Buying Starter Bass for Rock

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ass_9, May 4, 2004.

  1. ass_9


    May 4, 2004
    Right now I am thinking of buying a small bass, nothing expensive and an amp to practice and improve my skill. My friends are all guitarists and I want to be a little different and I like that I can play jazz on a bass(my emo friends think im crazy) but I want to play rock/punk type music most of the time with my friends. I am thinking about buying a 4 string, my friend told me to buy the peices seperately since he doesn't use half the stuff that came in his guitar set and he had to buy another amp for his guitar. So how do I know what is a good bass to start with? Something chep, if I can't commit to the base it won't be to big of a loss. Also, whats the difference between hollow body and a not so hollow body? And can anyone direct me to any literature on bass to get me started? Also i saw some people making bass', how would you go about that. Not that I'll make my own right off the bat, just I like making stuff like tables and chairs, guitars can't be that different... maby.
  2. slapjunkie


    Apr 9, 2004
    If you're looking for something cheapo go look for a Fender Squier Precision. It should run you 100-200. If you can, check out some Pawn Shops. A little more quality, go for the Standard Fender Precision basses that are made in Mexico. They should run you 300-350. These have perfect tones for punk. Amp-wise, I say Crate BX-15. It's my current practice amp. You can find them pretty cheap, too. Oh, and making tables and chairs are quite different than making musical instruments I'm afraid
  3. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    If you go into a pawn shop, make sure you know what you are looking at. Some pawn shops will try and sell a bass for more than what it's worth. Most pawn shops will double if not triple the price of what they gave the person for the bass in the first place. But then again, if you know what you looking at, you could walk out with a sweet bass.

    If you are looking for a package deal, Musicains Friend may have something your looking for at a price you can afford to start with.

    Check here;

    I quick warning, bass is very addictive! Enjoy your new addiction! :)
  4. You can check around for Yamaha RBX774s on sale; everyone is clearing them out recently. i picked one up for $250 (nomally $450 or so) and it's a great bass for the money unless you have small hands (it's 35" scale).

    if you can live with 5 strings, here's one from the talkbass classifieds:

    In fact, i'd surf the classifieds if I were you 'cause people here are always unloading basses. no point in buying new unless it's on serious sale.

    Likewise you can get amps on clearance, good luck
  5. Nocturnal

    Nocturnal Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2002
    Chandler, Arizona
    A lot of people on this board seem to like Essex basses. You can get them for less than $150 and modify them. I've never tried one, but some people claim that they are better than a Squire, and almost as good as MIM Fenders. Check out

  6. Buying Your First Bass and Amp

    Most importantly I would advise you not to spend too much money on your first bass. Choosing the right bass won’t be easy until after you’ve been playing for a while. Once you have a good year of lessons behind you, you can make wiser choices with your (or your parents') money.


    Bass is a large instrument. It can be played with any size hands, but for most everyone it will require some stretching in the beginning that you are not used to. For beginners, it is a little easier starting on a bass that has a smaller neck. If your hands are smaller, go with the smaller neck. If you have large, meaty hands, go with the bigger necks if you prefer.


    I could go on and on about tonal differences in basses, but in the few hundred dollars range the differences aren't that big. Get a bass that has two pickup configurations. Typically there are P-pickups and J-pickups. They are named after Fender's Precision bass and Jazz bass. The P-pickups look like two offset rectangles - one under each pair of strings. The J-pickups look like a long, thin rectangle. Both have their own sound. Also the placement of the pickups affects the tone. A beginning bass with a P-J setup will give you the most tonal variety.

    Where was it made?

    Most basses are now made in foreign countries. I have taught many beginner students and seen many beginner basses. The poorest quality basses seem to come from China, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia. The best quality basses seem to come from the U.S.A., Japan and Korea. This is definitely something you should pay attention to. It is usually clearly marked somewhere on the bass.

    4-String or 5-String?

    For a long time 4-string basses were your only option. Now there are 5- and 6-string basses. The difference is a 5-string bass has an extra lower string. This allows you to play 5 lower notes than a 4-string bass in standard tuning. This is pretty low! For most styles of music you don't need these lower notes. A 4-string bass can be tuned lower to get two of those lower notes. So you only really gain three extra notes on a 5-string. If you intend to play the hardest heavy metal, you probably do want a 5-string. Those extra notes will be used often.

    I think it is easier to start on 4-string. Some of the technique is easier in the beginning and changing over later is not too hard. Also, cheaper 5-string basses rarely sound very good.

    What I recommend

    For the money, I recommend MIJ Fender basses. They are Japanese made and are very consistent in quality. They sound good, are easy to play and are built well.

    What I would avoid

    I would also avoid store brands such as Rogue.

    Buying Your First Bass Amp

    You will need an amplifier of some sort. Again, you will develop unique preferences for different sounding amps so don’t spend big yet.


    Watts basically describe how powerful the amp is. More watts means more power which means more volume. If you are just going to be practicing by yourself at home, you don't need but 20 to 50 watts. If you plan on playing with a guitarist or keyboard player, you may need 200 watts. And if you plan to play in a band with a drummer right away, you need 300-400 watts. You don't want to turn up an amp more than 3/4 of the way. It sounds better to have more watts not turned up so much than fewer watts turned all the way up.

    Speaker Size

    Don't be fooled thinking a big speaker means more bass. A good 10-inch speaker can deliver more bass than a cheap 18-inch speaker. Smaller speakers have a punchier sound and bigger speakers have more boominess. A 12-inch or 15-inch speaker should serve you well.

    Get an Amp Now!

    Don’t wait to buy an amp. You need something to hear yourself or you will ruin your technique! Go buy something to get going.
    Practice hard and save money. When you learn how to play something, go around to all the music stores in town and play every bass and amp you can find. After a while you will begin to notice the subtle differences between various basses and amps.

    Then you can make your own decision based on your newly developed ears, eyes and hands.

    Check HERE for cheap basses.

    Good Luck and I hope you get some use from these suggestions!

  7. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    As for literature for a beginning bassist, I like this one (and it's free!):

    I second Erik's recommendation of the Yamaha RBX 774. Musician's Friend has 'em for $250, and it's a fantastic bass for that price. MF's website offers only silver, but if you call SamAsh (, 1-800-4SAMASH), they'll match the $250 price, toss in free shipping, and (when I picked mine up a couple of weeks ago) they had all three colors available in stock.
  8. Hello, and welcome to TB.

    I'd personally go for a P-Bass, either an Essex or a MIM (Made In Mexico) Fender. I have a Japan P-Bass and I play emo/ska/punk/hardcore and it handles all these very well.

    I also own a Yamaha RBX-370, and it's a pretty good bass for the money, and you can get a decent "punk" sound out of it, so those RBX 774 basses sound like a good deal at $250.

    As for an amp, try and get something with around 50 watts, which may be able to handle quiet band practices. Look to go second hand for amps, new you dont get much for your money particuarly.
  9. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    There is a company called Jay Turser that is making knockoffs of all of your favorite basses.You can readily find them on Ebay, but they are out of Garden city N.Y.These basses are made in China, but they are a very good value for the price.They have Fender, Music Man, Ibanez, etc.Knockoffs that play well and sound good, and best of all, if you do your homework, you can get one for well under 200 dollars.
    I agree with Treena and others though, that you should get the best you can to begin with, or you won't want to play the instrument.Good Luck.
  10. TxBass


    Jul 3, 2002
    Frisco, Texas
    first Welcome to Talkbass...and enjoy your new venture!
    An Essex would be a very safe purchase for a "starter" because you won't wanna get rid of it once you figure out the instrument and get to playing more and more. And if you decide to step up later to a higher dollar bass, you'll have a great backup you can count on.
    good luck! :cool:
  11. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Hey there,
    Welcome to bass world! I'm going to echo the sentiment of alot of folks here. If you want to keep it under 200 bucks for a bass, go with the essex brand at My brother bought one of their jazz basses and it smoked the squire he had been given. I wouldn't give squire basses a second look unless it was free. If you have around over 300 bucks then try and get your hands on a new or used Fender Standard Precision. They are MIM (made in Mexico) and are a definate step up from the squire or the Rondo.
    Also, any of the intruments I mentioed are based on the classic Fender designs of Precision or Jazz basses, and with a little upgrade, they will forever be a usefull part of your gear even when you get your dream bass. I still use my first bass, a MIM Precision that I have changed the pickup on, even though I now have 6 basses.
  12. ass_9


    May 4, 2004

    I can buy one of those easily, the local music shop got's loads of them for 420$ each (Canadian). They come with a video and stuff. I'm reading some how-to bass stuff right now and I'm learning how to read music again. I don't need a very big amp right now, I'm playing a little with my friends a little with other peoples bass' at a music shop, we plan on making a band but we won't have a drummer for awile. And I can't find any yamaha bass' anywhere. I'm saving up all my McPaycheques and McMoney for my McBass and I should buy one by the end of the month hopefully. (I work at McDonalds)

    Thanks for the replies.
  13. I like the starter packs but many on this forum hate them.

    You'll get very mixed messages about those packs, but do what you can with the money you save!

  14. mikarre

    mikarre Guest

    I guess I am one that thinks the starter packs are a good idea. I like the Peavey one, though it's a bit more expensive than some of the others. It comes with a bass that can be a very decent backup when you move on to something better, and the Microbass amp will serve you as a practice amp for the rest of your bassist career. So it's not like you're going to ditch the gear as "beginners stuff" once you get better, it will last you a long time.

    When I started playing bass again I got one of these Peavey rigs just to noodle on. It worked out pretty well, even though I have since moved on to a better bass and probably will again soon.
  15. kserg


    Feb 20, 2004
    London, UK
    i like my dean more then square... but its ALL personal.. its what feels for you...

    The great thing about starting is you cant really make a huge mistake... :] mistakes are fine… you learn from them:] Get cheap decent bass that feels good to you and sounds good to you! Best thing IMO is if you know someone who plays bass to go with you at local store and let you know his thoughts on cheapish beginner basses that you like (try em out don’t be afraid no matter how much you think you suck… who cares really:] ) then look around for deal... new or used... ebay sometimes have good deals... I got my dean edge4 for 190$ (its 380$ in store)
    I dont think you need great sounding bass to learn... once you do learn... sell the one you have and buy something nice... by that time you will know what you like or whats good for you:] Also... well... the thing is... it all depends what kind of person you meet but i found guys at my local music stores to be great... these are type of guys who go "ya... these strings... 40$... you will like em if you like DR's but look... they cost too much... i sell you these DR's for 17$ ok?..." same guys that were happy for me when i bought a bass for 2x lower price then they had em for even though i didnt get em from them... so sometimes you can really trust those guy... i hear sometimes you cant:]
    PS i do feel bad for buying bass not from him... but 2x lower... cmon... i still do buy everything else from him:] even if i overpay sometimes abit:]

    Hope this sortoff helps:]

    Welcome to bass world:] you will love it:] (hopefully)

  16. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Suggestions for high-quality bass guitars in the range of $400 - $600:


    In my experience, each of these makes features surprisingly good components & good workmanship for the price, often outperforming others that retail for 2-3 times more. Each is somewhat under-rated, especially Fernandes & Washburn - meaning that they tend to have relatively poor resale value - which in turn means that they can often be had for a bargain when purchased secondhand in your local guitar shop.

    I add the caveat that you need to be able to discern value when you hold it in your hands. So you might want to keep these makes in mind when you go shopping for your next instrument, maybe in a year or two...

  17. I got my first bass(es) off of ebay for cheaper than I'd pay for any beginner pack. I got two basses, a hard case, and a 10 watt practice amp for around $150. Ebay is the greatest thing in the world, but if you use it, you've really got to look out. There are really good deals, then there a people trying to screw you. Generally speaking, anybody who jams everybody name brand in the title without the product being any of those, is just trying to get attention and rip you off.

    As far as Amps go. The amp that came with my basses is a Traynor T10/B, made by yorkville. Its been to hell and back and still plays excellently, sometimes better than my half stack, though certianly not louder. I've seen these floating around on ebay for around $25, real cheap.

    All the other suggestions people on the board have made are good. I'd look into the essex basses too. I havn't played an essex, but I've played a brice, and it was excellent, definately worth looking at. People around here seem to like them.
  18. ass_9


    May 4, 2004
    A peavy package costs about 120 more and come with about the same equipment but no video and no free lesson so I'll still most likely get a squere one
  19. Get the Squier pack, then the money you save can go towards a new lead, like one from monster cables.

    My squier is 3 years old, has survived multiple gis, practices, and chairs.
    Still going strong too!!
  20. dbradford


    May 7, 2001
    Cary, NC
    I'd back those who are recommending the Yamaha RBX 774. I bought one for my son a year ago at a discounted price of $399. It was a steal at that amount. Now that they're selling for well under $300, it's hard to imagine a better deal. The fit and finish of the bass is excellent, and the range of sounds is remarkable. The 35" scale is no barrier to anyone willing to learn proper technique at the outset and might even be advantageous in the long run when you move to that upscale 5-string in few years.