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Advice needed on bass for student on a budget

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Feb 12, 2003.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Hope this isn't an "illegal" thread. I checked RG's Newbie Links thread and couldn't find the info I'm looking for, so....

    I've got a student, about 15 years old, who has been playing on a crappy Samick rental bass since he started his lessons. His father wants to buy him a bass, and knows I recommended a 5 string, but due to financial difficulties has to put a limit on the budget at $400 dollars. Being mainly a DBer these days, and having played the same two BG's for many years before buying my first nice one ( a Smith 6), I really don't know what's out there in that price range, and don't want to steer these poeple in the wrong direction.

    I've sent the student's father a few links to possible basses in the price range:





    The first three are Yamahas, which I only recommended because I've never seen a Yamaha bass that I absolutely hated (other than the John Myung signature model, which they can't afford anyway). Sure, the electronics sometimes kind of suck, but all of the ones I've seen have played at least decently well. The fourth link is an Ibanez, slightly out of their price range, which I included only because another student has one of these and it's not bad for the price.

    Anyway, my question is, do any of you out there who keep up with this stuff more than I do have any suggestions I might pass on to these people in this price range? The student is a really good kid, going to be a fine player, and I'd like to see him find a bass he can be happy with for the foreseeable future, as I don't know if he'll be able to afford anything more expensive any time soon. All suggestions are welcome, but please limit suggestions to basses you have personally played or have some hands-on experience with.

    Thanks in advance, and my apologies to the mods if this topic is "forbidden". :)
  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    $400 - Is this for a new bass? A better instrument could be had used.
    I have no experience with them; however, the Kingston gets good reviews around here, I think they are closer to $500 though.
  3. BassDmb18


    Dec 28, 2002
    Davie, FL
    Brice! Now that I got mine.. For $239, 5-string, it sounds like its worth 3 times that! I love it, others who have Brice's love it.. =) I have the phone number to Rondo Music in New Jersey, where they have Fretted 5's, as the Rondo website lists that they dont have any.

  4. I like SMASH's suggestion a lot. $800 buys him a used MIA Fender that'll last him a long, long time anyway.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks for the replies. Yes, his father is set on a new bass, and yes, this Samick is a DOG. I played about a thousand society gigs on an old Fernandez 4 string (that I bought new a long time ago), so I know that you don't have to have a great bass to make good progress (or pay the rent for that matter). But the situation is what it is. I know enough about the family situation to know that when he said $400, that was his outside limit. I also know that a better deal could be had used, but he seems pretty adamant about getting his kid a new one. Surely there must be something worth having out there. Are these Yamahas really that crappy? And I've never even heard of Brice?
  6. I think you need to sit the father down and teach him the value of used gear. Basses depreciate as quickly as cars--would he demand that his son's first car be new? When my folks decided to get me a car, their choices were essentially a new Civic/Corolla/Focus, or a used small SUV. In terms of functionality, which is a better buy?

    I know a lot of people have pride about not buying hand-me-downs, and this is unfortunately inversely proportional to income. I still think that you should try.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I know what you mean, but I don't feel right messing with someone's pride. The guy wants to get his kid a new bass for his birthday, and as a reward for doing so well with his lessons and practicing so regularly. I don't feel like it's my business to mess with that. I've looked around at the local MGR at the used stuff, and from his perspective, I can see why he wouldn't want to give any of those basses to his kid. I think he wants to give his son a shiny new bass as a surprise, and I don't see anything wrong with that...he just asked me to help him, and I'm going to do the best I can to do it as well as it can be done under the circumstances. :)
  8. 1964


    Mar 26, 2002
    Too Close To Hell
    Post July-2001 MIM Std Fender P or J (less than US$400 new).

    Any MIM Fender Deluxe Active Jazz (more than $400 new, but they've been making them since late 1997). These have USA made, John Suhr designed preamp and pups (noiseless).
  9. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    I would go with a Brice. They can be had here.

    For info on them, you should check out the Essex mega-thread. It pops up every couple of days.
  10. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
  11. I would still keep an eye on the used gear market. I scored my Jazz bass MINT and I saved nearly 40% off the retail price. You might be able to persuade the Dad if you can show him a bargain. (I'd take a used Fender Jazz over a new Yahama anyday, but I'm a Fender ho anyways...) :meh:

    Maybe you could convince him by telling him that buying and selling used gear is a common practice among musicians.

    Oh ya, don't worry about the "illegal thread" thing. The Newbie Link thread is suppose to be an aid to new visitors, not a prison sentence. :bassist:

    These new smilies are so addictive... :spit:
  12. Japanese Fenders; about $400 i think, and just as good as the MIA!!

    [EDIT]Read MY post before Gabu's!!! ;):p
  13. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
  14. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I would have recommended the Fenders, but my understanding is that Chris is looking for 5-string basses.
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    You can get a Dean Edge 5 for that kind of money. I've had mine for about 3 years now and I absolutely love it more every time I play it.


    That's mine, the Edge for $400. It is a reliable, giggable instrument. There is also a lower priced version that was not available when I got mine, for $300:


    As I say, I've had mine for 3 years now, it was my first fretless. I have some much more expensive instruments and this thing is right there with them as far as I'm concerned. Good quality materials, nice hardware, nice workmanship. Very nice 5 piece walnut/maple laminate neck, good balance while standing. Also, very pretty. Here's a picture of mine. When they came out in '97/98 Bass Player gave them a rave review, much deserved in my opinion. Made in the Cort factory in Korea.

    Yamaha makes very good stuff also, you won't go wrong with one. I personally can't stand Ibanez, but others like them, they are decent enough quality I suppose.

    Also, I would also very seriously check out a Brice bass from Rondo Music. I'm planning on getting one this year some time, so maybe I'll be really high on them this time next year.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Not at all - I just noticed this thread, but a guy I know from Jazz Workshops and who I usually see at the Jazz Summerschool, bought one exactly like the 3rd one on your list of links.

    I have also seen another Jazz guy who is very good and is at music school in London, using one of the other Yamahas you mentioned. He usually plays DB, but doesn't drive, so uses this when he can't get a lift.

    I'm not that keen on the tone - but then I am very picky!! ;) But I have heard these guys get very good sounds out of these Yamaha basses and they both like them for playability. The first guy was raving about how much of a bargain he felt he had got! He has a family to provide for and was working to a tight budget as well.

    I think Yamaha do a good job of quality control and I don't think I've ever picked up a bad Yamaha - although I must say that I have usually been looking at the TRBs more than this range.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Fair question. I require all of my students to read, but the ones who are not music majors get to pick their own music to learn, which I then transcribe. In this particular student's case, I've had to write the parts I'm hearing up an octave a great deal so he can play them on his 4 string, and doing this loses much of the power of the original groove. While I do feel like he'll probably grow out of a great deal of the music he's listening to now, I think that in this day and age, the 5 string has become the norm because of the extended range.
  18. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Fender MIM Jazz five would be ok, but if your student has small hands, the IbAnEz SR405 may be the way to go(if they can scrape up the extra $). Ive owned both, and imo the IbAnEz was easier to play and sounded a little better than the Fender. I dont have any experience with the Yammy's, so I cant offer an opinion on them.

    Plus, FieLdY plays an IbAnEz and it do3snt g3t much kOOl3r than that, dOOd. :D
  19. dmaki


    Apr 29, 2000
    I've been playing for 3 years now, and I'm still playing with my Ibanez GSR 200. It was only $200 and has held up very well. I put some EMG's on it, but they weren't 100% neccesary. I wouldn't necessarily recommend him to buy an expensive or "nice" bass such as a MIA Fender, because what happens in a few years when he's searching for "his sound" or thinks it looks like a dog? I'd suggest getting him something that he finds the most playable, if he's only 15 he can make up his own mind what better gear he wants when he gets older.