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Buying a Bass Guitar

AfroSpatulaAfroSpatula Registered User regular
edited August 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I've decided to learn bass to help out a friend (no, it's not the only reason, I also love to play the bass guitar) and I went to a local music store.

There they had an 1958 Epiphone Explorer Bass. So I decided that it was the guitar for me.

Does anyone have a better suggestion for a starter bass? Are there any better sounding basses around the $400-500 range?

AfroSpatula on

Posts

  • Re: nholderRe: nholder Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    "The 'Jazz Bass (or J-Bass) was the second model of electric bass guitar created by Leo Fender. The Jazz Bass has a more articulate, defined sound than the Fender Precision Bass. The bass is distinct from the Precision Bass in that its tone is brighter and richer in the midrange with less emphasis on the fundamental harmonic. Because of this, many bass players who want to be more "forward" in the mix (including smaller bands such as power trios), prefer the Jazz Bass"

    Shamelessly copied from Wikipedia. Point being, you don't have to shill out that much on a starter (ephasis on "starter") bass. You'd be better off giving up that kind of money for a good amp.

    BTW, girlfriend plays the J-Bass. From what I see, it's more than enough for regular usage and many professionals still use it for performance.

    Re: nholder on
  • ZeonZeon Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Isnt a 1958 epiphone explorer like, hella expensive? As in, upwards of 500 dollars, or more if youre buying it in a store?

    Honestly, youd probably be better off, for a first bass, buying a cheap japanese copy, maybe something from a pawn shop. Drop the money into a nicer amp, youll be much, much happier. Hell, you might even find something nicer in a pawn shop, most 60s japanese "Copy" guitars are as nice or nicer than the guitars theyre ripping off. Im talking the Teisco's, Kents, etc. Of course, thats a matter of opinion, but its an opinion i hold.

    Unless youre loaded, go with something a little cheaper. If you can afford to drop that much and not care, go for it. Just dont skimp on the amp. I did when i was starting out playing guitar, and i had to live with that peice of shit for almost 10 years. I only recently upgraded to something nicer (Fender Princeton Chorus, from the 80s, red knob, oh yeah).

    Zeon on
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  • DaySleeperDaySleeper regular
    edited February 2007
    BTW, girlfriend plays the J-Bass. From what I see, it's more than enough for regular usage and many professionals still use it for performance.

    That's hot.

    I'd say check out some pawnshops and find out if you actually enjoy playing bass (on a $100-200 model) before shelling out more.

    DaySleeper on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Zeon wrote: »
    Unless youre loaded, go with something a little cheaper. If you can afford to drop that much and not care, go for it. Just dont skimp on the amp. I did when i was starting out playing guitar, and i had to live with that peice of shit for almost 10 years. I only recently upgraded to something nicer (Fender Princeton Chorus, from the 80s, red knob, oh yeah).

    Everything I've read about guitars and bass suggests that the amp should cost practically as much as the guitar plugged into it (unless it's a really cheap guitar, in which case it should cost more). does that seem to jive with your experience?

    I have a non-standard guitar (a Danelectro Hodad) that's surprisingly nice, but inexpensive, but mostly I run it through a pre-amp and then into the mic inputs on my motu828, so I can get a very clean, amplified sound. I'm ultimately in need of a real amp, though, so I've been constantly researching good recommendations -- something for a little oomph without distortion (I generally dislike distorted guitar). The small things distort with any settings past 1. Last guitar thread, people were recommending Fender Hot Rods, but that's 3x the cost of my guitar :\

    For bass, I use a Gallien-Krueger 200MB combo. It's small enough that it's easy to move and keep around, yet powerful enough to rattle the windows. Hits those low notes w/o any problems. I feed an electric upright bass through it, but as that sounds really good I can't imagine a bass guitar would sound any worse.

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  • QuirkQuirk Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    If you can, try and find a Laney amp. I've got one, and pretty much every bassist i know loves them, plus they aren't over expensive. Well not in the UK anywho. Epiphones are typically not too good in my experience, try some second hand instruments. Instruments are designed to survive a long time, so buying second hand is a very good idea, especially since second hand instruments are often set up better and may even be customised etc. Seriously, second hand is the way forward

    Also eggytoast is right about GK amps. My dad uses them and they are fantastic if you can find them

    Quirk on
  • FalhurkFalhurk Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    There are two ways to look at it.

    1.) You're interested in learning and want to pick up a bass to practice.
    2.) You think you're going to be serious about it, to the point that shelling out for a decent bass is a good option.

