Bass guitars are used in all kinds of different music since their introduction in the 1950’s. If you’re thinking about picking up the bass, but are not so sure where to begin, keep reading!
There are hundreds of great basses out there for both beginners and experienced players. Some people start playing (as myself) with a low-priced, medium quality bass. Some want to invest in a quality bass guitar from the start. This is a great idea, since it will be easier for you to learn proper technique faster. You can get comfortable with your playing sooner. Another advantage being that a high-quality bass will also sound better and probably last much longer. I learned to play bass with a very uncomfortable bass which made the process way harder than it could have been.
The main aspects taken into account when making the next list where design, features, and sound quality of 3 of the newest models by different brands.
The first bass we will be reviewing is the Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Special Jaguar Bass. Some of the features of this flexible and great sounding bass are a sleek design, lightweight, and excellent playability. Thanks to the C-shaped neck which is quite slim, this bass is comfortable even for beginner players. You can control volume and tone with the master tone control and two volume knobs.
This is not ‘just a squier’
I always considered the Squier series to be targeted for beginner players. You might think they are no serious match for their Fender counterparts in terms on sound and overall quality. However, the Special Jaguar has an amazing tone for a Squier. With this instrument, I couldn’t tell if I was listening to a Fender or a Squier bass.
The coolest feature of this bass is the split single-coil Precision Bass middle pickup combined with a Jazz Bass single-coil bridge pickup. This allows you to go for a Precision or a Jazz tone depending on your mood. This feature also makes it a great bass for recording, since the combination of Jazz and Precision pickups allow you to have a wide range of tones to choose from. If you are new to all this and want to know more about types of pickups, keep reading!
The second bass on the list is the Dean E09M Edge Mahogany Electric Bass Guitar. This is a very stylish bass, featuring a mahogany body with a satin finish, black hardware, maple neck and a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard with deep cutaway- allowing you to play high notes easily and with great intonation.
More than a pretty bass
The Dean E09m is also a very lightweight bass, mainly due to its slender design and basswood construction, so if you plan to play standing for long periods of time (as in most gigs) this is definitely a plus. The sound is impressive; a soap- bar passive pickup delivers a full low-end and a bright high end with an excellent response and tone control.
It’s a completely different sound than the Squier Jaguar’s trebly tone, but this bass works for almost any genre. The Diecast tuners by Dean make sure the bass doesn’t go out of tune for days and even weeks. If you’re looking for a versatile, impressive sounding bass at a great price, you should consider getting this one
This awesome looking bass is a great deal for the price. It performs splendidly, delivering a solid, rich tone, making it a perfect bass for genres like rock or old school funk. It comes with a very functional tone knob, so you can easily switch to either a Motown style tone, or a bright slap sound. It’s very appealing in terms of design, featuring split pickups, 20 frets and black hardware, which contrasts with the lively green color the whole bass has. It’s very comfortable to play so it’s a great bass for beginner players.
The basswood construction and size of the body result in a pretty light bass, so even small sized players won’t have issues holding it Just as the Dean E90m, diecast tuners make sure the bass stays in tune. So, if you’re looking for amazing performance at a great price, this bass is definitely for you.
Bass Guitar Buying Guide
Choosing the right bass can be challenging for beginner players. With so many options out there, it’s easily to get overwhelmed and end up buying a substandard bass that will only bring more problems than joy. I’ve seen so many cases of beginner bassists struggling to learn to play with a low-quality bass that sounds terrible, it’s hard to play, and costed them as much as a decent bass would have costed. It’s important to do some research and rate your options in terms of design, features, versatility, sound, quality and more. The more informed you are about your possibilities the more likely you are to choose the right bass for you.
These are some of the things that you will probably want to think about before choosing a bass guitar.
Bass Buying Tips
- Do a lot of research and buy the best bass you can afford. Is better to invest in a decent bass from the beginning than acquiring a series of low-quality basses.
- If you’re a beginner, it’s better if you buy a bass with frets and move on to a fretless bass once you master important skills like intonation and proper fingering. The same goes for 5 or 6 string basses, it’s better to learn on a 4 string first and then move on to more strings.
- Buy a bass you really like in terms of design and color, even if you have to spend a little more money on it. If you buy a bass that is unappealing to you, you will be less likely to pick it up and practice.
- I’s really helpful to get familiar with the components of the bass guitar and understand the technical aspects as well in order to get the bass the best fits your profile, needs, and playing style.
What style of music do you play?
You probably already have an idea of what kind of bass you’re looking for, most probably you saw one of your favorite bass players playing one. Most musicians, including myself, start developing a style by emulating our favorite players, and paying attention of what kind of gear they use it’s a great way to get closer to their sound.
When I started playing, I remember being blown away by John Paul Jones’ (Led Zeppelin) Fender Jazz Bass sound. I liked everything about that bass, the tone, the design, even the color. I wanted to have that bass more than anything, and fortunately, I found a reissue of that same bass online at a great price and was finally able to buy it-I haven’t used other bass ever since. So, in case you haven’t done it already, it’s a good idea check out what kind of basses your favorite bassists play and try to figure out why they chose them.
Construction of the Bass Guitar
You will find two basic types of bass guitar body design: hollow body and solid body. Most electric bass guitars follow the solid body design, which is made of a solid piece of wood like maple, alder, mahogany, or swamp ash, although lower priced basses can also be made of plywood or presswood. On the other hand, hollow body basses are just really an acoustic bass guitar, made of alder, basswood or ash, and commonly used in genres like folk, country, bluegrass, and more. And you can also find hollow-bodied electric bass guitars, the most famous being the Hofner Violin Bass used by The Beatles’ legendary bassist Paul McCartney. Hollow-bodied electric basses combine both the features of electric and acoustic basses and their warm, rich tone is preferred by jazz, blues, and rockabilly players.
Bass Guitar Pickups
Pickups are magnets placed under the strings that transfer the sound of the string to the amplifier. They come in two different designs, Single-Coil Pickups and Humbucker Pickups. Each type of pickup sounds different and has different characteristics. You can also find combinations of both pickups on basses like the Fender Jaguar reviewed above.
Single coil or Humbucker
Single Coil pickups are actually the first type of pickup ever made and possess a bright sound that can go from mellow to aggressive. Many vintage, and jazz style basses have single coils. The only downside of single-coil pickups is that they can be susceptible to interference.
The other type of pickup is called a Humbucker Pickup. They are responsible for the classic Precision Bass sound (just as the Single-Coil pickups for the Jazz Bass sound). If you place it close to the bridge, you can emphasize the treble and mid-range. If it’s close to the fretboard, the sound is deeper. Unlike the single-coil pickup, the Humbucker handles interference pretty well and delivers a cleaner sound.
Neck and Fretboard
The fretboard (or fingerboard) is located on the front part of neck of the bass. There are around 20 metal frets (depending on the bass) on the fretboard. They show the player where to put their fingers and play different notes. However, you will also find basses that don’t have any frets. These basses are known as fretless basses. They have a smooth, natural sound that resembles the one of a double bass. Jazz, fusion, and rock players prefer this sound. They want to take advantage of the extended possibilities of expression and fluid tone the fretless bass offers. But don’t get too excited yet.
Playing the notes in tune on a fretless bass is pretty tough for musicians who are not experienced enough. Most teachers recommend learning how to play with a fretted bass first. This will help you get to know the position of the notes. You can always transition to a fretless bass later on. Starting on a fretless bass can be pretty frustrating very quickly and could make you stop practicing.
Beginner Bass/Amp Packages
You will often find tons of low-priced starter packs both online and in music stores. This is actually how I got my first bass, a Squier by Fender Precision bass beginner pack. The affordable price and the inclusion of an amp, bag, and strap looked promising. However, this bass proved to be hard to play and calibrate. The worse of it all is that I didn’t even know how bad the sound was until I played a deluxe Fender Bass. The playability and superior sound quality was amazing compared to the one of my poor P-Bass.
If you’re not sure whether you want to pick up the bass or not and you have a few dollars to spare, I say go for it. I don’t regret buying that Squier P-Bass starter pack. It helped me get into playing bass, developing a taste for it and learning the basics. I still keep it and like to play it once in a while, for nostalgia’s sake. You can always upgrade to a better bass if you get into it anyway. That’s what I did when I upgraded to my Fender Jazz Bass.
Final Thoughts and Tips
Finding the right bass for you it’s not always easy. The choice of gear is a crucial part of their sound. Even seasoned players can have a hard time deciding which bass fits their needs best. As you gain more experience, you will know what sounds appeal to you the most. Take the time to do research. You will find a bass that sounds exactly like you want it to. Meanwhile, keep looking for your dream bass! Hopefully, this article will help you understand the pros and cons of different kinds of basses and how they work. Keep these things in mind and you will find a great bass at a reasonable price.