New Bass Player Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HiFi Guy, Jan 27, 2014.


  1. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Hi All,

    First post here. I'm new to bass but have played guitar (poorly in my opinion) for 39 years. I'm 47.

    I bought Rocksmith to help improve my guitar playing. It has helped, but I tried bass emulation mode and found I played far better and had more fun. So, I went bass shopping and tried the following listed in order of preference.

    Rickenbacker- loved it, but $1950 is nuts for someone starting out.
    Gretsch G5123B which I bought.
    Epiphone Viola
    Hofner 501 Contemporary Series
    Epiphone SG type with one pickup

    Plus a bunch of other stuff I didn't like at all, Fender, Ibanez, etc.

    I love the appearance, feel, and tone of the Gretsch, but am considering returning it for the Epiphone Viola. After playing the Gretsch for a while (4 hours tonight) my wrist is bothering me kind of like what I imagine carpal tunnel feels like.

    I'm wondering if the slimmer neck of the Epiphone Viola would be better for me even though I like the Gretch far more.

    Do I just need to build up strength or am I overdoing it? Should I stick with the Gretsch or trade? Money isn't the issue.

    Any advice is welcome.
  2. InsaneBassninja

    InsaneBassninja

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2013
    Location:
    Indiana,USA
    I would try to go find a Used Ibanez 4 or 5 string Rember this if your new your wrists will hurt for a bit until you get used to it. Then again I Bork my wrist back in grade school and still feel it to this day at times. Dang weather changes...
  3. offhand35

    offhand35 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Location:
    Western Connecticut
    I started seriously playing bass 3 years ago, and started with the Viola. I wish now that I had stayed with that one, its quality and tone were way above its price point. I still wound up going back to the short scale Epiphone EBO.
    There was a need for a bass player in our small church orchestra, and I found the short scale easier on my fret board hand with "trigger finger" in three fingers (like carpal tunnel, but in individual fingers). The Viola is actually a 30" scale, your Gretsch is a 32". When I tried a 32" scale bass for a couple of weeks, it did get painful. Try the Viola for a while and see if that changes things. Keep the Gretsch until you reach a decision point. For me, trying to strengthen my hand was not going to work. Going back to the 30" scale did.
  4. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I forgot to mention that I haven't had the Gretsch set up yet. I'm playing it as it came off the wall at GC.

    I might have considered an Ibanez hollow body, but GC could not be bothered enough to do anything but plop it on the wall. Both of the Ibanez models they had there had fret buzz so bad that I couldn't stand to try them. Maybe they did it in purpose.
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  6. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out.... Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    a little pain is expected as your body stretches. If I dont' play my P bass for a while (playing my J instead), and go back to my P, I experience some "tension". I have been playing for 20+ years and that still happens.

    I think that it would take much longer than that to develop carpal tunel
  7. BboogieXVII

    BboogieXVII

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2013
    Location:
    Scottsdale AZ
    Definitely get your bass set up, this will help immensely. Since you're not strapped for cash hunt down the very best person for this task in your area. You won't regret it.
  8. JellinWellen

    JellinWellen

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    FYI 1950$ is way too much for a new RIC. 1600$ is the average price and is how much I paid for mine.
  9. Neon Scribe

    Neon Scribe Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle, WA; Nyack, NY
    Since you live in Orlando, you ought to take a trip to Bass Central in Fern Park. No reason to go to Guitar Center.
  10. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Spector-Dingwall-Aguilar-DR-Tech 21-Darkglass
    Welcome to TB!

    If money isn't an issue, buy the Viola and spend some time comparing it to the Gretsch; carpal tunnel certainly won't set in that quickly, but pain is usually a sign that something needs to change.

    Ideally you want to be keeping both wrists as straight as you can, and it's also important to get the bass set up properly; kinked wrists and unnecessary exertion will definitely cause joint/tendon issues in the long run.
  11. Maxdusty

    Maxdusty Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2012
    Location:
    Michigan USA
    Reminds me of a certain guitar player who had to switch to playing bass so he went into a music store and came out with a bargain priced Viola bass by Hofner.
    Viola basses are a very easy transition from playing guitar but one thing to keep in mind, these basses (Hofner, Epiphone, Rogue, Douglas) are not ideal basses in terms of versatility. There are some growing pains when you switch over, look for a slim neck, low action to make it easier. Other basses I can recommend are other short scale basses such as the Squier or Fender Jaguar Short Scale.
  12. Presto2112

    Presto2112

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2011
    Location:
    Camas, Washington
    Not a rick for your first that's all I can say. If you don't stick with it you wont be out of a lot of money.
  13. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    Location:
    Like old Hampshire, but New
    Take the pain seriously, but I doubt that it's because of the neck of the bass you bought. To be sure, there are different neck profiles and different people have their preferences. But I suspect it has more to do with your jumping into playing 4 hours straight when you're just starting on the instrument, and probably with your technique. Bass is bigger than guitar, your arm and fingers need to work over longer distances, the strings are a lot thicker and have more tension, all of which puts more demand on the body.

    Before you go returning a bass you like (and regretting it later), focus on stretching out carefully before playing (and periodically during playing, if you're going to do 4-hour marathons) and developing good left-hand technique. Take a look at this video --
  14. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I'd see this as a technique issue more than a bass issue. Yes, get it set up properly, and build up your strength and stamina whilst learning about good left and right hand technique. Maybe take some lessons, or have a good look online. Yes, there may be more comfortable basses out there for you, but I'd wait and get some more experience before you potentially waste your money. Get more relaxed in your playing and learn what you like first.
  15. basspedaler

    basspedaler Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    Location:
    RDU-NC
    I like my Jazz's the most for both feel and versatility. but for shortys' I have a Gretsch Jet, which is short but still has a P type nut/neck width, and a MIJ Mustang which has a really slim comfy neck. A guitarist might like it a lot. For versatility tho, a short scale Jaguar (it's a P/J) might be the ticket...
  16. Whit Townsend

    Whit Townsend

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Location:
    Hartselle Alabama
    This. It's the 4 hrs that did it. Break up your practice into shorter sessions and work on your technique. Sure get it set up but I doubt the bass is your problem. If the bass felt good to you it's prob set up fAirly well to begin with.
  17. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Thanks for all the advice. I lost track of time last night and didn't stop playing until my wrist started bothering me. It was only then that I realized 4 hours had passed.

    The plan for now is to not do that again, and have the Gretsch dialed in, although I agree that it isn't far off. I would like to have the neck pickup raised and the action lowered a bit.
  18. Calico

    Calico

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    I disagree with this. A Rick will hold its value well, and if "money isn't the issue", and you like the way the Rickenbacker feels and sounds, I'd go for it. I agree with Jellin - "FYI 1950$ is way too much for a new RIC.".

    I'd say get what feels and sounds the best to you. Have fun!
  19. cv115505

    cv115505 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    Location:
    Oklahoma City
    Disclosures:
    Lakland Basses | Hanson Guitars | Augustas Guitars | Paul & Mills Amplification
    That is probably the root of the issue... most of the basses at GC are like playing a bow and arrow...
  20. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I had the bass set up with a set of LaBella flats. The set up made a big difference, although I'm getting used to the feel of the strings. The recommended exercises have helped as well. Thanks for all of the help.

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