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Starter Bass for former guitar player

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by abcrosemarie, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. abcrosemarie


    Dec 14, 2013
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    I have no doubt this is a common question so I will try to be brief! (I'm a girl so it's not my strength haha)

    My boyfriend played a little guitar in his younger days and every time we go to a concert he mentions that he would like to get a bass guitar and learn to play.

    I have zero knowledge about guitars of any kind so although I know that I could probably get a great used guitar of higher quality - I have no way of evaluating a used model ... so I am looking to buy a good starter bass new.

    I don't know what info would be useful, but my boyfriend is early 50's, stocky, 6'1" ... large hands/wide fingers (his Harley gloves are 2x-3x).

    Since he has played guitar in the past, he does know quite a bit about them - he often points out a guitar and tells me the year range and type and some interesting fact ... but I have no idea what brand he would chose? (yes that means I didn't pay very good attention ;) )

    Genre of music would be classic rock, contemporary country and some rockabilly, blues/jazz.

    I would like to spend around $400 or a little more if necessary. I know he will move up to a better model of his own choosing if he enjoys playing but I don't want to get something that would be considered cheap or "for a kid."

    I did read through some of the threads on this topic, but I wasn't able to get a good grasp on what would be the best model at this price range.

    Thank you for any help you can offer!

  2. 3234718

    3234718 Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
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    A Mexican fender precision bass is a good place to start. They're about $600 brand new or about half as much used.
  3. JellinWellen


    Oct 18, 2012
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  4. TRyan5289


    Jul 18, 2012
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    In my opinion, I think the profile of the jazz bass neck would be a comfortable fit for a guitar player. In that price range, a great bass to check out is the Squier Vintage Modified series. They produce a jazz, a precision, and I've seen fretless. That should give you a good start.
  5. Eatapeach1965


    Nov 29, 2013
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    This is what I've been checking out...
    Haven't read a bad thing about them..
    I have smaller hands. Really want a P bass with a RW Jazz neck
  6. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
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    If my girlfriend got me a bass for Christmas I'd be totally stoked. Squier - Fender's more 'cost effective' line - is making some fantastic instruments for not much money.

    You can perhaps buy a really nice Squier and for not much more probably afford to get a quality gig bag (heavy zippers, nice padding), good patchable, and nice strap. You may get even more extra points of you get him a set of flat wound or tape wound strings if he's talking about classic instruments in the store. Of course it's those extras that both add up and make a huge difference in general so that's another thought right there.

    The Precision Bass is the most popular fender style bass in the world but the Jazz Bass is also very popular. Both are versatile, easy to play, look great, and perform.


    Don't let the online prices fool you - that's MSRP. You can probably get a bass for 2/3 that price or less if you play it right.
  7. russpurdy

    russpurdy Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2013
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    I think a squier vintage modified jazz bass would be an excellent decision for an all around beginner instrument. I play one and am far from a beginner haha.
  8. Bass Fund

    Bass Fund

    Nov 30, 2013
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    A big dude like that can handle something real solid. I'd look for an old Peavey T40. They seem to go for about what you have to spend, and there's a million of them out there.
  9. Marko5657

    Marko5657 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
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    Used MIM Fender Precision or Jazz.

    Get one used from Guitar Center, and it can be returned within a certain period of time (30 days?) if he doesn’t like it for some reason.
  10. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
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    In wandering the TB threads you may have noticed that there are a lot of Fender Fanboys here who will recommend a Fender bass no matter WHAT the intended application. But let me say that in THIS case it sounds to me like the recommendation is right on.

    I bought a used MIM Fender Jazz Deluxe at GC for $300 that was absolutely pristine. It looked like I was the only one who ever played it. My Squire Precision bass was an equal deal at a similar used price and BOTH are absolutely killer instruments for the cash.

    Later if he decides he likes the wider neck of a precision (I do) compared to a narrower Jazz or vice versa or maybe even doesn't really want a Fender and goes for a light thin Ibanez instead, he can use is own judgement, but starting out, I think suggested Jazz and Precision Fenders will be right on the money...and I'm NOT much of a Fender Fanboy.
  11. Immigrant

    Immigrant Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2010
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    Having small hands doesn't necessarily mean that a small neck will be more comfortable. That's a myth.

    Go to the stores with the largest selections and play the crap out of everything for as long as you possibly can. I thought I needed a smallish neck profile because I have child hands and it was a long, expensive (yet fun) journey before finding what fit. Started with a Jazz thinking it was the way to go and now whenever I pick one up to play it, I feel like I'm cradling a viola neck in my hand.
  12. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2012
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    I love how people keep using jargon-y abbreviations when a newbie (no slam intended, abcrosemarie) who clearly states they know little-to-nothing about basses is asking for information. And yes, she's stated she has been looking around here, but in cases like this I'd rather assume she hasn't picked up all the lingo 'round these parts. It would save her, along with all other newbies who are genuinely looking for help, a lot of time and confusion.

    Here's some common abbreviations you'll encounter;
    • MIM/MIA/MIJ: Made In Mexico/Made In America/Made In Japan, etc…
    • RW: Rosewood, specifically the wood used for the neck's fretboard
    • VM/CV: Squier's Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe lines
    • MM/EBMM: Ernie Ball Music Man

    As far as recommendations go, I'll second (third? fourth?) either a Mexican-made Fender Standard or a Squier Classic Vibe. Both sound like they'd fall within your budget, especially the CV if you're planning on getting some of the aforementioned gear (gig bag or a case, cables, maybe a stand, etc…).

    Now, you say your boyfriend used to play guitar and he seems to know his gear pretty well. Based on this, I would hazard to guess he'd probably feel a little more comfortable with Jazz bass. The neck on a Precision bass is a little bit wider than a Jazz (.125" in most cases), so if he's used to the more tightly-grouped strings on six'er, he might take to it a little better.

    Now, setting ergonomics aside…

    Sonically speaking, the types of music he'd be playing does seem to point towards a Precision bass. It wouldn't be impossible to achieve these sounds with a Jazz…far from it, in fact. But the Precision sound lends itself to more "thumpy" tones (think classic R&B tunes), whereas a Jazz can bring a little more brightness and "snarl" to it's palate.

    As much as the surprise of such a gift would be awesome, you might want to tell him what you have in mind and go together to a well-stocked music store (that has a decent return policy…just in case). Make a day of it and let him patiently try as many models as possible, especially if my "ergonomic-estimation" is inaccurate. In fact, even try out the lesser-cost/for-a-kid models (e.g.: Squier Affinity)…you and he might be surprised at what even they can achieve.
  13. Reddog01


    Nov 3, 2013
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    I'm a 60-something guy who has recently picked up the bass after playing guitar for a number of years. I went through the very same search you are describing. After reading all I could read, I felt like I would be most pleased with a Squire J-Bass. I headed over to the closest Guitar Center because I know that I would be able to put my hands on a lot of brands and models. I must have gone back over there three or four times.

    After all was said and done, I walked out with an Ibanez SR300. Being a former guitar player, the SR300 felt more like what I was used to playing. I found that it has the narrower neck (so does the Squire J-Bass), and it has the feel that I felt most comfortable with. It is lighter in weight that the Squire, which make it a bit more comfortable after practicing for 1 to 2 hours. I preferred the variations of sounds that I can get out of the bass.

    With all that said, the bass will be enhanced or compromised by the amplifier that it is used with. Both pieces have to compliment each other. Once your boyfriend has the selected bass, it really important that he take his bass with him to try out amps. The Squire and the Mexican Fender are wonderful instruments, but they are not the only ones out there. I think that good advise was given to you when they encouraged you to buy from Guitar Center, because if the bass just isn't right for your boyfriend, they will allow you to exchange it. Frankly, buying a bass is much like buying golf clubs, shotguns, and many other things. There are many good products out there, but they have to fit the user properly. Good luck in your search, and I think you are giving your boyfriend a great gift!!

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