Need some advice on buying a bass.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by funk_engineer, Nov 3, 2001.

  1. I'm planning on purchasing my first bass soon so I can get playing. The TalkBass forums appear to be the best bass message boards I've seen, so I thought I'd ask for advice here.
    Let's say I decide to purchase either a Fender P-bass or J-bass (or a clone of one of the above). Now, what exactly is the difference in feel and sound between the two? I know the P-bass has a thicker neck; will this make it harder to play than a J? I like jazz, rock, and blues, but I also really like funky slapping and such. Which has a better slap tone?
    Also, should I go for a Squier or a Standard Fender model? I'm already a musician as a trombonist, so I know this is something which I will keep up 'cause I love music. I may end up buying used either way because of my slightly limited funds. I've heard stories of Squiers starting to go in terms of construction after a few months, so would it be well worth it to spend just a little more and go for a Fender?
    Thanks for any advice, guys and gals.

  2. Welcome to Talkbass, Neil. I think Talkbass is what you say, as well.

    The only advantage a Squier would offer is you wouldn't take as heavy a financial hit if you decide not to stick with bass (it is easy to play, but, very difficult to play well).

    If funk and slap are your thing, and you are sincere about bass, I would opt for a Jazz, maybe either a Made in Mexico model or a used USA model. Not that people don't already play funk and use slap 'n pop technique on a Precis, they do. But, IMO, the Precis is more suited to rock and situations where you don't need much tonal variation. (BTW, I have owned my Precis for decades, so no bias here).

    The Jazz neck is outright skinny compared to the P. People with smaller hands like it more. Playability should be a major concern for you, as well as sound. The sound isn't so important if you can't play it well enough to make the most of the sound. You'll find some basses just "fit" your body better and enable you to play better.

    I could bat the differences around here ad nauseum, but the only way to really make your choice intelligently is to get down to your local music store and tell the salesperson you want to try both. If you can try MIM's and USA's, so much the better.

    Just remember - these are basses that are mass produced in a factory. You can pick up two of the exact, same, model and you may well find one is superior to the other. Plus, many instruments in many stores have really poor action. If the strings seem too low or too high to pluck or fret, ask the salesperson if they can do a quick adjustment or show you one with good action.
  3. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    From what you've said, I would look at used American or Japanese Jazz basses. But you should really go to the music store and play as many as you can find in your price range, different types, different makes, etc.

    Welcome to TalkBass and welcome to Bass! :D
  4. steve2


    Sep 23, 2001
    Piney Flats, TN
    I dont think that you can go wrong with fender. If you are wanting to make one invetment I would get the MIM Jazz Bass. To save a little cost you may be able to find a 2000 model at musicians friends. I bought one from there web site and save a little. One thing about the fenders and I guess it goes for the squires also is they are very upgradeable.

  5. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
  6. Welcome to talkbass Neil! :)

    I used to play the trombone from 6-8th grades.Sure wish I would have kept on with it. :(

    I quit when it got "uncool" to lug that big thing on the bus.Been at the bass a bit over a year.You are gonna luv it dude! :D

    Lots of expearience and help on here.Don`t be shy!
  7. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I played trombone for almost 10 years before graduating from H.S. and moving to drums and bass. Anyway...

    First, the ONLY way that one should purchase a new instrument is to get out there and play them first hand. Since I know that you wil eventually do that, I hope that you will find the following helpful from a guy who has played a ton of Fenders and owns a few, too.
    Most experienced bass players don't worry about the differences between P-basses & Jazz basses. However, there are some VERY IMPORTANT diffrences between the two, and they are differences that might matter A LOT to a beginner. First, the neck profile-thickness from fretboard to back of neck, is thinner on jazz general, than it is for Precisions. Also, the neck width at the nut of a Jazz is 1 1/2", where it is a quarter of an inch wider, 1 3/4", on a P-bass.
    Another good point that was made earlier was that the Jazz has the neck single coil at about the same place as a P, but it also has ANOTHER pickup near the bridge, which adds more brightness and snap to the tone...thus adding versability, more than one tone, and the ability to be better for slapping and popping, etc. The Jazz also has the offset waist contour, which may be more comfortable to play, or may just look better to you, depending on your personal tastes.
    While I will not tell you what bass to buy, nor will I make a specific recommendation to you, I will list some instruments to think about in your search for the perfect instrument for you:

    Fenders are good because they're familiar, are the originals, and are readily available, new or used, at several different price levels...

    Yamaha makes good Fender-style copies, in P-bass form, I think...

    Lakland will be coming out with an overseas model of their Joe Osborne model at the beginning of next year...

    G&L, started by Leo Fender, makes great P-style basses and has just introduced a new J-model.

    Carvin makes an inexpensive bass that is a hybrid of the two...p-style body with more of a jazz neck and pickups.

    Hope this helps!!!
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey neil

    welcome to talkbass!

    there have been some good points made in this thread, i'd like to add just a few things - i would also take the MIM (made in mexico) Fenders over the squiers, and i would say to check out the used market.

    what bassists inspire you? what style of music do you like? these are relevant questions that you should use to help you decide what bass to get.

    you will get more tonal diversity from a jazz bass than you will from a p, and the neck is going to be more manageable due to its smaller size, which will also help you when you are learning to play.

    still, though, it's all subjective.
  9. Thanks for all the replies so far; keep 'em coming.

    Well, John, as far as who inspires me and what I listen to... I know a lot of guys my age say Les Claypool and Flea, but, well, I love 'em. (I just saw Oysterhead last night, too!) I remember that I started thinking about playing bass after hearing Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath. I also like Noel Redding (if I spelled his name right) with Hendrix. I like the bassist from Incubus. The tubist from Drums & Tuba is cool, too, although that doesn't really count. :) I like a whole heck of a lot more stuff than I've listed; that's just what came to mind first. I listen to everything from classical music to jazz to rock to funk towards whatever else I can get around to listening to. I don't know if I'd end up playing a lot of music like some of the guys I listed above or something completely different, so I guess versatility would be nice. But yeah, like I mentioned in my original post, I know for sure I'd like something that would work well for jazz, blues, funk, probably some sort of rock. I hope to get to a music store in town soon; I don't have a car 'cause I'm a college freshman. So as soon as I convince my buddy Steve to give me a ride, I'll go bass testing.

  10. Bass_Wannabe123


    Jun 1, 2003
    HI...i'm a percussionist and I want to learn bass and become a studio bass musician....however...I DON'T HAVE A CLUE ON WHAT TO BUY!!:eek: could someone give me a could idea on what to look for when I start to buy a bass!? and a good place to learn!?...the only thing I know about bass is that it follows the drummers bass drum..
  11. incognito89x

    incognito89x ♪♫♪ ♪ ♪ ♫&#983

    Sep 22, 2002
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    :eek: :mad: :rolleyes: [​IMG]
  12. the bass drum follows the bass guitar buddy
  13. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    Yay trombones!!!!!

    It's because of that stupid instrument that I don't own more basses. I'm up to 9 bones now. Getting a bit ridiculous. It is nice to have a double like the tbone though.
  14. Funky Tune

    Funky Tune

    Apr 28, 2005
    Puerto Rico
    Wow this post help me a lot,jazz or P-bass,ione of my questions for finally get my new one baby,i still thinking that Jazz is superior all around bass,i love jazz,my other disturbing peace of mind bass,is the Sting Ray,i hear manu reviews of how good they are,i can,t choose right now but this post is very helpful for me.
  15. James Jamerson followed nobody!

    Back to the topic at hand though, funk_engineer, you really need to get your hands on some specimens. I wouldn't worry too much about tone at this time, just because your new to bass and really don't know what you want to hear out of an instrument. Mostly, grab everything you can and get an idea of what's comfortable for you. Take into account how heavy an instrument is, how your fingers naturally sit when you're playing and if anything about the instrument hinders that, also how your left hand sits on the neck. For example, I like to have my thumb over the neck, and P-bass necks really hinder playing like that for me, which is why I've never owned one.

    Also, does the bass look good to you? If it sounds shallow, it's not. A bass that looks good to your eyes will make you want to play it more.

    Also, like everyone else says, stay away from the Squiers

    My 0.02 cents
  16. TruDrkness


    Jan 19, 2006
    I was looking to see if I should get an Ibanez SR300 4-string. I am a complete beginner to bass. I haven't played guitar even. So I need some tips and/or suggestions for basses themselves under $300. I have been oogling at the SR300 for like, 4 months and have been saving up for it. Now that I finally have the money, I am looking to spend around $500 total on the necessities (an amp, stand, gig bag, etc.). If you have any doubts on the SR300, please feel free to share with me because the only reason I'm getting it is because one of my pro guitar friends recommended it to me saying I banez has a good rep and that the SR300 is a good beginner's bass.

  17. Ibanez, Dean, Rogue, Squire, it doesn't really matter which. Just buy something. As long as it's one of the name brands it won't be complete crap. And whatever you buy now you'll want to replace in a year so don't agonize so much about it. Instead of "oogling at the SR300 for like, 4 months" you should have gotten a $50 bass and been playing for 4 months. Then you could have had a much better idea what you want to spend you $500 on now that you have it.

    If you have a decent music store in your area see if the have a "starter pack" (bass and amp together). Just grab one for about $200-$300 and start playing. Today. Now. Right now. So what if you overpay by $20 or it's not the greatest deal bass in the world. At least you'll be playing tonight, and that's more important than shopping for the next 4 months.

    If you don't have a store nearby, pick one up from but a local store is much better if you're starting out. You'll have someone to talk to and ask about the setup and a million other questions you'll have in the coming months. Start a good relation with your local music store and it'll pay off in the long run.

    A stand is not a "necessity". The bass is going to become a part of you. Sleep with it in your bed. Live with it in your hands. Same goes with the gig bag. Wear it like your favorite jeans. You don't need a special case to keep you favorite jeans from getting worn, do you? Anyways, who cares if it get scratched, you're going to buy another soon enough. Then you can worry about keeping it nice.

    Just play. Now.
  18. Toneonbass


    Jul 1, 2006
    Advice on what to look for when buying a USED bass?
    any threads on this?
  19. wow, 6 year old (almost) thread, and I'm post 20?!?!?!?!