Bass buying guidance… for a newbie

Happy New Year everyone! I’ve decided to learn to play the bass and was looking for a little bass-buying guidance. After heading off to the nearest guitar store (a GC). The first thing I noticed was the expansive wall of electric guitars and the 20 or so basses over on the side, consisting mostly of similarly-priced options. I quickly realized the suggestion of “try all the options” really meant what was in stock. After sitting down with a few and playing quietly (so nobody could hear how bad I was, lol) I found that Ibanez had a look, feel, and sound I liked. So now I’m trying to decide between the different Ibanez models. I’ve narrowed it down to the SR5000, SR2600B, &. SR1350B. Aside from aesthetics, it seems the biggest differences between these basses are pickups & origin of manufacture. Without treating this like I do Amazon, where I order several only to keep the one I want, how do I compare the SR1350B with Nordstrand pickups to the SR2600B with Aguilars to the SR5000 with Bartolinis? I’m hoping an answer to this question can also help others as I’m sure it’s a similar issue within brands as guitar stores don’t carry every option of every brand.

If the differences between the pickups is really insignificant (although YouTube seems to suggest otherwise), then I’d go with the higher quality option like the SR5000 with Bartolinis assuming it has the best sound and quality of the three. On the flip-side, if there is a noticeable difference how do I make this comparison without each in hand?

I’m probably over complicating this whole process and going down the rabbit hole way too far. I really enjoy the genre of metal, so whatever I end up with, I’d like it to be something that helps me go in that direction. Thanks for any suggestions & Happy New Year!


It can be difficult because the the instruments are very similar. All have same wood in the bodies, same preamps, same bridges, necks are very close. You’re paying for looks and pickups.

If it were me I’d get the 1350, Nodstrands are great pickups.

Actually if it were me wanting to play metal, I would look at the Sterling Darkray which comes with Dark Glass Alpha and Omega distortion built in.

But really you can play metal on anything. Here is Widi in VoB jamming on a $299 USD Gretsch Junior Jet at Wacken Open Air, one of the big European metal festivals. A lot of the sound will be out of the pedal board


I’d say buy whatever you like that fits your budget… Don’t overcomplicate things though: whatever you buy, the chances of it being your one and only forever bass are slim to none!


What amp did you plug them in and try? What amp do you have at home?
Is this your first bass?

That’s quite a line up you just tried. It’s unusual for someone new to bass to decide among these 3 models.

Bart and Nordy have similar nasally sound profile on the Ibanez Aguilar offers the cleanest tonal options among the 3.

What sound profiles are you looking for? You have a lot of options at almost $3000 to be honest I wouldn’t spend that on an Ibanez especially if you are a beginner. There are better options Ibanez electronics are not beginners friendly imo.


Totally this @AZbassist - some of the best metal sounds I got were out of my humble SR300E. My advice is to get a good budget bass (like the SR300E) and spend the money you saved on effects, kickass big amp, alcohol etc. Maybe bass lessons.


What kind of anti-GAS Guy madness is this? First the forum talks @joergkutter out of buying a bass, and now it’s happening again! What is happening? Is 2024 some kind of Opposite Year?


Haha, all good here :smile: I know it’s unusual behavior, but I am glad they talked me out of that one :wink:


Wow, they are great! Shows that it’s probably 99% the musician and not necessarily the instrument. I’ll check out the Stingray. Thanks for the advice!


Ah but to play metal one must first be metal. Better to spend the money smashing up a hotel room or drinking a bath of tequila. You can bring life to such experiences in your compositions :slight_smile:


Yes, first bass. Not sure exactly what amp was at the store. I’m planning on getting a Fender Rumble 40 Combo amp. I don’t have anything currently. I would guess the store amp was something similar. This will just be for home, which is the only place I plan to play. As far as how I chose these three from Ibanez, it was basically because everything else felt heavy & bulky (just my personal opinion). Having never picked up a bass guitar before, I was actually surprised how heavy they all were.

1 Like

Definitely going to get some lessons. That’s first on the list. I was planning on getting the Fender Rumble 40 Combo amp. I think anything larger will be too much for the wife & neighbors, which is why I’m also going to get a good pair of plug-in headsets!


Good plan. IMO it might be worth considering the Zoom B1x four to go with it? It can be used as a practice amp with headphones but it also has dozens of effects and a drum machine, as well as a looper and tuner. Really low price too…


For a more rock sound, an Ampeg Rocket Bass amp might be better.


Now this is the kind of GAS encouragement I’m used to seeing. The balance of the universe is restored.


The one thing I haven’t seen anyone mention is the quality control coming from Japan (SR5000 for example) vs. the other models from Indonesia & elsewhere. Let’s say all 3 pickups are of equivalent value, quality, etc. Is there enough difference in manufacture quality to justify paying more for an instrument coming specifically out of Japan? I actually ran into a gentleman at GC, also looking at basses, who made a point of saying his wife had a bass “made in Japan.”

1 Like

Ibanez manufacturing is really good, regardless of the country of origin. What you would get from an Ibanez made in Japan is more hands on the product. The more hands that touch the bass, the higher the cost. Would you even notice these differences? Only after you have had quite a bit of experience with trying different instruments.

Manufacturing has become so standardized, and Ibanez has such good quality control, it is highly unlikely you would notice any difference between manufacturing of these three basses. They are all really good.

What you will notice is a slightly different sound, slightly different neck feel, and a different overall look. These are “pro” level instruments. Unless you just happen to get a one that made it through QC on a bad day, these are all instruments that would serve you well for a life time.

My favorite statement about high end instruments like this is, “You can find different, but you won’t find something that is categorically better.”

This is probably why people are having a hard time giving you definitive answers to some of your questions. Most people that buy instruments in this class, already know what they’re looking for and it’s hard to give a better description of the differences than @Al1885 did. The differences are very subjective.

For instance, the differences between Bartolini and Nordstrand pickups are only meaningful in whatever difference you specifically hear when you play them. It’s not about good versus bad. It’s closer to deciding what shade of brown you want for your fine Corinthian leather.

If you are committed to getting a high end bass (nothing wrong with that) I suggest going with the one that you think looks the coolest. Don’t underestimate the Rule of Cool. It will make you want to pick it up and play and that is how you get better.

I hope this helps. They are all awesome basses! Any one of them would be a pleasure to play. :sunglasses: :+1:


Great explanation. Thank you! To your point, and I will be the first to admit, I am not at the skill level, nor do I have the discerning ear to be able to notice the “slight” differences between two already excellent instruments. This certainly helps me come to a decision. Much appreciated!


If you’re interested in MIJ, go to Reverb, search on Fujigen Bass, and you will see a lot of MIJ basses for way less than then the SR5000.

You can also look at Bacchus, another Japanese company who makes many models in Indonesia.

They’re not slouches in Indonesia at making instruments either. MIJ is quality, but not the only quality basses on the market. I have a couple actually.

1 Like

Thanks @eric.kiser

While weight is a legitimate reason to select an instrument, it’s not at the top of my list, usually it’s the price but it seems price is not of your top priority, lol.

It takes a minute to learn what you like knowing about the brand and the model
tiers and their signature models and that’s one brand.

I love Ibanez I own several and several more pass through my hands. Personally, I like their specialty lines like Affirma, EHB, and the 35” scale BTB, as well as the Gary Willis signature. The rest of the Ibanez that I’ve tried so far seem to be mid and lower mid tuning forward, which is oddly enough, how I feel about Bartolini pickups and what makes them so unique. The majority of the bass world people seems to tune toward V shape tone Highs and lows.

Next, The SR line shares the same body so that takes care of bulk. As for the weight, you are going to have to shop at place like Sweetwater as they publish weight for the bass you purchase. Wood is like people, some at the same height and size can weight more than other, let’s call it the “water retention”, lol.

If I were you and this will be my first bass to pair with a Rumble 40, I’d get the mid line SR priced at around $700 to $800 Both will use the same pickups and similar electronics. If you want to add or upgrade later then you still have a quality bass in hand and still have extra cash to spend on what you may find more interesting later.

Not many of us mere mortals have the desire or the ability to only have just one bass there are plenty of time to spend your money.

Later you may find that your preference of 8 pound bass is not a big deal and/ or you much prefer more mass, you can do so. Here’s my on going experiment for the best weight for me, still have not found it, lol.

1 Like

Honestly for a starter bass I would recommend either the Ibanez SR line or the Yamaha TRBX line over any others. They trend light, with very very comfortable necks, are really easy to play, look fantastic and sound great, all for a reasonable price.

I would recommend you do NOT start out with an SR Premium. They are amazing instruments and are truly beautiful but as a beginner they will not offer you anything more over a much less expensive SR300 or SR500e (which is what I would recommend, or a Yamaha TRBX504.) The less expensive ones will be just as good to learn on and will resell for a good chunk of their already inexpensive price.

The thing is, it’s usually a terrible idea to buy a high end model as a first instrument. You don’t even know what you like yet. Until you find out, learn on the less expensive models and then try a bunch of other instruments over time, and swap up.

Trust us, you WILL be buying more basses in the future :slight_smile: