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Thread: Ot: how to buy a bass guitar (sorry)

  1. #1
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    I am an acoustic guy myself, so my daughter wants to buy a bass and I don't have a clue. I know an acoustic wants (gen) solid spruce top, maple sides and etc, but electric? I'm guessing she's on a "this may last 2 months" budget, though I'd love for it to stick. Anyway, I figured I could trust you guys better than I could some guy on the basscafe. :-)

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    First decide whether you want an upright ("doghouse") bass, an acoustic bass guitar (ABG), an electric upright bass (EUB) or an electric (Fender-style) bass (and, of course, an amp). #In my experience, most folks who want to play "bass" want to play electric. I infer from your question (the reference to "bass guitar") that that's what your daughter is talking about. #

    An ABG is one of those "neither fish nor fowl" compromises. #In my experience, very few ABGs are satisfactory alone without some amplification; exceptions are Taylor (no longer made, and quite pricey when they were), the Guild B30/B50, and the Tacoma Thunderchief ($950 new w/HSC from Elderly without pickup/electronics, $1150 with).

    EUBs are typically played by folks who want the playing technique and sound of an upright bass but with the portability of an electric bass; not what I'd recommend for a beginner.

    There are plenty of good-quality beginner-level electric bass guitars around. # #I haven't been shopping for new basses for a while, but I like the Made In Mexico Fenders and some of the Peavey gear. #I'd recommend looking for something with a "P-J" (Precision/Jazz) pickup setup; I find that to be the most versatile.

    I'd strongly suggest you check for used gear; my local (SF Bay Area) Craig's List has dozens of good-looking deals at the moment.
    EdSherry

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    If I were shopping for a beginner's electric bass I'd be looking at something like an inexpensive Ibanez or a Squier (Fender's budget line) - but keep in mind that that in the electric world the amp is at least half of the equation, and needs to be budgeted for - if she's serious about playing with others (and isn't that what playing bass is all about?) a cheapo "practice" amp isn't going to cut it (drums and guitar amps are LOUD, and clean amplification of low frequencies takes a lot of power).




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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    My guess is that you're looking for an electric and you don't want to break the bank but you want something halfway decent. Look at the Squire P Bass and Jazz base at Musicians Friend. They're cheap. Also look at the Epiphone packaged bass and Amp. A few hundred dollars and you're home free. You can buy a better bass and you can buy a cheaper bass but these are pretty good value for the money.



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    About a year ago I purchased a "used" Mike Kelly 5 string fretless, strung it up with black ,flat, tape wounds, High C, and the BIG low B string on the E position. It is a great House Guitar, sounds almost as good as my german upright just not very loud. I have had thoughts about getting a Pignose Hog 30 for portability and larger noiser settings but I've about run out of room to keep everything. LOL. It all boils down to What you want to do with it, Where, and what you expect out of it. I have less than $400 in the Bass and Bag and it does what I bought it to do. No need to spend big bucks to get fancy.

    Did I say it is very pretty? Workmanship it great, and I am very happy. JPF
    Jean

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    These look cool, upright style but reduced to a solid body minimum.
    with a tripod stand to hold it up . so you or she doesnt have to..
    Solid body Guitar Basses weigh a ton as felt by my Adult shoulders.

    Dean Pace Bass

    Steinberger bass [more $, of course] has a classical Viol like shaped bridge, though,
    and then Arco, a Bow, is usable too..
    Czech Builder.
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    I knew I came to the right place. Thanks!

    She definately does not want an upright (I told her that may change some day) and I'm pretty sure she doesn't want an acoustic. She has a cousin who bought a Peavy Christmas special this past year and he loves it. Sounds pretty good to me, too, but then it's not like I've done a bunch of side-by-sides w/ basses (and it's not like I can tell the difference between a Kentucky and a Gibson, either). I rarely see basses on craigslist (rochesterny) that seem cheaper than the box specials.

    I appreciate your encouragement to get a "starter bass." I know that can spell disaster in the mandolin world. I suppose she can grow into this just like I'm growing into mandolins.

    Thanks again.

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    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    All great advice so far, I would only add chck out the Mustang/Bronco bases that Fender/Squier put out. They are shorter scale instruments that might be easier for her to learn on.
    Charlie Jones

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  9. #9

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    Another way to get a short scale electric bass.
    Consider a 5 string with a low B. Forget about open strings and frets 1 through 4.
    Beginning at the 5th fret on the low B string you have all the notes of a 4 string with the fret spacing of a regular guitar, plus a high C string.
    It looked like almost all the bass players playing at The Opry on the old Nashville Network did this.

