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GAS free guide to Bass purchasing

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AngelCrusher, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I have been a pro bass player for half my life. This includes touring and studio work. How I got there I believe is from hard work and the desire to maximize the most out of what I had at the time. For the up and coming guys who would like to pursue this path, I offer my suggestions, which should save you a lot of money and make you a better player.

    The rules are simple. I will present you 3 styles of bass guitars you can buy that will service you for your whole playing life. Trust me when I say that you can play about any gig possible with just even 1 of these basses. Each one you add is for a specific reason and over the course of an evolving career path.

    When I was a kid, I had Bass Player Magazine for my GAS inducing articles. I also had no real money, so I just read and fantasized about these mythical boutique basses that all my favorite players were using. At the end of the day I still walked home to my PBass copy because that is what I had.

    Disclaimer - This guide is based on my experience only, and is not the only way to go. In my experience, it is the best way to go as a career minded player who need to maximize cash flow and practice time. If you are more of a hobbyist or someone with plenty of coin who just enjoys buying really nice basses, please continue on, and enjoy those instruments. This is more focused to the younger player who wants to make this a career and needs a buying guide.

    Which leads me to -

    Stage 1 - Commitment to becoming a Pro player (hired gun/touring artist/studio player).

    If you have made this commitment to yourself, the good news is you can now eliminate all GAS right off the bat. The first bass you will want to purchase is a Fender P Bass. If you are a kid with no money, but you know in your heart this is your passion, get a Pbass copy. A Squier is more than fine. Learn this bass, master this bass, make it your girlfriend. Know every note on every fret, how to adjust the tone knob for different situations, and how to use a pick, your fingers and your thumb on it to make it do every style of music you would ever want to do. Try it with Flats, Wounds, Neon Strings..whatever you want. This bass will sound good on everything. The next step is simple, once you are ready to perform, do open mics and start auditioning for PAID gigs as soon as possible. Even if you are rather inexperienced, do open mics until someone approaches you for your services and then give them an hourly rate. Even if it is low ($20 an hour) , start getting in the habit of making money for your skills. Take this money, save it up, and buy an American PBass of your choice. Stay passive. By this point you will know if you prefer maple fretboards or rosewood and probably have a good idea of what P you want once you have it in your hands. Enjoy the process, take your time and buy the Pbass that you fall in love with. If that means it is a more expensive model, use the money you have to put it on layaway and keep saving until you get what you want.

    The theme here is continuity. You have probably been playing at least 3-5 years now and are incredibly comfortable with the neck, the tone, everything. You can play this bass in your sleep because you have logged the hours it takes to really unlock an instruments potential. This is very important and why you will have a leg up on other players. While other players are GASing for some new bass and buying and selling, you have an established tone and are practicing. This experience is far more valuable than anything else. You will win gigs due to your skills and tone, and your stage presence will be excellent due to your inherent comfort with your instrument due to the hours logged on it.

    Stage 2 - Studio Player/Veteran Touring artist

    At stage 2, you have already been doing studio sessions and are looking to increase your business. You are a known bass player who gets referrals from managers and producers for auditions and studio gigs. You have built a rolodex of contacts. You have artist discounts and may have been given a few basses, amps and pedals. The basses you will use now and then as backups to your go to bass - the Fender P.

    At this point, you are looking to expand your tonal palette to get more studio work. You can now purchase a 5 string Jazz bass. A top option here would be a Sadowsky Jazz. Spare no expense in this search. I personally went with a Lakland and stayed passive. I use the Sadowksy outboard pre. This the most flexible of all solutions, but the goal was always quite simple for me - have a 4 string and a 5 string. 1 P, 1 J.

    You are now completely set for almost any possible gig you could have offered. You could use these 2 models the rest of your life if you wanted and be all set.

    Stage 3 - Solo act/Bandleader/Producer

    In Stage 3, which is where I find myself, you have the financial independence to make music that is off the beaten path or more in line with what you have always wanted to do as an artist. Since the road you have traveled has been focused on supporting other artists, you will find that this can be a much needed way to refresh your passion for music, even if it is just a side project.

    For this side project, buy something different. I personally am shopping for a 6 string bass with dual soap bars. The point here is that you have no rules and have the freedom to get whatever you want. Always wanted a boutique fretless for a progressive rock project you have been talking about starting? Buy it and go for it. Enjoy it. The freedom of doing whatever you want after years of being a team player and supporting others will be incredibly exhilarating. Add the fact that you have established income and the project is pressure free - and you are in a very good place musically.

