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Bass Guitars

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
486
My grandson has been a drummer (pause or humorous comments) since he was 7 and is now in his final years at senior school, he has been a fixture in school rock bands though his middle and senior years and is doing very well in music theory. His teachers have suggested he add another instrument to help his understanding and he immediately picked up an old bass guitar that I bought with the intention of learning many years ago and seems to be doing very well with it considering it's condition.

This guitar is an old Rockwood by Hohner, and is well past it's best as well as extremely heavy and not really conducive to long practice sessions.

I have noticed that some members here double on guitar and I'm looking for pointers, eg as we would look to Yamaha etc as a good starter instrument has anyone any suggestions in the guitar field?

Thank you in advance for any help.

Please keep safe.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
Subscriber
Messages
4,120
Normally, this would be easy, get to a store and play around within budget. You're looking for a guitar or a bass (as you mentioned)? Because a chord instrument would give more educative value than a bass, but the bass will be better for the drumming aspect. In fact, learning to play bass, even summarily, is very good for rhythm, but again, guitar or piano is better for the harmony aspect.
Then there's the question of electric vs acoustic. I have a cheap electro acoustic bass from Thomann that would be adequate for learning. They offer all kinds of inexpensive instruments and ship to the UK.
 
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majordennis

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
486
Normally, this would be easy, get to a store and play around within budget. You're looking for a guitar or a bass (as you mentioned)? Because a chord instrument would give more educative value than a bass, but the bass will be better for the drumming aspect. In fact, learning to play bass, even summarily, is very good for rhythm, but again, guitar or piano is better for the harmony aspect.
Then there's the question of electric vs acoustic. I have a cheap electro acoustic bass from Thomann that would be adequate for learning. They offer all kinds of inexpensive instruments and ship to the UK.
Thanks, your observation regarding the standard guitar and chord/harmony appreciation is very relevant but having observed all the other information he has to cope with at this stage in his life I tend to let him be the judge of what path he prefers to take possibly expanding his choices later.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
Subscriber
Messages
4,120
Thanks, your observation regarding the standard guitar and chord/harmony appreciation is very relevant but having observed all the other information he has to cope with at this stage in his life I tend to let him be the judge of what path he prefers to take possibly expanding his choices later.
Of course, just a passing observation. And I forgot to clarify that currently you can't go to a store.
Bass is great for a drummer. I played guitar for many years and couldn't figure out what appropriate bass lines were. I became fascinated with bass and studied it for a couple of years. Now I feel more at ease composing, and of course it's close to the drummer.

Example from Thomann:
You get what you pay for, though.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,789
I am a novice bass player... Most serious guitar stores have a suitable collection of enthusiastic geeks behind the counter more than willing to help. Challenge at the moment is inability to go to said emporia and chat. Most of the stores such as PMT, Guitar guitar, Dawsons etc are still running, but online sales only, but there are still guys there willing to talk to customers.

There are two basic types: Jazz and Precision, which refers to the pick-ups. There's also fretless, but I think you can discount that.

I'm not really an expert, as with everything budget is an issue. £350 upwards will get you something decent. I went with a Fender Jazz and a TC Electronic bass speaker/amp. Also, spending £40 on a decent strap is worthwhile.

For a more detailed discussion, you need someone with more knowledge than me.
 

Tony K

Member
Messages
47
I bought my other half's daughter (14) a Sire Marcus Miller bass (4 string). It's based on a Fender Jazz which has a slimmer neck profile than the Fender Precision bass and so suits small hands nicely. It wasn't too heavy for her although I did try a few in the shop to find the lightest. It sounds really good and she loves it. I have a mexican Fender Precision bass which is really good but is a tad bit heavier than hers. I previously had an Ibanez - can't remember the model 280? - it was really light, but the frets were very rough and it wasn't long before the electronics gave out on it. It was an active bass and needed a battery. Something wrong with the circuit board. Generally I was disappointed with the build quality of it. The Sire Marcus Miller is great. I think I paid £350 although at that price I had to buy a case as well.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,789
I bought my other half's daughter (14) a Sire Marcus Miller bass (4 string). It's based on a Fender Jazz which has a slimmer neck profile than the Fender Precision bass and so suits small hands nicely. It wasn't too heavy for her although I did try a few in the shop to find the lightest. It sounds really good and she loves it. I have a mexican Fender Precision bass which is really good but is a tad bit heavier than hers. I previously had an Ibanez - can't remember the model 280? - it was really light, but the frets were very rough and it wasn't long before the electronics gave out on it. It was an active bass and needed a battery. Something wrong with the circuit board. Generally I was disappointed with the build quality of it. The Sire Marcus Miller is great. I think I paid £350 although at that price I had to buy a case as well.
I think you can get those through Thomann - I've seen good reviews of them. You're right, a case will be extra. Fortunately, they are much cheaper than cello cases!
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,552
I have been a bass player for almost 50 years.

A good, inexpensive one:

Ibanez Talman TMB100

If I wanted to spend around $500, I'd go with a Sterling By Music Man 24.
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,552
...oh, those are new prices.

The Ibanez runs only around $200-250, which is absurdly low of course; but it is, I would say, the best bass available in that price category. And it's pretty fun to play, also....

postscript: IF you are gonna buy a new bass , IMHO don't get one of those hollow-body acoustic-type ones. They are quite limited. I agree, good and cheap for a learning device, but for 50 quid more you can get an electric of a reputed brand....
 
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majordennis

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
486
@JayeNM Thanks for your excellent input, his initial impressions are that the Hohner is quite heavy, he has weighed it at over 4 kilos, the Ibanez appears to be about the same weight, please pardon my ignorance on these matters but is this normal for a bass?

Also do you have any views on the Squier Bronco Bass Black MN, this appears to be a bit lighter than the Ibanez but I'm not sure the difference would be very noticeable.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,552
Hello....honestly I cannot say.

The Ibanez body is what they call 'mahogany', I believe, but this is really Phillipine Mahogany, also known as Luan. Most inexpensive basses are basswood. Luan is arguably a bit better, just stronger, denser. But in no way to be confused with Central and S. American Mahogany, which can be quite heavy.

The Sterling MM 4 or 24 (btw you see the models described as both the 4 and 24) is Basswood, for example...which means it'd probably be a lighter.

But for a 17-year old dude, really....Luan or Basswood....is pretty manageable.

I mean, heck, I got my Fender Precision when I was 11 and it had an Alder body, it was heavy as all heck, the heaviest electric bass I think anyone has ever tried (other bassists would pick it up and go "whoa...what the heck is with the weight ?" so I assume not all P-basses were Alder.)

My current axe is a USA-made Hamer 'Cruise' from the 80's, also noticeably heavier when compared to either of the models I mentioned.

So 'normal' is relative. I would not consider a 4kg electric bass to be 'heavy' by any means. I think if he had the option of picking up (literally) a vintage bass and comparing it to a contemporary budget one, he'd see the difference in weight is noticeable.

But if you wanted to stick with the lightest electric basses available, then a Basswood body would be the way to go.

Also, note that the MM Sterlings show up in two personifications.....the SUB (which you notice is cheaper) and the non-SUB. The SUB was their cheapest option, and for quite a while they only offered the SUBs and then their pro models, nothing in between price-wise.....the 4/24 was introduced as their intermediate line.
The SUBs aren't bad either, but the 4/24 is a bit more refined, particularly the fingerboard.

I'd pick the Ibanez over the SUB because of that - Ibanez is a bit nicer in the fingerboard, plus Ibanez has two pickups so it's tone can be more diverse.
But if it came down to weight being a big issue, the Sterling SUB would be a reasonable alternative. I know some killer bass players who play SUBs, they sound great on 'em.
Both these companies have been around a long time, their quality control is generally quite good even though their current factories may be in Indonesia or China, they are more precisely made than a lot of other relative cheapies.
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,552
The Squier Bronco is, I believe, a 'short-scale' neck bass...meaning the neck is only 30" long as compared to 34" on a standard bass.

Standard electric bass necks are longer than guitar necks.

So, most bassists prefer the 34" scale....the short-scale necks are more popular with guitarists who do some doubling on bass, or for kids or adults with smaller hands/shorter fingers. The Ibanez comes in a 30" neck variety as well, TMB30 - same instrument - they just slap on the shorter neck.

Again, for a 17 year old, a standard scale neck (34") is not gonna cause any problems.
 
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majordennis

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
486
@JayeNM Once again thanks for the information, I had a conversation with him and his Mum explaining the points you have made, oddly enough they measured the Hohner and said the scale was nearer to 36", I can't verify this because of our "lockdown" status but he seems to be happy to go with the 34" scale.

The MM Sterlings are very tempting but they are a little more than I can afford so I think we will go with the Ibanez TMB100 which are on offer at a very reasonable £150 GBP.

Again thanks so much for all the contributions made, especially for your valuable time and experience to help a guitar newbie. Please everyone keep well.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,552
You are welcome. It's a good one, the Ibanez. I know a number of folks who couldn't resist the temptation of buying one, and they aren't disappointed with what they got. There are youtube reviews on it as well, most quite favorable and seemingly independent.

Oh also, just to be aware - sometimes a shop's prices do NOT include a case or gig bag. Confirm this.

(This is downright strange to an old codger like me...back in the day the case of course always came with the bass...wth is that all about ? One doesn't see shops selling brand new horns with no case included, LOL....so again, just double-check).

Cheers.
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,014
You could also check out the Squier Vintage Modified or Classic Vibe series of basses - come in Precision or Jazz...the more upmarket models from the basic Affinity series...might be able to pick up a CV or VM at a good price pre-loved/ second hand...

Greg S.
 

TBay

Member
Messages
42
Buy second hand to save a fortune, so many beginners basses end up hardly used and for sale again. If I was starting out again I would look at the following:
Ibanez (ideally above GIO range but even they are ok), very well made but not the nicest tone (to me anyway), lovely necks usually.
Yamaha - again well made, sound is a bit meh sometimes but not bad for a beginner and you won’t get any problems with them
Epiphone - as a self confessed Gibson nut these are often a bit underwhelming and can suffer from neck dive and very variable build quality.
Squier - variable but some crackers in even the cheapest range and easy to upgrade later if you want to. It’s where I would look along with Ibanez.

One other aspect to be aware of is neck width, the Fender jazz, Gibson Thunderbird and many others are around 38mm, the precison being fatter at 41-42mm (apart from some rare and expensive ones). 3mm doesn’t sound a lot but I hate playing precisions as the feel like a cricket bat compared to my Jazz.
Its perfectly possible to get a great sounding bass for pennies, the jazz I use for the ‘less upmarket’ pubs we play in started as a Squier I got second hand and only owes me about £120 all in. If you get a jazz and want nicer pickups the Entwistle ones are ridiculously cheap for how good they sound.
 
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