How heavy are bass guitars and why do they weigh much more than their six stringed counterparts? Does this heftiness have anything to do with the need to accommodate a much lower sound? For decades, the questions concerning bass guitar weight have hounded curious beginners, as well as advanced musicians who don’t wish to be bothered about their instrument’s density.
The weight of our basses should never be considered a trivial thing for it deserves sufficient attention. Many bass players have suffered from back pains thinking that getting a lightweight bass guitar will diminish their sound. Aside from that, some of them might even be clueless that their instrument’s burdensome weight is the main culprit behind their aching muscles, since they have already been accustomed to their heavy bass guitars.
How to weigh your bass guitar
If you already have a bass guitar but have no idea how much it weighs, a bathroom scale will do the job.
In this procedure, you will have to weigh yourself first and jot down the numbers. Then you will weigh yourself and write down the results again, but this time you will do it together with the bass guitar. Subtract your personal weight from the second weigh-in (the one with the bass guitar) and the difference will be the weight of your instrument.
Understand however, that bathroom scales are not the most accurate of weighing devices and sometimes their results can be off by up to +/- 0.5lbs (0.2kg).
How much does the average bass guitar weigh?
Bass guitars vary in weight depending on brand and model. With the vast ocean of guitar builders in the world today, we have surely lost track of the various weights of hundreds of thousands of existing guitars. But we do have standards and the disparities in weight are not as significant, especially for similar types of guitars. The average weight range of most bass guitars is around 7 to 10 pounds (3 – 4.5 kg), with 8 pounds (3.6 kg) being the most common.
Let’s take a look at how heavy some of the most well-known bass guitars are:
Fender has set a standard weight for a vast majority of their instruments through the decades.
The Precision, or the P-bass, which is the first mass produced bass guitar in history, is just about a pound lighter than its successor, the Jazz bass. Weighing in at 11 lbs (5 kgs), the Much-loved for its deep, warm sound, the P-bass is one of the most prominent instruments in popular music, due to its utilization on thousands of recorded songs.
The Fender Jazz bass or, J-bass, is a little heavier than other bass guitars. Clocking in at 12 lbs (5.5 kg), the combination of solid alder wood body and maple fingerboard makes the J-bass one of the heavyweights in the guitar universe.
Gibson SG standard bass,
On the lighter end of the weight spectrum, the SG’s bass guitar counterpart only weighs 6.4 pounds (2.9 kg).
Hofner VB100 Violin Bass Guitar
Playing Beatles tunes won’t be a back-breaking affair since this Hofner violin bass weighs in at a much lighter 4.7 pounds (2.13 kg)
Just like most heavy vintage basses, it is not surprising that this Byrds favorite weighs 9lbs (4.08kg).
Sterling StingRay Ray4
This cheaper Music Man variant which can be bought for as low as $300, clocks in at 9lbs (4.08kg).
Warwick Rockbass Streamer 4
Entry level Warwicks weigh 9.48 pounds (4.3 kg) and can still pack a punch just like its deluxe counterparts.
Yamaha trbx204 active electric
The trbx204 is surprisingly a heavy bass at 11.34lbs (5.14kg), considering the fact that a lot of young beginners would cop this model for its reasonable price and more than adequate sound quality.
Are 5 and 6-string bass guitars heavier?
Every additional string on a bass guitar will require additional parts and expanded sizes or quantities of fret wires, truss rods, nut, neck, fretboard, bridge, saddle and headstock. All that embellishment plus the string itself, will create a significant increase in a bass guitar’s weight.
So how heavy are 5 and 6-string bass guitars? Here are a couple of examples of the most massive basses in the lineup:
This 5-string beast can get quite dense at 11.02 pounds (5kg)
ESP LTD B-206SM
ESP’s 6-string LTD behemoth can claim the heavyweight championship belt with its hulking 12 pound (5.44 kilograms) frame.
Do heavier bass guitars really sound better?
Wood-worshiping guitarists and bass players will claim that using a more dense chunk of dried tree corpse is the only way to get that much-desired thick, fat tone. But the truth is, in electric instruments, there are many other factors that can impact sound quality and the electronics play a much more important role in that regard.
Several tests have proven that no matter how heavy a bass guitar is, there won’t be much difference when it comes to tone. In fact, the pickups and the preamps are the ones largely responsible for the sound quality of electric stringed instruments.
Why are bass guitars so heavy?
Now that we know the truth that heavier bass guitars aren’t necessarily better sounding than lighter ones, you might be wondering how come these four stringed beauties are still being built to weigh much more than guitars.
The heavy pieces of wood used for basses serve durability requirements that are needed to accommodate the increased tension of the much bigger strings. From the neck to the top where the bridge will be attached, the selected wood should be tough enough to endure the pressure of a set of thick bass guitar strings.
Since a bass has a bigger headstock and a longer neck, a heavier body is also needed to create balance and prevent what they call a “neck dive.” When you are in a standing position and the headstock keeps on dropping to point towards the floor instead of remaining horizontal, this means that your bass guitar is too light to counter the headstock’s weight, resulting in a neck dive.
How heavy a bass guitar should be is a matter of personal preference but physical health and convenience must be considered as well. There is nothing wrong with getting a short scale bass to keep the balance against a lighter body. You will only be able to churn out some amazing grooves on the bass if you are feeling a hundred percent, so make sure to always prioritize your comfort and safety.