Talk:Bass guitar/Archive 6

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The bass guitar and its family relationships.

The electric bass guitar is the bass member of the electric guitar family.

There is really no good reason why this is ever presented as a debate, but as this topic gets sporadically revisited I present this explanation for the taxonomic placement of the instrument in the guitar family.
Firstly, there are three logical choices. 1) The instrument is a member of a pre-existing instrument family with which it shares an inherited history and familial characteristics, 2) The instrument is unique and belongs to none of the existing instrument families or 3) The instrument is a hybrid exhibiting characteristics of several pre-existing instrument families.
The following presents the evidence for the bass guitar being a member of the guitar family - although this should be trivially obvious to even the most casual observer. It also explores the reasons why neither the placement within another family, a unique instrument status, or a hybrid status make logical or historical sense.

First a little historical context.
Prior to the advent of electric amplification in the early 20th century there was no bass member of the guitar family in widespread use. The requirements for a large acoustic sound box are such that purely acoustic bass guitars are impractical (modern bass acoustic guitars are inevitably amplified in ensemble situations). Some attempts had been made, such as the Regal Bassoguitar and the Bass dobro. These instruments were all played in an upright position using an end pin but are otherwise large flat top guitars. None of these instruments gained popularity and they have no modern descendants. From the point of view of guitar evolution they can be considered dead ends.
In the 1930's several electric bass instruments were manufactured using names like 'electric bass viol' and 'electrified double bass'. These instrument are electrified versions of the upright bass and instruments of this type have remained in production from the 1930's onwards. Also in the 1930's Gibson manufactured two hybrid electric bass guitars which used design concepts take from both the guitar and the double bass.

In 1936 and 1951 two independent instrument makers manufactured electric bass guitars. Both makers used the same approach of scaling up an existing electric guitar from their catalogue to produce an electric bass guitar.

The original inventor, Paul Tutmarc did not patent his invention, however Clarence L. Fender did patent both his original solid bodied electric guitar and his original bass guitar. The patent numbers are D164,227 and D169,062 respectively. Both patents clearly and unequivocally say 'guitar' in the description of the invention. As you can see the pictures are of almost identical items. Here is a description of the features in common between the Fender electric bass guitar and its smaller relative - starting from the top of the diagram. It is also a list of "all" the features of both instruments. The same exercise taking the original Tutmarc catalogue and comparing his solid electric guitars and his solid bass guitars results in a similar list of identical features.
1) Solid wooden headstock with inline 90° tuning machine heads.
2) A slotted nut through which the strings pass.
3) A thin neck fretted neck with fairly shallow profile and a very high fingerboard radius.
4) Metal frets allowing up to 21 fretted notes (note: this is consistent with the number of frets on contemporary acoustic guitars).
5) A bolt on neck joint with metal back plate.
6) A solid wooden slab body with square sides.
7) Protective scratch plate
8) Electromagnetic pickups
9) Two control knobs on a metal plate covering a routed cavity. This is of little taxonomic value but does demonstrate that the design decisions came from the Fender electric guitar rather than from some other source.
10) Bridge with split adjustable saddles shared by pair of strings
11) Large metal cover over the bridge (which obscures the above detail in the patent drawings, sorry about that)
12) Jack socket
13) String attachment at bridge facilitated by holes in the rear of the instrument.
14) Both instruments are designed to be played horizontally like any other guitar.

The following is a list of the two differences between the Electric Bass Guitar and Electric Guitar and why they differ.

1) Scale length (length of the strings and fingerboard). Bass frequencies have longer wavelengths than treble frequencies so mechanical bass instruments are inevitably larger.
The scale length of the bass guitar can be derived from the guitar by adding the equivalent of 5 additional lower frets to the scale length used by C.L Fender on his standard electric guitars.
2) Number of strings - the guitar has 6 and the bass 4 - a reduction in string numbers is a practical consideration as the large strings and increased string spacing required for a bass instrument make a six string neck extremely wide and uncomfortable for many people. Almost all traditional bass stringed instruments have between 3 and 5 strings for this reason.
Note: The four strings of the bass are tuned an octave lower than the four lower pitched strings of a guitar in standard tuning.

The following compares and contrasts the above features between the bass guitar and the nearest popular equivalent instrument, the upright bass viol.

1) The upright bass headstock generally has a scroll and a single wide slot shared by all of the strings. The tuners face towards the back of the instrument. The slotted narrow headstock with scroll is a feature the upright bass shares with other members of the violin/viol/viola de gamba families as well as instruments such as the oud. Guitars however, typically have either a wide headstock with two slots or a flat headstock like the Fender examples supplied.
2) All stringed instruments have some form of nut.
3) Upright bass necks are significantly thicker, and rounder than the Fender guitar or bass guitar necks in the patent examples above. The fingerboard radius is also much lower on the double bass to facilitate bowing. The low fingerboard radius is something the upright bass shares with the violin/viol/viola de gamba families and other bowed string instruments. The low radius fingerboard is something the guitar has in common with the lute, oud and mandolin families.
4) The upright bass fingerboard is not fretted - this is a characteristic it shares with the violin family - members of the gamba and viol families which had frets typically had removable gut frets. All guitars at the time of the birth of the bass guitar had metal frets - and even today fretless standard guitars are rare. Metal frets is a characteristic that the guitar family shares with the mandolin and banjo families.
Also significant is the number of playable notes. All members of the violin family including the upright bass have double octave fingerboards. At the time of design of the early bass guitars most members of the guitar family had necks with 20 or fewer frets.
5) The bolt on neck with metal plate was one of Fenders radical inventions.
6) A solid slab body is a feature of many electric stringed instruments and is often used on electric upright basses. It is a consequence of the instrument no longer needing a soundboard and is a feature shared with electric stringed instruments regardless of family
7) Upright basses do not generally have such things. This is common on flat top instruments in the guitar, mandolin and lute families.
8) The electromagnetic pickup is common to many amplified stringed instruments and is of no taxonomic value.
9) ...
10) The bridge design of the upright bass is a floating wooden bridge shared by all of the strings and with a low radius to facilitate arco playing. It shares this design with all members of the violin/viol/viola de gamba families. The flat adjustable bridge originated with the Fender electric guitar and is now found primarily on electric guitars and electric mandolins.
11) The metal covers are largely intended to provide shielding for the electronics and similar covers may be found on electric upright basses
12) Jack sockets are common to amplified electric or electronic intruments.
13) Upright bass strings are attached to a floating piece of wood above the body of the instrument.
14) Upright basses are usually played upright, with a metal end pin to facilitate correct height for playing. The are designed to be played with a bow, although many people choose to play them pizzicato.

The following is a list of defining characteristics of upright or electric upright basses that are wholly absent from the bass guitar.
1) The instrument body is narrow over the playing area (either a narrow waist or, in the case of many electric uprights, no body at all). This is to facilitate arco playing of the upright bass.
2) The bow is considered by many violin family players, including bass players, to be half the instrument. Bass guitars are not intended to be played with a bow.

The following is a list of defining characteristics of the bass guitar that are unique to the bass guitar
0) Sorry. I can't think of a single unique feature.

The following is a list of characteristics of the bass guitar which are shared across instrument families. These characteristics can't therefore be used to deduce the family relationships.
1) Single strings courses. Bass stringed instruments from all families tend towards single course strings even where other family members have multi string courses. eg. Mandobass and Bass Balalaika
2) Tuning in fourths. Bass stringed instruments from all families tend to be tuned in fourths or occasionally thirds even where other family members are tuned in fifths. eg. Double Bass and Mandobass
3) Reduced number of courses. Bass stringed instruments often have fewer courses than other family members. Upright basses traditionally had 3 strings, bass viola de gambas would have four or five (higher pitched examples would have 6 or more strings). Furthermore, the earlier attempts to produce acoustic bass guitars, such as the Regal Bassoguitar and the Dobro bass resonator guitar also chose a four stringed approach.
These characteristics represent a common solution to the physical constraints of bass stringed instruments - those being long, massive, difficult to construct strings with a wider range of lateral motion. As strings have improved with time more courses have been added. Modern upright basses are almost always four string and often five string instruments, and modern bass guitars often have five strings.

In conclusion.
All features of the bass guitar that are family specific fall entirely into the lute/guitar/mandolin flat top group of instruments, and none towards the bowed string violin/viol/viola de gamba group (which include the double bass).
The Electric Bass Guitar shows no features which are absent from other members of the guitar family and specifically which are absent from its design parent the Fender Guitar patent D 164,227.
The reduced number of strings is entirely consistent with bass members of many other instrument families and represents a common solution to a given problem. It therefore doesn't justify placing the bass guitar into any other family group.
The Electric Bass Guitar shows no unique features which could justify separating the instrument into a family group of its own.
Therefore, as every characteristic of the Electric Bass Guitar has a direct, clear and deliberate family relationship with the Electric Guitar, it is clear that the bass guitar is a member of the guitar family.
Dinobass (talk) 02:39, 6 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nice Try!. A good essay covering shared design features and technology. Unfortunately it is also a re-statement of novel historical interpretations, irrelevancies, and every argument that has been rebutted in this discussion previously. This essay ignores, dismisses or misrepresents the designers' and manufacturers' motivation, design specifications (notably performance requirements) for the modern bassist, prior electric bass models (because that would deny "parentage") before they settled on standard designs and actually calling the instrument on the label and in supporting documentation an Electric Bass (conveniently ignored in this essay) as the portable, amplifiable alternative to the Double Bass.

The real blow to the credibility of this essay is the "no unique single feature" contradiction after previously noting number of strings, scale length and tuning. Here unsubstantiated opinion is expressed as fact, claiming these are derived from guitar rather than Double Bass. This does not fit with witness' accounts (such as Bud Tutmarc's) and other commentators of the design process. It does not matter whether one individual's opinion is "a big guitar" or not. The evidence is throughout this discussion page - the designers, manufacturers, leading bass musicians and music industry called the instrument an Electric Bass from the moment the first instrument was presented and before the term bass guitar gained any currency. --Ozbass (talk) 06:32, 6 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The designers motivations were anecdotally to make a portable bass instrument. In both cases the instrument they chose to make was a horizontally played electric bass guitar. In Tutmarc's case there is evidence that he first built, but never brought to market, a cello sized electric upright bass - this would exactly be the portable 'electric bass' you describe. However, both he and Leo ended up making instruments derived from the guitar and with no familial or defining features in common with the upright bass. The motivation to replace the upright bass in no way makes the instrument become an electric upright bass - this suggestion is simply absurd. It would be like saying that the engine in a horseless carriage is actually a horse.

Incidentally, where are these witness accounts? - as far as I can tell there are no first hand quotes directly attributed to either Leo Fender or Bud Tutmarc about their design process. All that exist to inform us of their design motivations are statements from third parties made many years after the fact, such as quotes from Bud's son Paul and Richard Smith and George Fullerton in the case of Fender guitars. I am at a loss to see what the contradiction is you refer to. You do seem hung up on the number of strings even though number of strings alone is never a good indication of instrument family as this is highly variable within many instrument families and over time. No one is disputing that 'Electric Bass' has been used to describe the instrument - however the instrument is unequivocably a guitar. So far you have yet to present a single piece of evidence disputing this except to constantly repeat that the inventors intended to create an instrument which would replace the upright bass. Which while true, in no way diminishes the clear fact that the instrument they came up with was a bass guitar which shares no significant feature with the upright bass. (talk) 11:39, 6 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I acknowledge your firmly held opinion, based on "it's looks just like a big guitar" and your considerable effort in comparing construction of electric guitars and electric basses. After that everything you present is merely opinion expressed as fact or openly opinion, and continued denial of verifiable facts and the evidence presented over recent years. Every article on the designers motivations refer to the Double Bass. Denial that myself or others in the EB camp "..have yet to present a single piece of evidence.." seriously damages the credibility of the BG push. Read the talk page. I provided a link to Bud Tutmarc's eye witness testimony of the process (ref. My Vote for Electric Bass, 4 Feb 2010). "All that exists" points to the Double Bass parentage, including the nomenclature used by the major manufacturers, unequivocably printed on the headstock (link provided as well as scan of image, immediately deleted twice by a BG protagonist) as well in as user manuals and price lists (scans provided and then removed), musicians union and leading bassists of the past 50+ years (links and references provided).

The salient facts that the Fender Company itself listed the whole category as Electric Basses with no reference at all to Bass Guitars in the scan I provided 30 April 2008 as well as the instrument's name on the headstock (a second link to a different image provided in two sections on 30 January 2010) are always ignored by the BG protagonists. And more diversions: (1) The Electric Upright Bass is just that - a vertically held alternative to its sibling electric bass, another electric option for bassists. (2) The absurdity of the the engine / horse comparison is that it is (a) possibly applicable to a discussion of solid body instruments and amplifiers versus the tone woods and sound box of an acoustic instrument or the cone of a resonator guitar, and (b) is totally irrelevant to this discussion. Yet for no good reason is presented here. The basis of the BG position is pure speculation. As long as you stick to "it's looks just like a big guitar" you won't convince those such as myself that own an instrument labelled by the manufacturer "electric bass" and have the accompanying documentation for an "electric bass" and researched its origins and parentage. Please try to convince the original designers, manufacturers and many leading bassists such as Jaco Pastorius and Carol Kaye they are all wrong, too. --Ozbass (talk) 07:10, 7 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good grief. My position is not "It looks like a guitar". My position, and that of cited sources such as the grove dictionary music, is that the bass guitar is a bass guitar because it is, quite clearly a bass guitar. And by jingo it does look like an electric guitar, exactly like an electric guitar, which should not be surprising because that is what it is. Conversely it doesn't look even remotely like an upright bass, not even if you squint really hard. Again this is not surprising as it has inherited not one defining characteristic from the upright bass. You have not, as far as I can tell by looking through your previous missives, provided a direct quote from either Paul Tutmarc or Leo Fender. As far as I'm aware such quotes do not exist - certainly Jim Roberts never found them while researching his excellent book. On 4 Feb you provided a link to a fascinating hybrid instrument that never caught on.

Even if they existed, the anecdotal evidence suggests that all you would find would be that one of their intentions was to create an instrument that would free the bass player from having to carry an upright bass around. No one is questioning this. The simple fact is that they achieved this and their other design goals (which anecdotally included creating an instrument it would be easy for guitarists to play) by creating a bass guitar. The reason they did this is probably quite simple - the electric upright bass already existed and wasn't a popular or practical alternative to the acoustic upright bass - at least using the technology of the day. You've provided nothing to support your position except second hand anecdotes about the intent of the inventors, and showing that electric bass is one of the many different things that people have put on the headstocks of their product. Neither of which not make any difference to the guitar family provenance of the bass guitar. As for this strange idea that I should try to convince dead people that they were wrong to refer to their basses as 'electric bass'... why on earth should I want or need to do that? Most of the time I refer to my basses as just basses - sometimes I also refer to some of them as electric bass.

This does not in any way alter the fact that the correct and full name for the electric bass guitars I play is electric bass guitar. It should be clear to anyone who has played both upright basses and bass guitars that the instruments are from different families. All the physical evidence of instrument construction is such that a person who has never played either instrument should still be able to tell that they are from different families. And surely anyone who has played both an electric guitar and an electric bass guitar would recognise that they are from the same family. Dinobass (talk) 11:28, 7 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You keep presenting opinion as fact. Citing Grove Dictionary of Music only reminds me of the number of errors in Encyclopaedia Britannica (an average of 2.92 mistakes per article - Nature Magazine) and the glaring lapses between different versions of Encarta for different regions. While for the most part, Grove would be reliable, no reference is infallible. The "fascinating hybrid" was an example of the parentage and and evolutionary stage from Double Bass to modern Electric Bass. Rickenbacker followed this hybrid in 1956, and I quote "the firm soon added a solid body electric bass." This is another example of a leading manufacturer using the name Electric Bass from the outset, and this from the producer of hybrids such as the Bantar (5 string banjo/guitar) and Banjoline yet Rickenbacker still called the bass instrument under discussion here an electric bass, not bass guitar or even "basstar".

How many originators calling the instrument an Electric Bass from the first solid body, fretted, electric 4-string bass instrument they produced does it take to prove their intent and family provenance? An eyewitness account from Bud Tutmarc is not a second hand anecdote, it is first hand testimony such as accepted in courts of law. Bassists who have played both upright basses and electric basses would understand not only the same approach to the music but also the similarities of the instruments. Any competent musician who plays an electric guitar would certainly not play an electric bass the same way and would understand the difference between a guitar and a bass. Tuning and number of strings are good indicators to start with. --Ozbass (talk) 08:19, 9 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your points seem to be: That Paul and Leo made some comments about replacing the upright bass. This is irrelevant, and I think we both know you can't actually find cites for quotes from either of those fellows otherwise you'd be citing them. You also seem concerned about the approach of the musician to the instrument. Thankfully that is also irrelevant as I'd have to rename my instruments on an almost daily basis and admit to being a drummer, a lead guitarist and a sax player some of the time (I have no drums, lead guitars or horns). Actually that is not just irrelevant it is absurd - although narrow minded people through the ages have often made disparaging comments about people who chose to play their instruments outside the accepted parameters or role of that instrument.

At the end of the day, I have provided in this section a clear, documented list of the features that make a bass guitar a member of the guitar family. I have shown that every single feature of the bass is clearly derived from the guitar and, more importantly, that features that would have been indicators of an upright bass provenance are absent. I acknowledge that I may have a 2.5 percent error rate in that list - probably more as I'm not quite as well copyedited as the encyclopedia Britannica - and I have corrected some errors that I've either spotted myself or which have been pointed out to me (thanks for that).

What is the difference between opinion and fact? A fact can be independently verified, measured, checked and repeatedly proved using different methodologies. An opinion is where there are one or more ways of enterpreting a piece of information. For example you take a quote from a rickenbacker history page written sometime in the last four or five years by person or persons unknown and assume this means they have held that opinion since 1956.

That is one opinion that can be reached, another is that the 21st century opinion is probably written by someone who wasn't even born in 1956, may not even work for rickenbacker and really isn't worth very much - there are yet more opinions that can be voiced regarding that article. However, anyone reading this, although I'm not sure why anyone would, can print out the two patent documents referenced and measure and check them themselves. Anyone with access to an electric bass guitar, an electric guitar and a double bass (or good photographs of them) can check my work and point out the flaws. I have given a 14 point comparison. If the bass really isn't a guitar it should be possible for you, or anyone reading this, to trivially show where this logic is flawed. I urge you, or anyone reading this, to do this. Please demonstrate where this comparison is flawed. And please be aware that if all you've got at the end is number of strings, well, we all know that this varies both within an instrument family and within examples of a given instrument, and sometimes on the same instrument during the course of a performance (and this doesn't generally affect the name of the instrument), so you know that is not going to be even mildly compelling as an argument. Come on, demonstrate that the bass guitar has a closer relationship to the upright bass than to the guitar. Please show your work in the margin. Dinobass (talk) 11:55, 9 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dinobass: more absurd diversions: I would not expect a drum solo or sax solo on a bass. When a musician performs the role of a sax player why would the wind instrument being played be a string bass (or drums for that matter)? Why would a musician who is, say, both a master of the drum kit and competent sax player have to rename the sax he plays to some form of drum? Yet part of the BG argument (and another contradiction) is that the electric bass design made it easier for guitarists to play. This may be a nice bonus for guitarists expanding their musical horizons, such as violin / mandolin players, but as you have demonstrated this is irrelevant with regard to nomenclature. A double bass is still a double bass and an EB is still and EB even if the bass lines are being plucked by a musician who is also a competent guitarist. Carol Kaye is an excellent example - both an excellent jazz guitarist and bass player. Ms Kaye calls the bass instrument in her books and videos an electric bass. Your comparison of the manufacturing and technological similarities between electric bass and electric guitar are not being questioned. Do not imply the opposite.

The flaws in your position are you still ignore or dismiss eyewitness testimony, you ignore the differences between an electric bass and electric guitar, stated many times over, and above all you do not address the name given to the instrument by the original designers and manufacturers. Clearly they do not agree with your argument, and I put their authority on this subject above yours. The facts I have presented "can be independently verified, measured, checked and repeatedly proved using different methodologies". References, scans, images and statements of the obvious have been provided. Anyone can read this discussion page. Requesting the presentation of everything over and over again does not advance your argument at all. Intransigent denial of evidence has no scholastic merit and I have no intention of dragged down to the "I'm right, you and the manufacturers are wrong" level of rebuttal and school yard "come on" belligerence. Please come up with something new. --Ozbass (talk) 04:02, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excellent. We're getting somewhere. So, now we both agree, it is absurd to mention the role or intent of the musician in determining the family relationships of the instrument. This is something I have always maintained and which, consistently throughout your years of revisiting this topic has been one of your own points of argument. So. From now on, let us hear no more about the intent of the musicians, or indeed, the expectation of the designers with respect to the what musicians might do with the instrument. How people play their instruments has no bearing on the family name of the instrument.
Moving on.
So, you do not question any of the points I make with reference to the physical design and manufacture of the instrument. And, let us be clear, these are not similarities these are all aspects of design which only differ in dimension - something which is always the case with different members of a musical instrument family. So. You agree that there is no question on this issue.
Moving on

I do not dismiss eyewitness testimony.

I question that eyewitness testimony exists, but more importantly, the eyewitness testimony you claim does not speak to the family relationships of the instrument, and only refers to the intent of the designers to, among other things, provide a more portable and convenient stringed bass line instrument than was available previously. They succeeded. Even if we were to agree that the quotes you claim for the designers were accurate first hand quotations, none of them address the family relationships of the instrument, only a desired outcome of the design.
Moving on.
Through these years of sporadic debate between yourself and various people on this topic the only person denying clear evidence is yourself. Thankfully there is no longer any need to request debate on the physical aspects of the instrument - you agree that all of my points of comparison are not in dispute. Why do I need to come up with something new?
You have neatly and conveniently agreed with every salient point regarding the physical aspects of the instrument - you have also agreed that the approach of the musician is irrelevant.
What are we left with? That some manufacturers at various points in time have not bothered with adding the implicit word 'guitar' on their headstock or in their guitar and bass catalogues. Big Whoop. If they'd printed 'Electric Bass Sax' on the headstock it might be more problematic - but not printing guitar on an instrument that everyone and their dogs fleas recognise as a guitar really doesn't say much - except that headstocks are small and they probably didn't think people were so stupid that it needed to be spelled out. I mean, how many guitars have the word guitar on the headstock, seriously? So, is that all this is down too, it didn't say 'Guitar' on the headstock? Dinobass (talk) 08:49, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More distortions from Dinobass: I have agreed that there are similarities in manufacturing and technology between guitars and basses. Luthiers use similar tools, technology and design principles across many families of stringed instruments. This does not make the violin family, banjos and mandolins all guitars. This renders Dinobass' whole argument diversionary and irrelevant. The performance requirements in the design specifications to meet the role, voice, function and place of the instrument are very important, not whether the musician is accomplished on another instrument or not. The example was Carol Kaye did not play bass like a jazz guitar. The intent is clear. The modern electric bass was designed as an alternative to the Double Bass and follows such designs as the 1935 Rickenbacker electric "Bedpost Bass" with fretted neck and the 1938 Gibson Fretted Upright Electric Bass. Both are clear extant examples of parentage. Dinobass denies the existence of Bud Tutmarc and his first hand testimony (!). Dinobass ignores the obvious intent of the 1953 Gibson Electric Bass, its double bass shape with a long end pin for the option of playing upright or horizontally, renamed the EB-1 in 1958 and parent to the Gibson EB series. Dinobass ignores the Hofner 500/1 ("Beatle Bass"), made using violin construction techniques by Walter Hofner, a second generation violin luthier.

