Advice on Starter Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BB StarSeeker, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. BB StarSeeker

    BB StarSeeker

    Dec 15, 2012
    I just joined this forum, and posted in the newbie section of the forums to introduce myself. But I'm looking for help/advice/tips on finding a suitable starter bass.

    I'm mowing through endless numbers of basses to narrow down a few good starters to pick from and was hoping I could get some advice from you all.

    My experience with bass guitars is pretty much nothing, I've fiddled with a couple before in the past but that was it. I've never spent the time to sit down with different models and try them out since I just recently developed my EXTREME interest in trying out the bass...and I don't really know anyone where I've lived for the past year or so, so my only option to go and try out different ones is going to the local music shop and sitting down with the limited selection they have, which they're closed on Sundays, and closed early yesterday when I dropped by so that didn't work well. Not to mention I've got a busy work schedule so weekdays I'm too dead to go try stuff out :(

    Anyways, I'm basically just looking for some tips/starters to check out based on my tastes and what I'm going for once I try out the bass...I like the smooth higher tones, mid-ranges, and harmonies...a good example of bass sounds that really resonate with me would be Wootens "Live Solo #2", "Ari's Eyes", "Naima", as well as some others by him, and harmonic filled riffs that Jaco was notorious for, like in "Portrait Of Tracy", that have mellow higher pitch tones. That's not to say I don't dig and groove to the really low and funky lines from "Prayer", "Victa", and other punchy, simple bass lines.

    So I'm guessing recommendations of versatile starters would be much appreciated.

    For reference, I'm not a big guy, around 5'8 or so, with an average body frame, sort of longer arms that dip below my hips, short torso, and such. So a smaller/lighter bass would suit it seems from the threads I've tried to dig up and go through in the 'LinksForNoobs' page.

    The "Big Bassists" I look up to would be Pino Palladino, John Entwistle, Jaco, Wooten, Miller, as well as others.

    My price range goes up to a couple hundred, as well as willing to trade in a Double-cut Mexican Fender Stratocaster which is in pretty great condition aside from one or two very small hard to notice scratches (Pictures attached), that I've had for a couple years now but never really got into playing sadly.



    Any help will be appreciated endlessly, there are just so many bass's to choose from it makes my head hurt and I end up getting lost :crying:
  2. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    The cheapest good style Jazz basses are probably the Fernandez MIJ Jazz basses. There are a lot of them floating around Ebay and they go cheap, $250-300. The tuners are a bit loose but functional and the pickups have more kick to them than they should, but you fix the latter by watching Ebay for a couple weeks and sniping some Seymour Duncans or so.

    Other cheap and good things include Kramer Focus and old MIJ Ibanez Blazer and Roadstar basses (although they are more expensive than comparable guitars they are still cheap for what they offer).

    Some Yamaha BBs can be had cheap but I don't think they have something too versatile in the cheap ones.
  3. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Any Squier will do and will be a better choice than almost anything else out there.

    Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified series are the upper end Squiers and many would argue they are as good as a "real" Fender. The standard Squiers are fine as well.

    P bass vs J bass is a toss up if you are starting out. Don't stress over the decision. You will end up trying and owning both if you are a long term bass player.

    The Bronco and Vintage Modified Mustangs are good choices if you want an easier transition from guitar (neck is 4 inches shorter than standard).

    Otherwise, type some search questions straight into Google and include talkbass in the search string. You will find several threads addressing this very question.

    One other thought. An outfit called "Bestcovery" has some simple short list gear reviews that, in my opinion, are a good way to cut to the chase. I dont know who they are, but most of the time I think they are pretty close to the mark. They may have a thread on best starter basses. I know they have best picks at various price points.
  4. BB StarSeeker

    BB StarSeeker

    Dec 15, 2012
    Much appreciated to you both! Yeah it seems like Squier is a big recommendations so I'll start looking into those, and hopefully a decent starter won't cost me much since I'm going to toss my Strat into the offer as well, I do want your alls opinion on the one bass at the local shop I DID get to try out for several minutes, but the brand name was new to me, but maybe someone here knows about them, Luna Guitars? I'll post a link to which bass model it was, and the link will contain specs. The model is the Paz 4 BLK

    It really caught my attention out of the others they had hanging up and I couldn't stop going back to it as I walked around the shop, so eventually I asked if I could get a feel for it for a couple minutes since they were closing up as I finally asked, so I didn't really get to mess around but the short time I did spend with it was pleasant.
  5. BrunoNP


    Dec 16, 2012
    I’m originally a drummer but have decided to buy a bass guitar to get into a more melodic approach of the rhythm section and would let me do vocals. I like rock and metal but enjoy playing bass more in rock\alternative rock\psychedelic rock genres and drums in hard rock\metal\progressive genres. I've already played my bandmates' guitars so I already have the basics and can play some songs.

