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Guitarist has some Bass questions...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pingtang, Aug 9, 2007.


  1. pingtang

    pingtang

    Aug 9, 2007
    Hi everyone,

    My names Daniel and I'm a guitar player....:help:

    Been playing for about 10 years and am about to start playing bass as well. I've been asked by a band to play bass for them so I'll have to learn pretty quick. I've got a few questions for you, any help will be appreciated...

    1. Could someone please give me a quick run down of the best bass brands out there? And the differences between the major brands and models (especially sound wise)? I'm thinking P's, J's and stingrays.

    2. What are the common string gauges you find on a bass? What's considered light? As a guitarist, I'm used to a pick, but will that affect my tone?

    3. Are any of the numerous picking techniques best? Or should I just use what works for me?

    4. I'm looking for that classic solid bass sound, don't need anything that cuts through alot (I'm not flea or anything...), what amps do you recommend? And does it make a difference if I buy a combo or a head and cab?

    5. And finally, what's the difference in sound between cab combinations? Like 4X10, 1x15 or 2x12...

    I'm sure I'll think of more, but I don't want to annoy you all too much for now...

    Thanks very much,
    Daniel
     
  2. 88persuader

    88persuader

    Aug 5, 2007
    So many questions and 1000 DIFFERENT answers to each one!!! I'd say IF you want TRUE CLASSIC sound go for a Fender J or P bass through an Ampeg head with 4 or 8 10" speakers. Technique wise fingers give you more options then using a pick. That being said .... if 1000 of us answer these questions expect 1000 different siggestions.

    Good luck! :)
     
  3. JohnSS

    JohnSS

    Jun 4, 2007
    Hi Dan. I'm also primarily a guitarist who has been pressed into bass service for the greater good.

    1) Lots of brands - all depending upon your budget & preferences. P Bass, Jazz Bass have classic sounds. Stingray is fatter sounding. G&L Tribute series and MIM Fenders are good bets that won't break the bank. Yamaha and IBanez also have very good models w/similar sound and feel. Epiphone makes Gibby style basses at reasonable cost.

    2) Tone is dependent on your preference. I'm a big Jack Casady and Larry Graham fan, so I play w/fingers. If you want a certain sound on guitar that requires fingerpicking, you do what you have to so you can get that sound, right?

    3) See #2

    4) It depends on your budget and space allowances. Also, at what volumes will you be playing? For club work, since you will likely also have a DI, the Ampeg BA115 does the trick pretty well for up to 350 people audiences. GK, Peavey, and other brands are also pretty good. The Behringers are worth checking out as well. I used to have an Acoustic Control 370 Stack w/2 X 15" vented cabinet, which would have been perfect at MSG but is overkill pretty much anywhere else.

    5) 1 X 15" is a good standard for most rock, R&B and country bass sounds. 4 X 10" are punchier sounding and help cut more for fusion and fretless sounds.
     
  4. musicmansf

    musicmansf

    Jul 23, 2007
    Los Angeles
    1. Wal (kidding, J's have a more fat attack with the dual pick ups and P's are a more classic flat response tone IMHO. I play a Ray and love it to death!
    2. .105, .85, .65, .45 is right in the middle of most string gauges, anything with an E at or below .100 is light
    3. Picking is fine! Its how I get my sound, more agressive and in your face, but playing with fingers will give you a more round sound with an above poster said, more options on how to achieve "your sound". For instance, playing flamenco with a pick is slightly difficult...haha
    4. Check out a P for what you described with a combo amp. Mesa Walkabout Scout 12 or 15' for quality and killing everything below all combos, or a Ampeg for cheaper, still pretty nice
    5. 10's are more articulate and put out more range, 12's are fatter, not as much high end, 15's are usually paired with 10's or 12's to round out thier low-end focus.

    Good luck, Bass has alot more tweakability and personalized tone potential than guitar!
     
  5. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    1) P's J's and Rays are all Leo Fender stuff, you might look at G&L also. You pretty much have to hear and play them to appreciate the nuances.

    2) Medium is usually .045 .065. .085 .105

    3) If you can make it sound good, that's what you should be doing.

    4) Power is a good thing. I like the Head / Cab but there's nothing wrong with combos. 150W or better is a good start.

    5) a 410 tends to be a bit more focussed and articulate. I really love an 18, (Awesome lowend POWER!!) but I don't like to carry it.
     
