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So You Want to Play Bass- Finding the Right Starter Bass for You

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Sam is a 25 year vet of the bass guitar and has played and toured with numerous groups and bands.

Me jamming at the Sorgum Festival

My bass is a Carlos Rubelli fretless model.

My bass is a Carlos Rubelli fretless model.

So you wanna play bass, do you?

The art of playing bass is not a subtle or easy one but for those who choose to take that journey it can be a very rewarding one. I myself, have over 20 years of riding the four string bandit and intend to have 20 more. The bass is such an intricate and idea instrument but just because you want to play it does not mean you can simply walk in a store pick up a bass and away you go.

As with any instrument you want to find one that speaks to you and that you will eventually make speak for you. It has to be something you are comfortable with and can adapt to easily. It's hard to learn bass on a fret less, or a 12 stringer if you have never played a fretted four string before. That being said you are going to want to look at a bass that will work with the style you play. I won't recommend a Warlock bass for a country player no more than I would go for a stand up for metal.

Buying your first bass needs to be an experience and a step one to your adventure.

My baby in action, a Carlos Rubelli frettless model.

Squire Basses are exceptional learner models.

Fender Squires are cheap enough for the starting player but good enough for the best of pros.

Fender Squires are cheap enough for the starting player but good enough for the best of pros.

Fender for the win.

Fender basses have been a staple in the music industry for some time and some of the best to ever play the bass have claimed them for their signature models, including my favorite bass player Mr. Donald "Duck" Dunn.

While a Fender model will set you back a good bit the Squire by Fender brand of basses is fairly affordable and in all honesty a great model to get your start on.

The two choice models are the P or precision bass and the J, or Jazz model. Both offer a very versatile range of tones and musical quality. It really depends on where you want to take your music.

If you plan on staying focused more in the rock or metal genres than I would suggest a P Bass model. It will give you that bulky tone and bassy lows but if country or blues is your foray than the J model is going to be your better choice in the long run.

The J model is more adept to slapping and popping as opposed to it's P brother. It is also one of those basses that adapts so well to different musical environments. As far as Squire go you can hit a pawn shop and usually score a used model for right at $100.00. Newer ones can range from around $250.00 to $300.00 depending on what you get.

Fender Squire Basses

The squire bass

ibanez GSRM Bass

Ibanez is known for their innovative design and creativity for attacking bass concepts, and the GSRM is a prime example of that. It is a smaller design than most basses which allows you to learn the frets without killing your hands and fingers. Of course I always recommend you eventually move up to a larger scale bass when you are ready but the smaller scale is going to allow you to learn the basics and play in band settings without the initial wear and tear a full size bass will place on you.

The neck on most Ibanez basses are usually a thinner neck than you see on other top brands. This allows for a much easier holding of the bass and faster transitions on the fret board. It will also let you develop your muscle memory and hand toughness prior to moving to a larger scale model.

This model also offers a sleek and smooth appearance and very vibrant coloring which makes it idea for rock or metal settings as well as any cover band scene you may find yourself in.

Ibanez GSRM Basses

Colors, colors, everywhere and not a bad bass to boot!

Colors, colors, everywhere and not a bad bass to boot!

Ibanez GSRM Micro Bass

Yamaha RBX170

This is a brute force of a bass. It offers affordability but also a variety of tones and sound quality to make it literally one of the most adaptable basses on the market.

The neck is contoured in a way that makes for easy placement of the hands and less wear on the finger muscles. This is idea for beginning bass players to cut back on strains to those vital playing muscles. The bass offers a thump if you want that deep growl sound but with a simple adjust of the tone knob you are now in the treble range and can get your slap on.

The yamaha also offers a very nice body design that separates it from the traditional appearance of most bass guitars and if you are anything like me you want that unique look when you take a stage to play with your band or group.

The Yamaha also offers a very sleek and clean sound to it so you can run it right into an amp and be done with it. No need to stretch out a pedal board or preamp modeler, it's as simple as plug and play.


Yamaha RBX series of basses

Sleek and bold with a whole lot to say, this bass is my prime pick for the new comer.

Sleek and bold with a whole lot to say, this bass is my prime pick for the new comer.

The Yamaha RBX170

Let's Wrap It Up

Regardless of which bass you choose let it be an extension of yourself. It's all about what works best for you. These models are great basses but they may just not be the ones for you as a player. I suggest looking around shops and pawn shops in particular and getting your hands on a bass. See what you like as far as feel goes. Is it a thicker neck or a smaller one that suits you? Are you looking for a bass that can take a beating or one that can only raise in value as time goes on? There are so many factors that go into choosing an instrument and I hope that at the very least I have given you a good start off point.

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