#1
So as the title suggests, I'm looking into buying my very first bass! I really know nothing about basses at all- I've never even touched one before, unfortunately- so I would really appreciate some of you guys' expertise and knowledge And of course, prepare yourself for some very 'beginner' questions!

As you've probably also guessed: I am female. I don't know if this has a massive effect on what bass I choose, but I have an inkling it will... I'm about 5'5" and in my mid teens (I don't think I'm going to grow any more), I already play piano, and have been learning the acoustic guitar for a year. I have fairly long fingers so I suppose my hands aren't really tiny

Musically, I suppose I'm more into 'classic' rock, or whatever you wanna call it- the blues, rock, folk, psychedelic rock, and fusion of the 1960s and 70s. But I'm not sure what genre exactly I'll end up playing yet, so I'd really like a bass that can play a bit of everything.

I guess what I'm asking is what do I need to think about when it comes to the weight of the bass, the neck length, strap length, etc etc., as well as what make/model/type of bass might be recommended for a total beginner like me!

Also, any opinions on the Epiphone Thunderbird would be fantastic- this is the bass I've been drooling over for a while now, but I want to buy the right guitar. I don't want something that I struggle with, even if I love the sound and the look
Thanks in advance!
#2
Having to bring up the fact you're a girl and your height/age is irrelevant. Big time.
#3
Thanks, Lifesign

I didn't know that. I've read in other places that because women are often physically a little different to men, it can be good to look for a bass that suits those differences.

But thanks for correcting me there, ha ha!
#4
As a 5' 4" woman of smaller build, your sex has nada to do with the type of bass you play. Really. I play an 3/4 uprgiht, enough said.

I am going to give you the same advice I give everyone on both the bass and Tbirds.

Buying a bass is like buying a car--you really need to do some test driving before you put down the cash. If you know someone who is a bass player, grab them and go to your local shop and try everything and I mean everything in your budget You will find a bass that is comfortable to play and has the tone you want. Keep an open mind and have fun. Don't think you have to buy the first time you shop either. And don't forget you need a bass amp as well when you set your budget up!

If you have questions about specific models feel free to come back here and ask questions. That's what we are here for.

On Tbirds--here's my issue--the sound of them is a bit muddy (I'm not a huge fan of the pickups) and they neck dive due to their shape and construction. They can be hell on your shoulders as well.
#5
Thank you, anarkee I see that's the case now, I guess before I posted here I was obviously quite misinformed...

When you say 'hell on your shoulders'- I guess that's because of the weight of them? How much do they weigh?
Last edited by beau-diddly at Nov 22, 2013,
#6
I'm 6'1" and 210lb...and am fairly athletic. I had an Epi Thunderbird at one point and the thing was a beast. I honestly hated the thing. Extremely heavy and uncomfortable. It has a large body made of Mahogany...which is about the heaviest wood guitars are made of.

I don't think "sex" has any bearing on what bass you play, but height and weight obviously do. So unless you are a stronger than average woman, a 5'5" woman and a 5'5" man are of course different. That's just fact.

With that being said, I would go for the shorter scale bass if I were you. Heck, I like shorter scale basses myself (but I am foremost a guitarist, not a bassist).

Also, with the Thunderbird...mine would "dive" fairly easy. The headstock on these dive because they are heavy, so you have to hold the neck in place while you play standing up. There's ways around that like adjusting where the strap things go, etc.

And the tbirds are also "muddy" sounding, like the above poster says. They have a dark/growly sound. Not bright and punchy like a Precision bass would be.

Check out the Fender Bronco basses or the Jaguars. Ibanez has some lighter ones.

Just remember if you get anything made out of Mahogany...it's going to be heavy.
#7
I do not know what the Thunderbirds weigh - almost no manufacturer states that on the specifications sheet. What makes them hell on the shoulder is that between the way they rest on your shoulder (position of the strap buttons), the fact that the neck and the body center block are essentially one piece, and that huge mahogany headstock means that the neck tends to dive towards the floor very easily. It is a bass that most people have to hold onto while standing up. But several well-known bassists love them, and they are the most successful bass that Gibson has ever released. They must have something going for them. Epiphone makes more than one Thunderbird, and the few that I've played seem good enough. I noticed that the different models with different pickups have very different sounds. One thing to remember about a Thunderbird - Gibson or Epiphone - is that because the pickups are often specific to the bass, there are not a huge number of aftermarket pickups available. That may not matter to you, but it is something to think about. Bassists like to swap out pickups almost as much as do guitar players.

The Thunderbird bass appeared on a number of tracks back in the 60s and 70s, but that era was tryly ruled by the Fender basses - the Precision and the Jazz. Among a select few, the Rickenbacker was quite the thing, but it was never as common as the Fenders.

