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The bass guitar usually has four strings, compared to the six strings of a regular guitar, although bass guitars can have five or six strings as well. On a standard, four-string bass, the strings are tuned at E, A, D, and G. The strings are tuned an octave lower in pitch, in the bass range. Hence the name "bass" guitar! Strings can be made of metal, metal covered in another material such as resin or plastic, or a non-metal such as nylon.
The bass guitar evolved from the violin family's upright double bass, but is used in a much wider array of music styles than its predecessor. By the late 1940s, as louder music was becoming popular, some bass players fitted pickups to their floor-standing acoustic double basses and played them through adapted amplifiers. Others, like Les Paul, simply played the bottom strings of electric guitars. In the early 1950s, Leo Fender designed a solid-body bass guitar that was supported by a shoulder strap. Gibson followed with a solid mahogany "violin bass," and Rickenbacker introduced their 4000 bass during the late 1950s. More than a decade later, during the 1970s, American Alembic established their reputation as a top-tier bass guitar maker.
Today, rock and roll, country music, funk, fusion, and jazz artists are among those who incorporate the sound of the bass guitar into their compositions. Pickups and amplifiers increase the audibility of the electric bass guitar for use in bands or in orchestras with many instruments. Most bass guitars are fretted, but some follow the pattern of the fretless double bass.
Musicians have many different choices when it comes to the design of their bass guitar's body, neck, pickups, and other options. The body is generally made of wood such as alder, mahogany, or ash, although graphite is another option. The neck can be made of wood, although graphite is becoming an increasingly popular choice. The choice of body material, as well as the shape, has an impact on the bass guitar's aesthetics and also impacts its sound.
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