In Dinobass' points of comparison of the construction of solid bodies the the similarities between a Double Bass and Electric Bass (the longer scale, 4 strings and tuning) are STILL ignored. Take a look at this gallery of 30+ electric basses and try to deny the obvious Double Bass parentage. The hollow body Danelectro Longhorn Bass - is that an electric bass lyre because it looks more like a lyre than a guitar? Of course not. Dinobass' biggest denial of all remains the dismissal of the label Electric Bass and the use of that term by every major manufacturer (including the one who immediately moved away from the name on the one patent Dinobass desperately clings to). The "implicit word guitar" is Dinobass' opinion only. Was the Electric Bass label put on the headstock because , and I quote Dinobass, "people were so stupid it needed to be spelled out?" I would not go that far. Certainly, ignorance of the original name of the instrument can be corrected by pointing to the headstock (or documentation or user manuals) and maybe that was Fender's intention. I have no answer on how a person can read ELECTRIC BASS and then say "bass guitar" over and over again.

All this comes down to facts that the Electric Bass was designed as a bass, not guitar, to be played as a bass, not guitar, to fulfil the function, voice and role of a bass, not guitar, and was so named by the pioneering designers as Electric Bass, not guitar, across all major manufacturers. The conventions of nomenclature would recognise Electric Bass as the original and correct name and recognise that the common use of the term "bass guitar" simply reflects the appearance to the masses of many models of electric bass as being a larger version of an electric guitar without recognising its origins and purpose. --Ozbass (talk) 11:28, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please keep the discussion civil. Read the guideline at WP:CIVILITY. Thank you. Binksternet (talk) 13:17, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Binksternet - yes things are getting a bit strident. Dinobass, I continue to assume good faith in that you passionately believe in your POV. I ask that all editors note (as I have) WP:CIVILITY Uncivil behaviour 2(d)quoting another editor out of context to give the impression they hold views they do not hold. The last paragraph of my entry immediately above summarises my view. Please do not misrepresent my view when offering an opposing view. --Ozbass (talk) 14:32, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In which case, let us consider that last paragraph. The facts are simple. The instrument was designed and patented as a bass guitar. The name 'bass guitar' simply reflects the origins of the instrument in the guitar family and the pitch range of the instrument. All of the physical facts point to the conclusion that it is entirely and wholly a member of the guitar family, with every single aspect of its design and construction inherited from that family. There is nothing left to address. The longer scale length of the bass guitar with respect to the tenor guitar has been addressed - of course the scale length is longer - it has to be (pace radical approaches such as the ashbory bass).

The bass guitar scale length is consistent with and derived mathematically from the guitar scale lengths used independantly by Paul Tutmarc and Leo Fender. It is not consistent with the considerably longer upright bass scale length, or with the methodology used to derive that scale length from other violin family instruments. The difference in string number has been addressed ad-nauseum by myself and others - quite simply number of strings varies within members of a stringed instrument family - this does not change affiliation. Is there anything else to address? Is there any counter argument to these points, and if so does such an argument point towards violin family affiliations? Dinobass (talk) 22:05, 10 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The instrument was designed and patented as a bass guitar. The first part is opinion and contrary to documented accounts and commentary. For the second part only one patent (of how many electric bass models?) has been provided which was tellingly dealt with when the company itself had abandoned that term by the time the instrument was first released, and later that same company applied Electric Bass to the headstock of the next most popular model ever produced. Images, documentation and references have been provided from multiple manufacturers for the EB case.
Dismissal of the number of strings and tuning as a variation within the guitar family is Dinobass' opinion. Many will see this as a significant indicator of the double bass origins.
Is there anything else to address? At the risk of stating the obvious, everything else that has been identified before that Dinobass keeps ignoring still needs to be addressed.
Is there any counter argument to these points, and if so does such an argument point towards violin family affiliations? The Seattle Post-Intelligencer interview with Paul Tutmarc regarding the development of the electric bass and its design intentions, not to mention the original Gibson Electric Bass, violin shaped with retractable end pin later renamed EB-1 and parent of the Gibson EB series, and of course the Hofner 500/1 manufactured using violin principles & techniques.

There is no comparable or convincing evidence to indicate guitar origin. All that is offered from the BG protaganists is, quote, "the bass guitar is a bass guitar because it is, quite clearly a bass guitar. And by jingo it does look like an electric guitar" with a comparison listing the similarites as significant but dismissing the differences as irrelevant. Apply this same flawed argument to solid body electric mandolins, Flying V ukelele's even the zither, balalaika, oud and dombra with the same dismissal of number of strings, tuning and scale. The absurd conclusion is that once an electric pick-up is attached, these stringed instruments become a derivative of the 6 string guitar. --Ozbass (talk) 07:15, 11 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The instrument was designed as a bass guitar - this has been clearly demonstrated by myself and other. Leo Fender has taken out two patents that I can find on bass guitar designs, both have been referenced in these discussions. The first says 'Guitar', the second a 1959 patent for the redesigned Precision bass says 'Bass Guitar' - Both are referenced here [1]. This clearly shows that the Fender company had not abandoned the term bass guitar. Intruigingly, the Seattle Post Intelligencer article is discussing a different Tutmarc instrument, his abandoned electric upright bass - which he confusingly also called a bass fiddle, so it is hardly surprising that this particular instrument has a close affiliation to the upright bass [2].

I have not dismissed anything - this is a misrepresentation. I have addressed the issue of string number on several occasions, giving examples of such variation in a variety of stringed instrument families, and that many bass stringed instuments have a similar number of strings regardless of the number of strings in other members of their instrument families (eg. Mandobass). The tuning is fourths, like a guitar and several other instruments, including most bass stringed instruments. I am clearly being misrepresented in the final part of the missive above and am getting rather fed up of such continued misreprentation. At no point have I attempted to shoehorn such disparate and unrelated instruments into the guitar family - as far as I can tell, the only person trying to shoehorn an instrument into a different family is Ozbass Dinobass (talk) 10:38, 11 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Acknowledged - 2 patents for one model series that were released as electric basses in every other piece of documentation. And the hundreds of other models ignored by the BG position, also named electric bass? Please provide all the patents from all the manufacturers, including the pioneering Gibson EB series and Hofner 500/1 and lets see what the majority say. In the absence of patents from all the manufacturers, the accompanying documentation and label on the headstock itself are all we have to go on.
Presenting an argument to its logical conclusion is not misrepresentation of your position, just presents a flaw in the argument.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer clearly states "the story of the beginnings of Tutmarc's quest to create a new instrument". Fairly obvious we are talking evolution and design intent leading to the electric bass fiddle and, again, not misrepresentation. However, your point about confusion about which model is valid. I have updated the article to include your link to the earlier electric bass fiddle and to avoid possible confusion of which electric bass fiddle is being referenced. --Ozbass (talk) 03:05, 12 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ozbass, it is your opinion that the first of Tutmarcs Bull Fiddles was of evolutionary significance. It was a prototype, which was never placed in production, and which informed his later decision to abandon an upright approach entirely. Seeing as how this instrument was a complete dead end I fail to see why it deserves such a long and confusing entry in the main article. Dinobass (talk) 11:01, 12 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was not aware that Tutmarc made "Bull Fiddles" - a popular term for the acoustic Double Basses. The name of Tutmarc's original upright electric instrument and the horizontal instrument that quickly followed is evidence of a series - a succession or evolution from electric upright bass to the horizontal electric bass. The Gibson Electric Bass, later renamed EB-1 and parent of all Gibson electric basses, had an end pin and provided a choice of being played upright or horizontally. The Hofner 500/1 is about as clear as you can get - undeniable violin construction in an electric bass. All are significant in the history of the modern electic bass as primarily intended as an alternative to the Double Bass and provenance of Double Bass or bass-viol parentage. The widespread publicity of the Serenader bass in 1948 would suggest Fender was aware of the design immediately before the Fender patent for what was labelled the Precision Bass. Your description of one instrument (while ignoring the others) as a "complete dead end" is your opinion. --Ozbass (talk) 03:59, 14 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Bull Fiddle" - I picked that up from one of references (the historylink article) - are you saying that these are incorrect? The evidence is that Paul Tutmarc designed one prototype electric upright bass and then, dissatisfied with that approach, built a radically different instrument which has only the number of strings and a clearly inaccurate name in common. Seeing as the final instrument shares every design feature including the shape and all the materials with his other guitars - surely occams razor would apply? The simplest explanation (and the one described by his son Bud) is that he abandoned the upright bass and all related features and invented an electric bass guitar. The only difference between his final design and his 'hawaiian' guitars is the number of strings - and some of his guitars had 7 or 8 strings but no one would argue that they were anything other than guitars.
I describe the tutmarc upright bass fiddle as a dead end because that's what it is.

It never went into production as it failed to fulfill his design objectives. It isn't a precursor to the model #736 (his other electric guitars clearly are), and even if it was, at the end of the day Tutmarc's instruments, while ground breaking, did not lead to the horizontal bass gaining popularity. My personal opinion is that the bass guitar was an invention waiting to happen - and if Fender hadn't cracked the market with his bass someone else would eventually have done so. However, the historical facts are that Tutmarc's instruments have no descendents. You state that the widespread publicity of the serenader bass would suggest that leo was aware of it. This is however speculation on your part. While I agree that it does seem likely, Richard R. Smith - author of the definitive work on Leo Fender, doesn't think so - "...although he and Don Randall were aware of the rickenbacker electro standup and the gibson mando bass. This whole case is probably just parallel evolution, like bats and birds. They both have wings but completely different origins". And this has been my point all along. The only point of commonality between the bass guitar and the upright bass viol is the number of strings - which is parallel evolution. Every aspect of the instrument (including number of strings) is entirely consistent with it being a guitar (number of strings varies a fair amount within the guitar family). There is only one aspect of the design in common with the upright bass and that is number of strings - something which is not indicative in either instrument family. Dinobass (talk) 06:22, 14 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

EB-1 - My premise, and that of many others who have participated in this discussion over the years, is that the early manufacturers were completely aware that their instruments were bass guitars - although they often marketed them as 'electric bass' or 'Fender Bass' or simply 'bass' for a variety of reasons. Your premise, at the risk of being accused of misrepresentation, is that these manufacturers never used the term guitar in their early catalogues or literature and therefore the instrument was not in their view a guitar. We already covered Fender - their instruments were clearly patented as 'guitar' or 'bass guitar'. Here is an early advert for the Gibson EB-1 [3].

At the top it say 'Gibson electric bass' and the picture is of 'Dave Reiser, popular bass guitarist of the Reiser Brothers Trio'. This shows that the gibson company were aware that their instrument was a guitar and that the term 'bass guitarist' was also in general use at that early time. Here is their 1970 re-issue advert [4] "She's the mother of them all, this first Gibson electric bass guitar ever made". Hofner also were clearly of the impression that the instruments they were manufacturing were bass guitars. A 1950's catalogue - [5] "Presenting the Hofner Bass Guitar" - a 1967 catalogue [6] "... admired by bass guitarists everywhere". Dinobass (talk) 01:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dinobass, read my post again, stating "I was not aware" is very different to saying an un-named reference is incorrect. Which reference is it? The Historylink article itself does not state Tutmarc made "Bull Fiddles" (which, by the way, Websters New World College Dictionary defines as "informal: double bass"). I find your interpretation of Bud Tutmarc's article is extraordinary. Here's what was actually written in that article about Paul Tutmarc's intent and steps toward the modern form of electric bass. "The cello sized bass was too heavy and not really accomplishing what he set out to do: wanting to create an instrument, small and light-weight, yet capable of producing more sound than several upright, accoustic basses." No mention of abandoning "all related features". Very much implying modifying existing design to trim down and make more portable. NOTE: Complete absence of the word guitar with regard to this instrument. The Richard R. Smith opinion (and not a quote from Fender) is noted. Fender never admitted to copying any one particular competitor's design.

Tellingly, in an essay on the Telecaster, Richard Smith quotes Leo Fender as saying "It isn't a radically different thing that becomes a success; it is the thing that offers an improvement on an already proven item." Tutmarc's Electric Bass Fiddle, and the subsequent Serenader were proof of concept, the Precision Bass was an advance in design which combined with Don Randall's sales and marketing made this model a commercial success. Parallel evolution does not dismiss the Double Bass parentage, on the contrary, acknowledges the probability of same. As stated many, many, many times previously, my premise is much more than the original name on the instrument, and that used in user manuals and price lists. Occam's Razor principle would apply to the weight of evidence of continuity of the name of the instrument from early viol-style, number of strings, tuning and pitch, the clear intent as an alternative for bassists evident in interviews & contemporary commentary, and the first models from different manufacturers all named Electric Bass. You point to two patents (by which Fender neatly avoided any accusation of copying other manufacturers) out of hundreds of models, the popularity of the term bass guitar, and similarity of design features while dismissing differences, and dismiss interim designs indicating parentage as "dead ends".

The facts of patents have been resoundingly dealt with by the manufacturer itself, vernacular and the use of vernacular in advertising has never been argued and is irrelevant, and the rest is pure opinion. You have not directly addressed the ORIGINAL Gibson Electric Bass. Viol shape, archtop design, end pin, option for playing upright or horizontal, 4 strings, tuned exactly as a Double Bass and the name does not include guitar - how does that indicate anything other than Double Bass parentage and how does it indicate "the early manufacturers were completely aware that their instruments were bass guitars"? Similarly the Hofner 500/1 in which Walter Hofner, second generation violin luthier used viol construction techniques. The weight of evidence leads to the simplest conclusion - Double Bass parentage and the correct name is Electric Bass.

RE ADVERTISEMENTS: Yet again, copy writers for advertisments from retailers and distributors have been dealt with many times before. They are not from the designers or the original manufacturers price lists for example. Gibson advertising copy writers in 1970 added guitar to the original Electric Bass in their blurb. This is evidence of a recognition of the growing popularity of the term at that time. This has never been argued.

