Price point for a professional bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by George Ortega, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. George Ortega

    George Ortega

    Jul 29, 2020
    In a year or two, I'd like to try to work as a session bassist. Right now, I play basses that retail for $200 and under. I'd like to buy a "professional" bass, but would rather not spend any more than I have to. Generally speaking, what's the minimum retail price for a professional grade bass guitar? Thanks.
  2. LastJaguar


    Oct 10, 2019
    Absolute newbie amateur—pretty sure it’s not the bass; it’s the bassist.
  3. Compared to the electric basses of 40-50 years ago, the standards for what constitutes professional grade have definitely gone up. But, the price for that same quality, has come down. The basses you have in your current price range, can do anything you need to be professional. As long as it holds together while you play it, you can sound ‘professional’.
    gebass6, hrodbert696, geof_ and 10 others like this.
  4. saltydude


    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    I usually find decent working nice basses typically start around the $900-$1200 mark. The term Professional Bass really puts a weird twist on It. Too many different ways to put that into perspective. A pro can be proficient on any bass regardless of its cost, and they do.
    Tim Schnautz, Mili, KJMO and 10 others like this.
  5. Sean150


    Jul 18, 2018
    As has been said above there are lots of playable instruments in the lower price range but I’d say you’d be looking 600-1500 for a very good instrument if you are not worried about country of origin. I have seen it mentioned around here that some people demand bassists use Fender’s which might not be right but should go into your considerations as an aspiring studio bassist. That would up your costs a bit.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    While there is not as much closed mindedness as there was a generation ago, you are safer sticking to a known name. But don't hold your breath expecting to pay your rent with music performance.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  7. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Learn how to do a good setup on your existing instruments & develop your playing skills. When the time comes you'll be able to use what you have.
  8. George Ortega

    George Ortega

    Jul 29, 2020
    Thanks, everyone! I'm leaning toward the $699 Fender Player Jaguar. I like that it has both precision and jazz pickups so that I wouldn't have to lug two guitars.
  9. BossOnBass


    Aug 11, 2012
    Houston, TX
    If you're looking for minimum price I recommend patiently hitting the preowned market. Keep an eye out for Carvin, which are pro grade instruments with a good bang to buck ratio in the used market. You can also resell a used instrument without taking a big loss (you will likely end up trying out different basses before u find one that suits you.)
    GIBrat51, dbsfgyd1, Justinian and 9 others like this.
  10. Made is Mexico fender's have come a long way in the past 10-15 years, and I would consider them pro level after you make them how you like. Definitely play a bunch if you can, as qc isn't as stringent as higher priced instruments. I've read that the pickups in the jaguar aren't the best but it is an easy swap and you can shield the pickup cavity while in there. I recommend a split coil jazz bridge pickup in there to mitigate the hum while soloing the pickups.

    If you can solder maybe you can mod it like the tony franklin electronics with 3 way switch. That is my fav pj config.

    Also look around for used gear. At $700 you might be able to find MIA or MIJ Fender. Or another brand Yamaha make nice pj basses.
  11. Alan Ace Cooper

    Alan Ace Cooper Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2004
    Northern Virginia, USA - 13 mi
    Endorsing artist: Devon Basses, DR Strings, EMG pickups, Bag End Cabs
    A friend of mine, in the DC/Maryland area, plays for a local Smooth Jazz band. Occasionally, they act as a back up band for National Acts that come through. They have a few CDs out, they travel out of country every once in a while, etc.. He does the bulk of his bass work with a Squier Active Deluxe 5 string bass. He modified it using some Carvin J Bass pickups and a Bartolini preamp.

    I went to see, Latin superstar, Marc Anthony, playing at a, Sold Out, 10,000 seat arena, back in 2015. His bass player was playing a LakLand Skyline, 55-01, which prob sold for $650.00 then.
    punchdrunk, Obese Chess, B-Lo and 3 others like this.
  12. Gustopher

    Gustopher Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2018
    Honestly, there is no real price point. I have played some really expensive basses that didn't feel right in my hands and I have picked up some cheap pawn shop specials that felt magical. As long as it's reliable, can be setup to your liking and sounds good... you're all good.
  13. $200 bass and $800 lessons will take you a lot farther in life than $1,000 bass and $0 lessons. If there's no bass that's screaming to you "buy me!" then my advice is to wait until you need a specific bass for a specific reason. Just a thought.

    I would advise you to hold off on the Jaguar. Seems to me you are considering it as a "compromise" purchase, as opposed to something that really speaks to you. I would urge you to fact-check your assumption that, "Pro bassists prefer Jaguars, so they don't have to bring two basses to the studio."

    For what it's worth, I have a whole bass collection, ranging up to $3k, and my favorite, most-played bass of all time cost $175. Any bass that a professional is playing on a gig, or in the studio, is a "professional bass guitar."

    There is no minimum price point hammer, that you need to become a professional working carpenter.
    Zonked, H2okie, tekhedd and 20 others like this.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    For session work, the most important factors are:

    1. No electrical noise. This may require swapping pickups and doing a complete shielding job (few instruments come from the factory properly shielded).

    2. Proper intonation. This may require a professional setup nut, fret leveling, etc.

    When I first started working in pro studios, I was surprised how many had instruments and amps already tweaked for low noise and proper intonation available for use. As soon as a client's instrument or amp is discovered to be problematic, the engineer will usually offer one of the studio's own to use instead.

    Keep in mind that the actual bass you own has little to do with being successful doing sessions. In fact it's at the end of a long list of requirements. Good luck in your quest!
  15. This. It’s important to have your instrument in good playing condition, with no fret buzzing or electronic noise that will drive the studio engineer crazy. Also to have good technique that doesn’t produce any finger noise from hammering on the frets or sliding on the strings.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  16. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I think the Fender player series is pro level.
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    If you want to be a session bassist, besides practicing about 8 hours a day, you should own a Jazz bass and a Precision bass, preferably MIA. Despite TalkBass fantasy talk, some producers and other musicians WILL judge you based on what you play. If you are just starting out, don't every give them a reason NOT to hire you; you need every gig you can get.
    Pickebass, Orpheus55, B-Mac and 15 others like this.
  18. Dynomuttasaurus


    Jul 23, 2016
    Great wisdom already. I don't think that it's even possible for a bass to be professional. The professional is the bassist. And, yes, some will judge by the brand on the headstock, but many more will judge based on your attitude, technique, and ability to learn/adapt. Good luck and keep it low.
  19. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Jason Stock, gebass6, SteveCS and 6 others like this.
  20. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    I own two $1000+ Precisions, a 1959 original and a 2014 American Special- but lately I've been making a good amount of coin with a 2019 MIM Custom color Precision. As others have said, it's mostly in the player, and the set up.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020

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