Looking to buy first bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by leraningtoplay, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. leraningtoplay


    Jul 5, 2013
    So, I'm currently learning to play bass. And although I have a bass to practice on, it's the school's crappy loaner bass, and it has horrible quality. I have hardly any experience with buying instruments, and know almost nothing about what to look for in a bass.
    My dad will be paying for it(hopefully) but I still don't want to go over $400... Any tips for looking for something that wouldn't be a waste of money?
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Personally, I suggest a Squier Classic Vibe or Vintage Modified bass. They sound good, have a classic look, stay tuned, have decent electronics, and are quite reliable. I recently picked up a CV jazz for a little over $200 and it's been great. I would have zero issues or concerns using it on a gig while leaving my Modulus, Ernie Ball, or MIA Fender at home. They're that nice. Plus with the money saved you can get yourself a nice tuner, strap, stand, case, and maybe even an effect pedal for fun.
  3. Derp


    May 29, 2013
    I am also a beginner, got my Fender Squier P Bass about 1,5 months ago. Best comfort, best quality. They offered a dual pickup 24 fret active ibanez for a cheaper price, but for no apparent reason, I went for the P-Bass. It would be wiser to get the ibanez( more features and cheaper),but It was too small, the neck was uncomfortable, and the fact that an instrument needs a battery to operate freaks me out. P-Bass - classic feel, beauty, comfort, durability
  4. moe.moe


    Jun 22, 2008
    Hey there,
    Brother, I know exactly how you're feeling cuz I've been there.... ( just my .02 cents worth here ) but if its possible for you, I would go to a local Guitar Center or music store and check out their basses and see what feels good to you, sounds good to your ears, what it feels like when standing with it weight wise, neck wise.... Just to get an idea of what you might like. I wouldn't limit myself to just looking at $400.00 dollar basses while there, check out the more expensive ones and feel the differences (if any) just for your head....

    My first bass guitar was a used MIM (made in Mexico) plum color Fender jazz bass and I think I paid around $300.00 for it along with a little Behringer 30 watt practice amp. I actually found it in my local Craig's List classified.

    Blessings on you and your journey through bass land my friend! :)


    moe. :)
  5. Used MIM Jazz. Nice thin, comfortable neck. Pretty good, right out of the box... But then, further down the road, you could drop in some Dimarzio or Fender USA pickups and a Hipshot or Fender USA bridge, and it would be as good as most American made basses. Or, you could sell it and get all or most of your money back, to get something else that you think will suit you better. It's a good place to start.
  6. moe.moe


    Jun 22, 2008

    +1 :hyper:
  7. Plectrum72

    Plectrum72 Supporting Member

    For a good bass under $400, I personally prefer Squier. As for what too look for...first would be does it hold it's tuning. If you're having to retune your bass in between each song, it's a pain. Second would be the sound. Do you prefer the sound of a PBass, JBass, combo, humbuckers, etc. Third is playability. You can always adjust the action and do a proper setup, but does the neck work for you (thickness, shape, etc.) Fourth is build quality/fit & finish. How well is it put together? Will it last a few years? Is it visually pleasing enough to you that you are inclined to pick it up and play instead of leaving it in it's case or on it's stand?

    To figure out all these things though, you've got to try it out. Spend some time in the store with the one(s) you think you like. Once you've narrowed it down, see if you can spend 20-30 min with it before you buy it just to be sure it's the one you want. Sales clerk may or may not get annoyed, but it's your money.
  8. Keep you eyes on Craig's list for a bit and the sales. If you're willing to have some patience, you can find a great bass for about half the retail price. It's always a good idea to visit a guitar shop and try a bunch of basses so you can decide what kind of sound and feel you like.
  9. girhen


    Mar 20, 2012
    Definitely agree with Guitar Center and Craigslist. Why not use Guitar Center to feel around, and if there's a good thing on Craigslist, check it out? By buying used, I paid $400 for a used bass that sold for $700 new 2 years prior, and it included a (beat up) case.

    Just find out what to look for as you look. Swivel the knobs as you play a note and see if the volume, tone, and blend (if multiple pickups) transition smoothly or if they crackle. How does the action feel? Is there fret buzz? Check the neck for bow. Every bass has a little, but my Squier was horrible and somewhat painful. Most Squiers seem to have worse neck bow than other necks. Note the dings, and how much they matter to you. Does it come with a strap, strap locks, or any other nice accessories?

