The answer is “I wish I knew!” there are lots of what ifs involved. If I knew perhaps I could jump on the band wagon and get producing, come up with the latest patent maybe!
Some people may prefer no more innovation for the electric bass guitar, vintage is best so to speak. As it happens most of the innovation lies in the accessory equipment such as gear for effects processing, loopers or recording equipment rather than the actual bass guitar.
When it comes to tuning electric steel guitars innovations abound with servo-based automatic tuning devices, look at the Gibson self-tuning robot Les Paul for instance or Peaveys instant onboard electronic pitch-correction or a more simple pure mechanical EverTune bridge.
It seems almost a shame to see the automated tuning which means one guitar can replace three or four instruments during an onstage performance! It may be a great advantage for the performer or it may take away some of the drama, some of the showman! Not least a bit less exciting for the audience who enjoy seeing the different guitars on show.
Another possible scenario is a guitarist unable to tune his or her own guitar; this may look a bit weird. Let’s hope auto tuning does not completely take over tuning by ear or other ways of tuning. Hopefully musicians will still insist on old school guitars, after all they can be custom built if you have specific requirements.
Changes in climate can cause such severe pitch changes that it can make a bass guitar unplayable although there has been some advance on using materials which can overcome this particular problem. All good design technology as we cannot always be in a climate controlled environment.
Alternatives to wood
What are the alternatives to natural woods used in manufacturing guitars? The answer is steel, aluminum, carbon, acrylic and Plexiglas so far.
Have you seen the stainless steel “Stash” bass guitar, it comes with a tubular neck as standard. It may not represent the future; it may become a “first”, setting a standard, a conceptual idea. Others may follow, we will have to wait and see, it may just end up with a bit of curiosity value.
One of the problems of wood is that we do have to cut down trees and there is a problem. Some woods are more tonal than others for example European Spruce is a top tonal wood and already is becoming scarce and now North American Spruce and Red Cedar is replacing it.
Ebony has traditionally been used in fretboard manufacturer and that is now a protected species in many countries, making it illegal to sell it or import it.
So perhaps in the future we will see different materials used.
All we can be sure of is that electric bass guitars are here to stay and that is good news.
If you are interested in reviews of electric bass guitars then take a look at the Instrument Reviewer website.