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Help for a Beginner

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pigtailsonfire, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. Pigtailsonfire


    Nov 26, 2013
    Hello everyone,

    I’m late coming to the party but I finally decided to pick up a musical hobby for the first time in my adult life. And the bass guitar is the one. I have NO musical experience whatsoever so I hope that doesn’t hinder me in the learning process. But I am a music lover and have always loved the sound of bass notes and rhythms.

    I’ve done some research and decided on the following items to buy but am still unsure about my choices. Hoping you experts can offer some advice and guidance. I’m a very short female (4’ 11”) with small hands (and short arms) so it looks like a short scale bass is the best way to go.

    1. Bass guitar: I can’t decide between the Squier Vintage Modified Mustang or the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar SS. Is one recommended over the other, or is it a case of win-win with either one?

    2. Amp: Also can’t decide between Ampeg BA 108 or Fender Rumble 15. Thoughts? Or again, either one is good for beginner? Also, dumb question: can I plug the amp into electrical wall outlet or do I need a special dedicated power source for it?

    3. In some of the reviews I’ve read, a lot of people say they swapped the stock bass strings on their new bass for their favourite strings. As a beginner, should I just leave them on and only change them down the road when I can actually play the bass?

    This is strictly a hobby and the bass that I choose would probably be the only one I buy, I think. I’ve already order a book on learning to play the bass for beginners.

    Sorry for the many questions. Thank you.
  2. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Congrats on picking up an instrument. Making music is one of the great joys in life. You also chose the best one. ;). Second, welcome to TalkBass!
    You can't go wrong with any of the choices listed. There isn't much to choose between the two Squiers, they are both excellent instruments with which to start, and from which you should get many years of enjoyment. Either amp will serve you well as long as you will always play quietly. They are great "bedroom" amps. The only choice between them is voicing. Have someone play the bass you choose through both to see which you prefer. The Fender is a little brighter (more high end content), and the Ampeg is voiced a little more traditionally. Leave the stock strings on until you are certain you want a different sound. The two biggest influences on your sound are your fingers and strings. Changing strings is a huge Pandora's box that you don't want to open until you are very familiar with your instrument. Finally, ask questions! We mostly love to help.
  3. On strings, see if you can get your hands on a bass with flats. Compare that playing experience to the "rounds" that you will find on most basses. There are LOTS of different strings out there that all give different tone, but it will take you some time to get an idea what kind of sound is your favorite. "Feel," however, is something you can experience right off the bat. I really don't like playing rounds, even though I occasionally like the sound they can give. Try both and see if you have a strong preference. You may LOVE the feel of flats like I do, or you may not care at all. If you decide you want to change your strings, there's lots of info here you can find in a search.

    You can dive into that Pandora's Box searching for the string that gives that elusive tone in your head - far far in the future. :p

    On the basses, have you handled them and gotten to play them? If one of those two feels a lot more comfortable to you than the other, I would let that be 100% of the deciding factor.
  4. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Welcome! Never too late to enjoy music- once you pick up on some of the technical aspects of playing, you'll find that it's something that is easy to play, hard to master- but always fun to do. Music soothes the savage beast, so whenever I have a hard day at work, I find that picking up the bass helps put things in perspective. I've played bass for over thirty years, have been in quite a few bands in the past, but being a father and a working professional, my best concert days are behind me but I still play, and thoroughly enjoy it.

    To answer your questions:
    1. yes, although you can still play a full scale bass, a short scale bass would probably be more comfortable for you. I would recommend going to Guitar Center to try your choices out, both of your choices are good options and is a matter of preference at this point. There are other basses out there that might work as well, so I would try as many out as you can.
    2. I would go for the 25 watt amp over a 15 any day for a practice amp. You'll find soon enough that it's easier to turn the volume down on a more powerful amp than it is to find out that your amp is a little underpowered even if it is a practice amp. 25w is a decent compromise between size and power. Yes the amp will plug into the wall outlet, no dedicated power source for it.
    3. Depends on how bad the stock strings are. Inexpensive basses usually have bad quality factory installed strings- you'll know them when you hear it and feel it. Buying replacement strings for a shortscale bass on your list, you actually use either regular or medium scale, don't buy short scale strings as you'll find it too short for the basses you listed! Check with the store regarding which one to buy, better still, have them install it for you.
    Also referring to the actual type of strings, Roundwound (has a rounded wire wound around the round core of the string) strings are the more common, harder on the fingers but provide a bright sound, Flatwound strings (has a flat, square wire wound around the round core)sound smoother and easier on the fingers but do not have that "punchy " sound.

    Hope this helps and once again welcome to the club!:)
  5. Daveydude

    Daveydude Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Ft. Lauderdale FL

    Any of those basses are fine for beginners.
    As far as amps, I suggest you stay away from the practice amps. If your pocket will allow, get a used 4x10 cab and head. It's so much more satisfying as a beginner, if you can feel the bass. It will draw you into playing even more. It's kinda hard to do that with most small inexpensive combos. As it was said before, you can always turn down. :bassist:
  6. deathsdj


    Sep 18, 2010
    Wichita, KS
    I see you are already getting good advice so I'll just throw in another welcome to talkbass! This place is of great use to bass players so you are off to a good start.

    Good luck!

  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    Welcome to the low end.

    For lots of great TB info, check out my TB Wiki page link below.

    Good luck. :)
  8. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band Supporting Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
    I play a number of instruments and belong to a number of musical communities and TB is by far the best. It will take a little time to navigate the site. The one option that you need to get familiar with is the search options. There is an incredible wealth of information here.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Welcome to the world of bass!

    1. Of the two basses, I'd lean toward the Jaguar. Both are short-scales, so not much difference there, and both are Squier VM series, which is a good series. The only reason is that the Jaguar has two pickups, plus is a bit cheaper. The two pickups mean that you can experiment with different tones. But the best thing is to try both out in a store and buy the one you like best, of course.

    2. Either amp will be swell for home practice. When you reach the point that you're playing with a band, you'll want something bigger. But you can cross that bridge when you come to it.

    3. The stock strings should be fine to learn on. Eventually, when you've done a lot of playing, they'll need to be replaced, and you can try something different. The two most common types of strings are roundwound and flatwound. Flats feel smooth to the touch and sound "rounder" or "smoother." Think old Motown records ( - skip to 1:25). Beyond that, there are hundreds of different brands, gauges, etc., enough to make your head spin.

    The most important thing is to pick what YOU like, not what someone else tells you to like, and remember that you can always try out different options later. Spend enough time around TB and you'll see that we're always buying and selling used instruments and gear, trying different things. Besides that, try to at least touch your bass and noodle around a bit every day. Fifteen minutes a day will bring more progress than a marathon two-hour practice once a week.
  10. MyMusic


    Jun 1, 2010
    Dover, De
    Welcome to the wonderful world of Bass. Concerning the bass and the amp, go with what feels and sounds good to you. As far as strings go, I would say get new strings, but also have guitar tech or luthier do a set up or adjustment to the instrument. Sometimes it can be little things like string or pickup height that can mess up the playing experience.
  11. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    Hi and welcome to the Low End world :)
    A good start for you in my opinion will be the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar SS with the Ampeg BA 108 will be a great match for a very good start.
    Just leave the old strings, you will change later, you don't need right know.
    Have a great groovy start!

    on youtube
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    study with me
  12. remainthesame


    Sep 24, 2008
    welcome to talkbass. just be careful. this site could lead you from wanting one beginner bass to having a collection worth more than a house.
  13. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    This would be my vote as well. I like the fact that the Jaguar SS has "normal" Precision and Jazz Bass pickups, as there are DOZENS of brands of those available should you want to upgrade or tailor your sound later.
  14. Pudge Fish

    Pudge Fish Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    I'll second that! I was happy before I joined TB! well, with just 2 or 3 basses anyway. GAS has taken hold... the quest to find the perfect beast is a good thing though. If it weren't for this site, there would be so much I still wouldn't know or have tried. I really enjoy researching / trying new basses, strings, pickups, et cetera...

