Hello all! First off I wanted to give an introduction and some background before I dive into the questions. I have played sports my whole life, but now that Im a few years out of college (27) Im coming to the realization that my life with sports is now over and I need a creative outlet. So I came to the conclusion that I should take on playing an instrument. So here I am! The main reason that I want to start playing is that I have had a great passion for music. I have stacks of CDs that are taller than me. I listen to music constantly, any kind will do but I have my preferences. I enjoy tracking bands influences and picking a band and buying all of their CDs and then buying all of the bands that influenced them to hear the similarities. I love finding bands that are awesome but you might not hear on the radio. The reason I picked bass is because it seems like everyone and their grandmother wants to play lead guitar and I wanted to be a little different. Plus I think its cool to be the guy laying the foundation. I have never played an instrument nor do I have any clue if I have any talent for music. It doesnt matter to me though, because I believe that persistence and dedication can make up for lack of talent. Im not looking to be the worlds greatest bassist, I just want to produce the thing that I love and have great passion for: music! Ive been lurking this board for the past couple weeks and wearing out the search feature. So I gotten some info that is helpful, but I still have some questions. 1)I know that everyone recommends Essex basses for beginners and that is what Im going to get. However, Im a little confused on what model to get. Im looking for a more hard rock sound; think Queens of the Stone Age / Moistboyz. There is another consideration that Im worried about; I have really big hands (my hands measure a little over 11 inches from my thumb to middle finger.) I want a bass that will feel comfortable for someone with big hands. My budget would be up to $200. Does anybody know which model will accommodate my needs? 2)Im really, really confused on amps. From what Ive read, I think a combo amp would be good for me. Im a total music beginner so I may not need something to gig with for a while. Im mainly looking for something that I can practice with and learn the instrument. Im also looking for a hard rock sound. I know that people say not to skimp on an amp, but Im not sure what will meet my needs. Any recommendations? 3)From reading posts for the past couple weeks. I know that I need to develop my ears, learn to read music, and develop timing. Ive already started learning how to read music and I go to one of those online metronomes while Im a work and tap my foot just to get a feel for how to keep timing. Im looking for exercises that can help me develop musically. I want to start with the basics because Im a total beginner to music. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for any help!!!!!