How to pick your first Bass Guitar and Amp

Before I start these opinions are mine alone and based on a Bass/Amp budget of $600-$1000.00 Canadian.

Question: How many times do we see new players asking for advice regarding Bass and Amp purchases?
Here is what I think.

Regarding the Bass:
The answer is to pick the Bass that you want and not even consider anything else because anything else will only be a compromise and that can be destructive to your learning path and, in my experience expensive, because in the end you will purchase the one you really wanted and will either sell off the compromise, at a loss in money, or the compromise will end up in the closet forgotten.

So lets assume we walk into a music store and there are three Basses you like.
Try each one out and see how they feel to you.
Of the three one will appeal more to you than the other two. These two would be the compromises. By picking the one you really want you will look forward to practicing and the truth is you will be spending a lot of time with it when learning to play. If you choose a compromise you will always be thinking of the one you liked the best and in the end you will end up purchasing it anyways, or just give up, and that is sad.
When you have decided which Bass you would like do some research on it see what others have to say about it.

I often compare buying an instrument to dating. If you have a choice of three girls to take to the senior prom there is probably one that you would prefer of the three. Why settle for a compromise, unless you have to.

Selecting a Bass is so personal to the individual purchasing and nobody can know what preferences you may have and so they cannot really tell you which bass to buy.
I own several 6 string guitars, seven to be exact acquired over the last 50 years, and two ukuleles. I have never felt the need to trade or get rid of any of them and still play all of them on occasion.

As far as a bass amp is concerned there are a few things to consider:
1 - Are you only interested in a practice amp? If so 40 watts or less will do the job for you. Possibly a headphone amp is all you need. Or, if running short of money because you spent it all on the Bass you preferred you could always just purchase an audio interface and play through a DAW on your computer.
2 - Speaker size is a consideration. For Bass I would say that a 10" speaker would be the lowest compromise and a 12" the preferred size. You need to move that air.
3 - If you are interested in playing with others or playing small venues a 100 Watt amp would probably more than meet your needs. For stage gigs you will need at least a 200 Watt amp, which would be a compromise, or preferably a 500 Watt Head/Cabinet amp.

So which Bass and amp should a beginning Bass player purchase?
Buy the Bass you want and a practice bass amp with at least a 10" speaker and 25 Watts of power. Never Never use an amp designed for electric guitars. They cannot reproduce the low frequency sound/tone of a Bass faithfully and the lower frequencies will tear the hell out of the speaker/s.

You should also check out the best beginner Bass and Amp reviews that Josh did a few years ago here on the BassBuzz site.
Here is a link:
The Beginner to Badass course is the best Bass learning resource I have managed to find after many weeks of checking out the other options available.

Good Luck and Happy Practicing.



When I started this bass thing just over a year ago I knew nothing of P or J or PJ or HH etc.
I did not want to invest a lot as I thought it might not stick, BUT, I knew enough to pick a bass that I liked (primarily the look of) and had good rep from Josh and others. A guy who works for me is a guitar guru and spoke highly of Squire as does Josh. I had no idea about tone of J vs. P, but knew I liked the look of the Squire 70’s classic vibe jazz bass. Off to Guitar Center, plucked a few strings, nabbed a rumble 40 and started Bassbuzz.

At the end of the day, when you are picking your first bass, you most likely don’t know to play a thing (at least I didn’t) or what sounds good or bad (I sure didn’t). You are so right about picking something that inspires you and you are willing to pay for.

I would add one thing to your recos…make sure the gear does not get in your way. Meaning, don’t go so cheap that your learning is impaired by poor quality. Get the best gear you can afford or are willing to invest.

Having cycled though a LOT of sax gear (horns, mouthpieces, ligatures, reeds! oh the reeds!!!) you end up in a place you did not start in, and that is ok. That part is about finding your sound, or a sound. That should come later.

I also agree with you that this course is lightyears above all others. Very motivating in itself.


Can one of the forum moderators please move this thread to the Gear section for me?


If you click on the pencil beside the topic, it will give you a drop down menu to be able to change it. If that doesn’t work you will need to tag @JoshFossgreen specifically.

Slight correction because that makes it sound more complicated than it is. You can use the headphone out to hear yourself play even without ever installing a DAW and it still sounds really good.


This is all great advice. I’ll add that, for a new bass player, I usually recommend going in this order. Since new bass players don’t usually even know what sound they’re looking for.

