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Thinking about buying a new bass. Need suggestions.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lockout, Feb 8, 2004.


  1. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Over the past few months I've been putting some money away towards new pickups/electronics for my Spector NS2000-5. But lately I've been having second thoughts about spending the money on these upgrades.

    The thing is... my Spector sounds okay, and I'm sure it would sound amazing with some upgrades, but I just don't really like the way it feels. For instance, the string spacing is too tight for me to feel comfortable playing; I like basses with pretty wide spacing, especially for slapping. Also, the neck just doesn't feel right to me, though I'm not exactly sure why. Could be because it's so thick. Overall, the bass just seems quite a bit more difficult to play than most of the other basses I've played.

    So I've been looking around the Basses forum lately, reading what people have said about certain basses in my preferred pricerange ($400-$700, willing to go up to $1000 or so if it's really worth it.) The main things I'm looking for are: playability, good natural tone (electronics can always be changed later, the bass's unplugged tone is what's important), and looks. I am looking for bass that I will be able to use mainly in jazz and rock/metal, though I would also like it to be able to get real deep reggae-ish tone, as well as a nice slap tone. Finding a bass versatile enough to do all this without spending a fortune is a pretty daunting task. It's especially difficult for me, as there are very few music stores in my area that carry a large selection of basses. The only brands I ever see around here are Fender, Ibanez, and the occasional Spector. This is a big problem for me, since I don't get the chance to try all the different basses that I see talked about on these forums.

    However, after reading about the basses that you guys have suggested in other threads like this, there are several that I'm interested in and would like to hear what others think about them, and if they fit the description of what I'm looking for in a new bass. A few of the basses that have caught my attention are:

    MTD Heir 5-string - Especially the new ones with active electronics. The string spacing is nice and wide, and from what I've read, the necks feel very nice. They look nice too. One thing I was wondering, though. How does the maple fretboard version compare to the rosewood version in terms of sound/feel? Or doesn't it make much of a difference? Also, is it possible to get the active version with the pickguard on it? Or do they not come with that option? Normally I don't really care for pickguards, but I did not mind the Heir's pickguard.

    MTD Saratoga 5-string - Slightly out of my pricerange, but I just want to see what people think about these. How do they compare to the Heirs? Do you think they're worth the extra $400-500 I'd have to spend to get one?

    Lakland 55-01 5-string - Lot's of people seem to really like these. I'm sure they sound very nice and feel good, but the one thing that's keeping me from buying one of these is the way they look. I really have never liked how Lakland basses look. The body shape just doesn't appeal to me, and I can't stand the look of the bridge. If I were to buy one, I would replace the bridge right away. :( I know I shouldn't be judging these basses solely on how they look, but it's the first thing I notice, and I wouldn't be happy playing a bass I didn't like the looks of. I'd consider this bass if it was overwhelmingly better than every other bass in my pricerange, but otherwise I would probably go for something else.

    Right now I think I'm leaning towards the Heir; it seems to be a good deal. What do you think? Of course, there are quite a few other basses that fit into my pricerange, so don't hesitate to suggest one if you think I should take a look at it. :) I am looking mainly for a 5-string, although I may consider a 6-string as long as it still has wide string spacing.

    Wow, I need to learn to write less. :ninja:
     
  2. BoiNtC

    BoiNtC

    Nov 25, 2002
    NYC, USA
    The Heirs look real good, I've played a Kingston and enjoyed it, one thing I wish it had was active and now that its an option I think it'd be an awesome bass, from what I hear the Kingstons/Heirs might be coming out of the same factory as the KSDs (don't quote me on this, just some hearsay). The Saratogas are made in the Czech I think, not sure on that either, haven't really played one, and haven't played a Lakland Skyline for long enough to make an impression, felt pretty much like a Fender to me though. (Might or might not be helpful to you, but hey you were asking for some answers :p)
     
  3. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Hmmm.

    Could you (or anyone else :)) describe the Heir's tone? I've heard recordings of a Kingston, and it was very midrangey. Does the neck PU of the Heir add more bottom to the tone?

    Oh also, if any of you Heir owners have recordings of your basses, I'd love to hear them, even if they are the passive version. I just want to get an idea of the type of tone I'd be expecting from one in order to help influence my decision. ;)
     
  4. bluemonk

    bluemonk

    Dec 17, 2002
    Michigan
    I know nothing about Heir basses, but the bass that came ot my mind when you described your preferences was an Ibanez BTB. They are known for their wide necks (I have a 5 string, and it's true). They have active electronics with more variety of tones than many other actives I've played, there is a quilted maple top that is quite nice looking and the body shape makes for a very balanced feel when standing. There should be lots about the BTB if you search. Even people who don't much care for Ibanez tend to like this bass.
     
  5. BoiNtC

    BoiNtC

    Nov 25, 2002
    NYC, USA
    actually another bass you should look into is the Roscoe Beck V (Fender Artist Series), one of the best they make, I'm probably gonna put a down payment on one on Friday (Was saving up for an MTD USA, but college bills ate too big a chunk out of that fund, so gonna grab a RB5 for now and an MTD when I'm working again). Very versatile bass, been meaning to get one for a while.
    *edit* new these are over your range, but you can get a used one for about 800-900? even in the 700s if you're lucky.
     
