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Ant1972

Bass for beginner

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I'm a total noob looking to learn bass and trying to figure out what guitar to get.

On one hand I don't want to spend too much, as I'm just a beginner... On the other hand, I don't want to buy a piece of junk (and would like something that would still be ok if I reach intermediate level).

Research has been a real headache...

I figured Squier would be respectable, but everyone seems to say to steer clear of the affinity basses.

I hear mixed things about ibanez.

Yamaha seems mostly positive.

I also hear some good things about Harley Benton, but not sure whether that's because they are actually good or just surprisingly un-junky for the price.

Looked at second hand guitars, but they seem almost as expensive as buying new.

Really appreciate your recommendations.

 

Thank you.

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Welcome Ant

There are very few bad basses anymore.

All the brands you cite make very good basses which will be very usable as a first bass. Most can be picked up for around the £200 mark. You can also add Spector, Sire and Warwick to your list. Check the "For Sale" thread for well kept examples rather than risk something less looked after on ebay/gumtree.

TBH I'm a bit jealous of the discovery aspect of trying new gear.

Bit of advice? Post your location so that any BCers who are local can help you out if needed.

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Hi, so I'm guessing around the £200 mark... But can be flexible (maybe up to 280) l if it means I'm getting a better unit for long term use.

Though obvs, cheaper helps :)

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Agreed on the brands you listed plus those Greek added. I’d also add Vintage to the list. Quality of instrument far, far better than the price point would suggest, on their Icon range at least.

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Work out what kind of bass you want, modern smaller bodied "rock" or the more classic shapes of Fender and Musicman (amongst others) If you fancy the more traditional then as mr4stingz has suggested the Vintage brand offers a lot of guitar for the money, if you fancy the smaller bodied bass then I have to add the original Japanese built Bass Collection SB basses to the list, they are a stupidly good bass for so little money, you will not go wrong with one of those!

If you are around the Northampton area you are more than welcome to pop around and try a few different basses out

Edited by Roger2611
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Welcome Ant.

As mentioned, there aren't any really bad basses these days.  My tip would be to try the basses you are considering on a strap before you buy.  The thing to avoid is neck dive if you can.  It's an added hurdle to overcome that you don't need starting out.

Issues such as the height of the action, the pick ups, your choice of flats or roundwound strings etc, can be sorted down the line.

Edited by SpondonBassed
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All good advice above. I'd certainly suggest sticking with name brands - Squier, et al - and not being tempted to modify them with things like replacement pickups. That way, you'll be able to sell them on easily and for a decent price if you look after them when the time comes to upgrade (as it surely will). Have fun.

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My advice. Don't go for basses your heroes play. Try a load. I'm not a big fan of metal but my Warwick streamer was amazing as are most Ibanez necks in the Soundgear range. You may feel you are playing a tree trunk with some of the classic basses.

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I have more trouble trying to stop myself from buying basses at £200. That's about the same as I paid for my first bass back in aground 1989, which was a hell of a lot of money back then and it was an absolute pile of junk. 

Now you can buy an absolute superb and extremely playable bass for that money. As others have suggested, just try to figure out what suits you best then look at the classifieds on here and the second hand stuff on eBay, there are some real bargains to be had. You can even get an extremely respectable new instrument for£200 now. Harley Benton, and Vintage are extremely well rated in reviews, to name just a couple. If you find you prefer short scale you can pick up a second hand Gretsch Junior Jet II for that money, I have one and they're absolutely superb, also in that price range and short scale is the Squire Jaguar, another superb little bass. 

Good luck. Have fun choosing. The world's your lobster. 

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14 hours ago, Ant1972 said:

Research has been a real headache...

I figured Squier would be respectable, but everyone seems to say to steer clear of the affinity basses.

I hear mixed things about ibanez.

Yamaha seems mostly positive.

I also hear some good things about Harley Benton, but not sure whether that's because they are actually good or just surprisingly un-junky for the price.

Research may have been a headache, but IMHO you've managed to nail it.
Yamaha: secure buy, whether online or in shop. The cheapest one will serve you well (I suppose that is a TRBX-174).
Ibanez: secure buy for the right models. Ask BC. IMHO, comparing with Yamaha, they were not competing with Yamaha at all for the cheapest models, but competitive from roughly 250 or 300 quid.
Squier Affinity: have not tried one that I would actually buy, even when priced well over the cheapest Yamaha. Squier Vintage Modified offered some very nice basses, but had to be tried in person. Squier Classic Vibe long was a safe buy even online, but I now read that the new ones are less good - dunno how much less. I mention these more expensive ones because it should be easy for you to find a 200 quid used one that is a few years old.

If you want to buy online, I'd say that from your list of brands, I'd buy a new Yamaha or a used mid-price Ibanez or Classic Vibe, but taking a fellow BC-er along to a shop would probably widen your possibilities.

Good luck!

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Great advice from all above. 

In order to help narrow it down, do you have a bass hero or particular style of music you're looking to play? The recent Faith No More thread has reminded me of when I was starting out and wanting to emulate the sound of my favourite bassist, so looked for an entry level option of what he played. Thankfully, back then Billy Gould played Aria Pro II, not Zon like nowdays 😬

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11 minutes ago, StevieE said:

Great advice from all above. 

In order to help narrow it down, do you have a bass hero or particular style of music you're looking to play? The recent Faith No More thread has reminded me of when I was starting out and wanting to emulate the sound of my favourite bassist, so looked for an entry level option of what he played. Thankfully, back then Billy Gould played Aria Pro II, not Zon like nowdays 😬

Well... If i had an inspiration/hero it would be Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order)... But I'm not under any illusions I'll get to play like that :)

Think he has a history of playing Yamaha's (amongst others).

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1 minute ago, foxyFuze said:

There's a Vintage V4 Precision on FB at the moment for £150 - ideal first bass!

yep, I bought one of these and it's very nearly as good as my MIA P, just one word of warning, I bought mine new and the set up was awful, basically it hadn't had one, so if you can't do your own, that may need factoring in as well, don't know what other cheap basses are like.

But if you're right handed there's loads of second hand stuff out there and if you decide it's not for you, you won't lose much money on it

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2 minutes ago, foxyFuze said:

There's a Vintage V4 Precision on FB at the moment for £150 - ideal first bass!

Out of my geographic area unfortunately.

However, I have seen a Music Man Stingray SUB 4 (which looks in good nick) going for £150.

Unfortunately the seller said he has someone planning to pick it up later this week.... but if they fail to show, I may swoop in and pull the trigger on that one.

Otherwise.... think I'll be looking at what deals I can find on Yamaha or Vintage.

Then... I need to try and figure out a nice little practice amp (so any suggestions there are welcome).

Also... if I ordered a bass online, should I expect it to be reasonably playable out of the box (or at least after tuning) - or, should I be looking at getting a proper "set up" done? There is a chap down the road from me who does a "set-up" for £80 + strings... this adds a fair chunk onto the cost for me, but if it's the right thing to do, I could bite the bullet. Or... if I ordered from an Andertons or Dawsons (the only accessible bricks'n'mortar stores for me), should I ask/expect them to be able to set up whatever I buy to a reasonable standard (or will they just give me the guitar in a box and shove me out the door)?

Apologies for all the super naive questions, but I am completely new to this :-)

 

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I'd take a slightly different approach to this question.  As stated above you need a bass that is comfortable for you to play, but what bass you buy depends on what you intend to do with it.  If you want to learn in your bedroom with a cheap practice amp and have no intention of being in a band the sound produced by the bass is unlikely to be a factor.  If you want to play in a band and gig you need a bass that will sound OK in the band mix and create the sounds you need.  Most cheap basses are better these days, but if you are convinced that you will stick at it it might be better buying a good quality second hand bass that will last you forever, rather than one that you'll want to trade in after 6 months.

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A reputable store SHOULD have it setup reasonably well but I understand this is not always the case. It may be worth investing in a basic setup kit (string / pickup height measure - basically a rectangular credit card with measurements on it), feeler gauges (example here on Amazon) and ensure you have correct allen keys for saddle and neck adjustment.  About £25-£30 I think, or a lot less given the price of the package shown in the link. 
I'd be wary of Stingray basses as the sound is quite particular and not to everyone's tastes.