    I have seen someone say that they've noticed four basses of the same brand play four different ways. The height of the pickups on one may produce more gain. Get a bass you like, but don't be afraid to get your secondary color choice if another sounds better, unless it's just that distracting. Have your priorities. Sound is most important, don't sacrifice it, but don't get a bass that sounds minutely better but is not what you want. If a Warlock plays 10x better than the P-bass you touched, but you're playing country...just look at the other P-basses, that's too outside to use for your music. But don't be so stuck on a red you love the color of but the sound is mediocre that you won't get a blue color you like a little less but the sound is perfect.
  10. ShotBaker

    ShotBaker Inactive

    Jul 8, 2013
    I'd look for a used U.S.A. made Peavey Foundation 4 string. Nice, tiny neck for starters. They sell 2nd hand for around $250. at the pawn shops. Check out craigs and Music Go Round, too.

    Take a guitarist/bassist with you to check the neck for twists/over-bowing. Check the electronics, as well.
  11. Jtaing562


    May 24, 2013
    Look into an Ibanez GSR200. It has a slim neck, p+j pickups, and it is lightweight. New goes for $199 and used can be had for around $70-$100. With left over money, you can buy a used 100 watt amp or so for $100-$200.
  12. Batmensch


    Jul 4, 2010
    Media, PA.
    Unless the OP knows somebody a little more knowledgeable than he to help him out, I would suggest he stay away from used, despite the advice others here have given. He won't know what defects to look for, and if some should turn up after the purchase, he will have no warranty to fall back on. Look into getting a new Squier or Ibanez or Peavey. (My personal recce would be the Squier) and forget buying used for now. You can save a lot of money buying used, but it's more risky, especially for a new player.
  13. girhen


    Mar 20, 2012
    I've seen a lot of Squiers with bow issues. Mine was the worst of the lot, but I've been turned off on them for that.
  14. Batmensch


    Jul 4, 2010
    Media, PA.
    Just so you know, despite your personal experience, that is not a common issue with Squiers, anymore than with any other mass manufactured bass. for your singular experience to be a viable indicator of such an issue being common, you would have had to have seen it in upwards of a hundred or so Squiers. The only Squiers I've ever heard about having such neck problems have been a few Affinitys, none from the VM or CV lines.
  15. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    I played a used MIM fender deluxe p at sam ash....tone monster...I almost bought it at the $500 asking price. 5hose things can cop the p tone...jazz burpy tone w either of the pickups soloed and sounds killer with 50/50. Passive switch makes a dying battery phobia a thing of the past.
  16. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    Also dont be so fast to fall in love with the "slim, fast neck" thing. Like being technically proficient at fast passages has anything to do with the neck width unless u have extraordinarily small hands. The bass feels awkward and uncomfortable at first no matter what neck is on it. As ive got seasoned and decades of experience behind me....ive shifted to liking necks with a lil more meat on em and the current p nut width of 1.625" makes a lot of some advanced techniques like left hand muting, barring strings and rolling off of one to not strike both notes simultaneously, and other concepts easier. Id much rather have an old 1.75" p neck in my hands than the tiny hand crampers ibanez guitar like bass necks. Again, just my preference as im sure many people like the "thin" necks...cant get myself to say fast. Billy sheenans attitudes have huge p sfyle necks on em and hes fairly fast..eh?
  17. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    When I started out I went straight to the modernized, active look and feel which was all the rage in the 80's. If I had a do over, I would have gone first for the classic Fender passive family route. I feel that there is a world of technique and tone that develops more easily with a "fundamental" instrument. Nothing wrong with any bass or style you choose. This is just what I would do differently for myself given hindsight.
  18. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    how about a musicman sterling sub ray?
  19. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    +1000....I started playing bass in 85 and when the kramer era spectors were out I had to get one...all about the active sounds. I thought fenders were ugly and for old fogeys and country bassists. Wasnt until I started to get real serious with my bass skills and started to venture out of the metal scene into r&b and jazz and reading music(or being a true musician) that I formed an appreciation for fenders and other passive organic counterparts.
  20. Arkhon06


    Jul 9, 2013
    Go for the SUB ray 4 (sterling by MM, released august 2012), it's an unbelievable instrument for the price (300 €). Got mine 8 months ago, very good quality and AMAZING sound range with only treeble & bass boosters. Plus the satin neck is so sexy and easy to play.

    I've tested a few Squier before buying the SUB and there's absolutely no comparison in my opinion in terms of quality and sound.
    Also, I've tried a "real" Sterling recently (which is like 1000-1200 €), the price difference is ridiculous as they are very close soundwise.

    Just go for it ! You'll be heard :bassist: