and the design was refined to be more like a guitar. This new bass was 42 inches long, solid body, made of black walnut and piano strings and, like the previous, featuring a pickup. In the mid ’30s, several established musical instrument firms - Lyon & Healy, Gibson and Rickenbacker to name a few - began marketing experimental electric basses that were, like Tutmarc’s prototype bass, much less bulky than a standard double bass. However, these were all still tall, unfretted, upright instruments held in the standard vertical position. Around 1940, Paul Tutmarc Jr began manufacturing guitars and basses, including the Serenader bass. This was distributed by L.D. Heater Music Co., in Portland, Oregon, and was the first time a large distributor handled the electric bass. The genius was that this new instrument was a bass Guitar - a compact, fretted instrument that could be held and played horizontally There was very little...
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