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Welcome and I would suggest having a look in the trade/sale sub of this forum. As they are ex bassist basses they would have been set up and “played in” so you’ll get a better experience imo. Straight out of the box you will have to adjust and play it in. You would probably benefit from a low action and perhaps short scale so you can play longer without fatigue which means faster level up 😬 

good lick with your quest in the low end (see wat I did there) 👌🏻

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27 minutes ago, Ant1972 said:

Or... if I ordered from an Andertons or Dawsons (the only accessible bricks'n'mortar stores for me), should I ask/expect them to be able to set up whatever I buy to a reasonable standard (or will they just give me the guitar in a box and shove me out the door)?

They should be set up, but not necessarily how you want them set up.  If you have access to a large store like Andertons do pay them a visit and play with some of their stock - the bass room at Andertons is quite private and you'll not have to play "in public" and the staff will  be used to dealing with noobs - but you'll be paying retail for a new bass unless they have a suitable s/h one.  If you can, go during the week rather than on Saturday.

ps, I've never had to tinker with bass set ups aside from changing strings.

 

Edited by Nicko
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28 minutes ago, Ant1972 said:

Well... If i had an inspiration/hero it would be Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order)... But I'm not under any illusions I'll get to play like that :)

Maybe not at first, but if that's the style of play that you like then there's definitely things you can take from his playing, such as using a pick and playing up the dusty end of the fretboard. 😉 

If that's what inspires you, aim for it! Nailing the riff for Love Will Tear Us Apart will give you a huge buzz and is more fun than learning scales (which you do need to do too BTW 😬

It's a great bass line and is pretty straight forward. Also worth noting, this guy is an excellent player and is using a Washburn Taurus, a £250 bass! - 

 

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1 hour ago, Ant1972 said:

Out of my geographic area unfortunately.

However, I have seen a Music Man Stingray SUB 4 (which looks in good nick) going for £150.

Unfortunately the seller said he has someone planning to pick it up later this week.... but if they fail to show, I may swoop in and pull the trigger on that one.

 

 

Although the SUBs are a good bass for the price, they are rather heavy and the active pre amp can be a bit 'hot'.

I would stick to passive basses at this early stage in your bass playing career.

Another vote for Yammies, good basses for little money.

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I’ve had lot of cheap basses in the time I’ve been playing.

my current go to gigging bass is a Squier affinity. I’ve had a few, some better than others. Stick to the Indonesian ones with open tuners like the one I pictured, any I had with closed tuners were bad.

the pickups on affinity’s are ok for beginning but not great. I put a Dimarzio in mine and it is the best sounding bass I own. Also really light which my back appreciates after a couple of sets.

 

i had a Yamaha RBX374 for a while, great bass for the money and I have and would happily gig it. Solid, great value bass.

 

Ibanez basses are a great shout, I have a Talman and it’s a corker for the money, really well built and looks great, can pick them up new under £150, RichTone music has some good deals recently.

the pickups are not bad but dont compare well to the Dimarzio in my squier so I’m going to upgrade the pups before I gig it again but they are ok.

its heavy with a chunky neck.

i also have an Ibanez SRX which I recommend thoroughly if you find one. Good sound and look sweet.

 

the best bang for buck I ever owned was my Harley Benton PB50.

i had the older one with a Wilkinson pickup which I stopped out for aseymour Duncan quarter pounder but the Wilkinson was better so I swiped back!

the current ones have Roswell pickups which review well.

Ridiculously good bass for £100 new which sounds great, plays great and will hold its value, should sell used for £80.

Chunky and heavy but solid and nice to play.

 

Big thing is your shortlist is bang on, you won’t go wrong with any of the ones you’re considering.

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Edited by ribbetingfrog
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Remember that this will be your first bass - stick around here long enough and you'll have many more!!

Seriously though, most of the best entry model basses have been listed above, also if you manage to come across a Westone Thunder 1a in budget, grab it!!. Do a bit of homework and contact your nearest BCer and see if they'll accompany you. Make a list and pop down to your local guitar stockist and try anything that you have on your list. Don't be cajoled into buying something that the salesman says is good but you haven't heard of.

For example, a few years ago Sue Ryder (yes, of Charity shop fame) were selling basses - initially well regarded but it soon became apparent that the frets were soft and wore over time...

I blame @AndyTravis for starting me on Yamahas but there are a few very nice examples currently available on ebay for around £150 - contact Andy for more advice if you decide to go this route.

If you're ever near Hatfield, get in contact, you're welcome to try the low end stuff I have.

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