    I was thinking about getting one of the following bass packages:

    Epiphone Thunderbird IV All Access Bass Pack:

    Ibanez IJSR190-BK Black Jumpstart bass guitar package:

    Fender Affinity Precision Bass Pack:

    Fender Affinity Jazz Bass Pack:

    Epiphone bass viola (would let me play at home or transport it without having to bring my amplifier) + amplifier

    I live in Canada so the epiphone thunderbird bass package, which is the only one that I can’t get here, would cost about 65$ more.

    Which one would you recommend?
  6. R&B

    R&B Both kinds of music: Rhythm AND Blues! Supporting Member

    Hi BB--

    I am also a newbie, just over 6 months along now, learning a lot from the brothers and sisters on TB. Welcome to the low end.

    A gently used MIM Fender Strat should trade about equal to a new high-end Squier bass or even a used MIM P bass, all things being equal. A retail store will only give you a modest percentage of the actual value as they need to make a profit. So a private-party trade might make sense. You may find a guitarist wanting to unload a bass. Or, you could sell the Strat privately to fund the purchase of a bass.

    Sorry, no info on Luna products. As your first bass will probably not be your last bass, my humble suggestion is to go with a known name (Fender, Squier, Yamaha, Ibanez etc.) and buy used if at all possible.

    Good luck to you!

  7. BB StarSeeker

    BB StarSeeker

    Dec 15, 2012
    Much thanks again! I've been tearing apart these forums and reading up, and looking around and this Squier -vintage modified jaguar bass I found while looking stuff up is starting to stand out to me, seems to have pretty good reviews as well save one on fret buzz on the upper frets, and some people talking about small adjustments, and I believe it's used and the price is under $300, so it's definitely looking more and more appealing to me as I keep reading/searching.

    I might take your advice on selling the strat privately since the shop owner I talked to acted like my MIM Fender Strat might not be worth much, but still taking it in tomorrow to see how they appraise it and see what they would offer on it if I decided to just sell it.

    Any recommendations to various sites/places I should check out to try and search for a good private trade? I know there's stuff like craigslist but I honestly think sites like that are waaaaaay too shifty, then again I live in a really nice area so who knows.
  8. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    I'd say get a Jazz bass. I'm more of a P-bass guy, but based on your first post, you might like a Jazz better. Squier is good, but used Fender is better. Plenty of other brands, but those are good for starters

    Check out the classifieds on this site - you can find some great deals on all sorts of basses. And TB folks are generally straight shooters.

    Have fun!
  9. I think for the price they are asking for the Luna bass, you could do much better on the used market with a "name" brand. At this point in the game for you, I would buy a MIM Fender P or J (I like the Jazz). You seem to have jumped into the bass fairly quickly (nothing wrong with that) and you may jump out just as fast. If you decide that bass playing isn't for you, selling a Fender will probably get you back what you paid. If you love bass playing as much as you hope, a MIM Fender isn't a bad product to own. Once you have a better idea of what you want in a bass, spend away! Until then, I would play the odds.
  10. I recommend a used MIM Fender Standard Jazz Bass.
  11. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    The only way your gomnna find anything worthwhile at so low a price is if your real lucky on finding nice used bass super cheap. Save up some more money. As best advice and buy used even then.
  12. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    Squier of any kind, Yamaha of any kind will do the job. If you already have plan to practice Jaco style, order yourself custom Fodera, so you don't waste time later on waiting to be finished.

    However, start with this song: and than see where it goes.
  13. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    Fender and Ibanez make some nice sounding starter basses that also play very well.
  14. BB StarSeeker

    BB StarSeeker

    Dec 15, 2012
    Much thanks to all the advice so far, unfortunately I've got to head into work and be a workhorse for UPS so I'll check back later to see if any more comments are made!

    And yeah, I'm already planning on going with finding a cheap but decent condition used, not going to toss my money at something not knowing if I'll stick with it or not, that's a mistake I've made several times before in the past.
  15. Malak the Mad

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

    If you're just starting out I also recommend you get a low-priced starter. If you decide you like where you're going with playing bass and want to invest in something with a higher price-point, that can come later. If you figure it's not something you want to continue with, you haven't sunk a ton of money into it.

    It looks to be a fair guess that you've dabbled in six-strings, yes (please correct me if I'm wrong)? Given that assumption, plus your height/build, the earlier mention of the Jaguar basses and my advice in the previous paragraph, I'd recommend getting your feet wet on a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special SS. Here's why;

    1. The "SS" stands for Short Scale, meaning it's a shorter neck than the standard Long Scale neck (30" vs. 34"), and by extension, notably lighter. It and the Mustang/Bronco basses are often favored by either guitarists who have transitioned to bass or dabble in both and feel more comfortable with a smaller instrument.

    2. On the subject of cost, they usually run about $180, brand new.

    3. For sound, it's got a Precision/Jazz configuration which makes it capable of a greater variety of tones. (This is more of an opinion of mine, so take it with a grain o' salt)

    If you want to look up more opinions and reviews of the Jaguar SS, there are plenty of threads and posts relating to it, and short scale basses in general.

    One other important note, when you've gotten more comfortable with playing and your mind turns towards getting a particular sound, strings are very important. I started off with different flat-wounds, but as time went on I got a better idea of the sound I wanted. Eventually, I tried many others and finally found a few types that work best for me. However, the flats I started up with were much gentler on my fingers in the beginning. (I work with my hands all day, often doing very delicate/precise work, so that's very important to me!)

    Ultimately, try to get into your local store and get a feel for what they have that you can afford. You just might find something that no one here mentions yet works great for you. Happy hunting, and please let us know what you decide on. Pics would be awesome too. ;)
  16. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    The Squier Classic Vibe jazz is great, but is about $350 new. Check out an SX jazz style at rondo or an Xaviere at You can always add a new set of pickups at a later time if you want. I really like my SX with Duncan's in it.
  17. Andy_D


    Nov 28, 2009
    Corpus Christi, TX
    +1 f on SX, Squier, and Xaviere for not spending a lot to get a decent starter instrument. To that list I might add;

    Used Peavey Foundation or Fury (Usually < $200)
    Used Ibanez ATK 300 (can be had regularly on eBay for < $300)
    New Ibanex SR 300 (~$300)
    New Peavey Millenium BXP (~$200)
    New SBMM Sub (~$250)

    Lots of good choices in quality starter basses.
  18. Osprey


    Jun 20, 2005
    Buy used. There are plenty of good instruments about. Remember though that you'll need some amplification equipment too! A used combo that's big enough to make some volume when you get together a group (do it!) but small enough to lug easily around your living-quarters is going to eat into your bass budget.
  19. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    I used to cover "passive" from Paz' A Perfect Circle, and I've to admit I always used Jazz basses, or Jazz siblings, to do that

    But as I said, after all it's a Precision with a mahogany body, so very close down to overall approach, just a bit fancy with that Paisley pickguard (you can remove anytime: I'd do that) and more boomy (pickup and himass bridge work fine)

  20. BB StarSeeker

    BB StarSeeker

    Dec 15, 2012
    Thank you very much for the indepth post! Advice like this is great, (not that all the others weren't), but I really appreciated the reasoning behind your suggestion as well, it helped a lot. Yeah, I'm really digging the 'look' of the Jaguars in general, and I like the idea of it being precision/bass since I can dabble in both areas and see what sort of tone appeals to me and help me decide in what direction I want to continue in if I really enjoy the bass (which hopefully I will as much as I do in my mind already!) I also really enjoyed the variety of sound the promo video had, though I'm sure whatever 'kit' is behind it helps with that sound.

    I'm now trying to decide whether to hunt down a cheaper JSS than what you linked, seeing as that's 279, or go check out the one I mentioned earlier, though I believe it may be the same exact price. I'll tell you what though, I'm really diggin' the Candy Apple Red with the SS, for some reason I can picture like a tort pickguard on it but that's just me.

    And yes, that's probably a really good wording for the amount of play-time I've put into the Strat, "dabbled" is about as spot-on as you can get.

    Hopefully since I'm planning on trading/selling my stratocaster to help cover or just pretty much more than cover the bass costs, there won't be any costs so even if I do end up deciding bass isn't for me either, it won't be a loss.

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