The Hofner models are simply named "Bass" including the "follow-up to the Senator Electric". So bass guitarist is used in advertising copy. Again, it is not the documentation for the actual instrument itself. It does not refute anything of my argument. If you keep coming up with more advertising copy, it will get the same rebuttal. --Ozbass (talk) 03:56, 15 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So if a manufacturer's literature refers to the instrument as "electric bass" then it was written by the manufacturer whereas if it mentions "bass guitar" it was written by a copywriter? Interesting.   pablohablo. 06:06, 15 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Pablo X - please don't distort, or attempt to confuse and misrepresent the argument. Your comment completely ignores "copy writers for advertisments from retailers and distributors" and replaces that with "manufacturer's literature". I hope I do not need to explain the difference between a musical instrument manufacturer, a distributor, an advertising agency and a retailer. You asked the question, so here's the answer in a simple short sentences to aid those still confused about the relevance of mixed usage of "electric bass" and "bass guitar / bass guitarist" in advertising.
- The copy in the body of an advertisement is written by an advertising copywriter.
- The use of vernacular in advertising is common.
- The original price list and user manuals are examples of literature written by the manufacturer.
- The decal on the Fender Jazz Bass Electric Bass is written by the manufacturer.
This has been very clearly stated many, many, MANY times. The corollary is:
- Advertising copy does not reflect upon or amend or modify the original designer's intent.
- Advertising copy does not change the original name of the instrument.
- Advertising copy does not erase the Electric Bass label on the Jazz Bass headstock.
In summary, advertising copy uses both "electric bass" and "bass guitar" and is irrelevant to this argument. --Ozbass (talk) 08:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What Bud Tutmarc actually says on his page is "The idea of the electric bass was very important to him but he was so dissatisfied with his solid body "cello size" bass that he made a 42 inches long, solid body bass out of black walnut, like his guitars, and the electric bass was launched. The cello sized bass was too heavy and not really accomplishing what he set out to do: wanting to create an instrument, small and light-weight, yet capable of producing more sound than several upright, accoustic basses." The full quote makes it clear that he was dissatisfied with the cello and this informed his decision to chose a quite different approach that followed the design principles and materials of his guitars. The quote from Leo Fender about improving a design already proven is pertinent. Both Tutmarc and Fender finally chose to modify a proven design - in Fender's case the broadcaster/telecaster electric guitar - in Paul's his existing electric guitars - and based their new instruments on that. What I find extraordinary is that even the evidence you present yourself, when not taken out of context or distorted, points most simply towards a guitar provenance for the instruments. Dinobass (talk) 23:51, 15 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The expanded quote is absolutely correct and adds testimony to the fact that electric bass was derived by converging design and materials to modify and improve an existing viol shaped parent model for the intent of providing an electric alternative for Double Bass players, an Electric Bass. What does the expanded quote tell us? Tutmarc made a smaller, lighter more portable instrument with "black walnut, like his guitars". The choice of a medium density, yet tough and hard wood indicates considering durability balanced with weight considerations using familiar materials in manufacturing for his next solid body instrument. The choice of wood is not significant or relevant in determining the difference between a guitar or bass. As I stated before, "modifying existing design".

Nothing taken out of context or distorted at all. With regard to Fender: At the end of 40's or 1950 it is quite probable the Fender company recognised a gap in the market and then released a bass to compete with an existing electric bass, applying manufacturing and electronic expertise gained from producing the Esquire / Broadcaster / Telecaster. But note the significant differences between the Telecaster guitar and P. bass as a quick look at both instruments will reveal - body shape, split pick-up, machine heads, number of strings, tuning, size to name just a few. To say the P.bass is simply a modification of a Telecaster is patently pure speculation. The number of differences and timing indicate Fender company was designing a bass in its own right for an emerging market with little competition. I cannot believe any USA instrument manufacturer at the time was not aware of The Serenader and I find it unlikely they would not have been aware of the Audiovox instruments, and possibly the earlier electric fretted upright Rickenbacker and Gibson basses too. Basic business practice dictates an assessment of the market opportunities and competition before embarking on manufacturing a new product. On a balance of probability, these earlier basses must have been referenced, scrutinised and improved upon. Double Bass provenance is indicated not only here, but again 2 years later with the 1953 release of the Gibson Electric Bass and of course the 1956 Hofner 500/1. --Ozbass (talk) 02:07, 16 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Er. How does using completely different materials, and construction techniques add testimony to derivation from converging design? Using the same woods, shape and construction as his guitars clearly shows modification of an existing design - his guitar design. What did he bring forward from the unsatisfying bass fiddle? Well, they have the same number of strings, anything else?
You keep saying that there are significant differences between the telecaster guitar and the precision bass. This is simply not true - this has been demonstrated time and again. Every aspect is entirely consistent with a scaling up of the guitar designs of the same designers. There are no aspects of the design which can be shown to have come specifically from the viol family and from there alone. Oh, they've got the same number of strings. Well, certainly the inventors knew that current bass stringed instruments tended to have four strings. This included a whole bunch of non viol family instruments. String numbers vary within instrument families and among instruments of the same kind. I keep repeating this, and at no point has anyone suggested that this is incorrect.

Every other aspect (and I would suggest even that) is exactly consistent with a process of scaling up the guitars to make a working bass guitar. There is nothing added, and nothing omitted (except well, obviously, a couple of strings). You have repeatedly failed to show a single feature that is "not" consistent with scaling up. You have also failed to show a single feature that is inherited directly and unequivocably from the upright bass.
Let us take the differences you now suggest are significant
Compare the shape of a Fender Broadcaster, a 1951 Fender Precision and an upright bass. Overlay the drawings from the two patents provided and make telecaster 10% larger, the only difference in body shape is that the upper bout is extended to produce an upper horn. This was almost certainly to allow the instrument to balance better with the longer neck. It is worth noting that this shape soon found its way onto the stratocaster (more evidence of a design related family). While you're doing this comparison - stretch the neck a small way until it is the same length as the precision bass (this is 34% longer ) - the headstocks are identical. If you overlay an image of a '51 Precision over that of a Telecaster at the same scale it becomes clear that the bodies are actually identical in dimension - differing only in the shape of the upper bout.

Now compare the shape of a 1951 fender precision with any upright bass or even electric upright bass of the day. The differences are enormous and, surely undeniable. Incidentally, if you take a violin and enlarge it by 230% you get a cello and by 350% you get a double bass - no amount of scaling gives anything that looks even remotely like a bass guitar.
Split pickup? Is that supposed to be significant? Regardless, both the esquire/telecaster/broadcaster and the precision have single coil pickups. Upright basses don't become something else if you place different pickups on them.
Machine heads. They are bigger and fatter than the guitar ones, and are functionally scaled up guitar tuners - they are set in the headstock in the conventional fashion for a guitar. It is entirely possible Leo used modified upright bass tuners and they are one aspect that isn't simply scaled from the Telecaster - Hofner and Gibsons bass tuners are clearly scaled up guitar or banjo tuners - and the smaller head makes them fiddlier to use. Of course, the geared machine head is a device which the upright bass took from the guitar/lute family in the first place.
Size. Of course it is bigger than a guitar?

