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What do you look for in a bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by birminghambass, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Instrument feel (playability,action,weight,neck)

    204 vote(s)
  2. Tone

    148 vote(s)
  3. Versatility

    16 vote(s)
  4. Number of strings

    4 vote(s)
  5. Other

    8 vote(s)
  1. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    After 15 years and about 20 basses I've finally discovered what I really want in a bass. I have owned some great basses through the years, but I would always end up trading/selling them for something else. After the dust settles I am always left with my '72 Jazz, SB-2, and Sterling. The one thing these have in common is they are all 4 string, have superb playability and they are all about 8lbs. The feel of the instrument (neck profile, action, body weight, playability) turns out is the most important characteristic of a bass for me. I used to think it was tone and versatility that I craved, but I have owned many basses with great tone and ended up selling them all. I was in Atlanta recently and played a few high-end basses (Fodera, F Bass, and Pedulla) at a bass only shop. I had expected to be blown away by these instruments that cost as much as a used car (one was $6000!), but I was left unimpressed. I am curious to hear what some other of you experienced bass players look for in a bass. Not to belittle any younger guys out there I just think it takes a few years to know this answer for yourself. It did for me.
  2. Funky Tune

    Funky Tune

    Apr 28, 2005
    Puerto Rico
    i looking for everithyng,the best bass for my money,sound,playability,weight,over all good bass for my money,easy. :bassist:
  3. I voted feel. I couldn't tell the difference in tone between an Ibanez and a Fender.

    But, I could sure feel it.
  4. thump326


    Apr 30, 2004
    the person playing it
  5. I went for versatility, not being made of money I need a multi-taskin' work horse
  6. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    IMO it's incredibly hard to separate "Instrument feel" and "Tone": Great tone won't help if I have a rough time physically playing a bass that doesn't suit me physically (body size, neck size and string-spacing, weight, etc) and the most ergonomically-designed won't matter if it sounds like a Peavey 15" cab from the 70's with a moving blanket thrown over it. ;)

    However, I think "tone" sneaks out a win here. I'll fight an instrument for heavenly tone, but a "player" that sounds like crap doesn't help my music in any aspect.
  7. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    'musicman sterling' on the headstock
  8. I voted other because when I shop for an instrument, the budget comes before all. That is ultimately what limits the other factors when I choose an new instrument. Of course, I want the best tone and playability possible, but I can't afford the best right now, so I get the best I can.

    That being said, if I had $3000 I'd buy a Zon Sonus based soley on the awesome tone, playability, and versatility of this instrument! It's possible to have it all!
  9. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    tone, feel and looks......in that order...
  10. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I've been playing off and on for the past 22 years and for me it absolutely has to feel right. No question.

    You can always compensate for the lack of tone from a bass at the amp (to a certain degree anyway).

    If it's not comfortable, I'm not playing it.
  11. Apart from good playability, ergonomics, etc (those are givens), I head straight for the low notes. I look for strength, clarity, and eveness (sp?) down there. To me, this is the power of bass, and power is our friend. YMMV
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    No option for "appearance"? I'm not being flip... some use that as their #1 criteria, and I have no problem with that.

    For me, though, playability comes first. I've sold some otherwise excellent basses simply because string spacing was a smidge too narrow for me.

    I guess tone is second, but looks are a close third because 99% of the audience doesn't care about the nuances of bass tone.
  13. Lewis7789


    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    +1 I voted the same for the same reasons.

    ps- I've been playing for 11 years and have had 17 basses and finally stuck to my only workhorse for the last 2 years, a MM Fender Jazz.
  14. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Tone? YES!!

    Feel? Yes!!!

    Number of strings? YES!!!

    Flexibility? I know what I need(I have realistic expectations), so for me? YES!!

    The answer for me?

    Everything is important and everything has to be just right, otherwise I am not happy. I am reasonable, but I do not feel I should have to compromise.
  15. A brilliant personality, breasts, and and a nice behind =)
  16. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I never try out a bass without playing it unplugged first. If it doesn't have the feel I like, I don't even bother plugging it in.

    I love a wide neck that is thin front to back. It also needs to be a well-balanced bass and *reasonably* lightweight.

    The hardware inspection typically comes next for me (most people probably look at the goods first, but I gotta scope the feel.

    If all is well, I'll plug 'er in. What kind of sound I'm looking for depends upon the type of bass I'm looking for at the time, same with # of strings.
  17. tone and playbility and such
  18. Bassis78


    Dec 22, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Of the 4 or 5 choices that were given to us, the only thing that could NOT be changed on the instrument is the overall 'feel' of it. Tone can be coaxed, the number of strings can be chosen, the style can be chosen as well, etc etc.

    A man does not choose a bride (at least he shouldn't!!) based solely on how large her breasts are or how she looks, but how she makes him feel. To some, this may sound like an odd analogy, but to me it makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for reading my little blurb folks...have a great music filled day!!
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Then again, a good looking chick with big breasts makes me feel good.

    Anyway, what do I look for in a bass? I look for a bass that screams, "Play me!" I don't look for any one ingredient. They are all important. Cost is also very important. I don't know how people can spend thousands of dollars on a bass. But yet I see 'em on here all the time. There are so many things I would rather spend my money on than basses. Plus, really expensive basses don't sound all that good to my ears. They all seem to have this hi-fi tone that sounds like some audiophile's idea of a great bass, but they don't have that fat funk stank that I think is so important in bass. I have played some very expensive basses that I wouldn't use for anything but starting a fire. So I am in total agreement with you. You would think a $6000 bass would have great tone, but I've yet to hear a bass that sounds better than your average Fender P or J.
  20. strummer


    Jul 27, 2005
    I voted other, because frankly I think the answer is color or maybe general appearance. Strange? Immature? Plain stupid? No, no & no.

    All the things you list, except for versatility, are things I expect to find in any bass I try. That is, I don't go around hunting for tone because I'm not looking for a $2000 bass tone in a bass for $149. Good basses sound different, but played by me (and maybe eq'ed too) they generally sound good (or, as good as I can make them sound :smug: )
    Also, playability is just not an issue for me these days. I mean, sure I might find a Bongo more comfortable than a Roscoe beck V, but if the RB looked cooler I'd get it. (It doesn't so there you are)
    Number of strings? Well, yeah I guess i'd rater get a canary yellow 4 string than a chrome 5 string, but I wouldn't consider a 4-string and a 5- or 6-string on the same day. Different tools for different applications.