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Returning to action, making the switch from upright... help me find an ax!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassthumpa, Aug 31, 2004.

Which Bass would you recommend?

Poll closed Sep 7, 2004.
  1. Ibanez SR500

    5 vote(s)
  2. Fender Aerodyne II Jazz

    10 vote(s)
  3. Fender Deluxe Active Jazz

    22 vote(s)
  4. Other

    13 vote(s)
  1. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    After nearly 12 years of inactivity, this musician has had enough. Its time for me to do what I've always longed to do... get back on the playing scene! I must apologize ... I know you guys get a million of these "I'm a newbie, help me pick a starter rig" threads... but this one is a bit different for me.

    I'm not a newbie when it comes to playing bass... but I am when it comes to bass guitar. In my high school playing days I was an upright man, starting in orchestra and moving on to jazz. I really enjoyed playing and wanted to make the switch to guitar, but class loads soon ended my playing days, and I could never seem to make the time to pick it back up ever since.

    Well enough of that crap, I'm ready to get going again. It shouldn't be too much of a struggle to get some of the basics back musically speaking, however I know that the switch from upright to guitar isn't a small one, especially after a several year gap. No matter though, I'll get it with practice.

    Now to the meat of the issue... I need a bass! I don't want a POS starter either, but I can't afford to start off with a top-notch dream guitar either. I'll be playing a lot of gospel/jazz, so I'm gonna need something with some fatness (without being muddy), good for some thumpin'... Marcus-y, as you guys would say. I'd love to get my paws on a MM-Jazz 4, just because I know it has the sounds that I want... but I digress.

    I know that within a $550 (preferably close to $500) price barrier I can only do so much, so I want to get the most bang for my buck until I can afford to move up. I've been doing as much research as I can, seaching around sites and forums like this, visiting local shops, pricing locally and online. Here are what seem to be my best options so far:

    Ibanez SR500 - ~$520/w bag @ Strait Music (local) - I've picked this up at a local shop, and it seems to have a nice feel to it. I didn't have time to plug it up and hear it for myself, I plan to go back and do so soon (of course), but everything I've read indicates that it has the sounds that I'm looking for (on a mid-entry level, of course). Love the looks too.

    Fender Aerodyne II Jazz - $489 @ Guitar Trader - When I first decided to make the move to bass guitar, Fender Jazz was the first name that I could think of. I haven't seen this particular model locally, so I only have comments of folks like you to go on, and there are a lot of you that seem to dig this one. However, I've seen a lot that perfer 70's models over the newer Jazz stuff. I'll keep looking locally for this one.

    Fender Deluxe Active Jazz - $529/w bag @ Guitar Trader - Again, Fender Jazz seems to be a popular and safe choice.

    So there are the choices, and there is the poll.

    I completely understand that the views of others are strictly your-milage-may-vary, and I hope to make the final judgement for myself... at the same time, I'm hoping to learn from your guys as well. I've seen people swear by Ibanez Soundgear, others trash it in favor of Fender, etc. This is just one of many guages that I'm using in making my decision. If there are other brands/models that I should check out, then by all means let me know and I'll try to hunt them down.

    Heck, to show how new I am to the bass guitar scene, I'm just recently learning the name Sadowsky... ain't that a trip?! There is a lot for me to learn, and a lot of playing and experimenting for me to do... and I intend to have fun and enjoy it every step of the way!

    I appreciate your patience and assitance in advance!

  2. Welcome back. ;)

    I think you answered your own question, lol. You were giving away so many hints about where your tastes lie.

    That being said, personally if you decide to go the Jazz Bass route, I would stongly advise that you take a little time and seek out a Japanese '75 Fender Jazz Reissue. These basses feature a vintage neck with pearloid block style fingerboard inlays (great for jazz). For the money that you stated you cannot go wrong with one of those. People in this forum love them because they are every bit as good as an American one, without the quality issues, and they are affordable. Avoid Mexican made Fenders as they are total crap.

    Happy hunting :D
  3. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Heh, yeah... my style preference is kinda clear, but it might be kinda tough not knowing which of the Fender models might measure up in comparison to the SR500 if I can't play one myself before buying. That's what I'm really trying to guage here.

    It seems to be well known that the Mexican made Fenders are garbage in comparison to the American/Japanese. I'll have to verify whether or not those that I found on Guitar Trader are Mexican built or not.
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Fender Aerodyne is super nice :eek: :hyper:
  5. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I'm seeing some "other" votes, but no recommendations... care to elaborate, voters?
  6. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    One last bump... and while I'm at it, I'll ask: Has anyone else here made the switch from upright to guitar? How was the transition for you?
  7. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    OK, Midnight. I'm doing the same thing; coming back after a long lay-off. The only difference is that I've got my gear and been practicing for a while and I'm hitting blues jams.

    You didn't really say what sort of music you're going to be playing so I can only guess by the fact that you mentioned the Marcus Miller. If you want one find one on the used market but don't buy without playing it. No sight-unseen internet deals. I'm not saying you can't find good stuff on the internet, but it'll ruin your day (and then some) if you get burned.

    Having said that, there are other options. You could always find a lesser Jazz (Mexican or HWY 1) to get started and modify it to your tastes later or trade it off. As with almost anything else you care to mention, you can find good, bad and indifferent examples of all models of guitar and bass. A guitar player I know (30+ years experience) plays a Mexican Strat that he has set up to his tastes and he's gigging four night a week.

