It's occured to me that I've really only owned two basses for any appreciable time I've been playing. I played a Peavey BQuad for about 7 years, and I've been playing my Steinberger now for about 3-4 years. I've also noticed that I seem to have a distinct tone that's different from many other people. Now, I've started thinking: does my tone suck? Could it be that my relative inexperience with the basic building blocks of tone (P-bass, J-bass, Stingray, etc.) have left me with a shallow knowledge of what actually sounds good? I think I have a good tone now, but without having any basis of comparison, how do I really know for sure? I guess what started me on this train of thought was that at the last TB GTG in Dallas, I heard a ton of different basses, all through pretty much the same amp. When it came to my turn to plug in my bass, it sounded wildly different than everybody else's bass: really bright and harsh. I think it sounds good through my rather unorthodox rig, but through something else it was just bad. Maybe I'm overcompensating a bad sound with the amp. Hmm... or perhaps I'm just on to something wonderfully different. I thought that this situation could apply to us bassists at large. Is it good to own or have owned the basic basses that are known to be building building blocks of what we know as good tone, or is it better to forage into the unknown, possibly achieving a horrible tone with not being aware of it? Is comparing tone essential to acheiving a good personal sound? Should one start with a tone that is known to be good and then progress from there, or start from scratch?