Help for a beginner who is still confused

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by beibea, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. beibea


    Jun 27, 2005
    Dawson Springs, KY
    Hey. I'm a complete bass beginner, and am looking into learning to play bass, and of course, purchasing my first bass and gear. I've read so many threads on here, but must admit that I am still pretty confused.

    I'm choosing to take up bass now, because I'm a singer (no real genre; I love everything but country/bluegrass/gospel) and am looking into pursuing that wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, due to an illness a few years ago, my guitar playing was completely on hold for years, and I've found it exceedingly difficult to even begin to re-teach myself the things I seem to no longer possess. I had been taught entirely by myself with guitar, and will be temporarily (until I'm sure I've found a pretty good teacher that's a bit more laid-back than the ones I've encountered in my area so far) taking the self-taught approach with bass playing too. What I'm really hoping for here is a fresh start with an instrument that I've always wanted to play anyway. I'm hoping learning bass will aid my confidence and enthusiasm about re-tackling guitar.

    I am looking to spend in a lower range (definitely under $750, although I really shouldn't be spending near that) for my first bass, and would like to have the bare minimum as far as gear goes. I want a good, solid bass, and really don't want to purchase one that is a $300 or less bass. So, really the $450-$750 range, I think. I wouldn't mind if it were used, so long as I really was able to get a good idea of what I'd be getting.

    I visited a few stores over the weekend, and the selection wasn't too great, honestly. Secondly, I don't know that it's really all that helpful for me - being a *complete* newbie - to even visit these stores, since when I hold a bass, I really don't know what I'm looking for. All of the things I've read in threads as far as what I listen for, look for, etc. are really things I feel lost about, since this is totally new for me.

    Originally, I was leaning towards a jazz bass, but I really think now that maybe a precision is what I would actually prefer. I am looking for versatility, since I don't like sticking to any particular genre. If it would help to list musical influences, I'd have to say my main one is most definitely Jeff Buckley. Although he never commercially played bass (only in non-mainstream side projects), and I honestly haven't heard much of his bass playing, he's completely in line with my approach to music in all other aspects. So, hopefully this would give somewhat of an idea. I honestly don't have any "favorite" bass players to name, because I have to admit that it seems to be the instrument I tend to neglect most when listening. :( This is yet another reason I'm really wanting to tackle this, in addition to the fact that most of my music buddies think I would be more well-suited for bass than guitar, anyway.

    So...I'm open for *all* suggestions. I don't even know how many strings I'd want, brand (although I've looked most into Fender), amp, other gear, etc. I need info on all of it, within my price range. I want to get stuff that will keep me coming back to this, especially when I get frustrated. So, any suggestions you have for me would be so appreciated. Thanks!

    - Jess
  2. Id look into Ibanez basses, huge selection and price range

    ( sorry if this isnt helping )
  3. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Ok Ill try to help here as best I can. First, welcome to talkbass and bass playing. I think you might find yourself never going back to guitar :)

    As for what to get...well there are as many opinions about that as there are people who post here Im sure. I do agree with mohawk that Ibanez makes some good bang for the buck basses in your price range, and even lower. I wouldn't shrug off those < $300 basses so easily.

    These basses seem to get great reviews for their price, and more:

    As for Fender's, the Marcus Miller and Geddy Lee Signature series seem to be pretty popular and a lot of bass for the money. A Mexican or American P-bass might also be right up your alley. The two signature models I mention are jazz basses, just FYI. For versatility, you might want to look at something that has P and J pickups. P-pups are the little ones that are split and staggered near the neck, jazz pups are the longer thinner ones near the bridge. Jazz basses usually have two jazz pups, P-basses may have only the P pup or both P and J. You'll get more versatility the the latter.

    Aside from pickups, P-basses are wider at the nut (the piece of plastic or bone or whatever near the top of the headstock that holds the strings in place). Jazz basses are narrower at this point. They usually have the same spacing at the bridge though.

    Neck profile is something else that you'll hear a lot about. This is pretty much what the cross section of the neck would look like if you cut a slice of it. Some are "C" shapped, some are "D" shaped ect. Each will have a different feel when playing.

    Have you considered what amp you might want? Do you want something that will work for a club type setting down the road, or just a bassic, sounds pretty good, living room practice amp? Opinions will vary in this department as much as in basses.
  4. I got back into playing a few months ago and picked up an Ibanez SG 200 and a Fender Rumble 60 for around $500. Don't discredit a low dollar intrument to get you started.

    This was based completely from recomendations of a trusted music store and I couldn't be happier with the gear. It's allowed me to take my time deciding exactly what I want from a Bass and Rig, yet get to work while deciding.

    Welcome :bassist:
  5. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    :hyper: :hyper: :hyper:
    FWIW, try an ibanez 'artcore' bass. lightweight, nice tone, nice neck.
    crate and g-k make decent smaller amps that won't break you financially.
    my $0.02.
  6. beibea


    Jun 27, 2005
    Dawson Springs, KY
    Thanks for all the tips so far! It's definitely helped me expand the area in which I was looking.

    As far as amps go, I'm really just thinking of a practice amp right now. I have a very small place, and since I probably won't be anywhere near performance level for awhile, a practice will likely suit me fine. I've never felt confident enough to perform guitar yet anyway - lol - so I've just stuck with my Marshall G30R CD all these years.

    Now back to checking out the selection. :)
  7. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    In addition to the G-K and Crate amps, the SWR LA Series is reasonably priced and sounds pretty good as well.
  8. unity bass

    unity bass

    Dec 15, 2003
    Modesto, Ca.
    I may have missed it in your original post, but is $750 your limit for just the bass or is that for bass, amp, cable, strap, strings, pro set-up, etc...? This will make a difference in what people will recommend.

    My personal recommendation is to check out if you're going the self taught route. There's loads of good stuff there to get you on the right track.

    Also, I think Juneau had a good suggestion on the instrument. If I were buying my first (or possibly my fifth) bass, I would definitely look at Rondo Music.

    Good luck & have fun!

  9. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    A lot of people here are amazed at the quality of the SX basses on Sure, they're made in China, but most of the parts of most basses are cut out by computer-driven machines anyway. The quality of the SX basses has often been compared (quite favorably) to that of the Mexican-made (regular -- around $400) Fender basses, but they only cost a little more than $100, so if you decide you hate playing bass, you can sell off your stuff without losing a lot of $$. In short, the SX basses are considered THE best bang-for-your-buck basses around on this forum; it's worth a look.

    As for which bass is right for you, a lot of that depends on personal considerations. For example, someone with small hands may not favor wide string spacing, while others hate narrow string spacing, particularly for slapping. String spacing, and thickness of neck are things you have to try for yourself to see what "fits." Different people find different necks "comfortable." I'd suggest going into a store, and trying several different basses out. Then ask people on the forum what bass you should get if you like the feel of bass "X".

    If you are really committed, and want to get a nice bass for around $500, I'd figure out what style of neck was comfortable for me, then look used. You'll get a heck of a lot more bass for your money if you look used, and usually wear and tear isn't bad and the bass can be made like new with an inexpensive setup and new strings. Depreciation on many sub-$1000 basses is substantial, so you can find a real gem if you look around.

    If you elect to go with the SX bass (and they have a great return policy and customer service), then that leaves you with a lot of money to get a decent amp. A cheapo practice amp will not really allow you to gig, but you could get a nice rig for around $500-600 if you go for an avatar cabinet (highly recommmended here -- -- available only on the internet, do a search in the amps section for info) and a separate head. Then you would have something substantial to rock out on, and you could gig with it down the road. A weak bass amp is a sad thing. :(
  10. beibea


    Jun 27, 2005
    Dawson Springs, KY
    $750 was my limit for just the guitar itself, but honestly, I should really be more reasonable with my lack of funds and make that the limit for *everything*. :meh: But, I'll still use the $750 as a limit for the guitar, and try to keep the cost of the rest as low as possible.

