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Old 06-25-2014, 07:52 PM   #1
uto998
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Info for beginners

Hello, everybody!

I'll try to keep this short and simple and get to the point. I have played guitar for 5 years and have decided to pick up bass guitar as a second instrument. Unfortunately, I know nothing about basses other than what "neck-through" means.

So, here's what I need to know:

1. What are some good suggestions for a good bass in the $500-$700 price range? I know, that's kind of wide, but I just want to get a good idea of what's out there.

2. What are some good amps for practice in the $200-$300 range? It doesn't have to be loud, lightweight, and stylish. Just something that gets the job done.

3. How loud does the amp need to be for practice? I've heard 50 is fine, 100 is minimal, 200 is necessary, so I'm confused. BTW, I play with a drummer, so it does need to be a little bit loud.

4. What kind of pickups do I need/are better for rock (lighter rock , something like a jazz-rock hybrid if you will). I like to hear every note and I like brighter sounds. Sorry, no examples.

I have a PRS SE Custom 24 and love it. PRS actually just launched a new line of SE basses like yesterday. I'm excited about those, but I want more trained ears to tell me what they think of them.

Thanks!
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:15 PM   #2
pachap
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I just took up bass after about 18 years of playing guitar and I love it. But I've only had a bass for about a week.

1. You can buy a hell of a used bass for that price. Try what you can, be patient, and jump on the deal when you see it. I bought an Ibanez SR300M 4 string with an Ibanez hard shell case for $250 last week. I am trying to buy the 5 string version of the same base for $175 this week, but according to the guy who placed the ad I am second in line to buy it. That should give you an idea of the deals available and show you what your money can buy used.

2. For an amp, well I bought a 30w Fender Rumble. I would say it marginally gets the job done. Wish I had gotten something louder. In all honesty, I would shift some of your bass money to the amp budget because you can buy a lot of bass guitar for cheap, as I pointed out above. That way you probably get into a good, used 100 watt amp that would have enough volume for practice and probably gigging as well. That said, I will admit I am biased towards really good amps in a rig. I'd rather have a top rate amp than a top rate guitar.

3. I know sh*t about bass pickups. Don't worry, one of the bass forum heroes will be here soon to answer.

4. Hang out in the bass plan thread. It is a fun and helpful group of people.

Good luck on your new musical adventure. I hope you have as much fun learning bass as what I have so far.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:21 PM   #3
uto998
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Thanks.

I totally agree that a good amp is more important than a good guitar...on some levels. Sound isn't everything. The instrument has to be physically and tonally balanced, play-ability has be a large factor (mix of action-wood-strings). Otherwise, your guitar (bass or normal) is only as good as its amp for the most part.

Forgot to mention to future posters: I REFUSE TO BUY USED. It's a pointless argument to be had, so please don't start it.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uto998
Thanks.

I totally agree that a good amp is more important than a good guitar...on some levels. Sound isn't everything. The instrument has to be physically and tonally balanced, play-ability has be a large factor (mix of action-wood-strings). Otherwise, your guitar (bass or normal) is only as good as its amp for the most part.

Forgot to mention to future posters: I REFUSE TO BUY USED. It's a pointless argument to be had, so please don't start it.



Well I do understand your stance on used instruments. I absolutely refuse to buy used cars...

But you can still get a very good bass for cheaper than your max budget and push some more cash towards an amp.

And man you are spot on about the playability of a guitar. When trying out a guitar I look to see if the body and the neck work for me. If it does and the price is right, I'll pull the trigger on it. I can swap everything else in a guitar out to make it sound different.

Good luck exploring for a new purchase. That's half the fun in my book.
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:22 PM   #5
Ziphoblat
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1. I'm in the UK, prices vary, but I'll offer what I can based around that price range. You might be able to pick up a lower end Warwick or Japanese Fender around that price range. A Musicman SUB might be doable also. You express a disinterest in second hand stuff though - I can't agree, but that's your call. Some examples you could consider new; the Squier CV and VM lines, the Ibanez SR and ATK basses, the Yamaha BB424. Some examples of things I'd tend to shy away from - the Warwick Rockbass instruments, Spector Legend basses, and Fender MIM Standards. Without any more information regarding what you want from an instrument (sound, feel etc) it's hard to be any more specific. If you don't have a preference yet, trying some out in a shop to get a feel for what you like wouldn't be a bad call.

2 & 3. It's important to address your second point first here, I feel. Wattage influences loudness, but it doesn't determine it. The wattage an amp will need to be heard over a drummer depends on how loud the drummer is, and how efficient the speaker is. Before I got my current set-up, I used to play with a 75-watt amp and hear myself fine over my drummer. With the same band, at a rehearsal room I managed to blow the same 300-watt amp twice on different occasions pushing it too hard to try and get heard. It was a nasty, quiet amp and probably quoted the peak wattage to reach a figure of 300. Anecdotes aside, generally 150-200 watts (RMS) is a safe bet for a minimum to be able to comfortably hear yourself. Getting a good amp of that wattage with your budget is pushing things, I'd say - especially if you won't go second hand. I'd consider tweaking your cash distribution between amp/instrument if I were you. Oh, and avoid Behringer whatever you do. You also mention liking brighter sounds, so I'd cross Ashdown off your list also (though their amps are loud/cheap/reliable).

