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BassBeginnerGuy

Looking to upgrade my bass

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Hey all, nice to be here,

I know you probably get a ton of posts like these, but I'd appreciate your input on this matter as I'm quite the beginner and I don't know if my approach is right about this.

About two years ago I bought my first bass, an Ibanez GSR200. I hadn't played a single note of bass prior to it and was just looking for the cheapest (relatively good) possible option to get into the instrument, assuming I'd upgrade later if needed.

Fast forward two years and I feel that time has come. Thing is, I'm a student (=broke) and I still do not believe I must spend lots of $$$ to get a good-sounding instrument (for example the guitar I am using is a Squier Affinity Tele and am loving it).

I must also say that I am kinda frustrated by my GSR200. I don't really like the way it plays, it's got an annoying fret buzz no amount of setup can get rid of, it's too fuzzy for my liking (maybe the active pickups) and by now I'm really looking for that clean, smooth, natural tone. I know Ibanez are more metal-oriented so maybe I should have seen that coming.

Having said all that, having a positive experience with Squier, I am now considering getting a Squier PJ Bass instead (probably Affinity series but not necessarily), but I've seen people who claim that would barely be an upgrade over the GSR200, if at all.

Do you think this sentiment is true in my case? Should I up the ante and look for, say, a nice Yamaha bass or even a Fender instead as a true improvement, even though they might be considerably pricier?

Cheers and thanks in advance for your assistance!

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You may listen to internet wisdom or use your legs. Take your bass to a luthier and ask for a professional setup. If it is impossible - which I doubt - then turn to another instrument. Remember to take a new set of strings with you, so you get the ones you like, if you already have a preference. Ask for help, if in need.

Another thing is to go to a store and test different instruments. This gives you a slight idea of what the others may offer you. It is about touch, ergonomics and sound among others. Brand has nothing to do with how suitable the instrument is to you. Sometimes you just feel that this is the one. The setup may be similar with several instruments and then that certain body may just fit yours.

Ibanez? Metal oriented? My Affirma has been with me in theater and dance gigs alike. She can jazz, too.

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11 minutes ago, itu said:

Brand has nothing to do with how suitable the instrument is to you. Sometimes you just feel that this is the one.

^^^
This. 

Play as many different basses as you can. Go for something second-hand - you'll get a lot more bass for your money, and you shouldn't lose any money if you sell it on. You'll probably find your next bass on  t'internet, but whatever you do, play it before you hand over the dosh.

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If the sound from your bass is too "fuzzy", maybe your pickups are too high up. Simple fix, drop your pickup heights a little, play, if it still sounds fuzzy, drop them a wee bit more. When it stops, stop adjusting. All you need is a small screwdriver.

Fret-buzz may well need a trip to an experienced technician who can set up your bass for you.

Whether you "need" to change your bass is up to you, however, I agree that you need to exercise your feet, and visit as many guitar shops as you can, and simply try out as many basses as you can, and see which one "feels" best for you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Squier Affinity if it feels and sounds right for you.

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You'll get loads of different opinions on what other people like, but it's all about finding what you like.  My personal opinion is that you get what you pay for and the bigger your budget, the better the bass, but there are plenty of people here who will completely disagree and sing the praises of bargain bucket basses that they love.

Where are you?  As the others have suggested, have a day out in your local shops, or even travel to your nearest big city, and try as many different basses as possible. We can certainly point you towards some shops that have a good selection to try out.

Then when you've found one or two that you really like, you can devote your time to tracking down the best price.  +1 to buying second hand, and keep an eye on the small ads here, or you may find a shop that will give you a part exchange on your Ibanez

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1 hour ago, BassBeginnerGuy said:

Having said all that, having a positive experience with Squier, I am now considering getting a Squier PJ Bass instead (probably Affinity series but not necessarily), but I've seen people who claim that would barely be an upgrade over the GSR200, if at all.

Cant really say about the GSR200, but a new bass doesn't have to be an upgrade as such, just something you feel much happier with. Dont go no specs alone. As other have said, its how it feels and plays in your hands.

Ive gigged Squires loads of times and would take those over some higher end basses ive played. In fact i still have a CVP and CV Jazz that are going nowhere.

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24 minutes ago, MrDaveTheBass said:

Play as many different basses as you can. Go for something second-hand - you'll get a lot more bass for your money, and you shouldn't lose any money if you sell it on. You'll probably find your next bass on  t'internet, but whatever you do, play it before you hand over the dosh.

smiley

 

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44 minutes ago, MrDaveTheBass said:

^^^
This. 

Play as many different basses as you can. Go for something second-hand - you'll get a lot more bass for your money, and you shouldn't lose any money if you sell it on. You'll probably find your next bass on  t'internet, but whatever you do, play it before you hand over the dosh.

This seems like the best advice.

I have a Squire bass and after a setup it plays really well and sounds nice.  You can get well built instruments for not much money these days.  Then if you like the bass you can always look to upgrade the hardware (pickups, etc.) later if you want to.

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When I started I used an ibanez, I found it too "metal" sounding, didn't like the sound at all. Skip several years and many, many basses I finally learnt that it's not the bass that was the issue, it was the strings. The strings on my ibanez were steel roundwounds (very bright, zingy), and it wasn't making the bass tone I liked.

So my advice is find out what strings the bass players you like use, and try them or some similar. Try a set a nickel roundwound strings, they have a clean and natural tone.

Also, it's really good to learn how to set up your bass properly, there are lots of tutorials on YouTube etc, it sounds like you have fret buzz because either your saddles on the bridge are too low, or the relief in your neck is not right, adjusting these and you should be able to correct the fret buzz. 😀

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Might be worth having a lesson with a pro bass guitarist - they should be able to identify very quickly whether the root of your problem is instrument setup/your technique/other signal chain issues.

If you are a beginner, it is quite possible that your understanding of setting up your instrument is flawed (I've rescued a number of intruments from bad DIY setup attempts).

Take a look in this thread

There may be a friendly basschatter local to you who would be willing to take a look at your bass with you - sometimes small adjustments can make a world of difference.

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If you really hit the strings hard and dig in, the cheapest solution might be playing with less force and using a softer right hand technique. Then again you might not actually have a problem. How loud is this buzz? I don't have a particularly low action but my strings buzz a little. I can hear it at home but it  doesn't come through the amp on a gig so I don't worry about it.

If your bass really has an issue and you are strapped for cash then sorting out your problems will be cheaper than buying a new bass or modding this one. If you can't get rid of fret buzz by the means suggested above you probably need to get the frets levelled. Find a good repair guy and ask his opinion.

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I second the advice to take your instrument to a good tech'. I wouldn't be tempted to try to do a set-up/loosen the truss rod yourself (you do call your self Bass Beginner). Whilst that sort of thing is not that difficult if you know what you are doing, it's best left to a pro' unless you do.

If funds are ere tight, a decent set-up will be cheaper than a new instrument, unless you make a sideways move - i.e stick at the same quality level, which is not really worth the effort. It will also make your instrument more sellable if you do decide to change it.

I agree the sound could well be down to pickup height and/or string choice. Flats will generally give a less aggressive tone and if you use D'Addario Chromes (my choice), they are quite bright and lively and last well. Instruments are not really oriented to any particular style. Ibanez basses generally have slim, fast necks, which is why some rock/metal players prefer them.

Your amplification has a lot of influence on the tone, too. What are you using?

 

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Pretty much agree with what's been said above, get as many basses in your hands as possible. If you're looking to change to a P bass, keep in mind it'll have a wider neck as well as a bigger body than you're used to. 

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Welcome to BC, @BassBeginnerGuy.  I'm not a fan of Ibanez myself, but I've had some and there's nothing wrong with them. @hooky_lowdown is right about strings. I'm sure on my journey I've changed too many bases when a change of strings would have been a better solution.

Fret buzz is generally caused by 1 of 2 things: the neck needs more relief - you've got it too straight with the truss rod too tight, or you've got a fret that's either worn and low, or  fret is high.

You can check the leveling of the frets if you use the side of a credit card. Lay the side across 3 frets at a time and see if it rocks. As others have said, you could do with trying other basses and a visit to a bass-tech.  @SubsonicSimpleton is right; see if you can meet with another BassChatter. You can try their basses and they can look at the set up of yours.

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On 06/08/2019 at 07:13, BassBeginnerGuy said:

I must also say that I am kinda frustrated by my GSR200. I don't really like the way it plays, it's got an annoying fret buzz no amount of setup can get rid of, it's too fuzzy for my liking (maybe the active pickups) and by now I'm really looking for that clean, smooth, natural tone.

My first bass was a GSR200 too, and it never had a hint of fret buzz. As other folks have suggested, it's worth taking it to a good luthier for a set-up as a first step. 

Regarding the fuzzy sound, before you attack the pups with a screwdriver, check a few things first. If the fuzz is worse at the lower end, replace the battery. When it's on the way out, the low notes start to sound muddy before the higher ones are affected.

Also, try turning the Phat EQ right down. As in fully off. A little of that knob goes a long way.

I like the GSR200 - if I still played a four-string I'd be keeping it as a backup instead of thinking about selling it.

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I have a passive Bass Collection Power Bass which cost £95. It's very good and compares favourably with my more expensive basses. Try as many as you can before you buy and a good set up is critical

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Can't comment on the GSR200 or Affinity series directly, but cost isn't the issue in whether you like a bass or not.  I had a Peavey Cirrus active which IMO was far superior in terms of build quality and electronics to the Squier CV Precision* play now, but I ended up hating the sound of the (active) pickus and as my technique improved I found the neck was too narrow and the fretboard radius was too small.

If you don't like the sound and the feel I wouldn't personally waste money having a pro set up.  If its just the fret buzz then the set up would be worth a try.

* I never really wanted a P Bass, but borrowed one once and it just worked for me.  That said I tried pretty much every one in the shop in my price range to find "the" one.  I also have a US made Fender Precision which doesn't sound as good as my Chinese made Squier, so I play the Squier.

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