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best budget bass for beginner to intermediate bassist?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ssie08, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. ssie08


    Feb 4, 2015
    Hi there. I have been playing bass on and off for a while and just recently decided to knuckle down and start playing much more often. I would say I'm not a beginner, but nowhere near good. For the past year I have been playing a beaten up Stagg MB300 that I bought secondhand for pretty cheap. It was fine to practice on and get used to playing bass, but now I'd like something a little nicer, that sounds better. Basically, I'm in the market for a new bass. Unfortunately I am absolutely skint so I'm looking for something around the £160-£220 price range. Ideally it'd be around or just under 200 pounds. I don't need something amazing that I could gig with - I'm nowhere near that good - just something that sounds good, would sound good playing with other people if I want to play/practice in groups, and that I won't outgrow as soon as I move onto the next level.
    Another thing that is quite important to me is that it's comfortable to play. I am 5'1" and about 100lbs, and my Stagg bass is HUGE and VERY heavy. When I tried my teacher's Epiphone TBird, though, I was shocked by how light and comfortable it was. I'd really like a bass that felt more like this. Nonetheless, here are the basses I have got as choices so far, and I was wondering if you could please let me know what you think, what you'd choose, etc.

    Fender Squier affinity series P Bass - this one was considered but I read on this forum that they sound awful so this is an unlikely option for me.
    Epiphone Goth T Bird - only really an option because it was the only T Bird within my price range and I loved the way my teacher's felt and sounded
    Yamaha RBX270 - Serious contender, heard great things about it as a budget bass
    Ibanez GSR200 - Another bass I heard was good for budgets but I have heard mixed opinions on it, I don't know if I will outgrow it quickly
    And my current NO.1 choice which is the Fender Squier VM Jaguar bass special HB because it's perfectly within my price range, and I've heard VM are much better than the affinity squiers.

    If possible please let me know which you'd choose and why, and add any others you think I should consider! It'd be much appreciated. I don't know ANY bass players IRL and I am so lost.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    An SX or such from Rondomusic.com would be my choice in that price range, honestly. I would think the Yammie and the Ibby would be solid. Epiphone, maybe good, maybe not, never tried their tbird. Given your size, you might want to try a medium or short scale, helps a bit with the weight, definitely easier to reach.
    RyanJD and alaskaleftybass like this.
  3. ssie08


    Feb 4, 2015
    I don't mind the reach much, honestly, it's just the weight. I don't know why my bass is so heavy, all the others I've tried have felt so light comparatively. May I ask why you'd choose the Yamaha or Ibanez over the Squier?
  4. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    have you looked into medium and short scale basses? They may suit your size better.

    While the Affinity is Squiers entry level and is pretty bad, the other Squiers are much better in quality and sound, don't judge all Squiers by the Affinity.

    try a Squier Mustang medium scale bass for example.
    macmanlou likes this.
  5. ZachariahLee


    Feb 3, 2013
    If the option to put in your hands any of the basses (outside of the Epi that you've already tried) is available do it. Then pick the one that you are most comfortable playing. Honestly, they will all play so find something you're comfortable playing on. On top of that stretch and warm up before "getting serious" about bass. Playing for 20 minutes once a week is way different than 2-3 hours a day.

    If that option is not available, and you're comfortable on the Epiphone it seems to be a logical choice. You already stated you liked the weight, and it was comfortable to play.

    Lastly, I'd check this site for hints on how to properly/ergonomically play the bass. We're probably all guilty of lifting with our backs and not our legs at some point, but do that all the time and you're gonna be hurting.
  6. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I hear they've gotten a whole lot better (well, maybe not so much the Affinities, but the VMs are supposed to be good). I just have a very bad taste in my mouth from the "old days" - there was a point where most Squiers (imho) were "right up there" with the likes of Teisco Del Rays, or maybe even one of those nasty Soviet era thingies, in terms of junky crappiness. I've avoided them ever since, haven't ever really given them a chance again.
  7. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    Was bored one day last winter and bought an Affinity P bass and small amp off Craigslist for $75. A real tone monster!
    Sold the bass to a local TB member for $80 and kept the amp.

    Affinity or not... a nice P bass.
    jallenbass and shawshank72 like this.
  8. ssie08


    Feb 4, 2015
    Yeah, I have thought about it but I wasn't really sure, since they're not quite as abundant and I have heard they have a different (and not quite as good) sound so I just opted to play the same size everybody else did. The reaching has never really bothered me, just the weight.

    Yeah, I have heard Affinity sucks but VM or CV is good. Will definitely check out the Mustang.
    Taha-b likes this.
  9. BazzTard

    BazzTard Inactive

    Most basses are roughly the same weight, but usually, the cheaper basses weight more.

    A Squier Jazz would be as light as you'd get.

    Looking at it differently, there are many straps that help ease the pain, extra wide ones, with padded shoulder rests are very good. Some even stretch, I've also seen a double strap across both shoulders.
  10. subdude67


    Jan 18, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
    JACink likes this.
  11. Batmensch


    Jul 4, 2010
    Media, PA.
    Squier Vintage Modified or Classic Vibe. 'Nuff said.
    RyanJD, Gravedigger Dav, Doll and 9 others like this.
  12. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I'm a lifelong player and own a GSR200 among other premium Ibby's. Once set up correctly, it's an excellent bass for the small price. The bass neck is perfect for smaller fingers, it's very lightweight, and sounds great to my ears. With a light combo, it's easily tossed in a gig bag and carried with a shoulder strap. I have a feeling if you get one you will find it to be a faithful dependable companion for quite some time as you advance in your passion.

    Good luck, keep us posted! :)
  13. osonu


    Aug 5, 2013
    Las Vegas
    I didn't play it, but I heard a guy at Guitar Center playing a GSR200 and it sounded really good (almost made me want it!). Of course, it may have been the player (an older guy), but he seemed pretty impressed with it,too= oh, and it was gorgeous! I couldn't believe the price.

    My bass teacher recommends the Yamaha to students who want to start as cheap as possible. I was pretty impressed with a CV 70s Squier (but not enough to keep it) but I think that's out of your price range. Have fun- lots of great cheap basses these days!
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  14. ssie08


    Feb 4, 2015
    Thank you! This is really useful!
  15. ssie08


    Feb 4, 2015
    I was really swaying towards the Squier but after careful consideration I may indeed go with the GSR200. The only reason I didn't at first was because every time I saw somebody ask about it it was always "a great beginner bass" so I feared I'd outgrow it. Knowing now that it can still sound good at higher levels is all I need to know, and the neck size sounds especially good for my hands haha. It also looks really nice in white. :smug:
    KickingBass and alaskaleftybass like this.
  16. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    The white one has a pearl sheen to it and is absolutely beautiful. I notice you're in UK. We're just now getting Downton Abbey here on PBS :D
  17. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    Frankly, they are all pretty good choices, but very different from each other. If you're able to try them out, do so and get the one that speaks to you; none are so rare that a little hunting around music shops shouldn't turn up some examples. I see that you're petite, but the music world has plenty of petite women who do just fine with full-scale basses. It doesn't sound like you're obsessing over going short-scale and I don't think there's any need for us to do so. The thing about weight is that different pieces of wood have different densities, even from the same species of tree, so two basses of the same design made of alder (or whatever) may have noticeably different weights. In general, though, swamp ash or basswood ought to be lighter than alder or mahogany.

    I'm actually surprised you liked your teacher's Tbird so much, as I think of those as being heavy and, more importantly, unbalanced, with major neck dive. But if you like it, you like it. That's definitely one I would try out in a store and make sure it has the same feel as your teacher's before buying. I generally think of them having a warmer, darker tone.

    Ibanez is a whole other animal, they're all about slim necks and active electronics. I've read that the preamps on the GSR200's tend to burn out after a while, don't know how common it is. Of course that's always something you can replace later on.

    Yamaha is a really solid company that makes solid basses. I'd probably say that's the all-rounder on the list you gave.

    Squier - there are definitely people who like what they get in the Affinity. Myself, I like the Vintage Modified series of models. I personally don't care for short-scale and active electronics, so the Jaguar Special doesn't do it for me, but it may for you. Totally different beast from the Affinity P-bass, which is full-scale, has a thicker neck, and passive electronics. You might thing about a VM Precision, or a VM jazz if you like slimmer necks better. What I really liked from that series is the first VM Jaguar they did, now discontinued, which was full-scale and passive with PJ pickups and stacked control knobs. There's a TBer selling one now I believe, but I don't know what international shipping would cost.

    I guess this is hard because you listed four or five totally different basses from each other which makes it really hard to tell what you're actually looking for. Maybe having more information and opinions on each will help you narrow it down. Really, I'd mostly recommend trying some out and seeing how you take to them.
    Anthonyfranklin9000 likes this.
  18. I'd suggest trying a short scale ala Epiphone EB-0 or Viola, Hofner Beatle Bass, or a Jaguar SS.
    I'm 5' 7" and tried an EB-0 because they didn't have an EB-3 and really liked it. Mind you I also really liked a SUB Ray which was full scale...

    So maybe the lesson is to try some before choosing.
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  19. JiJ


    Aug 19, 2014
    Loughborough, UK
    staggs are very heavy, idk why. try a harley benton (from thomman)
    JACink and shawshank72 like this.
  20. The Chuck

    The Chuck

    Dec 11, 2013
    Wilmington, NC
    I just bought a Squier VM a couple weeks ago and I could not be happier with it.

    It feels good, it sounds good and it looks good.
    tangentmusic and static0verdrive like this.
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