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Getting the feel of the bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rob15, Sep 3, 2000.

  1. rob15


    Sep 3, 2000
    I'm a beginner, but I noticed how some of you guys said to get the feel of the bass. I was just going to buy a bass from a website. Should I goto the store and get the feel of the bass their first? And if so, what am I exactly looking for when I hold/feel it?
  2. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    i've been told that you should try before you buy so that if the feel isn't right you can see if they have a different one that feels better. The feel to me is how it feels in my hands & how the neck feels. I'm beginning to realize i like the feel of a p-bass neck spacing more than a jazz one. that's all
  3. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    feel means, hows it feel when you play it, do you have to overexcert yourself to fret a note?, is the guitar balanced to your liking?, too heavy or lite? things like that. Its always best to play a guitar b4 you buy it, no 2 guitars will feel exactly the same even if made from the same tree.

  4. Hey Rob,

    I`m a greenhorn too.All I can say is go to a low key place like guitar center and just start pulling off the basses from the wall and playing or what have you(they let you do that there :D)Even if you have no plans of buying,it is good to get a feel for differant axes.Hey,no way in hell I could afford a 2500.00k warwick but I got to mess with one!!

    The veteran members here can give you much more advice than I but if you are already playing(even at beginner level)you will be able to notice differances between the basses you are checking out and your old warhorse at home.Some you will like,some you will not.

    I bought my bass starter kit without testing it out(sorry gmstudio).Luckily my small hands get along with the ibanez thin neck pretty good.

    Ordering online is kewl just as long as you can go and "test drive" what you are getting at another place.Ok,I starting to get long winded.

    Happy Hunting! :D

  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Hey Rob,

    I guess there's two answers to this question.

    1) Like everyone is saying, play a lot of basses and see which one feels the best when you do.

    2) The detailed answer:

    I asked musician friends the same question as you when I first went to buy a bass. I got very similar answers to what has been posted already. It's great information, and highly appreciated, but it didn't really help me as much as I wanted, because since I didn't play bass at that time, how was I to know what it should feel like?

    You want to see how the bass actually feels when you're sitting down holding it. When you practice or during a lesson, you'll usually be sitting with the bass on your lap. Is it heavy? Is it light? Is it awkward? None of these things are bad things, just what you want to consider, so you can decide what you want. If you like heavy, great! Of course, you'll also eventually do a lot of playing while standing. How does the bass feel when you're standing and it's strapped over your shoulder?

    Also, is the body too wide? Too narrow? Where's the input jack? Is it in an awkward place? Can I see myself on stage with this bass, playing for hours and being comfortable? How long is the neck?

    Take a look at the action (how far the strings are from the fretboard). A low action (where the strings are close to the fretboard) is a much different feel from a high action. Which do like better? Which feels more comfortable? Also, consider the width of the neck. Does it feel too narrow where your fingers get bunched up? Does it feel too wide to where your fingers have to do more work than you want?

    Some things on the bass are easily replaced. If you don't like the pickups, strings, or tuning machines, sure you can change those. The "feel" of a bass involves a lot more work, time, and money to make changes to. The overall feel is more constant, you need to go with something that feels good from the beginning.

    The most important thing to do is try out every different style and feel of bass on the shelf. Ask a TON of questions to everybody who would know something. (That does not include non-musicians). Look may be important to you, but IMO, should ALWAYS take a back seat to playability, feel, and sound.

    Play play play play play. I spent thousands of hours playing my bass and a lot of time playing other basses before I started to get an idea of what I really wanted in a bass.

    Good luck.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with most of what the respondents have said here, although I would add that different examples of the same bass can feel very different - one Fender Jazz is not necessarily the same as another, especially if they were made in different years.

    I would add - try playing some notes close to the headstock end and see how comfortable this feels. Try it for a while and see how it feels. One of the things that I particularly look for, is how thick is the neck from front to back - you can't get any idea of this from photos.

    I find that some basses have necks so thick, that I find it difficult planting my thumb in the centre of the back of the neck and then playing a note on the E or B strings in all positions - up and down the neck. If I find a bass like this, then I know it's going to be uncomfortable to play for long periods and I try to find a bass with a flatter neck (from front to back). There is also the thing about how wide the neck is, but I find this doesn't matter so much to me. If a neck is very flat, it can also be very wide and still feel comfortable.

    The biggest issue there, is the string spacing - some people like enough room between strings so that they can get their fingers in there, for techniques like slap/pop, where you're pulling up on strings. But some player who play with a pick or exclusively finger style, like a closer spacing becuase they can play more economically and therefore faster. The minimum prcatical distance between strings is going to be set by how thick your fingers are, which is a very personal thing and so is one of the main reasons why you need to try before you buy.
  7. 5156246


    Sep 6, 2000
    Rob, maybe I'm wrong and I don't want to say that you are too stupid but if you are a beginner, you probably will not come to know how "your" bass has to feel.

    With feel I define the feeling when you play it. That's a result of sound + design + handling.

    Please, my goal is not to insult anyone here, but IMO you first have to be able to play the bass before you know what you really need and want.

    As a bloody beginner you will not make any mistake if you buy a cheap yamaha or whatever for $200.

    And first when you are ready with your first steps you will feel such a thing like being no longer satisfied with that instrument.

    Then go to the store and try some basses and try the things you use to play on the cheap one.

    And with me, it is not really to describe but I know when a bass is "my" bass. You will like everything on it but you wouldn't have known that when you weren't even able to play it.

    I hope you got me right.

  8. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    I agree, as a new bass player, you probably don't know what you really want or need. It took me 10 years to figure out my 1st bass wasn't right for me, and after 20 more years I am beginning to know what the "one" will be.

    My advice is, if you have smallish hands, get the best Jazz bass you can afford. If your hands are large, get the best Precision you can afford. Either one will do for years and if you foolishly decide to sell someday, resale will be good.
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    One of the respondents said try the bass sitting down, but I would add try it witha strap on and try it standing up for awhile. DO you think you could stand with that bass through an hour long set or an hour long rehearsal?

    You may do a lot of your initial practicing seated, but you will play most of your gigs standing. Also, be sure that strap is adjusted at the level you will normally "wear" your bass when you play standing. Will you play it "high" like Paul McCartney or practically at your knees like Duff McKagan. With the strap in the position you will play or think you want to play, see how easy it is to fret notes at the first through fifth frets. Also, is it awkward to fret notes at the highest frets?

    I'm not really big and the very heavy bass I bought first got to be a real drag for me at long rehearsals and gigs. I wasn't really happy until I bought lighter basses with smaller fretboards. If you are tall or built like The Rock, heavier basses may be fine for you. Have fun. I LOVE shopping for basses. Jason Oldsted

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