    Also, big love for the Squier vm Jag SS. I played mine a ton! Had to ultimately part because i found muscle memory was getting confused between different scale lengths. it couldn't hurt to start there though! its small, easy to weild, mod, and play. I started on an uke, so i just think its important to start playing SOMETHING, and am of the opinion that Squier has great offerings.
  15. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    If you are conformable with your local CL - it's a great place to pick up beginner stuff REAL cheap. I got a clean little Rumble 15 for $50 but I've seen them for even less.
    Budget a set up on your instrument and have it done at a private shop (vs a big box music store) where you can hopefully watch and do the rest yourself. This is also a good time to consider new strings based on your discussion with the set up tech.
    For me I found the following items very useful when starting out either available free on line or used -
    Staff paper, binder, pencil
    Strap + Strap locks
    Polish cloth
    Gig bag or Hard case ( I like a bag)
    Music Stand + light (medium to heavy duty stand)
    Bass Guitar stand (floor)
    Medium high padded (swivel seat) bar stole with padded back and no arm rests
    Picks (just a few)
    Instrument cables (I tend to use my 20 footers the most)
    The TB General Instruction forum is a daily read
    Weekly private lesson to compliment the books I use.

    Items that help me get the most out of my practice time;
    Computer/DVD-CD drive with Itunes
    Drum Machine
    Bass Trainer (CD or MP3)
    61 Key Midi Work Station
    Within easy reach - I use a central stereo receiver that connects everything to speakers and head phones so I can switch between tools with the touch of a button.
  16. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    This is what I would do
  17. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Welcome, and happy hunting!

    Assuming that you're not in a small studio apt., or one bedroom unit. Get an amp with at least a 10" speaker. If you're buying used (and you should), find one that's priced over a hundred bucks, and you'll be in safe territory. My home amp is a Roland Bass Cube CB30, and the 'used' price was about $130 including tax. I'd be challenged to find a scratch or mark anywhere on it.
  18. Shop around. Try a lot of basses. Have fun with it. Buy what feels right, and what sounds best to you - not what someone tells you that "this is what you need". Don't settle... never settle!

    As far as amplification, someone suggested that you set your sights a little higher. I think that I'd have to second this. Definitely, buy what you can afford, but something that really thumps is a lot more fun, than something that doesn't. And, even if this is just a fun hobby, at this time in your life, you will probably end up wanting to play with others, at some point... a friend... a family member... a band... Pretty much a given, unless you lose interest, and just give it up, at some point.

    I started playing, as a hobby, myself, thirty years ago, on the heels of a bad marriage. I felt that I needed something to fill the hours. But, fortunately, I never lost interest. I never stopped playing. Instead, I got a teacher - something else that I'd strongly recommend - and I'm still playing, today.

    For the bass, itself, though, I'd recommend that you consider your long term possibilities, in your decision. You might consider buying used, at least for now, until you decide that you really want make a go of it, for the long run... If you buy used, now, and sell it, later, you will likely get all, or most of your money back. If you buy new, you're probably going to take a big hit, when you sell it. And, you can almost always get more for your money, buying used, over buying new.

    As far as small hands, I'm a guy with small hands, and I'd suggest you try anything with a 1.5" nut size (jazz neck), as well as the short scale basses that you've mentioned, above, and decide for yourself. Long scale might surprise you. Maybe, not. But, it's really up to you...

    Again, is it comfortable to you? Does it sound good to you? That's the bottom line. Only you can decide what's best for you.

    I wish you all the joy this has given me! And, welcome aboard! hrb

    Edit: As far as strings, I'd start with some D'addarrio EXL170's and experiment from there. These have been my go-to's for a number of years, and, a very good starting point, based both on my own experience, as well as everything that I've read, recently.
  19. I'd go mustang, but both basses are good for beginners. I just personally thing the jaguar is kinda ugly.
    As for amps, I have had the rumble 15 for a long time and love it. It is great for all levels of play, and it's affordable! I don't know a whole lot about the ampeg, sorry.
    Strings, I think that it's up to you. When I started, I left on the strings that came with it, and it was fine. If you do change strings, I recommend ghs boomers

  20. All good questions... you've clearly done your homework...

    Now stop apologizing... you're among friends, here.