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kristinaelias

Bass or Amp - Where should my money go?

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Hi there,

Another not-even-quite-a-newbie yet here, so apologies if I have stuck this on the wrong forum board. I'm a dabbling guitarist and I want to get a bass. Unfortunately I appear to have expensive ears in the sense that I am VERY fussy about tone, and if the tone aint right I get disheartened and just don't practice. This makes me extremely wary of the starter pack route, together with the fact that the affinity basses I've held are just a bit too toy-like in build quality for my liking.

I have rather fallen for a Squier 50s vibe precision in butterscotch blonde (to be named Clarence - not that I'm jumping the gun at all here!) Unfortunately these seem to be rather thin on the ground in the s/h market at the moment. I would love to steam in and buy a new 'Clarence', but don't want to blow up my Fender Blues Deluxe guitar amp, so need to be sensible (boring) and work out what an amp is going to cost me first.

My dilemma is as I seem to prefer classic 50s/60s Fender valve tone, so do I go down the traditional starters Rumble 15(+) route, which may just end up being a waste of money and turn me off playing bass completely, or should I hold fire and try to get hold of a Fender Bassman 10 or similar once they start to be seen on the s/h market? Should I try and find an old (pre pie-in-your-ears Peavey owned) Trace valve amp, or something else? It seems rather daft to spend double on the amp to the guitar which is what I'd end up doing if I buy new. This route would also end up costing me the best part of / slightly more than a grand, which I feel is rather a big outlay for a dabble at bass playing. Any suggestions?

Kristina

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Personally if you care about tone more than anything I'd invest in a decent amp then buy a cheap bass and install some decent pickups, if you need to replace the pots too they are cheap. If you buy used you can save a heck of a lot, buying new isn't worth it at all unless you're loaded and care about everything being pristine. What's your budget?

Check the for sale forums here. Used gear here is usually cheaper than the used prices you get on eBay.

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Depends on if you're planning to only own one bass amp.

You might be better off buying a smaller practice amp, then venturing into buying a larger beast when you start gigging with a band. At least then you'd know you're into it and the outlay wouldn't seem so frivolous. :) Would also give you some breathing space to pick up a big amp s/h.

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Whoah there! Form follows function ... so what's the function?

What are you trying to achieve here?

Will you be gigging on bass? If so, where and playing what sort of music?

Will you be noodling around on bass at home? If so, why do you need an amp at all? Get a PJB Bass Buddy or something.

The best way to plot your route is to know where you're trying to get to.

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Check out the basschat marketplace, there's a Little Bastard for £300 I think, that with a 112 or similar & you'll be smiling a long time. That'll do all the valve tone you'll ever need :)
If you fancy the Fender/Squire P bass style, they're always coming & going on here, be patient with a bit of luck you might get a 2nd hand 50's Mexican P-bass, 2 have just been sold in the last week or so for a very good price.

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Wow! Thanks for the super-speedy fast replies chaps! Sorry, I should have mentioned that I'm talking home use only, no band aspirations or drummers to compete with, just one other guitarist. Budget - hmm, well that's what I'm trying to establish really. I might wait until I have enough to do it properly and maximise my chances of success, rather than rush in too cheap and scare myself off the whole idea. For arguments sake say £350-600?? Certainly not as much as a grand! I'm hoping to sell an amp for around £350+ and there is Christmas coming so you never know??

I don't want a bass that is too entry level in terms of quality - Squier Affinity - no, Squire Vintage Vibe / Fender Mexi - yes, Rickenbacker - when I win the lottery! Exellent condition s/h is fine, and I've just built my own Tele, so a Bitza would be possible once I've got a bit more knowledge about which bits to choose. Does anyone have any experience of 'Clarences' (Squier 50s vibe precision in butterscotch - so pine body)? It's the outlay on the amp that's stopping me. Which is the most important component for bass sound the amp or the guitar? The problem I have with buying a s/h amp is not knowing what the now discontinued models sound like, youtube often poses more questions than answers I find. I will have a look for little bastards though, and look into PJB Bass Buddy too.