How could it not be? It isn't scaled up in the same proportions you've expect going from either a violin to a cello or even cello to an upright bass.
What do you mean by number of differences and timing? There are no differences except the red herring of number of strings? The Broadcaster/Telecaster guitar was introduced in 1949 - the precision 2 years later in 1951. One can speculate about his concerns about competition from a design from an obscure company in Seattle which had not shown any signs of gaining popularity in 15 years (only around a hundred were ever made) and whom by all accounts he hadn't even heard of - or from Gibson's giant mandolins or their pre-war electric bass guitars (2 were made) - but that really is all you have there - speculation. Regardless, you state that a knowledge of prior art indicates double bass provenance. That simply does not follow. What does follow from assuming that they knew of existing instruments like the pre-war gibson electric guitars (2 of them), the bass banjos, bass mandolins, bass dobro, rickenbacker electric bass viol and vega electric upright, is that they chose the number of strings because all of the prior attempts to make stringed basses that they knew of also had four or fewer strings. Nothing about the bass guitar, or the intentions of the designers, indicates a double bass provenance - not even number of strings - as this could have come from any or all of the other four string bass instruments out there.
Everything else, from the presence and number of frets, to tuning, to the shape of the headstocks indicates a guitar provenance (see list above). Dinobass (talk) 06:11, 16 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The designer's intent is clear from the records. The succession of electric bass models leading to modern form is clear. The number of strings, tuning and pitch is very pertinent, hardly a red herring and definitely not simply scaled up (in size) from a guitar. The name of the instrument is a give away - the "fiddle" in electric bass fiddle suggests a family of instruments other than guitar. Electric Violins borrow technology and materials from Electric Guitars, too, but they are still violins not scaled down 4 string fretless guitars. The comment: " completely different materials, and construction techniques.." !! We are talking choice of wood and refining body shape. The P.Bass / Tele differences were listed to indicate the purpose of building a new electric bass instrument, not just copying or scaling up an existing guitar. Everything else you have re-stated is speculation or otherwise irrelevant and can be summarised as "it looks like a big guitar, so it must be guitar".

Again, this BG argument ignores converging design, manufacturing techniques and materials to meet the original performance requirements so clearly enunciated in the interview with Paul Tutmarc and later described by Bud Tutmarc in the quest for an electric alternative to the Double Bass. Add the undeniable intent of the the 1953 Gibson Electric Bass and the 1956 Hofner 500/1. Later, Fender even stuck "Electric Bass" on the Jazz Bass headstock, but never guitar on any electric bass. What does that say? --Ozbass (talk) 06:50, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Designers intent: To produce a lightweight, portable, bass stringed instrument. Design outcome - in two separate cases - an electric bass guitar with all features taken from their own treble guitars.
Succession of models: Fender - Esquire/broadcaster/telecaster guitar -> Precision bass; Tutmarc - Cello sized upright bass -> no descendents - various models of steel and 'spanish' guitars -> model #736.
Electric violins. Why don't we call them electric guitars? Probably because they have more features in common with violins that with guitars. Specifically narrow waist and low radius fingerboard. There's really no mistaking an electric violin for an electric guitar. Which of these is a violin and which is a guitar [7] [8]? Now that wasn't hard, was it? I feel almost sure nobody reading this (if anyone ever does) is confused by the dissonance of the shapes of the bodies of either of those instruments.
Yes. We are talking of refining - refining of the telecaster guitar and tutmarcs steel guitars. I'm glad we agree.
My clear intent in listing the direct comparisons between Fenders treble and bass guitars was entirely to demonstrate that the process was one of scaling up an electric guitar - I'm fairly sure I can answer definitively to my own intent.
The counter to 'It looks like a guitar so it must be a guitar' is clearly "It doesn't look at all like an upright bass, why are they related?" - your only answer to this is 'they intended to replace the upright bass' - that is a non-seqitur. It has been clearly demonstrated that it doesn't just 'look' like a guitar - it 'is' a guitar, everything, every feature.

Perhaps not surprisingly it doesn't look at all like an upright bass.
The BG argument, as you so quaintly describe it, doesn't ignore convegent design, it lists quite clearly how each design element comes directly from the guitar. If, as you suggest, this is some form of parallel or convergent evolution, you really need to show the steps. As yet your personal bass viol argument has not come up with a single explanation for why every single physical feature of the upright bass viol has been changed to a guitar form.
Yes, as you say Paul Tutmarc, and indeed Leo Fender, had a quest for an alternative to the double bass. That's what they produced. An alternative. Honestly, why is this so hard to accept? Dinobass (talk) 11:04, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why are there no bass guitars on this page? A bass guitar is an instrument used mainly in Mexican music such as with a mariachi band. It's acoustic, has six strings, is tuned lower than a regular guitar, and has a large body. I'm not sure what the poster opening this discussion was trying to say when he claimed that acoustic bass guitars don't exist because I've seen many of them. This page is all about electric basses. While these are created in a guitar style, I've never considered them to be guitars and the ones I've owned have never been called guitars. I hadn't realized there was a debate about this. Why is there an insistence on calling them guitars. This is just confusing, especially since bass guitars do exist and they don't look anything like what's on this page. Peter (Cactus Pete) (talk) 01:21, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You are referring to the Guitarron or possibly Bajo_sexto - both of these are acoustic and look superficially similar to guitars. However, the Guitarron is derived from a different instrument family, and the exact derivation of the bajo sexto is unclear (perhaps guitar family, perhaps bandurria, perhaps something else). The relationship between the electric bass guitar and the electric guitar is one of clear derivation. Bass acoustic guitars certainly do exist, and they are mentioned both in the bass guitar article and their own acoustic bass guitar article. Even if we assume that both the bajo sexto and the electric bass guitar are both derived from the guitar family, electric and acoustic bass guitars are far more common so the article as it stands is correct and less confusing than any alternative. Dinobass (talk) 04:23, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK! Let's just all agree that there is a distincion between different types of Bass! Let's list them. Acoustic-not amplifiable Electric-more like a guitar, amplifiable Upright Electric-amplifiable, upright, taller Upright-upright, taller double-depends, deeper or 2 necks String types 3 stringer-one string taken away 4 stringer-basic bass 5 stringer-higher or lower string added(usually lower) Now can we just agree that there are lots of different stringed instruments? Yes? good. Signed, Ian.bjorn (talk) 05:01, 3 October 2010 (UTC) (I meant it to be up here)Reply[reply]

Tutmarc Electric instruments

There seems to be a tussle over the name of the instruments advertised by Paul Tutmarc Studios.

Here are some references: Electric Bass Fiddle: article and photos here: and Click on the image of the electric bass fiddle (third from left), click on gallery and read the original advertisement headlines from Paul Tutmarc Studios.

In the advertisement, under the photograph of Paul Tutmarc it reads:

PAUL TUTMARC PRESENTS the Audiovox Electric Guitar and the Audiovox Electric Bass Fiddle. The catalogue reference to the bass model is #736.

Some interesting notes: At the time the #736 was sold for $65.

The February 17, 1935, issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper broke the story of the beginnings of Tutmarc's quest to create a new instrument with an article headlined, "Pity Him No More - New Type Bull Fiddle Devised." and includes "Paul Tutmarc, Seattle music teacher and KOMO radio artist, has invented an electric bull-fiddle. One you can carry under your arm. And it doesn't even need a bow, either. You pluck a string - and out of the electric amplifier comes a rich, deep tone, sustained as if five or six bass violinists were bowing five or six bass-violins with masterly artistry. The tone is sustained as long as you want it, too, without a bow." .... "It's just a block of wood strung with bass-viol strings... For the sake of tradition, he carved the block into a violin shape....The first electric bass-viol is only four feet tall, instead of six. It could be made a lot smaller, but Tutmarc didn't want to be too revolutionary right off the bat. Bass violinists are a conservative race, and have to be accustomed gradually to the idea, he says."

Around 1947, Tutmarc's son, Bud, began marketing a similar bass under the Serenader brand name, prominently advertised in the nationally-distributed L.D. Heater Co. wholesale jobber catalogue of '48.

This information is acquired by READING THE ACTUAL ADVERTISEMENT (applying the "go to the original source" school of research & scholarship). The pricing and the Serenader information is referenced from Vintage Guitar magazine, March 1999 and I have not personally seen the L.D. Heater Co. catalogue. Vintage Guitar is usually pretty reliable as far as popular press goes, but not infallible.

I will manually change the spelling in the article back to reflect the correct name. If there is an objection, please provide an original source from Tutmarc Studios to refute this information.

As an aside, please note the parentage of the first horizontally played, solid body, fretted electric bass from the Double Bass (even bass-viol strings) and the constant reference to tradition and bass violinists. It is hard to believe that Fender was not aware of these instruments given their widespread promotion. --Ozbass (talk) 05:25, 11 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

References for the working electronic bass fiddle have been provided. These have been removed. FIrstly, the instrument is referred to as the electronic bass fiddle in Jim Roberts book, How the Fender Bass changed the world. Roberts, Jim (2001). How The Fender Bass Changed the World. San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-630-0.. Also, see this reference [[9]] - which has the original catalogue page. So. It seems there is an impasse - the original catalogue says electronic bass fiddle, the advert says electric bass fiddle. Dinobass (talk) 09:55, 11 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The link to the original catalogue page is what was quoted above and clearly states "Audiovox Electric Bass Fiddle". Jim Roberts is not the original source, so appears to be mistaken. If the reference that may have been automatically removed by the undo button was Bud Tutmarcs scan of a different brochure [10], put it back in and note the name of the instrument in the brochure is Model 736 Bass Fiddle, without electronic or electric qualifier. Notwithstanding, examples of electronic instruments are synthsisers, digital pianos or the bank of oscillators in the BBC Radio workshop that created the original Dr Who theme. I don't know if Paul Tutmarc was aware of a Russian electronic instrument developed in the late 1920's or not, so electric was then and is still now more correct description of the instrument. --Ozbass (talk) 02:12, 12 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, it is the page by Bud's son - it clearly says "Model 736-Bass Fiddle - This electronic instrument..." Note also: [11] or this [12] - which appear to be where you found the seattle intelligencer quotes - both refer to the #736 electronic bass fiddle. Both articles are written by Peter Blecha - without whom we'd probably all be none the wiser with respect to the Tutmarc inventions - I would expect he calls it the electronic bass fiddle because he's seen more original material than anyone else. Dinobass (talk) 10:29, 12 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dinobass, your opinion is noted. Slight correction - "Bud" is the son (Paul Tutmarc jr.). Please also note the hard facts. The catalogue on display at the Experience Music Project states very clearly Audiovox Electric Bass Fiddle - please note "electric". Anybody who states differently is quite simply wrong, including Peter Blecha, and all the others, no matter what level of respect they may retain, that have misquoted the actual original document or cited an incorrect article without referring back to the original document on display at the EMP. Zoom into the image and read it yourself. I'm not sure where you are going with the "which appear to be where you found..." remark. It has no relevance to the facts, but I'll clear it up for you. I previously referenced Vintage Guitar, with the caveat that this magazine is popular press and therefore not infallible - demonstrably correct. Interestingly the historylink article is dated well after I contributed the original references to Tutmarc in this wikipedia article back sometime in 2004.
The brochure you refer to has the name of the instrument "Model 736 Bass Fiddle". Note my quote ends accurately after fiddle, not after a hyphen to try to insert a description into the name of the instrument. The term "electronic" has been dealt with in previous posts. Please end this minor academic tussle by reading the original document at EMP and acknowledging that otherwise reliable sources got it wrong in this instance.

Pablo X - good tidying up of the article. On reflection "Tutmarc family inventions" is probably too general. Tutmarc's pick-ups proved successful for Dobro, for example, and maybe worth a paragraph in a different article. Market success of a particular instrument model is self-evident. After your edits the article seems to have reverted. Was this your choice? --Ozbass (talk) 03:38, 14 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Greetings guys: I'm new to this forum, and quite late to this debate, so I'd just like to mention a couple things re: "Electronic" vs. "Electric". To my knowledge there are three different Audiovox sales catalogues from the 1930s. Each is headlined "Electronic Musical Instruments". One lists the instrument in question as "Model 736--BASS FIDDLE" and notes that it is an "Electronic Instrument". Another lists it as "Model 736 BASS FIDDLE" and notes that it is an "Electronic Instrument". The third lists a "Model 736-Bass Fiddle" and notes that is an "Electronic Instrument". Hope that helps your discussion. Pete Blecha (Audiovox Man (talk) 18:32, 7 September 2010 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Two additional quick thoughts: I also have an original Audiovox retail pricing list that notes that their "Model 736 Electronic Bass" was available for "$65.00". Lastly today, I don't doubt that the document at EMP states "Electric" -- after all, as curator, I uncovered and acquired that artifact and included it in the's just that it has been about 13 years since I found it, a good while since I visted the exhibit, and I can't seem to recall it offhand! Pete ( (talk) 19:00, 7 September 2010 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Thank you for shedding more light on this. I have changed the entry slightly to reflect this confirmation of the situation. Thank you also for rediscovering the Tutmarc bass in the first place and enriching our understanding of the history of the instrument. Dinobass (talk) 23:11, 7 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My pleasure, Dinobass. It's always a joy to have an opportunity to apply skills gained at the esteemed "'go to the original source' school of research & scholarship".


FYI: My two new feature essays detailing Bud's Bud-Electro Serenader instruments will be published or posted online in the coming few months. One via Vintage Guitar magazine another at -Pete

OK! Let's just all agree that there is a distincion between different types of Bass! Let's list them. Acoustic-not amplifiable Electric-more like a guitar, amplifiable Upright Electric-amplifiable, upright, taller Upright-upright, taller double-depends, deeper or 2 necks String types 3 stringer-one string taken away 4 stringer-basic bass 5 stringer-higher or lower string added(usually lower) Now can we just agree that there are lots of different stringed instruments? Yes? good. Signed, Ian.bjorn (talk) 04:59, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Audiovox Man (talkcontribs) 18:24, 8 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

you need to add acoustic-electric (Characteristics of an acoustic, but easily amplified through electronics significantly different than a standard electric), 6-sting, and Types of pickups (p's, J's, and whatever else you crazy kids are using.) Dizzizz (talk) 16:24, 19 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Main Pic

Someone switched it to being labeled a 4003, i changed it back to 4001, per the original uploader's specifications. I would think they would know what kind of bass they have, hmm? Dizzizz (talk) 02:00, 22 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What about the 'real' bass guitar ?

Surprised that the Fender Bass VI wasn't mentioned in this rewrite , surely an instrument that represents the embodiment of a bass guitar. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:58, 25 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"By far?"

I would disagree with the first paragraph that 4-string bass is "by far" the most common. 5-strings have been outselling 4's for a number of years - they may not have caught up yet, but I think "by far" is not a fair description. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:09, 17 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Trivially 4 string basses were the only kind available for a third of the period since mass produced bass guitars have existed, and even now 5 string basses represent only a smallish percentage of total bass guitar sales. To negate 'by far' they would need to outsell four strings for a several years. I have seen no evidence that this is the case, and I would suspect that finding unequivocal evidence of such is difficult to obtain. My feeling is that 5 strings still only represent under 15% of current bass guitar sales which isn't enough to make 'by far' incorrect. However if you can provide a cite that 5 string basses are currently outselling 4 strings by a significant margin, and/or that total sales over time represent an appreciable percentage please provide that evidence. Dinobass (talk) 23:20, 17 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I work in the live sound field as an audio engineer, and I see quite a few basses and bassists in the normal year. I agree that 'by far' is an accurate description of the predominance of four-string instruments. Binksternet (talk) 23:40, 17 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would like to see a source for 5 strings outselling 4 strings. If this were verifiable, that would be interesting.OnBeyondZebrax (talk) 22:27, 7 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Adding audio samples

Hi, I added audio samples. Interestingly, this article's treatment of its subject is quite broad. The reader is informed about how a bass is constructed, how it is held and plucked, and then in one section, what TYPES OF BASSLINES the bass players play (e.g. walking basslines). The audio samples help the reader to hear what the basslines sound like. The written music helps people to see how a walking bassline rises and falls, scalewiseOnBeyondZebrax (talk) 00:29, 24 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]