If you were buying a bass to play modern country...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by onosson, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. I don't play or listen to modern country at all, but I do stuff on the periphery - I've been in rock bands (original and covers), and I play a lot of roots/singer-songwriter type of stuff (among many other things which are less obviously related). I may have the opportunity to do some gigs with a young upcoming country artist due to my connection to his current touring drummer, and according to my friend the current bassist is using a 4-string but they wish he'd use a 5-string due to some of the song keys - they also play tuned down a half-step from the original recordings of the material which I will be learning.

    I currently own three basses:

    1. A Fender/Squier (neck/body) MIJ Jazz with a series/parallel mod, otherwise pretty standard. This is my main gigging bass.

    2. A Fender Aerodyne P-Bass with P and bridge-J pickups, modded with a 3-way toggle switch pickup selector.

    3. A MusicMan SUB 5-string fretless, strung EADGC with flatwound strings (my others are all rounds). I like this bass a lot and use it on many different styles.

    For the meantime I've re-strung the Aerodyne BEAD, so that I have access to the lower notes and since I probably can do just fine without the G string given the fairly simple, linear nature of the bass parts. The drummer suggested I use the MusicMan as he thinks my fretless playing is fine, but I'm not sure the combination of the flats and fretless fingerboard will give me the tone I'd want for this gig (I may change my mind about that down the road, who knows).

    If this turns into a long-term gig I may look at picking up a fretted 5-string (assuming I get sick of the BEAD on the Aerodyne ... which I don't know yet).

    If you have some experience with the modern country scene and were buying a new bass, under $1500 I think preferably, what would you be looking for? I like the Fender/MusicMan vibe and feel, but I'm not stuck on them necessarily. I'm also thinking active electronics might be nice, although I haven't owned an active bass in over 20 years...

    If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear 'em!
  2. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    When I think of 'modern' country, I think of mainstream pop with a pedal steel, but I suspect that's not really what we're talking about here.

    To me, a P-bass with flats = country. There may be contemporary country artists that would consider that to be an old-fasioned edict, but if I were in your shoes I'd probably just look for a maple-board Precision 5 and string it up with flats.

    In the meantime, I'd go ahead and try the fretless SUB. If you keep the sustain under control and don't gliss all over the place, they may not even notice and then you've saved yourself a whole lot of hassle.
  3. shrigg

    shrigg Joy Decision Bassist/BL, AudioKinesis Beta Tester Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Traverse City, MI
    +1 I'd use the SUB 5 too. You could always try stringing it B to G. Thomastik Flats would be awesome!

    edit: Or you could have the SUB fretted, that would be cheaper than buying a new bass
  4. zachbass02

    zachbass02 One Hairy....squatch.

    Jan 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    modern country (get something fretted)= sadowsky (probably not for under $1500), my first and go to Music Man SR5 single H (basically anything Music Man 5 string will work great for modern country), Fender Deluxe J5, AM Std. J5 or P5, Lakland 55-02 (I have several friends using those on the road), Lakland 55-01, 55-64, 55-60, Carvin SB5000 (killer basses for the $$$. Michael Jeffers is/was using one on tour with Joe Nichols).

    Basically anything fretted. Fretless is cool for a special song or something, but I would never show up for a country set with just a fretless.
  5. I think a Carvin SB 5000 might work for you.
  6. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Lakland 5501
  7. funk generator

    funk generator Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    Johnson City, TN
    I play modern country almost exclusively these days. My go to bass is a nordy pj with sadowsky pre.
    Also my Benavente vintage vortex does wonders on songs where I need a lot if growl.

    If I only had one bass I could take it would be a jazz or a pj
  8. I agree with chef. I see a lot of country players using laklands.
  9. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    This would work exceptionally well.
    A sadowsky Metro PJ might be more cost effective, and less wait time.

  10. shrigg

    shrigg Joy Decision Bassist/BL, AudioKinesis Beta Tester Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Traverse City, MI
    Sadowsky's are great basses but hard to afford. You could try a Sadowsky outboard pre and see what that does to your sound on the Fenders. It will wake those passive basses right up!
  11. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Not really.
    No more so than anything at that relative quality level, and maybe more cost competitive if you buy used.

  12. I do session work for a "country" band. Twangy pop really. I don't play with them live, I just session work for the bass in the recordings. Just be sure you can hit Db and Eb as 100% of the tunes I've tracked have been in Db, Eb or Gb. And I notice lots of country tunes are in Eb, Db, Gb or Bb. I use my sooooped up J (Ramirez Custom Bass Guitars - Model F for Alex Wallerstedt)

    Sounds like this: http://wdesignstudios.com/music/TLR/Only Way For Me.mp3

    In general, I think a Jbass or Pbass would work well. But really, as long as its a "traditional" bass 4 or 5 stringer , as long as it isn't an 11 stringer, you'll be golden. the Lakland would kill too, it'd be perfect.
  13. sevdog

    sevdog Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2008
    If I were playing modern country I would buy a cheap bass, widdle the neck down to a sharp point and stab myself in the chest. (ok I couldn't resis, trolling over)

    Another vote for Lakland 55-01 (I'd probably drop some Nordy's in it, though)
  14. JBFLA

    JBFLA Roscoe FANatic

    Apr 8, 2003
    Jupiter FLA
    Along with all the Lakland suggestions, I'd add a JO5. I used mine for a couple years with a band that was "modern country" oriented. Worked and sounded great!
  15. shrigg

    shrigg Joy Decision Bassist/BL, AudioKinesis Beta Tester Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Traverse City, MI
    I don't recall ever seeing a Sadowsky, Metro or otherwise, in the OP's target price range of "under $1500"
  16. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    Find a Lakland 55-02 and you'll be set.
  17. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Inactive

    Jan 20, 2011
  18. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Denver, CO
    All the guys I see in "modern country" seem to be playing Fender Jazzes FWIW.
  19. Thanks for all the comments! There's a Gretsch just like the one mentioned above listed locally (for several months) for $1300 but I didn't really think it would do the job tonally - has anyone used one and can comment on the tone?

    I really don't want to put out big money for anything unless this looks like a long term proposition, so I'll try to make the BEAD on the P/J work. I have a feeling that and a good compressor might just have me covered until I see where this goes...
  20. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer (local only)
    Buy a Roscoe and put the others in the closet. Go over to the Roscoe forum, there are plenty of sound clips of how great these basses sound.