How to pick a good bass guitar

words Alexa Wang

pick a good bass guitar

No matter how much you see it, watching musicians mastering their instruments never ceases to be amazing. Not only do they create wonderful tunes that entertain and delight us, but they also play them to perfection. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert, you’ve probably marveled at the guitar player shredding or the drummer blasting the cymbals and the snare drums.

Yet, despite our fascination, there is one important musician that most people overlook –– the bass player. Without bass, none of your favorite songs would sound the same. It adds a very important layer of depth and complexity that makes a song truly stand out.

It is also very fun to learn, but to do that, you need a good bass guitar. Here’s how you can pick one.

Why do you need it? 

Before you consider getting a bass guitar, you need to know what you want to do with it. Are you just getting it for fun, so you could play a few of your favorite riffs? Or are you serious about this and you want to be in a band one day? Perhaps you’re already proficient with the instrument and you want a better guitar. In any case, you need to find the answer to those questions so you could settle on a bass guitar. Beginners will need an affordable, albeit not very high quality, one. Professionals, on the other hand, need to invest in a bass guitar with rich tones and excellent hardware.

Budget 

After setting your sights on why you need the bass guitar, you need to immediately set a budget. There are plenty of affordable ones out there, but there are also ones that cost thousands of dollars. As you can see at MerelyMusic.com, there are several great bass guitars under $1000, which is a very reasonable investment for one –– even if you’re a beginner. It shouldn’t be a surprise to find a Yamaha on that list, and the Yamaha BB734A is proof of the renowned company’s ability to deliver great-sounding bass guitars at an affordable price, without compromising the instrument’s quality.  The Fender Player Precision Electric Bass is another worthy contender under $1000, with its excellent build and high-quality materials. 

What type of bass are you after? 

You need to also determine what kind of bass you’re after so you can get a good one suited for your needs. Contrary to popular belief, not all options are electric bass guitars. There are actually acoustic ones, which don’t require amps and sound great. There’s even an acoustic-electric bass, which can be used with an amp or without one. 

The materials 

One of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a good bass guitar is the materials from which the body is made. Why are they so important? The materials affect the sound that will come out of the bass, which is why they also significantly affect pricing –– the better the materials, the more expensive the guitar. A bass guitar is made out of tonewood, which varies in quality, firmness, and quality. For instance, hardwoods have a snappy sound that gives the bass guitar a percussive tone, which makes them ideal for pop or jazz. Softwoods, on the other hand, are more suited for rock and heavy metal because their mellower sound resonates more powerfully.

If you’re going for affordable options, basswood is one of the more popular and affordable types for bass guitars. Maple, on the other hand, is soft and sounds excellent, while walnut is even lighter but it doesn’t have that same sustain prowess as maple. These are just some of the many types out there. So, make sure you learn about the different woods and how each sounds before you make a purchase.

Type of Neck

You’ll also have to consider the type of bass guitar neck you want. A bolt-on neck means that the neck is bolted to the body, while a set neck means it is attached to the body with joints –– which is why it has a better resonance and sustain. In the more expensive bass guitars, you will find a thru-body neck, which means it continues through the body as one piece. There are no joints in that type, so the vibration isn’t inhibited at all, and the response and sustain are much better here.

play bass

You should consider if you want hollow or solid body bass guitars, too because each has a different sound that won’t accommodate all players. Remember to also compare bridge types and locations, because those come in different shapes and sizes, and the sound significantly varies between them. These are all details that you should consider because the slightest of variations means the bass will sound pretty different.

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