'''Strings: '''Most bass players are fine with a standard 4-string bass, but some prefer the wider range of a 5-string (the additional string being a B string). Remember that a 5-string bass is going to have a wider fretboard, so small hands are not recommended.
* Some rare basses have more strings -- 8 string basses are not unheard of.
'''Neck: '''The shape of your bass neck is largely determined by your hand size. There are five typical shapes for a bass neck: round, oval, flat back, a Vee-type shape and an asymmetrical shape that's thinner on either the bass or the treble edge. It's also important to note how your neck is attached to the body.
** Better note resolution
* Bolt-on necks
** Punchier sound
** Prone to dead spots
'''Scale Length: '''This is the vibrating length of the string, determined by the distance between the nut and the bridge saddle. It will change the tonal quality of the notes and string tension at particular pitches. It's also important to know the longer scale lengths you have the farther apart your frets will be. A shorter scale is good for musicians with smaller hands and 4-string basses, while a longer scale will produce a more defined sound in 5-string basses.
* Short Scale: 30 inches
* Medium Scale: 32 inches
* Long Scale (Standard): 34 inches (5 string long scale: 35")
* Extra-long Scale: 36 inches
'''Frets:''' The number of frets really depends on whether or not you like to play in a higher register or not. Since the most bass playing takes place in the lower end, the number of of frets is more a matter of personal taste and playing style. If you're just starting out, you probably don't need the extra frets. Usual amounts are: 21, 22, or 24.
'''Tuning machines:''' It's very important to find the best tuning machine for your instrument.
* Allows you to fine tune and hold pitch.
* Enclosed machine heads are rust resistant (and resistant to other airborne contaminants as well) and are lower maintenance than open tuning machines.
'''Intonation:''' This determines whether the notes play in tune as you move up the neck. If the distance between frets is off, the bass is useless as a recording or performance instrument because it will not play in tune above, usually, the 12th fret.
'''Pickups: '''Pickups are just as important to defining your sound as the strings you choose, and can be even more important than the types of wood you use on your bass. Pickups will also give different results on different basses, and to make the formula a little more complex, different strings will affect your pickups performance as well.
* Active and passive pickups are available for bass.
* Battery life and replacement are an issue with an active pickup.
'''Wood: '''The type of wood is one of many factors that influence your overall sound. Make sure to consider the overall weight of your bass (since you'll most likely be doing a lot of standing up if you're performing). Wood choices will also influence the overall tone.
* Lightweight wood is nice for performing.
* Common woods for bass are Swamp ash, which is a soft, light wood, and Alder, another light weight wood with a crisp sound.