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Advice for New Bass Player Instrument

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by iansmom, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. iansmom


    Mar 11, 2005

    My son has been taking bass lessons for several months now and is using a neighbors old bass guitar. He has saved his money and we wish to purchase a new bass.

    After visiting several stores and playing a few different types and brands of instruments, he has decided he likes two models.

    I'd like some opinions on each. I dont know if the store clerks can give an unbiased opinion, and I'd also like to know what else we might want to consider.

    He likes the Ibanez srx700 and the Fender Aerodyne. Both are in the 550-650 price range. He can go up to 700, if need be.

    After talking to him, I think the reason he likes these two are the slightly thinner necks. He is 14, and although big for his age, I think these guitars are easier for him to play. They seem to "fit his body" better.

    From looking at posts, I'm confused over the competing attributes of these guitars. The Fender has a bolt-on neck, the Ibanez a through body. The Fender is light, but that might be bad?

    I guess what I'm asking is, are either of these a BAD choice? Will he be unhappy later? Should we consider other guitars, and if so, any recommendations in that range?

    I would ideally like to think he'd get some years of use out of the guitar because its a lot of money for him.

    Thanks for any and all opinions!
  2. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    To be honest I wouldn't splash out more than a few hundred on a first bass. At 14 yrs of age there is the risk that it will be loved for 90 days and the left alone. There are many fine basses ( ibanez, fender, yamaha, esp, spector to name a few) available that provide decent sound and feel. I would suggest looking at the various bass equipment review sites as well ( talkbass, harmony central, bgra.net) to see what the overall opinion is on the two models your son is looking at as well as others he may discover in his local music store.
  3. firstbassman

    firstbassman Apples & Dirges

    Sep 6, 2004
    NYC/Northern NJ
    Excellent points here. The mind of a teenager can get awfully slippery, so interests can wane fast. But then again, how I remember the day when i was roughly that age and my dad thought I was nuts to spend $300 for a bass (that Rick has been with me now since 1982, money well spent...) - but that was for my second, "upgrade" bass.

    Yeah, you can certainly get quality basses for well under the $700 range - the ones already mentioned, as well as a MiM Precision or Jazz. You can even get a higher-level Fender - like the Aerodyne he likes, among others - for around $700, so there are plenty of options. I think the Fenders probably have a better resale value than the Ibanez, if that becomes a consideration...

    But I guess the important thing is that he enjoys it. If he doesn't like the bass, he might be less inclined to play it. Does he need a pro-level instrument to start out with? Nah. But we don't know your son and his interest level. All these are fine choices in instruments for him. Don't worry, if he stays with it, the GAS (Gear Aquisition Syndrome) will kick in later, no matter what he gets now. It happens to all of us. I hope he stays with it.
  4. lowrez

    lowrez no.

    Nov 27, 2004
    New Englandish
    could go just a touch higher and find a used Sterling. Downsized body, nice neck, and if resale is an issue, you are likely to get 100% back if you buy used and it is well cared for.
  5. AlembicBob


    Dec 28, 2004
    MA, US
    I have to agree with the concept of buying used. If he has a trusted and independent instructor (as in, one that doesn't work for the local music store), then there's a place you might turn for assistance.

    Note, also, that basses of the same model may not be entirely alike. Since the properties of a wood can vary, so can the tone, weight, and feel of the instruments made out of it. If at all possible, make sure that he plays and hears the exact instrument he will be buying. Try more than one of the same model for comparison if you get the chance.

    One important factor in his continued interest in the instrument will be how comfortable it is to play. Some inexpensive instruments with thin necks may be prone to a need for regular adjustment. Necks of three or more laminates tend to do a better job of remaining straight than one piece versions. If you live someplace like Arizona with consistent weather, it may not matter. In New England, it would.

    Finally, make sure he tries out the basses through an amp that is at least similar to what he will/does own. I was in a store a few weeks ago and the salesman had a teenage boy trying various cheap basses through a Mesa Boogie 400+ bass head and some high-end cabinets. You could have plugged a rubber band on a stick into that amp and it would have sounded pretty good. It made comparison of the instruments very difficult, though, since it also has a character of its own. Depending on what he's plugging the bass into at the store, he may get it home and not recognize the way it sounds.

    This brings up the question of an amp. If he doesn't own a bass, he probably doesn't own an amp either, right? If he doesn't want one already, he'll want one soon. You might at least get him to think about the possibility of a $300-400 bass with a similarly priced amplifier.

    Good luck!
  6. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    I started a couple of months ago. I had a very limited budget. I tried out alot of used basses (and new ones). If I had the money an Ibanez BTB or a Carvin Kit is what I'd want. But since my budget was limited and all I want to do now is learn I picked up a used squire pbass for $100. I changes the strings to flatwounds and it sounds much better. I might get a quarter pounder pickup for it too. I like my pbass. I still want the ibanez or btb when I get better.
    I decided I'd save up money and get a somewhat decent bass head and cabinet. That seemed like the more expensive part. I am getting something that should work well for me, even when I am to the point of getting a different bass. I decided I didn't want to get something low powered just to have to upgrade that later too when I start jamming on a regular basis with my friends.

    "One important factor in his continued interest in the instrument will be how comfortable it is to play. "

    YES! The only thing I don't like about my pbass is it doesn't balance well when standing. That's why I want the Ibanez or Carvin. However, since I have a beat up used pbass, I might just move the string buttons around.

    "The only additional info I would add is that by the time you get to @ $700, you are getting close to the "next level" of instrument. Since at his level of play he will not be able to hear much of the differences, you can probably stay with a less expensive instrument and do just fine (ie well under your price limit). Fender, Ibanez, and Yamaha are all excellent names in the less expensive price range."

    Also, I know a couple of professional bassist that uses $500-$600 basses.
  7. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Although I've not played one, I've heard fantastic reviews here on TB about the SX (or Essex) basses from Rondo Music. I've heard that the playability, quality AND tone of these surpass Fender's Made In Mexico offerings. I'd love to check one of these SX basses out myself. I don't know how it would compare against the Aerodyne model because I personally haven't played one. But I agree with most of the other posts here. A quality instrument can be had these days for much less than some of the "name brands" offer, which may be the best bet until it is clear if your son will stick with it or lose interest down the road. :)

    Good Luck.
  8. unity bass

    unity bass

    Dec 15, 2003
    Modesto, Ca.
    Excellent point. There's also (eventually) the strap, cable, tuner, strings (esp. if you buy used), metronome, gig bag, possibly a professional setup ... this list goes on a bit but that's the basics.

    My favorite practice and learning tool is the Tascam CD-BT1.
    It's a CD player with an input for the bass and has many features which aid in practice like isolating the bass part of a song and controlling the tempo for the hard parts.

    My family's favorite practice tool is my headphones!

    Good luck!

    Oh yeah, my input as far as basses is to check out Peavey.
  9. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    I've been wanting to get one of those.

    Since I don't have an amp, what I currently use...
  10. I have an SRX500, which I believe is the bolt on neck version of the SRX700 you're looking at. For what it's worth, I've gigged plenty with it, and it has withstood things well. I haven't had to make any major maintenance adjustments to it since I've had it, seems to be a pretty good quality instrument. The p/ups are pretty 'bright' sounding, and it's a bit on the heavy side, but as far as being a bass that your son would enjoy playing and would hold up well, I think it would be a good choice.

    Thin necks are just personal preference, it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with physical attributes of the player.

    I don't have much experience with the Aerodyne other than playing it at a music store, but the one thing it would have going for it would be a higher resale value.
  11. glnflwrs


    Jan 25, 2005
    Hesperia, CA
    To answer your question, either of these basses would serve him well. Buy him what he wants, nothing dampens the desire to learn more than being restricted in what you play and what you play it on, except overbearing teachers.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Those are both very good instruments for the price, and are well above typical starter instruments in playability and sound.

    I would also echo the sentiment of looking in local shops for used instruments. If your son loses interest in the bass and you sell it, you will take at least a 40% hit on resale. If you buy a nice used instrument, it will be pretty easy to sell it for what you paid, if the need arises.
  13. gkintn


    Mar 6, 2005
    I'd say get a Mexican Fender precision, and put the difference into a decent amp. I think on the low end of the price range the amp can make more of a difference than the bass, especially if he wants to play in a band.
  14. iansmom


    Mar 11, 2005
    Thank you for the thoughtful replies.

    We are going out this weekend to look again at the two he liked, and I will visit a shop that buys and sells instruments. Maybe he will see something interesting there.

    I do appreciate all the input.

    I'll let you know what he eventually settles on!
  15. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    The original post mentioned that the kid likes the thinner necks of jazz-esque basses, which would likely rule out a precision.

    I second the suggestion to look at SX basses. I've never heard a bad thing about them, except of course the setup issues, which are easily taken care of. Much cheaper, and plays/sounds better? Can't go wrong. With Fender, most of the money is tied up in the name and not the instrument. From my experience, anyway.
  16. iansmom


    Mar 11, 2005
    Just an update and to thank you all again for the advice.

    After playing a few more instruments, my son settled on a very lightly used Ibanez SR900. It was in very nice shape (looked unused) and he loved the feel and the way it sounded.

    We paid $420 and he got an extra set of strings with it. I have no clue about used/resale prices, but I checked the price on the internet for new SR900's, and the price seemed fair. Regardless, I'm not going to worry about it; I'm happy he got a bass he likes and I feel I saved some money, too.

    My husband found a used Peavey 2 piece cabinet and amp (?) for 300 so I think my son should be set, and the total expenditure was just a bit over what he had saved for the bass alone.

    Thanks again for the recommendations, especially looking at used. I think it worked out well for us.
  17. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    very cool. ibanez basses can be very playable.

    to me, the most important thing about a 1st bass is how playable it is. lots of cheap (and lots of not-so-cheap) basses are just plain difficult to play, which can make someone lose interest very fast.

    a proper setup (adjustment of a bunch of things on the bass) by a good tech can do wonders for playablility, but even so, some basses are just difficult to play. BTW, the setup is something thatneeds to be adjusted from time to time (generally twice a year with major season/climate changes) hopefully whomever gives your kid lessons will be able to do this for him or point him in the right direction. given time and instruction, he can even learn to do it himself. :)
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Cool! You did good. That is a lot better equipment than most of us started out with.

    Hopefully, he will take to the bass and play for many years. But if he does get bored with it, since you bought used, you can get most or all of your money back if you need to sell it.
  19. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    Cool- an SR900 is definately nothing to frown on- a very good bass, and you got a good price on it. My first bass was a plywood piece of junk and a 15 watt practice amp, so he's a lucky kid.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Way to go! You done good. I'm sure he'll be thrilled with that rig.

    Oh, and by the way, welcome to TalkBass! If your son hangs out here he'll learn a lot, but if he becomes an addict like many of the derelicts and reprobates around here, his practice time is going to suffer. And never take anything I say personally. It's always for the laugh.