View Full Version : Thinking of buying a bass guitar...

The Guy
14-09-2009, 16:18
Was just wondering if anybody had any tips or anything? What should I get, what should I avoid etc.
And I would get a guitar but it's just too many strings for my feeble mind to cope with :D

14-09-2009, 19:19
My brother is a bassist (I kinda stopped playing bass a few years ago. Guitarist mainly. Still have my fender though.). He has an ESP, and a Warwick Vampyre Bolt On "Darklord". Seems to prefer the Warwick, so I'd go with that brand. ESP/Warwick do have custom shops as well if you want to try to get something a little more special.

14-09-2009, 19:36
My first bass was a Yamaha[many moons ago]- they are pretty good to start with- warwick are excellent[possibly pricey] and fenders aren't bad either. Depends what sort of music you are into too. I'd go in and try them out too- jsut to get a feel for the necks, weight of the basses and also if you try them on the amp you're thinking of getting[or at least the same amp] you can get a feel for the different tones different models have.

14-09-2009, 19:52
Fender basses are pretty much the standard, if such a thing existed.
Warwick cost a bit more, and feel and sound a bit different. Neither better or worse, depends on preferences. I personally have two Warwicks and love them to bits. Don't like Fenders, but that's cause I don't have one and I'm not used to playing them!

Like somebody said, Yamaha's do good reliable low-mid entry level guitars.

I wouldn't ever bother with a 5-string bass... I had a 5 string yamaha for a while. I loved it to start with, then slowly realised that I didn't use the extra low string that much and it mainly got in the way.

Best bet is go to your local music shop and play a couple. Also, don't buy an expensive bass if there's a chance you'll give up playing in a year or so, ... that's just a waste of you're money!

The Guy
14-09-2009, 20:24
Thanks for the replies guys :) Will have to keep an eye out for those brands.
I just looked at some Yamahas online and most are in the 200 area :( That's a bit much :p What would be a good cheap option for beginners?

Desert Rain
14-09-2009, 20:28
If you're just starting out I'd recomend a "starter set" which includes a bass guitar, amp and some cables. I got one of those when I started out and since it's pretty cheap, mine was about $350 or so, and it's good if you're just trying it out. However, if you want to go for the real thing I personally like Fender basses, but I really recommend you to pay a visiut at the local music store and try some different brands and models out to see which ones you like.

14-09-2009, 22:31
The thing I found with warwicks is that they weigh a good two tonnes

Look for a good, reasonably priced one, that feels right to you and doesn't hurt to carry...

14-09-2009, 22:49
For the love of God don't get a Fender. They're ok, but they're about 3 times the cost of a normal bass for a negligible difference in quality. You're paying for the name and you're paying through the nose. What sort of music do you play? It would help to know so we can make better suggestions.

15-09-2009, 00:49
Gah. It's not just me then! I'll have to get one now...

I thought I was the only one! Having just discovered Guitar Hero, slightly too late at my age, I've been whacking out medium difficulty on the Bass Guitar and hitting consistant scores. I never quite got into music, but the bass seems something manegeable, even plucking basic notes and learnign the ropes gives you a good entry point.

It's never too late or early to start, just buy a cheapish one and put in the work, and more importantly, get GH5.

(Is not employed my Microsoft).

15-09-2009, 05:02
Was just wondering if anybody had any tips or anything? What should I get, what should I avoid etc.
And I would get a guitar but it's just too many strings for my feeble mind to cope with :D

Cue the Frank Zappa: Evolution of the Bass Player routine. lol.

Used to play guitar*. Housemate used to play bass. He went shopping for a new one (at a 'proper' guitar shop and all) and scored a BC Rich USA Custom for $350 (retail at the time was $800) because they had it marked as a replica (but it wasn't). Serials tallied for a right'un.

*stopped playing after I bisected my radial nerve in my left hand (I'm left handed). Thumb works ok, but the scar line runs along the side of the thumb most likely to contact a string. With electrics, the tingle goes straight down the nerve and makes the entire forearm spasm.

15-09-2009, 12:45
If you want a good, cheap bass, I'd recommend the Squier Bronco (http://www.squierguitars.com/products/index.php?partno=0310902558). It retails at 125.00 (the price may has gone up over the summer) and you can get a practice amp for about thirty. Bronco's are 6 inches shorter than a standard bass, but it's weight and size make it great for beginners. Squiers have good quality checks carried out on them (a 200 Squier is of the same quality as a 600 Japanese or Mexican Fender - I should probably point out here that Squier is Fender's budget line.)
Don't be put off instruments because people don't like them themselves - I love Fender's surf guitars, and I play punk and hardcore/post-hardcore, using a Mustang. Although the quality of Gibson instruments is uniform across the price range, that's not to say that certain Fender and other instruments aren't worth it. Yamahas, for example, are quite atonal and lack a certain character that can be found in other manufacturer's models: a Yamaha is essentially a set of electronics attached to some wood which can be used to produce sound. On the flip-side, however, this means that Yamaha's are some of the most adaptable of the major guitar producers, and you can play nearly any style on a Yamaha, where certain Fenders and Gibsons are better suited to one or two types of rock (including pop) or jazz.
As you're in the UK, I'd recommend getting a copy of Guitar Buyer magazine. Unlike other magazines, it's purely review based (kind of the WhatCar? of guitars), so you won't be bombarded with music articles or playing tips that you don't need. By reading a few reviews of both guitars and basses, you should get some idea of what kind of thing to look for in a guitar as a product.
And if the Bronco isn't quite cool enough for you, there's a Hello Kitty! version.

15-09-2009, 13:10
As already mentioned, the best thing to do is take a walk to your local (and recommended by other players if you can!) music shop and play a couple. That way, the store should also be able to help you if things go wrong.

I started with an Aria Pro II, which is a great starter bass - relatively cheap even when new and a good solid sound. You should also get a practise amp, a 1/4" lead and a spare set of strings. Ask the shop guy to tell you what gauge are already on the bass when you buy it, so you can replace them. For the amp, dont try to get the loudest one you can for the price. Even a really weak amp will be fine for practising for home, and a 20w amp which sounds good will encourage you to play more than a 40w which is top heavy. Amps are a whole new game, but when you get a larger amp, you want bigger speaker cones, in general... but that is for another day.

If you can, a cheaper new bass is usually a better buy than a same price second hand one. I picked up a second hand one and found no truss rod in it when I wanted the neck adjusted, and that is an experience that I dont recommend. If you get a new one, you can be fairly sure that it will all be there when you get it home.

Keep it simple. Dont get active, more than four strings, drop tuning or anything like that. It sounds really cool, but you want the basics on a standard. Depending on your area, you may want to look at a cheap Musicman. These are wonderful basses, designed by Fender generally without the crazy markup, and give a really nice and deep noise.

Also, it is probably a good idea to get a cd or something to play to. Practising the bass guitar can be difficult, especially to start with, as most tunes you will want to play wont sound complete with just the bass lines (while guitar sections always sound like the tune that you know and recognise). A click track or metronome is also a good investment (giving you a steady pulse to keep your timing) as getting a good sense of timing right from the start can be a key skill.

Most of all, enjoy it. The bass is a fantastic instrument, often overlooked. The bass player is the guy in the band who doesnt need to centre stage focus, and he will stand there and keep the rest of the guys together and sounding like a band and not a group of soloists!

15-09-2009, 13:36
Do you mean Ernie Ball Music man? Because those are damned expensive, although they are fantastic.

I agree with CyberShadow's comments about amps, it's better articluated than my brief sentence - cheap isn't bad, but I'd watch out for generic amps with the trading nom du moment of a Far Eastern company on it. They're a pain: they sound awful and aren't worth repairing when they break down. I'd also avoid Marshall practice amps, the quality of this equipment has taken a serious nosedive in the last five or six years. Fender, Peavey and Yamaha are your best bets: Laney and Carlsboro are cheaper, but have less to play with. I'd also avoid something advertised explicitly as a 'practice amp'; you can get something of comparative power and superior quality for probably a tenner more.

Avoid starter kits, even if they have the name of an established company on the box: the leads, amps and instrument are often of poor quality, unless you're willing to fork out for a slightly more expensive Yamaha kit.

And finally, to once again re-iterate CyberShadow's point, the bass is a great instrument. It's often the case that bass player's are far more interesting players than guitarists, as with no chords to worry about, you're automatically in a position to learn riffs and runs instead. I can play quite fast riffs on a bass far better than a guitar, for some reason. Have fun!

The Guy
15-09-2009, 14:00
What sort of music do you play? It would help to know so we can make better suggestions.

I prefer more fast paced heavy stuff, would that be too difficult to start off with? I'm quite good at keeping rhythym and would probably lose patience with slower things :(
What sort of bass do metal bands use?

Thanks for all the info guys :) Will try and get to a music store as soon as I can [None near my area though which sucks] so will get a feel for the stuff there :D

15-09-2009, 19:45
Do you mean Ernie Ball Music man? Because those are damned expensive, although they are fantastic.

Wow. They have gone up since I was looking around... maybe I just saw a cheap couple in my area. Scrub that.... as noted, they are expensive for a starter.

Dont worry about the 'right' bass. It doesnt matter so much which one you get, and there isnt a 'standard' one in the same way that most guitarists are Fender or Gibson players.

Early eighties music used a lot of Gibson Thunderbirds, while Yamaha produced some good and popular basses in the later eighties, for example. If you are playing rock/metal, you want a bass with a really nice deep and rich lower end. Funk players want a bit more high end for slap and pop playing. For rock music, root notes are your friend!

I started out with metal - Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth is an excellent bassline! Pick a tune that like and google the bass line for it.

When trying out a bass, dont get fancy. Just set the amp up in a basic way, keep the volume at around a third, keep the sound clean and play a couple of notes slowly. Listen to the natural sustain and the tone of the single note. Compare this with another bass, and try one that you cant afford, to know what kind of thing the extra money can buy and give you an idea of where you should be heading.

When you think about playing, what tunes are you playing, and do you have a band lined up with a specific type of music to play?

15-09-2009, 21:20
To add to that, try 911tabs.com (http://www.911tabs.com/) for songs, it's a search engine that searches all of the tab sites on the net for songs. (A tab is a way of writing music for certain instruments that uses numbers as per the fret board rather than musical notation. You have to figure out the timing for yourself).

If you want to find an instrument that a band that you like uses, check inside the album cover. Many bands list the equipment which they use as part of their endorsement contracts. And pop a few bands you like up here, I'm sure somebody would have an idea of what roughly to get, or we can look at pictures of the band 'in action' and figure it from there.

For the guitarists here, check out the Warseer instrument index (http://www.warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3954772#post3954772) I've just started.