Buying a Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by coleen1013, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. coleen1013


    Jun 23, 2008
    I would like to purchase a bass for my 16 yr. old son who is just learning and is in a band. Any suggestions on the brands I should be looking for and what I can expect to spend?
  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    You should probably decide what you have to spend, then let your son try as many basses at that price point that he can. He'll know which one feels right, you'll know how much your gonna spend.
  3. K.Ross


    May 19, 2008
    There are several "cheap" basses out there,but if he is going to stick with it,I recommend Carvin,because you can pretty much design your own,and you're not going through a "middle man", which saves dollars. Their service is great,and they are made in the USA. I own 2 of them...and love em both. Look up their site and see what you think.
  4. Rickenboogie gives excellent advice.

    Does our son have a teacher? If finances are limited, I would spend the money on lessons over an expensive instrument. I just went through this with my daughter. She plays drums (expensive and spouse annoying- but fun!). I made sure I signed her up for lessons and bought her a good student level kit.

    As far as brand names go- Fender, Squier (by Fender), Epiphone, Ibenez, are all great names. If your son has a teacher, the teacher will probably give better advice once he gets to know your son and what he is interested in. The teacher may be able to assist you further in the purchase. Teachers want keep students... so they tend to want to be very helpful. They also know what to stay away from. For example, if you ask his opinion on the Squier Affinity Bass you saw on CraigsList for $1000, he should be able to tell you that it is probably overpriced by $800. I am not knocking Squiers... I play one myself.

    You can get a good entry level bass for as little as $100 or you could spend $2500 on a good Rickenbacker. My honest opinion is to look in the $150 to $300 range. You can get a great Squier bass and maybe a small practice amp for $300. Go to your local music shop.

    I can't stress enough how important a good teacher is. Try more than one until you are comfortable. By the way, a good teacher will do more than just play scales with your kid. He will encourage a wider world view in regards to music.

    TalkBass is a good place to ask questions of course. Don't hesitate to ask... we all want more bass players! Feel free to PM if you need to.
  5. HeGone


    Dec 31, 2007
    The Squier Vintage Modified series provide good entry-level basses between $249-$299. A lot of folks around here would say they're better than entry-level instruments.

    You could also buy your son a new standard Fender Precision Bass or Jazz Bass for about $450-$500. Another avenue is to find a used MIM (MIM="Made in Mexico"), which can usually save you some money.

    Also, Rondo Music ( sells Fender copies for ridiculously low prices. $100-$170 will get you a decent bass, which a lot of people on this site -- myself included -- like a lot. And many TBers use them as low-cost platforms to modify their instruments to their liking.

    Of course, there are a lot more options than these. I'm sure the folks on this site will be able to give you some good advice!
  6. Ron W.

    Ron W.

    Jun 9, 2008
    Planet P
    Tradition B-100 will cost about $250.00 and the build quality is more like a $600-$700 Fender. As good as the lower priced MIA and MIJ and better than about any MIM Fenders for less than 1/2 thier price

    The pickups are especially good for a guitar in that price range.
  7. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I'd actually recommend against Carvin. There are just too many choices for a beginner. Your son needs to play as many basses as he can find and figure out his preferences first. Things like pickup configuration, active versus passive, string spacing, number of strings, bolt-on versus neck-through, body & neck woods, fretboard material, fret size, fretless versus fretted, neck profile, nut width, scale length, and a dozen other things... overload! Plus, the resale value on new Carvins is very low compared to the cost, even though they're a great deal to begin with.

    I'd recommend starting with a simple Precision or Jazz bass; a Made-in-Mexico Standard Fender is a great place to start. Buy a decent used one for a couple hundred bucks, get it set up & cleaned up at a reputable shop, and six months later, switch to something nicer when you know exactly what you like and what you don't. Plus, if/when you sell it, you can certainly get what you paid for it (the big hit in resale comes between the original owner and the second owner, after that, it stays pretty steady, similar to cars).
  8. K.Ross


    May 19, 2008
    I guess if you want to buy a CHEAP bass,go for it...but if you want to skip the middle-man and get a nice made in America bass with GREAT service to back it give Carvin a chance.To me resale doesn't matter...I'm buying a bass to play it ....not to sell it. I've played LOTS of basses, and I'd put my 2 Carvins against them...and my Carvins were about half the price of the others.I don't go around "down-talking" other basses...I'd appreciate you not "down-talking" my suggestion...(He was looking for suggestions,NOT "BASH"time!:scowl:
  9. I tend to agree with HeGone I think the Squier Vintage Modified (70s one is nice) for around $279 at Guitar Center is a good first bass. My first decent bass was an Aria Japanese Jazz Bass copy and it served me well for years until it got pinched. I agree about trying a bunch and seeing what feels right but if your new IMO sometimes its better to just get playing and as Greggbummer points out get a good teacher. With time you figure out what works well for you each player is different I have smaller hands so I like the Geddy Lee with the thin neck and Rickenbackers. Whatever you decide way to go Dad!!
  10. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I'm not bashing or down-talking Carvin. I've owned Carvins and they are great instruments, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to an experienced player looking for semi-custom bass. However, for a beginner, they are far from ideal, for the reasons I stated in my last post. I taught guitar & bass for years and I would never recommend a custom build to a beginner because they don't yet know what they want and it's simply a waste of money. Not to mention, there is a 2-3 month build time.

    It takes time to develop preferences and you don't want to short-change that process. Starter basses exist for a great reason - spend a little money, figure out your preferences, make sure you plan to stick with the instrument, and then, when you're ready and you know exactly what you want, order the perfect bass *for you.*

    I don't doubt that Carvins work great for you, K, and I'm glad you found some basses you plan to hang on to, for which resale value doesn't matter. But, in my opinion, resale value *should* matter for someone just starting out. What if, in six months, he decides to switch to guitar?

    Something to consider.

    Your son will also need an amp, strap, cable, and tuner. It is not uncommon for amps to cost more than the basses themselves. Especially on the low-to-middle price range, the amp makes a much bigger difference in tone than the bass. Many professionals use relatively inexpensive instruments, but there is no substitute for plenty of power when it comes to reproducing bass frequencies. I would not recommend buying a used amp unless it is from a very reputable shop - it is just too easy to damage an amp if you don't know what you're doing, but again, you pay through the nose when you buy new compared to used. A good compromise is factory-direct, like from Carvin.

    I would recommend spending at least $350 on an amp regardless of how much you put into the bass itself, if your son is planning to play with others in a band setting. A $2,000 bass into a $80 amp is not going to sound nearly as good as a $400 bass into a $350 amp.

    I recommend the Fender Rumble series (I myself have a 2x10 100-watt Rumble, as a backup amp).

    This is also a good choice:

    or this:

    Hope this helps,

  11. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    This man speaks the truth. I'm not so sure you'd ever even have to upgrade to "something nicer". One of the nicest things about Fender instruments is the availability of after market parts, and the relative ease of swapping them out.

    Fender is the "industry standard". Everybody and his brother plays them. Great choice for a first bass.