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Buying a new bass for an experienced guitar player

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Postby Niklas » April 5th, 2012, 2:07 am

Hi,

I'm hoping I can get some helpful hints here. I just got a call this morning that confirmes I'll have a summerjob this summer when I'm having my summer vacation from Uni. I've been saving money in case I wouldn't get a job and now I feel an urge to spend it on musical equipment.

So I'm thinking of buying a bass guitar. Why? Because way too often I find myself in a situation with two guitar players and one drummer and I'm usually the only one with any sense of rythm. What happens is that everyone follows the lead guitar and well, it's not a very good solution. I've been playing guitar since 2005 so it's time to widen my repertoire anyway.

Now, what to buy? I've done a lot of research the two last couple of days and narrowed it down to one model:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/bass/epiphone-thunderbird-pro-iv-bass#review

The Thunderbird is actually the only body shape I like on bass guitars so this makes me very biased. But it's not only the body shape I thought looked good in this model but actually the specifications are the best I can find in this price range ~350$.

What I like about it is the Mahogany body and through-neck design together with the active humbucking pickups. I want to use it to play heavy rock and blues music and I want a lot of sustain. I'll probably try a couple of models tomorrow so what I want help with is what are bass guitars have similiar specifications in the same price range? I have quite big hands with long fingers if that knowledge may be of use.

I'm not interested in bolt-on necks (hated it on my first electrical guitar) or 50/60 Hertz humming electronics.
I'm not looking for a beginner bass that I'll get tired of but something that'll I want to play and works to play live, but the guitar is still my main instrument and if I would spend a lot of money I'd rather buy a guitar.

I've looked for used bass guitars but they often sell for the equal price of a new one here in Sweden and without the warranty (it's very very annoying). I'm not going to buy an amp because I live in an apartment and all bass frequencies goes straight through the floor. I'll just pick up a multieffectpedal or something and use high-quality studio headphones when practising.

So now I would like all the tips you can give me on anything regarding buying a bass. I have already read the GuitarNoise article on the subject which was very helpful with learning the basics.
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Postby Nuno » April 5th, 2012, 5:03 am

It seems you already make the decision and have considered each detail, so it can not be added too much comments. Try to review the old threads, I asked for advices when I bought my bass around four years ago. I got very good advices from many experienced guitar and bass players.

I finally got a Jazz bass. Probably I was thinking like a guitar player, I had to buy a Precision bass.

Go to your usual store and play as many bass guitars you can.

For amps, you could consider EBS, I guess you have heard about the brand. They have a small and cheap amp with a great sound. I use it in a flat for practicing.
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Postby Niklas » April 5th, 2012, 6:53 am

Haha, I wish I had a regular store! Not very fond of the musicshops here in Sweden at all. They don't have very many models at the store to try and the people working in them are usually not very helpful. They'll usually have tons of beginner instruments and some high-class ones. Never the bit irregular ones in the mid-pricerange which you have to order.

I'm hoping they have the Thunderbird in store to try at least. I saw a video of it and was very impressed with the sound. I've also read som issues about neck diving and humming due to the electronics not being grounded properly. Saw it on Thomann for 250$ too so it's a very tempting deal. However it seems more suited for Heavy metal and I think I'm looking for a smoother tone. I guess something like the Jazz bass. The only way too find out is to try.

I guess a small amp would work in a normal flat. There is no isolation between the floors at all where I live. I can't even play my acoustic guitar after 10 p.m.
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Postby Nuno » April 5th, 2012, 7:42 am

If you are also considering a Jazz bass (although it is bolt-on neck, passive and single coil pick ups, etc.), try to play the Squier Classic Vibe series. It is my bass. Probably it is your bucket and it is not like the other Squier.

Warwick could be also interesting and perhaps they have a model with your requirements. Try them if you get the chance, the neck is very easy to play. Ibanez has also many nice models. They are cheap but they have a great finish.

The amp is not mandatory, in fact I play unplugged many times. As you know it is better to play plugged at the beginning because it is almost most important to mute the strings that you are not playing. Consider the Pandora. I also have one of those small boxes. I have the Pandora 4, there is a Pandora 5 (basically it is the same thing but it has USB) and there is a new one, very small and probably cheaper. MarloweDK used to use a Pandora 4 for his recordings. By the bye the guitar amp emulators are very bad to my ears.

Here is the link to the old thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=40782 Really I was asking if I should buy a bass but as I said it contains great advices.

What a great moment! The searching of a new guitar!

Enjoy!
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Postby Niklas » April 5th, 2012, 8:01 am

Thank you! I tried to search for your thread but couldn't find it so I appreciate your link. I also read what you wrote about headphone amps which was interesting.

Oh, and I just rememberd it being Easter and that means the musicshops won't open until tuesday! I'll have a lot of time doing research then!

My guitar amp is in service and I havn't been able to play for a long time now which is way I'm putting all my extra time in looking for a bass instead.
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Postby boxboy » April 5th, 2012, 9:25 am

Happy hunting, Niklas. Those T Bird basses are notorious for neck dive, so if you get a chance to play one, try to road test it with a strap, standing up.
For a brief time I had an Epi EBO bass that had the same ergonomic problem (strap button on horn is a bad idea; gravity wins ).
It was even uncomfortable to play sitting down; constantly having to 'wrassle' it. It was like having an ill tempered cat in your lap. :lol:
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Postby Derek Wilkerson » April 5th, 2012, 7:52 pm

look for a nice vintage peavey.. more bias?? haha. my three favorite basses are the peavey t-40, t-45, and the later t-20.
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Postby Niklas » April 5th, 2012, 11:11 pm

Vintage Peavey bass you say. Maybe if I can found one in when I'm in London next month. I can't find any Peavys in the musicshops here new so it's going be tough finding one of them. It kind of sounds like I live in the middle of nowhere, but i live in Stockholm and there are lot of musicshops, just not a lot of options. We have a chain called 4sound and they have bought all the good independent musicshops and the only thing they think about is making a good profit. Not to have happy customers.

Although, I did find a Peavey Grind Bass NTB4 on Thomann Cyberstore in the right pricrerange. The problem is I can't try it. But it has a neck trough bodu construction and passive pickups instead of active.

I remember i havn't told you what bass players I like. If we are talking tone it's John McVie hands down. I can't find what gear he uses only walls of texts describing how good he is. Whatever it is I really like the BIG FAT tone he has. So that's what I'm after. I really like how he plays with Mick Fleetwood too. I guess that is the playing style I want. My mother listening to the Dance live CD by Fleetwood Mac over and over again when I was ten had quite an impact on me!

I also am a fan of Paul McCartney if we are talking playing style and "Come Together" would be a good reference for sound. I know McVie was very influenced by McCartney in the 70's.

And the neck dive problem seems to be a problem on early models of the T-bird. It seems to be a bit better on the new models with a change of one of the strap buttons to the neck instead of the wing.
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Postby Nuno » April 6th, 2012, 1:52 am

Niklas, please, review it but I think McCartney used the Rickenbacker in that song. Perhaps you should consider the Hofner, too.

http://abbeyrd.best.vwh.net/paulbass.htm

On the other hand, I think McVie used to use an Alembic but I remember him playing a Precision in some old video recordings. Sorry, no link here.
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Postby Niklas » April 6th, 2012, 5:18 am

Wow, that was a great link. A lot of interesting reading on that site. I couldn't find an answer to exactly what bass he used for the song but a Rickenbacker seems reasonable. The Hofner seems to be a bit lightweight for what I want. I think there was a lot of studio magic also with the Abbey Road record and a lot of the sound is just from great engineering and after-production. But it's one of my favourite bass sounds.

So if anyone wants to give me a vintage Rickenbacker I would be very grateful. Ok, so the Alembic only make handcrafted instruments it seems like. How is it that the two examples I gave were in a price range I'm not even close?

Well, your help has been great and now all I can do is wait until the musicshops open again and I actually can try a lot of them. At least I know what is out there.
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Postby Nuno » April 7th, 2012, 4:50 am

Yes, it is always the same thing, our ears and our pockets have different opinions! But you are right, the tone can be improved or modified with electronics.

As I said, in your price range and specifications I'd try the Ibanez, the SR series. Those necks are awesome.

Good luck and keep us informed.
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Postby Niklas » April 10th, 2012, 6:02 am

So today I finally had the chance to try some basses. I went to three different musicshops and the only basses they had were Fenders. Row and row of MIA Fenders for 1500$. All similar too. What's the point?

The first musicshops was the only with a couple of basses from other manufactorers. The actually had an Epiphone T-bird in some goth model. It was the cheaper model with bolt-on neck. I tried it although the string height was appalling. It's not even close to the Pro-model I was told so it didn't tell me much.I asked about the Pro models and he might get them in in the beginning of June! And probably not in the colour I'm interested in nor as a 4-string. Thomann Cyberstore has it in stock though. I also tried an Epi Les Paul model with a glued neck that actually was quite nice.

I tried a couple of others of course in my pricerange and a lot of them felt cheap, had a bad setup, or a lot of hum. The only exception was a Squier Jaguar. It was quite good until I turned one of the knobs up (no idea what it did, almost sounded like gain) and got loads of humming.

I've heard a lof of good things about Ibanez and Yamaha so it's a shame none of the musicshops had a single bass from one of them in. It's pathetic in my opinion. They shouldn't show them on their website if they very seldom have any to sell. I'm a bit annoyed at the moment. I wandered for two hours in rain and didn't learn a thing. A complete waste of time.

So I'll have to order it online without trying it, whichever bass I'm buying. I'll just read closely on Thomann about their return policies. Even though I'm set on the Thunderbird I found this:

http://www.espguitars.com/basses/ltd-st ... /b-4e.html

It's a bit more money but it has 24 frets and an ebony fingerboard. It's something like 150$ more than the Epi. It seems very affordable and there doesn't seem to be a problem with humming or neck diving like with the Epi. This I'll also have to order to be able to play it. My only concern with this one is that it might be a bit too much metal for me. Opinions on this one? I really like the look of this one too.

Before I'm ordering anything I'll wait until my guitar amplifier comes back from service/repair. I need it to know if the bass I order actually works.
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Postby Nuno » April 10th, 2012, 10:33 am

Are there more stores? Sometimes each store has just a limited range of brands, sometimes they are the local distributors.

I don't know the Squier Jaguar but the latest Squier have more quality than the older. I did read they was trying to recover the quality in old models in the eighties.

No experience with ESP guitar nor basses. It seems very similar to the Ibanez models that I told you.

The action in basses is higher than the guitars. You should play them first and then you will decide if modify it. It's easy.
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Postby Niklas » April 10th, 2012, 11:26 am

No, I went to all the major ones. As I described in a earlier post most of the stores have been bought by one chain, 4sound, so there isn't very much to choose from. There are other musicshops but they often specialize in drums, mandolins or vintage guitars. There aren't any more to go to. I have two high-quality guitars and have had to special order both of them. This is what's it like here in Sweden. I've had a lot of experience looking at guitars (it took me a year to find an acoustic I liked) so this didn't come as a surprise.

Musicshops here don't carry items that don't sell. Which is completley retarded because of course it won't sell i they don't have it...

I'm aware of the action being higher than on a guitar. This action was very high for being a bass. I pointed it out to the salesperson who just laughed when he saw it because it was so ridicolous. He actually did an atempt to fix it after I pointed it out but I couldn't be bothered to try it again.

I think I've decided that I'm going to order the Epi T-bird Pro. It is so damn cheap online, that it doesn't even matter if I don't like it. They have a 30-day money back guarantee if you don't like it. I mean, I can't go wrong then can I?

So, now I'm just waiting for the call to get my guitar amplifier back from service. Shouldn't order something before I get that back just in case.

Then I'll ask for a practise bass amp for my birthday in a couple of weeks. I only played through the Ampeg BA108 today which actually was cheaper in the store than on Thomann and it seems to work just fine. I'm never going to leave the flat with the amp so I don't need any more power. Although if you know about any tilted practise amps in the same price range (129€) and about 30W that would be great.
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Postby Nuno » April 12th, 2012, 3:25 pm

I had a small Marshall MB30 but I sold it, I didn't like its tone. It probably is in that price range, too.
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