#1
Greetings my fellow beloved bassists

So I'm treating myself to a shiny new bass guitar as a graduation present. My last upgrade was a Squire Jazz Bass, I only bought it because of its good value for money. Now after 6 years of playing I want to claim a new beast I can proudly finger for the next decade or so.

So I'd appreciate your personal advice on the following:

1. What price range you believe is adequate for a high-end bass? [My initial range was $450-$620, but I'm willing to go a bit higher if it's worth it]
2. Any recommendations for brands or series with a good value for price and quality [rickenbackers look/sound nice but you're paying $2k for the brand, not the sound]

I basically want to spend my money on a pro bass that sounds good, feels good, then looks good in that order. Not some limited edition or vintage or signed copy, just a formidable weapon worth every cent I'll be spending.

Any of your personal input/experience or buying a bass will also be appreciated, I'll read it all I've got nothing better to do. Thank you!


little background knowledge: I'm not a traditional funk/groove/jazz bassist, I admire the likes of Jaco Pastorius but it's Cliff Burton's style that made me smash my guitar and go back to the bass. I really love his sound and lead-style, plus I haven't seen any other bassist head bang as hard when playing. This is my current playing style.
how do you edit signature?
Last edited by arvarna at Jul 26, 2015,
#2
you won't find a high-end bass for $600 bucks, but you can find a really nice bass for that. i'd double it at least for a high-ender, probably quadruple it, but there are many really good basses around the $1200 mark and even the $600 mark. you might want to decide if you want to go active or passive. you pretty much can't go wrong with an american-made fender or music man, although of course personal preference comes into it - no matter how good a bass is, not everyone will like its tone or feel, neck or body size.

i love basses, i love shopping for basses whether doing online research or trying them at the many music stores we live near. i try every new and used bass i can get my hands on. if you live by ANY music stores, i suggest it's a place to start. i'm a big fan of ibanez - their tone, slender bodies and comfy necks. one of my favorites is the SR1800e, which sounds so good to me (partly due to the nordstand big singles pickups) that i almost can't believe it. and at $1299, it's a lot cheaper than other basses at its level. but i have an ibanez SR500, which also sounds very good - better, to me, than many - and it sells new for $599 (but i got it used).

jaco played a fretless fender jazz bass. are you looking to go fretless? cliff burton started off on a ric, and personally i love rics - their feel and tone is just great and utterly unique, and i strongly disagree that you're paying just for the name. their fit and finish is great, their tone is, too. on the other hand, they're heavy beasts, and playing one while standing for hours can be painful. and some people report issues with the bridges.

other great basses that you may feel you're paying for the name with, but in reality part of what you're paying for is people assembling it who get first-world pay and better quality control. and higher end electronics cost more. if you like your current bass, an obvious upgrade would be the fender american standard jazz bass. jaco played a fretless fender jazz. a very popular bass that i love is the music man stingray, you might want to try it - i like the tone it delivers and love the neck. and G & L makes some super basses, and is the company leo fender moved to when he left fender.

btw, amplification and effects are going to come into tone a lot. do you have an amp or DI box that totally satisfies you tonally?
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#3
Carvin is pretty well respected among bass players.

http://www.carvinguitars.com/customshop/basses.php

If you're in the UK, you owe it to yourself to check out AC Guitars (http://www.acguitars.co.uk/acg_admin/wordpress/ )

Might also want to check out Dingwall. http://www.dingwallguitars.com/

While you're at it, you need to look at the speaker end of things.

Check out BarefacedBass (dot com) in the UK and the fEARless and fEARful line of speakers in the US. Pretty much guaranteed to change how you look at the manufactured stuff you find at GC.
#4
Quote by dspellman
Carvin is pretty well respected among bass players.


Carving is pretty well respected period.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#5
i've owned a lot of carvin equipment, and i wouldn't consider most of their stuff high end or professional. they're great when it comes to value, and you can design your own bass from the options they offer. not a lot of pickup or hardware options. though.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
Last edited by patticake at Jul 27, 2015,
#6
Quote by patticake
i've owned a lot of carvin equipment, and i wouldn't consider most of their stuff high end or professional. they're great when it comes to value, and you can design your own bass from the options they offer. not a lot of pickup or hardware options. though.


You should take a look at what they've got available now.
#7
since they no longer have a showroom in my area, and it's a pain in the @ss to drive to san diego, that may not happen. they seem to have pretty much the same pickups on their website that they used to have in store where i used to hang out in hollywood - pretty much all alnicos are alnico 5, where i often prefer 3
http://www.carvinguitars.com/group/bass_pickups

of course, you could drop barts or nordstrand into a carvin bass, along with a new preamp, but i can get barts and nordys in ibanez basses with preamps. i used to really like the carvin music man style pickup, but didn't feel it sounded quite as good as the original, much less some of the third-party replacements, some of which are just plain low end ear candy.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#8
carvin's come a long way these last few years. definitely a gem of a company

dingwall is also really good if you're after an affordable, solid fan-fret

ibanez stepped up their game the last 2 years too, now they have affordable and solid mid-tier fretless, fanned fret, singlecut, etc

that being said all of these options would be way over your budget even used

you're not gonna get to the high end till you hit the $1.5k+ mark, but that doesn't mean there aren't options

also, just to play devil's advocate: you are paying for the sound with a rick. there's a sound you're only gonna get from that brand of basses. it's that simple. they're not overrated if that's the sound you're after
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.


Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#9
of course, high end would equal these -

fodera - VERY well liked. costs $1500 down to save your spot to have a custom made. their only bass in stock at the moment -
http://fodera.com/instruments-in-stock/

pedulla - not their highest priced model, but i like it
http://www.pedulla.com/html/price_list_thunderbolt.html

and let's not forget sadowsky basses, which start at over 4K
http://www.sadowsky.com

i played a fender custom shop bass that was like the magic version of their regular basses. GC was asking $7499, but i hear you can order them around $3000 to $3500 direct.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#10
ehhh, i'd say those are in the ballpark of unrealistic even for most pros who aren't virtuosos.

you can get perfectly good customs in the range of $2k with any of the smaller companies
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.


Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#11
Quote by patticake
you won't find a high-end bass for $600 bucks, but you can find a really nice bass for that. i'd double it at least for a high-ender, probably quadruple it, but there are many really good basses around the $1200 mark and even the $600 mark. you might want to decide if you want to go active or passive. you pretty much can't go wrong with an american-made fender or music man, although of course personal preference comes into it - no matter how good a bass is, not everyone will like its tone or feel, neck or body size.

i love basses, i love shopping for basses whether doing online research or trying them at the many music stores we live near. i try every new and used bass i can get my hands on. if you live by ANY music stores, i suggest it's a place to start. i'm a big fan of ibanez - their tone, slender bodies and comfy necks. one of my favorites is the SR1800e, which sounds so good to me (partly due to the nordstand big singles pickups) that i almost can't believe it. and at $1299, it's a lot cheaper than other basses at its level. but i have an ibanez SR500, which also sounds very good - better, to me, than many - and it sells new for $599 (but i got it used).

jaco played a fretless fender jazz bass. are you looking to go fretless? cliff burton started off on a ric, and personally i love rics - their feel and tone is just great and utterly unique, and i strongly disagree that you're paying just for the name. their fit and finish is great, their tone is, too. on the other hand, they're heavy beasts, and playing one while standing for hours can be painful. and some people report issues with the bridges.

other great basses that you may feel you're paying for the name with, but in reality part of what you're paying for is people assembling it who get first-world pay and better quality control. and higher end electronics cost more. if you like your current bass, an obvious upgrade would be the fender american standard jazz bass. jaco played a fretless fender jazz. a very popular bass that i love is the music man stingray, you might want to try it - i like the tone it delivers and love the neck. and G & L makes some super basses, and is the company leo fender moved to when he left fender.

btw, amplification and effects are going to come into tone a lot. do you have an amp or DI box that totally satisfies you tonally?

Hey many thanks for the input patticake, dspellman, hail

I really didn't mean to bash on Rickenbacker at all it's a beautiful bass and I liked the unique sound, I just think my perception of a 'high end' was way too naive since to me it's still too expensive right now. I'm still a student so I'm not really balling in enough money to invest $1500+ on a new bass, since I've already spent well over $1000 on amp and pedal gear.

I really dig the fretless sound and feel, it was definitely in my consideration but at the moment it's not really the sound I'm looking to have in my new band. Ibanez is definitely one of my favourite brands for bass and guitar, I've gotten so used to the slim neck it put me off the fender necks last time I went looking for a new bass haha.

patticake you mentioned having the SR500, I actually came across this one when surfing around online catalogues. I haven't tried it yet so I don't quite know how it sounds but it looks like something fit to play metal with in my new band, which would also benefit my current play style. Would you recommend this one as a good investment? In terms of sound quality, pickups, controls and just over all feel, would you rate this a good bass? I'm not afraid to go higher but this particular one fits in well with my price range. Of course I'd like to go $1,500 but considering my current position I'd rather wait till I finish uni, then my masters, so like when I've got a proper job and income.

I'll have a look at carvin and dingwall, I heard good things about them. I really appreciate the input everyone thanks for helping me out here.
how do you edit signature?
#12
a quick FYI - dingwalls run over $3000. an above-entry level carvin will also run hundreds over your budget. http://www.carvinguitars.com/customshop/xcceleratorbasses.php

if you're in the u.s. you can get some good prices finding something used on the guitarcenter.com website, which would allow you to extend your buying power. they have a 30 day return policy, so if you're not happy with a bass you order, you can return it. and if you live by a GC, you can pick it up and return it in store, which is very handy. if you go this route, contact the store the bass you're interested in (by phone is best) to find out more about it.

