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Not the typical "What's the best bass?" question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    I was talking today with a guy who told me that he's going to take electric bass classes with me at the university. He's a newbie and asked me THE question: "What's the best bass?" I told him: "That question can't be answered. There are so many variables involved on that. The first thing to consider is the budget. Maybe I can tell you which bass is the best within a price range" -still difficult but possible-. And he told me: "I'm not going to tell you that budget isn't a problem. It's limited, but the thing is: I want a GOOD bass. I mean, think of the minimum for a bass to be considered a good instrument. I'll see if it fits my budget or not".

    That conversation really made me think. One of the first options for a newbie who has a limited budget is an SX, but let's face it: SXs aren't good instruments. They're good because of the price but they aren't plain good (one of my students has one and well...). So I'm throwing the question here: Which bass(es) do you think meets the "absolute minimums" to be considered a good bass? My opinions on this (and please tell me if you think I'm wrong) are that such instrument (4 or 5 string fretted - not sixers) is around US$800 new and I'm randomly thinking of names like MusicMan S.U.B., Yamaha RBX, a MIA standard Fender, Peavey Cirrus BXP, Ibanez Soundgears, Carvins with standard options...

    I agree that it's a hard to answer question. What I feel like a Samick may feel like a Fodera to others, but anyway I'd like to have a list of plain good basses to recommend. Think of an instrument that is not "the best" but you can live happily with it for a long time (practicing and gigging) without thinking of modding it. Thank you in advance for your input!
  2. i'm not the biggest fan in the world but i think a standard fender (p or j) will always get the job done somehow, weither it be the best or not, people always seem to go by fender.

    i'm not saying there the best basses in the world, i'm just saying they've always really been there and always works, maybe not the best but they work.
  3. Period.
  4. fender MIA's i guess...have those things ever failed? no, not that i've seen anyway. a musicman SUB would be another good one too. i dont think ibanezes are, but thats just cause i dont like ibanez basses. hmm...G&L are flat-out good basses i've heard, and for some reason i wanna say G&L meets the minimum for plain good basses....
  5. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    Wouldn't a Lakland Skyline fall in that range? Fender has been a standard for so many years though.
  6. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Fender MIA.. I'll be honest though if I were to start all over again.. and know what I know now.. I'd get an SX..but thats just me. :ninja:
  7. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    What about some of under 1k spectors or warwicks? I personally think it's the player not the instrument. I've heard some crappy basses sound very good. (taking into account that it does have to be playable...)
  8. If I were just starting out again, I'd have gone with my gut instinct (which I didn't at the time) and gone G&L. I don't regret that I didn't, but I would have gone this way, knowing then what I know now.
  9. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Yamaha. Everything I've ever read/heard says that they make an excellent bass in every price range.

    I am especially impressed with the BB series (414/614, 415/615.) Nicely priced -- $399-$499 and very well made.

    For what it's worth, I have never heard anyone say that Yamaha made a crappy anything (Keyboard, Trombone, Motorcycle, anything!)

    I would definitely put them on my "short-list" of basses to consider.
  10. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    How about one of these ;) :bassist:

  11. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    The best bass(es) are the new 2 pup Stingrays / Sterlings of course.
    They can slap, they can rock, they can shuffle.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm pretty much done with buying basses, but I still want a Daisy Rock like that one!

    That question is so hard to answer. Personally, I think a MIA Fender is as entry level as I like to get, but I've played Squiers that have been amazing. Likewise, I think the $600 Ibanez SRX700 is a darn fine bass, and of course G&L Tribute basses are very nice. I think I'd tell him expect to pay $600-700 for a bass that can be considered "good" and not entry level. Not saying you can't find darn fine basses for much less, but the way he's talking sounds like he wouldn't be satisfied without dropping $600-700.
  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Actually, those Daisy Rock basses are well made. I second IotaNet and few others on Fender Standards, however, if you want a five, the Squier Precsion Bass Special is better than MIM Fender V Standard and it's less than half the price.

    Cort Curbows are really well made and sound good and are pretty reasonable. The five string is under $500.
  14. period. +1 :cool:
  15. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    To really answer the question for the student, you might consider listing the qualities of a good bass.

    Number of pick-ups and controls and variations that are possible.

    Some words of wisdom about balance sitting and standing.

    What to look for in build quality and things to avoid.

    What are some of the characteristics of "BAD" basses that you've seen students bring to your lessons... and how did those characteristics hold them back in their progress.

    You've played many basses, and know that some of them just 'feel wrong' the moment you start to play. Why? Some of them felt "right"... why is that?

    And maybe some words of wisdom about how to try out a bass in a music store. Personally I refuse to play a bass if someone else is trying one... can't really hear, some sort of subtle competition seeps into the moment. What can an inexperienced played do to really test a bass in a store situation. And (best case) if they can take it home for a day, what do they do then?
  16. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    A used peavey cirrus. By miles. Better value than anything else at that price point. Also, MTD Kingston/Sargotta are pretty tastey in that price range too.
  17. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    Hi Alvaro. I also agree that a MIA P or J would do the trick. They`re by far the most "tested" basses out there and a high standard to start with.

    One of the main advantages of those basses is that you "almost" know what you`ll get. I mean, I`ve been lucky enough to try many good basses, but some of their features didn`t work on me, for example: didn`t like Stingray neck profile, weight and balance in some Warwicks, 35" scale in some others, pickup config, overall sound, etc.

    Just my .00000002
  18. I started on a cheap encore fender P copy... I would say a decent MIM fender would be a good starting bet, but unless he is gonna be gigging straight off I'd also say an SX would do just fine... my cheapo encore played well enough for me to learn on after a setup, it just had crappy pups/hardware.

    If he really wants to get a gigworthy bass though on a budget I think either a MIM/MIJ fender or a yamaha would be a good bet.
  19. TrooperFarva


    Nov 25, 2004
    New City, NY
    Fender Geddy Lee
    G&L Tribute
    Lakland Skyline
  20. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    +1 on Yamaha. I have 2 and they are great basses - and not just for the price. I have 2 low-end basses, a BB414 and a BB605. I did put Bartolini pups and preamp in the 605, but the 414 is stock. They are great basses for beginners and seasoned players.

    Back in the day when I was really blowing money on gear, I had Ken Smith, Modulus, Warwick, etc. None of them were really THAT much better.