New Bass

A year ago, I got a nice sunburst yamaha TRBX. I have a warranty for it, and one of the headstock tuners broke (it is still playable, but I have to tune it the wrong way and it gets stuck if I tune it too far in one direction) Per policy of the store I bought it at, since it was under 200 dollars (it was $199.99) they wont repair it with the warranty, instead they will just give me a gift card of the amount of money I spent there (again $199). I am thinking that I might want to get a small upgrade, and I can budget it in to buy (with the gift card) a bass up to $350. I have quite a few options and if you guys would have any advice on what bass I should get or not get, I would love it, especially if you said some problems with the specific bass. Here are the ones I have selected down to.


(this is the one I had before, and even though it’s $225, I can still get it for $200)


(the gretsch is the one I like the most looks wise)


(I can get this one with both a maple or rosewood fingerboard)

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@Schmeep It may take a couple of days but I’m sure you’ll get plenty of responses to this. Have you had a chance to play any of the basses you’ve listed?

I had the yamaha trbx, which is the one at the top (although I had a slightly older model) And I have heard the Music Man and many of the ibanez basses. However, the only one I have played is the yamaha. I am obviously going to try them out before I pick which one I buy, I just created this thread so I could weed out any with potential problems. Thanks!

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Hi @Schmeep. Was your original bass new? $200 seems cheap for a TRBX174 (I’m in the UK and prices tend to be a little higher than you get). As a (relative)beginner and new to Yamaha, I pushed the boat out a little bit and went for a used TRBX504 (£300) and I’m very happy with it. Not sure about exchange rates and local market conditions, but that might be within a pushed budget for you with your store credit, but you will get a few folk in here telling you that the TRBX304 would do you very nicely, and if you have got on with the 174 then it’ll seem familiar but also noticeably better.

I’m an advocate of buying the best you can right from the start (within reason) and wish I’d taken my own advice a while back and not bought the two basses I have. That said, the bass we have is the best bass to play right now.

I suspect you’re timing is good for a used bass purchase in the US as there are likely to be a few traded in for the latest announcements from NAMM - although Yamaha have only presented us with a couple of new colours.

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Yeah if your willing to spend $350 then you are going to have many good choices. One thing I’d say though is, if the only issue is one of the tuners and everything else is sill great about the bass. Then I’d suggest buying a replacement tuner and install it yourself. YouTube is full of videos showing you how to. If your willing to do that, then what I’d suggest is getting something different than what you have. You can go iconic and grab a P, J or the stingray you posted. Another option is get a 5 string. Or both get a iconic 5 string. Alternatively you could use the allowance to buy some other gear altogether if you are happy with your current bass. New amp, effects, etc.

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Good point @ChrisThomason, and @Schmeep might want to think about that :slight_smile:

Cheers, Joe

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I started with the TRBX174EW in Mango that you list above. I still play it regularly, and I have had no problems with it at all. It’s a great bass to learn on, and a great bass to play. I did eventually replace the bridge with an upgraded one (because I wanted to - not because it was bad or anything), and if the tuners were ever to go out on it, I would also just replace them too.

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@PeteP Yeah, my original bass was new. I bought it before they brought the price up (which is why it shows it at $225 on the website) And yeah I also am hoping to get a used bass too. Unfortunately, they don’t really show which ones they have on the website (other than the violin bass) And like I said, my selection is a bit limited as I have to buy it from that store (although I think I might be able to order something through the store)

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@ChrisThomason Yeah I know I was thinking about that too. Although since I have the warranty, I think it would just be a little better to just trade it in. The guy at the store said he would just give me a newer model to replace (even though it is slightly more expensive) which would improve the knobs (the newer model has much better ones for some reason) I am still probably gonna just upgrade, because although I like the yamaha TRBX174, I think it is kind of bland tonally. If I do get a new bass, I am definitely getting a 4 string. I hate 5 strings for some reason. And as for other gear, I just upgraded my amp, and I don’t really see a need to buying anything else. Thanks for the advice. Might go with the stingray.

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Yeah if I just got my current one replaced (by the same model) that is the one I would get.

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Now that I have a little more time I’ll chime in too.

First, none of those seem like inherently bad instruments and I wouldn’t call any of them a bad idea. I’ve played most of those, with the exception of the Gretsch and the Jackson. All of the Ibanez basses will feel familiar since you’ve played the Yamaha 174 but they have active electronics and humbucker pickups which are going to give them a more modern sound and a much broader range of sound than what you have been working with so far. Of those I would say go with the SR300E to get the most for your money.

I would not recommend the Epiphone unless you play it and fall in love. The only reason is it’s a very different beast that most people don’t go for as a their primary instrument.

Lastly, the Sterling. You might love it, which is fine. Just keep in mind, it is a very different feeling bass than your 174. Larger, heavier body, a thicker neck, active electronics, single humbucker pickup.

Whichever one you choose, make sure you play it and pay attention to how the body feels, and how the neck feels in different positions (higher, lower, middle, reaching for the E string). Go through a few just looking for those things, paying attention to what feels right for you.

After that, plug in and just play the major scale and see how it sounds in those different positions on the neck. Then do the same with the other instruments, even the ones you didn’t like the feel of.

Finding the right one is going to be somewhere between looks, feel, and sound. The best basses hit all three.

