Need advice for a beginner
I'm interested in joining the wonderful world of bass playing. Im a keyboardist, so that's where I'm coming from. I'm into prog/metal but also have a bit of an interest in jazz, so I'm looking for something that will sound good there. I'm looking right now at either a BTB676 or Sr506 from ibanez. They both seem to have good sound based off what I see on YouTube, and I like the look of both. I do have smaller hands (5'7" tall. I can reach an octave on a keyboard, and stretching I barely hit a ninth). I have a opportunity for a new btb676 for 600 bucks, which is tempting me. Unfortunately, I don't have anywhere near me that I can really try out either, and since I'm a beginner, I'm not entirely sure what I'd really be of looking for, bor do I have any bass player friends. I've heard things about the pickups on the sr506 not being as good as the btb, and then I'm not sure which is better on the bolt on vs neck thru area.
Any advice would be helpful!
I don't know if this is the best way to get started as I'm mostly self taught (never sought advice on my first bass), but I'd recommend going cheaper (~$300-$400) with better action (make sure fret buzzing is at a minimum, nonexistant if possible), and then upgrading the pickups if you want a more quality tone. I never upgraded my pickups, but I know it's a cheaper way to get more out of your bass without having to drop several hundred on a totally new bass in the future.
I'd get something used that you like the sound of and feels good. Craigs List has some amazing deals right now in my area. Doesn't have to be expensive. Then have it professionaly set up. Play for a while and make sure you are enjoying it. If you do, maybe then look into jumping to something higher end or new.
As a first bass, Iíd suggest not going with a 6-string. Coming from keys, focusing on a good-quality 4-string instead might help you to better appreciate the bass guitarís role in prog/metal/jazz. But thatís just me.
4 string WILL be easier, and maybe a better option for a beginner bass player, but as a 6 string player myself, I say go for it! As others have mentioned, used is a great way to go. The things to keep in mind regarding the two mentioned basses...
BTB: 35" scale, 18.5"/19" string spacing
SR: 34" scale, ? (narrow) string spacing
If your hands are small, the SR might be more comfortable. Slap/pop can be tougher on narrow necks, but as a beginner, that technique shouldn't be a priority.
Go to a music store, and try any instruments available that share similar specs, and see what's a better fit.
If the bass you want to buy is used, you can always ask the seller for a tryout. I've done this with many instruments I've bought used, obviously if they've been within reasonable travel distance. If you get the chance, go for it. If they won't let you, there might be something wrong with the bass (or worse, them!) Just ask, the worst they can say is no :)
As a person who has owned both of those basses, get the BTB, it is the better bass 10 times out of 10 in my opinion. It will be extremely heavy though, so you might want a different bass by the time you are doing 3 hour gigs. I absolutely hated my SR506 and wouldn't recommend it to any enemy.
My advice is buy used.
I'm not a fan of Ibanez anything unless it's 70s lawsuit stuff.
i have a four string version of this (gift) its quite nice if u change the pots and rewire a little neatly
Normally, I'd suggest getting a friend who plays bass or even guitar to show you some stuff to play so you can try out basses. However, with your background and the understanding that basses are tuned in fourths and that each fret is a half step, you can probably figure out scales on your own. However, if you get the afore-mentioned friend to go with you when you check out basses. He/she/it can advise you on the condition of the basses you consider; point out things that you don't have the experience to notice.
Reaching across a six-string neck could be a challenge. I am also 5' 7" with small hands. I prefer short scale four string basses. With frets.
You’re in a tough spot since you can’t go and try out any basses. I would not recommend buying any instrument without first getting your hands on one and comparing it to others. I was recently shopping for a new bass and I was having trouble finding anything that felt better than anything else. I was leaning toward an ESP LTD bass but then a tried an Ibanez Soundgear and I immediately loved it! The necks are noticeably thinner than anything else (which would be good for small hands) and the bodies feel very ergonomically comfortable. I would recommend a Soundgear with Bartolini pickups which the 500 series has. Some may not like those pickups but I think they sound great. I currently have an SR700 and it will be my main bass for a long time. I don’t have any experience with the BTB so I can’t comment on it.
Funny, my experience was totally different :)
I'm about the same height, average/small hands, and I played 4-string for 2 months, 5-string for 2 weeks, then traded it all in to get a 6-string, and never looked back.
I would think that if you want to blend your keyboard skills with bass, the 6 would be great. You can get both hands on the neck and tap out a few more voices than the 4.
With the prog/metal interest, the first thing that pops into my head is Dream Theater, and I've only known John Myung(sp?) to use a 6.
As for jazz, I've only ever used the 6 (not that I'm an expert by any means), and having that C through F on the high string within easy reach has always been helpful. Especially when playing musicals. I've started using the upright on classic tunes and some Mingus, but everything else is the ol' 6-er.
As for both on vs. neck thru? I dunno. I have neck through mostly because I like the look. I guess up near the body it seems a bit more comfortable to me, but that's personal preference. I'm not gonna toss a 60s Jazz bass because its bolt on :D
Head somewhere(road trip!) and try stuff out. Its fun and usually enlightening. But, getting out of the store without spending more than expected can be hazardous.
Hand size is not the biggest of concerns. There are a number of female bassist that rock out 5-6 string basses no prob. As long as your hand placement/angle are proper you can play anything.
I will agree with most that a 6 string is not where I would start. The necks are cumbersome and in all honesty you will not benefit a ton from the extra string. Perhaps down the road but right now Id start with a 4 and progress to a 5.
Ibanez while tempting do have really narrow spacing. If you hope to so anything more advanced down the road you may find that a challenge. The BTB 's do have a wider spacing.
If it were me I would jump on one of these new Fender Squire VM basses. They cant be beat tone wise and for the money you are not out a ton if you find it isnt you.
Good luck and welcome to the dark side :D
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