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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MasterChief, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. MasterChief


    Feb 4, 2003
    When I go to the guitar store to test out guitars, how should I be testing everything to see if everything works great, sounds great, etc.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Check the bass for visible damage

    Check the setup, is the bridge adjustable and is there enough adjustment possible in both directions? On most basses the setup is kinda high, make sure you can lower the saddles low enough, this is almost always a problem on Fender-style basses.

    Check neck relief, check the neck for warps (sideways and axial)

    Play slow, long notes on each string, check for sonic and volume differences, continue all over the neck and all strings, check for high frets (buzzing)..

    Do you like the feel of neck?

    Play it on a strap, how is the balance? Neck-heavy?

    Pickups sound good? Noisy?

    Check the pots for noise (crackling)

    Do you like the EQ (active basses)

    Is the truss rod easily accessable?

    I guess this is it (pretty much)
  3. Here's what I would do:

    1) Look for damage. Is it missing parts? Scratches? Signs of replacement parts? I've seen EB Stingrays with missing volume knobs on sale for full price - how tacky.

    2) Check the setup. Is the truss rod adjusted? String and pickup height? Is it in tune? Are the strings in good condition? If it isn't set-up properly then you won't get an accurate feel for the instrument.

    3) Plug in and play. How does it sound? Any crackling noise when you adjust the input cable or the control pots? How is the tone of the bass? Does it feel comfortable when you play it? Is it too heavy or big? Did it stay in tune?

    Edit: JMX, you beat me to the punch.

    Buying your first instrument can be a difficult task. You're not sure what to look for, how much to spend, and on and on. Here are a few tips to ease your pain.

    First, have a budget in mind before you go into the stores, so that you won't be dazzled by the flash and splendor of the "SPGX5000VR"!!!. With today's instruments you should be able to find a good, playable instrument for between $250 & $500.

    Second, look for simplicity. Basses with tons of controls and gold hardware add to the price and are a distraction from the goal...to learn to play bass guitar. Watch for easy to understand control layout and straight forward hardware (tuning keys and bridges).

    You will run across two different types of pickups, the single coil & the hum canceling

    Single coils are usually about 2 cm wide by 9 cm long and offer a brighter sound. Hum canceling pickups are made up two coils each 3 cm wide by 6 cm long. They are set up in a staggered side by side format and produce a darker, beefier sound.

    Third, ask the salesman about the materials the bass is made from i.e., the woods for the neck and body. Some $250 range instruments have bodies made from plywood that don't produce as nice a tone as many solid wood basses do. The neck of the bass is the shaft where a player presses the strings down against metal bars called frets to produce different notes and sometimes chords. Necks are typically made of maple wood and their fretboards may be either maple (known for a brighter sound) or rosewood (known for a mellower tone).

    Finally, avoid obscure brand names no one has heard of unless there are undeniable good qualities that show you that the instrument is an excellent deal. Recognized brand names will help you when either you decide to upgrade because you're getting so good! And you want to trade your bass in or you decide bass isn't for you and you want to sell the instrument.

    With all this in mind, make sure that the instrument is comfortable to play, hold, wear on a strap, etc. Don't be afraid to ask the salesman to correct things like strings that are too high off the fretboard or buzzing, rattling frets. If you've noted these points you should come away with a great first bass and potential for a lot of enjoyment.

  5. maxoges


    Aug 23, 2000
    Stockholm, Sweden
    If you like playing the guitar more than you like playing Halo, it is the guitar 4 you
  6. MasterChief


    Feb 4, 2003
    This won't be my first, but those guidelines still help. I always have a guitar in my mind and a price range. :D
  7. I can change the title if you like!

    I have purchased many basses in my 33 years career and, I still use those guidelines as a general rule.


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