What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

Badly loaded frets, not the sound we wanted to get, plywood instead of wood, keys that would not hold up to the tuning, and on top of that, there was no possibility to adjust the instrument well – and the seller praised this bass guitar so much. Where did I go wrong?

How many of us, colleagues, have faced situations in which we were framed by the purchase of the wrong instrument that we wanted. It was only while preparing this entry that I realized that I could avoid a few problems with the bass guitars I bought already at the stage of searching, but on the other hand, you learn from mistakes and thanks to this, this entry may protect us from wrong decisions in the future.


Tool, Dream Theater, Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Beatles, Stare Dobre Małżeństwo, Skrillex, Mela Koteluk, Sting, Eric Clapton are a lot of top artists whose music we come into contact with every day. Despite the fact that they differ from each other in terms of technique, feeling, sound and type of composition, they are the best in their genres.

How is it that a given band sounds this way or another? Some say that “the sound comes from the paw”, which of course has a lot of truth, but is it really only “from the paw”? Why do the best artists choose top shelf equipment?

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

Fender American Standard Jazz Bass one of the most universal bass instruments on the market, source: muzyczny.pl

What sound effect we want to achieve is a component of many factors. At the very beginning, it is worth focusing on three:

• ability to play (technique, feeling) 204

• bass,

• guitar cable.

Nothing can replace your instrumental skills, so even the best guitar, sensational amplifiers and a floor full of bass effects will not help if you don’t practice systematically. Another factor is the instrument and it is the most important piece of equipment. A good bass guitar allows you to develop our camera correctly, play without tiring our hands, sound good, tune with the rest of the team, look good, and finally, use 100% of our skills.

You probably wondered what a guitar cable does in this set? It is customary that the cable coming directly from the instrument is always carried by the instrumentalist. In our case it is a guitar cable or a jack-jack cable. It is in the interest of the musician to have a good cable that will reliably and with good quality transfer sounds from our guitar to the amplifier, preamplifier, dibox, etc.

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

Mogami – one of the best instrumental cables in the world, source: muzyczny.pl

In addition to their artistic skills and playing technique, good-sounding artists also have instruments that shape their distinctive sound. Therefore, when choosing an instrument, you should ask yourself:

What kind of music do I play and what would I like to play in the future?

It is worth seeing the best artists in a given genre and see what they are playing. It’s not about aiming at the same instrument right away. If our favorite artist plays a bass like Jazz Bass, Precission or Music Man, we don’t have to spend money to buy an original, old instrument from the 60s, but we can look for a bass of the same type, within our budget. The equivalent of the Fender Jazz Bass may be the cheaper Squier Jazz Bass.

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

Squier Jazz Bass model Affinity, source: muzyczny.pl

What if our favorite bassist plays fretless or a five-string bass?

If your bass adventure has been going on for a while, don’t think – act, combine, test. If you are a beginner bass player, think twice about buying such a bass player. Starting learning from this type of instrument (fretless, acoustics, five-string bass and more) is a more difficult path, although of course not a bad one. You have to be aware that you will have to put in more work to play anything – and the beginnings are always difficult and you can quickly lose the taste of gaming. Additionally, if you decide that playing the bass is not for you, it will be harder for you to sell the instrument.

Can you play bass with small hands?

An important thing that you should pay attention to when buying your first instrument are the physical conditions at our disposal. The ease of playing and the correctness of our development depends to a large extent on the selection of the perfect instrument. Our body should always be relaxed, straight and free during the game. A very important aspect to achieve this is the selection of the appropriate measurement for our physical conditions. The greater the scale, the greater the distance between subsequent notes (frets), but also the greater the elasticity of the string. From a practical point of view, if someone has short fingers, he should be interested in basses with coarse gauges and a narrower string spacing.

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

Fender Mustang Bass with a short 30-inch scale, source: Fender

How much should I spend on the first instrument?

At this stage, we have a rather precise vision of our future instrument. Unfortunately, it now has to be verified with the available budget. For my part, I can only point out that you cannot buy a decent instrument for PLN 300-400. It is better to postpone the purchase of an instrument for a few months than to buy something that is shaped like a bass, and which is not. A decent instrument can be purchased for the amount of around PLN 1000, but you have to search well, because not every copy will be worth your money. Buying the wrong instrument can affect your development, causing bad habits that you will try to eliminate for years.

Is it worth buying a bass guitar online?

As they say, “the bass must be in your hand”, so in this case I recommend buying the instrument in a stationary store, testing several instruments at once. If we buy accessories, amplifiers, etc., the online store is a good option in this case.

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

In the store, before buying, it is worth checking the following things:

1. Is the fretboard straight?

We check this by looking at the neck from the sternum. It should be straight along its entire length. Any twisting of the neck to the left or right disqualifies the instrument.

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

2. Does the adjustment rod work well?

Ask the dealer to adjust the instrument and show that the adjustment rod is working properly.

3. Are the thresholds stuck in straight?

The frets should be studded parallel to each other and protrude the same height along the entire length of the bar.

4. Are the keys working properly?

The keys should move smoothly, but also not too light. Good keys can hold an outfit for a long time. It happened to me that the bass kept in the case (transport box) did not go out of tune despite temperature changes and transport to different places.

5. Is the bar attached correctly?

The neck should be screwed on so that you cannot see any gaps at its connection to the rest of the instrument. Additionally, make sure that the outer strings (in the 4-string bass E and G, in the 5-string B and G) are parallel to the edge of the neck.

What to look for when buying a bass guitar?

6. Are the strings jingling on the frets?

The next step is to check if the strings pressed on each fret are not buzzing and if there is no so-called deaf sound (without decay). If so, it may be a matter of adjusting the bass – ask your dealer to adjust it to eliminate the problem. If it does not fix the problem, do not buy this instrument.

7. Are the potentiometers creaking?

Check the connected bass to the stove in terms of potentiometers efficiency (Volume must be unscrewed to 100%). We move each knob to the left and right several times, listening for noise and crackling.

8. Is the cable outlet securely attached and is there no noise?

The socket, with gentle movement of the cable, should not generate any noise in the form of crackles or hums.

Each of the above-mentioned items should be met. It makes us sure that the instrument is technically efficient, and playing it will bring us only nice experiences. If you feel unsatisfied with the knowledge of buying an instrument and would like to know a little more about the types of bodies, pickups, etc. I refer you to the article: “How to choose a bass guitar”, which deals with more technical aspects of choosing a bass.

Slowly approaching the end of the post, I wanted to emphasize that the purchase of a bass is not binding, you can always resell it, exchange it or buy another one. From my own and my colleagues’ experience, I know that it is an eternal search for “that” the only bass note. Unfortunately, there are no universal instruments, everyone sounds different, everyone will handle it differently in a given situation. Therefore, you should search, experiment, test yourself until you find an instrument for yourself.

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