Picking a Bass

This is for down the road a bit, but what do you look for in a bass? I hear over and over test them and you’ll know from the feel and the sound. I get that. But I am visually seduced by some of these instruments. They are just gorgeous. Does it matter to you what kind of wood, or does that come out in the playing? Some of these colors and bursts look incredible. Are some paint/stains better than others and are there quality issues you look for when you check out a new bass? Ultimately I get that you have to put it in your hands and decide how it feels, do you ever compromise sound for looks?

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That’s pretty much the best way to choose a bass, @jazmo1999 . . . :slight_smile:

Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder . . . there’s a million choices out there and they can all be tempting, but, to me, the most important thing is how they feel in your hands.

If you don’t like how your bass sounds and feels, you won’t play it much. I learned this the hard way.

Cheers, Joe

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I agree with Joe here, mostly. I’ve bought a beautiful solid koa acoustic guitar in the past, but it didn’t actually sound as good as it looked, so became an art piece. However, I wouldn’t recommend buying basses that don’t call to you aesthetically to some degree or it can have a similar effect. Ideally you want something that sounds and feels great, but is at least palatable when it comes to looks.

Also, a lot of instruments are bought online nowadays, without the buyer every trying them before hand. I’ve done this myself. In this case, I tend to rely on reviews of others largely. I tend to know what I look for. You can also get a lot of audio reviews on YouTube and such to hear how instruments sound.

I wouldn’t worry to much about wood choices for an electric bass. My personal view is that that is more for looks than sound, but obviously others think it impacts the sound to a degree. Certainly, as a beginner, I wouldn’t worry about this. Although, I’d probably stick to the normal Alder/Maple, Alder/Rosewood, Basswood/Maple, Basswood/Rosewood, etc. type combinations. Some of the exotic woods might impact the tone more. Not sure.

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Yes, that seems to be the prevailing consensus, @jazmo1999! But, I can totally understand and relate to the fact that some basses are just really gorgeous looking and, thus, seducing (we have at least two threads featuring more exotic or “dream” basses).

People are different - and so are the reasons which basses they like or go for. Some might be “purists” and prefer to play on a certain type only/mainly, while others are very much guided/driven by the looks and feels of the instrument.

I think it is a long learning process, which might cost you some money, but not necessarily insane amounts. A valid approach is to buy used equipment and play that for a while to really get to know it (because, I guess, even playing a bass in a music store for half an hour isn’t really giving you a full picture about this instrument’s strengths and weaknesses). Owning a bass allows you to explore it much more. Plus, you also develop as a player and improve your technique and thus notice different things for a given instrument. Then, after a certain period, you might choose to sell a particular instrument again and invest in a different one.

Depending on a number of factors (type, brand, age, market…), you might lose some money doing this, but - remember - it is a bit like tuition fee for getting better at understanding basses.

So, try to get one of the “classic” types - a P bass and/or a Jazz bass, get them set up correctly, and then play them for a good while before making up your mind. In the process, you learn about tone, strings, pickups, and much more! It’s a fun jourey!

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I didn’t pick any of my bass’s - each one of them picked me… Might sound corny, but it’s the truth…

Keep on Thumpin’

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For me it’s 60% whether I like how it looks. That will determine if I like playing it, which is ultimately where a good sound comes from: your playing! I bought an Ibanez TMB30 that way, and recently a Danelectro 59DC also. You gotta feel one with the instrument. Of course play it first (esp if it’s your 2nd etc instrument) to see if it plays nicely and you like the basic tonal qualities.

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I look at it this way… you can have a bass that sounds great, but if the looks do not motivate you to pick it up and play, then that is not the bass for you.

With that said …it does have to FEEL good to! Hench why everyone says go for a look BUT also play it. IT has to feel as good as it looks if that makes sense.

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+1 to Joerg’s comments about the used market. I feel like a failure when I buy new gear these days :slight_smile:

Let someone else take that depreciation hit and suddenly the choices are much less risky. Once you get the feel for the market and get good at buying and selling, you can take more chances on things you might like. It’s almost become a secondary hobby for me.

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Sounds awesome, not corny!

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I played for about a year, learning from Josh’s course. I had two basses, that were OK, but I wanted something nicer, so I started looking.

I found a Supro Huntington II that had been on display, and the price was right, so I bought it. When I first picked it up and played it, I knew that this was “The One.” The finish and workmanship were beautiful, it felt right, it sounded great and it was much easier to play than the basses that I already had.

Look around, try different instruments. You will know when you find the right one.

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Until you find the next right one… :crazy_face:

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images

A lot of people think this is one of the best basses on earth, but to me it was severely beaten by a fugly stick and I would never be seen with one. So yeah, just like in your partner looks ain’t everything… But otoh…

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Yeah, they are no doubt incredible instruments, but many of the Foderas don’t do it for me at all aesthetically.

Love that cutout though.

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Yeah, never thought about it before this course. But Josh is right, a high end bass should have a cut out to allow high fret access and a through neck to eliminate the neck block. A lot of lazy engineering out there.

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Yeah, I don’t have any problem with bolt-ons (they generally weigh less from what I have seen), but the cutout part seems a no-brainer.

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Is it just me or does this thing have some killer tone for $100?

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You can find quite a lot of discussions out there how it is possible that these Harley Bentons can be so inexpensive, yet still very decent basses.

And, remember, a lot of the “tone” is in the fingers :grin:

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Just shows that Fender is either inefficient or just greedy…

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Thanks for sharing @howard… Actually a very good open-minded, honest, and unbiased review! Personally, for $100, I could probably pick up a good used entry level Squire, Yamaha, or Ibanez and perform my own upgrades on it though. As for tone - yes, not bad for $100 IMHO, but like @joergkutter mentions, a lot of that tone is in the fingertips…

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