newbie needs help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by airderm, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. airderm


    Jan 16, 2005
    hey everybody,

    i'm an 18 year-old who plans on getting his very first bass this coming week.I'm still unsure about some stuff and honestly hope you guys will help me out a little bit.

    Firstly,should i get a bass with 4 or 5 strings?i dont really know the difference between the two.I've read elsewhere that the two basses are not the same at all and moving from 4 to 5 strings will need some getting used to.Is this at all true?How should i decide?i know this is going to sound a little dumb but should i just get a bass with 5 strings,learn how to play it just like a bass with four,and progress to 5 once i get better?

    I have a friend who is in a band.He says that the bassist gets only a certain brand of this important?to get a branded bass although i'm just starting out?i plan on getting a cheap begginer's bass and get a better one once i get better?so should i do that?or just get a good one right away so i dont have to upgrade?

    adam :confused:
  2. Hi there, good to know you're starting out!

    For the "4 or 5" discussion, it really is a question of how you feel. When you say "work your way up to a 5" there are some people who believe that there is no such thing as working your way up to a 5. Personally, I think to get the basic fundimentals and feel for the instrument, a 4-string would be best.

    As for bassists getting a certain brand, some are comfortable and happy with the stuff a brand puts out. Other than that, it's not at all important what brand it is, as long as you like the sound and it plays well for YOU. As for a beginning bass, around $200 USD would be a nice price range for a first bass. You can certainly get a great beginning bass for that price!

    PM me if you have any more questions. I'll be happy to answer them
  3. Absolutely right. If I was starting out, I would start with a 4 string, it's easier to learn the bassics on. THE most important thing is to try as many basses as you can, regardless of the make and model, and find one that feels comfortable to you. If possible, take someone who plays bass or guitar already with you, they may have some tips for you, as long as the final choice is yours of course!

    There's loads of great budget basses out there, and there really isn't a need at this stage, for you to spend lots of money. A Squire Precision, or an Ibanez, Washburn or whatever, just try as many as you can before you decide, and most of all, have fun, and welcome to the best instrument in the world. :hyper:
  4. To the original poster...

    I was in the same boat as you when I was 18. I got the idea to take up the bass from a guitarist friend. I think you should be able to get a good beginner's bass for about 200-300 bucks. Will you need an amp though? You can probably find decent beginner's packages from companies like Epiphone and Squier in the 300-400 dollar range. You will only get a practice amp in a package for that amount, but it will be something to start with. Also they usually include strings (obviously), as well as picks, basic accessories (like a patch cable, dust cloth, etc), and sometimes an instructional video as well.

    I would try not to spend less than $200 on the guitar alone, though. Anything below that, and the quality is going to be pretty suspect.

    Oh, and I would definitely start with a 4 string. There is enough to do and learn with a basic 4 string bass than having to worry about that low 5th string, which isn't really required for most kinds of music (the only genres where I can see it really being a huge advantage are hardcore/metal, some jazz-rock fusion stuff maybe, etc).
  5. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I would get a used Fender Jazz or Precision (Made in Mexico). If you can find a good one used, it would not only be a great bass, but also a decent investment - if you took care of it, you would likely be able to sell it down the road for what you paid for it. I've seen them used in the $250 range.

    I prefer my four stringers to five personally, though play both. I found one of the harder things to do starting out was muting the strings I wasn't playing - this is important and harder to do on a five.
  6. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I'm going to run counter to everyone else here and suggest you start out on a five. I've been a four player all my life, but recently have started on playing fives - it's been both a real revelation and a major pain to relearn playing. Save yourself the future agony and just do it from the beginning! You may already know this, but a five is tuned just like a four on the upper four strings. The problem most people have in switching to five is finger placement - adding that extra string pooches all your muscle memory and your internal roadmaps, which you don't have yet.

    There are many decent basses available in the $300~$500 range new, a little less used. What style of music do you like and see yourself playing? It would help us make some suggestions.
  7. airderm


    Jan 16, 2005
    thanks again for the quick responses.

    i really dont know...some are saying that i should get a 4 string bass,others think otherwise.i want to play jazz,funk..that kinda music.not so much of heavy metal or likewise.i hope this bit of info helps..i dont know whether any of you heard of Jonny Sjo from the band D'sound that's the kind of music i want to's a clip of him playing live

    my rational is that if that's the kind of music he plays (something i too want to play) and he's using a 5-stringer,it makes sense to get a similar one.but that's just me:A CLUELESS NEWBIE :confused: ...after asking around,and getting responses from you guys,some just dont think it'd be a wise idea.

    i hope u find that link useful.thanks again everybody.will be looking forward to hearing more from the experts:)
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I'm gonna agree with Ken on this. I wish I had started on a five. If you are going to 'work your way up', wouldn't it make more sense to start with a 1 string?

