Hey, two of my friends and I decided to start up a band, and we all 3 play guitar. I decided to step up and play bass So I was just wondering if anyone had some tips for me when I get a bass (I don't have one as of now). Also, I come from an all acoustic background sosome of the electric terms I may need explained (I know the basics like pickups, humbuckers, tone but the speaker talk is new to me). Also, I'd like to shoot for below 300 bucks for the whole shebang. Bass, amp, cables etc.
Last edited by Jamesplaysbass at Dec 9, 2014,
Don't assume because a company makes good/bad guitars they also make good/bad basses. If you're not sure what to get check the FAQ, pics are all dead but the recommendations are still good.

Don't approach playing bass the same as playing guitar, treat it as a new instrument with some similarities. Guitarists like to show off and much of their playing reflects that (full of fast/fancy/technical things), bass is all about rhythm and groove. As they say: If the guitarist hits a wrong note only a small handful of people will notice. If the bassist messes up the groove a whole room of tapping feet start wondering what felt wrong there.

Most importantly, have fun with it. Bass is an awesome instrument to play, and good ones are a lot harder to find than guitarists so you'll never be short of playing opportunities.
This is exactly how I became a bass player. We had 3 guitarists (myself included). When the bass player quit I decided I would take over. Three guitarists was a bit much anyway. There were more arms and legs to being a guitarist-turned-bassman than I realized.

I quickly found out several things:

1. 100 watts is a lot of power for a guitar player. It ain't squat for bass. You'll need a minimum of 300 watts, IMHO, although 200 watts can usually get the job done if you use two efficient bass cabs. My first amp was a combo unit with 100 watts and a single 12" speaker. A ridiculous choice for gigging but hey, I didn't know that at the time. I thought I had plenty of power. Wrong. Also, although you can use your guitar amp for practice at veeerry low volumes you can't use it at performance levels. The speakers can't take it and blow out, usually very quickly.

2. A single 410 bass cab is probably enough for most gigs, but they're heavy. Consider getting two 210 cabs instead and stack them vertically for the best overall sound. You'll also have at least one of the 10" speakers level with your ears. When the sound is down at knee level your knees hear exactly what you're playing. Your ears don't get it though. Two smaller cabs also allow you to bring only one cab to smaller gigs or use both for bigger gigs. If you run out of headroom with 300 watts and two 210 cabs then you need to run through the house PA.

3. Buy a decent first bass guitar but use it as the basis for what your second bass should be later. Right now you may not know which bass you want. Offerings from Squier, Ibanez, and Yamaha can be found used in the $100-$200 price range and they are gig-ready as-is. Once you know what you want your sound to be and whether you like thick necks or thin necks, single or multiple pickups, etc., you'll be able to buy your dream bass (this changes over time) and sell your used first bass for close to what you paid for it. Or, keep it as a backup.

4. Most basses come strung with roundwound strings. These are great but I can tell you that string noise for a beginner can be a major issue. If you want to remove this temporarily in order to concentrate on actually learning to play the bass then consider starting out with flatwound strings, which have no string noise, and add rounds later on once you feel confident about the other bass learning aspects. GHS Precision and D'addario Chromes are two great inexpensive choices.

One final thought... If you're uncomfortable with buying used gear but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for new gear then here's a $180 bass guitar, $250 250 watt amp head, $200 410 bass cab and $6 speaker cable. Gets you everything you need for about $650 and all of it is decent, gig-worthy gear. Normally I would not have suggested the 410 bass cab, but it's an absolute steal at $200, IMHO.





Good luck in your new endeavor. There's lots to learn, that's for sure.
Last edited by VeloDog at Dec 3, 2014,
VeloDog covered it, but if you're buying an 80+ watt combo, Either get a 2x10" or a 15" since one 12" doesn't get you anywhere, and a 100 watt amp is enough for a 100 person gig.
1. Velo's on the money -- 300W is close to a minimum for today's bass player. It's not a question of volume as much as it is that clean deep bass takes a lot of power. I'm running 900W through a single speaker cabinet, 1400W through two, and my 5-string is comfortable with that.

2. In case he didn't make it clear, 4x10s are heavy and bulky. One will do you, but it's yesterday's bass cabinet. OTOH, they're available cheap, especially used.

There are more modern cabinets with wider response, better low end *and* high end (and bass players use a much wider range of frequencies than guitar players do -- essentially everything that a PA puts out). They're also lighter (it costs more to use a thinner and lighter grade of plywood and then stiffen it with well-designed bracing than it does to slap together a 3/4" plywood box and stuff it with 10" speakers, as most manufacturers do) and, because they're using more efficient speakers, smaller. Alex Claber (barefacedbass.com in the UK), David Green ("greenboy" on TalkBass.com) and Duke LeJeune (also on TalkBass.com) seem to be leading the way, but there are higher-end manufacturers that are also getting into the game as the competition puts out better stuff. Google "fEARful 15/6/1" and "fEARful bass cabinets" for information on cabinets that can be DIY and are amazingly good.

3. I bought a decent cheap (used) Fender Squier Skull bass for a first guitar. Four-stringer, Precision and Jazz bass pickups, passive pickups. A very basic bass made slightly silly looking with a skull and crossbones graphic and 12th-fret inlay, but good nonetheless. My second bass was also used, a 1989 Carvin LB75 five-string with active pickups, neck-through, yada yada. As VeloDog suggests, I used the first one to figure out what I might want on the second. And both are still working basses.

4. My bass came with roundwound strings, and I left them. I sorta knew that there were flatwound strings out there, but it really didn't matter much to me during the learning period, and I sort of naturally learned how to reduce string noise along the way. You'll probably end up with roundwounds anyway, so you may want to just leave them.

Learn the ways that bass players differ from guitar players early on. You'll find that many of them are far more techie than guitar players. You'll also find that you work much more closely with the drummer than with the guitar players. And you may find that you influence the overall sound of your band more than the guitar players do.
Came here to ask something similar in fact. As a guitarist foremost and a 'bassist' when required, I will be sure to keep these tips in mind All the best with your band mate.
I've played both. the only input I have that hasn't already been said is this...

resist the temptation to add a lot. Not sure about your style on guitar...but guitar players always want to play the bass like guitar and it muds up the song.
One thing to note is that basses have a longer scale than guitars, so you might find that your hands aren't conditioned for it. Mine sure weren't. To that end, experiment with short-scale basses if you can find them, because you may find them more comfortable to play.
Quote by BUZZARD__
I've played both. the only input I have that hasn't already been said is this...

resist the temptation to add a lot. Not sure about your style on guitar...but guitar players always want to play the bass like guitar and it muds up the song.

This is true, but it depends on the style and what suits the song. It's better for a bass player to learn when to do more and when to do less.