What Is Bass Guitar Used For? | The Purpose Of Bass

Male seated holding bass guitar for what is bass guitar used for

What Is Bass Guitar Used For? | The Purpose Of Bass

What Is Bass Guitar Used For?


  • The bass guitar provides a foundation for the harmonies in a musical ensemble.
  • The drums and bass work together to provide the rhythm for the rest of the band.
  • Bass tones often round out songs and provide depth that high-pitched instruments cannot match.

If you’re shopping for the best bass guitar, you should know what a bass guitar is used for if you want to get the most from your instrument. Even though many people overlook bass players for vocalists or electric guitar players, the bass notes fulfill a necessary role in many styles of music. So, if you want to learn more about what is bass guitar used for, stick around.

Before picking your first bass model, learn about what bass pickups are and how the common pickup types affect your sound quality.

What does a Bass Guitarist Do?

The electric bass guitar provides a lower range of notes and is part of the rhythmic foundation in classic and modern music. While different types of basses offer a variety of tones, the bass guitar usually fulfills two musical roles: harmony and rhythm. Sometimes, bassists play the melody, but that part is generally reserved for standard guitars, pianos, or other high-pitched instruments. Like other stringed instruments, you’ll have to know how to tune a bass guitar if you want to maintain the quality of sound that your instrument produces.

If you want additional sound from your instrument, see our guide on using a guitar amp for bass.


A harmony is multiple notes played at the same time. The bass guitar usually covers the lower range of harmony and forms an anchor point for higher frequencies from vocals, piano, or guitar. The bass note also informs the emotional intent of the harmony.

So, in basic terms, the bass guitar helps provide a foundation for other instruments to play.


The bass guitar is easier to feel than hear because it specializes in low-range frequencies that cause resonance and vibrations. This allows the bass guitar and the drums to create the rhythm for the music.

What Music Genres Use Bass Guitar?

Ever since Leo Fender unveiled the first Fender Precision Bass Guitar in 1951, users have applied the rich bass tone to many styles of music. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, this is how the bass is used in multiple genres.


Jazz Bass and Jazz Fusion Bass are some of the few genres where the bassist can be the star of the show, and improvisation is always welcome. If you’re looking for a complex bass style to challenge yourself, Jazz bass is a fantastic place to start.


Bass guitar in Metal music can be as smooth as Jazz or fast, heavy, and thrashing. Many musicians opt for alternative tuning, like Drop D, to make their bass guitar particularly deep.


In Pop music, the focus is the overall arrangement and making hummable tunes, so the bass player typically performs in the background. So, while there isn’t much room for solos, the bassist helps attain a balanced sound.

What Is Bass Guitar Used For FAQs

How to choose the correct bass size?

Ensure that your bass is about waist height with your shoulder strap on. The bass guitar is the appropriate size if you can reach the first fret while keeping your elbow bent and relaxed.

Do Bass Players Use Pedals?

While bass players can use a pedal for volume control or distortion, many musicians choose a clean bass tone over a heavily processed one. That said, many genres of music including heavy metal, rock, and experimental electronic groups have taken advantage of the unique sounds of a pedal-connected bass guitar. In the world of music today, the use of pedals and digital effects are becoming increasingly common as musicians strive to find new and original sounds. 

Should you buy an off-brand bass guitar?

While beginners shouldn’t rush to buy a “high-end” electric bass guitar, they should avoid cheap off-brands. Instead, experts recommend sticking with an entry-level model from established bass guitar brands like Fender, Ibanez, or Squire. 


While four-string instruments are the most common type of bass guitar, five-string basses offer seven more notes and two more frets. (Source)

Tips & Warnings


Try Jazz bass to challenge yourself with a complex bass style. 


The types of bass guitars can get complex, so ensure you get the right style for the genre of music you want to play, or you may sound strange in an ensemble.

Coby McKinley
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