  10. #10
    Registered User Frank Russell's Avatar
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    I just recently bought a Korea-made PBass, and got a 15 watt Peavey bass amp that works great. The amp was under $100, and will go pretty loud if need be. My suggestion for the instrument itself would be to look on eBray for a "Daisy Rock" electric bass. I bought my wife one of their "girl guitars" when she decided she wanted to play electric, and that one turned out to be so good that I have now bought one of their short-scale electrics and an electric/acoustic classical guitar made by them. Everything they make has a small-hands friendly neck (which feels great to a mandolin player with big hands too), and they are as well made as their sister company's guitars from Schecter. I was happily surprised with their products, and would like to find one of their basses, but my Fender will do for now. Just a thought. Frank
    FJ Russell


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  11. #11
    Registered User buddyellis's Avatar
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    Get a standard fender j-bass or p-bass (I prefer the J, and my primary instrument is the bass). You can get them used for around $300. They play well, are relatively inexpensive, and you can get most of your money back out of it if you don't end up keeping it, and most of all, it 'sounds' right.

    I'd also say forget about a 5 string for the first timer. If she is wanting to learn to play bass, she needs to learn on a 4 string so she doesn't use the 5th as a crutch. If her hands are small it will make it tougher to play anyway because of the neck width (another plus for the jbass!)

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    Registered User John L's Avatar
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    Can you get a used Fender for $300? Not in Canada.

    If you can find an old Hagstrom they have really small necks, and a lot have short scales. Every Hagstrom I have ever seen is as straight as an arrow due to the "I beam" design of the truss rod. Watch for these to increase in value, which could come in handy if she doesn't stay with it. See www.hagstromuk.org for some cool pictures.
    Johneeaaddgg

  13. #13
    Registered User buddyellis's Avatar
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    <a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/Fender-Mexican-Standard-Jazz-J-Bass-w-Gig-Bag_W0QQitemZ290221719408QQihZ019QQcategoryZ4713

    QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_blank">You Can</a> the mexi-basses (Fender Standard, not Fender American Standard)

    The exchange rate is probably slightly higher than that, but I'm not sure how much US$ is CAN$

    P.S. the only real difference in a mexi bass and an american standard bass is pretty much the electronics. The wood all goes through the same CNC shop if I recall correctly.




  14. #14
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    Ooh, let me weigh in here. I've been playing bass as my main instrument for more than 30 years, so I have strong opinions. (Plus, now I play mandolin, so I have even stronger opinions!)

    I highly recommend the Ibanez basses. They typically have a slim neck, and are well made. Best of all, they produce good tones! I've played a few, most recently being my neighbor's daughter's beginner short scale bass. Nice stuff. Fender also makes a short scale bass (under both Fender and Squier labels). If you find an original vintage Mustang, please let me know. Any of these would be a good choice for a beginner, and the short scale makes it easier to play. Don't consider a short scale bass a compromise, as many folks use them regularly (ever heard of Stanley Clarke?)

    I would stay away from 5-strings for now. There is little point in complicating things for a beginner, and most beginner courses are written for 4 strings.

    My neighbor is currently using my Pignose Hog 30 (since someone mentioned it), and it sounds pretty good with the Ibanez short scale bass, particularly in the house. Playing with an actual band -- particularly featuring electric instruments -- would certainly require more, but by then she'll know if she's going to stick with it or not.

    The P-bass and Jazz basses are pretty much the industry standard of the bass world, and there are many copies to also choose from (and many to avoid as well). These are bigger, though -- being full-sized -- and depending on your daughter's size may be more of a challenge. Of course, a P or J bass would last her roughly forever.

    I don't know about any Bass Cafe but I can higly recommend www.activebass.com as a very rich site, and www.talkbass.com as a site much like this forum, but for bass. Have at it!

    Don't forget a metronome. Nobody needs to practice with a metronome more than a bass player. Eventually, bassists need to internalize that little box. So save $20 for that critical tool.

    And finally, don't break the bank on the initial purchase, but do keep in mind what you'd advise a beginner to expect with a $200 mandolin.

    cheers,

    David
    Think globally, bike locally.

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    Registered User John L's Avatar
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    Here is a 1967 Hagstrom Concord - I have to think that the hollow body, F-holes and slender neck would appeal to Cafe users. Mine is red, but I don't have a photo.
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    Johneeaaddgg

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    I bought my son a Washburn AB10 acoustic/electric. You see it on MTV unplugged. I think it sounds pretty nice and everyone that plays it is really surprised at it's sound. He also plays an upright for school. We looked at the Breedlove as well but chose the Washburn. The Washburn was better priced sounded equal and looked "cooler" to him. He is in 5th grade and he loves the thing. He can play it without an amp to practice more quietly.

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    Check out the reviews on the Hamer Slammer short scale bass:
    http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews....1

    For $150, I'm considering one myself
    Got wood? Outstanding handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods and durable polymer.
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    Gibson EBO basses are still fairly reasonably priced, and they have a short scale. They look like an SG and have a "tubby" sound that is not to everyone's taste, but they are not priced like a US P-bass or J-Bass either. I used to have one that I wish I still owned. Good vintage investment that you can play.
    Johneeaaddgg

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    Rhetoric -- here's one on the Rochester Craig's List that doesn't look bad (at least from across the country!):

    http://rochester.craigslist.org/msg/639429161.html

    $100. #There's also a Yamaha JX50B amp for $150; I like those quite a bit.

    http://rochester.craigslist.org/msg/640639855.html
    EdSherry

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    My first bass was a baby blue hagstrom then I got a P-bass. I kinda wish I still had the P-bass although I currently have a Mexican P-bass with a neck that is more like the old Jazz bass. I recently got a 30's Kay upright bass that I need to learn to play.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

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    I wish I had a picture of my whole Hagstrom Concord, but I am currently without a digital camera. The red is beautiful. A blue one would probably be a solid body? They have the same straight and small necks as the Concords, and should be quite a bit cheaper. Some Hagstroms basses are upholstered!
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    Johneeaaddgg

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    Also a bass player here.
    Let me chime in to agree with some previous posters and disagree with others. Stay away from the 5 strings for now, she can always get one later if she wants. I'd go cheap to start with, a $200 bass is much nicer than a $200 mandolin. I would suggest the Fender P or J basses, or for the price, a copy of those. I would stay away from Ibanez. They have such a thin neck, that I think it would be hard for her to adjust to a thicker neck later on.
    As to amps, I disagree that if she is merely playing with an electric guitar she needs a big amp now. A small amp can compete with electric guitars. What it can't compete with is drums. If she is goign to be playing with a drummer soon, I would suggest a Peavey. They are cheap power, but not super high quality. If you are going with a small amp, I would go with a better brand as the difference is price is likelyt to be 20 or 30 bucks instead of 2 or 3 hundred bucks. The other thing is, it's easier (mentally) to upgrade your amp, and she's likely to be able to borrow one earlier.

  23. #23
    Registered User bassthumper's Avatar
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    UPRIGHTS RULE...MOST ELECTRICS DON'T HAVE THE FULL SCALE (42") AND HOLLOW BODY ACOUSTICS LIKE MY MARTIN B-1 ARE'NT VERY LOUD UNLESS PLUGGED IN....BUT SOUND GREAT....FOR A BEGINNER WHO MAY BE SAYING "WHAT BASS" BY AUGUST I SAY TRY THE USED KELLY BUT BE PREPARED TO BUY THE ENGELHART AND ACCONPANYING PICKUP TRUCK FOR CHRISTMAS....THE BASS IS MY INSTRUMENT....BUT THESE MANDOLINS ARE SO FUN AND MORE CONVIENIENT

  24. #24
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    A blue one would probably be a solid body? John

    Yes John,
    Mine was a solid body, it looked pretty much like the six stringed guitar in this illustration.
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  25. #25

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    I agree with avoiding 5 strings--I'm also a bassist, upright classical first. Most books and tab are written for 4 string and 5 just complicates things. She can upgrade to 5 or 6 strings later if she wants; personally I'm happy with 4 myself but I just play for shows. I have a Peavey that I love; sometimes you can find these used for not much at all. Hognoses are great, too. If she can find a fretless like mine--frets are marked, but not raised, so much the better if she ever wants to do upright and it's GREAT for special effects...Yvonne in Ohio
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life--music and cats" Albert Schweitzer

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