    What is your budget? A decent starter 5 string is the MTD Kingston, they are around $500. If that is too much, there are some other, less expensive alternatives like Peavey, Brice and others.
  9. Good advice from everyone, but you can probably see that a lot of your decision will be based on your opinions, just like everyone here.

    My only piece of solid advice is this - get the absolute best bass you can for the money you have. If you find something that is a little out of your price range, then keep saving.

    Everyone says they will get a beginners bass and then move on, but I believe that if you spend 300 bucks on a beginners bass and then spend 700 on your next one, you have spent 1000 dollars - and could get a fairly special instrument for that kind of money all up.

    Welcome to the community!
  10. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Welcome to the world of bass!

    Jeff & Ken make a good agrument for starting out on a 5 string. When I switched to a 5 after 35+ years of playing a 4 the adjustment was troublesome. The switch up to a 6 string was much easier for some reason.

    5 strings are much more prevelant now than they were in the 60's (yeah, I'm old) so it isn't a big mistake to start on a 5.

    Good luck ........
  11. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Pssst... listen to us old farts, we've been there and have the scars...
  12. I agree with the mod!

    I'm playing for 6 years now! (not a lot yes!) But I recently bought a F Bass that I will receive soon, I pick the Warwick Thumb 5 string to my uncle while waiting mine and to train myself of 5s, and have to say that it's hard to get used of 5 stringers....

    Go with 5!

  13. Sane


    Dec 4, 2004
    Melbourne Fl
    Well being in a ... kinda "metal" band :rolleyes: A 5 would have its advantages... Lot less Drop tunning, and thus no horrible drop C flopping around ... The difference between 5 and 4 to a beginner shouldnt be a problem... its gonna be harder but not in the same sense as I, as a 4 , would see it. Just be a ...few more frets for you to learn, little more finger movement. Where I have to add the new string into my already established (subconscious) fret knowledge. And god forbid the 35" scale... My point... if you know you are trying to move to a five... try it now just make sure to get one with a good Low B string... That can be killer. Try one of the SX five strings some of the guys here will swear by them. Or any of the other great basses people have talked about.. probley best if you play as many as you can before you make the purchase.
  14. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Welcome! My input:
    1. Regarding the 4 or 5 question--it really doesn't matter which one you choose. 5 strings are new enough that it's a new idea to start on one. I know someone who did and he is just fine. I'd start on a 4, but I'm old, too. If you have really small hands, you might find the 5 neck too big, and it will be easiler to find lesson books for 4 strings. Otherwise, it doesn't matter.
    2. Don't buy a package. The amps are below even practice amps and the instruments have very little resale value. No one will want the amp or the bass. If you go to you will find good starter basses. I also agree with the point above that you should be able to find a Fender MIM (made in Mexico) used for a decent price. You should be able to find a cheap Crate amp or something at a pawn shop. Don't go below 25 watts.
    All IMO, of course.
  15. airderm


    Jan 16, 2005
    It seems some are deadset against beginners getting a 5 stringer.but i'm going for it.i kinda agree with whoever said the bit about what a chore it'd be to work my way up to a five.why not start with a 5 right away knowing that that's what i want to achieve in the long be a pro with the 5 stringer. :hyper:

    anyway,has anyone checked out that clip of Jonny Sjo in action?is it a good enough reason for me to start out with a fiver? :help: at this point of time,that's my main motivation to stick to my decision to start out with a five.

    on to another thing..any pointers for getting materials to learn from.i guess i'll stick to the normal books and pretend that my bass has onnly got 4 strings.i know eventually i'll learn the fifth someday.right after i master the basics.

    last thing,so if i do get a 5 stringer,should i just take the fifth string out for the time afraid i'll hit it by accident and screw up al my notes :confused:
  16. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama

  17. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    5-String Basic Fundamentals: The Fun Approach to Bass Improvisation
    by Brian Emmel
  18. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Better for starters:
    Five String Bass: Complete Book of Scales, Modes and Chords
    by Brian Emmel
  19. chunkysoup


    May 12, 2004
    I just ordered my first bass Im starting out on a Rickenbacker 4003. I figured there is plenty I could do with 4 strings. and later I welcome the "challenge" learning 5 and 6 strings. but for now Im going 4 :bassist: