Electric Bass Guitar Buying Guide
Some quick points for beginners:
- As with most instruments, it is advisable to not spend too much money on your first bass. Whether you are looking to try a new instrument, hoping to get your child interested, or experimenting with a new hobby, you won't know what bass suits your needs until you (or your child) has had at least a year of experience.
- The bass may be difficult for people with smaller hands, as it can involve stretching your hands further than you are used to. If you have small hands, be sure to pick out a bass with a a small (thin) neck. If you have large hands, a thicker neck will do fine.
- Pay attention to where the bass was made. According to experts, the best basses are made in the US, Japan and Korea, while Mexico, China, Indonesia and Malaysia tend to produce low quality basses.
- You may also want a tuning machine to help you attune your ear to the notes of the instrument. If you start off learning on a poorly tuned guitar, you're sure not to get many gigs straight away.
A big choice for a beginner bassist is between a 4-string bass and a 5-string bass . The 5-string bass has an additional lower string, the B string, adding five extra notes lower than on a 4-string. However, a 4-string bass can be tuned to plat at least two of those five lower notes, so unless you'll be playing extra-ordinarily low fairly often (heavy metal bassists, this includes you) the five string may not be necessary. A 6-string bass is also an option, which extends the bass' range in the same way, except to the higher pitched notes, or an 8-string , which provides a higher string for each of the pre-existing strings (low E, high E, low A, high A, low D, high D, Low G, high G).
Shall We Fret?
Fretless basses can be a challenge for beginners. Playing the bass requires accurate fingering to produce proper intonation, so it helps to have the frets as a guideline. Consider a fretless bass to be a more advanced instrument, one towards which you can progress after a good deal of practice. However, if you are thinking of getting a fretless, the Essex line is wonderfully cheap and fairly well-made.
Once you have picked out your bass, its time to choose a brand. Yamaha and Ibanez both make starter kits that come with an amp and a cord, which should get you started nicely. However, once you are ready to move on, a higher quality amp will serve you well. You'll need to hear yourself play, and it is important to have a decent amp with which to refine your technique. And once you start playing alongside a drummer, you will need to invest in an amp with greater wattage (300-500 watts) in order to match volumes.
The intermediate bassist can choose his/her next bass with far more experience, and thus can notice many more subtleties about the instrument.
The body of your bass can be an important indicator of its quality. High quality Solidbody basses are typically made from wood, including mahogany, alder, maple, and swamp ash, while low quality basses are made from pressed woods, softer woods, plywood, or even plastic. Hollowbody bass guitars are an option for any musician playing jazz or folk, or who desires to play with a more acoustic sound. A semi-acoustic bass is also an option: it is constructed as an acoustic guitar, and fitted with a pickup under the bridge to create amplification.
Pickups are another aspect of your bass that you'll want to study. Pickups are the rectangular boxes that are beneath the strings, which pick up the vibrations and transform them into electrical signals for amplification. Most basses have two pickups, which give them greater tonal range. Try out the different pick-ups and see which one suits your style best. If you choose a guitar with one type, then decide you like another, not to worry. You can replace one with the other while keeping your bass. Types of pickups include: