Absolute Beginner... Look for my first bass - please advise.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Doylum, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. Doylum


    Dec 22, 2014
    Hi Folks,

    I'm looking to buy a bass and would like some advice on what I should buy.

    I used to play electronic drums, but since moving to an apartment I can't as it's just too thumpy on the floor with the bass pedal. I've always liked bass, so here we go. :)

    I have never played guitar in my life, I'm an utter newb.

    I went to the guitar store today to look around. I saw an Epiphone Thunderbird and thought it looked so cool and really fell in love with it. The helpful store assistant, agreed that it is a nice bass, but he mentioned that it has bad neck dive and could make playing more difficult. He also said it suits a bigger guy, as it's quite a monster. I'm over 6 foot and normal build, so I guess that's OK. He recommended a Squier Jazz or Precision for better balance.

    I also like the look of the Yamaha TRBX304 and the BB424X.

    Anyway, you get the idea. What would be good to start on?

    Many thanks,
  2. Redrama


    Apr 19, 2013
    That's not really a question we can answer. Yes you can look up massive amounts of online reviews, but in the end of the day everyone's different and like different things. You just have to go to stores and try the basses to find which one suits you the best.

    But the most 'safe' option would be a Precision or a Jazz of some sort. A Squier is everything a beginner could possibly need.
  3. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    Maybe some kind of mat on the floor to cushion the thump from your bass drum pedal? Or talk to the neighbors and negotiate a time when you can practice? It would be a shame to give up on drums. Being able to play bass and drums would be an awesome combination of skills to have.

    If you like the Tbird, I wouldn't let the neck dive stop me. Any well-made Jazz or Precision style bass would get you there too.
    Doylum likes this.
  4. cronker


    Feb 13, 2007
    Take it slowly, read a lot on here.
    We don't know your budget, so it's hard to recommend.
    Do you want a beginner pack with amp?
    Are you happy to drop coin on an instrument you might not get along with?
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  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    The OP didn't specify budget, so here I go with my "broken record" recommendations, can't help it, I think these basses are the bomb for the money: Ibanez Soundgear SR500 4 string or SR505 5 string.

    Second choice would be Squire Vintage Modified Jazz or Precision

    Third (maybe First, if you have the money) is a Fender Aerodyne Jazz or Precision

    For lower-priced instruments, I don't think you can beat the Squire line, it's stupid good for the money.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
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  6. Doylum


    Dec 22, 2014
    I'll pay up to around 350 UK Pounds for a bass and then look for an amp, something small.

    If I make a mistake then I can live with it.
  7. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
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  8. cronker


    Feb 13, 2007

    Try to play before you buy, really! At this point, it absolutely doesn't matter if you can play or not. It's about how the bass sits with you, how it feels, how it sounds to your ears. Ask yourself "is this the instrument I want to learn on?"
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  9. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Try out a few basses...it's the best way to go.
    I've had a few Thunderbirds...the neck dive issue is easily remedied. They look great and sound good too...especially with flatwound strings.
    The Squier Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe Jazz basses are nice...priced right, too.
    You might also want to check out the Sterling SUB 4...incredibly smooth neck and active electronics.
    They're piced about the same as the Epiphone Thunderbird IV and the Squier VM Jazz but have more color options...seven or eight, if not more...black, trans black, white, walnut, etc.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
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  10. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'm a Thunderbird, Squier and SUB 4 owner.
    I'd definitely buy each one again.
  11. Need2KnowBasses


    Aug 30, 2010
  12. Malak the Mad

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

    If you live in the UK, Thomman seems to be a big supplier of music instruments in your neighborhood.


    They seem to specialize in carrying Harley Benton instruments, which come in at a similar price-point as Squiers and the like. Do a search for the brand name here on the forum and see if you think it'll fit your bill.

    Otherwise, I'm a personal fan of the Squier Classic Vibe Jazz. I've had two; one was quite good and the second was abso-flippin'-lutely awesome. It may be a bit more than the Vintage Modified line, but I feel they're worth it. It's solid enough an instrument that it's quite playable for beginner and veteran alike AND it's not so expensive that you're committing a huge amount of money on something you may not take to in the end.
  13. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Some people love tbirds and others not. If you love it, you love it. I would have the guy at the store give you a strap and see what you think.

