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Buying your first bass....


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#1 The Burpster

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:53 AM

This thing we do started back in 1951, when Leo Fender stuck a 34” scale neck on an extended Telecaster shaped body, and the 1951 Precision was born. Since then history takes over and electric basses have provided the rhythm for just about all the music you hum and tap your fingers to!

So now you’ve decided you want to buy a bass what do you look for?, well I have to say this always comes down to money……
How much have you available to spend?
And don’t forget to allow for a lead, (to connect the bass to your amp) oh, and an amp of course! Another ESSENTIAL piece of kit but an inexpensive one is a tuner.
You could of course choose to bypass this route and get an acoustic bass……?

So you need to do a bit of research.
1. How much will a practice amp cost?
2. How much will a lead cost?
3. How much will a tuner cost?
4. Headphones (worth considering if you don’t already have them, as p155ing off those around you with flat renditions of “smoke on the water” will make you unpopular!) :huh:

Start looking on eBay (or the for sale section of Basschat ) for these items NOW…..

Now remove these items from your amount, and you have what you can spend on the bass. This is unless of course you already have some of those bits of kit, or you can beg or borrow them from someone. This doesn’t mean that you can’t just spend all your allowance on a bass, however you won’t enjoy playing an out of tune electric bass unplugged! NO, really, you wont!

So lets get onto the juicy bits……. :huh:
Modern basses come pretty much in 3 types,
1. Electric solid body,
2. Acoustic (mostly with an electric pickup, as they struggle to replicate the volume produced by their 6 string brothers)
3. EUB Electric Upright Bass (and of course the grand-daddy of this, the Double Bass)
My guess is that you will want a solid body electric, as these are by far the most popular and those to which easiest access is available. To be honest, the other two types are quite specialised to play (uprights are fretless to start with) and maybe something, once you have started you will want to try…..?

So Electric basses are available in all sorts of makes, models string numbers (both right and left handed!) and COST….

If you have never played stringed instruments before, you will want to start with 4 strings. These are from the top down, tuned to, E A D G and the E is the fattest (largest gauge), G the smallest, so if a description says .45-.100 the smallest is 45 thousandths of an inch the largest 100.
Strings are a completely different subject, and you’ll get into them more with time. :)

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Graduation onto fretless, 5 and more string ERBs (extended range basses), is just that IMO, a graduation.
Get comfortable playing 4 strings and getting your sense of rhythm before you try the twiddly iddly bits available with all them other notes! ☺

So we have decided to get a 4 string electric, and you know how much you can spend, so where do you get one?
Well this day and age you can get them from on-line shops, from ebay and from good old fashioned high street shops. If you have made your mind up that you want to do this, and the money is burning a hole in your pocket. Get a budget bass from an on line retailer and learn by experience (most of us have done similar, its called jumpin’ in the deep end!!! :huh: ).

However, take a little time and think it through and you will get a bass you connect with and struggle to put down, and to start with that’s exactly what you want. Playing and learning to play, again is another subject and there are plenty of us on here willing to give you advice (oh, and some very good tutors too!) …. However, suffice to say little and very often is the best way to learn! :huh:

http://basschat.co.u...?showtopic=1293

So you are sat here reading this, having put a bid on a tuner and practice amp on ebay, and now you’re shouting…..

“What bass do I get, you muppet?”

Price ranges can be kinda put into 3 categories Budget (up to £400) Mid range (£400- £800) and top end instruments (£800+) ……. So you ask, does that mean that budget are crap?
Well absolutely not!!!
Spending more money will get you better quality electrics, wood, and more importantly more time by someone putting the bass together. With modern machining and CAD, only really basses for less than £100 new, are dodgy and unreliable, and even then you COULD get an absolute peach!

In this budget class (£100 -400) there are some great basses, made by Squire, Vintage, Yamaha, Ibanez, Peavey, Cort and many more…… You will get a capable instrument that if not set up properly when new, is at least capable of being set up well and making a credible sound.

My advice, and this will be echoed by most on here, is get yourself along to a shop, look at them and ask to try a few. Now if you can’t yet play this is potentially embarrassing, as you will look a dork when you pick it up and go twang! Especially if there’s one of those smug shop types hanging around, so its great if you can take someone along that can play, THAT YOU TRUST…..
This is Important too, as you want to buy your bass, not one they like….!
You may have to ask the person in the shop to play it for you, as you cant yet play, and now you are at the mercy of their advice. They may be good, they be absolute pants and/or uninterested!

SO, go into the shop, look at what they have, if you can, touch and handle them. Talk it through with the mate you take, or the shop person, and then turn around and walk out.

Do not be pressured into buying one there and then! That is for two good reasons…..
1. It may not be what you actually want and,
2. You will probably be able to get it cheaper elsewhere if you can remember what model it is!

However there is a 3rd reason, and that is that once you have seen a few basses and you now have a good idea what you want, you can also consider a 2ndhand bass from the next price range up……

This is where you are likely to be buying a ‘keeper’ from…. A bass that feels wonderful when you pick it up, makes EXACTLY the sound you want, and a bass that you are happy to be seen with.
Is this possible for your first bass? Well, yes it is, if you can be patient!

There are some great buys 2ndhand on ebay (always be wary, of course) and in the ads. on here. If you are committed enough to get a bass from the mid range you are more likely to keep playing, and secondly, it will probably be worth around the same as you pay for it when you come to part with it, If indeed you do!

Now I’m not going to advocate a particular make, model, or type as your first bass as this can depend on so many different factors…… budget, type of music you want to play, sound you want to be able to make, and of course fashion…..!

If you are a died in the wool old fart who plays blues (like me!) if doesn’t really matter what it looks like (of course I’m lying), as long as it makes that tone that you want…..! However if you are playing Death Metal, it is of course, VERY important that the bass looks right for that genre…… As it would be potentially mildly amusing, if you turned up to practice with your mates with an ESP for Country and Western covers!

Its much easier for us on here to offer you advice, on a particular bass if you narrow it down to 2or 3 models and a particular sound that you want achieve…..e.g.

“I’ve seen a new Yamaha RBX370 and a 2ndhand Fender Highway1 Precision bass in my local shop for the same money, I want to play Brit pop with my mates and I can’t decide which would be best……”


Now go out and do some looking, both online at all the catalogues and makers webbies, (for sale section here of course) and in your local shops.
Although you will find instantly that there are very few specialist bass shops, and general guitar or music shops will have very few basses in stock. That’s because on average there is 10 guitars sold for every 1 bass.
So despite what your mates say, you are special for wanting to be a bass player and we welcome you amongst us!
Every day you wake up is a good day!

Bob

#2 The Burpster

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:57 AM

Guys and Gals.....
I hope I have covered most of the stuff....
if you can think of any obvious howlers I've omitted PM me and I'll ammend it!

I would like to think its good, honest and unbiased advice......

:)
Every day you wake up is a good day!

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#3 The Burpster

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 12:05 PM

Over a 100 viewings and no comments......

Must be OK then???? :)
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#4 sk8

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 12:15 PM

spot on advice there
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#5 The Burpster

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 08:13 AM

Thanks..... :)
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#6 EskimoBassist

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 04:17 PM

Thats some really good advice there! Nice thread
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#7 bass_ferret

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 04:17 PM

copied to wiki - links dont work?

#8 Pissman

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 06:24 PM

Nice page thing :) btw.

anyways, i was looking at gettin meself a decent starter bass and saw a tanglewood rebel 4K, and was wondering if anyone knew if it was any good? thanks

#9 The Burpster

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 02:50 PM

View PostPissman, on Apr 2 2008, 07:24 PM, said:

Nice page thing :) btw.

anyways, i was looking at gettin meself a decent starter bass and saw a tanglewood rebel 4K, and was wondering if anyone knew if it was any good? thanks


PM ask this in your own thread in the main body of bass guitars.....

Sadly I Have no experience of that bass---- others might tho'
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#10 Bay Splayer

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 07:19 PM

View PostPissman, on Apr 2 2008, 07:24 PM, said:

Nice page thing :) btw.

anyways, i was looking at gettin meself a decent starter bass and saw a tanglewood rebel 4K, and was wondering if anyone knew if it was any good? thanks

dunno about the rebel 4k but, i have a tanglewood canyon 1......

excellent bass for the money (£300)ish

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#11 cytania

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 09:23 AM

Great advice about going along to a shop, one factor with bass is body shape, yours and it's. You can't tell this online. We all have different rib-cages and hips. Most basses feel fine standing up but try sitting down or getting your knee under it. My friend swears by his Warwick but it never feels right to me, not enough body to wrestle with. I settled on an Ibanez SRX400, not something I'd have picked on looks, the body is hardly contoured, but somehow it fits me. Ibanez have many body styles even within the SRX line that look similar until you pick them up.

The other thing is don't worry about playing great in the shop. Everyone's fingers turn to rubber in guitar shops, must be some device they have over the door. Pretend you are one of those heads down no-nonsense brute players ;-)

#12 LukeFRC

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 10:04 AM

Walk into the shop, play, go away and look on web to research, if you're sure you want the thing (ie have the money in your pocket ready) go back, dont pay the price on the ticket. talk them down, get a free cable and tuner or something.
walk out with your first bass.

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#13 Pissman

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 06:55 AM

ok, say me bass's costin £120, how much dyou rekon i can bring that price down?

#14 The Burpster

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 07:19 AM

How good are you at negotiating?

If you stomp and say "I can get for £90 on the net..." they will more than likely tell you to go do one.....

So suggets to them that, it seems quite a high price compared to others you've seen ane let them come back to you. If they dont budge ask if they thorw somthng else in with it to get your custom.

If they still dont budge suggest to them that there is another shop locally that price matches, and would'nt they prefer you to spend your money with thier shop than go down the road....

For your £120 bass, I'd expect tp get it down to 105-100 or get at leat £10 of bits thrown in....
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#15 LukeFRC

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:00 AM

i think the key is not expecting to get a certain percentage off. If you cant afford the initial price on the ticket i would say go away and save up. You are far more likely to get free stuff. Or if you are a biginer possibly a free set up/new strings would be better.
also dont be an arse. wee music shops need to sell things to make money. The owner will probably be a good guy so dont go demanding he takes off 80%of his profit margin just cos thomman can buy in bulk and sell at smaller margins doesnt mean he/she can.

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#16 Jobiebass

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:12 AM

My first propper bass was a £199 Ferdinand P bass and they threw in a pretty decent gig bag, leads, stand, picks for £210.

Electro-music in Doncaster is pretty decent with stuff like that.

...Probably why I get a lot of stuff from there.

Edited by Jobiebass, 21 May 2008 - 11:13 AM.

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#17 M4L666

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 06:29 PM

I got a Tanglewood Liberty + amp, pick, DVD etc. for about £200 odd.

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#18 chris_b

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 04:44 PM

View PostThe Burpster, on Nov 6 2007, 10:53 AM, said:

....This thing we do started back in 1951, when Leo Fender stuck a 34” scale neck on an extended Stratocaster shaped body, and the 1951 Precision was born....
As the Precision was introduced in 1951 and the Stratocaster in 1954, the Precision wasn't based on a Stratocaster shaped body. Small point, I know.
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#19 The Burpster

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 04:53 PM

View Postchris_b, on Feb 15 2009, 04:44 PM, said:

As the Precision was introduced in 1951 and the Stratocaster in 1954, the Precision wasn't based on a Stratocaster shaped body. Small point, I know.

My bad...... It should be Telecaster.... DOH !

Duly changed.... Thank you.
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#20 thepurpleblob

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 09:38 PM

As I'm sure I've said before I used to manage a shop that sold car audio gear, so I'm used to the customer trying to get a discount scenario. For obvious reasons the shop doesn't want to give you a discount but a *good* shop will want you to go away feeling you have got a good deal so you come back. Repeat business and word of mouth recommendation is vital for small shops. The first advice I can give is not to start spouting prices from outlets that the shop clearly can't compete with - if Costco or some huge internet vendor have it for much less and that's where you are happy to shop then off you go and place your order. Your local shop can provide services that the internet vendors can't that aren't just hard cash discounts. It's easier for them, and better for you, to do something like a free setup (to suit you) in with the deal and/or a free tuner/strap/lead etc.. Asking politely if they can do a deal with some free stuff will go down better than demanding a huge discount.

Having said all that, never be afraid to ask "is that your best price on that?" but be an arse and don't be surprised to be asked to leave (done it many times!).

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#21 caruso

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 09:24 AM

Why is learning on a 4string the gospel and then taking up a 5 ot 6 string a graduation. Don't misunderstand me i learned on a 4 string and feel it is the best way.

But hey, do guitar players have a choice? They have to accept their 6 strings.

Same goes to fretless. Ask any violin player if he/she had the choice to buy a fretted instrument.

Regarding ''strange'' basses as flying v forms/explorers etc. i sincerely advise beginners not to buy one even if they want to play harder musicstyles. Learning on a bass you can play only standing up (flying v form) is a pain and takes away concentration from learning the music.

One last thought: we are in a lucky position to have the choice between lots of different makers/brands/colours which is nice. But what about people like Jamerson, Montgomery, Fielder, Felder, Jermott? It was either Precison, maybe some Gibson or even a Rick. What i want to say is that if you see a bass you like, it feels good sitting and standing up, sounds decent, doesn't smell funny (some paintjobs gave me a headache) and has acceptable hardware buy it and learn it inside out. In the end it is a tool and the music is what counts.

#22 thepurpleblob

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 10:12 AM

View Postcaruso, on Apr 15 2009, 10:24 AM, said:

Why is learning on a 4string the gospel and then taking up a 5 ot 6 string a graduation. Don't misunderstand me i learned on a 4 string and feel it is the best way.

But hey, do guitar players have a choice? They have to accept their 6 strings.

Same goes to fretless. Ask any violin player if he/she had the choice to buy a fretted instrument.

Regarding ''strange'' basses as flying v forms/explorers etc. i sincerely advise beginners not to buy one even if they want to play harder musicstyles. Learning on a bass you can play only standing up (flying v form) is a pain and takes away concentration from learning the music.

One last thought: we are in a lucky position to have the choice between lots of different makers/brands/colours which is nice. But what about people like Jamerson, Montgomery, Fielder, Felder, Jermott? It was either Precison, maybe some Gibson or even a Rick. What i want to say is that if you see a bass you like, it feels good sitting and standing up, sounds decent, doesn't smell funny (some paintjobs gave me a headache) and has acceptable hardware buy it and learn it inside out. In the end it is a tool and the music is what counts.

I started on a five string so didn't really know any different. Having developed a bit of skill I then got a four string and found it a revelation in playability. It's only recently that I've started drifting back towards a five now that I fully appreciate the finer points of muting etc.. It's true what you say, in some ways learning on a five was easier as I could play more in position (always an issue for a beginner). I think with the benefit of hindsight that I would advocate starting on a four though. It's like learning to drive automatics only - you never know when you'll be stuck because you can't drive a manual.

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#23 bassmaniac

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 01:27 PM

if your switching from a rock bass to a jazz bass or vice versa then remember the contours of the body are very different it took me weeks to get accustomed to my jazz
just a tip:)

#24 Patrickhadow

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 07:46 PM

thanks for the advice v helpful :)

#25 The Burpster

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 08:00 AM

View PostPatrickhadow, on Aug 26 2009, 08:46 PM, said:

thanks for the advice v helpful :)

You're welcome.
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#26 Minky

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 01:58 AM

My first bass cost me £30, a Satellite RH P-Bass short scale copy in sunburst, I didn't even realise I had to switch the strings me being a leftie until I got home. I didn't even know that you had to tune it to a certain pitch but that was the beauty of starting out as as 16 year old bassist. If, you're starting out now I'd probably look to eBay for the best deals where you can pick up half-decent starter basses for well under £100. otherwise, the good old 2nd hand shop still packs a decent punch and there's always Cash Converters where what I've seen in there sometimes I wish I was a right hander
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#27 BedroomBassist

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 10:47 PM

My advice for people buying their first bass would be:
- Don't buy something superduper expensive. My first bass was like £80 or something. I was only 11 so I got a 3/4 scale Squier Bronco.. I still have it actually! Looks like a ukelele now.. haha!
- Buy a simple bass that doesn't have amazing action because playing on something that's harder to play improves strength and helps later in your playing life.

That second one might seem a bit weird.. I dunno. That's what I think now I look back. It wasn't a conscious decision at the time to get a rubbish bass for my first one, but I think it helped now that I look back.
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#28 Donnyboy

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 03:40 PM

Very helpfull all this - especially as my sister has asked me for advice about buying my nephew a bass for christmas - no pressure then :)
He's 16 into rock music got a Sqiuer Strat of some sort & an electro accoustic 6 string . He's had a loan of a couple of my basses over an extended period.
Anyhow - just so happens a pal at work is selling a virtually unused Stagg300BC(?) bundle including set of strings ,bag strap ,lead & practice amp. I've been messing about with it today & whilst the action is pretty high & presumably fixable I think for £100 you can't really go far wrong - if it does it'll be my fault, of course :) again!

#29 cureswhatailsye

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 09:56 PM

Some great advice given in this thread!

My tiny gem of wisdom would be that I've played a precision 4, jazz 4, yamaha 4 then jazz 5 and have always found it tricky to switch between basses regularly. I have been settled on my J5 for about 2 years. I turned up to a jam session the other day and played a friend's G&L 4 string, and just found it really uncomfortable to play, my main issue is finding something to do with my thumb! It sits on the B on my 5, and the pups on the G&L seem in a funny place.

The point I'm making is that it might take a while to become truly accustomed to a bass. However, when I pick up a P4, which is what I learnt on, it all comes back to me. In my opinion a very good starter bass for any style. I played jazz on a precision for a fair time. In my mind the ultimate bass guitar!

#30 xreporter2004

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 06:51 PM

Hello,

Everything I read so far were really helpful. I used to play guitar a few years ago and i have an acoustic bass as well but I haven't played for a few years and I want to buy an electric bass and start from the beginning again.

I've done a lot of research on basses on the internet but I haven't been in a shop yet ( which i will do soon).

My budget is 200 pounds. Any recommendations for a new or used bass.

I've also seen a few interesting models :

Tanglewood 4PB/4 ST
Ibanez GSR180, GSR 200JB, RBX170
Yamaha RBX170,RBX270J
Peavy millenium 4BXP
Washburn T14 CG,XB 120TR

If you have any knowledge on these instruments please make a comment or please tell me your thoughts.

Thanks





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