    If you've got someone to help, take him/her with you to help you pick out a good one. Heck. You could even find a good used Mexican Jazz and save a lot of money.

    Have a great time with it.
  8. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!

    I was in your same exact shoes, about a year ago. Previous playing experience, out of action for extended period, wants back in,, etc...

    I picked up a new Lakland Skyline 55-01, 5 stringer from Bass Central & haven't regretted it. A new 55-01 is over your ceiling. However, you might want to consider a G&L Tribute. I think they're pretty close to your target price range.

    Are you certain you want a 4-banger, or are you willing to consider a 5-stringer?
  9. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Thanks... I mentioned earlier that I'll be playing jazz/gospel, so I'll need something good for slapping. I would most definitely prefer hands-on evaluation, I'm getting a feel for what others think though.

    There's a local shop that has some MTD Kingstons that should be in my price range, so I'm gonna head up there on my lunch break and check them out.

    Keep the suggestions/advice coming!
  10. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    MTD Kingstons have a great reputation... I've never been able to find one, tho...
  11. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I'd love the get the lows of a 5 without downtuning, but the main reason that I kinda want to start off on a 4 is because I've head of some difficulty learning slap techniques on a 5 due to spacing (or lack thereof). If I could find a 5 that felt comfortable enough that I though I wouldn't struggle to learn slappin, I'd definitely go for it.
  12. doublemuff216


    Jun 14, 2004
    Astoria NY
    i have a fender dlx active jazz IV and V...BOTH are AMAZING! i have never been more pleased with an instrument... the sound that comes out of these is amazing...the american electronics in them are outstanding...NO NOISE AT ALL!...and they play like a dream! definitely pick one up :bassist:
  13. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I've just returned from a very enlightening trip to a local shop, and now I'm more pumped than ever!

    First off... remember that Ibanez SR500 that I was asking about? FORGET IT. This guy had an SR506 that someone traded in for an upgrade, so I picked it up, plugged it in and...
    UGH. It sounded downright fugly. The string tension sucked, and the lows were terrible. Perhaps there were some needed adjustments or something, but that left a terrible taste in my mouth. Bleh.

    So next, the MTD Kingston 5'er... and welcome to a whole new world! Fantastic bass. Lows were clear and precise, and it even made my newbie slap sound good. Neck action was good for me too (I have large paws). Going for $530, it was the new favorite at a sweet price.

    But then it got even better. I ask about the Lakland 55-01, and he happens to have one... plugged up, and its even better. Thing is, he's gotta cut the price down because there are a few minor blemishes, so it'll be going around $600.

    I'm seriously going to try to stretch my budget to get that 55-01. I can probably score a Pandora 3 series on ebay for practicing for cheap (which is really all I need), so I should be close to my $700 budget limit by not coughing up more for a big amp. Throw in a gig bag and I should be all set.

    In the meantime, I'm gonna keep looking and playing to see what else is out there... but I've got serious eyes for that 55-01.
  14. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Another thing that I forgot to mention: Playing the MTD and Lakland squashed my fears of going 5-string... in fact, I don't think I want to go 4 now. With the type of music I'll be playing, I know I'm gonna need that bottom, and those two will hit it just right. Also, the spacing on those two was enough for me to feel comfortable learning how to get some thump going.
  15. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    find a used fender mia jazz or p

    if you want, go with a mexi jazz

    dont let people steer you wrong. ive had a mexi p as my back up bass, ive had thething easily 7 + years, and its never let me down. never needed neck adjustment, hell, ive never even had it set up and it plays great.
  16. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB
    So wait, you played the SR506 and thought it sounded fugly right? Because if you want deep growly bass, then you might want to get a Jazz. I own an SR500, and it has a very strong midrange/treble sound that cuts through a mix very well. Plus it looks and feels killer, not to mention it's a featherweight!

    Although I like Fender Jazzes too, they have great tone, but they're a bit uncomfortable and heavy.
  17. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, it was a 506. Like I said, maybe that one needed some serious adjustments. The B was one rattlin' mofo, and the rest just sounded hollow. Maybe I'll pick up that 500 at the other store just to give it a second listen, but I seriously doubt it'll compare to the MTD or Lakland.

    Its gonna be a tough choice betwen the MTD and Lakland. The MTD seems to have a bit more low end punch from my brief sampling, but the Lakland's on board electronics add much more flexibility which could come in handy.
  18. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    I voted other simply because there is a great big world of electric basses out there, certainly more to choose from at all price points and more interesting choices than 12 years ago. You would be amazed my what you can get for $500-$550 in fact.

    You seem to have a penchant for Fenders. $550 should get you a decent reissue or MIA second hand. Since you mentioned Aerodynes,you also might want to check out the old Yamaha BB5000. A much better bass in my opinion. I own a fretless and love it. You get an incredible amount for your money. There is one on ebay with an opening bid of $375. I track them on ebay and they do not seem to sell that well, so you might get it for that price or just a bit more.

    Good luck.
  19. bassthumpa


    Aug 31, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I wouldn't say that I have a penchant for Fender... its just that its one of the main names that I've heard over the years, so natually I looked to them for initial ideas. As you can see in the posts since, I've discovered more and my leading options aren't Fenders.
  20. no4mk1


    Feb 21, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I doubt you could go wrong with either the MTD or the Lakland, but you should definitely try out a G&L Tribute L2500 as well... The electronics are fantastic, and they are right there in your price range.

    You seem to be on the right track! :cool: