Buying my first bass. Need some help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by QzarBaron, Apr 24, 2005.

  1. I am planning to buy my first bass. I thought I had a good idea of what I was looking for but when I went to Sam Ash yesterday I was a bit overwhelmed. Most of the basses I had been looking for weren't there and I really wasn't sure about what to get. I played a lot of basses but I wasn't sure what I wanted. I know there are probably a dozen or so threads like this but those didn't help me out.

    I have a budget of around 300 for the bass. I can go higher but not more than 400. I am looking for a decent bass that I will be able to play for a while before I move on to better basses. I also want a bass that will be very flexible on the sound it makes. I am still not sure what my style is going to be so I want to experiment.

    I was looking at a Yamaha RBX374 which had good reviews. But I didn't find it at Sam Ash and I am not a big fan of its looks. I also saw several Ibanez models but I had not done much research on it so I was a bit lost. There were also several Washburn and Squire models that fit my price range (although if the Squire basses have the same quality as the Squire guitars... then I am not sure if I want to get one).

    I just want some good advice on what to look for. I don't want to have a bass that later I will be dying to replace.
  2. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    I think the worst thing one can do when buying a bass is to buy and not try. Is there another music store you can visit with perhaps a better selection? I have heard alot of bad things about Sam Ash, although I have never visited one of their stores......
  3. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Well, traditionally for flexibility you would want to get something with both a P (precision) and a J (jazz) type pickup. Lots of manufacturers make models with this configuration including Yamaha and Ibanez.

    But with the advent of modern technology, most active basses equipped with a Mid control can get relatively close to those tones while using a humbucker type pickup.

    It really would help if you gave us a general idea of what kind of music you would be playing. I realize you said that you don't know at this point but I bet you would more than likely play the type of music you listen to. So if you listen to country and rock, get the p/j. If you listen to heavy metal/slap get the humbucker. Funk can go either way. In reality you can play any style of music with any bass but there are certain kinds of tone that are more associated with particular styles, but don't sweat it at this point.

    You also want the bass to feel comfortable while you are playing it. Pay attention to the weight of the bass, how long the neck is, and whether or not it is balanced enough for you. Most basses have a little neck dive but it is up to you to determine how much you want to deal with.

    Neck dive-with the bass hanging freely the headstock pulls to the floor.

    Generally, unless you know how to do it yourself or at least know what to look for, you will want the bass to be set up by a tech. He or she will adjust the neck, intonation and string height for you. If you buy from a decent store the bass will have already been set up well enough for you to start.

    I think that about covers it. I know it seems like alot now but trust me, after you do this for a while you will see that it can be even more complicated!

    Hope this helped.


  4. Thanks guys

    I don't know of many other music stores in my area where they have a large number of basses to try out. I am definitly not going to get a bass without trying it out first.

    Now as for my style... it's somewhere along the lines of blues, folk, and punk.
  5. I think that you should try the Ibanez GSR200 and then if you like it, buy a small practice amp, like the Ibanez SW20 Soundwave Bass Amp or a Crate BT15 Bass Combo I think this will start you off right to the world of bass. You should try I don't know how long it takes to get a bass and amp once you order it, but I do know it has free shipping and great prices.
  6. Q

    The best advice I can give as others will too, is go to your local store take some time and pick something off the wall and just play it. Even if you don't know how to play good yet, just play. Ask questions. :confused:

    As of Oct 2004, I got back into playing after taking some almost 20 years away from any instrument. I find that going into stores and trying them out is best. If its a larger store take a look at their used basses you my find something really nice in the price range that you want to be in. Good luck take you time and what ever you do, do not just settle for anything. :rollno:

    Big Ce :bassist:
  7. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    If I were you I would just get a cheap Fender Jazz. But any bass with a P/J or jazz type pickup config (two J's) will do you fine.

    But really, get what sounds good to you. Something you find comfortable to play.

    And I would start with a 4-string if you don't know for sure what style you will be playing.


    Hope this helped. got an amp yet?


  8. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003

    I like your bass suggestions but suspect the 15 or 20 watt amps will be underpowered except for solo practice. Might want to consider a more powerful amp imho.
  9. For an amp I am going to get a 35 watt combo I saw at Sam Ash. It is affordable and has nice rumble. It will be good for practice and jamming with some friends. Later on when I get better i'll invest some money into something better.

    What are some of the things I should look for in a bass? Other than it's sound?
  10. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003

    I think that you should be comfortable with the neck, both while sitting and standing. Check out the finger strech ( i.e. put your four fingers on frets one through four and see how badly it kills your hand :smug: ) . Different necks will feel more comfortable than others ( ibanez for example, offers some of the thinnest necks around but it doesn't mean that thin is better). The thinner the neck, the closer the string spacing (over the pickups) will be. Once you have tried several basses, you will begin to see which ones sound and feel better. I would also listen carefully when you play the bass. Don't let the salesperson plug a 200 bass into a 2000 amp. Try the bass through a cheap amp. That way you will know that this is probably the worst sound you are going to get. One other point is to tell the salesperson to get lost ( just kidding).... but try not to get pressured into buying something because he or she says it's good. There are reputable salespeople who know what they are talking about. There are also idiots who try and sell you whatever they have sitting around that has not been selling well. Last but not least, once you settle on a particular model, try out three, four, ten of the same model if you can. Quality varies from bass to any price range.
  11. Ok, After talking to some people and thinking it over. I have decided to go for an inexpensive bass of around 200 or so dollars. I will use this as a learning bass and then move on to a much better bass.

    I have several models in mind.

    Ibanez GSR200
    Ibanez RD300(I will need to play the GSR and the RD before I can decide which one I like more)
    Ibanez SR300DX(bit pricy... but it does have active pickups)
    Washburn XB102
    Yamaha BB404(I didn't see any at Sam Ash... which may be a problem, I don't want to buy before I play)

    There are probably a couple other basses that will fit in these categories. Could you guys give me some feedback on any of these basses or can you recommend any other good beginner basses?

    Again I am probably going to play punk/folk type stuff.
  12. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    For what it is worth my first bass was an Ibanez SR300dx which I thought was excellent value for money. Easy to move around the neck and a nice deep bass sound to boot....
  13. Hmmm... I have been looking around at these Essex(SX) basses everyone seems to be talking about. They look nice and their price tag is hard to beat. How would a bass like this compare to say an Ibanez GSR200?

    I was looking at their P/J models and they look nice. One of the things I don't like about these basses is the fact I can't play them before I buy. But if they are better than the GSR200 or that type of basses then it would be something to look toward.
  14. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    I know that many TB ers swear by them as being excellent value for money. There is a thread dedicated to these basses which I am sure you can located if you search the forums. I have never played an SX bass. Unseen, I would guess that the neck on the SX jazz is similar to that of the Fender Jazz and the same would go for the Precision. I am sure our fellow TB ers would be able to provide more info.
    The Ibanex GSR 200 also seems to be a heavy hitter for its' low price, thin neck and sound. I say be comfortable with the way the bass plays and sounds. That is the key to enjoying your bass more.....
  15. Thats the problem though... there is no way for me to play an SX to see if I like it or not... unless they compare in some way to Fenders
  16. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
  17. skunkrawk


    Apr 25, 2003
    i would guess that fenders are good comparisons to sx since sx's are fender copies. ive actually heard that the sx basses are even better than mexican fenders. personally, i would just go for the sx and if you end up not liking it im sure you could sell it quickly on talkbass. i wish sx had been better known (or in existence) when i started playing, it could have saved me from the evil clutches of the squire. after reading a few pages of the 90238409384032423 replies of the sx board, im convinced that (for the price) they cannot be defeated. -dave
  18. Washishimi

    Washishimi Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2005
    New York
    Where are you located? Maybe someone that is located near you can lead you in the direction of another store besides Sam Ash.
  19. Sadly I am afraid that I have been searching and there are no stores that compare to Sam Ash in my area. I could go for a 2 hour drive to a nearby city but I doubt it would get much better luck.

    I am now heavily considering an SX. The price is right. And I could do some basic modifcations to make it a better. One thing I am worried about is that I may have to do too many modifications (I hear that the frets may need to be smoothen down and there are set up things you have to do to them). I have no experience with bass so I don't want to dig myself a grave.