    Meanwhile, both those Yamahas are great. The trbx is a kind of neutral, flexible all-rounder. The bb basses are physically a little heavy but have a lot of personality- a real aggressive roar. I have a bb415 and love it.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
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  14. RedHotFuzz


    Mar 16, 2014
    Get something comfortable. Contoured body.
  15. HubbardsFate


    Oct 18, 2006
    Hard to go wrong with almost any Yamaha product in my opinion. I believe the Squiers have come up a lot in quality over the years too, enough that they are no longer considered so bad as to be a "poor man's Fender." My first bass (1991) was a Yamaha BB model, it was nothing special, but good enough for a beginner, and undoubtedly the Yamahas you are looking at are head-and-shoulders above my old BB in terms of build, electronics, etc., because like most other companies, Yamaha has upped their game over the years even with their budget stuff.

    But the smart thing to do would be as someone before me suggested: Go and try a bunch. Even as a complete noob, within the space of five or ten minutes you should be able to get an idea of whether or not the bass has a reasonably comfortable neck profile for you, whether you find it too heavy, too light, etc. Play it standing up (with a strap) and sitting down. I honestly wouldn't be overly concerned with electronics this early in the game...by all means, plug into an amp if they will let you, but as a beginner you likely won't have a good idea what to listen for anyways. Fiddle around with knobs and switches, maybe the sales staff can explain some functions, and basically just make sure things are working electronics-wise...but your main concern should be playability and comfort starting out. It could be a $5000 bass with the fanciest electronics in the world, but it'd be useless to you if, for example, the neck profile is such that your fretting hand starts to cramp (and worse, stays cramped) three minutes after you start playing it.

    Ibanez's budget ATK models are a decent beginner bass too. I have never really played their Soundgear models (skinny little necks aren't my thing), but a lot of people swear by those as well. Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
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  16. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    When making a similar leap (no guitar or string experience worth mentioning) two years back I went with used over new, preferring to not get over-invested until I can do something useful with it. Got an older RBX and have no complaints with its abilities. If you are going to pay the price to buy new, see if you can get the helpful assistant to bring you a series of basses (option a, option b, option c - not by name) while you are blindfolded (or closing your eyes, at least, if you can trust yourself not to peek) and try to judge them based on how they feel & sound more than how they look...not fighting the thing definitely helps. For instance, some folks find they want a really fat neck, others want a really thin neck, and both are right - what works for you is what's right for you.

    If you walked into the guitar shop without doing something similar first, try someplace like Mark J Smith's http://www.talkingbass.net (he's on here @markjsmithbass - one of many options in that line, just one I've been visiting a little lately and liking) for a bit of video lesson basics so you have some concept of how (& why) they are normally (and abnormally) positioned/held/played when re-entering for test-drives. You don't have to be any good at playing it, but you'll have a better idea if the feel is good if you are at least trying to hold it as "normally instructed" since you won't have any personal style development there to go on (...or bad habits to break...)

    Also - nylon tapewound strings. Best thing I ever did. I like the sound, I love the feel, and I'm not terribly upset with the idea that they might outlast me without needing to be changed. And they look nice, to boot.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
  17. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    buy a cheap used bass. You don't even know if you will enjoy playing bass so no need to spend too much straight up. Nobody is ever really happy with their first bass. You need to play for a while to discover what sounds,specs,features you do and don't like. Grab a used Squier Affinity for $100 - $150 ish and start playing.
  18. SVTkid


    Jun 5, 2014
    The Ibanez GSR200 is not a bad bass. I have one sitting in a stand in my bedroom to tinker with and it won't break your wallet. I don't think it sounds bad.
  19. PeaveyPlayer

    PeaveyPlayer Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    When I first started playing bass I bought a Yamha RBX170 and put flat wounds on it and I loved it but ended up selling for another yamaha
  20. gregmon79

    gregmon79 Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
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