Is a crappy bass better or worse for beginners...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by blubass, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. blubass


    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    As the title says, do you all think it's more of a benefit or a disadvantage to having a bass with issues such as terrible action, sound issues, etc.

    My question comes from a FB post with a broken guitar on it. There were several typical comments that turned into a full blown debate on this issue, the summarized comments that prompted this thread were something to the effect of,

    Person1 "RIP poor guitar, some jerk broke it for a stupid meme"

    Person2 "It's just a cheap guitar not even worth 50 bucks"

    Person1 "Every instrument is worth saving and given to underprivileged, etc."

    Person2 "No kid would ever want to keep playing after trying to learn on that crappy guitar"

    What are your thoughts TB?
  2. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    If it's all you can afford, ANY bass is better than none.
    Also if you do start on a beast of an instrument, think how much better you'll be when you get hold of a proper one.
    Assuming of course that you realise they're not all as hard to play...which is where places like TB come in, to offer advice and encouragement and burritos and even tuna noodle casserole for the truly depraved.
    blubass, JRA, chip134 and 13 others like this.
  3. I learned to play bass on a horrible acoustic that I still have and use regularly as a practice tool. GREAT for building technical skills, finger-strength, and stamina. I'm of the mindset that adversity builds strength. It might not be possible to make it sound great tone-wise or whatever, but if you can play cleanly on a poorly made or setup instrument then playing a more user-friendly instrument later will be a breeze. The one downside was it was a shock to the system when I first played an electric because after about a year of building my fundamental technical skills on an acoustic meant I had no clue how sensitive an amp'd instrument would be and the importance of good muting technique.

    My first electric bass was also a pretty poor quality instrument though, and whenever I picked up a nicer bass (high school's jazz bass comes to mind) my playing would be notably better. I do think the fine movements and techniques, such as muting, are important to practice on a nicer instrument which is more sensitive to subtle variations in playing, but over all I think challenging yourself is good. Especially as a more advanced player now I understand muting so even though the acoustic isn't as "alive" as an amp'd bass and thus muting isn't so important, I can still practice it while playing the acoustic and I notice the difference even if someone listening may not so much.
    blubass, ELG60, Whil57 and 3 others like this.
  4. Mushroo


    Apr 2, 2007
    Plenty of high-quality instruments available today for under $200.

    Squier, SX, Peavey, Ibanez, etc.

    No reason why any player, even a beginner, should be forced to struggle with a sub-par instrument.

    Be sure to set aside some cash for a setup of the bass and a few lessons. :)
    blubass, SJan3, Westsailor and 17 others like this.
  5. steve66


    Sep 17, 2005
    South Florida
    IMO, your at a disadvantage if you play a bass that is so far out of whack that it cannot take simple adjustments. (ex. truss Rod adjustment, string height). You can find great deals on quality basses in the $200-$250 range used. My first bass was a new combo Squier P bass with a rumble 15 amp, gig bag, instrument cable, and allen key to adjust the truss rod for under $200. It needed a few minor adjustments which I was able to do.
    blubass, SJan3, 47th Street and 2 others like this.
  6. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'd respectfully disagree. For a lot of people 200 dollars is a lot of money for what is essentially a luxury item.
    Not to mention that the 200 might only get you the bass...then there's setup, cables, tuner and an amp...
  7. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    I had a terrible bass when I was younger. We called it the "poopie bass". It sucked. It also impeded by progress as a player somewhat by making playing and practicing seem like a chore. I stuck it out because any bass was better than no bass. Once I could afford a quality instrument my playing ability improved tremendously as did my motivation to practice and play. I suddenly couldn't keep my hands off my bass, it was just so much fun! I can see the value of both arguments.
  8. Mushroo


    Apr 2, 2007
    Well, sure, I get that. But look at it this way: The difference between a terrible bass and a playable bass might be only $100. Lessons average about $50 these days, so my advice is, skip a couple weeks of lessons and put the savings toward a playable bass. At the end of a year, I think the player with 50 lessons and a playable bass will sound better than the player with 52 lessons and a crap bass. ;)
    blubass and mikewalker like this.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    So how much should a playable starter bass cost?

    Do most people learn to play piano on instruments that are untunable, uneven key pressure, crappy sounding? IMO/IME, with instruments like that, it's people that quit that have junkie instruments. My grandsons got a 1st Act six string that was untunable, lost it's tuning immediately and had crappy action. Did they try? Yeah a couple of times and that was it.

    Somehow there has to be a way to make cheaper, starter instruments that are playable. With all the entertainment available, Fender, etc. need to get kids playing to sow the seeds for future higher-end purchases.
  10. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I get where you're going here completely. If an instrument's set up (or lack there of) is detrimental to being able to play it, the student is done immediately after they figure that out. 1st Act doesn't make instruments, they make toys. I made the same mistake with my youngest daughter who wanted a guitar. Would up giving her a $99 Epiphone really low end guitar that at least "felt" real enough to her and it got her attention.

    Manufacturer's are in business to make money. The profits aren't in the starter instruments for them. But if they look at the long game, maybe they are losing out on potential or repeat future business. I think I had read (citation needed) that fewer kids are learning to play guitar and bass now then any time sine the 1960's. I don't recall if that was by percentage of population or by raw numbers. If that's raw numbers, then guitar manufacturer's need to take heed to what's going on. Us old guys aren't going to be around forever to support them.

    I'm not necessarily saying that bad starting instuments or the cost of a decent instrument is creating the void... I think there are tons of reasons including just the world in general and the tastes in popular music and "new" instrumentation have a huge effect. I think the Fender, Gibson, and the big boys need to pay attention and figure out new ways to make inroads if they are to continue to be relevent. Not just to getting guitars into childrens hands, but how to respark popularity in what they know how to do, as well as finding new areas to get into. I don't have the answers, but I think I can spot a long term trend.
    blubass, DrummerwStrings and Stumbo like this.
  11. heatheroo1


    Dec 14, 2009
    Ephrata, PA
    The vast majority of the greats from the 60's/70's started out on a crappy bass with a ridiculously high action, horrible intonation and weak pickups. They then coupled that with some cobbled together piece of crap amp. Based on the music that came out of that period, it would seem that starting on a bad bass is almost an advantage. Bottom line: if a person has a desire to make music, they will find a way. If they don't have the desire, any excuse will do.
    blubass, OldDog52 and kodiakblair like this.
  12. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Honestly, this has been asked about a bazillion times, and the answer's still the same - a crappy bass is never better. For anybody. Period. Any more than a crappy anything is better for anybody. The ONLY thing a crappy bass is better than, is nothing. Sometimes. Maybe. If you can't wait for something better. But, that's all...:whistle:
    lfmn16, Westsailor, Oddly and 8 others like this.
  13. Horrible action/set up led me to fretting harder than I should have which led me to develop an RSI. So for beginners with similar circumstances, there's that consideration.
  14. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Worse. Period.

    The less experienced a player you are, the better you need your instrument to be.

    An experienced player can get a workable sound out of nearly anything that's even moderately playable. A beginner needs all the help and freedom from unnecessary distractions they can possibly get.

    It's hard to concentrate on learning all the things you need to learn (and keep yourself motivated) when your instrument sounds lousy and is uncomfortable, or even painful, to play.

    Would be bass players don't quit because they got too much to soon. Most quit because they lived with too little for too long.

    Fortunately, a decent instrument no longer needs to be expensive. Thanks to modern manufacturing methods, good sounding quality basses are available at very reasonable prices these days.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
    blubass, Buzz E, lfmn16 and 6 others like this.
  15. klejst


    Oct 5, 2010
    Anything is better then nothing at the start...unless it's a real POS.
    blubass likes this.
  16. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    When I see people destroying $700 iPhones, just to get views on a YouTube video, wrecking a $50 bass doesn't seem that bad -- especially when a crappy instrument can set a beginner back years, had they started out on something better.
    blubass likes this.
  17. If you can get a really good 1st bass that's great but any bass is better.
    Like many I started out on a really crappy bass. Only 3 strings,tuned using pliers due to busted pegheads,pickup nailed in place. Cost a £1. Next bass was no real improvement Kay Kb100.
    Kay EB100.JPG
    Main thing I learned was "perserverance",pretty much a requirement when learning anything. $500 running shoes may be lighter on your feet but won't push you that extra mile.
    blubass, Hahaha and Oddly like this.
  18. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    I think the problem with this thread is people are confusing cheap with crappy.
    Cheap does not always mean difficult to play.
  19. A novice may not really notice the difference between good and evil when he first picks up a bass but he'll learn the difference mighty fast. If he's going to learn to play he'll need good tools. Not a Sadowski but not a warped 4x4 with a pickup either.
    blubass likes this.
  20. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    When you can get a playable new SX or Douglas bass for around $120, I can't think of any reason to play a crappy bass.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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