A couple years ago I received a bass as a birthday present but due to personal stuff at that time, I didn't have the motivation to play. The bigger issue there is I don't know how to play. The reason I don't know how to play is because I've never worked with electric instruments before and I don't have the equipment. I feel like you guys are going to give me shit for this but I really don't know what to do.

I went to the greatest god damn concert I have ever been to last night which triggered a huge wave of inspiration to finally hook up my bass. I'd never even taken the amp out of the box before -- though I let my father borrow it because he was only missing a bass and an amp -- so I was super excited until I realized that I don't have an input cable thingy. I don't know if input cable thingies are universal for all bass guitars or if I need to get a specific brand or what. I also don't know if I can get one for cheap, or if I can fix the input (output? ) on my bass which is apparently out but I obviously haven't been able to confirm that.

What else am I missing? I mean, I have a bass and I have a bass amp. I have very good studio headphones so I don't piss off my neighbors. I have arms, hands, and fingers. But I'm missing a cable and god knows what else.

Can you guys like point me to where I need to go to figure this out or tell me everything I need to start teaching myself this instrument already?

tl;dr don't buy your family members ~400 dollar instruments then expect them to know what to do
Any music store will stock an instrument cable, they don't need to be expensive or bass specific, just get a 3 or 4 meter one and you'll be fine. Hook it up from the output on the bass to input on the amp, there will be more info in the amp booklet for other stuff, but make sure the amp volume is minimum before you plug in the bass and when turning the amp on. When turning the amp off again make sure the amp volume is on minimum before you unhook your bass and turn the amp off. This helps protect the speaker, its more important when using bigger amps, but good practice and you woun't get any large bangs or pop sounds when turning on and off.

After that there are tons of tutorials online to get you started. You can play the bass with your fingers or pick, (different sound but not important) choose a thick 1 - 2mm pick if you go that way to start.

Good luck, don't get too frustrated starting out, we all have to start somewhere.
Quote by JKing138

Thank you for your help. Do you think a cheap cable would be okay, especially if it's just for learning? Like ~10 dollars?

And yeah, I try not to be too hard on myself when I can't just pick up an instrument and play it; but especially with an electronic one I'll be more relaxed with it because it's new to me. I've self taught myself ukulele which isn't too difficult and the cello which is a whole different story, so I figure I can catch on to bass and I'll stick with this one.

Funny that watching a single man perform can light a wild fire of ambition and inspiration. I'm excited.
No problem. Yeah a $10 cable will work well enough for practice. Keep the excitement and you'll be fine.
I recently bought a cable on Amazon for £0:20. New. I figured I wouldn't lose much if it didn't work. But it works perfectly well.
Quote by FatalGear41
Bassists don't hover on the forum day and night like guitarists. We've got lives to lead, music to play and whiskey to drink.

Quote by Ziphoblat
I'd rather go at my hands with a hacksaw than play lead guitar, and I'm only slightly exaggerating.
Regarding cables - any 1/4" TRS cable labelled as an instrument cable will do the job just fine. There are two kinds you'll encounter though; instrument cables and speaker cables. The difference is that instrument cables are shielded, where-as speaker cables aren't. The names are fairly descriptive; instrument cables are for connecting guitars/pedals, speaker cables are for connecting amplifiers to speakers (you don't need to worry about this if you're using a combo amp). You don't need to understand all of this, all you need to take away from it is that there are two varieties which look very similar, which shouldn't be used interchangeably. Using a speaker cable as an instrument cable will pick up a lot of noise/electrical hum, and using an instrument cable as a speaker cable is just a hazard. Don't use a cable unless you're sure that it's an instrument cable, and it'll be fine. You'll get one from any music shop. Don't break the bank, there are countless expensive variants with gold-plated connectors and so in - they're snake oil. Any run of the mill instrument cable will do the job fine.

Simply connect the output of the instrument to the input of the front of your amplifier. If your amp has two inputs, you should use the one labeled passive - unless your bass is active, in which case you will need to use the active input (you can tell if your bass is active if it requires a 9V battery - there will be a battery compartment on the back - more often than not, it won't). Your amp will probably have a simple bass/middle/treble control. If you've ever used any hi-fi equipment this should be fairly self-explanatory to you - I'd recommend starting with everything at 12 o'clock. You will also likely have two volume controls - your best bet is to turn the first one (preamp volume) up a few notches, and then use the second one (master volume) until it's as loud as you want it to be.

Your bass will also likely have two or three dials on it. The most likely combination is volume/volume/tone - the volume controls adjust the volume of each pickup respectively (assuming you have two pickups - if you're not aware, these are the things that actually pick up the vibrations of the strings) and the tone control rolls off higher frequencies (turning it all the way is the "neutral" position).
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Quote by Ziphoblat

You've been super helpful! I bought a cable last night that was 8 dollars (no shipping **** yeah) and it is indeed an instrument cable. My amp has a "vintage" dial on it and I honestly have no idea what that means or if I should be using it. Do you have an explanation for that one?
You have vintage and modern. Its changes the voice (sound) of your amp between the two. Vintage, traditionally has more mids (middle) and modern has more bass.
Bass - low sound that makes the room shake.
Mids - help you be heard in a band.
Treble - high end, this is guitar territory, you don't want too much.
Large changes in + or - can result in bad sound, so best to stert with it set 'flat' meaning everything set to 5 if it goes from 0-10, or at 0 if it goes -5 to +5.
Quote by JKing138

Thank you

I think that's all I need to know for now. We'll see what problems arise when I get my equipment in the mail.
Now that your bass is up and running, check out some places that can teach you what you want (and need) to learn:


StudyBass is a free site that has some pretty good practice lessons and such. As for materials that you have to pay for (but are often worth the price), check out BassBooks:


If it is a practice, technique, or method book dedicated to the bass, these people probably have it.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley