Played A Bunch Of Basses Today

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TDPRI Bones, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. TDPRI Bones

    TDPRI Bones Guest

    Jul 25, 2019
    Stopped by a Guitar Center(let's just leave that part alone, not a lot of choices around here) that is farther away than the one that is my local one and this one has a separate room for basses, so I sat in there and played almost every 4 string they had, new and used. I wasn't looking to buy, just wanted to try out some basses because it's been decades since I tried any out.

    Nothing too exotic but a decent selection from Squiers to Spector, lots of Music man/Sterling stuff, Epiphone, good range of Fenders and Ibanez, some others that I can't remember.

    Anyway, when I do this with guitars, I can tell immediately by the feel that it's going to be a good guitar for me, don't even have to plug in and I'm always right. With the basses, pretty much everything unplugged sounded and felt the same or at least in the same ball park. This was a very weird experience, I was hoping to be blown away by some of the stuff that was closing in on the $2k range. Nothing was "bad" everything was "good". Obviously because it's GC, some of the stuff was suffering from poor setups due to people screwing around with everything, but I know enough to understand why a bass may be playing poorly due to those issues.

    I'm just getting back into bass after many. many years of playing guitar, so maybe my "taste" needs to develop or maybe I'm not as picky about bass as i am about guitar.

    Minus all the active electronics and stuff like that, what do you guys look for in a 4 string bass in terms of feel and play-ability?

    Also are they really making killer basses in the $300 range or are they overcharging in the $1,500.-- - $2,000.00 range or like I said above, maybe I'm just not that fussy yet because I'm just happy to be back playing bass?
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Ease of play-ability. String spacing. Weight. Quality components. Of course that depends on the price range. There are some really nice instruments in the lower price range. Higher priced instruments.......I feel some brands are overpriced.
  3. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I don't know about "killer" at the $300 price point, but there are some terrific instruments available at the lower end of the spectrum. That wasn't really the situation when I first started playing some three decades ago. IMHO, there is no such thing as an "overcharge" at the $2,000 price point or higher because there will always be players willing to pay sticker price.

    Even FMIC's Squier series has made tremendous leaps in quality in just a few short years. When I played one of the first Vintage Modified instruments, the tone and build quality left a lot to be desired, and yes, GC's neglect on setup certainly didn't help. But by the time the Classic Vibe instruments appeared, there was a tremendous improvement in tone and build quality – even the later Vintage Modified instruments had been improved.

    I still like to first judge an electric bass unamplified. Just as with a guitar, certain things like action, resonance and sustain can be evaluated without plugging in. If it passes the initial criteria, only then is it worth taking a spin with electrons.
  4. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    First, I want a decent set up, cause it's hard to imagine what it will play like otherwise. Also, I like satin necks and nicely finished frets- but those things i can alter myself so not a deal breaker.

    I just came from my local store today myself. I've been on a P bass kick lately, and was thinking of getting a new one. My 2 Ps both have Jazz necks (one modded, one stock) and I've had a bug in me to get a stock P bass and get used to the wider neck. So my testing time is trying to imagine what it would feel like for a 3 hour set. I tested a new player and an older standard, both very nice.

    My 2 basses were pretty cheap, ~$200 each. One squier, one squier/peavey parts. Nothing inherently wrong with either, but I think it would be nice to have a "big boy" fender bass. Also if I go stock P neck, that really opens options to other brands.

    But i agree, plenty of perfectly good basses at that $300 level. Even some Affinities @ 200 new/100 used have been great. With automated machining in the factories, it seems hard to make a terrible bass these days.
  5. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    if you want to be blown away with classic build and tone that shuts down discussions and comparisons to any basic P bass out there then the $100 Samick / Silvertone LB-11 is it. full vintage thump for mere tip money.
    the neck at the nut is very mama bear and the bass is light, for those looking for a great P with less beef.
    Samick Silvertone LB-11 - Google Search
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
    TDPRI Bones likes this.
  6. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Hmm... I have the opposite experience. If you blindfolded me and took me into a store, I'd immediately sniff out the most expensive bass in there due to playability.

    Just kidding, bit only a little. I own a few basses in the 2K range and they are really nice instruments. I wouldn't part with them. I also own a few in the $600-$900 range and those basses are really nice too, but they aren't in the ballpark of my 2K ones.

    For me it comes down to two things and at the top is playability. My expensive instruments feel perfect to me in a way that the others don't quite get to. Then it's about sound. Here my less expensive instruments give the expensive ones a bit more run for the money, because they sound good. But when you put an instrument into my hands and it feels like an extension of my body, that's when I know it's special.
    bhendrix, Border, jhm2112 and 4 others like this.
  7. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'm done looking.
    I try between 50 and 60 basses a year, even though I know I won't be buying any of them.
    Tried a new Epiphone Thunderbird Vintage Pro the other day...might have been the best Thunderbird I've ever had my hands on...but I still couldn't bring myself to buy it, even though it was a great bargain at $699.
    I can say the same for plenty of other basses from $200 up to $2,000.
    So many good basses out there...for other people.
    For me, from now on, it's G&L.
    Something like this.
    Or this.
  8. If you gig a lot comfort is important. If like me I just play for my own enjoyment for maybe and hour or two a day, I like tone variation, passive pups, thin neck(short fingers), and balance of instrument while sitting. For three Hundred dollars you can find gems by looking and trying. GC may not have what you need but local shops with used basses might have more with an already broken in feel to em? On line is always a gamble as is Craig's list or Ebay. But I've done most all. At this stage I'm more into tone with as little electronic interference as possible, ie; boxes, pre-amps, active electronics etc. I want an instrument that sounds like i want it to right off the shelf or out out of the case! Fiddling with strings can be interesting but tiresome doing research and expensive too. Basses are heavy (most ) and a good wide strap can be a good thing.
  9. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi TDPRI Bones :)

    The overall standard has become a lot better in the last 20 - 25 years.

    When I play a bass unplugged, I check if it can purr like a cat and growl like a lion. (light touch, heavy touch)

    The real good ones will do that!

    The neck has to feel comfortable! I hate fighting my instrument!

    I can tell that after playing a few lines. A bass with a neck I don' t bond with, will go back to the wall.

    Only the good ones will get their chance with an amp.

    may the bass be with you

    LBS-bass, JRA and mrb327 like this.
  10. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    B-Lo and LBS-bass like this.
  11. Julian G

    Julian G

    Mar 16, 2017
    We're all different and the way we hold a bass, position our hands, pick our noses etc means that one man's bass love is not necessarily another. Which is great 'vive la differance'

    The first thing I always notice is how well do I get on with the neck. Basses all feel a little different but the MIA Fender Jazz that I have has a neck that feels just right and I play that more than anything. Give me one of those Hofner violin basses and the neck, for me, feels horrendous. So for me it always starts with how does the neck feel.

    In regards to the quality of lower priced basses, my first turn at playing the bass some 38 years back I had a Westone Thunder 1A and that was low priced bass but nowhere near the quality that low priced basses are at these days.
  12. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Played the Squire CV '70s P at GC last weekend and it was really great.
  13. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN

    I love G&Ls. The USA ones I've played come close to boutique quality, for far less $, and the Tributes are amazing bang for buck.

    I only with they would make a Tribute version of the JB-5, as I'm not much of a 4 string player.
    mrb327 likes this.
  14. I'm happy with the basses I have, but test out basses at GC now and then. Last time there, I didn't think anything was very good. The Epi's seemed to have gone downhill - mediocre finish and surprisingly heavy, Hofner's felt cheap, Fender's felt like baseball bats or Neanderthal's clubs, Ibanez were OK for the low price. My local B&M had a better selection with Fender American Performer Mustang (bought it) and other better Fenders, Laklands and others of interest.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    They are and they aren't.

