What to do when trying out a new bass?

I still can’t believe this is happening, but while doing my daily round on secondhand websites for merchandise of my favorite band which got me into playing in the first place, I found an advertisement from their bass player selling his bass. So I decided to give myself an early Christmas present and buy it, because what are the odds of me ever having such a chance again?

He invited me to come try out the bass in their rehearsal space! I’m stoked and this is a dream come true, however, I’m also filled with anxiety because I’ve only been playing bass since January, and now I need to show off my limited skills in front of my favorite, very experienced, bass player. No pressure…

So I’d like to ask for advice. What can I do to not look like a complete beginner? Anything I should definitely look out for or ask? Any riffs I could play to make sure I properly test it? I’ve never even played in front of anyone before. Thank you in advance and of course I will share how it went! :yum:


First of all…… Wow
Second of all……… Wow
And finally………Wow

All I can suggest is try stuff out your comfortable with and enjoy the whole experience. I’m sure it’s going to be awesome


There’s nothing wrong with looking like a beginner if you are a beginner


I run into this a lot with saxophones, and quite frankly basses too. I just bought a rare, oddly pitched saxophone that I sounded horrible on. I handed it to the other guy and told him to play something so I could hear how it should sound.

  1. Tell him when you started playing.
  2. Tell him he and his bass are dreamy.
  3. Ask him to play it a bit for you so you know how it should sound.
  4. Memorize a two, maybe 3 simple grooves/riffs and a scale, play slowly, focus more on feel and comfort Vs your ability on it, cause that’s what you need to like at this point.
  5. Ask him what he thinks are the strengths of the bass, you may even get a mini lesson out of it.

Sounds like a great opportunity.

Ps. Get a pic of him, you and the bass in case you ever need to sell it, lol


Four words.

Bass solo, take one.

lol all kidding aside, I’d play bass lines I know very well. Or learn some of his and play those :eyes: Major or Minor scales, pentatonics, etc.

But yeah, the usual stuff. Is the neck straight, is it damaged significantly anywhere, listen for bad buzzing, play some scales. If he’s any sort of decent person he’ll understand that you’re still pretty new at it just like he was once upon a time and this is the highly likely scenario.

Could bring a paint pen and ask for him to sign underneath the control cavity cover or something if you’re feeling saucy :upside_down_face:


Yes! As you probably know, this is called provenance, “the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature.” You can call it proof of chain of custody, too. A photo would be a way to show this. Amazing what you learn by watching Antiques Roadshow (Beatles guitar episode described here) :laughing:
Get a signed receipt for even more proof.


Agree - I think John gave great advice there. Just be open about your level and I am sure he’ll be kind.


Be yourself, do your best and be proud of it.

I would find a groove or two I’m comfortable with and play that. I usually play a 12 bar blues groove myself.

1 5 1 4 1 11 11 11

It’s the basic groove for Bad to the Bone (and Mannish Boy and tons of other songs). That shape you can play anywhere, Bad to the Bone is in the key of G, and Mannish Boy is in A.

But find something your comfortable with


Messed up.

In A, it’s A D A C A and chug on A. E5 A5 E5 A3 E5


Sounds like a really fun scenario… but also high pressure!
It could be really tricky to be thinking about a bass when you’re in the rehearsal space of your favorite band and hanging out with a member.
Good luck!
Deep breaths.

The number one thing for me when I’m sitting down with a new bass is not what it sounds like plugged in. I will just sit with it, and check out:

  1. How comfortable is it to play?
  2. How comfortable is the neck for my hands?
  3. How comfortable is my right hand when I naturally go to play the strings
  4. How is the weight?
  5. Does it balance well sitting and standing?
  6. Is it setup well? Is it easy to fret and can I easily fret without tons of buzzing?
  7. Does it make a nice sound when it isn’t plugged in?

Then I’ll plug it in and listen to the pickups and the controls and hear what it’s like with the electronics.

But most everything for me is how does it feel to hold and play.
Hopefully that can help, because no test-out riffs are necessary for that!


This ^^^. You can ad lib or forget the rest.

Back when I started B2B, after decades away from playing bass, I took my new axe to a luthier for a check-out/setup. After he finished the setup, he handed me my bass and said, “Try it out.”

Besides being a luthier, this guy had been a touring guitarist for years, so he’s an accomplished player.

So before playing a note, I just told him I was at the start of my journey. He was cool with that.

Just tell your guy you’re taking lessons and he’ll be fine, too.


Plot twist, it’s Robert Trujillo.



You should just ask them how they play some of your favorite basslines by them. They can show you while you’re playing your new bass.


Merry Christmas @PinkLady lol.

Just play whatever you feel comfortable. A couple of short riffs or grooves that you are comfortable playing is plenty to get the feel.

When I’m buying a bass at the shop I usually play the song(s). Ones that allow me to go up and down the neck to judge how the neck feel.

Buying from a private seller I don’t want to spend that kind of time. Checking the necks body and electronics is usually all I need to confirm.

My e favorite grooves for testing is run away by jamoroqui and the infamous
Jaco “the chicken” both are simple enough to learn and very catchy. You can throw a few short bars and look like a player, lol.


Then you have to learn to crab walk :wink:


I have nothing to add to what has already been said, but will add my Good Luck an enjoy! What an awesome opportunity…

Are you willing to say who?


Let them know you are a beginner and are nervous. They were a beginner once too. You could ask the bass player to give you a demo. I’ve done that in a guitar store before, especially when I got my first bass. The sales guy was more than happy to play some stuff for me, then left me to try by myself. I did this buying my first decent guitar amp as well.

You may even score some tips from them :sunglasses:


Easy - learn some Bach (just the first few bars) and play a couple of scales. Make sure you make eye contact with him while playing to show dominance. Also be sure to mutter key words like ‘tone’ or ‘scooped’ while nodding or tutting.

Oh look down the fretboard, weigh the bass up and down in your hands, look at the back of the bass while making ‘appraisal’ noises - that kind of thing

Seriously though, I’d go with @John_E and ask the seller to play something cool. But make sure the bass is comfortable for you :slight_smile:


LoL! :rofl::joy::rofl:


Absolutely spot-on! Not a single musician in this world who would say “no” to helping a beginner get a bass that’s a right fit for them. Also, you have had about a year of practice under your belt, so don’t discount your own wants and desires as to why you want a new bass!

Maybe talk to the guy about why YOU’RE looking. Tell him you started in January and it’s time for an upgrade. Tell him things you don’t like about your current bass. Tell him things you do like. I’m sure you two will have a lot more to talk about than you think.

As for what to play – probably won’t matter as much as you think it will. Get a few scales in or just noodle and see how the thing feels. As others have said, the seller will almost certainly jump at the chance to show you what your new bass can do.

Best wishes and don’t forget to post pics!