    If you're the kind of person that is interested in learning the instrument but have other obligations/interests then I would advise you to do what I did. I bought a Squire Affinity P-Bass. You can get them in "packs" for about 250-300 bucks which include an amp (usually shitty but it works), bag, strap, other crap. I bought my bass and amp seperatly. However, I've enjoyed it for the last couple years and I've found that it's pretty durable. I'm still learning but I've got in and out of it over the last few years.

    If you're the kind of person that knows you'll be serious about it. Not thinks, but knows. Then it might be worthwhile to pick up a bass that will reflect that. This ensures that you only have to pay for it once (though you might opt to buy a new bass later on anyways).

    I haven't regretted my purchase at all. I've been very happy with my bass though simple and not the best quality I still found it great to learn on.

    Ultimatly, figure out what your real needs are and spend accordingly.

    Also, does that $500 mark include an amp? If not then I would recommend one of those sorts of packs even more.

    http://www.music123.com/Squier-Bass-Pak-Bass-Guitar-Package-Black-i136272.music

    That's the model of bass I got, I didn't get the pack though it's about the same as what I did get. Unfortunatly I can't buy from this site as shipping to Canada would kill me but there's some good deals on there. Not sure I'd recommend buying online though as you don't get to inspect/try out the gear ahead of time.

    Hope I've been helpful.

    Falhurk on
  • ZavianZavian universal peace sounds better than forever war Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Rondo Music has some excellent basses that are cheap but also pretty good. They aren't as great as $500+ bass guitars, but they've gotten almost nothing but positive reviews from places like talkbass.com.

    http://www.rondomusic.net/bassguitars4.html

    Zavian on
  • DekuStickDekuStick Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    How large is this local guitar shop?

    You want to go somewhere where guitars are on every single bare space of the wall and where you can freely pick one up and plug it in to the many amps scattered around. Guitars need to have that comfort feel that just sits right in your hands.

    After that you want to spend about as much on the amp as the guitar. If you don't want to go that route you can just plug the bass into the amps that should be around for you to try and fall in a nicer price range.

    DekuStick on
  • ZeonZeon Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Zeon wrote: »
    Unless youre loaded, go with something a little cheaper. If you can afford to drop that much and not care, go for it. Just dont skimp on the amp. I did when i was starting out playing guitar, and i had to live with that peice of shit for almost 10 years. I only recently upgraded to something nicer (Fender Princeton Chorus, from the 80s, red knob, oh yeah).

    Everything I've read about guitars and bass suggests that the amp should cost practically as much as the guitar plugged into it (unless it's a really cheap guitar, in which case it should cost more). does that seem to jive with your experience?

    I have a non-standard guitar (a Danelectro Hodad) that's surprisingly nice, but inexpensive, but mostly I run it through a pre-amp and then into the mic inputs on my motu828, so I can get a very clean, amplified sound. I'm ultimately in need of a real amp, though, so I've been constantly researching good recommendations -- something for a little oomph without distortion (I generally dislike distorted guitar). The small things distort with any settings past 1. Last guitar thread, people were recommending Fender Hot Rods, but that's 3x the cost of my guitar :\

    Honestly, price doesnt have a lot to do with it. You just need to get something that sounds decent to you. The sound is the most important thing, so it doesnt really matter if the amp costs 100 dollars for 1000 dollars, as long as you like the sound of it. If you want really sparkling clear tones, you really do need to go with something tube, which is going to be rather expensive (If you buy it from a guitar shop). Or you could go with some of the solid state amps from the 80s which tend to have a pretty good clean tone. I wouldnt recommend recently manufactured solid state amps though, they tend to be jammed full of crappy digital processing. The Princeton Chorus from the 80s and the Princeton Chorus DSP they sell now sound complete different, since the newer one uses a digital soundboard for all its effects that really muddys up the tone (In my opinion).

    And then theres always ebay or craigslist or pawnshops, where, again im going to recommend something old. A lot of the older tube amps sold at places like Sears in the 60s under the silvertone brand, or other department stores under other brands (Harmony, Kay, etc) were considered crap then but now actually have a pretty decent reputation. I mean, obviously some tiny little Silvertone tube amp isnt going to be directly comparable to a Fender Hotrod, but its also going to be like 1/10th the price. And it still going to sound really good compared when compared to amps that costs 1-5x as much as you paid for it.

    But again, its all totally subjective. You could walk into a guitar shop tomorrow and find an amp you love for 100 bucks and be happy forever.

    Zeon on
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  • Romero ZombieRomero Zombie Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Here are my bass guitars

    First one

    Yamaha RBX360

    I thought this was an excellent first bass…doesn't get hardly any play these days though

    RBX360-LBS.gif

    My next bass was the Ibanez Iceman bass…the tone on this thing is so nice. My favorite bass that I have atm
    b_212400805462_1.jpg

    My most recent purchase, The Epiphone Thunderbird Goth version. This thing growls unlike any other bass I've played. Great if you play metal and the like
    s-epiphone-goth-thunderbird.jpg

    I don't think I spent more than $400 on any of these. Only thing with the Ibanez and Epiphone is they are heavy as hell, and I get exhausted after playing a show. The Yamaha is light as a feather in comparison.

    Buying anytype of instrument is really going to come down with what you are comfortable with. As mentioned above, I wouldn't buy a cheapie knockoff bass if you intend on seriously playing. I don't have regrets about any of mine.

    Romero Zombie on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    The Yamaha RBX series is a fantastic line of instruments, and if you have the cash and are shopping for tone, the models carrying active pickups are a steal.

    If you're looking for a starter bass, spend $200. You don't need to spend more than that for something to learn on.

    Pheezer on
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  • LukinLukin Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I had a $200 Ibanez bass that I loved playing. I don't remember its model name, but it was cheap and smooth. I sold it and bought a Fender Jazz Bass. I didn't find this bass as fun to play as the Ibanez. It had a bigger neck which made it more difficult to play, and I could never get the action on the strings right. The fucker ALWAYS buzzed.

    Lukin on
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  • CptKemzikCptKemzik Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Entry level Ibanez basses, and something from Rondo Music.com both get my reocmmendation. However ordering one from Rondo might require some set-up for it to really shine and thus extra money.

    Personally I am a Fender guy (Specifically a Jazz Bass guy) IMO their basses are the standard (since Leo basically invented the instrument, or at least the kind bassists play today), and fit in almost anything, however they are not the kind of basses to adjust your tone down to the minute detail unless you have loads of effects.

    I cannot emphasize enough spending more on the amp first before the bass, unless of course you are serious about playing the instrument.

    Also Epiphone (and Gibson) basses for the most part are either mediocre or total crap. The Thunderbird bass (which I have an epiphone one of) is the sole saving grace for that company, so stay *away* from epiphones if you are starting out.

    If the $400-500 does not include amp expenses you can get a solid standard series Fender, or mid-range Ibanez.

    CptKemzik on
  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited February 2007
    If you have a great amp and a shitty guitar, you're getting a really accurate, awesome reproduction of how terrible your guitar sounds.

    Tube on
  • YosemiteSamYosemiteSam Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    My first (and current) bass was a gently used Japanese Fender J that I had a luthier look over for me before I bought it. That was $100 very well spent. If you happen to know a luthier (as I did) who could look at a used bass before you buy it, that's a really good option. The fact that my bass was used (and that it was Japanese) knocked a lot off the price, but I really don't think my bass is much worse than a new American Fender.

    YosemiteSam on
  • cuntstarrunnercuntstarrunner Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    If you have a great amp and a shitty guitar, you're getting a really accurate, awesome reproduction of how terrible your guitar sounds.

    Ha I agree. For my first bass I got a Court ($190) and then spent $275 on a massive pevey amp....the amp didn't help the shittiness at all.

    Also I think one of the most important thing is comfort. I have tiny hands and the neck on the court was huge which made it hard for me to play. As soon as I got the Jazz Bass that Re: nholder is talking about I was much happier.

    cuntstarrunner on
  • AfroSpatulaAfroSpatula Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Thanks for all your info, guys. I'll answer a few of your questions.

    First, this bass is used, and is priced (including tax) at $420.

    Second, I have a guitar amp to practice on, but I'm inheriting a bass amp from an uncle. His wife said that he paid $700 on it about a decade ago, but I haven't found out a make or model. She thinks it's a tube amp.

    Third, the store has giant bass amps that I can freely play on, most between $600 and $2000. There are guitars everywhere.

    I'm not sure on the Japanese guitars, because I simply don't like how they (the ones I've seen) look. I just don't have the urge to pick up and play them like I do with the Explorer. Am I missing out on an awesome looking Japanese guitar?

    AfroSpatula on
  • PussumPussum Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I played on a Fender American Standard Jazz Bass. Only guitar I will ever play. Loved it from the start. I highly recommend it.

    Pussum on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited February 2007
    There's a lot to be said about finding an instrument that you love to play. It helps you practice more regularly, and it makes you excited about the instrument.

    If it fits in the budget, do it. I've got a friend who felt that way about acoustic guitars. He had a crappy one, but wanted one that was really nice. He played some, and fell in love with a really nice yamaha. It was over $1000, but he's been happy with it for going on something like 4 years now. He plays it all the time.

    EggyToast on
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  • mark-artmark-art Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    If you have a great amp and a shitty guitar, you're getting a really accurate, awesome reproduction of how terrible your guitar sounds.