    I'm pretty interested in the Rondo basses, from what I've read on the forums so far. I am definitely considering purchasing one of these as my first. My desire for a Fender is what's stopping me, I think. I had a pretty hard time when purchasing my first electric guitar back in 99, deciding between a Fender or a Gibson. Ultimately, I chose the Gibson SG Special Limited Edition. So, I think I've been looking for any excuse since then to acquire a Fender. lol

    This is one of those things that has kept me confused. When I visited a few stores this weekend, and held a few, I *really* didn't know what I'd like. I honestly don't know which type of neck I'd be most comfortable with, since I know nothing about the technique really of actually playing bass - including how to properly hold the neck, position for fingering, etc. I worry the neck issue will be rather important, especially for me, considering I think my current acoustic guitar (which is a Classical) is another thing impeding the learning process. The neck and spacing is just so wide, that even a friend of mine with slightly larger hands complains when trying to play it.

    Another thing I don't know still is J bass or P bass? I don't know which way to go. I keep going back and forth. lol I wonder how much of an initial difference it will make?

    Well, I was initially looking for a smaller amp, more like a practice, because of the fact that I really don't think I have room for a larger one - although, I guess I could try to persuade the others in the house to let me make room for it - and I don't see myself nearly confident enough to gig any time soon. *shrug* I have to admit, though, the appeal of a larger one is definitely there...I love big sound. hehe Unfortunately, I'm even *more* lost in the areas of cabs and heads than I am with the guitars themselves. haha I have *no* idea what would work for me.
  11. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    While a bigger rig may be a wise investment, id stick with a decent combo amp. In case your not aware, there are basically two types of rigs. Modular Rigs, which consists of a pre-amp, a power amp, and a cabinet. Sometimes pre-amps and power amps are combined into one unit called a Head. Combo amps are basically a pre/power amp built into a cabinet.

    The advantage of the modular rig is that you can change your tone anytime by switching pre-amps. You can keep your tone the same, but get more power by switching power amps, and possibly cabs. You can get all different configurations of cabs that will project sound differently and accent different nuances, ect ect.

    All that is pretty confusing for someone starting out, and I am relatively certain you wouldnt know what kind of sound your really after at first anyhow.

    As far as neck profiles and stuff like that, you wont really develope a feeling for what you want until you get into things a little bit. Another reason I suggest going with a cheaper starting bass. After 6 months, you'll have a decent idea of whats confortable or not. Then you could spend some better money on a bass, after you've gained some experience and knowledge about what you really want. I see no sense spending a ton of money on a bass and amp to start out, as you will likely totally change your mind about what you want after a short time. Id say get a bass with a P/J config (more versatile, probably a P width neck), like this one:

    And another comment about used, that is deffinantely sound advice. Instruments tend to lose value the moment you walk out of the store with them (who cares though if your buying a $120 bass). Trade in value is ridiculous, sale value isnt all that much better considering the investment. Often if you buy used and its not your cup of tea, you can turn around and sell that instrument for the same or close to what you paid for it.
  12. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I'd say go with a Jazz, but with the prices at Rondo you could go with a P and a J, lol.

    You can usually find a good combo amp on the classifieds and whatnot used here...I mean I've seem a couple Ampeg solid state ones (70 watts, can't remember the model number) for like 200...

    And if you're going to gig I'd say that the most IMO that you'd need probably is a 210, but thats my guess - anymore you could rpobably get PA support. But thats just me...but more power is better than having not enough, because then you just kinda wasted your money :p.
  13. beibea


    Jun 27, 2005
    Dawson Springs, KY
    Ok, great. I think what you said, Juneau, about the Rondo is probably what I need right now. It's the advice I've gotten that's really seemed to click so far.

