#1
Hey guys, I've been playing guitar for about 10 years and recently have been interested in purchasing my first bass. I have it narrowed down to 2 in my price range but my main question is p vs j. I have a wide taste in music and would like to play anything from classic rock to metal. Basically I want to go from primus to rhcp to Zeppelin to pantera and still have a reasonable tone. Just wondering if a p or j bass would be the best for me. Thanks.
#2
Go jam at a music store and see what you like! I use my Jackson to suck at all genres of music, it doesn't matter that I bought it wanting to be Megadeth.
#3
P-basses usually have a humbucker (punchier, warmer tone with more output), while J-basses usually have single coils (clearer, softer tone with less output). P-basses are more popular as far as I know, and I know jazz and funk bassists who use them as well. My first instinct is to recommend a P-bass, but on the other hand I'm a metal fan and I use a J-bass, and I love it. But I play a lot of jazz and funk, more so than metal. You should probably try them out yourself, with 10 years of guitar experience I'm sure you can tell when you like an instrument.

Quote by kangaroojew9
I have a wide taste in music and would like to play anything from classic rock to metal.




Not trying to be mean. I just think that that sentence is unintentionally hilarious.
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Theory: Not rules, just tools.

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*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#4
Both are good, the main difference you will feel is in the neck. P's have a thicker neck traditionally. As a guitarist you will probably prefer a J neck as it wil feel more like a guitar neck. There's a difference in the pickups too, The P usually has a single pup in the sweet spot and gives the best basic sound, it emphasizes lower mids and gives a lovely punchy sound which works well in a live band situation. J basses have two pups that can be blended to give a variety of sounds. the basic sound with the neck pup up full has more bass and top than a P-bass. I find my J sounds fantastic at home and with semi acoustic material but the P just sounds nice with a band.

The whole thing is confused in that some P's have an added J pup to give them versatility and some P basses will use a J neck which is more comfortable for most people. That's just Fender/Squier, there are so many clones, many of them good, that in the end you have to try them out, if it sounds good and feels good it's a keeper.
#5
yeah haha not really a huge jump from Classic rock to metal lol, depends on your definition of metal. Thanks for the reply.
#6
I'd suggest a J. You might want to get the action low or you could find it hard going.
#7
What's your budget? Does this include an amp? Where are you? Have you looked at used stuff in your area?

You could probably find a decent second hand Jazz bass for pretty reasonable and it would probably be the thing if you're set on a Fender design.
#8
If you have small hands, and based on your years of guitar playing, you may prefer a short scale bass (30") or a medium scale (32").
String spacing at the bridge can be a problem, too.
There's FENDER standard spacing (19mm / 0.75") - and various narrow spacings (Gibson, Rickenbacker, Epiphone, Hofner, Guild, etc).
And if you move up to a 5 or 6 string bass, the string spacing can be very narrow, too.
. . .
Another option is to get a six string bass with guitar tuning.
FENDER VI and the Squier Vintage Modified VI


Ibanez SRC6 Crossover 6-String Electric Bass
Or get a regular six string bass and tune it like a guitar, but one octave down.
Last edited by jetgraphics at Jan 15, 2017,
#10
I'm a two year beginner and just bought my first bass an Ibanez Talman TMB100 for $199. So far very happy with it.
#11
There seems to be an increase in short scale and fretless basses. What are the pros and cons of those?
#12
bar2271 Shortscales are easier to play for people with small hands, like children who just started playing bass, or for guitarists-turned-bassists, because their scale length is closer to that of a guitar, hence requiring less movement with your fretting hand.

Fretless basses have their very own sound due to the, well, lack of frets. They're harder to learn, since you'll have to hit the very same spot on the fretboard where the fret would usually be to get the bass to sound spot on tuned. Obviously, slides are easier when there are no frets in the way, and also sound smoother.

(Note that all that about fretless ones is from what I've heard and seen, I've never played one myself).

kangaroojew9 If the thread author's question is still relevant, I'd go for a Jazz bass or a P-Bass with an additional J-Bass pickup (I think Squier, amongst others, makes those). Two pickups just give you more variety in tone. Also, I personally think that the Jazz Bass pickups are more comfortable to rest your thumb on, but that's just a detail and a matter of personal preference and playing style. You might not want to finger the bass at all (especially since rock bassists use picks more often than, say, jazz ones).
#13
Thanks for the tips.
Time for me to be getting another bass. Took it to the luthier and he said the truss rod is maxxed out and there's nothing more to do with it.
So I thought it might be time to try something different. My shoulder has been hurting so that's why I was looking into something else, short scale or 5 string.
I really like the thump McCartney gets. He uses a short scale doesn't he? I've heard it said that the E string vibrates more on a short scale. Then there's the 5 string option where one can play the low E from the 5th fret.
#14
Quote by bar2271
I really like the thump McCartney gets. He uses a short scale doesn't he? I've heard it said that the E string vibrates more on a short scale. Then there's the 5 string option where one can play the low E from the 5th fret.

Yeah, as far as I know, the Höfner 500/1 aka "Beatles Bass" is a shorty, having a 768 mm / 30.25 inch scale length (longscale: 864 mm / 35 inch). I got no clue about the string tension on a shorty, though.

I considered getting a 5-string too, a while ago, but ultimately decided that the few times I'd need the lowest string, tuning a 4-string to Drop D would suffice too. Also, I read that some people string their 4-strings up like 5-strings, so B-E-A-D tuning (and strings) instead of E-A-D-G. Might be an option too.

Hope I could help!
Last edited by HashtagMC at Jan 27, 2017,
#15
Quote by HashtagMC
Yeah, as far as I know, the Höfner 500/1 aka "Beatles Bass" is a shorty, having a 768 mm / 30.25 inch scale length (longscale: 864 mm / 35 inch). I got no clue about the string tension on a shorty, though.

I considered getting a 5-string too, a while ago, but ultimately decided that the few times I'd need the lowest string, tuning a 4-string to Drop D would suffice too. Also, I read that some people string their 4-strings up like 5-strings, so B-E-A-D tuning (and strings) instead of E-A-D-G. Might be an option too.

Hope I could help!


So do you buy a 5 string pack and leave out the G string, then tune it to BEAD?
What, exactly is tuning to drop D?
Last edited by bar2271 at Jan 27, 2017,
#16
Yep, that's the idea. Putting the lower strings of a 5-string-set on a 4er will require the intonation to be set up again, and the slots in the nut widened to fit the thicker strings, and voilá, you have the advantages of the low B string without the wider neck of a 5er, but also less options to play around with the higher notes due to the lack of the high G string.

Drop D is an alternate tuning used for guitar or bass. You don't tune the instrument to E-A-D-G(-B-e), but drop the lowest string a whole tone to D. So you get D-A-D-G(-B-e). This has multiple advantages:
  • you can play the low E on the 2nd fret (like you'd play it on the 5th fret with a 5-string bass)
  • you can go two semitones lower to D
  • the lowest three strings are a power chord now (open strings: D-A-D)
    (this is almost only relevant for guitars, since you usually don't play more than one string at a time on bass)

Therefore, Drop D gives you a whole tone more in the lower end without requiring more strings.

P.S: Drop D or 5-strings are often seen with metal or nu metal acts (think Robert Trujillo from Metallica, Sam Rivers from Limp Bizkit, Phoenix from Linkin Park, and so on). The same goes for 7-string guitars and Drop D tuned guitars, too.


P.P.S:
Quote by bar2271
So I thought it might be time to try something different. My shoulder has been hurting so that's why I was looking into something else, short scale or 5 string.
I really like the thump McCartney gets. He uses a short scale doesn't he? I've heard it said that the E string vibrates more on a short scale. Then there's the 5 string option where one can play the low E from the 5th fret.

You should also consider that a 5-string bass puts even more weight on your shoulder, due to the wider neck and bridge, additional string and tuning head, and the possibly thicker body (to compensate for the heavier headstock).

Oh, and McCartney played a 5-string a few times too.
Last edited by HashtagMC at Jan 28, 2017,