  6. I'll second what everyone else has already said, and add my endorsement of anything Leo Fender. There's a lot of good brands out there for the money that have great sound, and I've had the opportunity to own several (Fender MIM, Epi, Schecter, Ibanez).
    Like has been said, it all really depends on your personal prefference. (advising people over the internet about what instrument they should get is like telling someone about Greek food who's never heard of it before :D ;) )
    What you oughta do is, if you have a Guitar Center near by, go and fiddle around with as many basses as you can that fall within your budget with as many amps as possible. Tell the sales people to go away, they're no help (definately don't ask them for advice; they're just out to make a sale, and couldn't give a pail of rat sphincters if you actually get what you're looking for). Just go play around and see what feels right and delivers the sound you're looking for.
    As far as asking for advice, you've come to the right place, IMHO.

    Good luck and happy hunting.:bassist:
     
  7. bugnut

    bugnut

    Jul 31, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    If you are a guitar player and have good picking technique then use a pick and work your fingers in as you go. If you play with a pick you might consider having your action a little higher so you can strike the strings with some authority, especially if you have to drop your E string to a low B for some songs. As a guitar player I found the biggest thing in playing bass is how to play eighth notes. Short? Long? First one short, the next seven long? 5th one short and the other 7 long? A lot of times a good pocket is created by playing slightly shorter notes although I personally like longer notes because I find it sounds heavier. A lot of old school drummers hate playing with bass players who play long notes. Lots of bass players like to play slightly behind the beat so that the attack of the kick goes through first which combines with the bass to make one big note. As for an amp, it's basically just a monitor since you'll more than likely be DI'ed to the front end so get something that gives you a sound you enjoy playing. Ampeg has got great dirt tones but a lot of those tones can be somewhat emulated with a good pedal. I like Jazz basses strung .45 to .105.
     
  8. I also began on guitar and spent maybe 5-6 years before I picked up bass, which was mostly because it was hard to find guitarists in my area at the time.

    1. Could someone please give me a quick run down of the best bass brands out there? And the differences between the major brands and models (especially sound wise)? I'm thinking P's, J's and stingrays.
    Lesson 1. There is no best brand. From the cheapos to the most expensive Foderas, nobody wants the same things. There isn't a bass in existance that someone on this forum won't complain about. :ninja:

    As a guitarist, you're probably used to guitars with lower action that aren't too neck heavy. My first bass was a Peavey Cirrus 4 string. It still has super low action and is very comfortable. You can find them very cheap used. They're worth the price new when you factor in the options. They have little/no resale, which means you can pick them up used for next to nothing. When buying used, they are perhaps the best deal out there.

    2. What are the common string gauges you find on a bass? What's considered light? As a guitarist, I'm used to a pick, but will that affect my tone?
    It all depends on what sort of bass you get, what sort of tone you like, etc. On my 35" scale basses I string them 110 (I spend a lot of time in dropped D, but it's not too stiff in E), 85,65,40. I like the lighter G to have more even tension and the ability to bend and fret tap easier.

    3. Are any of the numerous picking techniques best? Or should I just use what works for me?
    Use as many techniques as you can. Using a pick only limits you to one tone, really. There are about as many techniques you can use on a bass as there are configurations. The options are unlimited, although possibly confusing at times.


    4. I'm looking for that classic solid bass sound, don't need anything that cuts through alot (I'm not flea or anything...), what amps do you recommend? And does it make a difference if I buy a combo or a head and cab?
    Just buy what you need. If you're not playing big shows, there isn't much need for a big amp. It also depends on the bass and tone you're looking for. Sometimes bassists want to hear the bass without the amp coloring the sound. Some bassists want the amp to color their sound so much that it barely matters which bass they use.


    5. And finally, what's the difference in sound between cab combinations? Like 4X10, 1x15 or 2x12..
    Generally speaking, the 10" has a brighter sound and the 15" speaker can have a lower sound. From personal experience, I never thought a 4x10" was great on the low B or my piezo basses that have an upright sound. While the 15" pushed my low B and upright sounds nicely, they lacked high end clarity. That's why I bi-amp my speakers. The lows go to the 15" and highs go to the 4x10 cab.
     
  9. elpelotero

    elpelotero

    Jun 16, 2006
    o amn are you in for a wild ride!


    I'm a guitarist that picked up bass 2 years ago and not until a few months ago did I finally complete "my rig" that gets me "my sound."
    There are many more brands and options on bass than there is for guitar.

    guitar is pretty much the same woods over and over...mahogany, ash, alder, maple. Basses have exotic woods that give unique sounds. There's many styles of fingering the strings with the right hand. Many speaker sizes that each give a different sound.

