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What to buy? New bass, amp, or neither?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dannyk, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. OK, I'm new to the bass world.

    I am going to start taking lessons and I want to focus on jazz. I would like to eventually gig. Would I be better off with a new jazz-oriented bass (fretless, even?) or should I buy an amp?

    I have a bass to practice with - a Sterling Ray 4 S.U.B. series which was approximately $300 at the local music store. I play through my Eleven Rack's bass models (I'm a 20+ years experienced guitarist) and either listen with headphones or through my monitors.

    My budget is limited to $700 with maybe an additional trade-in worth $800. But let's forget the trade-in funds for initial advice.

    And, of course, the last option is to save the money for ... a higher end amp/bass?

    Or, another thought. A higher end bass and a Sansamp?

    Too many choices!
  2. bnolsen


    Jan 30, 2014
    denver area
    I'm not really qualified to answer you on bass in particular.

    However, when picking up a new instrument, just play what you have for several months, even up to a year before moving to another one.

    Unless you have a real stinker your first bass will be the one which will help guide you to the next one. And the teacher can help you with that as well.
  3. jamiroquaisub


    Dec 28, 2012
    The overwhelming consensus is that you get a lot more mileage out of a better amp than a better bass.
  4. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    You're going to want an amp. You almost always need one of those to gig.
  5. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    There are lots of great pre owned basses and amps to choose from.You have a bass so go with a decent used amp first a $700 budget will get you something real decent.Once you decide or move forward into a band take your Sub and your trade and some cash move up to a better bass.good luck
  6. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    The Sub is a good enough bass to get you through your first couple years of playing. It's going to take time to figure out what feels good to you as far as playability of the instrument and so on. An amp is going to allow you to gig, or if you are concerned that you aren't ready for that, at least jam with your friends and so on.
  7. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I wouldn’t buy anything yet. Take your lessons and continue as you are until circumstances dictate what’s the best thing to do. Of course that's easier said than done if you've got GAS, haha.

    Best of luck.
  8. dls119


    Jun 27, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I would vote for a nice, quality amp. A sterling SUB is a fine bass. In a jazz setting, roll the tone to taste and go for it.
  9. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    The SUB is a good bass. Despite owning a few good basses I still bought a SUB because they are fun to play and great bang for the buck. I wouldn't think twice about playing my SUB at a gig, but if I didn't have a great amp backing me up I'd be terrified. There are some killed deals in the TB Classifieds and some good amps to be had for a fair price from stores. New basses are fun, but if you don't have a good amp they're close to useless at gigs and jams.
  10. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Your bass is plenty to last you a loooooong time.

    I will say if you're inclined to go fretless, and considering you already know your way around a fretboard and have a great fretted bass already then by all means start shopping around and get one.

    Although I don't own a fretless myself, back when I was taking bass lessons my instructor often [del]forced[/del] let me use his fretless and I'm glad he did.

    You may want a small practice amp for now (Ampeg BA series or Peavey Max, series, etc etc) if you really needed something to tote around for informal or low volume level jams, but if you're happy with your current practice setup and won't be playing with other musicians for a while then great, more time to save up.

    Until you're actually playing with other musicians you won't really know what your going to want or need concerning a gig worthy rig anyway.

    Good luck.
  11. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Spector-Dingwall-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    The setup you have now if perfect for your current needs, and once you actually start to gig your bass will likely suit you just fine as well, but as you develop as a player and start to find "your sound" you might want something different.

    When you do start gigging you'll need an amp, and I'd highly recommend looking into an Aguilar TH500 and SL112; it's incredibly portable (less than 30lbs all together), surprisingly powerful and is becoming the new standard among jazz players (Janek Gwizdala, Esmeralda Spalding, Gary Willis, John Patitucci, etc.)

    Nearly every high end builder at this years NAMM show (Fodera, Nordstrand, F Bass, Roscoe, etc.) was using them to demo their basses if that tells you anything ;)
  12. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    +1. If that $700 is burning a hole in your pocket, spend it on more lessons.
  13. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    If your current bass is comfortable to practice on then stand pat.

    If it is not, then take it to a good tech and see what they can do to make it play better.

    Keep your money saved up for that amp when you actually start gigging. As you will never really know exactly what you will want or need until you actually start working.
  14. I find interesting the emphasis on amps. My SUB feels fine and sounds good, IMO. And the Eleven Rack gives me good tone. Hell, you can throw a power amp on the Eleven Rack. I thought an "upgraded" bass might give me more options but the tone comes mostly from the amp - and my fingers?


    BTW, I like classic tones like Chuck Rainey's, Walter Becker's, etc.
  15. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    An awesome bass into a crappy amp will sound crappy.
    A crappy bass into an awesome amp will sound much better.
    You don't have a crappy bass ;)

    Tone comes from your fingers, bass, amp, etc. Fingers equate to a large portion of it IMO. Playing the same exact bass & rig, you and I would sound completely different from each other.
  16. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    If you have a usable amplification setup available then don't buy a thing. I rushed into buying a big amp when i first started out and after no time at all I hated the thing, but was stuck with it. Wait til you have developed your own style and sound preferences, then you can find gear which suits you and complements your playing.
  17. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    Get a U.S. made amp with that money. I'd look for a well preserved Peavey bass combo with a 15' speaker and 300watts. Make sure the speaker is still fresh.