Jazz Made the Electric Bass the Instrument it is Today
Hello, and welcome to part two of our blog series on the history of the electric bass. Where we last left off, the electric bass had finally been perfected in the form of the Fender Precision Bass. The Precision Bass did away with many of the awful design features that had plagued early electric bass models and had finally given bassists an instrument that could compete with the sound and build quality of early electric guitars. While Fender had originally envisioned the electric bass being welcomed by the country music scene (which it eventually was), it was in the music genre of jazz that the electric bass truly shined. Continue reading below to learn how jazz skyrocketed the electric bass to stardom.
New York Encounters the Electric Bass
In order to promote his new musical instrument, Leo Fender would visit various concerts and nightclubs with the Precision Bass in order to show it to potential customers. During one such encounter in New York City, Fender came across the band of jazz musician Lionel Hampton. Lionel’s bassist, Roy Johnson, tried out the new electric bass and both men instantly fell in love with the way the instrument sounded. Seeing it as a smart marketing move, Leo Fender told Johnson to keep the bass and also let them keep the Bassman amplifier that he used when demoing the guitar. After Roy Johnson left the band, Lionel recruited Monk Montgomery who, at the time, was a very well respected upright bass player. Initially, Monk was hesitant to play the new electric bass because he saw it as an affront to his years of upright bass playing. However, because the louder bass had now become a signature part of Lionel’s band, he convinced Monk to ditch his traditional bass in favor of the Precision Bass. After Monk gave the new bass a try, he quickly saw the advantages that it had over a traditional upright bass and was soon making a name for himself as a pioneer in the electric bass scene.
Rock and Roll Comes to the Aid of the Electric Bass
While the Precision Bass achieved notoriety through its use in jazz music, it was rock ‘n’ roll that truly cemented the electric bass as a must have instrument in the musical community. Another early electric bass player, Shifty Henry, was featured in a lyric of an Elvis Presley song. To pay homage to Henry, Presley’s bass player at the time used a Precision Bass on the track. As the saying goes, the rest was history. While Presley’s bass player mostly used an upright bass in the studio, on the road he always used an electric bass, further cementing the instrument’s association with loud, rock ‘n’ roll music.
We hope that this short blog series has helped you better understand the evolution of the electric bass. If after reading this post you happen to want an electric bass of your own, visit us today at BadAxe Boutique. We offer multiple electric basses from brands such as Fender, PRS, Nash and more. Discover your groove and browse our selection of electric basses today!