Buying my first bass (maybe Squier VM Jaguar?)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AceOfBase, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. AceOfBase


    Dec 19, 2014
    Washington, DC
    Hi all -

    I've casually played guitar for a few years and want to get into bass. I've done a good bit of research (including trying some things out at local shops) and read a lot of threads on here for beginners, but before I make my first purchase, I was hoping to get some advice from your collective expertise.

    Ideally, I'd like to spend less than $200, but would be willing to go a little higher if the quality and bang-for-buck warrant it. I'm not looking to gig; just goof around at home and maybe play a little with friends, mostly rock, but maybe a little blues.

    I'm leaning towards a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Special, based on the price, my preference for the body style, the positive reviews I've read, and the flexibility of the PJ set up. My hesitation is probably based on the active electronics. There's something I just don't like about needing that battery.

    I've also looked at the SX (Essex) Ursa 4, but there's nowhere local for me to feel one out and I lose the PJ configuration with that. Also, other than a seemingly solid reputation online, I don't really know much about the company.

    My questions:

    - Am I on the right track here?
    - Does anyone have experience playing both the VM Jaguar Special and the Ursa 4?
    - Is there anything I'm overlooking? Another model I should consider?
    - How much am I losing by dropping from the VM Jaguar (which seems to get very very positive reviews) to the VM Jaguar Special (which I haven't seem too many reviews specific to)? Do they even sell the VM Jaguar anymore? Most online retailers don't seem to have it in stock, and I haven't found one locally either.
    - What do you sacrifice using a short scale bass? The VM Jaguar Special in SS is a little cheaper. If it's just a manliness thing, I'd probably prefer to save the cash money.
    - Do the VM Jaguar Specials ever go on sale? They seem to be $199 everywhere, and, while a lot of online retailers are offerings codes for X% off everything on the site, Fender is excluded. I can probably hold out a little longer before buying if I'll be able to get a discount.

    Before people mention buying used, I've been scouring the Craigslist ads in my area (Washington, DC) for a little over a month and haven't seen much of anything worthwhile.

    Thanks for all your help - sorry for the long post!
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
  2. bullie76


    Nov 19, 2014
    I'm new to the bass world(although I'm old as dirt) and I bought the VM Jag Special to do exactly as you described. Being a newbie, I don't know enough about the rest to give you all the pros and cons, but I like it. Its easy to play, fretboard not chunky and the bass is on the light side as compared to some of the heavy ones I see discussed here. I have no regrets in buying it.
  3. The active preamp can come in handy when you need to have more bass or treble right now.
    Shorter scale basses have a slightly different quality to the low notes. Not as cutting, usually. A matter of overtones, I think; some short scale basses are really boomy, and some people, for instance Mike Watt, really like that.
    As a novice you might just let experience be your guide and go with the best (most comfortable and good-sounding) cheap used bass you find in a store or ad. Caveat: The amplifier you get is HALF of your sound; unlike a guitar amp, 10 watts rms won't cut it to play with people. 100 watt minimum for that, I'd say. Old Peaveys are a great bargain and common, too.
  4. Malak the Mad

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

    Greetings, Ace! Welcome to TalkBass!!

    Let me start by saying the Squier Jag P/J should serve you well. I traded a bass away for one so I could hand it off to the daughter of a friend. I remember the first time I got to try one at my local Guitar Center. Of all the Squiers I tried that night, I kept coming back to it. It was very bold and bassy, but not to the detriment of the high/mid-range tones. As far as the battery goes, I wouldn't worry about it. Just keep a spare in your gig bag or case and don't leave it plugged in…that will drain away the battery, even if it's not plugged into an amp.

    As far as other suggestions go…personally, I'm a huge fan of the Squier Classic Vibe Jazz. It's the top-of-the-line Squier which, by many accounts 'round these parts, is easily the equal of the Fender Standard series. The second one I had was absolutely killer, and that's not to say my first was no-good. It too was quite nice, but that second still blows my mind to this day.

    As far as checking out other basses, I often recommend checking out Guitar Center's used database. Shipping to your door is usually somewhere around $20 and you get thirty days to decide if you like it or not. If you don't, you can return it for a full refund on the bass. You can even take it back to another GC store, if there's one near you. (I see three in the Washington D.C. area, by the way) You might lose out on the shipping, but if you look at it as a "Rental Fee", that ain't too bad, no?
    Maxdusty likes this.
  5. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Malak's suggestion is Ace. I live in a smaller town and have bought used basses through GC- over 30 now at last count. lol Best usage of your $200. I believe you can find some for $119 right now- with shipping and tax, it should be around $150.
    Or save on shipping and get the used one (it's a black with P/J) at GC in Richmond, Virginia for $119. 2 hours away. call them first as it may disappear really quickly.
    Also, make sure you get a good decent amp if you don't have one already. A $3000 bass will sound crappy even on a cheap amp so it's pretty important to make sure your amp is good. This you can find on CL, pawn shops or even GC. Don't get the small practice amps (15w-30w) as they're usually terrible, I would go perhaps 80w to 150w.