Need some advice from bassists

I've been thinking about picking up a bass and bass amp for just kickin around, possibly to lay some tracks for doing some recording. Those of you that know me know that I'm a guitar guy, never played bass, so what I'm asking is advice on decent cheap starter gear, I don't want to dump much $ into it as it would just be for fun and hobby stuff, it needs to be brands that are common in the US, I'm considering both new stuff and used, if new I'll probably buy from one of the big web seller stores as there are no guitar shops where I live, if I go used I'd like advice on things to check for and avoiding pitfalls. Are pawn shops a decent option?Best brands for beginners? Whats your take on the entry level Squires, Epi's and any others?

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Hey, I'll have a think on brands and the like but first response is definitely look at second hand! Personally I never buy new instruments, don't see the point.

My Aria Pro II was second hand (£200, I think) and has done me 14 years now. There's some decent Japanese stuff that tends to be under-rated and therefore reasonably priced.

Thanks Tim, I'll be watching for more responses

Congrats to US Gold on his 100+ posts, and congrats to me on my 4000th post :D . Just think, if I hadn't gone quiet for a coupla years...

Anyhoo, I have a new bass coming over from the States (Land of the Cheap, if not exactly Free) and it's this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=121083927555

[img]http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Left-Handed-Bass-Guitar-5-String-solid-wood-body-/00/s/MTYwMFgxMjA0/z/U-YAAOxy9eVRPrPE/$T2eC16hHJGkE9no8jDMsBRPrPD(Fkg~~60_57.JPG[/img]

:shock: , massive pic, sorry. I shall be ripping this up (genyooine Ernie Ball MM5 pup is just the start) but I'll un-hijack and bore you elsewhere. Incidentally, check the seller's other items for some ugleee guitars.

Point is, I've recently been buying for me and my righty son so, FWIW, I have a bit of recent purchasing advice and, you know me, I always go cheap but good.

Firstly, though, got to ask you some bassics (see what I did there? :wink: ) that could make this a longish, but very useful thread.

1) Consider whether to go with 4-string or jump right in to 5-string (I advise against more, unless freeform jazz is a must). I've come to depend on the thick-string, and not just for sub-E notes; it's handy for certain runs around the mid-neck without having to swoop down. The flipside is that having E as your low string is just so much easier to get your head round - especially a you're a seasoned guitarist and have the knowledge, as far as guitarists go. Secondly, 95% (may be more, better check with Youngwasp :P ) of the tunes you hear are done on a 4 so a 5th B can become just a long thumbrest.

Speaking of which, if you go five, string spacing is an issue and depends on...

2) Playing mostly fingerstyle, plectrum or thumb diddy dum. Wider string spacing is preferred for fingers and thumbs. I play mostly plec and prefer narrower strings, but mostly not to worry with 4s anyway.

3) What's your muzak? This has a big say in looks and pup position/type.

4) New or used? OK, I've just bought a new but, like Tim, I'm always ears-up for a good used. Buying new, I would stick to a "trad" looker for max resale if you move up. Used, ditto unless you don't care and can benefit from some ugly, dated, pointy thing costing you a shedload less than a recognizably P, J or MM shaped bass.

5) Active or passive. I like active, even if I keep eq flat, but there are passive basses I'm happy with, too. If you can solder, and read a diagram, moving a passive up to active is pretty easy whereas cheap actives can be a right plate of pasta to upgrade.

Without getting your answers yet, I would say spending $250 is absolute TOPS. Aim for less - plenty of good places in that region. Brands I'd be looking at are:

SX and other marques from Rondo Music, either new or used:
http://www.rondomusic.com/bassguitars4.html
the used ones have a nicer headstock but buying new from Rondo is solid as Kurt refunds well if unhappy; even with people who act like a-holes, IMO.
Squier. The Indonesians are coming up with great looking and sounding basses recently. Forget the basic Affinity (go SX) but the Vintage Modified, Artist Series and Classic Vibes are great value - maybe used at <$250. I have bought the Mike Dirnt and the VM Precision tb (mudbucker @ neck) and they're great. Indonesian necks are a bit soft, though, and take a little while to settle into the setup you want. Fine afterwards.
Also, used Squier Japans still sell for paltry money (not the JV, SQ or E serials, though). A 90/91 MIJ Precision over here attracted no bids at £125 - I had to stop myself from buying it. Mid 90s Korean Squiers are often ply-bodied; sound fine but ply :oops:

Going to stop now. Need to know what you think looks good, and what you want to play, muzakerly. Amps? IIRC, you have some nice valve amps. Keep the vol low then, maybe, get a bass cab. I can talk bass amps another time.

Music styles; Classic Rock 60's 70's some 80's; Blues/ Blues Rock; acoustic rock

don't care for bizarre shaped guitars, i don't suppose I'd care for it in a bass either-PB, SG,LP,violin; would be main choice types

not too sure about pumping bass through my guitar amps, even just for practice, I've heard it can really tear up your amp; probably looking for a small practice bass combo

as for playing style; probably pick at first, then some thumb, possibly trying a few first two finger plucking things

4 strings seem way plenty, remember I'd be brand new at it and the similarity to the guitar neck will be my only advantage in learning a new instrument

Sorry to take so long. Bass won't damage a valve head, only the speakers possibly. Consider a used bass cab from Craigslist or local ebay collection only, often for peanuts, or an empty 2x10" and put bass speakers in. I'll leave amps for now though.

I wouldn't go for an Epi EB bass as my only. The EB0 is a bit limiting in tonal variety and I think Epi EBs are a bit crummy quality, TBH, and short scale isn't my thing although the familiar guitar size can initially appeal.

A P or J type bass seems the most obvious choice (or, a good versatile option, the PJ combined). I have a Squier Mike Dirnt, which is a good P bass although that star on the body might be off-putting. The neck is the old-style, '54P with a square heel instead of the later rounded heel. They're only semi-interchangeable, in the same way as a Tele and a Strat. Like a lot of Squier sort-of reissues (the Classic Vibe P and the Vintage Modified P tb), the neck is thinner at the nut, more like a Jazz than a Precision's clubbier neck. A lot of players, and as a guitarist you might, find the Jazz profile faster.

Used Squiers made in Japan are excellent instruments and often don't fetch the money they should. Even Fender-badged Japanese don't:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fender-P-Bass-Carbon-fiber-pick-gaurd-MIJ-T-serial-number-/271174584494?pt=Guitar&hash=item3f2343c8ae&nma=true&si=Wo%252BAzGM0Iow1nJtS3%252FpXgYR3SEM%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

In Britain, a Japanese Fender would have gone for considerably more but a lot of Americans think they might be inferior. I would also investigate new and used Squiers and new and used SX from Rondo.

Just read your "who are we?" and I see you have combos so an amp does need sorting (I thought you had valve heads, must have been someone else). OTOH, with your acoustic experience, you might not find a standard P neck such a club. How much would you consider spending? Almost any price range is do-able and would you consider a used bass off the 'bay or prefer new from GC, MF or Rondo (who also have a returns policy)?

For sure I'm thinking very low budget here, so used or pawn seems like a fairly good option, some pointers about flaws and pitfalls might be good?I didn't know J basses had a leaner neck, thats something to keep in mind, also thanks for putting me straight on n the Epi's the shape might have tempted me, although now I really am torn, the day after I first posted this I got this wild idea to find the cheapest nastiest Telecaster I could find as a project guitar, now I have to choose whi
ch way I want to go-stupid guitarists,always wanting more and new gear.

Anyway, so I wouldn't be wrong to thin Squire P or J bass and maybe a small fender or peavey bass combo? I just noticed if you take the P and the B and the J you get a PBJ, thats about as basic as it gets

I think Squier Jazz, Precision or - what I'd place above the standard P or J - the Precision Special. These are P shaped bodies with a bridge J pup and the P in the middle giving more flexibility in tone and, IIRC, come with the Jazz profile neck that I think you'll find less of a handful. A new Squier Affinity is around the $130-170 range but I think a new SX bass from Rondo gives them serious competition.

One potential solver for your "bass or Telecaster?" problem is to go for a Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster bass. They come in two flavours; both having a 32" scale neck which is mid-way between the feel of a guitar and the full 34" of a standard bass. I know a few bassists who've picked one up for the looks but also found them fun and decent players.

There's the single-coil, using the '51-'55 unsplit SC of the Precision and a 3-way switch that uses passive resistor trickery to give deep bass, normal and a baritone sound. Then there's the other which has the "mudbucker" at the neck for Jack Bruce thump and a Jazz single coil at the bridge.

Both can be found used around the $200 and you can listen to Squier demos by typing "squier telecaster bass" into youtube.

For around that money, though, I would keep a lookout for Squier Japans of the '90s and, sometimes for very cheap dough, a Korean copy by Cort or Samick. The same factories made Squiers in the 90s but their own brands were often better quality and, lacking the family name, can sell very cheaply on the used market.

As for amps, I continuously find Peavey bass amps bland and unlikeable. Roland's Cube 30 is certainly worth a look for fairly small money although it won't get you gigging. To gig with, there are bargains around with big, solid state gear that many bassists are getting rid of because of the new, 700W jobs that are the size of a box of chocs.

I don't plan on any gigging so the advice on a R-cube is solid, as I originally posted it would be on;y for learning and possibly some tracks for home recording, a guitar alone sounds pretty thin for classic rock or blues. Good advice on the samik and such.

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