    I hope you're not too picky about tone because if not you can spend hours doing research! good luck though! you've come to the right place.
     
  10. BillMason

    BillMason Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2007
    1. Best brands are Fender (MIA, MIJ, MIM to some extent), MTD, Sadowsky, Lakland, Stingray (Ernie Ball actually). However, since you're a guitar player, I'd suggest the Fender Geddy Lee sig bass - it has an almost guitar-like neck. Lots of bass players like these and you can pick them up used pretty cheap - around $500-600 US.

    2. Try some different guage strings - 0.95 is light (the E string) and 1.05 is heavy. A pick will definitely affect your tone - the string attack will sounds "harsher" or maybe "crisper" is the right word.

    3. Use what works best of course.

    4. For the classic tone, you will want a Fender P or J IMHO, and an all tube head. Be careful - 100 watts is lots for guitar but in many cases completely insufficient for bass. Lower frequencies require more power to make them loud. You can get away with a Sansamp Bass Driver direct input box into a solid state head to mimic the tube sound, but most tube players will tell you it ain't the same. If you try finger style, try playing close to the neck - this will give you a fatter, bassier sound. Lots of bass players prefer finger style for the tonal variations and the less crisp attack (I agree) but lots of players from the very early days used picks - Carol Kaye, John Entwhistle on occasion, etc. Nikki Sixx (just kidding). So whatever you like. As far as the combo versus head/cab question, you want power ad you want to be able to lift the sucker too. I'd recommend a head with two cabs - a 4x10 and a 1x15. However, you can check the Carvin site, they have some nice powerful solid state combos that are relatively lite - online specials.

    5. Bigger speakers will typically give you better bass frequency response and overall more air volume moved. Smaller speakers will give you typically better mid range or high frequency response. More of anything is better.
     
  11. You're going to hate the bass world when it comes to amplification. Be prepared to shell out big bucks, watts are your friend, most bassists can't gig without 400w, and a lot will tell you nothing short of twice that. Look for something 400w+ for the bass to TRY and keep up. Guitar watts x 4 = bass watts as a general guideline. And tube watts x 3 = Solid state watts as a general guideline. So a 100w tube guitar amp cranked would be matched by a 1200w solid state bass amp usually. Or a 300-400w tube head.

    Also DEFINATELY go for a G&L tribute L2000, I have two of the american versions and they are best bang for the buck IMO. Most versatile bass I've ever played as far as tones go.
     
  12. Deacon_Blues

    Deacon_Blues

    Feb 11, 2007
    Finland
    Welcome to the bass world! You have a lot to learn... ;)

    I agree with what most have said, but I'd like to point out one thing. You've probably heard it before but on bass, it's even more obvious than on guitar, in my opinion at least:

    The Tone is in your fingers. Depending on your technique and where you play on the strings (i.e. distance to the bridge) will affect the tone more than anything else.

    Well, one more thing: As regards for amp and speakers, go for as much wattage and speaker area as possible. I'd say a minimum for a rock band setting is 400 watts (this is heavily depending on amp type though). Lots of speakers (min 4x10) is required to get the most use of the effect as possible.
     
  13. Tenma4

    Tenma4

    Jan 26, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    I thought I'd chime in and sing the praises of Schecter basses. They're a good deal for the money. I got the Elite 5 for extended range and wider tonal variety. It has active electronics w/passive pickups. 2 band EQ. Obviously all things you can use to shape your tone.

    Another benefit to these basses is the narrow string spacing. As a guitarist converting, you may find this more comfortable, especially since you're used to playing pickstyle. I've done mostly fingerstyle for the past 8 years, but recently have moved to primarily pickstyle for more definition, and to give some relief to a hand problem. It's comfy!

    When putting together a rig/amp/cab setup, I'll echo that more wattage is better. You don't always need more volume, but the extra headroom will "feel" so much nicer. You'll find you can play softer, making more difficult passages easier. Also the tone improves greatly.

    One last point from my experience. If you think you might want to add a 2nd cab later, or as an outdoor show option, get plenty of wattage to beat the the 1st 8 ohm cab mercilessly, and then enough to push 2 8 ohm cabs (4 ohm load then) well.
     
  14. eedre

    eedre

    Feb 26, 2007
    St. Louis,MO
    Daniel,

    The type of bass you want really depends on the sounds you want. Rays are totally different than Fenders - both are awesome. The choice will affect the sound of the band. In my opinion - you can get fairly close to a P sound with a J. I've played Ps and never thought it was worth another chunk of change considering the restricted tone variety I can already duplicate with my J. The choice between Fender and the MM is really up to you and there is a big difference in price. As always, these basses are pretty easy to find and try - so, make a point to try em out back to back.