    And its because of this my guitar teacher ALWAYS tells me.. invest your money in the guitar, amps can come later...

    mark-art on
  • AfroSpatulaAfroSpatula Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Got a question though... what makes an Epiphone "mediocre or total crap"? Just wondering why it would be labeled like that.

    AfroSpatula on
  • DaySleeperDaySleeper regular
    edited February 2007
    Sound quality, playability, construction. Lots of things can go into it. I would say not to eliminate them completely though. Play it, if you like it, buy it.

    DaySleeper on
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  • redimpulseredimpulse Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    That '58 Epiphone may be a good bass. It was produced right after Gibson bought them out and probably still holds Epiphone's quality from the time.

    However I wouldn't trust the new Epiphones. Epiphone is to Gibson as Squier is to Fender, almost. Difference is Squiers are produced in-house by Fender, where Epiphones are produced now in China, previously in Korea, by third-party manufacturers. The quality and fit'n'finish just isn't there in the average Ep.

    I would personally suggest an Ibanez. They can be found used for little cash, and are quite versatile.

    redimpulse on
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  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    A lovely guitar and appalling amp will really put you off however...

    corcorigan on
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  • redimpulseredimpulse Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I learned to play on an Ibanez ATK400. Not a beginners' model by any stretch, but it fit my needs and learning ability. It was solid and produced one hell of a sound. Probably not for everyone though, as the neck was really really fat (for a 4-string).

    Recently I picked up an Ibanez SRX500. List new at $629, walked away with it from Guitar Center for $250 new. This bass I would definitely recommend to anyone who is wanting to learn (or in my case relearn) the bass and continue playing for years. Lightweight, crisp rich tones, active pickups, and a slender 24-fret neck that anyone can wrap their fingers around.

    redimpulse on
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  • SuperSockNinjaSuperSockNinja Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I would highly recommend ibanez. They are amazing instruments, and you really get more than what you pay for with them.
    I play bass in two bands right now, and my Ibanez has survived years of gigging and getting smacked around and stayed in perfect working order.

    As for amps, with Bass it really is sort of a tricky situation, since to get a really nice sound, you need to be moving a lot of air. Which means a nice big amp and cabinet, which means a big chunk out of your wallet. So to start off, really you wanna just go in there and find whatever you think sounds nice. Try playing as hard as you can, and as light as you can, at the highest volume and the lowest, and find something that sounds good all around.

    And don't worry about that "rule" about your amps and guitars costing the same. That pertains more towards guitars and not so much to bass. MY current bass cost me about 600 dollars, and my current Amp and cabinet cost me 800 each. Works out great for me!

    Good luck!

    SuperSockNinja on
  • redimpulseredimpulse Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    For starter units, GK makes pretty good amps. The less expensive combo units produce a pretty good sound and push enough wattage to get you where you need to be. Don't expect to play any real gigs with them though...

    redimpulse on
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  • AfroSpatulaAfroSpatula Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Alright. This is some good stuff. Now, I'm wondering if I should save up for an amplifier head? Is the rule the same (don't cheap out)?

    And I know I won't be touring with these amps or anything. Just wondering how this whole thing will be turning out. Also, I'm getting the guitar in two days! Yay!

    AfroSpatula on
  • redimpulseredimpulse Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    If you're looking for something to dick around on, just get a combo amp. If you're wanting something to push some juice, and play in gigs and whatnot, then look into getting a head and cabinet setup. I wouldn't recommend anything less than say 300 watts for a gig setup.

    Heads and cabinets will be more expensive than a comparable combo unit, because they're more powerful and versatile.

    redimpulse on
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  • Tw4winTw4win Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Sorry to bring a dead thread back to life but I didn't really feel like creating a new thread for the exact same questions.

    I've decided to pick up a bass, basically just to fool around with. If I like it I may get more serious about playing but right now I want to just learn the basics.

    Anyway, I've been looking at used basses and I'm at the point where I need to decide between the following:

    Peavey Grind Bass 4 BXP NTB - $175

    Ibanez SR305DXBK (5 string) - $125

    Ibanez GAXB150 - $100

    Does anyone have any opinion of the above instruments? I'm sort of leaning toward the Peavey because it looks really, really nice and the guy I'd be buying it from just put new, expensive strings on it. My question, however, is, is it worth the extra $50 - $75?

    Tw4win on
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  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    The cool thing about Ibanezes is that they tend to have narrow necks which can make learning the basics a little easier on your hands.

    Gihgehls on
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  • Tw4winTw4win Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    The guy with the Peavey dropped the price to $150 so I went with that one.

    Tw4win on
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