Hey guys!

Just to give a little background, I've been playing guitar for about 18 years. I have played a bass a handful of times in "gig" situations but have never owned one.

Recently I began a recording project in which I play all the instruments. I am using my DAW to create drum tracks, synth, etc. (of course I'm playing all the guitar parts.) I thought I could use the virtual instruments to create bass lines, but it just isn't working out. I need a real bass guitar in there to be able to lay the foundation to my riffs (genre is "deathened' black metal", BTW.)

I'm not planning to get a bass amp or the whole nine yards -- I'll be plugging this directly into my interface and using the amp/cab simulators in my DAW. My question is -- do I need to spend much money on a first bass guitar just for recording purposes in this manner? I have a budget of about $175. I am not afraid to go used, as I've learned that that is the best way to get something nice without having to sell a kidney. But if there are any new basses in that range -- please point me in that direction?

Also, should I get one with active pickups or passive?

Finally, and this is more of a composition question --- do bass guitarists generally play bass lines 1 octave below what the guitars are doing? I've never really paid much attention to what the bass is doing -- I only know that music sounds like shit without it.
look on craigslist for an ibanez gsr200 . You should be able to get a 200 (passive, P/J style) for $100 or less. I got mine from a store, w/ bag, strap new strings for $99. New they're only 180. Of all my guitars it's been the most 'reliable'/ rugged.
I've seen other bass' at GC for under $200 new and used.

active just gives you more output and perhaps more tone control w/ an amp - not something you'll need with your plan.

if you know a few songs google up the tabs for them for bass and see what's being played. Usually 1/3/5 and probably as low as it can go - but can't generalize and say '1 octave below guitar'.

Some songs have very simple bass lines - the same note or 2 played over and over. Some have bass leads...and of course lots of things in between.
Get a second hand Squier or Ibanez. You won't need active electronics if it's just for studio purposes, you can do far more in your production program.

$175 isn't going to get you much, even second hand. I think a second hand Squier Jaguar Bass is probably the best you're going to get and that'll be closer to $200.

I say this to all guitarists would-be bassists: try out a Squier Bass VI and see what you think. I've you're into the heavier side of metal, it'll have even more uses for you.

Staying on the lower end is the main point of the job.

For passive instruments: If you find yourself on a tune where you are getting past the A String and the 5th Fret, consider adding a little bass to the tone to transmit the girth of your strings to keep you distinct from the Guitars, if anything.

You really will not hit Guitar tambor until you are using a High C String .032 gauge....just listen to The Who - Quadraphenia Album, 'Can you see the Real Me?'

Entwistle is ripping up on the 17th-15th Frets. That ain't no thin twang on that P Bass.

Ain't no thin twang on McCartney playing Come together at the 12th.

Geddy Lee in the Body of YYZ that is 7th - 11th on that stellar Bright Rick. Still distinctly growling Bass.

On my basses, they scream Treble that I never imagined (cutting 7.5db on the Treble where I used to have to use EQ to reach and find), so often times I play 80's Tunes past the 5th Fret on the Low B giving a modern Heaviness to the compositions, and drop down for punctuation of phrases. The Girth on the Low B past the 5th Fret is still a huge tone and is yet still distinct from any E string 1-5 Fret tones.

In the end, it is all about Thickness. Yes Bassists are Thicker, where it matters.

Most guitarists will insist you keep it simple and out of their way. Nevertheless, even all the way up the neck, there is little to fear, because if it did not work with the Guitar to begin with, the Bass Guitar would not have caught on.

Have fun with it.
Ibanez BTB 1006 Fretless and 405 (no Barts)
456 & 455(w/Barts)
Genz Benz NeoX400 112T & NeoX 112T cab.
Digitech BP-8 (x2)
Yamaha PB-1
Boss: SYB-5, PS-2, OD-20, EQ-20, PH-3,BF-3, CE-20, DD-20
Morely A/B
^^Thanks for the insights. It all helps.

A local pawnshop has a Washburn bass that looks decent, I looked it over pretty well and couldn't find any flaws -- seems good enough for my purposes anyway. They want $98, lol -- but I think I can talk them down.

I won't be doing anything real crazy with the bass; basically I'll just be tracking what I'm playing on guitar only lower, obviously, and mostly single note lines.
Active basses do not generally mean active pickups, the pickups are usually the same as a passive bass it is the circuitry under the cover that is active powered by, in most cases, a 9v battery.
G&L L2500
Squier Affinity Jazz Bass 5
Ashdown RPM pre-amp
Ashdown Little Giant 1000
300 watt 15" powered cab
450 watt 15" powered sub bass cab
2x10 + horn
1x15x10 + horn