The bass guitar is a guitar like any other – only more electricity-dependent. In essence, it is powered by the power of electricity. The vibrations from the bass guitar are picked up and powered through an available amplifier. The guitar and the amplifier establish connection using a guitar cable. When you strum this kind of guitar, vibration waves travel the length of the string, which is picked up by the pickup, a magnetic device which converts the mechanical waves into electrical impulses. There are three pickups, which two or three accompanying pickup switches. These switches are alternatively controlled to monitor and control which is on to produce a given sound effect. On the guitar, there are many other accompanying knobs: volume knobs, tone dials and other assorted knobs which will be explained in due course.
The pickup: this is a simple device that allows your guitar to interface with your amplifier. It is essentially a coil of wire wound round a magnet. The magnet detects the vibration waves which in turn transmit the impulses to the coil. The coil transmits the impulses as electrical impulses into the amplifier, which then produces the accompanying sound you often hear when you play. When the bass guitar was developed in early times, it was often accompanied by low humming sounds that got progressively louder and more irritating as the volume was upped. Gibson, the guitar company, developed a technology to cancel out this effect. They call it the hum buckler, which basically is using two coils on the same magnet so that they cancel out their mutual interference.
The knobs and dials: The bass guitar has three accompanying knobs. The first one controls the volume of the guitar, and the other two control the treble and bass effects. These are controlled by the inbuilt electronics of the guitar.
The whammy bar: this is also known as the tremolo bar. It is an optional part of the bass guitar, and it allows the guitarist to alter the pitch of the guitar – from the highest to the lowest. It is located near the strumming hand of the guitar. Mind you, it is not found on all guitars, therefore it is not an essential component of the bass guitar.
Tuners: These are usually found on the head stock of the guitar. They serve to tune the guitar strings. In guitars that have whammy bars, the tuners may be located at the base of the guitar. The basic tuning sequence is EBGDAE although some may use the Drop-D. This depends solely on the guitarist, and the kind of music he prefers to play.