    Now, I guess I just have to decide on an amp. I *do* want a decent one, to be able to really appreciate the sound, and you're probably also right about it being best for me to not build a cabinet yet, and to stick to a combo. I'd like something better than a really tiny practice amp...I'm just really not sure what kind of power and size I can get with a combo for my money, as I've been mostly browsing pieces separately. Being able to gig with it isn't a necessity right now...but having full, nice sound really is for me. Nothing huge, but nothing small either...suggestions? :)

  14. beibea


    Jun 27, 2005
    Dawson Springs, KY
    I'd really like to buy a combo from someone on here, I think. I'm most comfortable making purchases like that. So, off to browsing the classified forum.
  15. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Where are you located Beibea? Shameless plug here, but I actually have an Ampeg B-100R for sale. Might be a bit more than you'd need, and maybe a little pricier than some others you might get. Its a 100W combo. I didnt want to ship it, but am considering it now, so let me know if you might be interested or not.

    As for in store ones you might check out:

    SWR LA Series - Comes in a few sizes, good reliable, decent sounding amps from my experience.

    Gallien-Krueger (G-K) Backline Series - Also comes in a few sizes, seem to be pretty reliable and sound good.

    Ampeg BA series - More modern sounding than the one Im selling, also comes in a few sizes.

    PS - Fill out your profile with location and stuff if you dont mind sharing that info. Be sure to post your gear in there too once you decide on what to get :)
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I you're looking for versatility, the Jazz bass will work better than a P-bass. For $750, you should be able to find a decent American Fender (I bought both my Roscoe Beck Vs for less than that). If you want a Fender, go with it. There are some pretty decent Mexican Fenders out there for way less than $750.
  17. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Rule of thumb - more than 50 watts is needed IMO.

    Have fun searching around...
  18. I would also recommend getting a used bass. You don't know what you're looking for, what you'll like, so the goal is to not waste too much money in the process.

    If you buy new and don't like it, you'll lose a lot of money when you sell it.

    You can sell a used bass for about what you paid for it, allowing you to go through a lot of basses without throwing away lots of money.

    Once you find what you like, regarding neck width, profile, tone, etc. etc. etc, then you can think about getting a new bass that matches.

    Think of used vs new like dating vs marriage. If you marry every girl that comes along, and lose 50% in each divorce, you will become very poor looking for the right girl. If you date them first, and it doesn't work, you can walk away with minimal losses. Then when you know what you like, and find a girl that matches, marry HER.

    You'll lose hundreds of dollars of that $750 you spent on a new bass by the time you cross the parking lot and put it in your car. Add some nicks, scratches, belt buckle dings in the back, and depending on the resale value of the brand you buy, you could potentially lose 50% each time, worst case.

    And as a bonus, you get a much better used bass for the price than a comparable new one. Or you can use the money you save for the same bass on the amp.

  19. beibea


    Jun 27, 2005
    Dawson Springs, KY
    I'd definitely love to buy used - both bass & combo amp. So, I'm definitely welcoming any suggestions for used equipment that would keep me spending under $500 (preferrably), but at the most $750, including both the combo amp and the bass. Of the 3 pages or so I've browsed in the classified forum so far, I've not really seen any basses in that range yet, so I'll just keep looking through the rest of the pages. I have a feeling I'll end up being picky about the color - not a huge fan of some of the more standard colors (red, sunburst colors). Even though I used to really dislike the color, I've really been leaning towards vintage white, white, and light yellowish basses.

    I've picked out a spot for the combo amp now, so I'll have a good idea now of what I actually have room for. hehe

    - Jess
  20. To me, the important thing to consider when picking amp power is drummers. It doesn't much matter if you gig, but if you wanna jam with a drummer, that will determine how loud you need to be. Furthermore beginning drummers are (generally) comparable to jet planes in volume. I suggest a cheap bass and spend the rest on a head/cab or at least something in the 150 to 300 watt range with a 15 or 210 in the combo territory.

    If the E string hits the fretboard and the drummer doesn't hear it did it really happen?