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Thoughts on acquiring my first bass #3007024 09/07/19 02:02 PM
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ashevillecabbie Offline OP
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The journey started in Guitar Center, where I saw a used digitech bp50 for sale for $30.

I always wanted a bass, just for recording and general noodling around--I didn't expect to really become especially passionate about practicing and learning the instrument, although that is what has happened.

I just thought, for the price you can't go wrong, and I really always liked my old DOD/digitech guitar pedal, so I scooped it up, thinking to get an inexpensive Squier bass down the line and thus have a bass guitar just as a resource.

Instead I found a Schecter Diamond 5 string p-style bass with a humbucker in the bridge that can be switched to j-bass single coil. Two volume pots and a tone pot, 35 inch scale. A beautiful instrument, made in China but still very nice--and it came with a hardshell case. All in all, pretty basic (no pun intended) but in my opinion pretty sweet anyway.

After a couple of weeks I find it is getting a lot more playing time then any other instrument I have (several keyboards, 1 acoustic and several electric guitars). I found some great books to learn from (Bass Guitar for Dummies, Stuff Good Bass Players Should Know, Bass Tab White Pages) and I am really happy with this new situation that has entered my life.

Two weeks is not a lot of time, but here are some thoughts and observations anyway:

It's really more physically demanding than I anticipated. It's not just the bottom four strings of the guitar an octave lower. The bass is heavier, the scale is longer, the neck is wider, and the strings are much thicker. There's no sprawling around on the sofa like with acoustic guitar. I have to stand or use a stool, and also use a strap. You may be thinking well duh, but I didn't know these things going in. Also good hand and arm position seems pretty crucial.

Tuning is more challenging than with guitar. There are lots of clangouros overtones, especially on the low b string. But your ear does learn. Pitch can be sharp in the first 1/2 second, more so than with guitar, but like I said your ear does acclimate itself to the bass environment as time goes by.

I am using a metronome a lot more than with other instruments (although I have belatedly realized it would help my timing with those too). But it seems really important with the "groove oriented" bass guitar. In a way the instrument can be like a drum. A different zone than guitar, I am finding. Not an instrument to write songs on, not often anyway, but we have other instruments for that. I suspect more bass players play drums than guitar players, maybe.

As much as I love the instrument I have been thinking about getting additional basses. I have bad shopaholic tendencies anyway, but I thought 1 bass would be enough. Turns out I was mistaken--a j-bass and a stingray, at least, would be nice to have.

And finally (for now) I am glad to have started learning bass with a 5 string. They may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it just feels right to me.




Last edited by ashevillecabbie; 09/07/19 02:07 PM.
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Re: Thoughts on acquiring my first bass [Re: ashevillecabbie] #3007030 09/07/19 02:35 PM
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Flemtone Offline
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Well, welcome aboard! Glad to have you at the site!

What you describe is a really good way to get started, that's for sure. It saves a lot of time having a musical background in scales and frets, not to mention rhythm theory picked up from drumming. I went along a similar path, starting with piano as a yout', acoustic guitar/singing for those evenings in the early-70s with my folkie friends in high school (hey, there were girls! They loved Cat Stevens, CSNY and James Taylor songs - guess what I learned?). Then, after meeting electric guitar players, moving to drums. I played drums in a band until they found an actual real drummer and needed a bass-player, so I picked it up and that was that. I was hooked.

Learning to sing while playing acoustic guitar helped me sing while playing bass, something I could never do as a drummer (though I looked longingly at those who could, like Levon Helm). That was another thing that took me away from drumming and put me on the path of bassplaying. A love of old Soul and Motown tunes helped me get started and bands like AWB and ToP helped me learn about funk.

I've never been able to get the hang of the 5-string, though I cheated on one of my fretless basses and put a hip-shot tuner on the low E to do an instant drop-down to D.

What kind of amplification are you going thru? This is a pretty crucial area and all dependent on the kind of music you'll be playing, whether you'll be in a studio, a bar, a hall, a stadium or your living-room.

You might enjoy a 4- or 5-string with a thinner neck or possibly a short-scale (30" scale (measured between the bridge and the nut) instead of 35" like your 5'er probably is). Those are great for people more adjusted to the neck-scale of a standard guitar - less finger-stretch and strain and they sound great. I have a couple of short-scales (a knock-off Violin bass aka McCartney and a Dan Electro Longhorn, one of the best pop-band basses I've played - it was my go-to for over a decade).

A lot of it depends on the kind of music you'll be playing. Use your fingers, use a pick, use both, use a thumb-pick, use just your thumb, use one finger, two fingers, three fingers, whatever. There are no rules - just what makes you feel good and gives you the sound you're looking for.

I babble - it's Saturday morning and I don't have a gig this weekend, so relaxation-time. Welcome to the LowDown! There's good folks here with centuries of knowledge between them. Hang out and enjoy! Just straighten out the towels when you're done with the hot-tub.


Play. Just play.
Re: Thoughts on acquiring my first bass [Re: Flemtone] #3007040 09/07/19 03:20 PM
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ashevillecabbie Offline OP
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Hey, brother.

Yeah, piano, then acoustic guitar, then electric guitar and synth. That has been my journey; there was a time, years ago, when I had a captive audience (church type gathering) for acoustic guitar, songwriting, and singing. I took up guitar at like age 20 (piano lessons when I was much younger) and I still grin when I think how people's jaws dropped the first time I got up to play in front of the group. So many years ago...

As far as amplification goes, I am just using the bp30 (bass amp modeling and multi effects) through headphones. I have neighbors I like, for one thing (I live in an RV park); if there was a neighbor I DIDN'T like--but no, I can't think that way, I must only use bass power for good. It's a fact, though, that bass frequencies pass through EVERYTHING.

I did try out a used Hartke practice amp in Guitar Center a few weeks ago. It was a small amp with an 8 inch speaker. I turned up the bass and volume, hit the low b string--and that little amp just made a rude farting noise. So I'll wait on getting an amp (I like the Eden xst cabs I saw on youtube) for now.

smile

Last edited by ashevillecabbie; 09/07/19 03:26 PM.
Re: Thoughts on acquiring my first bass [Re: ashevillecabbie] #3007259 09/09/19 01:32 PM
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Danzilla Offline
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We accept you - one of us!

I have a Schecter Diamond series (T5 model) in my arsenal, as well. I started out on piano for a bit, then took up guitar, but once I started playing bass that was my favorite.

Last edited by Danzilla; 09/09/19 02:13 PM.

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Re: Thoughts on acquiring my first bass [Re: ashevillecabbie] #3007289 09/09/19 04:18 PM
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jcadmus Offline
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You've overcome the first major hurdle. Which is understanding that bass guitar is a completely different animal from every other instrument you play. With that in mind, you'll do well.

Best thing you can do to learn is listen to what great bass players do -- how they support the song, how they interact with the drums and other instruments -- and do those things.

Last edited by jcadmus; 09/09/19 07:54 PM.

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