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What do you look for in a bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skorzen, Nov 24, 2003.

  1. Skorzen


    Mar 15, 2002
    Springfield MA
    As someone who has built a few basses, and has plans to build more, I am asking what do you look for in a bass?

    What kind of tone more "modern" or "vintage"? Looks? Coffee tables, or a nice LPB(don't have to be exclusive here). I guess what do you like about some basses and not about others.
    I am not looking for your dream bass as much as a working instrument, something that gets the job done in a exemplary way(maybe that is your dream bass) but you get the idea go nuts.

    PS: Mods feel free to move this if you feel the need.
  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Kind of a broad topic-you'll probably get a thousand different opinions from a thousand different people. I like a versatile sound that is a little more modern than vintage P-bassy. Options for pickups and preamps; I'm not a fan of closed-minded builders. I believe that you can really find a lot of basses that sound great for about the same price, so I feel there's no reason to not find a bass that is visually beautiful as well as sonically. I like beautiful and exotic woods and lots of options as far as laminates go. If I want a Fender, I'd just get a Fender.
  3. cods


    Sep 16, 2003
    7 strings. :p.

    good treble.

    fast, thin neck.

    active e.q. or electronics.
  4. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Not only will you get a different answer from different people, but that answer will change depending on when you ask the person. So, I'll contribute to your thread, but be aware that even I change my mind over time.

    I do like jazz basses and P basses, but I would never go to a custom builder for one. Maybe some people would, but not me. If I get a P, it will most likely be a Fender.

    I currently do have a custom bass on order, but it is a weird one. I've got Karl Hoyt working on a 6-string bass strung EADGCF. We picked out a really nice piece of curly walnut for the front and back facings.
  5. The biggest factor by far for me is the sound of the instrument. Looks and playability come second. It's important for an instrument to have a logical setup, and it's nice when there's a good sounding passive and active setting. Since there are people who like a modern tone, and there are others who like a vintage sound, it's nice for basses to be versatile
  6. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    P spacing at the nut, and wider 5+ strings. Neck profile is negotiable. 17mm+ at the bridge, with 18/19mm preferable.

    Humbucker in the P position or closer to the neck. Bridge pickup optional.

    The option to have a solid color (high gloss urethane/ polyurethane). Not that I don't like me some table top woods, but I do like to be able to go with a solid color if I want.

    That's really all I look for.
  7. well you guys are shooting way over my head ... i'm a beggining bassist/guitar hack. At the moment what i was looking for in my bass was a decent sound that wouldn't have me eating at the local soup kitchen. And i'm quite pleased to say that i think i have it. It's nowhere near as good as some of the custom things i've seen flying around here ... but it works for me. (it = my yamaha)

  8. I look for beauty first. If it passes the beauty test, I then look for playability and tone.

    A bass manufacturer has to make hundreds of decisions when making a bass. If the bass manufacturer can't make the proper decisions to make a bass beautiful, I quickly lose confidence in its ability to make the proper decisions to ensure good playability and tone.

    It's just like attraction between the sexes. First, there's physical attraction. Then, it's a matter of chemistry and all the other stuff.
  9. dabbadon8


    Oct 11, 2003

    In that order.
  10. Skorzen


    Mar 15, 2002
    Springfield MA
    Yeah I expected that, and that is in part why I asked. I am sure that there are factors that I have never considered that will make an instrument that much better.

    Thanks for the replies so far keep em coming.
  11. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL

    If you don't have these three (for the vast majority of bassists), the rest is immaterial. Lucky for us, more and more builders are understanding the importantce of the first two and are delivering them at an increasingly better value. :D
  12. Tone

    .............yeap JPJ has it right in my book!

  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    PLAYABILITY. If the bass isn't comfy, nothing else matters.

    I have broad taste in bass tones and looks. I dig everything from my passive Fender to my active graphite-necked Modulus Quantum. Also, I use any bass for any situation: I would never hesitate to play blues and C&W with the Quantum and modern rock with the Fender. Those are big reasons why playability is the #1 criteria (for me) by far.
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Oh: given the above, here is my advice to a would-be luthier: offer a wide 5 option on your five-string models. Thank you. :)
  15. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Vintage P-bass feel, nice fat neck with maple fretboard, somewhat versatile electronics while maintaining a P-bass configuration, perhaps an EBO-type woofer a la Billy Sheehan. Other than that, the rest isn't too important.
  16. If it's an acoustic i check to see if any one dropped any money in the sound hole. :D

  17. artistanbul

    artistanbul Nihavend Longa Vita Brevis

    Apr 15, 2003
    I look for what I want at that time.
    An out of the crowd bass would be a good idea in any points. Different looks, different tone, different playability, different thingy...

    If going for something standard It goes like:
  18. I usually look at the big three simultaneously, playability, looks and tone (includes eq). Some basses excel at a single point so well that might make me decide to take the flaws in other points for granted.

    I'll explain my personal tastes for those points:
    Playability first. This means: 19mm bridge spacing, low action, slender neck which isn't laquered. I can cope with it, sure, but I prefer either unifinished or waxy, feels more natural to me and more... supple I guess is the word.
    Then, looks. It has to look good to me. Personally I want to be able to see and feel all the wood, my preference goes from a natural oil finish to see-through coloured laquer, going from most preferrable to least. Oh, and I like gold (coloured) hardware.
    The tone is one of my most flexible opinions. It just has to sound good to me, which means it has to be well defined, and have some warmth. A lot of good basses deliver that! So that doesn't really narrow it down.
    The EQ has to be versatile, unless the bass has a single tone that's just soooo good. Versatile boils down to active electronics with preferrably a sweepable midrange for me, also because I'm not rich and can't own many basses.

  19. I'd say personally, it's neck, then tone, then price. If I cant get on with the neck, it ain't going to happen. Tone, is very important, but you can shape your tone to some extent with EQing and general amp issues. Then probably the price of the instrument.

    For me, a perfect bass would be a G&L 1980's L-1000 body and neck, with J pickups and a J-Retro pre-amp.