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General bass advice for a complete newbie?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Amphetachronism, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. Hey,
    I'm new around here. (Yes, I have read the newbie links thread and the FAQ) I'm Matt, from Nottingham, England. For a long time, I've always loved the sound of the bass guitar, but I've never really had an opportunity to learn to play it, or any other instrument, until now.

    I hate to ask such a common and probably annoying question, but I'm at somewhat of a loss. I'm not really sure where to start.

    I've come here looking for advice on what basses are good for a (complete and clueless, but dedicated) beginner, what amps would be suitable for just general practice, what other accessories etc you'd advise I picked up, and any other morsels of information you would give to someone in my position.

    I've done some research, and looked at a few instruments, the Yamaha RBX370 and the Fender Standard Precision in particular. Are these good basses?

    Tobias basses look very nice, too. Though I understand Tobias' speciality is bass guitars, are they aimed at more advanced players?
    I listen to and hope to learn to play a variety of music, mostly rock in its various forms though. For the record, my inspiration for wanting to take up the bass is David Bowie (The man who sold the world/Ziggy era), Radiohead, A Perfect Circle and Tool. So I would be wanting to play alternative/progressive/hard rock, ideally.

    All in all, I have about £600-800 (Upwards of $1000 USD) to play with, courtesy of a dead relative, but I have to get an amp and any other accessories out of that too.

    Please bear in mind that I am a complete beginner, albeit one who wants to learn a lot more than a couple of songs and then use the instrument as a wall ornament. The only other instrument I have played with any success is a keyboard about 12 years ago, and whatever the music teachers at secondary (high) school taught me. Which, I can assure you, isn't much. Feel free to talk to me like I'm an annoying little teenager who doesn't know his ass from his elbow (In this subject, I probably don't).

    Thanks for reading, and in advance for any advice. :)

  2. Matt, first I would suggest you find a teacher. That person can help you assess your style and goals and lead to to the proper instrument. Play (or play with) as many basses as you can get your hands on. You'll know "The One" when you play it. Good luck and welcome.
  3. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Welcome to TB, Don't worry, I don't think anyone here is going to treat you like an "annoying little teenager" for wanting to learn the most kick a$$ instrument there is. :D

    As far as basses are concerned, I've never tried that particular Yamaha model, however most yamaha instruments I've played have been of good quality for the price, infact my favorite guitar (not bass, sorry :eyebrow: ) is an older yamaha...The fender's are also a good choice, although I've never been that big of a fan of the feel of the fender basses, I did have a MIM fender J bass that I learned on back in the day and it served me well...I would suggest that you go around to several music stores and try out everything that you can get your hands on, that is in your price range, and see what suits you. I personally love Warwick basses, they are a bit more pricey than most. if you're looking at spending less I like alot of the Cort basses, however I would highly recommend trying a few out because some people like 'em some don't...whatever you do end up getting, just practice it like crazy and have fun doing it....and feel free to ask questions 'round here, its a great place to learn. :bassist:
  4. Cheers guys.

    MIM - Made in Mexico, right?
    I'll take your advice and have a wander into a couple of stores around my area.

    Reiver - I will probably have to teach myself for the most part, because bass teachers are as common as pink hippos around these parts. I am pretty sure some of the larger stores in my area offer some degree of advice and guidance, though. I'll try them out.

    Thanks for the warm welcome.

  5. Im a sock

    Im a sock

    Dec 23, 2002
    Central MA
    If you can, take some lessons. When I started playing the music store I took lessons at had a deal that if you took lessons, you could rent a bass and small amp from them for 2 months. The idea behind doing that is if you decide you dont want to play after a couple months, you're not in the hole $1000.

    MIM = Made In Mexico

    If you look at a MIM Fender, go over it carefully. MIM Fenders are known to vary quite a bit in quality. Just check for woodworking flaws, no sharp edges, that kind of thing...
  6. I see. Would it be worth forking out extra for an American model, then?
    Going on research, there is no way I am touching a Squier.

    Unfortunately, I am led to believe that your own instrument is required for any tuition sessions available near me. I'll keep my eye out for deals like that though.

  7. Im a sock

    Im a sock

    Dec 23, 2002
    Central MA
    Unless you KNOW for a fact that you're going to own it for a long time, dont spend the extra cash. It's better getting something fairly cheap when you just start out.
  8. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    Trying basses out is a good suggestion. I know "the one" for me though I can't afford it right now. Out of what I could afford I ended up with a used Squire pbass. I like it. I still want an Ibanez BTB or a Carvin Kit. But for learning on the pbass is suiting me just fine.
  9. unity bass

    unity bass

    Dec 15, 2003
    Modesto, Ca.
    Ha!! I've got the same problem!!!

    If you can't find an instructor, buy some books. bassbooks.com is awesome. Here is a book I find to be packed with excellent instruction http://www.bassbooks.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=27

    My personal opinion on a first bass is get something really inexpensive http://www.rondomusic.net/bassguitars4.html, get new strings, a professional "set-up" (adjustment of neck & bridge etc.) and play it alot. Sooner or later, upgrade the pickups then the bridge and start learning to do your own set-up. Wait until you know what a bass feels like before you spend a wad of cash.

    One other thought, If you can find other people to play, jam or practice with, you'll be more motivated to keep at it and improve. Music is kind of like language. Once you begin using music to communicate with your audience and bandmates, you'll be totally hooked.

    Have fun!
  10. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    Very true. I think I'd learn faster and get better if I could move to Milwaukee or Minneapolis where two of my friends that play guitar live. They are the ones that got me interested in playing.
  11. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Matt, welcome to the great world of bass and to TB, as well. Don't worry about your novice status, there are plenty of newbies around.

    All good advice so far ... you really should try several different basses to see what feels right to you. Even if you can't play a note, you will still have a bass that seems to "fit" right .... believe me, you'll just know :D

    Be a little careful around here .... we all have some pretty strong opinions and some pretty strong preferences about basses, try not to let us sway you too much :rolleyes:

    Welcome to TB :bassist:
  12. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    Also try the bass with a strap standing up and sitting if you can. One thing I found out about my pbass that I didn't do when I bought it was try it standing up with a strap. The bass doesn't balance right on me and I have the "fight" it to keep it in a good playing posisiton. To remedy this I plan on getting the Bass Brace product
    I have found basses like Carvins that have the long "arm" for the strap button sit more naturally on me. So that is what I am going to look for in the future after I get better and want a better bass. But since I practice most of the time sitting down my pbass is good enough to learn on.
  13. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    As a recomendation for a cheap begginer bass that wont cost much at all, you might check out the Ibanez GSR line. They now come with active electronics, and you might also look at starting with a 5-string for some of the stuff your interested in learning musically (tool for example). You can get a brand new 5-string one of these for under $300. If you dont like it after a year and want something better, your not out a huge chunk of cash, and it will more than suffice in the meantime.

    Note about all mass produced basses though, play everyone they have in the store once you decide what model/make feels the most confortable to you. Play them unplugged and plugged in. Pick the one that sounds best. There will be a lot of variance in most mass produced instruments and two identical ones will not sound the same. So try out all of em.

    As for amps, you might look at the Behringer stuff. They make very affordable amps that are fine for practice situations. They likely wont hold up in a gig situation, but they are fine amps for the money and playing in your home or wherever, and again, wont cost ya much at all. If you look to replace it down the road, your not out much.

    Keep in mind, neither the bass I suggested nor the amp will have much resell value at all, but like I said, they are fine instruments and amps for the money.
  14. Yes, I do plan on trying out everything the store will let me do when trying out instruments. $1000 is a lot of money to fork out for something that I'm not comfortable with.

    Hey, I came here to be swayed! Preferably in the right direction, though. :meh:

    As to practice, I do have a few acquaintances who play some form of instrument, so no worries there.

    unity bass: Thans for the books link. I did intend to pick up some theory and teach-yourself-whatever books for bass. Looks like a good site.

    Juneau: I've seen only one Ibanez bass, the EDC700 . It looks okay, a little spiky, but okay. Opinion on that?

  15. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
  16. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    Well it seems everyone has your tech questions covered, so I will share the only wisdom I have left as a bassist. If she looks young, don't trust her when she says old enough. request Photo ID....
  17. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Classic :)

    Oh, and one more thing to add, get yourself a tuner, your ears wont be as developed as they need to be starting out and playing in tune is the first step to training those ears to hear what it should sound like so you know better when its off.
  18. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    oh yea, second that tuner. I've played various instruments for about 10 years and there are some times that I jsut can't tune something up to save my soul. But of course, I have that cronic ringing in the ears thing, that but that doesn't devalue the advice any.

    If you can't find a teacher, buy a starter book with a CD. Make sure it has the CD so you can listen to what you play and what it *should* sound like. God knows for a little bit, they won't match :p

    Learning to play through tab is great and all, but if you don't already have some knowledge of music, learning some will at the very least make it easier to talk to other musicians.
  19. I never thought to mention that I planned on grabbing a tuner. Common sense, right?

    Haha! I love it. That's worth a place in a signature, I'm sure. :D
  20. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    Very true. I just picked a tuner up. I was tuning through my computer using a software tuner. However, for some reason, the software was always reading a 40Hz signal. Well, that screws up tuning the E string.

    This is not an easy task either. I got a beginner bass book for christmas. It's ok but it is missing stuff I'd like to know. It doesn't teach anything about scales, appegios, and little about chords in general. It mostly does playing root, playing with drum, basic blues. It does have a nice CD though.
    Definately find a book with witha good CD that has plenty of stuff to play along with. I saw on ebay a 4 CD set I've been tempted to get.