Help me choose my first

Hi all. I am looking to get into my first bass and would welcome some advice and opinions to help me choose, at least which type of bass to aim for.
I do play acoustic six string, but only really because I don’t have anything with four strings to hand. I did play bass for a short time in my teens which was a really long time ago, but I’ve always had the hankering.
My main consideration right now is that I am living on my sail boat and storage space is very limited. As much as I’d love an electric bass I would struggle to find space for amp/speaker set. So I thought ’Why not get an acoustic?’. But then having googled myself to a standstill on the topic I came away thinking that not many people have good things to say about an acoustic and it would probably need an amp anyway.
I have visited the local music stores and even there found the staff very dismissive of the acoustic option.
So what do you guys think? Are acoustics a non starter? Could I use an electric with a teeny tiny practice amp? Could I use an electric with no amp? I will be practicing in a reasonably quiet environment.
All points of view will be gratefully received.

Thank you.


Here is Josh’s advice……

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I love playing acoustic bass. I keep one beside my chair so I can grab it and play whenever I get the bug without having to go turn on my electric.

The big complaint is they aren’t able to compete in a band environment without being plugged in. If your just playing on your boat and for yourself, not a problem. It will be plenty loud.


Hi John, thanks for posting the link. I did watch the YouTube video the other day and found it very helpful. But it still didn’t address the acoustic/electric question.
I like the perceived ease associated with the acoustic, just grab it and go somewhere and get noodling. But most criticism is about the lack of sound projection. No good trying to play in the park if you are being outdone by the sparrows.
If I was sold on the electric it would be a full scale jazz. And there are a few decent offerings around as the article you linked shows.
The obvious answer is to get into a shop where I can try all the options, but there is nothing locally that offers them all.

Yep. Me too. I’ve found very few music store employees that play bass and they usually treat selling bass gear like they’re selling the bad version of guitar.


Hi Eric, thanks for the reply. That is kinda what I had in mind. Do you ever play plugged in? Do the tone controls make a lot of difference to the sound?

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What kind of sparrows are we talking about? :rofl:


Make sure to read the comments! Most people agree with his opinion, but there is still a market for acoustic.


Very rarely and for good reason. I have an electric bass for when I play plugged in.

Yes, but the tone control makes it go from unlistenable to in the range of bass-like, but still not good.

Let me explain. I bought a scratch and dent Dean acoustic electric bass for $151. The electronics are awful. In the realm of, I shouldn’t do that to other people, bad.

I did get a sound hole pickup for it but that makes it sound like an electric and you lose all the acoustic tone which is what I most enjoy when I play it.

Having said that, quite a few acoustic basses come with really good electronics.

For comparing price to quality, I prefer the Fender Kingman. They come with really nice Fishman electronics and an easy playing neck. Also, the body is a good size. Not like some of the lumbering fat bodies the put on some acoustic basses like my Dean.


Aww, man. That video.

A lot of what he says is true. Particularly the part about how you aren’t going to be playing it with your acoustic guitar buddies.

However, I take issue with his presentation of the loudness compared to an unplugged electric bass.

When he played the electric, he was using a pick and he was hitting the strings really hard. When he was playing the acoustic, he was playing softly, even using the sides of the pad on his fingers to take away any attack at all. Not nearly a fair comparison.

As for string tension issues, I’ve played acoustic basses from the hundreds to over a thousand dollars. Just like any other bass, the string tension is going to come down to brand and guage of string, and scale length. Just like with any other bass.

The best reasons to get an acoustic bass are the convenience of being able to just pick it up and play, the lower entry cost when learning since you don’t have to buy an amp or other electronics, and you like the way it sounds.


It’s a good thing his channel matured a bit since 2016. Fully agree with what you said Eric!

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Haha! The noisy kind. To be honest they aren’t so bad in the day. But at 4am in the summer, outside the bedroom window……

I have seen that video and it is part of the reason I am undecided. However I didn’t go as far as to read the comments. I will be doing that next. But first a quick trip into town for beer and pizza.


Something completely different obviously, but have you considered the Fernandes Nomad?

But any short scale bass would do, probably… Get a Zoom B1 Four and a pair of headphones and you’re in business.


Yamaha TRBX304 and a headphone amp.


Wait, that’s a Zo! Did they call them Nomads in Europe? That… makes no sense. It’s an elephant! A Zo!

@John_E has one you know :slight_smile:

Could be… To be honest, I couldn’t remember what this thing was called at all, so I Googled “small bass guitar with built in speaker”, and that’s how I found it :sweat_smile:


I have an acoustic bass as well as a handful of electrics. The main problem I see for a beginner using an acoustic is learning the floating thumb. If you’re playing on the A, D, and G strings, no problem. There isn’t a good thumb rest on the E and it can lead to some technique issues later on as a result.

I’m not sayin’ nothing. I’m just sayin’.


An alternate solution would be a Steinberger and a small Vox Bass headphone amp - the ‘amp’ is the size of a match box and plugs directly into the bass, you then plug your headphones into it.

In my humble opinion, the Steinberger is very cool. It’s also available in black or white :wink:


I also have good things to say about the Vox Bass Headphone thingy. Great for practice.


Undeniably cool I would say, a part of music history too.

Agreed, but then the music and style of the 80s is close to my heart! :sunglasses:

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