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Newbies and Nice Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    If you are a newbie and you don't have a "nice" bass, don't worry about it! You probably don't play well enough to get most out of a higher end bass.

    First, these days, most budget basses sound very good. Recently, I have been playing an Affinity P-bass that I bought for $57, and it gets a proper P-bass tone. I was offered a gig last night after a choir heard me play it. My church, especially the youth group is going for more of a Praise and Worship sound instead of Urban Gospel, and a Pbass works quite well. The P even works with the urban material. I don't want to brag, but my tone on the Affinity is very close to the tone on the 55/64 I had (I may have to buy another!)

    The difference between the two basses is in wood quality, fretwork, and hardware. The Affinity has really bad tuners and a rickety bridge. I had to shim to get action high instead of unplayable. I will play until I buy another P because it would not make economic sense to mod such a cheap bass.

    My point is that a good action is probably wasted on someone who really has not yet developed a touch. Although getting a nice bass is great for those with the money, a newbie needs to actually learn how to play before he or she can really get something out of a nicer bass.
  2. Super Iridium

    Super Iridium Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    Being a newbie, I would only take issue with one thing you've said. I don't really need a "nice" bass custom made out of fancy wood, with gold hardware, and I'd be too scared to play such an expensive bass anyway.

    But the idea that a newbie doesn't need a properly set up bass with "good action" is just wrong. In fact, I think someone who is just starting out (like me) would need a bass that is perfectly set up with strings at just the right distance above the frets so that even less than perfect fretting action by the left hand still brings out the proper tones. In other words, maybe a pro can work around a bass that is set a little high or low and still make good music, but for a beginner, having the bridge, nut and neck set just right is a must.

    All that being said, I love my cheap Gretsch bass and couldn't imaging playing on something so expensive that I would lose my mind if it got scratched or dented. I don't think the tone of my bass is any worse (or better) than what the more expensive basses produce, and so I'm 95% in agreement with your main point--which is that more money does not exactly translate into better sound. Thanks!
  3. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    While I agree with you, a budget bass these days are for the most part so much better than when I first started out 30 years ago, there are still some crummy ones to watch out for that can potentially frustrate even an experienced player. Key is the action of the bass - there was a beginner here on TB who had an incredibly hard time learning and playing his bass until he mentioned (or attached a pic- I can't remember) of how high his strings were from the fretboard. No wonder he was having a hard time!
    Some cheap basses have necks that are just horrible in quality and I wouldn't recommend those to any beginner out there.
    I started off with a great bass, saved up for it - and was glad I did. This again was 30 years ago- it kept me motivated and here's the important thing, I could play the bass even when I got more experienced and eventually turned pro. Unfortunately due to financial circumstances many years ago, I no longer have that bass but I'm appreciative of it. It was an Ibanez Musician 924.
    There are now a lot more inexpensive but definitely viable budget basses compared to what was available back then so bass player newbies have a lot to choose from. Going with a nice bass is a personal choice, but not a necessity now. It comes to whatever will motivate you to want to play and keep learning.
  4. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    Those Affinity's are made with nice wood.
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Yes it is Alder. I love my Affinity J-bass V. It takes a great low action, I just need to improve the shielding. My Affinity Pbass is very used and beat up,
  6. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Truth! Although to be fair if you looked around used Fenders were almost cheap at the time as well. When I started out the musician perspective on Fenders were that they were cheap and there were many better basses out there, I even gave away my first P bass (old in the early 80s when I got it dirt cheap). Hindsight... Nowadays budget Squier, SUB and Peavey basses smoke the gear found in the old Sears catalogs.
  7. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Fender basses were holy grails where I grew up. (Was in an American School in Singapore). Cheap used Fenders were non-existent wish they were- no-one was selling them :)
    Ibanez were the most inexpensive "good" basses, I think they were going for half the price they were selling in the States at that time.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I did not say a newbie did not need a bass that could be set up well. I said a newbie does not need super low action. A really low action requires a touch that newbies do not have.
  9. phatcyclist


    Jan 29, 2014
    Austin, TX
    Total noob with an SR300 here, it's a pretty budget-minded bass but it's way better than I am. :D
  10. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    IMHO whether you are a newbie or not, buy the best instrument that you can afford.
    The better the instrument is the more likely that you will be inspired to play it frequently.
    And the more you play, the better you will become.
  11. BS.

    A nice playing bass is nice for anyone, newbie or not. Not saying expensive, I'm saying nice. No need to be expensive to be nice.

    A nice bass probably benefits a newbie more than an experienced player who can probably manage to get any bass to work decently.
  12. jonnybass1


    Dec 9, 2011
    Brampton, On


    That is all.
  13. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I would say that it would be beneficial to a new player for the strings to be as low as possible, as the strength and dexterity in their fretting hand is going to be significantly less than an experienced player. By having the action low, they can focus on technique early on and not so much on having to overcome the resistance from high action. It also will teach them to use a light touch with their plucking hand from the beginning as opposed to having to tackle that later on. Fundamentally, it makes sense from every aspect of learning the instrument that the action be as low as possible, in combination with proper intonation and good fret work so the beginner isn't fighting the bass while learning.

    Unless of course you're trying to teach someone through belittling their attempts at progress by comparing it to some cliche about how hard the old timers had it, and how easy those kids have it now, or some other equivalent approach to pedology.
  14. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I should have said a super low action is not needed instead of a good action.
  15. HosMan

    HosMan Los! Zum dritten Mal denn!

    Aug 24, 2009
    Northern CA,USA
    I consider myself a Newbie because of the 10+ yrs between learning/playing bass. Couldn`t agree more with this thread`s title and pretty much everything posted so far.Try my anti-GAS Newbie mantra: "Ohhmm...Oh,I can sound crappy on anything...ohhmm...

    You`d almost have to work hard to find a crappy budget bass these days,imho. Blown away by my 2013 Squier VM Mustang! +1 on having your newbie bass professionally set-up,etc.(no matter how "cheap" the bass)! Most smaller music stores (i.e. non-GC) do a generic set-up when you purchase strings anyways. :) Take their advice on which strings too--material/guage.

    Play and examine as many expensive,high-end basses as you can,btw! You`ll begin to understand and feel the differences between a $$ bass and a good bass...esp. as your learning progresses.

    OOPS! Totally,100% take Fat Steve`s advice on having a low action! I should have quoted him,but he posted while I was still 'composing'.
  16. TravisJ


    Aug 16, 2013
    Agreed! An expensive bass won't make a newbie any worse than a cheap one. Buying the best someone can afford is sage advice.
  17. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
  18. If someone has worked hard enough to have the money to spend on the instrument who are you to say they shouldn't buy it? It never ceases to amaze me how much people worry themselves over what their neighbor has.
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I hope you are not talking about me because I did not say that. What I did say is that budget basses do sound good, and that a person with a budget P or J, or even a budget modern active bass is going to sound like the person with a much more expensive bass. I noted that differences are usually in the hardware and finish of basses. Unless is a bass is dirt cheap like my used Affinity beater, it can be nicely modded for a modest sum. If you can afford a Fodera for a first bass fine. As I said before, it will be a while before the newbie will be good enough to really get her or his money out of such a fine bass.
  20. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    I think that "getting one's money" out of a bass is a personal judgement that only the buyer can make. For some, hanging it on the wall is enough, and anyone who presumes to tell them otherwise is far off the mark. IMHO, playability/setup/low action can benefit a beginner even more than a pro. The less you have to fight the instrument to make it submit, the smoother you can play.