    Good sounding and playing basses are available at a variety of price points these days.

    The term “overcharging” is not applicable when speaking of anything you’re not required pay money for. How much you decide to pay to get the one you want is entirely up to you. You can’t be overcharged if you have the final word. ;)
    scuzzy likes this.
  16. LkS


    Oct 30, 2013
    EU, Slovakia
    Inexpensive bass guitars aren't what they used to be. They got so much better and it happened very quick - about 2 decades. And so you still have people who remember the first attempts at inexpensive basses and how horrible it went. And as with most bad experiences in our lives, this experience is engraved in their memories, and they will never approve of an inexpensive instrument as they would approve an expensive one. I bet most people would not be able to tell whether a bass is inexpensive from a recording, but they would be very much able to tell from seeing it. And the biggest revelation of it all is that it's okay. It's okay to want the more expensive stuff. Sometimes I just wish people were more honest and just admit that they want the more expensive stuff because of the brand name, the pedigree, the looks - whatever, instead of coming up with excuses why they need it. A lot of times it just leads to pointless and endless arguments on the internet anyway.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  17. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    I think it’s much like with guitar: with experience, you start to learn what you like and don’t like.

    For many people, their tastes also get refined over time. They feel things in a $2,000 instrument that they don’t feel in a $300 instrument, and what’s more (or perhaps "worse"), those differences become important to them.

    If you don’t feel the difference between a $300 bass and a $2,000 bass at this point, why pay for subtleties you neither need nor can appreciate (nor can evaluate the suitability of to your personal needs/wants)? However, you might want to get ahead of the game knowing that in just a few months and certainly in a year or two you’ll know a lot more — that’s where a mid-priced bass could come in. It wouldn’t be guaranteed that it’ll suit you in the end, but the chances are better that it would give you some "room to grow" quality-wise as you get back into bass. A high priced bass might be a lifetime keeper, but like with guitars, there are duds among high priced basses too, and other high priced basses might be of excellent quality but may just not end up suiting you — you just don’t know enough yet to decide. If you buy a high priced bass new, expect to take a hit on resale if it doesn’t work out.

    Financially (not necessarily practically) best would be to buy a used, high quality, well known bass so that its resale value would be good if it didn’t end up being the one that works out for you. A different way to go would be to just get a decent cheapo as, assuming it could hold a setup and all the notes played cleanly, etc., it would be good enough no matter what to get started actually, you know, playing bass on! Mid-priced one would be your best bet at going for a middle ground without much knowledge in hand. Personally, I went the "new mid-priced bass" route to get started.

    Fenders tend to hold value better than most others, though any famous and well-liked make/model will hold value better than something more obscure. I keep mentioning value because it took me two tries to get it right with bass (and 3 tries with guitar); you might not nail it the first time - just something to consider.

    Meanwhile, I look for looks, model, name, price before I even pick something up — that thins the heard a lot. Also, I only want 4 string passives, preferably with a rosewood neck. I actually generally like having just 1 pickup on a bass, though 2 is possible. Simple electronics... then, picking an instrument up, I immediately notice if the weight will be an issue — thats a potential biggie for me. How does the neck feel? Any neck dive, and if so, how bad? Fit and finish. Issues like if the there’s fret sprout (fixable) or the body is digging into me (probably not fixable)? Plug it in. Tone? I play all the notes on the fretboard and listen for dead spots or overly loud notes ("wolf tones", I’ve heard them called). I noodle around and see if I like it. Play with all the controls, wrestle with the price... if I like it and want it, well...that’s the danger of trying out basses! :cool:

    Good luck and happy huntin’!
  18. TDPRI Bones likes this.
  19. klejst


    Oct 5, 2010
    It's good to do what you did because although a lot of advice and opinions can be found here it will almost never make up for you actually trying things out for yourself and making personal educated decisions based on your own personal experiences. Case and point, only you can know what you like and want.
  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    TDPRI Bones and teh-slb like this.
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