In terms of style and the sound I'm trying to get to, I'm thinking John Entwistle, John McVie (I want to play Oh Well on bass too!), John Illsley, Adam Clayton, McCartney & Wyman. Does that help?

Thanks for the suggestions so far, please keep them coming!

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If it were me, for home use, I would be looking for a second-hand Roland Cube 100 or Line 6 Studio 110 amp, both of which come with all sorts of effects/modelling already plumbed in plus MP3 play along/headphone out etc. Or, to totally maximise your money, Peavey combos sound great and are as cheap as chips. I practice at home with a TKO-80 that cost me £50.

Bass-wise, I'll make my usual suggestion of Westone Thunder bass or SGC Nanyo Bass Collection, either of which secondhand will cost you under £200 and are better than the Squiers I have tried or owned. There is high regard for Ibanez SR series on here, too, although I haven't ever played one.

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What Paul S said about the Bass Cube or Line 6 is spot on, they sound way more expensive than they are (until you put them near a drum kit - they just don't have the power). For home practice they are ideal though. As a studio sound engineer of 20 years, like you I'm fussy about tone and I have a Bass Cube at home for practice (I even record with it sometimes!)
If you want to step up a notch Hartke do some pretty nice sounding combos for not too much, have a look for a secondhand A100 - they will see you through a rehearsal with drums etc.
I wouldn't bother with S/H Peavey stuff, it really tough gear and great if you're gigging but the sound is just alright - not amazing.
If you really want true audiophile 'valve' tone though - I haven't come across a none valve amp that does this yet. Some of the 'Valve-modelling' amps out there (including Roland and Line6) come close but you can tell the difference side by side. Sadly all valve amps are still incredibly expensive. One compromise solution is to get a seperate valve pre-amp to colour the tone.

I'd also recommend if you buy yourself a 'Clarence' be prepared to invest in a new pickup. My experience of Squier basses is limited, but the first thing that had to go was the awful 'Duncan Designed' pickups in my VM Jazz.

I would spend the money on the Guitar you want because that is such a personal thing, and you'll get used to the feel of it - amps can be changed easily down the line if you need more power or tone without sacrificing the 'feel'

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There's (or was?) a lovely US made Ampeg B100R in the marketplace which I would snap up if I didn't already have a B50R.

£200 - US made, valve preamp, 15" driver, ported. Lovely thing - even loud enough to play with a drummer. I often use the one at a studio we use. They sound great at low volume too. A future classic. Great / flexible EQ and changing the valve in the pre has quite a profound effect the tone.

If you're set on a '51, the MIJ ones are the ones I reckon, rather than the Squiers.

Edited by bigjohn

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+1 for the line 6 LowDown range if its for home use. I got the 150 watt version for £79 off of Ebay - used it for a year for practise and sold it on for £140! This would give you enough money to buy a decent bass.

Squire Affinity are actually pretty good if you are prepared to upgrade the pickups. Others will say try them at your local store but if its as good as mine you won't get a huge selection. That said you seem to be sure about what you want as a bass. There are some other alternatives though and looking on the For Sale topic on this site might be a good idea. Only buy if the seller has got decent feedback.

Good luck taking up the bass.

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If it were me in your position. I would go for a Roland Cube 100 amp and then spend as much as you can afford on a nice bass. Fender or maybe a Squier Classic Vibe.

Edited by aceuggy

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Don't be afraid to try a cheaper bass, there's plenty of us on here who play (and gig) really cheap basses like Vintage, Wesfield, Aria etc. I take my £45 Aria Jazz out alongside an expensive custom bass and they are both fun to play and sound great. Brand/model snobbery can often be counterproductive when trying to make the most out of a limited budget so just go with the bass that plays and sounds the best.

