Bass Basics

Hello wise people of the community …

I’m toying with the idea of buying a cheap bass for some recording. With the exception of one I made from a desk as a school project in the 80s I’ve never owned one … so where to start?

I’m looking for cheap because I don’t expect it’ll be used that much, but I’ve no idea what I should be looking for. Aesthetically I have a soft spot for traditional, so I was thinking about Squire, but very open to ideas.


Like guitars the cheaper you go the harder on your fingers it will be. I’ve always had a soft spot for Fender Precision basses. I sure they make a Squire version. The used market would be the best place to get a better quality bass for less money. Happy hunting.

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Couple months ago I got a bass basically out of the dump pile. Someone had tried to replace the original P-bass style pickups with a mudbucker style pick up. I guess because it didn’t come with instructions for installation they cut open the pick guard with what I can only assume was a hacksaw and tried to glue the new pickup in with expanding foam. I cleaned out and used proper screws to install the pickup in about 20 minutes and the thing works and sounds great. I am a big fan of used gear as the quality can be phenomenal if you know what you are looking for. Used gear also tells a better story and is generally cheaper than new. but there are also a lot of good new bass options. Squire P-Bass is solid choice, I had also previously owned a very low end Ibanez bass that looked nice and worked very well.

Long and short of the story is that I think as it is not a primary instrument for me (or it seems you also), the lowest function quality is probably the best option.

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How cheap is cheap? My husband started with a Costzon $89 bass with practice amp from Amazon. He since bought an Ibanez TMB100 which I see is running at $249 here in the US. He also just put flat wound strings on both and says the old cheap bass is a lot better to play now.

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Thanks all -

You’re preaching to the choir! I get most of my gear 2nd hand, and that will certainly be my first choice.

Well, it’s big, so my wife is going to notice … so cheap enough that she won’t get upset :slight_smile: Realistically, there’s no point in getting something unplayable, but I know it wont get much use.

In case you were considering a 5 string, I recommend against it. Stick with 4 string.

If you want really traditional, then a P-Bass clone might suit you best, but have a look around. Things to consider:

  • Active vs passive pickups - passive are more “old school” but I think most basses now tend towards active pickups because they tend to be more versatile
  • Pickups - P-Bass (1 split coil) vs J-bass (1 or 2 single coils) vs P/J (a split plus a single coil) vs Stingray (humbucker) vs other combinations

A lot will depend on the styles you want to play. A lot of rock players and slap players use humbucker equipped guitars, but it’s hard to go wrong with a simple P-Bass

I would avoid anything too far away from the mainstream until you’ve got a couple of years under your belt. For instance, the Hoffner violin basses look cool, but they have a fairly specific voice and you might find them limiting unless you mostly want to play Beatles songs.

For brands, other than Squier, Yamaha and Ibanez make great basses at a beginner-friendly price.

For an amp, the Fender Rumbles are always popular, but the Katana Bass is getting good reviews. But there’s some decent cheaper options. If you have a Yamaha THR, Blackstar BEAM, Spark 40 or similar, you may already have what you need.

Oh, and definitely try the second hand market.




Cheer Keith

I intend to, but out of curiosity … why?

Haha - for the next 6 months … blues!

I’ll use the Quad Cortex and FRFR … it’ll be grand.

Frankly, it will get in the way. Most music is written with 4 string bass in mind. You don’t need that extra string most of the time.

Important things you will need to learn on bass are plucking hand placement and technique, traversing the strings and muting. These are hard enough with 4 string basses. Adding an extra string gives you additional challenges here.



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Makes sense - thanks!

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Picked up a brace of Harley Benton’s from Thomann a couple of years ago. Really happy with both quality wise, though their mileage is pretty low. From my Roadcase/LL HERE. There’s some token practice vids an few posts down.

I was recently going through the Grade 6 Essential Blues Rhythms and was taken by Justin saying these are pretty much bread and butter bass Blues riffs and rhythms. Had a little dabble after exploring on the normal 6 strings and thought, yep way to go for the future.
Had a good work out on both HBs and thought that opens up plenty multi track possibilities. Would have to check the bill but the pair cost under £280 for the two.

That made me chuckle Keith. My grandson got a 5 string for his 15th as he liked the look of it and daughter didn’t give me a shout. But to be honest he has a good local teacher in Ossett and making progress with weekly lessons.

But the look on his face when I thrust one of my 4 strings into his mitts and said crack on, was priceless ! Wadda fudda howda whaaaa aarrrggghhhh ?? After some quick adjustments he was back on track but WTH LMAO ! :rofl:

More chortles. I got a Waves Bass Fingers plug-in about a year ago. Dropped some bass lines into Reaper I’d created in Guitar Pro and suddenly it all went to mega :poop: Then I realised the plug-in was a 5 string and nowt in the advertising blurb to say that. But its a great sounding VI and I’ve subsequently discovered I can set up a 5 string bass in GP, just gotta remember to tab everything one string down, :rofl:

I bought a used Epiphone EB-3 last week. It’s sort of a reboot of the Gibson EB-3 so it probably fits among the traditional basses. I tried out a few different basses at a store that sells used gear and apart from a 6-string Ibanez (yes, there are 6-string basses and even more oddities out there) this was the one that looked and felt the most inviting to play. I paid c. 340 USD for it. It was already set up and had fresh strings ready to play.

I also wanted something along the traditional lines like a P bass or a Jazz bass, but I didn’t want to sell my organs just to get one. I chatted with the assistant and I was surprised when he mentioned that Rickenbacker basses, while they sound bloody good, are pretty difficult to maintain in a good condition (string change, hardware, etc).

The playing technique is somewhat different from guitar but there are tons of resources online. And the land of bass is filled with just as many rabbitholes as the land of guitar, so be prepared.

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Fender Jaguar Bass , i know nothing about bass but if i were going for one I would start here. It’s less than £1 K and has an amazing review. I cant find the original older video, Go for the one with the split pick-up though.

Ignore everyone else OK ! lol… Oh and you must get the Candy Apple Red as thats my fav colour. :slight_smile:


Toby - Mmmm, they look pretty! I’ve never looked at at Harvey Benton before. I shall dig around and take a look.
PS - you see to have a habit of picking up guitars in pairs …

Yeah, you’re not helping :rofl: Interesting on Rickenbacker, I have always loved the look, but I need to be practical … and keep to budget!

Thanks Rachel - yes, I do love the look, but the real thing will break the budget. Squire might fit.


Sire Marcus Miller M2 would be my choice but if you prefer that vintage look and feel check out a V3.

Paul the module I referenced above is not the one I meant and I am now struggling to find it. There were just 4 lessons with Justin playing out some classic Blues Bass riffs, If I track iy down I drop in a link.

As to my Noah’s Ark approach to guitar purchases, its often circumstantial of happenstance. I might have to explain it all one day. As to the basses. I saw the Harley Benton B-450 QTB Progressive Series after the JB-20 BM Standard Series was already in the post. The plan was to use the 30 day returns policy and boomerang the JB but when my missus saw them both, she instructed me to keep them. Like who’s gonna argue :wink:

These one’s Toby:

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Have you ever picked up and played a bass? There big and heavy. A friend gave me an old bass of to play around with. Didn’t like it, but I liked the idea of playing bass. So I went and bought a short scale bass. Its great and not too expensive. Lighter, smaller and easier to play.

I went with the Ibanez Mikro Bass

If a short scale bass was good enough for Paul McCartney, it’s good enough for me. It’s also cheaper than a Squier bass in my area.