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Advice on next bass, please

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Robad, May 6, 2006.

  1. Robad


    May 6, 2006
    London, UK
    Hi. This is my first post. I've been playing an Aria Pro II MAB-60 (that's what the receipt says, anyway) for ~8 years and feel maybe it's time to move on to something else. I guess my style has become more jazzy/funky and I've found myself bending the strings to get something like a fretless sound (works better with flatwounds...). But I've also found I'd like to 'go lower'. The question is, should I buy a 5-string fretless? (I've never played 5-string or fretless before.) Would it be foolish? If not, should I get a cheap one to see how it goes or something expensive assuming it will become my main bass? (e.g. StinRay5, costing ~3 times what I paid for the Aria) Or how about a fretted 5-string and get the Aria de-fretted? I'd value comments from anybody, especially if you've made a similar decision.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. I think once you've got over your beginner bass, you should blow a bit of money on your next one. You've obviously taken a bass quite seriously, so it shouldn't be a waste of money.

    As to decision about whether to go 4 or 5 string or fretted or fretless. That's a personal descision you have to make.

    I personally would go for a 5 string fretted, and then possibly get a fretless in the future. But that's just me.
  3. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    that's what i did. i have a 5-string fretless right now. and i didn't play it before i bought it, either.
  4. I would recomned trying a fretless at a guitar store before you buy one, just to see if its somethign you like, I bought my 6 string fretless direct from Carvin so before hand I had only played the same model 5 strign fretted, a few fretless basses, and some six string fretted, that i had tryed at guitar center...and i figured that it would be some mix of all these and it was pretty much what I expected, so try one out first.
  5. Robad


    May 6, 2006
    London, UK
    From what I've read, players are more reluctant to change back from 5-string fretted to 4-string fretted than they are from fretless to fretted. On that basis (excuse pun) I'm inclined to upgrade to a 5-string fretted version. If this made my current bass redundant, I could either sell or de-fret it.

    PS. I know (now) Aria don't have a great reputation for basses but mine cost me £450, has a thru-neck, 2 active pickups and is very nice to play. I chose it on the basis that I would never learn to play an instrument I didn't like playing and, in that respect, it has served me very well.
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Welcome to Talkbass Robad,
    I was in about your position 6 years ago. I had been playing electric for about 7 years and I had my first bass which was a Standard Fender precision, and a and I was looking to upgrade, I got a Carvin LB75f (a 5 string frettless) It was the best decision I could have made. I learned frettless, I learned 5-string, and ended up playing 60% frettless for about 5 years. Though I eventually purchased a 5 string fretted and went back to mostly (80 %) fretted I now have a quality frettless, that I will never really have to replace.

    You should definately try a frettless bass to see if you really want to play one, and don't bother de-fretting the Aria, it's too easy to screw up, and it sounds like you like the bass.
    Also, Aria makes some good basses, so don't be ashamed of it.
  7. rhythm


    Dec 4, 2005
    Whatever you decide, TRY A SPECTOR!!!!
  8. PMC89


    May 1, 2006
    New Jersey
    Wow. Three separate instances, three perfect scores with carvin basses. Extended range fretlesses, too.

    That makes me kinda want one.
  9. RobertUI

    RobertUI Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    I'll add my thoughts here too, PLEASE go out and play a bunch of different things! You chose your first bass correctly IMHO, and that was by feel, do the same thing here. If you don't like how it plays, you won't like it, it's that simple.


    BTW Welcome... I encourage you to fill out your profile... that way we know where you're coming from (age, experience, location etc)
  10. I would pick one direction and go with it for a while.
    about 5ers. once you go 5 you never go back. Well some do go back but a lot of bass players like the 5 once they get used to it. Took me a couple years honestly. What I like most isnt the lower range, its that you can find your root on the A string then you have an octave up and an octave down from that one position. I am thinking about getting another 5 to string with a higher string ~eadgb~.
    About fretless. Its very difficult for some people, esp if you have bad habits with your left hand. It does improve your playing once you get it down. But most of the fretless players I know are extremely tone obsessed. Spending thousands to get the perfect clear muddy tone.
    I wouldnt listen to whatever anybody tells you to buy here re specific models. Just get out and try some basses. esp for 5 string, it really matters what your hands are comfortable with. Though if you have the scratch a MTD or Tobias (usa not korean) are good 5ers due to their asymetrical neck profile.
    There are a lot of well known makes etc, but quite a few of us are more than happy with slightly off center brands/models.
  11. Robad


    May 6, 2006
    London, UK
    Thanks for your thoughts guys. They're invaluable. I guess my problem is I know what I'm like! If I go and try some basses I'll (probably) fall for one and not be able to leave without it! Thought I'd try some head-work before the heart takes over. At least it might influence what I try.

    One concern on fretless (and possibly also 5-string) - I have fairly small hands. I used to play violin at school, so intonation isn't too much of a problem. But those first few semitones might be a bit of a stretch...
  12. Sherwood


    Mar 17, 2006
    Beijing, PRC
    I, too, was in your position a few years back, and I decided to go the fretless route. For the last four plays, I've played the fretless almost exclusively. I got a five string with a lined board, just to make the transition a little easier. There's a lot of variety available in a fretless, especially if you already like the sound and feel of flatwounds. I wouldn't worry too much about intonation on the first few, you'll find your fingers stretch a lot farther than you may have thought before.

    For what it's worth, I'm actually selling my fretless fiver (I joined a rock band who's getting very serious and needed a fretted five), so you might keep mine in mind (hmm....) It's a Gary Willis FL five, lined board, etc. Sounds great, plays even better. The new ones are listing for about $4,000, but mine's going for around $800. I'm probably putting it up in the for sale boards in the next few days, but I may as well mention it here. It might be out of your price range, but I can guarantee it's sound and playability.

    Sorry to hijack your thread with my for sale, it just seemed applicable
  13. rhythm


    Dec 4, 2005

    I agree very much with what Calaverasgrande said concerning 'once you go to five you never go back', my beginner bass was obviously a 4, then I purchased an Ibanez 5string (not a good bass at all), but loved the extra string, now I have my first (of my collection of many I hope) Spector, a Euro 5. I occasionally get my 4 out, but I prefer the extra spectrum of notes which can be had from the 5.

    With regard to fretless, I personally prefer fretted (admittadly I'm not too much of an experienced player), but I suppose if money was no object I'd probably have a fretless to play around on, but I don't think I could use one as a main bass.

    Good luck with whatever you choose.
  14. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    As well you should ;) Carvins are great basses, but I think it's on frettless basses where the build precision shines through extra brightly.

    With their abysmal resale value, a used frettless carvin might well be the best bang-for-buck way to get into frettless playing, though new they are a good deal also.
  15. i too am a violinist (hence the moniker!)...and started on a cheap japanese fender jazz copy, 4 string fretted. I actually found it pretty weird having frets at first...what I find odd is so many guitarists just ramming their fingers down at a particular fret and assuming if the string is in tune they will get a particular note....for me at least I think the violin made me very atune to being in tune! obvioulsy smaller variations make more difference on the violin, but still I think actually violin playing put me in good stead for bass....now I'm used to bass though I find fretless a little weird and picking up my violin I'm scared I'm going to break it as it seems so fragile!

    btw have you ever tried cello? I have before playing bass and really struggled to get my head around it, but after playing bass it somehow seems simpler when I've tried it since....also double bass, although that really gives your fingers a good workout!!! :eek:

    ...but yeah I think you will find the switch to fretless probably easier than most, as everyone else is saying try it and see what you think

    I'm now on a 5 string fretted bass, would I go back to 4 string? absolutely....its horses for courses imo, if you want a particular tone then that oftens means a particular bass...e.g. a rickenbacker which I have gas for right now!
  16. Robad


    May 6, 2006
    London, UK

    I finally got the chance to go to the Bass Centre (London) and try a few models :bassist:. After about 2 hours, as expected, the heart started to take over :) and I eventually went home with a beautifull Warwick 'Nirvana Black' oil-finish 5-string Streamer $$ :D .
    They had surprisingly few fretless basses and I didn't even get around to trying one - none of them had fret inlays (for a beginner like me).
    I think the Streamer could easily take over from my Aria, so I will probably consider having it defretted (professionally) at some point.

    Thanks for your help. Unfortunately, models like Carvin don't appear to be common in the UK...
  17. I like the bass centre, mainly cos they don;t mind you sitting there for hours trying stuff out, but its a bit far away for me just to pop into!

    congrats though, pls post some pics :)
  18. Robad


    May 6, 2006
    London, UK
    Here it is, with my Aria...

    Attached Files:

  19. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Great looking bass. Congratulations. You now have two great basses in your stable.

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