New Bass player looking for a new bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by zerodown, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. zerodown


    Sep 13, 2005
    Hey Guys. I've been a passive participant at talkbass for the past couple of weeks. If I've learned one thing, it’s that there is an abundance of knowledge floating around on this site. So I hope you don’t mind if I pick your brains
    So here is my deal. I started playing bass about 3 months ago. However, I've been a musician for the past 12 years (drummer). I've always wanted to learn the instrument, but never had the opportunity. Recently, the switch was so that I could play in a band with two of my close friends who are excellent musicians. My roommate, now the drummer just didn't have time to learn another instrument, so I took on the task.
    I love playing drums but forgot how awesome it feels to learn a new instrument. I'm absolutely enamored with bass and how different it is from drumming. Enough rambling.
    The true point of this post is this. I've already out grown my bass. I purchased an Ibanez soundgear SR400 when I started playing and I'm over it. The tone from the bass is so limited, not to mention I need that low B string. Coming from a band where the bassist played only 5 strings, the bottom now feels empty to me.
    Anyway, I’m the kind of guy that likes to buy nice equipment that I can grow into. I play pop rock, so I need something with a bit of edge but will sit nice and fat on whole notes. Also, I have small hands so I've found that smaller necks suit me better. The two basses that I liked while playing at GC (yeah i know, i hate that place too, but they let me screw around with all of their stuff) were the SR5 and the Bongo 5. However they didn't have much of a selection, and i want to buy a used bass (gives it more soul in my mind and you get more for your money).
    So finally my question. I’m looking to spend around $1500. Do any of you have suggestions as to what type of basses I should be looking for?

    Best Regards,
  2. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Go with the Bongo 5 if you liked it... It's all about what feels, sounds, and plays best for you, man..
  3. Here are some suggestions:
    For $1500, I would look for:

    1. *** a used Roscoe - KILLER B string, and great build quality. ***
    2. a Lakland Skyline 55-02. Great all-around bass for this price range
    3. Another great workhorse bass is a used Pulcinella Level 5 -- should go used for around $900-1,200.
    4. There is a NEW Skjold Design Pro Series 5 for sale through I've played it and it kills! Asking price is $1,650, but you should be able to counter with something closer to your budget.

    Hope this helps.
  4. What is your amp setup? You might look at upgrading that first! $1500 is a lot of cash to throw around. I agree with the Bongo or Stingray being a good bass to look at. G&L basses also get good reviews around here. You should be able to find a used bass in the $700-$900 range which leaves you with $600-$800 to buy an adequate rig.
  5. zerodown


    Sep 13, 2005
    Hey guys. Thanks for the responses. I’m currently looking for some music stores where i could play some of these instruments mentioned above. If anyone has recommendations for stores in or around Boston, please let me know.

    Currently I’m playing through an Ampeg BA-210SP. The Band has yet to play a live, non-acoustic show, but the plan is to send me through my sansamp DI to my amp and the PA. I played both the Bongo and SR5 through my amp at guitar center and though they sounded great.

  6. bad_andy


    Sep 21, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    I'd recommend test driving every 5 string you can get your hands on before spending $1500 on an instrument because that's a great sweet spot in terms of bang for the buck, esp. on a good used bass. Lakland and Earnie Ball produce some great basses, but so do a lot of other companies. Make a day of it and go to New York. I agree with Basso Gruvitas as far as it being up to what sounds and feels good to you. Price does not equal quality, blah, blah, blah...

    Speaking for myself, I went from Memphis to Nashville to check out 5 strings for a solid day before I bought one. I tried every bass I could get my hands on before settling on one and it's been with me for the last 9 years! The one I got was a Bossa 5 string ($1400 on special) and if I hadn't heard and played it for myself I'd never have known what a great bass it was. It played and sounded better than anything else they had (up to a $4500 Ken Smith).

    Having said that, here's my $.02 on what to look for:

    1) Start with the B string and see if it matches the others in terms of focus and balance. If it doesn't, what's the point? Instruments that string through the back or well behind the saddle have more of the string under tension and will sound more focused on the lower notes. (Tim Commerford from Audioslave uses reverse headstocks on some of his BEAD tuned basses so that the lower strings have more distance between the nut and the tuning peg.)

    2) Make sure that your bass amp can handle the instrument you're buying. Period. Other wise you'll over drive the speakers or just lose low end focus. I've played on low B string for 12 years and tried everything from small practice amps to 1x18 PA cabinets. Anything less than a 2x12 cabinet with good power handling (300+ watts) is not going to cut it playing next to a loud drummer or guitarist. Also take whatever wattage the guitar player is using and double it when buying a head. Then double it again if you can afford it.

    3) 35" scale basses have stronger fundamentals than 34" but don't let anyone tell you that you have to have one. A well made 34" scale bass with a .130 or .135 string will sound perfectly fine on low B.

    4) Make sure you can reach across to the B string while playing near the 12th fret. The biggest advantage to a 5 (or 6) string bass isn't the extra low notes, but being able to play everything a 4 string has next to the nut further up the neck (esp. on long gigs). Also playing the low strings higher on the neck with a little palm muting makes a great "upright bass" sound in a pinch.

    5) HOWEVER, if you slap, make sure the strings are far apart enough to let your thumb and first finger hit just the strings you want.

    6) It seems like a little thing, but if you play with your fingers, make sure that your right hand thumb has a good place to anchor when playing the B string.

    Good luck!
  7. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    It's cool that you've got a realistic budget. $1500 will buy you a LOT of bass.

    I'll add just one more word:


    Seriously. Try one. Made a believer out of me. I've been playing for 23 years, have been through six or seven basses, and the Bongo is something else entirely.