If I were looking for a nice loud little practice outfit then I would seek out a Cube 100, Hartke A70 - A100 or a Line6 Lowdown 110 then see how much I had left for a bass.

Also it's not daft to spend more on the amp than the bass, if you have a set budget that's the right thing to do.

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There's a Genz Benz combvo in the FS section that would be a good place to start.

[url="http://basschat.co.uk/topic/152642-genz-benz-shuttle-30/page__pid__1420026#entry1420026"]http://basschat.co.uk/topic/152642-genz-benz-shuttle-30/page__pid__1420026#entry1420026[/url]

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[quote name='lemmywinks' timestamp='1320085255' post='1422140']
Also it's not daft to spend more on the amp than the bass, if you have a set budget that's the right thing to do.
[/quote]

Certainly not. Amps are where the money's spent.

Although, if you're not gigging... or even playing with a drummer...

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If the gear is going to be home use only, any of the practice amps mentioned will be more than ok. To be honest though, I use a 25 watt Ampeg BA-108, and I can`t have it on more than 3 without being far too loud, so for home use, I wouldn`t bother with anything over 30 watts, it`s unlikely you`ll ever get the benefit of using it to it`s full potential.

I`d put the money on the nicest bass you can find. Nothing aids learning better than a great-to-play instrument. Those Squiers get very good reviews, certainly on playability, so if your heart is set on a Clarence, try one, but do try other makes too. Let your hands make the choice - unless of course you hate the sound the best player makes, that is.

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BassPod XT's are alright too and then you can practice with headphones or just speakers :)

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[quote name='iconic' timestamp='1320086284' post='1422170']
amp, amp amp, and then amp
[/quote]

Get four amps? I like your style!



Oh I'd also budget for a setup and a new set of strings whatever bass you buy, unless it's new and from a local music shop, then they should set it up for free.

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It should go to both! You've got to have good quality items as far as both are concerned. If one of them is expensive and the other is a stinker you'll be sorely let down in the end.

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[quote name='bigjohn' timestamp='1320084734' post='1422124']
There's (or was?) a lovely US made Ampeg B100R in the marketplace which I would snap up if I didn't already have a B50R.

£200 - US made, valve preamp, 15" driver, ported. Lovely thing - even loud enough to play with a drummer. I often use the one at a studio we use. They sound great at low volume too. A future classic. Great / flexible EQ and changing the valve in the pre has quite a profound effect the tone.

If you're set on a '51, the MIJ ones are the ones I reckon, rather than the Squiers.
[/quote]

Good suggestion for an amp, they can be found regularly, cheaply and they are decent! Not sure they can get a MiJ 51 too though. I'd get a squier 51 and change the pickup on it for the budget.

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[quote name='CBbass' timestamp='1320089869' post='1422256']

Good suggestion for an amp, they can be found regularly, cheaply and they are decent! Not sure they can get a MiJ 51 too though. I'd get a squier 51 and change the pickup on it for the budget.
[/quote]


£200 for the amp, £400 left for a bass. Or £150! (budget £350-£600).

But yup - same principle.

Covers all bases (excuse the pun) Entwistle / McCartney / McVie etc etc, 70s valve tone.

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Kristina - The one thing you didn't tell us as a "dabbling guitarist" is what you were planning on doing - Playing bass live on stage or at home?

You'll find that the Classic Vibe range are very good - Chinese produced but amazing quality and finish, in fact made by the same people that produce the new Fender Modern Player series of instruments.

As for amplification, if you're not planning on anything too mad, I'd recommend a small Roland Bass Cube. The 30w model is enough for a small rehearsal or theatre and the 100w model produces enough power for most situations you'll find yourself in. They're plenty around on the used market and they're very reliable - More than anything they give you a proper bass sound as opposed to the small 15w Fender offering you mentioned.

Rich. :)

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If you get the chance, go to a music shop. Heck, perhaps you might decide on which bass you like all together! Necks are a pretty big deal to me so you could try a few there too.

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