With so many different brands and models out there, it’s sometimes hard to know if you’ve bought the right bass or not.
There are models for beginners, intermediates and professionals. But there are also basses that cater to particular styles and playing techniques too.
Now, this is all great if you know you definitely want to spend $6,000 on a particular model of Fodera or you definitely want the Marcus Sire bass so you can have a great slap tone.
But what do you do if you just want a simple, good all-round bass?
Well, regardless of what level of player you are, what music you like and what bass you want to buy I hope you’ll find some value in these buying tips.
So without keeping you waiting any longer, here are my tips on buying a bass guitar.
Try Before You Buy
First of all, you should try before you buy.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to the shop necessarily.
For example, I bought my Sadowsky online but I only did so after trying a friend’s that was the exact same model.
The point here is that one way or another, you should know what you’re buying.
Buying a reputation alone isn’t great in my view because reputation doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually like playing something. It just means that other people do and other people aren’t you.
If a bass has a famous brand name but you still don’t like it then that’s fine and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
The next tip is to think about why you’re buying this bass and what you want it to do.
When I say “why” I mean think about the context you’ll use this bass in. And what I say “what” you want this bass to do I’m referring to how you’ll use it.
Are you a music student about to go to a music school that will need a good instrument to start a career as a professional? Are you already a professional that needs a specialised tool for recording or touring? Are you looking for something that you’ll just enjoy playing at home and have no intention of using for gigs?
There’s no right answer here because this is about understanding your own needs.
How Much To Spend
Next up is the price.
I know there are plenty of folks out there who say you can’t put a price on a good bass. And I agree to an extent but I think that’s only good advice for more advanced players who are looking to make a serious long term investment.
If you’re a new bass player, just dabbling and not sure if you’ll continue playing in the long run then you absolutely can put a price on a good bass.
In fact, it seems ridiculous in this context to say that a $4,000 bass is a good bass for you because that might be $4,000 wasted on an instrument you don’t end up playing.
Factor in your own financial situation and honestly ask yourself what you’ll be comfortable paying. There’s nothing wrong with worrying about the numbers!
As a general rule of thumb, I would say that beginners should be looking to pay between $100-350 for a bass. Intermediate players $350-800 and then professional or advanced players would be $800 and up.
However, there are some situations where you’ll find professional players buying cheap basses.
Many professionals hate travelling with expensive instruments because these basses might get battered, bruised or even broken whilst they’re in the hold of a plane, train, bus or even in the back of a van.
There have been some horror stories online in which a priceless double bass, guitar violin or bass guitar has been broken or sometimes even lost by an airline.
Sadly this is just a risk that you take when you travel.
Consider this though.
Knowing that this risk is out there would you rather put your priceless $4,000 bass on a plane or a bass that cost $500 that you don’t mind losing?
I know what I’d rather do.
For this reason, many professionals will buy a cheap Squier, Sire or some other brand of budget bass, modify it so that it plays well, has good electronics and sounds good, and then use that bass purely for travel gigs.
It’s a great idea and honestly something that many are considering these days.
And if you are going out there to buy a bass then make sure the decision to purchase is your own.
Don’t be bullied by a special offer, an enthusiastic store assistant or by what any magazine says you “must-have”.
After all, you’re buying a bass for yourself.
Not for the company that’s trying to sell you one.