  1. Looks
  2. Feel
  3. Sound

If it looks good you’re going to want to pick it up. If it feels good you’re going to want to keep touching it. This is half the battle when you’re a new player. Just making sure you want to pick it up and play every chance you get. That repetition will teach what sound you’re looking for.


My opinion on amps has evolved, but for a bass, here is the advice.

Go with an open mind and no predetermined biases. What I mean by that is don’t have something in mind due to something that won’t really be important. So, my favorite bassist plays this kind so I will like it. Or, people say this brand is good, so I will like it. Go into a store with a blank slate and just TRY them. Try different brands, different models and try a lot of them. Then, go back through, but go back to the ones that you liked. Eventually you will keep going back to the same one, and that is most likely your bass. Maybe do it in a few differestores if you aren’t in a rush.

The one you go back to? Don’t worry about what brand it is or if it is more or less expensive than some of the other ones you tried that you didn’t like. In a way, this is letting the bass pick YOU!


My best advice here is to not go into this feeling it is a huge life desicion. A lot of people get tripped up by thinking they have to buy their one forever bass on their first try - and that’s never the case. Almost everyone that sticks with it upgrades basses in the future.

With that in mind, I would recommend starting on an inexpensive bass that is easy to play. Feels good and easy to play should be your top consideration. And lots of surprisingly cheap basses fit that bill.

Also, buy used if you can. Can’t stress this enough. You’ll get more bang for your buck and lose less (or even profit) on resale.


Oh and save some $ for a GOOD setup!
Again the last thing you need is the bass getting in your way of learning.

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Thank you that did the trick.

I was not aware of that.
Thank you for the information.


I just figured it out last week. :crazy_face:


I’ve been doing it for two years :slight_smile:

It’s how I got rid of my amp.



Agree 100% and this is why I still have all of my 6 strings.
I love em all and have never regretting any of my purchases.



I agree to a point but the average setup price in my area is around $80.00.
I only did this once and ended up having to teach myself the correct way to do a set up because the store I had do it wanted more money to correct their screw ups.
An initial set up can usually be negotiated at the time of purchase but I would recommend a person wait a few weeks so that he has a better feel for the Bass and knows what he wants changing. At first as long as the neck relief is not too much and the action is not too high it should be a good place to start and the store should be able to do this in minutes before you leave the store with your new purchase.
Actually, a good store will set the neck relief and action before they even put the Bass out on the showroom floor.

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Yeah I would advise learning to do it yourself. It requires no additional tools and is easy. And no one needs just one, setups are a periodic thing.


I’ve taught myself how to do it cause they are $80 here, but we’re talking newbie bass so I’d assume the person isn’t going to learn that quick.

I’ve seen good setups and bad in big box stores. But, some folks order online and then you may have very high action and other things that will hurt your learning to start out. Not everyone has decent shops nearby.

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Yep. I ordered my first bass online so doing a setup myself was a necessity.

And it is so easy that I usually advise people against paying for it.

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Doing my own setups is also a necessity for me because I am 4 hours from a decent music store.
I did not mention doing it yourself in the initial post because I did not want to scare new players but you are right it is so easy to do your own setup.

I was talking to one individual earlier this week that pays $80.00 (strings extra) just to replace his bass strings. He claimed that the store he deals with also checks his setup at the same time and it only takes about 15 minutes. My experience has been that what they say and what they do can vary from store to store and I told him that I did not think he was getting what he was paying for. He said the Bass was not cleaned or the fretboard cleaned and oiled. I told him the same as what you had said. Learn to do it yourself and you know it will be done. I always clean and oil my guitars every time I do a string change.


Lot of good advice here, I will just offer my thoughts.

If you want a 5 string, get a 5 string. When I was shopping for a bass and at Jazz basses specifically, i was offered one in Buttercream. Buttercream does not say Wombat. I found one in Black. Very happy with it.

What I am not happy with is letting the sales dude talk me into a 4 string. I ended up getting a 5 string a couple months later. Whether it’s color, strings, pickups, or whatever; look for what you want. There is a bass in your price range that has what you want, you just need to find it. Don’t settle.

And as far as my 4 string Jazz, tomorrow if I have time I will restring it with strings for a 5 string minus the G string, BEAD tuning if you will. Say you don’t like the feel of your strings, change them. The roundwounds hurt your fingers, go to flats. There are all sorts of options out there to dial in a bass to tailor it to you.

Come, ask, we’ll help.


That sums it all up very neatly, @eric.kiser . . . . :+1:

Excellent . . . :slight_smile: