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Thinking of Taking Up the Bass Guitar
Old 01-22-2008, 08:50 PM   #1
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Thinking of Taking Up the Bass Guitar

Does anybody here play the bass guitar? Maybe I'm going through a mid-life crisis - I've been thinking of taking up the bass. Only problem is that I'm not sure what kind to get. I've been looking on EBay at some Fender Squire P-Basses. Any opinions on this bass? Can you recommend a decent but inexpensive bass guitar that's good for a beginner?

I've recently been listening to a song called "The Lemon Song" by Led Zeppelin which has an incredible bass line and really got me turned on to the bass. Holy Hannah - if I could play like that...
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Old 01-22-2008, 10:01 PM   #2
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Squires are Fender's el cheapo supremo, but might well be just fine for your use. I'm not a bassist, but I can play one, and currently have a First Act bass (like you'd get at Walmart) I bought for $50 at a pawn shop. Even came with a Sponge Bob sticker attached... Plays well, stays in tune, and electronics seem ok.

It would be advantageous if you could try out a few at the local music store. It also helps to have long fingers and big hands...
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:24 AM   #3
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a lot of times you can find great stuff on craigslist.
check that out if applicable to your area.
used ibanez and yamaha basses are usually pretty good.
squires can be ok too.
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Old 01-23-2008, 10:43 AM   #4
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I'm curious. What appeals to you about playing bass as opposed to guitar?

Try to find a Guitar Center store near you. You can try out all different kinds and talk with the staff there. They're generally pretty knowledgeable. Once you find something that feels right to you (sound, feel, look, size, etc.) you can check out Ebay, Craigslist, etc. I wouldn't recommend buying a bass or guitar on someone else's opinion, without having played the instrument yourself.
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Old 01-23-2008, 11:02 AM   #5
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I'm curious. What appeals to you about playing bass as opposed to guitar?
Why not ask Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Tony Levin, Stanley Clarke, Roscoe Beck, Berry Oakley...
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Old 01-23-2008, 11:17 AM   #6
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Think you might be reading too much into my question. I'm not being critical of the guy or the bass. I've just seen a couple friends pay money for bass guitars only to realize that they have more fun playing guitars. Other friends play both. Others prefer to play bass when pickin' and grinnin' with friends, but prefer the guitar when by themselves. I was just curious more or less to see if he'd considered that and if he'd played both and actually liked playing bass better. If he had, great. If he hadn't, I was going to suggest he play both and see which one he prefers.
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:08 PM   #7
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Think you might be reading too much into my question. I'm not being critical of the guy or the bass. I've just seen a couple friends pay money for bass guitars only to realize that they have more fun playing guitars. Other friends play both. Others prefer to play bass when pickin' and grinnin' with friends, but prefer the guitar when by themselves. I was just curious more or less to see if he'd considered that and if he'd played both and actually liked playing bass better. If he had, great. If he hadn't, I was going to suggest he play both and see which one he prefers.
Sorry, that post was short 'n' sweet, because I'm pretending to look for a job so I can draw unemployment I'm diligently looking for a job...

I'd say, from an immediate gratification pov, that it's easier to become mildly proficient at bass guitar. Problem with most instruments, besides guitar, is that you can't gather around the campfire singing folk songs with a saxophone or bass...

Just sayin' that there were and are many very good bass players, and we all know the importance of a good "bottom"...
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Old 01-23-2008, 04:00 PM   #8
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I do realize that you said "inexpensive," but I'd recommend a different strategy here. From my experience playing and teaching, nothing stifles inspiration faster than a crappy guitar. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked for a "good, beginner" instrument. Oxymoron, imo. People go one of two ways. If they're lucky, they enjoy it, and then they realize quickly that their instrument is no good. Then they sell is for 20c on the dollar and buy something better (that they should've gotten in the first place). Or, they don't stick to it and have to sell cheap and lose money.

My path (guessing that most of us here have a reasonable discretionary budget) would be to buy a good used Fender American Jazz Bass or P-Bass. They can be had on ebay between 600-1000. You'll thank yourself quickly for buying a real instrument rather than a toy. You'll be more likely to stick with it. For one, it'll be playable, and sound great. 2nd, you'll feel like you owe it to yourself to stick with it because you invested good money. Most importantly, these things just don't lose much value if any (none if you buy carefully), unlike the junk that guitar center or others might sell you as a "beginner" instrument. If you don't stick to it, it'll be easy to unload, because it's a great piece. If you do, you'll save yourself the hassle of buying junk and then buying again quickly when you realize your mistake.

Again, not "inexpensive," but in my mind cheaper than buying "inexpensive."

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Old 01-23-2008, 04:13 PM   #9
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Bass players are always in demand. Here's a joke about bass players:
A guy wants to learn to play bass, and goes to a teacher. For the first lesson, the teacher shows him the E string. Next week, the teacher shows him how to play the A string.

Several weeks go by, and the teacher runs into the new student.