    I hope this helps some folks here. It very well may only apply to a small minority of players, but if it helps anybody who is overwhelmed by gear options I have done what I sought out to do.
    nutdog, Short-scale, rockinb and 43 others like this.
  2. Felix1776

    Felix1776 Supporting Member

    Wow! Great write up.
  3. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    I would replace your Jazz with a Stingray HH, but otherwise, I agree.
    spaz21387 likes this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Well, so this thread is only open to folks who are, or aspire to be, pros?
  5. Felix1776

    Felix1776 Supporting Member


    Could you make another thread like this? Instead of gear, discuss the techniques and theory knowledge you have which have allowed you be versatile and skilled enough to be in the position that you are. I'm a new player and that info would be amazing.
    TheBear, R&B, Monster Truck and 6 others like this.
  6. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Why would he do that, Felix? This is TalkBass, and only gear matters. If you have the right gear, you're an amazing player...
  7. Felix1776

    Felix1776 Supporting Member

    I wish that worked for me.
  8. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    YESSSSSSS! I've always wanted to be an amazing musician. Now that I've purchased [gear item] I've finally arrived. :)
    Felix1776 likes this.
  9. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    It's open to anyone. It is simply a guide for anyone who aspires to go pro and needs a bass buying roadmap.

    Sure. I can answer stuff for you in this thread if you want as well. Just ask away and ill do my best to answer.
    wintremute likes this.
  10. Felix1776

    Felix1776 Supporting Member

    How did you develop your playing skills and theory knowledge? Did you take lessons? Where should a new bass player start when it comes to actually learning how to play and not just make noise?
  11. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I never took lessons. I bought a Hal Leonard book that was essentially a 101 level intro to bass. The most advanced stuff was chord voicing at the end.

    I came home every day and learned every note on the E and A string up to the 12th fret. From there I used octaves to figure out the notes on every other fret. I'd strongly suggest doing that and knowing it inside and out before moving on.

    From there I played along to records of my favorite songs. Started with simple stuff like Creedence (great band to learn bass to). Buy a book if you need to learn the changes. It really helps to play to records since you are playing with a drummer and not a machine. For this reason, I suggest starting with classic stuff because the drums are less edited than modern albums.
    nutdog, Oldschool94, LM Bass and 5 others like this.
  12. Felix1776

    Felix1776 Supporting Member

    Good stuff.
    AngelCrusher likes this.
  13. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I'm good with my SR500F and amy EB 3 copy--but then I'm not a professional bass player.
    But some input from others is always good to have.
  14. lowerclef


    Nov 10, 2003
    This is sage advice right here. All you young bucks listen up!!
  15. danosix


    May 30, 2012
    Well put and VERY sensible.
    Anyone who says they CAN'T do what they need with one of your two "required" basses is either stupid or thinks they are Les Claypool (Even Les plays his Jazz regularly and mostly plays his fretted four string...).
    I completely agree that I could do every gig I'll ever get (or would even likely want to get) with a P or a J. Of course, for that "doing your own thing" I would go with a Danelectro.
    Alas, I have been afflicted with the GAS and thus have multiple basses. Of course, I tend to gig with: my P and my Dano, occasionally my 5 (not a J, but still). Actually, the AGB comes in awful handy sometimes, but I COULD do those gigs with the P no problem.
    The Hofner, the 6 string (old style E-e) and the single coil P are for my own amusement.
  16. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I'd just get the 5 string jazz, some elixir strings, a nice cable and a small lightweight combo if I had it to do over again.

    (I'm still looking for the right combo.)
  17. tondogg162

    tondogg162 Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2012
    Man this could not be more spot on. I've been spending so much time looking around at different basses I sometimes forget to PLAY the damn bass. Thanks for this article; it was just what I needed.
    rockinb and todd0864 like this.
  18. friendlybass


    Jul 19, 2012
    Seems a little restrictive. Where are the avenues of other success?
  19. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    nice advice! In another life, I'd hang up my wings and make a living as a bassist! I can only wish!
  20. flyswatter


    Mar 19, 2015
    Quebec, Canada
    Good post and totally agree. As a guitar player, I've been through the entire path described in the OPs step-by-step (substituting a good Tele/ Strat for P-Bass in that case). As a bassist, I'm further behind -- more halfway through Stage One: Getting a few paying gigs as a bassist, honing my chops and groove (a much different process from guitar, I might add), and getting aquainted with the MIM P-Bass I recently purchased (my first "serious" bass when I decided to stop dabbling and actually become a bass player).

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