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Modern music always seems to come back to two key musical instruments: the guitar and the bas. Where guitars take the lead, basses build the musical foundation that anchors the piece. Together, these musical instruments give popular music its signature sound.

Start Way Down Low

At first glance the bass guitar, or just plain bass as it's commonly known, looks like any other guitar. It follows the same basic design, with a long neck growing out of a standard guitar body. The big difference is in the strings. Where a guitar normally starts with six strings and goes up, most bass guitars only have four strings. A few have six, but for the most part you can tell a bass by the string count.

Move Up to Acoustic

The acoustic guitar is the signature musical instrument of the singer songwriter. Instead of using an amplifier, it has a hollow body with a resonant chamber to produce sound. As soon as you pull it out of its hardshell case it's ready to go, with no need to plug in. Just slip the strap over your neck and start strumming and plucking. A beginners model from Fender or Yamaha is all you need to get started on your musical career.

Plug It In If You Want

The best thing about an acoustic electric guitar is that you can use it anywhere for anything. When you're at home or in a small setting you can pull your Gibson or Taylor out of the guitar case and start playing with no need for setup. To go on stage, just plug in and you're ready to bring the house down with a sound that reaches the far side of the arena. It's the ultimate utility knife of the guitar world, equally at home around a campfire or plugged into an amplifier.

Take a Swing At an Electric Axe

Take in a rock concert and chances are you'll see nothing but electric guitars from Stratocasters to Telecasters and beyond. With a solid body and dual coil pickups it's perfectly designed for blasting rock out over the audience. The thing to remember about electric guitars is that your sound is only as good as your amplifier. Without a chamber, the strings aren't loud enough to hear, so the amplifier boosts the signal enough to drive a speaker. Plug in, grab your pick and start playing.

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