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Bass shopping tips?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by DingoBlues, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. DingoBlues


    Dec 17, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Hey everyone, new member here! I hope these questions haven't been asked too many times before... :confused:

    I plan to hit the stores after Christmas in search of my next bass - probably a Fender USA or Lakland Skyline. One thing I see over and over in these threads is that Fenders are inconsistent and you have to play a bunch to find a decent one. Can you give me any tips about what to look for or what to avoid? Are there any shortcuts for separating the diamonds from the duds? I'd also be grateful for any advice about dealing with salespeople and getting a fair price at the big chain stores. Thanks!
  2. The Dave

    The Dave

    Jun 23, 2006
    Canyon, Texas
    ALWAYS check for dead spots from the 4th to 8th frets on the D and G. My Mexican Jazz has a wicked bad dead spot that makes some of those notes unuseable. It's bad enough that I'm trying to talk my wife into letting me get a new neck from Warmoth. Aside from that, just make sure the frets are smooth on the ends and there's not an inordinate amount of buzzing anywhere, which would indicate a high fret and you should be cool. More importantly, make sure that you absolutely love the feel and sound. That's what matters.
  3. DingoBlues


    Dec 17, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Wow that was a fast reply :eek:

    Dead spots are a big reason why I'm looking to upgrade. My MIM P-Bass is dead at the 4th and 5th frets on the G string.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Something I like to do is to play the open E and hold my ear to the body. If you hear a full sounding note with a rich bottom end, it's going to sound great amplified. If you hear a sound like paper flapping along with the note, not so great. That's how I tell a good Fender from a bad. Anything else can be fixed except that.
  5. Play through an amp similar or exactly like yours. This insures that the bass will still sound like that when you get home.

    Try wiggiling the neck in the pocket. If you get a lot of movement, its probably best just to stay away. Another thing to look at with the neck is the space between neck and body in the pocket. If you could stick a credit card in the space between, don't buy it. Your really hoping for one with a tight fit, meaning little to no space at all.

    Turn all the knobs, make sure they don't hiss, crack, or buss when you move them, or that they work at all.

    It was said above, just about anything but deadspots can be fixed, but I'm just trying to say you some inconvienance.
  6. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Listen to the bass acoustically for a while before plugging in.

    Don't let dead strings or poor setup influence you too much.

    Play as many basses as you can. You'll soon discover what your preferences are with regards to string spacing, neck thickness, etc. You can get used to a bass which is not comfortable at first, but it's not a good way to start a relationship.
  7. I would recommend taking YOUR amp with you if possible. Most dealers will not mind if you bring your amp into the store, since it may make a sale for them. Play before you pay!!
  8. Er, what's a dead spot? And uh, I think it's "safer" to go with CIJ and MIA Fenders. Just my 2 cents.
  9. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    All great advice.

    There's two basic areas you're looking at here.

    - build quality (fret dressing, tight neck pocket, etc.)

    - playability/sound

    In other words, objective & subjective. Only you can know if you like a bass, but anyone armed with the right information (such has been presented in this thread) can tell you if the bass is built well or not.

    PS - great advice about listening to the bass acoustically. My best sounding basses sound great acoustically as well.

    Also, go during an off-hour when there's not too many people around so you can have the run of the place and try a lot of stuff out without competing with the 15 year olds playing Metallica.
  10. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
  11. Thanks.

    All the formal explainations are making me dizzy. Plus I'm wearing new specs, 4 hours old.
  12. Many good points covered so far but I have one more to add, which is a bit more of a hassle. I have purchased several basses that have felt great and sounded great when playing alone in a music store or at home (in the case of a bass ordered online) but then had a very disappointing tone when played with the band. Since all that matters to me is how the bass fits into the mix in a band situation, the tone of playing solo is really meaningless to me. Some basses sound great when that's all you hear. The clarity and low end, etc. are just right. Then add the band and your tone needs to fit into THAT situation which may require a different tone in order to cut through and etc. So what I'm trying to say is that after years of experience (about 30) I have learned that the only real way to give a bass a real workout and to know if it fits is it you give it a try in your band situation(s). I've sold several basses that I purchased that I really liked when playing on my own but that just didn't work well with the band.
  13. ^^^ Take advantage of Guitar Center's return policy thingy.
  14. +1 for BassDude SA above. Many times a pleasing solo tone will get lost in a band mix; conversely, something sounding more strident/unpleasent soloed will sound great in a band situation. Think of it this way: extra treble can get eaten up by cymbals; extra mids by guitar; extra bass by bass drum or detuned gui****.
    BTW, this is also why it is an exercise in frustration to individually EQ soloed instruments when recording. Everything needs to be heard in the context of everything else.
  15. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    In brief, dead spots are when an instrument doesn't sustain for more than a few seconds, caused by dampening vibrations within the body & neck.

    +1 BassDude. I own a few instruments that I love, but don't work with the band. It's not just a matter of how it sits in the mix, but also the style of play. I'd love to get a Motown soul sound, but that would never work in my rock & roll band so I go for the Jazz instead of the P.

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