New to bass and don't know what to buy

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Junjira Brown, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. Junjira Brown

    Junjira Brown

    Sep 30, 2019
    I recently started learning bass and a friend lent me his Fender Squier Bronco Shortscale bass. I've been finding it easy enough to play - I'm quite small so it feels like a good enough size (I don't think I'd go any bigger). However, I struggle to press down hard enough to get a clean sound.

    I've been wanting to get my own bass, but with that in mind, I'm not sure what to get. Would getting a smaller size (for example, I found one that is 27") mean I could press down easier or is that just a matter of me toughening up/practicing? Would I be compromising the sound if I got something that small?

    Sorry if I sound completely uneducated - I have no clue what I'm doing but I'd really like to learn. Thanks!
    Bass V likes this.
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It sounds like the bass you're playing needs a set up. It's a series of adjustments that make it easier to play. It's your friends bass to talk to him about making that happen. The best thing you can do for now is get that bass set up and play it for a while, assuming that's an option. Save your money till you're more comfortable with the instrument and then you can revisit purchase options later. See about getting lessons. A teacher will be able to help you with the set up, again assuming it's okay with the person who owns the bass.
    12BitSlab, bhendrix, JeroB666 and 6 others like this.
  3. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Welcome to TalkBass.

    As @Gorn noted, a proper setup is absolutely essential to playability. I've seen a lot of newbies almost give up because they struggled with their instrument – in fact, I was one of them. As a teenager, my first bass was a 34"-scale Cort that I recall being very cumbersome to play. But at the time, I had no concept of what was involved in making an instrument more playable. And apparently, neither did the retailer that sold it to me. "Truss rod? What's that? Adjustable bridge? Huh? Nut? Isn't that what squirrels eat? You mean I don't have to keep the exact same strings that originally came with the bass?" I ended up trading in that first "unplayable" bass for another bass which is still with me decades later. And I now know every intricacy of its workings.

    Plenty of folks who consider themselves "quite small" do just fine on basses with scale lengths of 34" and greater, so don't fixate on scale length. Rather, have a knowledgeable teacher or guitar tech do a proper setup on the instrument you're currently playing. A properly-setup instrument will alleviate the amount of physical effort required to get a "clean sound."

    Best of luck on your continued journey into Bassdom!
  4. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    It's not how short the strings are that make a bass easy to play. It's more about how close they are to the fretboard. One (or maybe both) of 2 things needs to happen:

    1) You need to get your bass (or the one you're borrowing) set up so it's decently playable.

    2) You need to get fluent enough in your technique (and develop some callouses) so you can easily fret the thing in the right place, with the right amount of pressure. This will come with lessons and/or practice. I'm tall and have huge hands -short scale basses feel dinky to me, but I can play them, and if given the time to adapt, I can play them quite well. I have also seen a 5 foot tall woman play a standard 34 inch scale bass with ridiculously good results - size is likely not the issue.
    garp likes this.
  5. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    first, welcome to talkbass and the wonderful world of bass, it's awesome to hear someone stoked with learning music, and bass in particular. get'r going properly as a student and life will be grand. I've been wanting a Bronco, and yes, short scale basses will be easier to play as far as softer strings go cos there's less tension, that's a plus for you. Broncos are inexpensive so if you get it set up right and like the sound then maybe get another if the owner takes it back, but there are other cool short scale basses to check out as well. if you want to try a 'standard' scale bass that I recommend ceaselessly and you can easily afford it would be the Samick Silvertone LB11, they come in a starter pax for $200 but separately they're around for $100 on the used market. this is not a cheap bass, it's a vintage Fender P bass, just made by different people who know what they're doing. mine is all black and looks cool, the sound is pure Precision, if that's the sound you like then the LB11 is the bass for you. it'll serve you well for life. just remember, TONE is where it all starts, if you love the sound you make then practicing the most mundane stuff for hours is a joy. good luck, and have fun!
  6. Admiral Thrawn

    Admiral Thrawn Trying to find the elusive Brown Note

    Jul 29, 2017
    @garp is absolutely right about setup being a key factor to success.

    I had a Samick I got from a pawn shop and thought it was a POS. And it was, even after getting it setup. Damn thing made practicing incredibly tough and un-fun.

    When I got into my high school's jazz band, I got to play a made in Mexico (MIM) Fender Jazz Bass. This one had a professional setup and I could tell immediately. It made practicing and playing in class so much more enjoyable.


    Talk to your friend about getting his bass setup. Also, look into taking lessons with an instructor. The good ones will check your setup the first lesson--mine checked my StingRay 5's setup right after she said "Hi" to me.

    A quick thing about scale length--the length of the neck and overall length of the bass--I have smallish hands, and am 5'10'. I get around a 34" scale length 5-string bass without a problem. The shorter scale might make things more comfortable, but don't rule out 34" scale basses until you've had some more experience with bass in general. You just might test drive a bass that's 34" and it will be "The One."

    Good luck and welcome to the low end!
  7. ejaggers

    ejaggers Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, tx
    There is nothing wrong with playing short scale if that's what you want. I have 6 LS, and 5 SS, but I will always grab one of the SS first.
    That's what I started on, and that's what I like. I can play long scale just as well, but SS is home to me.

    The best buy for the money was the Squier VM SS Jaguar, but they are discontinued, and people that have them are not selling.
    Check the short scale club to get advice from other TBers.

    BTW, the Bronco and Epiphone EB0 are decent starter basses, but it is very important to have a proper setup.
    It is also true that you are not too small to handle long scale at this point.

    The Official Short Scale Bass Club -- Part 4

  8. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    You're lucky because there are more short-scale basses available today than ever before.
    Get out there and try our as many as possible and you'll definitely find something that feels right.
    Ask the salesperson to show you the difference between a short-scale and a regular bass, ask if they have any basses with flatwound strings...just to see how good they feel.
    Maybe you'll even find a nice used bass that's already set up.
    There are many factors involved, and finding a bass with all the right elements will help you learn and discourage you from giving up.