When your in the store, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Active basses have a broad range of settings and there is no telling what they will be set on when you pick them up. If you’re playing one and you don’t like the sound, ask for some help to find out if there is another setting that does give you what you want.

Good luck and be sure and get back to us with a picture of what you decided on.

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@eric.kiser Wow thanks for all the advice. I am thinking I will do what you said (go to the store and try out basses) this week. Also, I probably won’t get the new bass for a while cause it is supposed to take like 10 days till they send me the gift card. Also on a good note, the warranty guy I talked to on phone (because previously I had only talked to an employee in the store) made it sound like I basically just keep my bass. Which I almost feel bad for doing cause I feel like I am cheating them out of money.

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Don’t feel bad. This policy is their choice and you were delivered a defective product. They presumably do it this way because it actually costs them less than properly handling returns and repairs. Yamaha has excellent warranties and I am sure that this is going to be charged back to the manufacturer by the retailer anyway.

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Bonus! Think of it as compensation for the inconvenience. As @howard says, it may just be that it’s not worth the cost to them to get it back, after all it is a beginner/budget model with a low resale value.

If it is the case that you get to keep it, you are free to buy something quite different, and after you make the repair yourself you have two basses to play with. Or… you could repair & sell it and put that money towards your new bass.

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Alright so sorry for getting back to everyone so late. I kept on trying to post with pictures but I couldn’t find a way to import them (I am pretty sure my phone is broken) I went to the store on Sunday and tried a bunch of basses out. I guess I will just describe them in the order I tried them out.
First, I tried out a used squire affinity Jazz bass that was being sold at $130. This one was great especially at the price it was. It was very tempting to just buy it outright, as one thing I do kind of dislike about my yamaha is that the jazz pickup doesn’t feel (or sound) all that jazz bassy.
The second one I tried on a whim, not cause I was interested in buying but just cause I wanted to hear how it sounded and that was the Squier affinity for $200. I am likely not gonna buy this, but I will say I am really surprised by the variety of sounds I could produce from it.
The next one I tried was the Gretsch G2220 Short scale bass for $299. This was one of my favorites by far. It had a giant range of selections of sounds, and it played absolutely Beautifully. Also maybe cause it was short scale, but it felt super easy to play.
The next two I will include but the chances I will buy them are slim. They were both used P basses, one an Austin $179, and one a $200 Danelectro. Both worked, felt, and played great, but I am not really interested in buying a P bass right now. And I will be honest, the Danelectro was a bit ugly.
The next one was a used Schector daimond series stiletto extreme, priced at $289. This was another one of my faves. It was honestly a lot like the Gretsch sound wise (maybe a little better), but it wasn’t short scale and had a different feeling neck. It also had soapbox pickups, whereas the Gretsch had P90s (at least I think those were the pickups for both.)
The second to last one I tried was the Sterling music man SUB stingray. I absolutely loved it overall, however I think for more of a sound perspective I am going for either the Gretsch or the Schector.
And finally the last one I tried was I think the ibanez SR250. I basically ruled this one out but I will still explain why. First, I hated the shape of the body, color (although I know there are more) and texture of the finish. Second, I absolutely hated the volume, tone and EQ knobs. They took forever to turn, and felt almost stuck. I know they can be replaced, and will probably wear down with time, but I still disliked them. Sound wise, it was pretty good, although in my opinion the Schector was better. Also I don’t really see a point in having an EQ on your bass, as I can just adjust it with my amp. And I think the EQ is the only reason why it is really expensive.
Chances are, many of the used basses won’t be there when I go back, but I still like talking about them. Also I would like to say that all of them seemed in perfect working condition.

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EQ on the bass gives you a much wider variety of tonal options on the bass itself. This should likely not matter to you at this point but in general you can think of it as making the bass more versatile.

I have a friend who swears by Gretsch and his guitar sounds incredible. I would absolutely be tempted by one over the comparable Gibsons.

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I have a Squier Affinity bass. While it is perfectly fine for learning the bass, I have a couple issues with it. Firstly, the balance is not good on it due to the wood and hardware choices. What I mean by this is that the neck is too heavy compared to the body, so it wants to fall over if you are holding it without using a strap. Secondly, the volume levels across the strings are not even. They aren’t wildly different, but I can tell they aren’t the same. That being said, for a cheap bass, it’s OK.

If you are looking for a starter bass, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Yamaha entry level basses. Seem to be great for bang for the buck. Worth a try if you haven’t tested them yet.

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Yeah both the Yamaha TRBX and BB lines are great. Ibanez SR300s look great to me too, though it sounds like they did not like those.

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Isn’t that more of a set-up issue? Action height, intonation, pick-up height. My experience is that shop set-ups aren’t always any better than you can do yourself, with a little research and patience. Advice on that is available on these forums to get [us] going.

@Schmeep is coming from a Yamaha TRBX174 so already has some exposure to that, but having it break probably doesn’t go very far to reassure of quality - hopefully the owners on here have done a better job. I’d reiterate what was said earlier, with regards the Yamaha offerings; the 304 would be a step up for not much money, if you can find a used one or add the extra pennies. Well worth trying one in store if you can.

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@JT I am pretty sure the balance thing is just a fender issue. Fender is known for making their necks super heavy. But thanks for letting me know anyways.