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First Bass advice

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by totally green, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Hi Guys. First off let me admit to two things. I have been lurking for a while. I have never picked up a bass in my life. Okay that is out of the way.
    I have tried to do my homework and want to buy my first bass. I realize the best way to pick a bass is to play it that way you know if the model suits you and also can tell if the bass of the model you want is a player.
    Since I have never played if the the model felt great in my hands and was the best player of that model ever built I wouldn't have a clue.
    I was thinking of a Epi T-bird Pro Classic IV but thought its idiosyncraciyes might not make it a good first bass lots of bang for the buck tho $349.95 Sam Ash B stock. I am thinking the most well rounded might be a MIJ Fender J-Bass.
    I don't want to buy a throw away so a $100 Craigslist Special is out Im commited and a nice instrument motivates me.
    I like classic rock sound Blind Faith, Cream, Zep, Floyd, F mac, Bad co etc any suggestions? Thanks
  2. blastoff99


    Dec 17, 2011
    SW WA, USA
    Other people will weigh in with more specific advice, but here's my $.02:

    Used. TB Classifieds. Lots of great deals there.
  3. Thanks for the info my problem is not finding where to buy tho its what to buy I don't know what would be a good first bass.
  4. joel406


    Dec 27, 2013
    You can never go wrong with a Fender jazz.
  5. The MIJ j-bass seems to be going for about $750. Why are they more $ the MIM is the quality more consistant? What price range should the MIJ be in?
  6. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
  7. bass5str


    Jun 27, 2010
    i remember being in your position and it was really exciting... and daunting. just a few things i wish i knew then (in no specific order).

    1. take a knowledgeable friend with you.
    2. buy quality used at the lowest price you can be comfortable with. i say quality because it helps resale if you decide this isn't for you.
    3. play it if at all possible to get a feel. most setups will be crap at a store,pawn shop, or casual player so check in with #1 to get a good assessment. if you buy here most folks will give you an honest assessment.
    4. check for dead spots.
    5. trust your gut.
    6. never sell your first bass. i made that mistake...
    7. bring your own strap and play it standing up and sitting down. check for feel and balance (neck dive)
    8. invest in a quality strap and bring it with you to play test.
    9. optimally play it thru the same amp/setup you would. that may not be an option.
    10. decide if you want to go 4,5,6, etc etc. if you know that is your ultimate goal then jump in the deep end!
    11. this goes along with #2. not to steer you in this direction but a quality, used fender can be found for cheap and modded/changed as your skill/knowledge/preferences change. very peanut butter and jelly but they are hearty for a reason.

    most importantly it sounds like you have done some homework and have preference so overall... trust your gut, have fun and follow your fingers :bassist:
  8. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    I understand where you're coming from. As a new bass player, I had exactly the same problem. My advice: Since you don't know what you like or what you should be looking for, select a reasonable quality instrument, but inexpensive enough that you won't have any qualms upgrading when you find out what you like. Used instruments are all very well, but a nightmare for the beginner, as you need experience to tell the gems from the garbage. I went for a new SBMM Ray4, which will probably stand me in good stead for some time to come.
  9. IM trying to stay away from the Squire I would have to put too much into it to be happy with it I think. Read my Question carefully I have never picked up a bass in my life and I don't have any friends who play bass. Thanks for everyones advice.
  10. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Fender MIM Jazz Squire kit. Axe & amp.
    Don't spend a lot of money.
    CL is full of these kits from guys who wanted to try & dropped out.
    The Jazz neck is great for a beginner and for what you want to play.
    Affordable & the brand will sell itself if you decide to drop out
    of playing.
  11. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    You'll get lots and lots of opinions, biased and objective, but I'll toss my hat in the ring.

    Obviously, trying different basses to get an understanding of how comfortable you are with a particular one is a given. I think the one thing that's often overlooked is the importance of serviceability and setup in a first bass. The best advice I can give is to do some online research about the mechanics of how a bass works. If I had known how to do a basic setup when I first started playing, I would have saved myself tons of frustration and money. This is probably one of the most important elements that can positively shape your first impression of any given bass. Lots of beginners will sometimes grab a bass off the rack at a store or order online only to find an instrument that even a seasoned pro would find virtually unplayable because it hasn't been setup.

    Here are some things you might encounter that can turn off a beginner and the *possible* solution to those issues:

    Is it really hard to play and the strings are too high? Setup.

    Lots of string buzzing? Setup.

    Unbalanced volume from different pickups? Setup.

    Like to have the strings high but they are flush against the frets? Setup.

    You want to ensure the bass is easily serviceable on a basic level by YOU. The truss rod needs to function correctly, the bass needs to intonate and the electronics must be sound.

    Don't let any of this scare you either. It's not rocket science and will only serve to benefit your playing enjoyment.

    As far as specific models go, I think you're on the right track with the 'simple is better' approach, but the sky is the limit. If you can afford to get something better than 'entry level', go for it and don't look back. As long as the instrument can be setup to your liking at best and factory spec at worst, it will make a good beginners bass.
  12. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
  13. 2behead


    Mar 8, 2011
    Craigslist is great place to grab a bass in the $300+\- range. There is a USA made jazz on craigslist here for $250!!! It's not the normal jazz it's like a jp90 or something. I'd say look at what's available in your area in your price point and just look up the model on the web. The newer MIM fenders are great, but in the 90's they were crap. In the 80's and 90's the MIJ stuff was great. Now...... Not so much. So after you decide to look at one some things to look for are a neck that isn't twisted. Just look down it from the nut like you would sight a gun. A bass that is balanced well. When you have a strap on does it hang to low? (neck dive) things to look for are a quantity 2 piece body, maple,ash or a quality tone wood not plywood or basswood. Look at how tight the neck pocket. It it crooked and 1/4 inch? Do the strings look centered over the pick up magnets? No cracks...... I have found basses that looked great but no one wanted because the frets were sticking out a bit. 10 minutes with some fine grit sand paper and I had a great bass for $200.
  14. Don't sweat it so much. You're new to the instrument, you'll probably take at least a few years to figure out what you really like in a bass. Don't expect that you're going to love your first bass for the rest of your life. The most important thing now is to get something that's fun to play, has good intonation, and keeps its tune. Tone matters, but it's much more important to buy an instrument that feels good, because that way you'll actually play it and get better.

    Okay, now that that's out of the way, I know you're looking for more specific advice. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of great bang-for-the-buck cheap basses out there. The Ibanez SR series is good; very light overall, with a narrow neck that's easy to play (my main bass is an SR500 - perfect for my small hands), and they look good. If you like a more classic look and sound, there has never been a better time to get a Squier instrument. The Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified series basses are excellent for their low cost. Bottom line is you have a lot of options. Find a bass that feels good and looks cool, take it to a luthier or a shop for a setup, and enjoy it!

    My first bass was a red Yamaha RBX170. I thought it was the coolest thing when I first got it, and I loved playing it. A few years later I thought it looked lame, sounded bad, and was awkward to play. So I saved up a few hundred bucks and got a bass that I love. I'll probably repeat the process in another couple of years. Just try not to let your level of GAS overtake your financial reality.

    EDIT: Just read your post again. The Epi T-bird looks very cool. The MIM Jazz is an excellent, well-rounded bass, but don't buy it just because you think you *should.* If the T-bird suits your personality, I say go for it.
  15. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL
    Yep, sounds like you've been lurking for a while haha!

    There is nothing wrong with keeping a Squier untouched. The CV and VM are all really great out of the box...and to be honest I think the only bass I have had that I didnt want to modify was a Matt Freeman sig. So great.

    If you're looking for a good Fender though, the modern player series are a good price...and have some great features. I have one that im parting with but only because I keep finding myself with a J bass, and lusting for another P. :bag:
  16. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    I think before you commit to laying down any bread, you should make a trip to your closest music store that has both a fender jazz and a precision and try them both on for size. Most all basses that are made are off shoots of one of these. The jazz is known for its slimmer, thinner neck and dual pickup configuration that can from warm and woody to in your face burpy at a turn of a dial. The precision has a familiar tone all of its own and you will probably easily identify them once you play it. Since it is essentially a one pickup bass(technically 2), the range of tones is limited compared to the jazz....but for some people it is THE tone and to hell with any other tone. The P bass(precision) also has a wider and sometimes a little thicker, depending on the model, neck that some players(especially. ..but not always...with bigger hands) prefer and feel more comfortable with. Play each a fair bit and you will know which one is your cup of tea. Most seasoned players have both in their arsenal, but at heart you are either a P guy or a J guy. There isnt really a particular stigma associated with either...there have been countless badass players of both variations.
  17. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    My advice to beginners is always to put off buying a bass as long as you can, and instead borrow one for awhile to get started on if at all possible. The reason I say this is that you won't know what you like and don't like until you've been playing at least a short while. You want to be able to at least know how to play some scales, or some favorite bass lines or something, before going into a store to try stuff out; otherwise, once you pull something off the wall, you won't know what to do with it. The longer you wait to buy, the more likely you'll make a good decision, and avoid getting stuck with something that you regret having purchased.
  18. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    And you would be making a mistake to stay away from a Squier.
    Try the VM or classic vibe. Since you are green and new you have no idea if you will like playing bass or even stick with it. There is better resale out of a Squier than a more expensive bass. I would set a budget and stick to it and Squiers are good basses for the money.
  19. I remember being in your position and posting a similar question. A wise TB'r gave me the best advice I'd ever gotten about spending big bucks on a bass. I'm paraphrasing when I tell you he said something to the effect that I should keep the Squier and play it, because at my skill level everything I'd play would sound like crap anyways. LOL He was right! I play a lot of MIMs and I just sold my American Special.

    Pick up a Squier. From Craigslist you can get a P and a Jazz. Play both so you can figure out what you like best. And it will give you a chance to learn about setup, maintenance, and upgrading without hacking up an expensive bass. Finally, if it get stolen you're not out a ton of cash.

    Just thoughts from another noobie (2 yrs) on the bass like yourself.
  20. fjadams

    fjadams Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    There is nothing wrong with a Squier, Epiphone, or most any of the "starter" basses. You do not have to modify them. Just make sure they're set up properly, have good quality strings, a high quality and wide strap and you're ready to go.

    Actually reading threads on here can lead one to believe you "HAVE" to modify your brand new right out of the case Squier. Nothing can be further from the truth. People who frequent here are not your normal (people) players.

    We're the same people who buy a brand new car and take it in for new wheels, tires, computer chips, tints, etc before we show it to the relatives.
    We're the same people who spend $1,200 for a new set of irons to play golf with and have them reshafted, regripped, loft & lie changed, soles ground before we actually ever hit a ball with them.
    We're the people who go into a golf shop and spend $400 to $500 for a complete fitting and a brand new latest and greatest driver guaranteed to hit twenty yards further, never miss a fairway and have everybody else on the course oohing and aahing over your new found prowess. Then go home, get on eBay, and immediately order six new shafts at $150 to $400 apiece before the new club is even in our hands to hit with because these shafts might be better than what we just bought.
    We're the people who go into bicycle shops, buy $2,500 bikes and upgrade it with $3,000 of new parts before we even ride it.
    We're the people who buy the latest and greatest 4k, 3d, 47 built in apps, 80" TV for $4,799 then get home and wish we'd bought the 82" one.

    So, in order to stop myself from any more inane analogies let me state that you will not have to modify any bass immediately after you buy it. You will want to, you won't be able to stop yourself from doing so, but you will not need to!