"Hey, where've you been?" asks the teacher, "You never showed up for you third lesson!"


The student replies, "Oh, I've had so many gigs, I don't have any time for lessons."
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Old 01-23-2008, 05:44 PM   #10
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Thanks for all of your replies, everybody. I appreciate it. You all make some very valid points.

HFWR - Yeah, I learned that the Squires were the cheap version of the regular Precision bass. It seems from what I've read here and elsewhere, one can tell a difference in tone between the two, with the Squire not sounding as good as the regular Precision. You have a good point about going to a music store to try them out before I buy on a place like EBay.

mh - yeah, I've been looking on craigslist too. I like that craigslist is geographically "partitioned". If I do buy from an ad online, maybe I can save some money on the shipping charges if I buy from someone on craigslist who lives close by.


GatorBuzz - You asked why the bass. HFWR got it right - I perceive (correctly or incorrectly, I'm not sure) that the bass would be easier to become somewhat good at in a relatively short period of time. I've tried the acoustic guitar before and I find that you have to be somewhat of a contortionist to play some of the chords. Even though I do have long, lankey fingers (something I found to be an advantage in playing the piano), I struggle with the fingering. But in addition, I love the funk sound that a bass has. You, also, make a very good point about trying out different kinds at a store and talking with the staff.

devo - Really good point. I did notice on EBay that older American P-Basses are pricey, reflecting your point that they retain their value. It's difficult for me to plunk that kind of money down because I do have a history of starting something and not following through (have to be honest with myself). But you make a good point in that if it sounds good I'll be more motivated to progress.

TromboneAl -

Thanks again, everybody.

EDIT: devo - since you teach the bass, maybe you can tell me what you think the chances are of a 41 year old becoming competent on the bass (no, I'm not a kid anymore). Also, I know it depends, but I was wondering if you could give me an idea of how much bass lessons might cost. Thanks.
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Old 01-23-2008, 06:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincenzo Corleone View Post

EDIT: devo - since you teach the bass, maybe you can tell me what you think the chances are of a 41 year old becoming competent on the bass (no, I'm not a kid anymore). Also, I know it depends, but I was wondering if you could give me an idea of how much bass lessons might cost. Thanks.
I can't speak for devo... but i teach guitar and have only adult students. many started when they were totally ancient just retired

Seriously - I have found that almost anyone can learn to play well... and that like most others things in life, tenacity and some good old fashioned practice go a long way towards making a great musician.

If you are itching for a new bass and want to buy a decent mid range instrument, you might check out the carvin website .

Be sure to look at sales.

Also - be aware that a good amp is not cheap and a cheap amp is not good! You will have to spend several hundred dollars to get a decent amp, so be sure to factor that into your budget.
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Old 01-23-2008, 07:25 PM   #12
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A good compromise between Squier and American is the Standard P-bass. It's assembled in Mexico of much better parts than a Squier.

I second what Janet says, about Carvin products, playing guitar, and particularly for a bass amp.
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Old 01-23-2008, 07:42 PM   #13
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Sorry, that post was short 'n' sweet, because I'm pretending to look for a job so I can draw unemployment I'm diligently looking for a job...

I'd say, from an immediate gratification pov, that it's easier to become mildly proficient at bass guitar. Problem with most instruments, besides guitar, is that you can't gather around the campfire singing folk songs with a saxophone or bass...

Just sayin' that there were and are many very good bass players, and we all know the importance of a good "bottom"...
No worries, friend. It's tough to gage someone's tone and intent on message boards sometimes.

Bass is definitely easier to pick up off the bat. Now mastering it, that's another story.
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Old 01-23-2008, 07:42 PM   #14
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I can't speak for devo... but i teach guitar and have only adult students. many started when they were totally ancient just retired

Seriously - I have found that almost anyone can learn to play well... and that like most others things in life, tenacity and some good old fashioned practice go a long way towards making a great musician.

If you are itching for a new bass and want to buy a decent mid range instrument, you might check out the carvin website .

Be sure to look at sales.

Also - be aware that a good amp is not cheap and a cheap amp is not good! You will have to spend several hundred dollars to get a decent amp, so be sure to factor that into your budget.
Janet,

Thanks very much for the encouraging words! And thanks for the advice about the amp. Any chance that I can just plug my earphones into the guitar instead of getting an amp?
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Old 01-23-2008, 07:55 PM   #15
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Janet,

Any chance that I can just plug my earphones into the guitar instead of getting an amp?
Not really... Most head sets are not "powered" You would need some kind of preamp or a headset specifically designed for this purpose.
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Old 01-24-2008, 01:10 AM   #16
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Not really... Most head sets are not "powered" You would need some kind of preamp or a headset specifically designed for this purpose.
you might try something like the korg pandora. which is nice because
it also comes with a basic drum machine built in which i found
very good for learning/practicing. just search for korg pandora bass via google.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:23 AM   #17
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Also, many amps have a headphone jack.
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