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About to choose my first bass and need a little push...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by joesnewmatch, Jul 4, 2018.

  1. Fender Jazz (swim with the current)

    56 vote(s)
  2. Squire Jazz (swim with the current on a budget)

    31 vote(s)
  3. Mustang (short-scale is not a concession to good tone)

    24 vote(s)
  4. Danelectro long-scale (not just for surf and garage bands)

    2 vote(s)
  5. Danelectro short-scale (good enough for Prince and Petty)

    2 vote(s)
  6. Other (post in comments)

    29 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. I'm a 20 year guitar player and I'm about to buy my first bass. No, this isn't a blind, first post, asking the difference between a P and J and all the typical stuff (I've already read all of those!). To the contrary, for the past couple months I have been to every local store and tried everything I could get my hands on, which has been a lot: Ibanez of all kinds, Fender and Squier P, J, Jag, Mustang PJ, JMJ Mustang, Lakland, Hofner, and Danelectro.

    Sure, I've asked friends for opinions and I've been told you MUST get a P or MUST get a J or long scale, etc. Everyone has an opinion and usually a strong one. Most say stick with full-scale. Rare is the guy who says get whatever feels best.

    I think I've narrowed my choices down to three models -- a Fender Jazz, the Justin Meldal-Johnsen (JMJ) Mustang Bass, and a Danelectro 59DC long scale. This is where I need a little guidance from experienced players who have owned or tried these, or have experience behind their opinions.

    Here are my thoughts and reasons:

    Jazz -- It's one of the all-time standards, the neck has easy playability (the P was harder for me), I like the offset feel sitting, and it's easily upgradeable. I don't really see a negative, other than choosing from the gazillion of models and avoiding a boat-anchor (weight). I'd probably go with a cheaper offering - $800 or less.

    JMJ Mustang -- I love the size, the neck felt very comfortable, and the tone seemed quite versatile for what it was. Very suited for indie music, and this one seems to be highly regarded and a bargain compared to vintage mustangs. Even so, I'd prefer to find one used, since I'm just starting out. (FWIW, I tried the PJ Mustang and didn't think it compared. I preferred the string-through, pickups, and did not like the 3-way switch).

    Danelectro -- I haven't tried the short-scale longhorn, because I can't find any locally, but I just tried the full-scale DC59 yesterday and it really surprised me. I liked the tone, the super light weight, and I found the neck shape to be super comfortable. Also, incredible bang for the buck. I really like that it's full scale, but easy to play. My only reservation is that my newbie ear doesn't know if this is a versatile enough instrument, or more of a one-trick-pony or niched piece of gear.

    Thanks in advance for any help. My goal is to find one bass for a while and learn to play before I ever think about adding more instruments. I spent 20 years buying and flipping guitars and I'm pretty sure I'm going to primarily be a guitar player, who plays a little keys, a little bass, and does some home recording -- no delusions of grandeur here.
  2. IronSpatula

    IronSpatula Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Northern CA
    I voted Squier J. I think it would be more than adequate for your stated aspirations, and versatile enough for about any situation.

    Hopefully I don’t get laughed out of the thread for suggesting this, but you might also want to check out one of the older, passive Ibanez GIO soundgears with the P/J setup. They aren’t much to look at but they’re light and have a slim neck that’s pretty guitarist friendly. And somehow whatever cheap OEM pickups they used sound surprisingly clear and full. My sister has one and tonally, it holds up pretty well against some of my significantly more expensive instruments. And it was sub-$200.
  3. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    Try them out and evaluate playability and sound. What we think is good for you might suck for you. I would first establish a budget ahead of time and stick to it.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
    design, equill, SoCal80s and 2 others like this.
  4. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I voted "Other" because I'm a P bass (and derivatives) guy.

    I do own a J and have gigged it but am not keen on the shape, or theVVT controls for live use (despite the fact that I gigged an SG guitar for years, but that is different because there is the pickup selector as well).

    I do think that if I had started in a J and only played that for 35 years instead of a P then that would be my go to type so don't take too much notice of me.
    clickclack, Mili and joesnewmatch like this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome to TalkBass and to the deep end!

    In your price range, and with the description you gave, I would try one of these.

    For Sale - Fender Aerodyne 4-String Jazz Bass Black Rosewood Fretboard

    I am in no way associated with the bass or the seller. I just did a search in our classifieds and it came up.

    This is a MIJ "Jazz" with PJ configuration. It has volume/volume/master tone controls. The neck profile is slim. The body is slim. The looks speak for themselves (in my view anyway.... I think they look great).

    It's a great mod platform if you should decide to try other pickups or a preamp in it later.

    They hold their value very well, so if you should decide to sell later you shouldn't lose much.

    Fender Japan build quality is fantastic.

    This. This is your versatile, easy-on-the-hands, good looking, easily flipable launch into the bass world.

    Best of luck with your hunt either way.
    Groove Doctor, BassGH, fhm555 and 8 others like this.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I would not want the Danelectro as my primary instrument. Quality not as good, tone not as versatile. Whichever of the other 2 feels better. The jazz is a better instrument imo.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
    dmt, rtav, Solarmist and 3 others like this.
  7. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    I'll have what he's having... definitely a great choice!

    (I voted for Fender Jazz, from what was offered.)
  8. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Have you tried this incredible beast?
    If you do want someting more traditional, think G&L.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
    BassGH, MascisMan and joesnewmatch like this.
  9. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Get a best Fender bass you can afford.
    If you want budget, get a Squier or Yamaha bass.
    End of story.
    joesnewmatch likes this.
  10. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Must admit that as far as budget goes, this one goes a long, long way.
    I must've played two dozen jazz basses leading up to this purchase, Fender and Squier, and not one of them made me actually reach in my pocket for my wallet...this one did. 20frfwi.jpg
    joesnewmatch and Tvrtko like this.
  11. Chrome Dome

    Chrome Dome Chrome Dome Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2013
    Piqua,Ohio 45356
    Noticed you didn't list Music Man Stingray? Noticed one of my other choices G&L's.
    joesnewmatch likes this.
  12. felis


    Jul 31, 2013
    Midwest, USA

    Any clue as to what it is?
  13. Used Fender Jazz standard (also referred to as MIM) for half your budget, you'll need an amp too :thumbsup:
    joesnewmatch likes this.
  14. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    dmt, clickclack and joesnewmatch like this.
  15. Reverend Thundergun.
    jd56hawk likes this.
  16. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    I agree. I have a Dano Longhorn and am planning on trading it for a Strat. It’s fun but more of a novelty IMHE.
    joesnewmatch and buldog5151bass like this.
  17. felis


    Jul 31, 2013
    Midwest, USA
    Thanks. That one looks like it'd sound good.
  18. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    This to me screams Squier jazz. I'd plump for a CV or a VM over an Affinity. Perfectly usable/playable instrument that isn't going to tie up a lot of cash.
    IronSpatula and joesnewmatch like this.
  19. Haroldo

    Haroldo Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2005
    North Shore, MA
    I am going with the majority on this one. I would hunt for a Squier Classic Vibe Jazz Bass. Here's one now!


    Used Squier in 4-String Basses

    (Sorry - I don't know my way around HTML.)

    I've played alot of basses over my years and, for the dough, I am very impressed with Squier's Classic Vibe series.

    P.S. I am not affiliated with the seller.
  20. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    I voted for the Jazz and also the Squier Jazz (didn't know I could do that!). I voted for the Jazz because I've been playing one for 52-years now (since 1966). Be sure to try out the neck before you buy because all Jazz necks are not the same. They will typically have that same nut width just fine, but the thickness of the neck can vary tremendously.

    I bought a 1965 Jazz in 1966 and it had a thin neck with a shallow "C" shape and a 7.25" radius on the fretboard. I toured for 3-years with that bass in the early 70's so I really got used to that neck. I recall seeing a 1966 Fender Jazz on the wall with block fretboard markers instead of dots and white binding on the neck - really looked cool! Then I pulled it off the wall to play it and the neck sucked! Although it was the same width at the nut, it was a really thick neck with a deep U profile. Hung it back on the wall and ignored it, very pleased that I had a '65.

    My '65 was stolen in 1976 and I didn't find another neck with that same profile until 1985 when I bought the White Jazz (MIA) that you see in my avatar. Modern Jazz necks normally have a 9.5" radius fretboard or a variable one from with 9.5" to 12" radius as it moves up the neck. Most players like them just fine. What I"m saying is you don't have to find a neck like the one on my bass because you haven't already been using a particular neck for years, but check them out before you buy them to make sure they are comfortable for you. Stay away from the thick U-shaped necks and I'm right with you about not liking the feel of the P-bass necks!

    I included the Squier in my vote because my grandson got a Squier P-bass for Christmas and it both looks good and sounds good. It also had the best P-bass neck on it I've every felt. Wasn't as big and clunky as all the rest of the P-bass necks.
    joesnewmatch likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 25, 2021

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