i find the SR500 has a versatile tone, thanks to its active preamp and ibanez-made bartolini pickups. it's very comfortable, too. there are a couple caveats, however. first, the finish is fragile - i see them all the time at stores with worn-off finish where there's the most contact with players' hands. and second, not everyone loves the sound of the barts. btw, i got mine used for $200 from a local guitar center, and see a lot of them used for $300.

i'd consider some of the other SR series ibanez basses maybe better for metal if you don't care for the barts. i love 'em but i also love the regular SR pickups.

i played mostly metal and hard alt punk for years, and i usually liked the sound of a passive bass through a large rig - mine was 1000 watts, 1x15 + 2x10. i played yamaha and squier mostly, and a custom 5 string. bands and audiences loved the tone, and so did i.

you seem like you're concerned about the name on the headstock - you won't find much prestige attaches to carvin. you WILL find that cred with a used fender bass, or maybe a new blem made in japan fender aerodyne (soon to disappear forever) or maybe a made in mexico fender is something musicians will notice. many bass players consider ibanez to be "the" bass for metal, but you don't want a GSR bass, as those are the ibanez entry level basses. i like some of the pacrim modern player fenders, too - the dimension bass is on my radar (love the rails).

if you're not worried about the name on the headstock, the sterling (by music man) SUB ray4 is the best quality bass under $600 i've ever wrapped my fingers around. versatile tone, can dial in some bite, better quality than any bass in its price range, and i'm not exaggerating. neck is just awesome, too.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
Last edited by patticake at Jul 28, 2015,
#13
Quote by Hail
ehhh, i'd say those are in the ballpark of unrealistic even for most pros who aren't virtuosos.

you can get perfectly good customs in the range of $2k with any of the smaller companies


The OP did say "High End."

Those aren't unrealistic for pros looking for "high end."
#14
Quote by patticake
a quick FYI - dingwalls run over $3000. an above-entry level carvin will also run hundreds over your budget. http://www.carvinguitars.com/customshop/xcceleratorbasses.php


go used, you can get carvins solid used carvins in the $600 range if you're patient. also, dingwall has a $1300 entry level series that's absolutely exceptional. harder to find used, though, cause nobody in their right mind would give one up.

Quote by dspellman
The OP did say "High End."

Those aren't unrealistic for pros looking for "high end."


there's high end in terms of quality, and high end in terms of price range. just because the price is higher doesn't mean that there isn't a significant realm of diminishing returns between dollar investment (x) and quality increase (y)

most musicians don't go to gigs with foderas, even if they do own one. it's unwise and unrealistic to drag around an $8k+ bass unless you're victor wooten and they throw them at you for free
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.


Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#15
he also posted his budget. you're right, but the OP didn't realize how expensive high end basses are.

Quote by dspellman
The OP did say "High End."

Those aren't unrealistic for pros looking for "high end."


btw, to the OP, i sent you a pm. it's not easy to find the pm's here - they're in your profile.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
Last edited by patticake at Jul 28, 2015,
#16
High end bass.

Definitely not $650 dollars, but you can find basses that play just as fast with killer tones in that range.

I had a 5K Bass at one time made by an allegedly christian luthier.

I dumped it and got 4 Ibanez BTB's. 3 new (405, 455, 456) and one used Fretless 1006. Thanks Adam Nitti for pointing out why I was never really really happy with my Neck Through.

Variable Sweep Midrange control like Entwistle's Buzzard is a must in my book.

Played a top of the line Ken Smith that I had wanted for 22 years. My college instructor used to make fun of my Mockingbird back in the day. I told him the only thing I would have changed was to make it a 6 String. He kept giving me a raised eye brow on that. He then went out the first summer and bought the 5th KS made in the world,

After 22 year, since he never let me play it I finally played a TOL KS.
No joy. It was his lower line Bolt on with the TOL Electronics that I found inspiring like the 456.

The neck profiles from the Smith to the BTBs were the same in my hand. Perfect. I would have joy playing that instrument, but begrudgingly miss $2K.

High end Bass, get one made by David King if you are in the US.

If you are in the UK, get a Status.

Before I ever get a Smith, I hope for a custom Basswood Body, AAAA Quilted Maple Top, 6 String Headless Status.

That is my tech top out following in the footsteps of Entwistle, who was not easily satisfied and made Fenderbirds out of PBasses and Thunderbirds, then went to Carbon Fiber and Stringer reinforced necks on Alembic, and ended with the all CF Buzzard Bass.

That is the guy who influenced the tone of the instrument by researching and developing the main standard of string gauging for the instrument.

Stingrays - love the tone, but cannot play the battish neck.

Fenders - Been there. Nothing endearing about them to me. Dead spot issues with the Inline High 4 Headstock.

B.C. Rich - No longer a High End contender in the electronics design.

G&L - whatever

Carvin - huh?

Fodera - ugly crap

Current Production Ibanez BTB's - really? No Bolt ons? 250/500/800Hz mid switch...are you for real? Tone killing walnut?

Yikes.

I hope to get another 456 and get it finished in the 405 Blue. Then I will be really happy.
I am kind of simple.
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