How do you decide on which bass to save up for?

Hey everyone, I’ve been learning the bass since June and have absolutely fallen in love with it. Everything just clicks and I couldn’t be happier deciding to go on with the bass compared to other instruments that I’ve either tried or thought about trying.

I’m still learning quite a bit and have a great bass that I like, a Schecter Extreme Sillito. It’s gorgeous, plays well and is something I’m super happy I paid 500 bucks for.

But now I am in a spot where I want to save up for a really, REALLY nice bass. Something that would be 1500 bucks or higher. The problem I run into is I don’t know what to save up for. My local GC doesn’t have a huge selection of basses that are in that higher price range and I really want to play the bass before I buy it.

I stumbled across the Fender custom shop which looks great, but I’m not sure if that’s a route that is worth the price and wait time.

I am really intrigued with the J bass and want to explore that route.

So my question is two fold. First is how do you decide which bass you want to save up for? And secondly what are some great basses that I should look into that are 1500 bucks or more.

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there’s always a ton of threads on here that ask something similar and most of the answers fall into 2 camps:

  1. try a ton of basses. which seems pretty obvious but a lot of the time that isn’t feasible for some people because they might not have access to a ton of basses, and/or they might not have the experience to know what they like anyways.
  2. just go with a popular choice. this is exactly what i did with music man basses and it turns out i love them. is it because i talked myself into loving them before really having tried one? sure, could be true. but who cares, i love them. most of the popular high end basses are popular for a reason, they generally are quality instruments.

either path could work for you. just have to decide how you want to proceed.

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Thanks! I have found myself trying different basses, but there aren’t a ton of shops nearby which is the frustrating part. I’ll have to look into music man basses

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There’s no method, you’ll know when you find it, I wouldn’t make it a task to find a 1.5k bass….
In my case I started playing in February, never touched a bass before, bit the bullet and got a Ray4, love it, but like you I got a little itch to get another one, why? Because GAS is endemic to this forum…. So, since I really like my Ray4 I’d like something complementary, not a substitute, I don’t have a budget but I’m aiming for something nice…. As I listen to more basses and actually noticing the type of bass it is not just at how they look, watching videos comparing them, seeing what others play here and how it sounds, reading about gear that certain musicians that I like use, I’m leaning towards a precision type bass with flats on it, I haven’t found it, not even looking because like you my local inventory is low and I’d really like to hold the bass or one like it before buying
So, I’d say figure out the sound, personality if you will, that you’d like from the bass and go from there…. In the meantime keep playing the bass that you already like, no rush

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As a starting point I’d suggest making a list of artists you enjoy listening to.

Check out what gear they use and shortlist those to research and audition.

That might help you hone in on what you might like.

Then you can let us know and the forum GAS experts can help you spend your savings. :wink:

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If you’re wanting to spend around $1500 i think I would advise travelling to places where you can see and feel it first hand before buying, even if you don’t live near any shops.

If I had only been playing bass since June, I wouldn’t even dream of spending such money on something that I’m not in a great position to judge its worth for me. I would wait for a while longer to get some experience to know what I like and don’t like so I can be in a much better position to make an informed choice about what would best suit me.

Otherwise it’s a case of randomly picking straws

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There’s three things I would advise against big-time.

First, don’t set a price target; just find an instrument that you love. There’s a lot of top notch instruments for significantly less than that amount, and there’s a lot of overhyped yet not really superior stuff for more. There’s great instruments at nearly all price points. Just try things until you like them.

Second, don’t go in to this decision thinking you are going to be buying your one, true, forever bass. It almost never works out this way, and if it does, you’re probably missing out anyway.

Third, under no circumstances drop that kind of money on a bass sight unseen. There’s a ridiculous number of great instruments at or below that price point and there is zero reason to be mail ordering something like that without trying it, even if it means a road trip. Otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for an eventual expensive lesson.

My other advice is to always buy used if possible - but that requires a good used market and a lot of patience.

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In 2 + years of playing bass I have bought and sold a passel of basses, and never paid $1,500 for one. I’ve never felt a need to spend that much money on a bass. The most I’ve ever paid for a bass was in the neighborhood of $750. My go-to bass at the moment is my Hofner (Beatle Bass), which plays like a dream and sounds great. I paid less than $400 for it.
If I had $1,500 to spend, I’d probably buy two basses.
That’s just me. However, it’s your money to enjoy as you wish. I’ll be interested to hear which one you end up with.

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I will never buy a bass sight unseen. I guess I should clarify that my logic is if I’m going to save up for a bass, I want it to be worth saving up for. As in if I bought a bass that was 800 bucks is it significantly better than my current bass? I appreciate the feedback on here and am taking all of it into consideration

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Potentially. For example, there’s a lot of opinion that the BB734A is actually the top of Yamaha’s BB main production line at $750 because it has more features yet basically equivalent quality to the BBP34 at $1400. The difference is where they are made (Indonesia vs Japan) and the BBP gets an additional heat treatment. Otherwise they are identical overall except the BB734A is active/passive with a preamp.

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Unfortunately, it’s nothing like that with basses. You can spend about $300 on a fantastic quality bass, and spend $1500 on a piece of overpriced junk. Price is quite often a poor predictor of quality above $100 because of the high level of machining.

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All good advice here. I’ve bought a lot sight unseen but do a ton of research and can mod my way into anything I don’t like about a bass (some are bought for the sole purpose of modding). I’ve sold 3 of 17 in total so far. Try as many used as you can. Drive further if you have to. It’s your new love. Worth tripping for.

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I have to do a lot of sight unseen, my local shop only stocks beginners basses and I have to take a ferry to get to a bigger shop.

Price of the bass shouldn’t be the target, it should be your budget. You wouldn’t walk into a car dealership saying “my goal is to buy a car for $30k”.

First is what is comfortable for you to play. Neck profile, weight, cutouts. What are your preferences.

Next is looks, because just looking at it across the room you should be excited to pick it up and play.

Third is electronics, because honestly you can change these out. Example is my Paranormal. I am a sucker for a Fender Jazz neck, and the styling is retro and modern, so I love the look and feel. But not a fan of the pickups, so I swapped them out when I bought it. Now it has so much character.

A bass I’ve been eyeing for months is the LTD Surveyor 87. It has a Jazz body and contours which I like, a Jazz neck which is my favorite, Seymour Duncan SPB1 pickups for a warm tone which I love.

So not having picked one up, it checks all my boxes and it’s a low risk if I were to order one. @howard is the same way with the SR2400 series.

Knowing what you like in feel and sounds is important.

If you like the feeling of a Stiletto, Schecter makes some nice basses. Omens and Elites are gorgeous neck through designs.

As far as ordering, if you have access to a guitar center, they’re low risk. You have a 45 day return window for full refund, and you can order it shipped to the store, and test it out before you bring it home.

I prefer the service at Sweetwater, but GC has its uses.

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The other way to do it is to have enough people here speak well of something and then you end up with it. @howard and @PamPurrs seem to get me in the most NBD/GAS trouble.

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The other thing is to go used or B stock. I just picked up an LTD GB4 for half price which was brand new, but had a ding. And there’s some used equipment in great shape and good cost. The good thing about used is that if you don’t like it in 6 months you can flip it for what you spent in many cases. New you’re taking a hit on cost.

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The answer to question one is all dependent on personal preferences.
I was/am in the same boat as you.

I knew that I wanted a Yamaha bass, based on looks and the quality of other Yamaha instruments I own, so my decision was a little easier.
I then compared the features on each and went from there.

I was not happy with the first Yamaha Bass I picked, a TRBX304, and ordered the TRBX504 within 2 weeks and it was a perfect fit for me. I only upgraded to the 504 because I was not able to get the tone I wanted and I also wanted an active/passive capability, and there is a big upgrade in the electronics of the 504. Everything else was identical to the 304.

I talked to @howard about upgrading the 304 to the 504 but in the end I decided it was just not worth the time and effort.

If you have say three Basses sitting in front of you does one appeal to you more than the other two?
If one does check it out online and see if there are any issues that would change your mind.
If not I would say keep looking.

