Long Time Guitar Player, First time Bassist
So as the title says... I have played guitar for about 20 years with the majority of it being a bedroom guitarist. I recently took on the role of bass player for a Christian Rock group. Being a bedroom guitarist I haven't played with enough bass players to know about bass gear. At the moment I am using the bass rig at a local church where we practice. We have a show coming up in middle of May and I would love to have my own rig by then.
I am needing suggestions on a 5 string Bass Guitar, Amp, and any effects I may need.
I would like to keep my cost of my starting rig around 1500 or so for the entire rig. It doesn't matter if the items are new or used.
Also any tips on bass playing in general? Since I am new to bass I really don't have a style.. Right now I just use a pick and play it like I would a guitar.
The band will be playing mostly larger churches and some outdoors shows. Our music is somewhere between Skillet, and casting crowns....
For a bass...I am a big Fender guitar fan and think their basses would be of the same quality. however I am not opposed to other bands. wanting a 5 string
For a amp, Whats a good size to use? Whats the pros and cons of different cab configurations (4x10, 2x15 ect)
For effects a band member suggested a sansamp driver is this a must have item? Are there any must have effects? I have quite a few guitar effects pedals (ODs, Choruses, Delays, flangers, Tremolos) can they all be used with a bass?
Any advise or suggestions on gear or technique would be appreciated. Searching the forums its seems there is a wealth of knowledge on this site from all members. Looking forward to getting to know the members and hopefully one day being able to add to it.
I've got nothing against Fenders, but IMO the absolute best bass you could get right now is a Yamaha BB425 or BB425x. Very fine playing basses, sound great, look good (to me), and very affordable.
Nothing wrong playing with a pick, but it wouldn't hurt to learn fingerstyle as well. Very different tones and can change how you play.
Rigs are a different story, admittedly I've not been amp shopping for quite a few years now, so ask around. You'll want 500 watts and at least 2x10 speakers though.
A Fender is a great safe bet for a new bass player, and I love playing Fenders. I can't say I've ever been knocked out by their 5-strings, but many do like them and they have gotten better at them. For a rock band amp rig, a 300w or more head into a 410 or 215 is a good place to start. You might want to go bigger or smaller over time, but that's a decent sized rig that can handle a fair amount of volume in case you need it. I might suggest you check out the awesome products from Ampeg ;) but there are quite a few good brands out there for bass amps, and a quick perusal of the Amps section will let you know what they are. Whatever you do, though, don't skimp on the cab. You don't have to get the world's greatest cab but don't get cheapo budget cabs. Cheap bass + cheap amp + great cab = potentially great sound, but great bass + great amp + lousy cab = lousy sound every time.
The Fender stuff is great - no doubt. Hard to beat a P or Jazz bass and just like on the guitar side even the entry level Squiers made in China and Indonesia are pretty solid. Have to agree with Jimmy on the 5 strings. If you want to go that way, a Stingray 5 is a good option and the version the Ray35 is excellent and can be had for $600-750. On the amp front, watts are more important for bass than guitar so while a 30 watt Vox AC30 is very loud you'll want minimum of 200 watts and probably more. Lot's of great options these days from Ampeg, GK. Aguilar and others on the amp front. Smaller lightweight amps sounds great these days. You'll want something with at least 1 15" speaker or 2 10" speakers. 4 x10s best but better to get a better 15 or 2x10 than a cheaper 4x10. Think about portability too. I prefer separate heads and cab rather than combos but depends how much you'll be moving around. Effects pedals are much less important for bass than guitar. Aside from some type of tuner I wouldn't worry about it at this stage.
Playing wise a pick is fine but would recommend learning finger style. Initially, you can just play root, 5th and octave notes to the chords but the longer you play, the more you'll discover how different bass really is from guitar. I'd recommend finding a good local bass teacher if possible. At a minimum, pickup a good bass method book like the Hal Leonard Bass Method by Ed Friedland. The are a ton of videos and sites on line to supplement that learning. Find some easy songs to learn the bass lines too.
Khutch is better here, anyway I'd tell MIM Regggie Hamilton Jazz and Ampeg Ba115Hp...
He uses his tuned by fifth, but what you might know is that it has an 18v P/J active/passive three band equalizer worth an American Series split pickup and a Ceramic Custom Noiseless bridge pickup.
This, thru an Ampeg Ba115Hp (worth 220w) can all be had in the price range you mentioned, for new, and, with free wheels
it's vey easy to be brought around if need be (Ampeg combo, not Reggie Hamilton Jazz bass, right?)
Folks in forums love to spend other peoples money. but as a guitarist turned bassist i have to tell you not to throw big cash at a bass or rig until you really understand what tone, weight, string spacing etc you prefer.. you are entering a world from where you know all about tone, to knowing practically nothing..
buy used, and dont be surprised if over the next year you change your mind a couple of times.
Playing bass is not a wank fest, that's for geetards. Yes that's what we call them here, get used to it. Your job is to keep the band together and work with the drummer so the a fore mentioned geetard can flail away to their hearts content. Using a pick is fine but it also can pay to learn to use your fingers. While I am a Gibson man I do have my fair share of Fenders. Fenders really are the "standard" and pretty much the starting point for every other bass on the planet. I would suggest a MIA Jazz bass or if your up to it a Precision. Even if you aim a little lower some of the MIM like the 70's Jazz bass they put out is very nice. Same goes for Squire. The Geddy Lee Jazz bass is one of the best Jazz basses out there and it is MIJ. Hope that helps, the geetard comments are all in good humor.
I play through a Line6 Lowdown750 top, and a Lowdown410 cabinet (and a TC Electronic TS410 too). The amp is a 750W, but there is also a 400W baby brother.
I really like the sound of it, and the versatility. It's super affordable too.
Essentially, you get a digital amp. It simulates known amps, so you get the sound of a regular DI, an Eden, an Ampeg, a Marshall and one with a great distortion. You have a built in tuner for B, E, A, D and G. You get effects - envelope filter, octaver and chorus. You get a decent (to my ears, at least) compressor. You get save banks, so you can design three different sounds and keep them. Oh, and you get a fun bass synth too, should you feel like going space age.
I think as a starting bass player, and potentially unsure what kind of sound you REALLY are looking for, why not start with the sound of MANY amps instead of settling for just one? :) Whether this is something for you, that's entirely up to you. But the amps are very reasonably priced, and they sound great. Mine absolutely kicks butt.
I play a pricey American Deluxe Fender Jazz V, and it handles the B string without any hassle. I have punch and clear sound all the way.
I play in a church through the church's PA system so I only have a practice amp and I can't help you with the amp choice. You can certainly get some fine five string basses for $750 or less, even more so if you buy used from the TB classifieds, and I think that will leave you enough for a good amp too. I have a Fender Standard Jazz V and I have played probably all of the Fender/Squire Vs in stores and they all play well and sound fine. The ones in your price range are well worth consideration and you should try some of the more expensive MIA models too since you may find one used that fits the budget. The MIA (made in America if guitarists, as some of us call you, don't use that acronym) models are particularly nice in fact. Five string basses come in a variety of string spacings and the various Fender/Squier models range from about 17 to 19 mm. Being a guitarist you probably won't mind the narrower spaced fives but some long time bassists feel far more at home on 19 mm fives because that is the traditional four string spacing. Ibanez, ESP, and Peavey basses tend to be narrow spaced and they all make some nice ones if you feel like branching out from the Fender family.
As Wallace says the Reggie Hamilton Standard Jazz is a wonderful bass in your price range but if you want a five string version your only option right now is the much more expensive custom shop version. If you would consider a four it is a great choice and it comes with a drop tuning key on the E string (something that can be added to any bass) so that you can set it up to cover most of the low notes of a five when you need them. I believe that Reggie Hamilton uses a drop tuning key on his personal five string basses too. I do in fact tune my basses in fifths rather than fourths and so my Reggie Hamilton has just a bit more range than a five and my five string is about half way between a six and seven string bass in total range. Tuning in fifths is starting to catch on in the double bass world but I don't know if it will ever be popular in the bass guitar world even though I love it personally.
By the way, you should check out this thread.
Also, bass tones will vary significantly in and out of the mix -- even more than with guitar.
Meant to mention in post that I was long time guitar player too. Took me a while to fully grasp and embrace the bass role . Once I did, realized I had a lot learn to get to the same skill/musicianship level I had on guitar. Also realized I didn't want to wait 10 years for it so really dug in. Now I can't imagine playing anything else. Only wished I hard started sooner.
And good advice here on the gear front. But used if you can, go with something good quality but straight forward. It will take you a while to figure out you like and don't like. I've gone thru a lot of gear to get to current setup. There's some stuff I shouldn't have purchased and a very short list of thing I wish I still had. I had a couple of underpowered combos before realizing you need decent wattage for live playing.
Welcome to a whole new perspective and way do thinking. Playing bass is a very specific role with wide variation on how to approach it.
I do love spending other people's money =D, but in all seriousness there are plenty of good options that you can go with, especially used. I've done some Christian Rock and typically there are many routes that you can go with that all will sounds great. As others have mentioned Fenders (and their Squier counterparts) are great options. Jazz basses typically have a great mid range and treble presence that many people recognize (part of that "J Bass sound"). These basses tend to have thinner necks and are easier to get used to. Finally they also tend to be considered really versatile with their two single coil pickups. Precision basses (p bass) tend to excel at the lower mid range, seemingly perfectly fitting into it's own sonic space that a lot of people tend to have in their mind as a bass guitar sound (primarily due to how common the p bass is in music for the last 60 years). Precisions have slightly wider necks at the nut but aren't too deep and are pretty comfortable to play (some prefer Jazz necks) to most but not all. Versatility in sound primarily is on the player's part due to a single split coil pickup and tone knob but it, inexplicable to me, seems to fit everywhere. Musicman Stingrays are active pre-amp basses (whereas the Fenders are usually all passive with some exception) that have a greatly loved tone of its own that many people love and some recognize. They are surprisingly versatile, even with a single pickup, due to the EQ. The have pretty comfortable necks and have a very powerful sound that loves to cut and control it's sonic space. What I think will appeal about Musicman basses is that their 5 string options are awesome.
There are plenty of other options for basses that you can try and many will suggest their favorite brands and basses so I'll just add my list for basses I like to hear in the Christian Rock genre and many other genres. As always, try it before you buy if at all possible, the next best option is to buy from a site that offers a good return policy (sweetwater comes to mind).
Fender American Standard Precision V *
Fender American Standard Jazz V *
Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz V
Musicman Stingray 5 HH*
Musicman Stingray Classic 5 *
Musicman Sterling 5 HH *
Sterling by Musicman Ray35
if you can go 4-string:
Fender American Standard Precision 4 (2012 models are amazing) *
Fender Classic Series 70's Precision *
Fender American Standard Jazz 4 *
Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60's Precision
Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Jazz 60's
Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass 4
Musicman Stingray Classic 4 *
Musicman Sterling 4 *
Sterling by Musicman Ray34
Sterling by Musicman SB14
* Denotes basses that are definitely in the upper range and should be found fairly easily used, which will put stretch the amount your budget can obtain and save money for a good amp rig. Not having this does not mean you should always buy new but are the budget lines that can be easily purchased new without much set back.
For the venues that you're playing at I'd imagine 2 2x15, a 4x12 would work ok but I have less experience with those. I wouldn't go smaller than that. The basses I've all tried at one point or another.
Thanks for all the advise. Like people have mentioned being a guitar player I'm struggling with finding my space. Right now I mostly just play root notes, and feel lost most the time. Once I get adjusted and my skills increase I think I will like the role of bass player.
On the gear side of things I would like to get by as cheap as possible at first but also feel The need to buy good gear since the other band members use good stuff (mesa, prs). I found a used Mesa road ready 4x10 cab I thought about picking up is 500 a good price???Anyone ever use one of these? Still looking at other options though.
For a bass I am undecided. From things I've read a 5 string p bass kinda sounds like it would suit me but they are hard to find in my price range. I haven't saw a mim 5 string p bass online anywhere. As suggested ill check out some ibanez, Yamaha, squire, and other brand basses. Are the squire basses of good quality? There seems to be a noticeable difference on guitars as far as quality of components go. If its just electronics I can always swap out the pups and other electrical components.
Thanks again everyone.
If you don't mind me asking, what makes you want a 5-string? I have nothing against them, but it might make your search a bit more difficult as far as finding good deals.
The talkbass classifieds are generally full of really good deals. I bought my amp, cab, and primary bass here and if you have some guidance/knowledge, it can be a great place to find deals. Amps are particularly good, since the new ones are small and cheap to ship.
The band I'm in plays a few drop d songs. I figured it would be a easier way to get the low d note on a 5 string instead of changing tunings mid gig. Any thoughts on my theory?
Can't go wrong with a fendef jazz. As for an amp (prepare for the coming tide of hate...) the fender rumble 350 head and 4x10 Z Re phenominal. More power than you will ever really need. I just played house of blues and never turned it louder than 5. A lot of great tonal options too. New you're talking 300 for the head, 400 for the cab. That leaves you 800 for a nice jazz bass. Prices may have changed a bit feom when I bought mine but they shoukd be close
"Right now I just use a pick and play it like I would a guitar."-QUOTE
Oh, God. Also, while your're gettin' a rig together, start yourself a thread on suggesting which bass bassists you should listen to. There's nothing worse for us bass players hearing a guitarist say that. :D You'll be alright. There's a bunch of players on here that'll steer you in the right direction.
As for getting a rig together? Buy used. If you need yourself a bass, for starters, I'd go with a nice, used Carvin SB Series Bass. Great stuff.
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