  6. Ditto to what bluemonk said about the BTBs. The BTB405QM is about $600 new, the higher model, the BTB515E is just under $1000. Naturally you can get either one for a lot less if you go used. Good tone, versatile, wide necks, and they're usually available in most areas.

    Good luck.

    Mike ;)
     
  7. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Thanks for the suggestions. :)

    I think I'm going to stay away from Ibanez though. Although I've heard great things about their BTB series basses...I just don't really trust them. I have owned/played several of their other higher end basses, and to me it seems that the quality control isn't all that great. Not saying the BTBs aren't great basses, but I haven't had real good experiences with Ibanez.

    The Roscoe Beck V did catch my attention though. I am not a huge fan of Fenders, but if I did end up buying a Fender, it would probably be this one. It does seem nice, but I'd rather not spend that much on a bass right now, and I don't really want to go used unless absolutely necessary.

    I think at this point I am still leaning towards the Heir a bit. I've been looking around a little more for reviews and comments on it, and it seems to have what I'm looking for in a bass. Do you think I'd be happy with it?

    I'm still open to other bass recommendations that any of you might have, so feel free to let me know. :)
     
  8. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Quick update:

    I got a chance to play an Ibanez BTB405 yesterday at the new Guitar Center in Brookfield, WI. It did play pretty well; the string spacing was nice and wide, and the neck felt decent, though it was still a little bit on the thick side. Unfortunately, I wasn't really impressed with the tone. I messed with the knobs a bit and found a sound similar to what I liked, but it still didn't seem quite right.

    I've heard a few recordings of Heirs, and they seem to have the sound I'm looking for. But the main reason why I'm still sitting here undecided is that there aren't any MTD dealers anywhere near me, so I can't try one out before buying.

    Or can I? Are there any online MTD dealers that would allow me to buy the bass, try it out for a week or two, and still be able to return and get a full refund if I don't like it?
     
  9. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Ah, cool. I figured Bass Central would have a policy like this, but I wasn't sure.

    I sent them an e-mail message about a week ago asking if they had any of the new active Heirs in stock, or if they knew when they would be getting them, but I haven't gotten a response yet. :(

    I'll wait a few more days, I don't want to bother them. If I still haven't gotten a response then, I'll just send Gard a PM here and ask.
     
  10. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    I would say a G&L Tribute L-2500. It's one of the most versatile basses around. Possibly even a Used USA L-2500 (I've seen some in the $7-800 range).
     
  11. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    I'd go used and for ~<$1000 with wide string spacing, I'd suggest the Pedulla Rapture 5.

    Note G&L has very narrow spacing.

    Of the ones you listed, 55-01 is my preference, but if you don't like the shape, don't buy it.
     
  12. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Those Pedulla Raptures do look really nice, but I think I'd prefer to buy new. I'd like to have a chance to try the bass out before being stuck with it. Especially if I'm going to be spending that much.

    Thanks for letting me know about the G&L string spacing, though. :)
     
  13. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    no problemo --- sounds like the MTD Heir is the ticket.

    i prefer two pickups for more tonal options --- need a neck pickup to get those serious lows.
     
  14. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    Just thought I'd resurrect this thread once more. :)

    I've been keeping my eyes open lately for other basses that I might consider buying, and one other bass has caught my attention... the Lakland Skyline Joe Osborn 5.

    Unlike the 55-series Laklands, I like the looks of the Skyline JO5s (especially this one ;)), and they seem to have what I'm looking for in terms of string spacing and neck thickness. The price is a bit high, but I can afford to buy one if I think it's really worth it. The only thing that really concerns me about it is that it's fully passive, so I won't have as much control over the sound without having to run over to the amp to adjust the EQ.

    What do you think? Would the Skyline JO5 be a good buy, and worth the extra $400 or so over the MTD? Or is the Heir a better choice?
     
  15. BoiNtC

    BoiNtC

    Nov 25, 2002
    NYC, USA
    How much is the JO, it seems pretty interesting, and seems like it would be a different monster compared to the Heir, I'm not sure which factories the Lakland come out of, but from what I've heard the MTDs come out of the same factories as the KSDs. I've been interested in the JO series too, but never actually played one played one. I've played very few Laklans in my lifetime and haven't fully developed an opnion on em although I wouldn't mind owning one.
     
  16. Lockout

    Lockout

    Dec 24, 2002
    Illinois
    The Skyline JO5's go for around $1000 new...and the USA JO5's go for quite a bit more.

    I'm pretty sure the active Heir 5's are going to cost around $700 (according to that other active Kingston/Heir thread), so the JO5 would have to have a noticeable improvement in either the feel or the sound over the Heir for me to consider buying it.

    I think there's a music store somewhat nearby (45 minute drive :() that carries some Laklands... one of these days I'll have to go and give 'em a try.

    But until then... Has anyone played both the Skyline JO5 and either the active or passive Heir 5 that could comment on how they compare and which they like better? I'd just like to hear what you guys think. :)
     
  17. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    I know you said you wanted to go with a new bass, but if you are willing to go Used you could get into a much nicer bass for the $$

    that said, in the price range you are talking about new, the Lakland Skylines are pretty decent basses