Buying Your First Bass Guitar

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Buying Your First Bass Guitar

buying a bass guitar

Buying a bass guitar

As a beginner, buying your first bass guitar may be both a little thrilling and a little scary. With all the different types of basses out there, how do you choose? The best place to start is with a little research. Before you begin looking at ads or running off to the music store, consider the following factors:

Price

As a beginner, it’s best to set an amount that suits your circumstance. Do not be afraid to budget when you are just beginning. A decent starter bass guitar begins at around $200 brand new. You can find used ones for about half that. Yes, you can spend thousands, but the idea is to find a bass that sounds good and gives you a feel for the instrument without breaking the bank. You may decide to trade up as you get more proficient.

Strings

Bass guitars come in four, five, and six string varieties. The most commonly played is the four-string bass. The four-string is also the best for beginners because it is the easiest to learn and typically costs less than the others. When you are ready to experiment and have become a good enough player to engage in elaborate solos, you may decide to graduate to a five- or six-string. Do keep in mind, though, that some of the greatest talents out there still swear by their four-strings!

Frets

Frets clearly mark the semitones and assist in producing a consistent sound, which make them very effective for beginners. As you are learning basic hand and finger placement, the frets will only help. While a fretless bass offers a more distinct, muted intonation, it is harder to play. When you have learned your instrument and are ready to try effects such as a jazzy vibrato, you may reconsider the fretless bass guitar. For now, frets are your friends.

Material

The wood that a bass guitar is constructed from truly does have an impact on its sound, but is not a major consideration for you right now. Most basses are made out of Alder wood. It’s good to know this basic fact so that you are not confused by some fancy-sounding material that may not impact the bottom line: you learning how to play the bass guitar.

Fit

When you have made the other decisions, your ultimate choice will come down to how well your new bass fits you. Is it comfortable to hold? Consider such things as the overall weight; the length, width, and thickness of the neck; and the shape of the body. Play around with it. Over all, being comfortable with your instrument far outweighs its cost or aesthetics.

Congratulations on your decision to learn how to play a new instrument. As a beginner, all of the features may seem daunting, but they will not matter that much until you become more advanced. For now, the focus may well be on the price – and this is OK. Choose wisely, practice frequently, and soon you may decide to move onward and upward by buying newer, fancier bass guitars.

Glenn Sutton
Ozzie’s Music
12222 Poway Road,
Suite #27
Poway,
California 92064

Phone 619-306-3664
858-679-6997

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