Looking for advice on multiple fronts (adult beginner)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AlexMYS, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. AlexMYS


    Oct 15, 2021
    Hello everyone,

    My name is Alex and I'm 27 years old, from Serbia. For a couple of months now I've been thinking about buying a bass guitar and starting to learn, but I have multiple questions so I registered on the forum to get answers from the experts :)

    It will be a longer post, but I want to have all fronts covered.

    First of all, I'm a professional chiropractor/physical therapist, I'm afraid that the callouses might affect my profession, since I expect painful fingers for a while. What is your opinion and is there a way to make the process more bearable? I have fairly tough fingers, since I've been lifting weights seriously for a decade, but it's a different thing.

    Gear related questions next - 5 string or 4 string? Active or passive?

    I listen to all kinds of music, and I really mean it, from Serbian turbo-folk to technical death metal, so I'd like to have as versatile instrument as possible, to be able to play along different songs and grow into the instrument. It seems to me that an active bass would give me a lot more versatility. I think that eventually I will need the 5th string, is it a good idea to start on a 5 string then? My budget is around 450 euros, which is around 500$, I can probably add 50 euros as well if needed. I found an Ibanez BTB405QM for 420 euros/489$, used but in great condition, Marcus Miller M7 Swamp Ash 4st NT 1st Gen for 450e/520$ also used, but in great condition and set up and a Cort B4 Plus AS-RM AB for 380e/440$ which is brand new. Prices in my country are higher than in the USA/UK. I'm open for all suggestions, these three seemed good to me, but that means nothing...

    Last questions are learning/practice related: which online resources do you recommend for me to learn from, since that's going to be my primary method of learning, at least in the first couple months. StudyBass seems good, so does Scott's bass lessons. I'd like to stick to a single resource if possible, with assistance from Youtube, this forum etc.

    Thank you all in advance and sorry for the novel, but I'm like that :)
    JRA, Crunchy Growl, Mekana and 5 others like this.
  2. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    Is there a reason why you chose bass? I only ask because when I worked music retail many beginner customers would ask about basses because they thought that was the easier guitar to play.

    I don’t think callous pain will give you any problems with your profession. Depending on how you practice, you might end up with a blister on your plucking finger tip which may not be fun for a week. You could split your practice time with the use of a pick in that case.
  3. AlexMYS


    Oct 15, 2021
    Thanks for the answer Jeff!

    What you wrote is a factor as well, bass seems like an instrument where you can be useful earlier (compared to the guitar), while being very complex and interesting later on.

    Main reason is that I have a very good sense of rhythm and play a bit of darbuka and I like rhythm section side of things in music. Also, I like the versatility and usefulness of the bass, every style of music has space for a bass and I have a really, really diverse taste and want to play along all of it :)

    I can work around blisters, that's not a big issue I can drain it if needed. I have a high pain tolerance as well.
  4. AlexMYS


    Oct 15, 2021
    Any other advice?
  5. Get a bass that is comfortable... I personally am not a fan of Cort.
    Do not just learn from one source... learn from anybody and anything you see.
    If you start... do not give up. You will not be Geddy Lee overnight.
    You only gain 5 lower notes with a 5 string. I play them both. I would recommend starting on a 4 string and get a understanding of the fretboard... but, that's my opinion.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Unless the music you want to play requires otherwise, I would go 4 string and passive - easier to get used to, easier to sell if you don't continue.

    Play as many basses as you can to find what is comfortable to YOU. for instance, I like thicker Precision necks. Some people find them uncomfortable, but after 40 years of playing, it's what works for me.

    More than almost any other instrument, bass is most fun when playing with others, so once you get comfortable, look for other musicians who want to grow together.
  7. TJH3113

    TJH3113 Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2015
    New Windsor, NY
    Just my two cents.
    - Any blisters you may get from playing should not interfere with anything else you do with your hands.
    - I think that every serious bass player should have a 5 string, so why not start with one? Just because you have a low B string, doesn't mean that you have to use it. When I play my 5 string, my B string is, primarily, used as a thumb-rest.
    - I'm a big fan of the Ibanez Talman line. I have a 4 string, so I cannot vouch for the 5, but Ibanez puts out good stuff.
    - I'm self-taught but, from what I've seen, Scott's Bass Lessons seems like a great place to start. Take advantage of his free material (of which there is plenty of) and then move on to the subscriber-based stuff.

    Welcome to the world of bass. I hope you derive as much satisfaction from playing as I have/do.
    Take care.
    el jeffe bass, AlexMYS, GregC and 5 others like this.
  8. Alex, reading your post it seems that you have a pretty realistic approach to taking up bass.
    The instruments you mentioned are all from companies who have a good reputation for quality at reasonable prices, it really comes down to what feels the best to you. (assuming you can play any or all of them before buying)

    All of the basses you mentioned appear to have active controls with dual humbucking pickups, so they should provide you with a variety of tones, though as buldog515bass mentioned above, a passive bass gives you an easier introduction. You'd probably find passive models from all three of those makers available which would be much the same in terms of build quality, body shape, neck thickness and so on, but quite a bit lower in price. But it's your choice as to what you feel suits you best.

    Good luck on your bass journey.
  9. matty1039


    Oct 26, 2015
    New Orleans
    Don’t forget you’ll need an amp too. If I were trying to get set up for $500 I’d go like this:

    $200 for bass
    $200 for an amp

    And then use the rest for a set up (making sure the bass is playable), a gig bag, tuner, cable, strap and all that.
  10. Jack Deth

    Jack Deth

    May 7, 2020
    Ibanez makes basses with quality that is above their price in my experience. There is far more material written/recorded to learn bass using a 4 string than for 5’s (or beyond). That’s something to consider also. The advice on Scott’s Bass Lessons is great advice, he has a ton of free videos on YouTube, and if you decide that more depth is what you want, his membership based website is fantastic.
  11. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Welcome to the board! I hope we can help.

    I would not worry too much about discomfort. You may have some pain, but that happens mostly from over doing it. The advice here is don’t try to learn and master the bass in one day. It takes time and like most things, you gain more progress out of frequent shorter sessions than one in a while marathon sessions.

    As for choice of instrument I would recommend thinking about the music you are likely to be played. Personally, if was starting to today play, more than likely I’d start with a 5 string as a lot of music written today calls for one. You can always use a 5 string for songs that only require 4 strings, but if you need that low B note, you have to jump through hoops to get that note out of 4 string bass.

    Best wishes.
    Andre678, AlexMYS and CallMeAl like this.
  12. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    Great advice already, my 2 cents (do you use that expression in Serbia?)

    -All those basses are from solid manufactures, hard to go wrong. If you can see them in person, hold them, put them on a strap- that’s ideal. Even if you cant play a note, you can get a sense of what feels “right”, what fits you. Trust your gut.

    -light gauge strings, round core nickel, low action and learning to play with a light touch, will all help with your hand health and longevity. Take some time to learn about setup.

    -I’d say start with 5 strings as it seems like you’re heading in that direction eventually. Same with Active. Just remember to check the battery!

    -I personally like the Talkingbass scope of study for beginners, but Scott’s and StudyBass are good too.

    -some kind of practice amp is needed, I vote Vox amplug for headphones only; Rumble or Hartke 25 if you want a speaker.

    Have fun, welcome, and hope to see more of you!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
    JRA and AlexMYS like this.
  13. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    Sounds like you need a 5 string.

    For learning, I HIGHLY recommend the Beginner to Badass course at bassbuzz.com (I have no affiliation, just a satisfied customer). The way it's taught, structured, and presented is fantastic.
    Eli_Kyiv and AlexMYS like this.
  14. Jack Deth

    Jack Deth

    May 7, 2020
    An alternative to just get started learning with could be a headphone amp and workable headphones. At night I still use the bass version of a Vox amPlug in my living room with a cheap set of headphones that are just good enough to hear through. Just a thought…
    AlexMYS likes this.
  15. Dr Zee

    Dr Zee

    Jul 13, 2019
    Easthampton, MA
    I double down with the people who have suggested playing all the Basses you can and getting the one that feels right to you. All the instruments you've listed are well made and could serve you.
    Play the 5 string. I feel active vs passive is not that significant an issue.
    Plus one on SBL .
    Welcome to TB.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
  16. Bisheri


    Feb 2, 2020
    If you're really keen on avoiding callouses, you should consider using tapewound strings
    west al, Mekana and AlexMYS like this.
  17. Lowendchamp


    Jun 27, 2021
    Shelton WA
    Reading Tab helps me a lot still. SBL is great but I get lost sometimes without Tab.
    AlexMYS likes this.
  18. 2tonic


    Dec 22, 2015
    @AlexMYS , you've gotten a lot of positive responses containing good advice, so I'll just address what I haven't seen discussed yet.
    Start slow til you begin to develop those calluses. You'll want to play and play, but don't push it to where it's seriously painful.
    Make sure your bass lessons include some music theory. After you learn what note is where, work on hearing the intervals between them. Once you gain some skill at this you can listen to a song and visualize what the bassist is doing......and why.

    Lastly, and most importantly, play along to the radio. Whatever comes on just try to fall in with it. The goal is to have the major structures of a song worked out by the time it ends, then on to the next one. This serves to build your "ear" , that is, your ability to hear your way through a piece of music, recognizing intervals and repetitive rhythmic patterns.
    Learning songs from recorded material, where you can stop, start, and repeat sections till you have them down pat, will become important later, but the radio is the acid test. It's unpredictability forces you to listen and that helps you learn.
    Hope this helps. Good luck in your journey.
    And welcome to the club!
    jastacey, Marko 1, AlexMYS and 2 others like this.
  19. Your fingers won’t be that bad - actually bass seems easier on the finger than a regular guitar is. Probably fewer pounds of pressure per square inch.

    Also just wanted to add that I never thought I’d see turbo-folk mentioned in a non-meme context. The only stuff that made the rounds in the USA were from the time period during the Yugoslav wars. Are the current examples of the genre still being made, and are they…well, don’t know how to politely put it, but perhaps less likely to be about the various tensions that led to the wars breaking out?
    lark_z and AlexMYS like this.
  20. Alex says that he would like "to be able to play along (with) different songs and grow into the instrument."

    Some have suggested for him to get a headphone amp and good headphones. Does anyone on talkbass know of a headphone amp that has an input for music also? There are some combo amps that have an input for that purpose and if there is a headphone output then it would be a good choice. He would have an amp and a headphone amp.
    Ethereal Thorn likes this.