Try Before You Buy ...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pickles, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    ... is a very common reccomendation given to people on the internet who are soliciting opinions about basses. I have a different take:

    A music shop is one of the worst places you could choose to get to know a bass, and you will never have enough time to fully adjust to the instrument. This is especially true if you are trying something radically different than what you are used to. There are many basses out there that will dazzle you in one way or another in the shop (usually by feeling a lot like the bass you have already, or by having a hyped-up top end), and be a major let down in the context of your band, your amp, your gigs ... and some basses that you'd overlook in the shop that might be just the ticket in the real world. Let alone when you set it up with the strings and action you really like!!!

    My reccomendation to anyone looking to try a radically different bass from what they currently play:

    1) Cruise the mags, the web, reviews, talk to friends, listen to recordings, and get a general idea of what you might like to try.

    2) Start a thread here asking for specific reccomendations given your style. If possible upload an MP3 of your music. If not, describing your "influences" can help more than "desired tone" since their are only so many ways to say "deep, clear, and punchy". There are some monster players on here, and people with tons of experience, so you will probably get some valuable input. Someone will also tell you to go try them in a shop. Ignore them :p

    3) Wait until you see the bass you want to try appear on the classifieds on this forum and JUST BUY IT!!! The used market is thriving! You can find just about anything you might want, at really low prices, and if it doesn't work out you can almost always sell it for what you paid.

    Then you take it home and shed. Then you take it to rehersals and make sure everyone is smiling, heads bobbing, guitar solos blazing above your killer new tone (or do your bandmates say "what the heck is that thing?"). Fingers are feeling good, you are throwing down fewer clams than ever (or are you ganking everything up with fret noise and wierd overtones?) You take it on gigs and see how the soundmen like with your new love ... People are dancing, at night's end you get compliments from the musicians in the room (or do you?)

    I think 5 gigs is a reasonable proving period for a bass. If you havn't found something to dislike by then, you've probably got a winner. 5 minutes or even an hour or two in a shop is not the same. If the bass doesn't work out, at any point, and for whatever reason, you've lost nothing and probably learned a lot about your playing and about basses. Sell it and start over from step 1!!!

  2. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Yeah I bought a bass before trying it, and got to say I love it. I mostly looked for features I wanted, and listened to recordings, but I'd say I'm lucky, did find it used however.
  3. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    In my experience, it takes me a lot less time to know if I like a bass enough to keep playing it and a little more time to know if I would ever buy it.

    The first thing I notice is tone and tonal controls about any bass. I usually run some smooth jazz lines and old motown, then tweak the controls and start slapping. If it has passed the test so far then it's worth more time playing. After that it's all about my personal tastes.

    One word of advice: Never think you know the tone of an instrument by what type of pickups it has. I thought Traben would be good with a J/MM combo. Turns out it's one of the worst tones I'd ever heard listed at $500, IMO.

  4. ColdYinTiger


    Jul 15, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    THis is why I play my friend's instruments when I can to try them out to test them. Which is why I'm craving a Parker guitar right now and a Pedula Pentabuzz.,.....
  5. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    my basses ...

    Fender P-Bass - used , from a friend
    Valenti - used , internet deal
    Carvin - new , internet deal
    Washburn - new , local store
    OLP MM - new , internet deal
    Warmoth - new , internet deal

    so , only two of my six were tried out before i bought them .
    only two were used .

    fender , valenti and warmoth are my main players .
    two of those were internet deals ...
  6. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    'think 5 gigs is a reasonable proving period for a bass. If you havn't found something to dislike by then, you've probably got a winner. 5 minutes or even an hour or two in a shop is not the same. If the bass doesn't work out, at any point, and for whatever reason, you've lost nothing and probably learned a lot about your playing and about basses. Sell it and start over from step 1!!!'

    An interesting an unique take on buying a radically different bass. I still prefer going into my local music shop and trying out basses....not once but several times. Only problem I can see with your approach is that you would probably lose money when selling the bass you bought but didn't like....then again how many of us have bought basses on impulse and ended up losing it anyway!
  7. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Of the 19 basses listed on my profile, 9 were bought in a music store. You don't really know a bass until you spend a lot of time with it in practice and in performance so you've got to chance it sooner or later. And unless you know a lot of licks, or you are slap happy, getting to know a bass in a music store is pretty much impossible. My big beef is a deadly silent music store like Bass Central. Play some music and I'll at least be able to play along! The basses I've played the longest were a Cirrus 5 (ebay), a Lakland 55-94 (TalkBass), Modulus (store) and Carvin LB75 (factory direct). No real pattern!
  8. thaimex


    Apr 15, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    First off... I want to thank everyone who lent their thoughts/ideas/comments to my last post in which I asked about an affordable bass for recording purposes.

    I finally settled on a Squier Standard Jazz Bass and I absolutely love it.

    I must say, however, your comments about the "consistency" of Squiers were absolutely correct. I played about 6 Squier J-Basses one strangely dead afternoon at Guitar Center (no one else was there banging away at anything) and each of them had quite a different sound and feel.

    What I ended up doing is picking up a Fender American Jazz Bass and kept it next to me while I played each Squier to compare sound and feel.

    I ended up with a really nice sounding Squier J-Bass that sounds identical to the American I was playing. It has an Antique-Burst Finish, Shell Pickguard and a Rosewood Neck. It plays really fast and has everything from muddy deep to piercing high tones.

    But... I must stress this FYI... you can find a really nice Squier but MAKE SURE YOU TRY BEFORE YOU BUY THEM ! ! !
  9. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    It depends on the store too though. My local music store is usually quiet enough, they have a decent selection of basses(some high end, mid range and beginner) What's more, most of the basses are usually set up pretty well, and there is a wide variety of amps to test them with.

    That said, I played a Jaco pastorius model fender there, and I couldn't stand the way it was setup, but I have played others that played really well. So yea, there is going to be some fudge room, but I think you can learn a decent amount from a good music store's selection. If nothing more, it's a good supplement to exterior research(mags, posts, reviews...etc.)
  10. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    A few random examples of the principle from my experience:

    1 - I picked up a used Pedulla Thunderbass on the net since I thought they looked great, and I wanted to try an "exotic" neck through. That bass really cooked. I then went and played a Rapture J2 in a music store and convinced myself I liked it better than the thunderbass ("more organic", "warmer", yadda yadda), so I bought the J2 and sold the thunderbass. That J2 NEVER sounded as good live or in the studio as the thunderbass did, I ended up selling the J2 (and intend to get another thunderbass at some point). I find it very funny to read my BGRA reviews of these two now with some perspective. I really did think I liked that J2 better for the first month. I should have waited longer to do the review (which is why you havn't seen my sadowsky review yet). Actually I can pretty much stand by my ET-6 review, except for the P-bass comment (I thought I understood that tone, but I did not). BGRA should allow follow up reviews from at least 1 year after the original (and present them as such).

    2 - I had played P basses in stores regularly and never liked them at all. I just didn't "get it" and thought I must not be a P bass guy. Eventually I decided I just needed to try one out with the band so I bought one, not even really liking it in the store. That bass, a 1995 MIA Fender, turned out to be a huge improvement in sound across the board for me. I thought it sounded better, my bandmates thought it sounded better, and engineers thought it sounded better. I had that bass for almost 10 years, and only now has been replaced by a '78 P.

    3 - A long time ago I "fell in love" with stingrays when I played them in shops. Now I have access to an SR5 any time I want it and I just can't stand the thing (theres no accounting for taste).

    Basses are different when you play with the band, and even being a fairly advanced player with 16 years of playing experience, I still can't always tell what is going to work when I'm in a shop. If you are shopping to replace a like instrument ... thats easy. I can choose the best P in the shop every time now ... but when you don't yet fully understand the kind of bass you are looking at ... you need to give it some time.
  11. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    If you buy used in the first place, and you are patient when going to sell, you can almost always get what you paid ... so you're only out shipping costs.
  12. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA

    Thats a good point ... I'm really talking about consitent quality, higher end basses. With the cheap stuff you need to play a bunch and pick the decent one.
  13. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder: Wing Bass
    The last bass I bought in a store in the past 10 years was a Geddy. Everything else, including my Valenti, a Sadowsky, and in the very near future, an F Bass was bought sight unseen. The key is to do a LOT of research, listen to some opinions, and make a decision. Almost every online source (except eBay) will have a trial period. You just have to take advantage.
  14. Here in Ottawa there isn't much I can try before buying so I guess I'm gonna have to be a gambler. I'd better watch out for the evil Gamblor!!!! :ninja:
  15. The Hammer

    The Hammer

    Jul 13, 2004
    Of the last 8 basses I have bought I only played one before buying it
    1. Warwick Thumb 5 string - bought from BassCentral sight unseen
    2. Pedulla Thunderbass 8 string - bought off of eBay
    3. Alembic Mark King 5 string - bought from BassCentral sight unseen
    4. Rickenbacker 4001v63- bought from a Music store and had it sent to me
    5. Peavey Grind Bass - bought from
    6. Status Stealth 5 string - bought from Status and had shipped to me
    7. Mouradian CS-74- bought from a member of talkbass
    8. Larivee ABG - I actually played this before I bought it.
    I've had pretty good luck with all of these and unfortunately I wouldn't have been able to try any of these out where I live
  16. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Both the basses I own now I bought sight unseen on the web. I deffinently agree with the original comments about buying used and not getting burned on resale. My Metro I bought new , all though I had played a couple of NYC's at the time, but there weren't enough metros out to find a used one, mine is #3 from the Namm show and I love it. My Buzz I bought used from an internet dealer for a grand, but I had owned one before. The only hesitation I have with used basses is Fender, It amazes me the difference in quality and sound from bass to bass in there products and they have made some great basses, I'll still buy one used, but only if I know I can resell for the entry fee. But with Companys Like Sadowsky, Fodera,Pedulla,F Bass, Bennevente, MTD and Ken Smith I see no reason not to look used because there consistancy in quality is exceptional. The key is to do what I did with my Pedulla, know what you want, have a budget, and check the web constantly, when one pops jump on it!
  17. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    On rare occasions I have bought new. I got a MM SR5 and sold it for $300 less. I bought a high end Ibanez 4 (mistake) and sold it for $300 less. I bought two (2) new Warwicks (old stock) and sold them for $200 less. In fact, of all the basses I've bought and sold, I made money on only two (about $700 combined). You have to look at the money you lose trying out a bass for a time as "lease" payments. :rolleyes: I just bought a 55-02 which I plan to lose $300 on if and when I sell it. Hopefully I'll stay happy with it.
  18. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I guess it depends on where you live, as well. Being here in the greater NYC/Philly corridor there are so many music stores around that it's relatively easy to try most anything, unless it's a special custom built bass manufacturer. The only bass I have ever purchased without trying it was my most recent find, an FBB fretless 6 that I bought used from another Tber. But even before buying that I had played several FBB's, so I knew of the general quality of the basses. And I totally trusted the cred's of the guy I bought it from :D
  19. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    A lot of places offer a trial period as well. If you can get one, go for it. Try it with your rig in your enviroment for a while, if it doesnt speak to you, take it back and look at something else. I think even Guitar Center will do that, and I know several luthiers will offer something along those lines as well. A good thing to have when blowing some major cash on a new toy :)
  20. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    ...will do 30 days. However, you had better be returning it for something else.