as i start to think about putting a bit of cash aside weekly for a future bass purchase once i actually get good, i am wondering: where is the line between a “good” or “beginner” bass and a “great” bass in terms of price? i understand that technique/skill/ability/et al is way more important than gear but i am just trying to work out how much is a realistic goal to spend for a “great” second bass to get after my Yamaha TRBX174 that i am starting on now.
i fully get that to some a great bass is $10,000 and to others a great bass is $100, and that this is all mostly a matter of opinion rather than fact, but i am specifically trying to get a sense between ‘brand name arrogance’ and a real tangible increase in quality/sound/playability. my yamaha was $280. what is the next realistic step? $700? $1500? $3000?
Realistically, none of us here need more expensive basses. We buy them because we want them, not because we need them. Your next step is going to be whatever bass you fall in love with, and only you will be able to tell whether it’s worth the price.
Do you like the TRBX174?
If you do I would recommend the TRBX504.
It has the same feel but the electronics and pickups are greatly improved.
I would skip the TRBX604 unless you can’t get the color you want on the 504.
They are the same really and the 604 is more money.
To answer your original question IMHO $600-$800 should get you what you need.
One thing to keep in mind is if your amp is less than 100Watts, and you want to jam with other people you will also want to upgrade it at some point.
The exact amount (to your question) is $602.75 to get you a stunning Candy Apple Red Made in Japan Fender Jazz Bass
All the above advice is useful. Buying a used bass from a quality manufacturer shouldn’t be silly money. If you can physically try a bunch all the better.
I would say a good bass can be had for under 250, a great bass for 300 to 800. An amazing one will be 2k to 4k. Then if you just want to swag on people with a 10k fodera you are probably a gigging musician.
My first bass was Yamaha trbx174 that I got on amazon warehouse deals for $150 CAD. I have 5 basses now, the most expensive is my Sire M7 5string at $1500. I would say that my fender player Precision bass is my cheapest “great” bass, I love it and play it the most. Anything in the $500-800 USD range should be a pretty good bass… what one considers “great” is a bit subjective too.
To the OP, I would say “the wand chooses the wizard,” in that when you find the “right” bass it won’t be a price thing. You may be shopping within a budget, sure, but for example my “cheap” Sterling StingRay (I bought the bottom of the line model recently), to me, outperformed the more expensive models in every category that I cared about.
I’ve also taken cues from the pros and noticed a quality over quantity mindset, at least as I look further into the past. Again, not a cost thing, but a “this is the bass I play” thing. (see: Jaco)
I was asking the same question when I started out. I was worried the instrument would hold me back somehow, hearkening back to the days of “student instruments.” However, the trend has been that your money goes much farther due to rising quality of imports.
Having said that up front, I’ll offer two things to think about:
As someone said before, most of us in this forum doesn’t need a super expensive bass. Add to that most of Josh’s videos are using a Squier VM Jazz bass, which I think retailed for around $300 or so. And, I don’t think Josh has to fight that Squier one little bit. He probably got a good setup and the way he went.
Amenities are another matter… Some features you have to pay more for. Josh’s Squier is certainly capable instrument, but in my case I just gotta have a satin neck. So, in the Fender line, that puts me in the a Mexican made model-- which is $600-$700. Fender is really good at making me pay for for the things that matter to me like a satin neck or a particular color. What I really wanted would be sold from the Custom Shop approaching $2k.
So, my first instrument was a used Squier with a broken input jack for $200. I repaired the jack. The previous owner had modded it with Shehan DiMarzio rail pickups and dime sized pots that had strat knobs on them. I ripped all that out, and installed some nice Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounds, CTS pots, and the orginal knurled metal knobs.
And it was fine. For less than $400 I had nice bass, but I wanted my color and my satin neck.
What I ended up doing was building my own Fender bass using quality parts for about half what the Custom Shop would have charged me.
So, what’s the difference between my Squier and my Fender?
From a playability and sound standpoint, absolutely nothing in these hands. Despite the compliments about my bass build from my guitar tech, “It’s got good bones,” neither instrument makes me a better player or has better tone. Granted they both have the same strings and pickups playing through the same amp.
I just wanted my satin neck and my surf green color, so I went out and got it. I probably will never need anther bass in my lifetime, but a Jazz would be nice…
I bought a few basses online because I liked the look of them. Most were around the $1k mark. At first I also thought I liked the sound of them, but as I’m getting more experienced I’m realising that I don’t actually like the sound or feel of some of them. Once you feel like you’re getting to know your way around the bass a bit, I’d go into a store and physically play as many basses as you like the look of. If buying second hand, spend some time really playing it before committing. I really wish I’d done this from the beginning (couldn’t due to COVID), but I sure will in future. I’m sure you’ll find the bass you’re looking for doing this.