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Graduating to a second bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Haggis, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. Haggis


    Jan 11, 2008
    I've been playing bass for about three years now, on a Squier J-bass. It's going quite well, and since I'm playing in a few bands now, I thought I'd start looking around for something fancier :)

    I've never really looked too much into other basses, so I'm not too knowledgeable about what I should be looking for. I'll probably look around for some second hand basses around where I live, and visit the local music stores, but some general direction and/or things to look out for could be very helpful.

    Some points:
    • I'm mostly playing jazz at this point (smaller ensembles and a big band), although some excursions into light funk and reggae are common as well. Nothing heavy though, I stay far away from that.
    • I'm finding the action on my Squier is a little too hard, especially when I'm playing for a longer time. My hands aren't too big or strong, so something that plays a little easier would be nice.
    • I quite like a round, fat tone. But of course having a choice is always better :)
    • I generally play with different amps, depending on where I am and what's available. I've noticed that the Squier sounds quite nice on some amps, but sucks on others. Some versatility there would also be cool.
    EDIT: two more things:
    • I'm not looking for anything too pricey, since it's just amateur stuff right now. I'm definately willing to shell out a bit more than for the Squier, but nothing in the thousands range.
    • I've never played a five string, and I'm a little wary of starting with it. Any thoughts there?

    That's all I can think of for now. Any advice is most appreciated!
  2. Geni758


    Nov 15, 2013
    South Jersey
    Assuming you're also looking to broaden your tonal horizons I would search out a Sterling by Music Man. Either the SUB or RAY series. Both of them are well regarded here and I believe either would be well suited to funk or reggae. Good luck!
  3. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Budget, and location?

    Fender American Dlx J, or P would be a couple I can recommend.

    I own both, and they play, sound, look, and are made really nice.

    About $1300.00 US new.
  4. Haggis


    Jan 11, 2008
    Just edited in the (rough) budget. 1300 seems a bit excessive, although maybe I could be tempted ;)

    I live in Belgium.
  5. JCheung


    Jan 25, 2013
    Herndon, VA
    I read "round, fat tone" and instantly thought of a precision bass with flats or old rounds. Rolled back the tone and maybe add foam to mute the strings a tad.

    If just a single pickup is ok with you, then you have LOTs of options, from the Squier Vintage Modified P in Amber, Squier Classic Vibe 60's P Bass, Fender MiM Standard Precision Bass, and so on and so forth.

    If you want/need a second pickup then I'd recommend considering the Squier Vintage Modified PJ Bass or other PJ offering.

    If you want to delve into active electronics and/or 5 strings, I'd try a Sterling by Musicman Ray34/Ray45 (four and five string respectively). The Ray35 in particular has a really nice neck for a 5 string coming from years of 4 string playing, and has a great preamp to shape the tone how you wish.

    Obviously more details will help us help you
  6. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    All of the above are good suggetions.

    I would also look into learning how to do your own setups on the bass (Plenty of info here on how to in the hardware setup and repair section). It would probably help with the "hard" action and learing on the Squire would be the best thing in the world. Setup DIY will save you quiet a bit of money over time and you'll learn a lot about your bass itself.
  7. enjoi1018

    enjoi1018 Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Auburn, AL

    Me too. I've also learned that there is ABSOLUTELY NO WRONG CHOICE as long as YOU are happy with it and it doesn't have a flaw that distracts from ease of play or sound quality.

    People play relic'd basses that are made to have flaws for character. Play as many as you can get your hands on, and you'll find out quickly what you like.

    Good luck!
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Have you taken your Squier in for a setup? That may help with the action. Basses don't have one fixed "action," it's adjustable. Get new strings while you're at it, and you may find it's a whole new instrument for a fraction of the investment.

    I'm not a fan of getting a new instrument just to get one - get a new instrument because there's something you're looking for. If your Squier sounds better through some amps than others, it's probably that some amps are better than others - not that there's something wrong with the bass.

    Still, if you want a new bass and have the money, go for it! Getting a 5-string would be one obvious way to expand your options. The extra string is not hard to get used to, and you get both lower notes and some more choices for hand positioning.

    For tonal variety, the things I would think about is if you want to get an active bass, or if you want a P-bass to complement the J-bass tone you already have. One issue there will be the neck - I've realized I just don't like the chunky p-bass neck, though I love the tone. That's just my preference, of course, lots of people love them.

    If you can get one where you are, I'd really recommend looking at Yamaha's BB series - I have a BB415, the new version is the BB425x in 5-string or BB424x as a 4-string. It's passive, neck is not too chunky, GREAT tone and the P/J pickups give you lots of options for tone. In US money I think it's $400-500 or so. A TBer has a BB424x for sale right now, you might see if he'd ship to Belgium.
  9. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    +1 to that! It's amazing what a little tweak can do.

