Buying an electric bass: tips?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Blue Velvet, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #1
    I'd like to get back into playing the bass again after 25 years, just as a hobby, just as something to do after coming home from work to chill out and give my fingers a break from various Mac keyboards... you know, by running through my Stanley Clarke chops. :p

    Before I start looking, what things should I consider? I've probably got a budget of about £400-£600 but I'll need to get a headphone amp as well; my neighbours won't appreciate a Marshall setup. ;)

    I'm about 5'7", my hands aren't that big or strong so a bass with a slim neck and a low action might be best... any good recommendations of stores in London UK where I can get non-pushy and patient advice?
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    Four fat strings... nice.

    There are lots of good quality midrange price basses on the market now. I like the looks of the the Ibanez Soundgear line, you might like the thinner neck. I have heard that Dean makes some good budget basses, although I haven't tried them. The traditional choice would be one of the Squier Jazz models (keep in mind that the "Affinity" line are their cheap entry level units). Yamahas run the range from entry level to premium, so you have to compare the models. I had a chance to buy a Yamaha with active electronics, in a natural dark brown finish. I regret now that I didn't pop for that one. I have had Yamaha (stolen :-() and Ibanez.

    The classic top line models are somewhat out of the price range - Musicman, Fender, Rickenbacker, etc.
     
  3. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #3

    Thanks CanadaRAM; it's not so much not wanting to spend more, just whether I can justify those sorts of prices on an instrument I'm never going to play professionally... so good, rather than excellent, might be more suited to me. Though I used to have a very cheap bass once when I first played one, and that was damned near unplayable.
     
  4. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #4
    Although there's a certain image comes to mind, you, a Ricky, and some little Lennon-style glasses, doing a Geddy Lee impersonation
     
  5. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #5

    Nahh... left rock behind in the 80's, thank god, although I still likes me some AC/DC when I'm pissed off. Robbie Shakespeare, Jaco and Stanley (god, how I love him) are my electric bass gods. :)

    I'll be content to just get my scales right again after all this time.
     
  6. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    London
    #6
    Don't overlook Yamaha basses, they're OK for the price. I've also got a 5-string Washburn (which was my first real bass) and I absolutely love it. It cost me ~£350.

    However, one brand I would absolutely positively recommend is Warwick and their Rockbass line. I have a Rockbass Corvette and to me it's miles ahead of anything else in its price range. It's extremely lightweight and not tiring at all to have round your neck for hours on end, it's got a lovely 35" scale neck which is nice and thin but not too thin and it uses the same electronics as the more expensive Warwick basses. The only differences are that the Rockbasses are made with slightly less exotic woods and in a different country.

    Try to find your nearest Warwick dealer and you'll see.
     
  7. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    VA
    #7
    The most important thing for someone in your position is to find a reputable shop with a competent tech who will be able to properly setup your instrument. Both low-end Squire and high dollar, boutique Alembic basses will be a real drag to play if they aren't properly setup. Even new instruments from the factory often need to be tweaked, or worse...

    So I suggest seeking out a good shop or two first, and then take a few days off of work to browse and try every bass they've got. You might be surprised. There are some very decent entry-level basses out there. The low-end Yamahas are among my favorites.

    I wouldn't eliminate the possibility of a used bass either -- again, assuming it's being sold by a competent shop that has taken the time to set it up.
     
  8. Loge macrumors 68020

    Loge

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Location:
    England
    #8
    I started with a Mexican Fender Jazz which I was very happy with, they are about £400 I think. It's a pretty long neck but I found it quite playable though my hands aren't all that large.
     
  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #9
    Interesting - I thought about Warwick but assumed that they'd all be way to high priced. Rockbass looks like the import label of Warwick. Not To be confused with Rockbass
     
  10. .JahJahwarrior. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    #10
    Personally, I love used instruments. I've got a Lotus bass, a P bass knockoff. It's one of those "lawsuit guitars" that Lotus copied very well, and then Fender sued them out of existence. It's probably 20 to 30 years old....the paintjob has an epoxy primer. The wood isn't that great. But it's got a thin neck and with a little bit of work, plays like a dream. :) If you take it to a shop and have them replace the nut, put on some nice strings, setup the intonation and action....you'll have a good bass almost no matter what.

    As for an amp, I'd reccomend building the Little Gem. You can buy all the parts for less than $20 in the US, if you are cheap you can do it for less--you don't need a volume control, you can use your bass's for that. You also don't need a gain pot, if you just want it clean, no distortion. The distortion really isn't that strong anyhow, it's kind of light and bluesy. It can drive a 1x12 at 8ohms at a decent practice volume, and if you turn down the volume, it makes a wonderful headphone amp. I have one for my 1x12 cab which is nice and with a gain and volume knob and all that, and another with an in and out and power switch which I mainly use with headphones. Works great here in a dorm environment!
    http://runoffgroove.com/littlegem.html
     
  11. pkoch1 macrumors 6502a

    pkoch1

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    #11
    In your price range, my opinion on the best bass for you is a Fender Precision Bass Deluxe. It has pickups from both the Precision Bass and the Jazz Bass, so you can get a good range of sounds. It uses the Precision Bass but the Jazz Bass neck (which is much skinnier, which would be good for smallish hands). It's also only $500 USD, which would leave you plenty of room for an amp, a headphone setup, strings, a strap, a case, etc.

    I like gear. I am on the macrumors forums after all. I always like to have the best everything possible, but I don't want/need another bass. I play on a professional level, and this bass is all I need. Definitely look into it and keep it as one of your options. You could be surprised!
     
  12. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #12
    Thanks for all the good advice... I don't think I feel confident enough to buy a used bass; it's been a very long time since I even picked one up.

    I'd love a Washburn if only to emulate someone else I'm particularly fond of, Nancy Wilson. The Warwick basses look a good possibility, the Yamahas and the Fender too... just got to start hunting around for some good dealers in London. This is one purchase I won't be making online. ;)

    Another question: how do you guys store your basses? In a case or on a stand? Is it possible to store them wall-mounted? I don't have much floor space in my flat.
     
  13. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #13
    BV I haven't read all the replies. Go down Denmark St (off Tottenham Court Road) there's a bass specialist down there. Go and talk to them and try ALL the basses in that price range.

    I've owned several different basses and was surprised to find I preferred a £400 Dean bass to a £900 Warwick. It was more comfortable to play and didn't weigh 2 tonnes. It sounds awesome too.

    EDIT: Now I've read your last post. I didn't realise you played bass before. I should have guessed as you have good taste! :D
     
  14. MattG macrumors 68040

    MattG

    Joined:
    May 27, 2003
    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
    #14
    I use these for my guitars, but they'd work equally as well for basses. Just make sure you mount them into a stud, or make sure they're anchored in really well!

    http://www.americanmusical.com/item...00OFF WM1&utm_source=froogle&utm_medium=feed&
     
  15. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    London
    #15
    The Rockbasses aren't as heavy as the standard Warwicks as they aren't made from the same dense wood as the Warwick basses.

    edit: I store mine on stands. There's no reason why you couldn't wall mount them, shops do.
     
  16. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    VA
    #16
    I use a couple of sturdy wall hangers for mine. They're U-shaped and designed to hold the bass by the headstock.
     

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