If you are new to playing the bass guitar, you may be uncomfortable that this instrument is somewhat high in weight. This article will break down why bass guitars are so heavy.
The weight of a bass guitar can be a real challenge, especially if you are a beginner. For example, you may encounter back pain when playing standing up. It can also be a problem if you play sitting down. In this article, we will try to answer why bass guitars are heavy, whether it affects their tone, and how you can avoid the discomfort this instrument can bring.
Why Are Bass Guitars So Heavy?
Bass guitars are heavy because of their large size. The fact is that the main task of these instruments is to produce low frequencies. Because this range, by its physical nature, forces the use of more energy, the size of these instruments is larger, unlike, for example, guitars, which produce midrange frequencies.
If taken as a whole, the large size can be attributed to the instrument itself and the equipment that reproduces low frequencies. If you’ve ever looked at subwoofers in cars, these speakers are also quite large because they need to use more power to allow people to hear and feel the sub frequencies. But let’s get back to our main topic, which is bass guitars, and try to understand better the features that affect their weight.
- Massive Body And Other Components
The fact that bass guitars are pretty big instruments can be seen with the naked eye. Their strings are thicker, so their body will be more significant to provide proper resonance. It also affects all the other components of these instruments. For example, their neck will also be longer and wider. It also applies to the bridge of the guitar.
- High Pressure From The Strings
You should also note that thick strings give more pressure on the fingerboard and the body, where they are fixed. It would be best to have something significant to hold all this pressure and, at the same time, to make sure that the instrument is reliable and does not break.
All of these elements combine to make bass guitars heavy. These instruments use more massive materials and more significant components.
Are heavier bass guitars better?
A heavy bass guitar does not mean that it is better. This factor is subjective and depends on the preferences of individual musicians. If you own quite a heavy bass guitar and you are comfortable playing it – it means it is better for you.
Some musicians say they feel more comfortable playing heavy bass guitars because they feel more solid in their hands. But that doesn’t mean you have to generalize this factor as a rule of thumb.
How to make my bass guitar less heavy?
If you get discomfort from playing the bass guitar, it’s probably not the weight but the instrument’s position relative to your body that’s the crux of the problem. First, pay attention to exactly how you get discomfort when playing the bass guitar. Try to understand the reason for it and look for ways to fix it.
The most common difficulties may be back pain, for example. If you can’t figure out how to solve it, let’s try to do it together.
- Use a Wider Strap
A broader strap on your bass guitar can go a long way toward alleviating discomfort when playing, especially when you’re doing it standing up. It may make the bass guitar feel less heavy than it did before. You need to distribute the weight from the instrument more evenly over your body, which a wide strap can do.
- Pull The Instrument Higher To The Torso
Of course, it’s very cool to look like Krist Novoselic from Nirvana when your bass guitar is down almost to knee level. But on the other hand, it can give you a lot of discomforts when playing. That’s because this position of the instrument is not physiologically comfortable for your body and your body may be somewhat tilted forward, which will cause back pain. Try pulling the bass up a little higher and see if that makes it easier.
- Watch Your Body Position
If you get uncomfortable playing the bass guitar while sitting down, watch your body position. Make sure that your pose is straight and not crooked. It will make it easier for you to practice. Also, if you are a beginner, don’t practice too long – approach it more wisely. It’s better to do it regularly, but not all day long.
A crucial bonus tip from us is never to try to lighten the weight of your bass guitar yourself, namely by removing any of its elements. By doing so, you can ruin the instrument.
To reinforce the information – always watch the interaction between the bass guitar and your body and eliminate discomfort by finding a more comfortable position.
Does heavier bass mean better tone?
No factor indicates that heavy bass guitars provide a better tone. The instrument’s sound is influenced by the quality of materials, assembly, and most importantly, by the skills of the person who plays it. So, no – a heavy bass guitar does not mean a better tone.
It’s also worth remembering that the “best” tone is just as subjective a concept as anything else related to music. A good tone for one person is a bad tone for another and vice versa.
What is considered a heavy bass guitar?
Bass guitars range in weight from 3.8 to 5.5 kilograms, so instruments around 4.5 and more than 5 kilograms can safely be called heavy. Typically, 5-string and 6-string bass guitars will be the heaviest. Extra strings do not weigh much, but their presence on the instrument causes the use of a wider fingerboard, bridge, and other elements.
Speaking of individual models, the Squier Affinity Series Precision PJ, Ibanez BTB745 5-String, Yamaha trbx204 active electric, ESP LTD B-206SM, Fender 1982 Precision, and others are pretty heavy. The average weight of these models is about 5 kilograms.
What is a good weight for a bass guitar?
A good bass guitar weight is the one that is comfortable for you personally. It is always a good idea to hold the instrument in your hands and feel as if it can be comfortable for you. So if you are a beginner and are going to buy your first instrument, we would advise you to go to a music store and try different models of bass guitars.
Who Needs a Lighter Bass Guitars?
If we talk about a child who wants to start playing the bass guitar, we would still advise choosing a lighter instrument. First, the bass guitar can become quite challenging to play for beginners because of the relatively thick strings and large neck. Secondly, children have an unformed body, so it’s a good idea to make it a little easier for them.
Let’s look further at a few lightweight bass guitar models that may be suitable for children or just for people who don’t want to have something heavy.
A List of Relatively Light Bass Guitars
- Hofner VB100 Violin Bass Guitar
You will recognize this bass guitar, as Paul McCartney of The Beatles plays this model. The thing is that this instrument is hollow on the inside, which means that it only weighs 2.13 kilograms. It is probably one of the lightest bass guitars you can find. As for the price, it’s not too high either and is around $250.
- Rogue VB-100 Beatle Bass
Another relatively lightweight bass guitar model is the Rogue VB-100 Beatle Bass, which is very similar to the one discussed above. It is slightly heavier than the previous model but still light compared to most other instruments. It is also hollow and weighs 2.77 kilograms.
- Ibanez 4 String Bass Walnut Flat
This four-string bass guitar has an entirely familiar look (unlike previous models) and is relatively lightweight – 3.13 kilograms. In addition, this instrument can fit almost any genre of music.
- Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV
The Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV is a cool-looking bass guitar that’s perfect for rock music. It is also not too heavy and weighs 3.63 kilograms. Yes, of course, it is not a super light instrument, but it will still be sufficient compared to others.
- Gibson Les Paul Junior Tribute DC
Another model in the weight category under 4 pounds is the Gibson Les Paul Junior Tribute DC. This bass guitar has a recognizable and stylish shape and will not be difficult in weight.
As you can see, there are quite a few lightweight bass guitars, and this is just a small list of them. However, we advise you not to consider weight as one of the most important factors when choosing an instrument. Because at the end of the day, how well you play will affect the development of your skills and how many hours you spend practicing on the bass guitar.
But if you do suffer from heavy bass weight, there are a few tips to help alleviate the situation. And we’ll talk about them below.
Bass guitars are relatively heavy musical instruments that can be uncomfortable for beginners. Our strong advice would be not to focus your attention on this but to concentrate more on developing your playing technique on the instrument. Even if you experience discomfort, try to wisely eliminate it as soon as possible. In time you will realize that it is not that big a deal.
If you can’t get rid of your discomfort, you should probably think about the fact that the bass guitar is just not your thing. Try another instrument that will make you feel good because the main thing in creativity is inspiration. And inspiration cannot exist without pleasure.
Develop your skills, interact with the instrument, and have fun with the creative process. Good luck!
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Ilarion Ivanenko is a remote mixing and mastering engineer from Ukraine, a musician with more than 15 years of experience. Specializes in rock, metal, progressive and the other genres. He can’t imagine his life without music, as it is the biggest passion in his life