Since you appear to be looking at four-string basses, your hand size should not matter. Also, unless you go for one of those insane custom basses made of some rare Amazonian woods that weigh a metric ton, no bass should be too heavy for you. A word of warning: get a wide strap; not a skinny guitar strap. I highly recommend the wide, padded nylon strap from Planet Waves. It is inexpensive, basic black and makes a big difference. Any Guitar Center will have them. As for length, most straps are very adjustable. There are a few high-end leather straps that have almost no adjustment, but you are better off with the cloth or nylon ones. You can throw them into the washing machine.

That having been said, some basses are easier to play than others. This has a lot to do with the shape of the neck, how thin the neck is, and how it sits on your shoulder. The only way to know which bass necks are best for you is to try as many as you can. You also cannot associate one particular type of neck with one particular bass or manufacturer. People will tell you Ibanez necks are thin, until you play an Ibanez ATK. Not so thin. Fender Jazz necks can vary significantly, from the thin and fast neck on the Geddy Lee signature model to some pretty fat Jazz basses sold as vintage reissues. And wait until you get hold of Fender's Steve Harris Precision signature model. The thing has a neck like a baseball bat! Fender necks - like everyone else's - are all over the map.

The best advice any of us can provide is to take that advice with a grain of salt. Play as many basses as you can and get what you want. It is your money, your tastes and your ears. What sounds good to you? What feels good to you? What looks good to you? Those are the most important questions to address. If you don't like your bass, then you won't play it very often. That is why it is critical to avoid any pressure to get what someone else thinks is the way to go. Even the entry-level basses being made today are good instruments that you might hang onto for life, so make sure you enjoy it.

Welcome to the Low End, my friend!
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#8
I have a epiphone thunderbird pro iv bass and absolutely love it.
I find it very light for a bass, as do many of mu guitarist friends (so I do't know if it was a different variation to the above commenter) and the thin neck means it's easy to play for these friends as well.
There are a couple of things that take getting used to, such as the neck having a tendency to point to the floor because of it being weighted more at head than other basses. This took me a little while to get used to and hurt my wrist a bit to keep it in a 'comfortable' position although now I'm fine with it.

What I would say is though don't go spending so a lot of money on your first bass. I don't know what your budget is or anything but don't be put off by cheaper models, you may find bass isn't for you and it's better to have a small hole in your pocket rather than a larger one.

I started off with a second hand Legend Jazz bass when I was 13. For the bass/amp/case etc. it cost £100 ($160ish). To be honest it isn't great, although the amp is pretty good. It is heavy (something at first was uncomfortable for me at moments) and it played poorly. As far as my hands being to small though it wasn't a major issue I felt. I didn't mind though as I thought it was awesome to have and play my own bass and so decided to upgrade a few years later when I knew the instrument was for me.

The point is your first bas shouldn't be a major investment and there are plenty of low budget ones around that are perfect for beginners ,although there's no reason why you should settle for the first one you see like in your budget like I did. Have a play of basses and see if they are right for you and don't be tempted by how they look as comfort is f much greater importance.
Last edited by Tumbledryer at Nov 22, 2013,
#9
Its kind of hard to try out an instrument if you dont know how to play one. I would recommend a cheap ibanez bass to start learning with, and if its something you really enjoy and are passionate about you can spend the money on a quality instrument.

If money isnt an obstacle you can buy a higher quality bass to start with, though you wont really know what you'll be looking for.

I would recommend the ibanez SR series. They have guitars in all prices ranges. i own an sr405 and i really love it.

http://www.ibanez.co.jp/products/u_eb_series13.php?series_id=112&year=2013&cat_id=2
(signature removed, please choose another)
#10
OP is future Smashing Pumpkins bassist.

I'm sure Billy would teach you all you need to know.
Dance in the moonlight my old friend twilight


Quote by metal4eva_22
What's this about ****ing corpses? My UG senses were tingling.
#11
I think you might be worried about the weight of the Bass. If so, Take a look to the Warwick basses, they have some cheap asian line that its really good!
#12
^
Cheap Asian lines are never good. They're...cheap.


Anyway, I'd actually look into some Peavey basses. They're fairly versatile and not overly heavy.
#13
From my experience, Epiphone/Gibson basses are heavy and harder to play.
#14
Quote by McDonaldsISdeth
It has a large body made of Mahogany...which is about the heaviest wood guitars are made of.

Just remember if you get anything made out of Mahogany...it's going to be heavy.


Is mahogany really that heavy? I always thought that was something of a myth, good quality mahogany is normally actually pretty light. My lightest guitars (not basses) are all-mahogany, for example. Granted, everything else in those guitars is not necessarily equal either (they tend to be pretty thin and small-bodied etc.).

I always thought maple was meant to be pretty heavy. And something like a thunderbird has a ton of wood mass there, I'm guessing that affects the weight at least as much as the species does (kind of analogous to how a les paul is often heavy but an SG is pretty light).

I would bear in mind weight though if you don't like lifting heavy things. I know I don't. I recently took up bass in addition to guitar and I even pay attention to the weight of normal guitars as I don't like weight. Bass will feel "bigger" than guitar, too, but I'm not sure I'd get a shortscale in case it doesn't sound the way you want... it's kind of a judgement call. Odds are you'll get used to the longer scale length eventually. I'm not sure you'll get used to weight, and it's debatable if getting used to it is a great idea anyway, you could give yourself back problems or something like that if you're not careful.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#15
I don't think the weight of the bass matters that much. What matters is if it's balanced or not. I have a Thunderbird style bass (Tokai) and it is neck heavy - not well balanced. I don't think it weighs that much more than Fender basses but why it feels heavy is because it's not balanced well - it's a cool looking shape but it has its problems. I wouldn't suggest it as your first bass. It's not the most comfortable to play. I like the tone and I like the feel and the looks of my Tokai but it is really neck heavy. But I knew what I was getting when I bought it.

So yeah, the only things you need to worry about is how it feels in your hands and how it sounds like. Guitars just don't work on paper. You can't see how something feels and sounds like before you actually try it. And you can tell if something feels good in your hands or not even if you can't really play.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 23, 2013,
#16
oh yeah balance on the strap plays a pretty big part too

but i still wouldn't want to play a 10lb (or more) guitar (or bass) for too long nomatter how well it balanced i think my vigier is 8.something lbs, which is pretty light for bass i think, and I wouldn't want much heavier. and i think it's reasonably well balanced, it's not a crazy shape or anything.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#17
Small people are not confined to playing shortscale basses. Get a short scale because you love the tone or the playability of the instrument. And size of the instrument does not always equate to comfort. Many of my older guitar playing buds have eschewed playing Les Paul's because of the weight of those guitars.
#18
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
^
Cheap Asian lines are never good. They're...cheap.


Anyway, I'd actually look into some Peavey basses. They're fairly versatile and not overly heavy.


Not really. Cheap isn't synonymous with bad. Look at some of the Squier CV stuff for example, quite highly regarded.

With that being said, don't buy an Asian Warwick. Pointless exercise. They're decent instruments, but not the same standard as a proper Warwick, and the used market for Warwicks happens to be in the pits at the moment. You can pick up a used German Corvette for peanuts; sometimes for the same price as a new Rockbass Warwick.

Your physical size won't make a big difference to what electric basses you can play (as Anarkee said, short folk can still get their way around an upright bass). Short/medium scale is definitely not necessary, I played a long scale 6 string bass for a couple of years with no issue (I'm 5'4" and have very small hands). Wasn't really any harder to play than the 32" scale 4 string I also owned, with the correct technique.

A Warwick might be a good option from an aesthetic point of view, especially a Corvette or a Thumb. Their bodies are so much smaller than something like a Fender or a Gibson design, so it looks much more proportionate as a short person. I used to get comments on my size compared to the size of my bass when I gigged Fenders, Gibsons, Musicman basses etc, but never had a single one with my Warwick Corvette. If you decide to go this route, it might be worth remembering that some of them have chunky necks (often referred to as baseball bat necks). Not always a problem, but bear it in mind. Others have a slim neck, like mine (preferable for me, with my small hands). Also watch out for the body wood; the Corvettes for example usually come with either Ash or solid Bubinga bodies. For the typical female frame, even with the size of them, the Ash would be preferable. Mine is Bubinga and despite the small body size is heavy as hell. Doesn't bother me, but it could be a problem for someone with a lighter frame.
Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
#19
Squier CLASSIC VIBE P/J Bass or Squier Vintage Modified Bass.

Do NOT buy the Squier STANDARD or BULLET - they are crap.

Or go with any Aria bass.

Or Peavy.
#20
Quote by Ziphoblat
For the typical female frame, even with the size of them, the Ash would be preferable. Mine is Bubinga and despite the small body size is heavy as hell. Doesn't bother me, but it could be a problem for someone with a lighter frame.


I'd also say that the size of the person bears little relation to whether you like heavyweight instruments- some people are just stronger than other people (and also some people have back problems etc.). I'm probably slightly taller than the average guy and I like light instruments.

it's back to the old personal preference thing- if you know you like things to be as light as possible, don't let anyone tell you not to let weight put you off, because they don't have to play the darn thing.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#21
Quote by Dave_Mc
I'd also say that the size of the person bears little relation to whether you like heavyweight instruments- some people are just stronger than other people (and also some people have back problems etc.). I'm probably slightly taller than the average guy and I like light instruments.

it's back to the old personal preference thing- if you know you like things to be as light as possible, don't let anyone tell you not to let weight put you off, because they don't have to play the darn thing.


By frame I'm talking more about build than height. Typically a female has less muscle mass than a male, ergo more potential discomfort with a heavier instrument.
Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
#22
Yeah absolutely. I'm just saying that you can be a guy and dislike heavy instruments, too.

I'm just saying if you know you don't like weight, it makes sense to bear weight in mind when it comes to making your decision.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?