    As far as amplification goes, I opted for a 300W tube head recently and wouldn't go back to Solid State. In your case, I don't know if you'd have the choice, SS is cheaper.

    A lot will argue this fact - but a good starter rig for small to medium gigs is 300-400 watts SS with a 4x10.

    Lots of options with Ampeg in the used market for this.

    Good luck :)

    In terms of playing. You need to forget everything you know about rhythm in terms of guitar or else you'll muddy the sound of the band by over-playing. Playing with a pick is perfectly fine, but if it's making you play the bass like a guitar, then forget it and start with your fingers.
     
  15. Welcome to the bottom of the band. The safest bass to get would be a Fender-P or Fender-J. They are to bass players what a Strat or Les Paul is to a guitar player. The Jazz has a skinnier neck and somewhat brighter tone while the Precision has a somewhat wider neck and deeper tone. I would speculate to say that more recordings have been made with one of these 2 basses than all other brands of basses combined.

    There is nothing wrong with playing with a pick, it gives the bass a signature sound that many really like. Of course learning to play finger style will give you more sound options.

    Amps, as others have said, Ampeg is the classic R&R sound. Much like Marshall is to guitar players. But, just like guitar amps there are a million acceptable options. Knowing what I know now, I'd go with a 4x10 cab and a 400 watt head. That's about like a 50 watt 1 or 2x12 guitar amp. If you have to compete with really loud drummer and guitar players, go with 8x10s and 1,000 watts or an SVT. Ampeg, GK, SWR, Eden just to name a few are great brands. I've had good luck with Traynor (Yorkville) lately.
     
  16. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    just a couple of my thoughts.

    You have no need not to use a pick, unless you find the sound you are getting is not what you want to hear. Come back if that is the case.

    Fender Ps or Js, or I recommend a PJ, should do you, a decent mexican is prbably fine, but what you need is a great setup to get the action nice and low to something you might kinda be used to. As for strings, a G of 40 or 45 is usually considered light, I would say give the D'addario xl nickels a shot.

    Amps can be pricey, and different brands will tell you different watts, but not all watts stack up the same. Combos versus heads and cabinets don't make a difference except for weight, but a combo is usually nothing more than a head in a cabinet with a space for a head in bass. 10s are much punchy and give the notes a lot of definition, 15s generally pump out the low end in girth. I use a 2 10" and a 1 12", cause I figure a 4 10" and 1 15" is the classic stack, and I wanted about half that. I use a gk 1001rb, and it is tons of power.

    Question is, what do you want to spend on an amp? don't say 200, but for around 500-700 you might be able to get something pretty decent. (just saying, I saw a used gk 1001rb 210 combo in my areas CL for 500).
     
  17. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Truer words have rarely been spoken. If finances are tight I'd get a decent budget bass and spend as much as possible on a good amp. If you ask "what's the best deal I can get for $X" you will get a lot of opinions but it'll be more detailed than what you're getting here now.
     
  18. Guess I should chime in here.

    I love the J bass and so will you. The P is a good bet as well, as is the Stingray, but unless you plum the extra dosh for a two-pickup 'Ray, the Jazz is more versatile than either one.

    Because of the well-known and argued-about quality issues that Fender seems to suffer, I'd go for a Japanse-made Fender or a Lakland Skyline. Second-hand, the Skylines can come in at a great price, and they can almost do Fender better than Fender can.

    You won't recognise the brand from the guitar world. but they're not a no-name fly-by-night op. It's just that they only do basses.

    I find that the amp and cab depends on what you're going to be doing. I do pub gigs in a Celtic trio, so a 2x10 does me fine, though others will agree that the B-string likes something a bit bigger. If you're thinking of playing a four-string, that won't stop you. Bigger cones will give better bass meat, smaller ones do definition better -- but I can guarantee that a 2x10 won't cut it for larger spaces or roudier gigs.
     
  19. pingtang

    pingtang

    Aug 9, 2007
    Thanks very much for the input everyone...

    Money isn't really a big issue, so I'm going to buy what's best for me. Might even sell a guitar (not my custom shop strat though...)

    One last question... What do you all think of Gallien Krueger heads? And is it worth pairing an expensive head with a cheap cab? Or is that just a waste of the head?

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  20. 1) GK is one of the most respected name in bass gear. Good stuff.

    2) It all depends on what you mean by cheap cab.
     

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