Continued from Part 1 of this article…
Different Price Levels
The bigger name bass manufacturers produce basses of different quality levels. They produce different models and series’ that span the price range. This way a company can produce high quality instruments as well as highly affordable ones. Plus everything in between. Fender, for instance, uses several factories around the world – and each factory is set up to produce instruments at a different quality level and price point. The quality of the instrument depends on how good the construction materials are and how well a builder can (or how much time and care they take to) cut, cast, glue, solder, install, assemble, paint, file, finish, and whatever else you do to build a bass.
The biggest question is the wood used for the body, neck and fretboard. The body of a bass is usually something dense and heavy like ash or alder which gives you more resonance and sustain. The neck is usually made from maple or something similar, and the fretboard is typically either maple or rosewood. Other than that, a lot of times, the hardware – such as the bridge, electronics, fret wire, and tuning keys are the same from series to series – but not always. In my opinion, you pretty much get what you pay for from the trusted big name manufacturers, so it’s safe enough to just go with the price range you can afford.
Over the past several years, many very affordable “starter” basses have become available. They aren’t as elaborately finished as more expensive basses, but many of these are very playable and get the job done. For players uncertain of their talent or sustained interest, these lower-cost instruments let them give bass a try without a big investment. If you are know that your interest will be long term, it might be better to go a little higher in price and quality. You won’t outgrow the instrument too quickly, and an intermediate bass can also make the learning process a little easier.
There’re some different types of basses out there. Here’s a quick rundown:
Fretted vs. Fretless? If you’re buying your first bass, get a fretted bass – not a fretless (my personal advice). Learning to play in tune on a bass with no frets is a whole other ball game, and you need to have fairly well developed ears to even know the exact pitches you’re going for. If you’ve played other instruments for a while, it’s one thing, but in general it’ll be quicker to learn to play on a fretted bass, get used to being in tune, and then start practicing on a fretless bass [http://buybassguitar.amazonwebstore.com/Fretless-Standard-Jazz-Bass/A/B0002KZV8E.htm] (if you wanted to).
Short scale bass? A short scale is a type of bass that usually has a neck length of only 30″-32″ (as opposed to about 34″-36″ for a long scale). Could be more comfortable for a petit female or young kid.
Acoustic bass guitar? Yeah, nowadays lots of different companies make them. The “you get what you pay for” rule very much applies here. They use bronze strings instead of the normal nickel wound or stainless steel strings and don’t ever seem to be all that loud acoustically. You’ll probably want it to have some sort of pickup. With a pickup installed, acoustic bass guitars can be very versatile.
4, 5, or 6 string? Five string basses have the “normal” four strings (E,A,D,G) plus a low B string. Six string basses have the low B and a high C string. If it’s your first bass, or if you’re still learning to play, get a four string bass. They’re cheaper – so you can get more bang for the buck – also, the fundamental role of the bass has never changed. You don’t absolutely need a low B string. Four strings are great! Then add a five or a six to your arsenal from there (again -just my personal advice).
Please read Part 3 of this article for much more info on buying a bass guitar and bass guitar equipment.
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