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Any advice for starting out?


Blurb

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Blurb, welcome to the forum. I'd have to say you could do a lot worse than a Fender Squier bass for starting out; you can get a good deal on those as a "starter" bass, and a Fender amp too. Peavey is also a good name if you want to get some quality gear on the cheap. As far as stuff to avoid, well, I can't say I've ever played any basses that were bad, but I've had trouble with Epiphone amps distorting too much.

 

Hope this helps, and hope you enjoy the bass!

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Originally posted by thanny XIII:

Don't get an amp less than ten watts. I had a one watt for a long time. It sucked. I still haven't fully recovered.

Exactly Thanny. The Epiphone in question that I was talking about was ten watts. Not worth it.

 

You can probably get a good, mid-power amp used or new if you look hard enough.

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Yorkville is good bang for the buck, amp/cabinet wise. My advice would be to buy used. You can get good quality for the price that so-so stuff costs new. Probably plenty of good used gear around here if you ask.

 

 

www.ethertonswitch.com

 

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Hi Blurb, and welcome. :wave:

 

First, decide what you can spend right now. Limit your choices to that which fits into your budget. Save up what you don't spend and in a year or less you'll be able to afford exactly what you want. Also you'll have had time to figure out what works and what doesn't work.

 

Next, spend a few days visiting different music stores but DON'T buy anything. Carry around a pocket notepad and a pen and make notes of everything you like that fits in your budget. Don't expect to remember it all, and, believe me when I say this, when you play something nice you tend to forget about every thing else you played before that. Since you're going to run into a few alternatives, write them down along with their prices.

 

Next, you can post some of that here. Usually people would ask "Is a Mexican Jazz Bass at $400 worth it?" or "What is SWR like compared to Peavey or Carvin?" If you use the search function near the top of each page, you'll find most of your answers there. We've talked about everything under the sun.

 

Finally, make a choice that works for you. Most of us still own our original basses (I don't, sadly) so chances are your choice will be one you'll stick with even after you buy that $3,000 bass years down the road.

I think that covers it. :wave:

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As a newer player myself. I started with a small traynor 10 watt amp. It was simply not enough for me so I got a Yorkville XS50 watt. It is nice for my jams with a group of acoustic guitar players and not too chunky to haul around.

 

In the quest for even more power I got a BM400 watt Yorkville (still have the 50 though) but that's a whole other story... :D

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Welcome Blurb,

 

Fred is right on target as always, and Jeremy is too. I can't add to what they've already said, as they are both very knowledgeable.

Visit my band's new web site.

 

www.themojoroots.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

Get an inexpensive bass. It could even be used. Start playing immediately and worry about the detailed seach for information later.

 

If you like playing, then you can do the research and get a better bass. (and if you ask 1000 people for help, you'll get at least 2000 opinions :) )

+1000

 

:thu:

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Get something shiney. My wife hung my first bass on the wall of my music room. The walls are royal blue and the bass makes me smile everytime I see it. It is a happy place.

 

Seriously. Hold the bass in your hands and see how it feels. Feels good buy it. Play and listen a lot.

"When I take a stroll down Jackass Lane it is usually to see someone that is already there" Mrs. Brown
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* Learn how to setup the "action" (truss-rod, string-height & intonation). Having a nice "feel" to your bass really helps.

 

* Put more funds into an amp than a bass at first (read: "pass" on the little 10-15W practice amps). The best bass will sound like poop through a tiny amp. Next-based thing? Headphones with a tiny amp.

 

I had the Squire when I was getting back into music. It was *fine*! The 15W practice-amp didn't even make a good "door-stop", though.

 

P.S. If you're new to music, you might want to explore how much practice-time you need to put in. People new to music generally don't realize that it takes a lot of practice.

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Hey Blurb, I know you've already gotten a lot of good advice, and you've already come back a few times to thank the advice givers, but really I think we can help you narrow it down a bit more if you give us a little more background info. Not your life story, perhaps, but things like:

 

* what's your music background? absolute beginner? played a wind instrument in the school band? played another string instrument, like guitar, for a couple months? been playing everything else under the sun for decades?

 

* what kind of music are you looking to play? thrash and Barry Manilow ballads? hip-hop and old-timey? acid jazz and emo? (of course you'll probably want to play more than one style, but as Dr. Evil would say, "throw us a bone"; saying "everything" doesn't help us much)

 

* what are your goals? play just for fun? because you've always wanted to play bass? your buddy needs a bass player and (a) jams in his basement alone, (b) is putting together a band, © has a band that jams in his basement, (d) has a band that plays out every so often but is constantly looking for a new members, (e) has a band that gigs regularly and is putting together its first CD, (f) tours nationally, has a fat record contract, and is a household name?

 

 

There really are two schools of thought in how someone who is "thinking of taking up bass" should proceed.

 

The one borrowed from school band and orchestra is that you should save your money by buying a less expensive student model now. If you decide it's not for you, you're not out much. OTOH, you can trade up later.

 

The one guitarists seem to be more fond of is to buy the absolute best equipment you can afford right now. This works better for them because many guitars hold their value moreso than basses do. If someone buys a $2,000 Gibson today and takes good care of it, chances are good they can sell it in 5-10 years and get their $2,000 back (give or take a hundred or two). A high-end bass may be able to hold value, but anything under $300-$400 will probably not.

 

That brings up another point. You're probably better off looking in the used market for a bass as you're more likely to find a bargain. All the guys that went the first route and bought brand new Squires and then decided it wasn't for them? They're probably on eBay or whatever, more supply than demand, so they'll sell for whatever they can get.

 

But now it gets tricky, see? If you're an absolute beginner, how can you tell if a used instrument is any good? (How can you tell if a new instrument is any good, for that matter?) In the past we've had several success stories here from guys like you that hooked up with a more experienced player here to pick out a bass. If that sounds like a good idea to you, let us know the city you live in and ask. You can work out the details in private messages (PMs) so the whole world doesn't have to see.

 

Of course, if you're a concert violinist or former guitar rock star, I've just bored you to death. So let us know a little more. We don't bite. ;)

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Learn your scales.

 

Spend the extra money for a setup and a new set of strings.

 

Learn your scales.

 

Explore every sound option you have with your new gear. Twiddle every knob. Find out what you like sound-wise, and then find out how to get that sound consistently.

 

Learn your scales.

 

Never forget that your sound is in YOU. It only comes OUT through the gear. The gear does not make your sound, it only makes your sound louder.

 

Learn your scales.

 

With great power comes great responsibility. Whatever key you're playing in, that's what key the rest of the band is in. Old saying: "Anyone can be a bandleader, but the bass player is always the boss."

 

Oh, and learn your scales.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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Originally posted by Jode:

Learn your scales.

Hmmm... I wouldn't put that top of many bass player's priorities, let alone a new bassist.

 

I'd be more inclined to say; learn correct technique, learn about rhythm and groove, learn about chords and harmony, and learn how to apply them to playing in the groove with a drummer and the right notes that fit around a guitarist/keyboardist and vocalist. But that's a tall order to start with!

 

See if you can get a bass tutor - a few hours with someone that really understands bass can do so much more than hours of personal trial and error noodling.

 

Alex

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C, I was taking a page from Barry Harris. I was at a jazz clinic once where he was the piano clinician. He had this little schtick where he'd get into mean-old-man mode and threaten all the kids with dire consequences if they didn't learn their scales. It was funny. It worked. I went home and dug deep into my scales and modes, and laughed at myself for admitting he was right.

 

I guess it's all in the delivery. Barry Harris was a lot cooler than I am.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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Wow, thanks everyone for your input...I've started hitting the local music stores and taking notes like suggested

 

Ric, my musical taste are all over from Jaco & Mingus to punk, which probably doesn't help much. I played some guitar many years ago and have no ambition of doing anything with the bass besides having some fun and learning something new.

 

Thanks again everyone

 

Peace

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Hmmm... I wouldn't put [learning scales at the] top of many bass player's priorities, let alone a new bassist.
I certainly would. Learning two-octave major scales in all 12 keys is the best way to unlock the bewildering twilight zone of the fingerboard.

 

Endless scale variation without working on chord tones and harmony is indeed not a good thing...but the major scale is necessary to give any chord studies a frame of reference.

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As far as gear, this might be a good case where one of those beginner packs is good. Some of them include a small amp.

 

If that's not working for you, you might try something similar to what I did when I started. My first bass was a Squier Precision bass. That cost about $200. Add on a small Peavey combo amp. Mine is discontinued, but there are still some decent ones out there. Try a Squier by Fender bass that you like the look and sound of. Then I'd recommend a Peavey Max 112. It's small, relatively cheap ($260) and not completely underpowered.

 

After that? Get yourself a teacher. Get someone who's going to teach you the things you want to know how to play, but is also going to teach you enough about music so that you can start to learn songs on your own time.

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