Opinion needed: improve gear or improve technique

Hello everyone!
I just finished the Beginner to Badass course and latest masterclasses got me thinking that maybe my current gear is not a good fit for what I want to learn next.

About half a year ago I bought a Squire Fender Affinity Jazz Bass and Fender Rumble 15 amp. I had no idea about what I need or what I want to play, so basically listened to an advice of a consultant in the shop. Now I think I know where I want to go - I really like slap and tap sound. And some melodic riffs on high frets. But with my current gear I feel like I have some problems - my bass has only 20 frets, and really don’t like the tapping sound. Slap is better, but still feels like something is not great, and I’m not sure what - bass, amp, or my technique.

So my question is - should I consider a new gear (for instance yamaha trbx304 and rumble 40) or I just need to get better to get better sound? Gear advices are also appreciated.

Thank you for all the opinions.

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Welcome salm!

I strongly recommend improving technique because it’s really not a good idea to rely on your gear to become good… Always! Changing bass won’t do anything. At best it will cover up the cracks.

Bear in mind that slap has very limited application and will not transfer to your skills in every other area of the bass.

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Set up your bass for lower action and see if that improves things


I recommend start by getting a better (and bigger) amp. I got the Rumble 15 as a second small practice amp and I absolutely hate how all of my basses sound through it. Sorry I ever got it. You may be amazed how different the bass you have now will sound with a good amp. I have the Rumble 100 and I like it ( and only 23 lbs)


Upgrade the amp, but bypass the 40 as you will soon want better sound from that. The Fender 100 or lots of others in that range will serve you well a lot longer. Take your existing bass to as many shops as you can and plug in and ‘see’ what you hear.

I agree technique is king, and when I finished B2B I started buying basses and modding them and tweaking tone but I am a bit of a tone nut and a nut in general. Invest in practice and some talkingbass.net lessons (on super sale right now).

One question - is your bass properly set up? If not, invest in that and see if slap and tap gets easier.

Although the Yamaha is a good bass, and an upgrade in a sense from the Squier, it is not really that far of an upgrade. That said, I find (my opinion only) I find active basses easier to get slap and tap tones I want (I suck at both btw). But here again, go play as many different basses as you can if you want to buy something new. Stabbing in the dark at the entry levels might leave you a bit dissapointed.


Echoing everyone else I’d say technique, I’m guessing that you’re a noob like me so practice, practice, practice…. Certainly do a setup if you’re not pleased but getting a new bass :man_shrugging: Nobody here will tell you not to GAS
Don’t know about the amp, perhaps play with headphones and see if it sounds any better, if it doesn’t then the amp may not be the solution


Congrats on becoming badass.

I agree on the amp, a Rumble 15 is junky. I have one too and regret it.

Advising on whether or not to get a new guitar is more tricky. First I will say increasing your mastery of the bass is applicable to all you do, and I encourage you to pursue that. Which to me is a completely separate thing from acquiring a new bass.

The question you should be asking is the Squier Affinity the right bass for me?

I don’t know. But as a person who finally bonded with a bass, the right bass makes a huge difference. Go try other basses, ESP, Ibanez, Yamaha, Schecter. Check out the used market, lot of bang for the buck there. Don’t rush. Ask questions.


I would suggest small steps.
First off no matter what you need a better amp. I have the Rumble 100 and it has a speaker that is 12" and moves a lot of air. You will be very surprised at the difference in sound. If you have access to a music store take your Bass in and try out a better amp.

After you upgrade the amp then decide if you want to upgrade your Bass.

You mentioned the Yamaha TRBX304 Bass in the OP. I have one but after only 10 hours decided I should have got the TRBX504, which I did. The upgraded Alnico pickups, electronics and active/passive switch are worth the price of the upgrade from the 304.

Regardless, Bass choices are a matter of personal preference and that decision is yours to make.
If you are happy with your Bass keep it but definitely get a better amp.

Good luck :+1:


Yamaha is a great choice the TRBX offer 24 fret(2 octaves). I do agree with @John_E skip the incremental step up with amp and go from 15 to 100.

If you like clean crisp sound consider a sterling ray 34 H may be not HH because the neck pickup will be in the way. Music man style bass is known for the type of sounds you like.


Yeah. Yamahas punch way above their weight class. Widely known to be intermediate priced guitars with the quality of guitars double their price. IMO there is no Squier that approaches a TRBX504, despite similar price points. I’d take the 504 over any sub-custom shop Fender as well, but that’s personal preference and the fact that I love double humbuckers.

Really outstanding pickups, playability, and overall fit and finish.

Another brand to check out would be Cort. Unsung heroes.


I’ll take a look, thanks a lot


Sure, I had a setup (and new strings too) at the shop right from the start. Thanks for your opinion!


Thank you all for the comments. I think the best idea would be, as many suggested, to go to store and try some basses and amps and see if I feel any difference. So that’s what I’m gonna do (and buy a good tuner finally XD )


Easy answer: do both!

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Anyway, my very short answers:


The 304 is quite good but as others have mentioned the 504 is much better for only a little more. You would likely keep a 504 forever; you would outgrow a 304 eventually.

Big yes :slight_smile:


If you have Squier Affinity bass, you are set for years. There are people who are able to play for a full venue with this bass.


Harmonics sound a lot better on a decent bass. Also stuff like sustain should be better. That said a good bassist can even make a 80 euros expensive bass sound good.

I would consider a better amp first. Nothing wrong with squier basses but perhaps it needs a setup.

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This! 40 watt amp, after playing around with 15 watt Rumble will blow your mind. I personally feel that tha 15 watt Rumbles in the Affinity sets are underpowered on purpose. :smiley:

I still think the additional $ for a Rumble 100 is the way to go especially if you are going to jam with others and/or play small venues. The Rumble 40 is not going to cut through loud drums or cranked up lead guitars. For larger venues the chances are they are going to have a PA system and the Rumble 100 has a line out you can use.

Let us know what you decide. :+1:

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If the plan is to gig I would go Rumble 500.