4. Well, for brighter/clearer sounds you'd be looking at brands like Delano and MEC. These sort of pick-ups tend to find their place better in a quieter/more intricate setting than a dense rock mix though. If you're playing rock music, you can achieve a solid, clear, bright/present and enjoyable tone with most good pick-ups out of the box. A Fender Jazz bass is still mighty clear in isolation through a clean rig, but can also find the right place very effectively in a busy mix. I'd honestly recommend buying the bass that sounds like you want it to, and then consider changing pick-ups down the line if it isn't doing it for you. Avoid Gibson/Epiphone Thunderbirds, though - mud for days.

Regarding the new PRS line, it's too early to say with any authority. I'm not hopeful personally - the video they've released didn't showcase any mind-blowing tones. It sounds good, but nothing to write home about, and with that sort of sound is entering an already over-saturated market. As I understand, they also have a fairly unorthodox fingerboard radius for bass (much closer to that of an electric guitar, presumably as a result of their focus as a company). I wouldn't be surprised if PRS go back to just doing what they do best (again).
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Last edited by Ziphoblat : 06-25-2014 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:19 PM   #6
uto998
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziphoblat
1. I'm in the UK, prices vary, but I'll offer what I can based around that price range. You might be able to pick up a lower end Warwick or Japanese Fender around that price range. A Musicman SUB might be doable also. You express a disinterest in second hand stuff though - I can't agree, but that's your call. Some examples you could consider new; the Squier CV and VM lines, the Ibanez SR and ATK basses, the Yamaha BB424. Some examples of things I'd tend to shy away from - the Warwick Rockbass instruments, Spector Legend basses, and Fender MIM Standards. Without any more information regarding what you want from an instrument (sound, feel etc) it's hard to be any more specific. If you don't have a preference yet, trying some out in a shop to get a feel for what you like wouldn't be a bad call.


Thanks for the lengthy feedback. Please know I actually took time to read the whole thing through. About what I like from an instrument (feel, etc.), I like the slick feel and bright tones from Maple. Low action is a necessity. A polished neck is also great and necessary. A few extra frets would be nice-not because I'd actually use them, but because I've found it's easier to play on the frets you will use if the guitar is made for more frets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziphlobat
2 & 3. It's important to address your second point first here, I feel. Wattage influences loudness, but it doesn't determine it. The wattage an amp will need to be heard over a drummer depends on how loud the drummer is, and how efficient the speaker is. ... Anecdotes aside, generally 150-200 watts (RMS) is a safe bet for a minimum to be able to comfortably hear yourself. Getting a good amp of that wattage with your budget is pushing things, I'd say - especially if you won't go second hand. I'd consider tweaking your cash distribution between amp/instrument if I were you. Oh, and avoid Behringer whatever you do. You also mention liking brighter sounds, so I'd cross Ashdown off your list also (though their amps are loud/cheap/reliable).


I know that the wattage doesn't entirely make the sound 100% the same across every amp of equal wattage, especially because a tube is already louder than an SS amp, and power handling is an estimation. I am considering redistributing my budget after your and pachap's feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziphlobat
4. Well, for brighter/clearer sounds you'd be looking at brands like Delano and MEC. These sort of pick-ups tend to find their place better in a quieter/more intricate setting than a dense rock mix though. If you're playing rock music, you can achieve a solid, clear, bright/present and enjoyable tone with most good pick-ups out of the box. A Fender Jazz bass is still mighty clear in isolation through a clean rig, but can also find the right place very effectively in a busy mix. I'd honestly recommend buying the bass that sounds like you want it to, and then consider changing pick-ups down the line if it isn't doing it for you. Avoid Gibson/Epiphone Thunderbirds, though - mud for days.


Thanks for the feedback about pickups. I will be playing more jazz than rock, especially not heavy rock. About the Jazz-knowing the rest of my opinion on what a good bass would feel like, do you think I should just avoid the Jazz? I know you can't make up my mind and I'll probably try it out at my local music store anyways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziphlobat
Regarding the new PRS line, it's too early to say with any authority. I'm not hopeful personally - the video they've released didn't showcase any mind-blowing tones. It sounds good, but nothing to write home about, and with that sort of sound is entering an already over-saturated market. As I understand, they also have a fairly unorthodox fingerboard radius for bass (much closer to that of an electric guitar, presumably as a result of their focus as a company). I wouldn't be surprised if PRS go back to just doing what they do best (again).


I know that no one can really say anything too good/bad about the PRS line, I was really just looking for more trained ears to what a good bass sounds like to tell me their opinion, which yours I am thankful for. And yes, I have found PRS guitars to have very thin necks, great for guitar, probably not for bass.
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