    True story; I had a new pickup and strings (SD Quarter Pounder + light flats) put on a Squier Standard Jazz and didn't like the end result. I thought something was wrong with the bass. But before I went and did something drastic, like sell it off, I decided to change to a completely different set of strings…y'know, just to be sure. And sure enough, it was one of those "night and day" moments! :eek: The new strings completely altered the feel and sound of the instrument.

    Just out of curiosity, exactly what kind of Squier Jazz are you rockin'? I ask because if you've gotten used to a particular size/shape/weight, and if you're dead-set on getting another bass, you might want to find something of a similar design. For example, I started on a Fender Aerodyne. (Mad Love for that beautiful axe!) Because of the kind of neck it sports (Jazz width and a tight 7.25" radius), and probably because of the shape of my hand, I don't care much for wider necks or flatter fretboards. Just a little something to keep in mind.
  10. I agree about not just getting a "better" bass. If you like the sound of your current bass, then I think you should research about how to setup your own bass and try improving its playability. If you discover that you're just too ham-handed in the tool handling department, you can still get it setup by a professional for $40 - $50.

    Then, if you want to get yourself something new, you can consider the possibility of something that really gives you additional possibilities, like a 5-string or a fretless. The Sub/Ray suggestion above in a 5-string would certainly give you a whole new sonic range. Lots of Fretless possibilities - I have a U.S.A. Peavey Foundation Fretless, and I frequently see them for under $200.
  11. Most of my basses have low actions. Not really by design, just that when I chose them, they felt nice. Then I bought a nice Jazz bass, and lowering the action to that similar to me other basses just rattled and buzzed. Then I discovered Fender's recommended settings are actually quite high, but you can really play them loud. The bright twangy tone is so different from my other basses that are more 'mellow'. So I have a better guitar (at least, by price) but it takes more effort to play it. I've been playing it a lot, and you can get your muscles working. Gong back to the old guitars makes playing a piece of cake.

    When I bought my last bass, I was a bit flush, so went to the music shop, and picked up every bass they had and played a few bits and pieces. I didn't look at the make or the price. Most I put back without even looking at the ticket. In the end, the bass I liked playing was a Peavey International 5 String. Then I looked at the price, and it was easily within my limit, so I bought it without even reading a single review. I'm not sure what I'd have done if it was outside my budget though?
  12. MarkoYYZ

    MarkoYYZ Commercial User

    Jan 31, 2012
    Hammersmith Music
    If you're on one of those Squier Affinity starter basses, then you could make a modest jump into the Classic Vibe or Vintage Modified lines to get a really nice instrument.

    If you're already at the VC/NM level, then upgrading the pickups, preamp or bridge is something A LOT of people here on talkbass are doing and finding very gig worthy for something in the range of $300-500 depending on what sort of upgrades you make.

    Pickups and strings are going to make the most noticeable tonal difference to you, aside from a good amp - which might be where you spend your money if it seems you're constantly using someone else's.

    You'll get far more bang for your buck buying used and there are fantastic deals right here in the TB classifieds.
  13. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    A Spector's pretty nice in terms of tonal quality- the feel of the bass is pretty good too, if you can swing it, I would recommend giving it a try.
    I was a 4 string bass player for almost 30 years and just switched to a five string. It doesn't take much to go from a 4 to a 5 and I love the options I have with the B string, you can hit low notes previously not possible unless you detune. I have smaller hands so if I can do it with no problems, I would imagine most of the world's population wouldn't have a problem. I use a Squier MB5 which has a very slim neck for a 5 string, string spacing is narrower but playable.


    Dec 13, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Recently I got a Squier CV p bass. It's a great instrument. I put flats on it and upgraded the bridge and tuners, so it's just as good as any other of the millions of P basses out there.

    But! The most important part is that you try things out yourself and judge them yourself.
  15. Rusty G String

    Rusty G String

    Mar 19, 2013
    Ibanez basses are inexpensive, usually set up really well, sound good, and have a slim neck for easy playing. But I have a Squier jazz that is awesome. I leveled the frets and it made a world of difference. I never did it before, but it changed it from a starter bass into a confident gigging bass. I also have a Mexican Fender jazz that I leveled also that I love. The pups in the Squier could be upgraded, but it is a much much better bass than when I got it. Super low action with no buzzing.
  16. Bass Fund

    Bass Fund Banned

    Nov 30, 2013
    Once you get used to the Jazz neck you should stick with it. Find a Fender that's made of alder or ash that has alnico pickups/250 pots.