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What to look for in a used bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AndrewT, Jun 25, 2001.

  1. AndrewT


    Jun 16, 2001
    Sugar Land, TX
    Hello all, I'm wondering what specific things I should look for when looking to buy a used bass. Neck, bridge, whatever, what should I look for? Thanks a lot.
  2. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Everything. Feel of the bass.. Sound of the bass.. then you can go more in to detail.. at the dents.. scratches... see if the pickups are in all the way.. if all the electronics are working fine. see if there is anything wrong with the hardware etc.. etc.. try it them all out.. and see which one u like the best

  3. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Before you do that, make sure the neck is not warped & that the truss rod works. EVERYTHING else is second. :)
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    The neck is key. Basically check everything you'd check on a new one including whether or not there's a warranty.
  5. Yes Yes, neck is like everything... everything else you can pretty much fix easily.. but neck will definitely give you a hard time...

    I personally am an addict for used basses. I just love shopping for great gears at a blow out price....
    I got my spector at atomic music for 1300...

    All those searching finally paid off...

    ... I know Mr. Johnson would agree....
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Hey Brad,

    That Surine Protocol 7, is that a 5 pin connector a-la-Alembic? Does that baby have stereo output?

    Is that Tobias with the omega cut out rare?

    Damn, that's a lot of basses! :D

  8. No doubt about that .. :D

    now... MR. Johnson.... with all due respect sir, I think you have a serious problem.... with all that gorgeous basses sittin' at home, what are you doing at atomic?? :D

    Anyhow.. that IS some crazy pattern on that Zon..!!!!
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Apoplogies for invading this thread. I promised masterFunk that link.

    Phil, the Surine has a 3 pin XLR connection, I haven't tried it yet.

    The 4 string Tobias is among the first Mike made. Pretty rare. I think my 5 string omega is the last one he did like that and it has the prototypes for the curved top Barts, with blank faces. Pretty rare, too.

    I was just an early customer of Mike's, had no idea things would turn out for him like they did. I keep finding pretty silly deals. Gotta get pics of my Elrick NJS semi-hollowbody fretless 5 online;)
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Atomic's a big part of the problem;)

    Here's the dilemma...which ones should I get rid of?
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Forgot to mention, Andrew, one of the most important things...know the market. Know what you're looking for, what it sells for new, what the typical resale value is (not asking price). If you have time, do some research and just find out what's available from every source available. I was the only person in the store who knew what a Clover was...and what a good deal on it would be. The same's true for my Surine.

    If you don't have time for that just ask someone here... collectively speaking, we've touched just about everything.

    I think most people would be surprised to find out a top of the line Carvin and a used Lakland can run the same price... and a used StingRay is much less.

    Depends on what you like.
  12. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    The last time I bought a second hand bass, I checked the neck, the body, the tuners, the electronic, the sound, the feel etc ...
    But I forgot to take a close look at the bridge.
    And I bought the bass without noticing that the bridge had a slight crack on one of its pieces (a 5 string Gotoh). It's working well but for how long ?
    I knew the seller and when I showed him the crack, he was as surprised as me (or he's a really good actor) and gave me back some of my money.
    I was lucky on this one but it has learned me to check EVERYTHING very carefully.
  13. Hello AndrewT and welcome to Talk Bass.

    What the learned guys here have told you is quite correct.

    Look carefully over the body for signs of the finish splitting vs the age of the instrument. Make sure the control pots are absolutely silent in operation. If they're not, have the dealer use some switch cleaner on them, whilst you're there watching. If that doesn't work but you still want the bass, agree that the pots be changed as part of the purchase deal.

    Make sure bass is what is says it is. Eg. Is it really a USA Fender or is it a Squier badged-up as as USA? Check serial no's on the web. Do whatever you can to protect your hard earned money.

    Finally, as they say in legal circles:

    ....let the buyer beware....

    Rockin John
  14. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Rockin John-could you give me a rough estimate on how much places charge to clean pots-cause the tone on my jazz is getting scratchy. When looking used just check everything you can think of then do it one more time just to be sure you didn't miss anything :D thats all
  15. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Geat topic. What's the best way to check the neck? Could anyone go into some detail about what and what not ot look for? Warpage of the finger board I quess? Also how do you check the truss rod? Is it common practice for someone buying used to give the truss rod a turn?
  16. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    You can check the neck for scratches and "wounds".
    Check the nut (is there a crack ?).
    Loosen the strings and check if the nut moves or the tuners "move".
    First thing is of course fret buzzing. If it buzes like hell, the bass needs a set up.
    I think you can ask for a saving on the price (as much as a good set up costs) or ask the seller to set it up.
  17. Hello FenderJazzCam.

    I've really no idea about cost. But this really is a very simple job. This is what's basically required. To remove the screws securing the control panel: to squirt some electronic switch cleaner / contact lubricant into the works of the pots: to whizz the controls back and forward a few times: to screw the control panel back down again. What's that, 10 minute's worK?

    I reckon it's a job you could try yourself? Go into an electronic store and get some advice on the brand of cleaner best for your purpose. In UK the trade uses something from companies like RS, Electrolube, Kontakt-Chemie, Servisol. An aerosol or whatever might, I guess, cost you $5 for enough cleaner to last you for life!!!

    Why not give it a shot?

    Rockin John
  18. Hi td1368.

    There's always some good advice at www.bassplayer.com. They did an article about how to buy a bass but you'll have to search a bit 'cos I can't remember what it's called. Also, either www.mrgearhed.net or www.fender.com or both has advice about truss rod adjustment pertaining to Fenders. Similar reasoning applies to other basses, of course.

    To check the neck run your eye down it, looking from the nut. You should see the frets sort-of stacking up on one another. You can eye the line of the neck to see if it twists at all - down both sides of course. Eye the line of the neck from the body end, too. Hold down the strings @ 1st and about 15th frets to see how much the neck bows compared to the now straight string. There should be some slight bow away from the string. A couple of mm perhaps. If the neck's straight - or very very nearly so, the rod's probably too tight. If there's too much bow the rod's probably too slack. If there's loads of bow it's probably busted or completely undone.

    If you've not done this before, check your own bass, go to a store and pretend you want to buy, then eye the neck for some practice. You'll soon get a feel for it. If you know a Fender's been set up "correctly" have a look to see what sort of bow that set up produces.

    There's no overall correct set up, only a correct set up for each individual so you wouldn't automatically tweak a truss rod on a used bass.

    Hope that helps.

    Rockin John
  19. td1368


    Jan 9, 2001
    Thanks Rockin John and NJXT it helps loads. I'm looking to buy a five string soon and there is a guitar dealer show in two weeks in the Philadelphia PA area. Not an ad, but FYI for anyone in the area. I went last year and there were some great deals. I didn't have enough money last year but this year well...... Thanks for the advice.

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