The answer to question two would be a Yamaha Bass.
I am completely happy with what I have in the TRBX504, for under $1,000.00, but there are more choices and color choices available in higher priced Basses from Yamaha. @howard is well versed in the higher end Yamahas and am sure he would help you out if you decide to go the Yamaha route.

I am a bit confused though because in your OP you said:

What is it you expect/want from purchasing a new Bass?
Do not think for a second you are going to get some thing better by paying 3X more.

Remember, as many have already said, the final decision is your choice based on what you will be happy with. From the OP at least you are not hampered from a price point of view.

Good luck and happy hunting :+1:

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This is an interesting question.
I agree with most of the previous suggestions.
Phil McKnight (Know Your Gear) has a guitar channel on YouTube. It’s fair, balanced and informative.
One of the constant points he makes over the years I’ve watched him is what he calls the ‘diminishing return’ problem.
There is a sweet spot with pretty much every manufacturer that gets you the best value for money.
Example - Fender bass made in Mexico is around $700. The US version is around $1400. Is it twice as good? Absolutely not. Is it better? Yes but not by double.
Ibanez is another good example where $700 will get you a stellar bass. Sure you can pay $1500 but that’s because of the wood they’re using etc.
So having bought and sold a few guitars before I got into bass. Here’s my advice.
Narrow your search down to some choices

  1. Active or Passive
  2. Pickup configuration.
  3. Body style
    So if you decided on a Jazz bass style body and pickup configuration there are dozens of options of the same quality as a Mexican Jazz for less money.
    @howard could point you in the direction of numerous beautiful Japanese basses that are head and shoulders above Fender

Good luck

+1 to everything already said, especially @Wombat-metal and @howard ‘s advice. Don’t set a target, set a budget. Your tastes will change and evolve.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Reverb.com for used gear (and I always try to buy used if I can), and Sweetwater for anything new.

Guitar Center is useless to me. I play left-handed. GC and music stores within a several hundred mile radius don’t stock lefty gear, especially the higher dollar stuff. Everything is bought sight unseen. And I’ve had great experiences, even with a couple of $3k+ guitars. I have no qualms about it these days if the Reverb seller’s rep is solid.

So, yeah, learn bass on what you have. Fill your “I Want a F*cking Cool Bass!” account without any preconceptions. Check out the Show Us Your Basses and Bass Porn threads just to see what’s out there.

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Kudos to all advices. I wish I’ve come to you guys before going nuts on my stable, lol.

There so many ways to spend your $1500. The problem is will you be able to spot or appreciate the difference in premium, not until you get the next one then you’ll really get to find out.

While it not the top of my favorite list Fender American is definitely a good way to go. Either Jazz or Precision it can’t go wrong because you can see and research how much it can sell in the used market. Usually it holds the value pretty well.

I would not do custom shop however until you know exactly what you want. You don’t really get the extra cost back in general.

I’d start with a pool of $500 and start buying and selling used bass of your interest. Every companies offer cheaper import version you can check them out before sinking serious cash into the unknown.

Don’t know where to start shoot me a pm, I’ll walk you through my experience.

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Looking at my rack, I seem to end up in the $700-$1000 range over and over again: new, used, vintage or otherwise. Even my Squier '70s CV is now a $950 bass after modding, and it’s fretless cousin will be there soon too.

I do have one Fender CS bass, a very selfish buy for myself, and I do love it for exactly what it is as it is exactly what I was looking for. Is it worth what I paid over my other basses in the lower range on components as a whole alone…hells no. Was it worth it to me, yeppers.

Over that ‘sweet spot’ that others above have mentioned, it starts to become like the car with a lot of ‘features’ (different wood, different hardware, different electronics) that might matter or might not, but you are paying for them anyway.

Let’s say you go to buy a house and it has a load of fancy faucets, light fixtures, and imported tile from Italy. None of those things make the water flow/light your way/enable you to walk better. But you paid for them. Now, what if you hate that chandelier in the main entranceway… Instead, what if you bought a house with the basic things above and upgraded them to exactly what you like? You still want a quality built house, but don’t need someone else’s idea of ‘upgraded’ features…unless that is what you are after.

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