Maiden Voyage:Where to Begin

Greetings! Right off the bat I have to say congratulations! Most likely, if you are checking out this post then you’ve probably made the decision to pursue learning how to play music with the bass guitar, and for that I applaud you! If you are not one of those people then maybe you might feel inspired to start after reading this. Either way, you might learn something.

So, let’s say you have taken an interest in playing the bass but have absolutely no clue where to get started. You may be asking yourself: What kind of instrument do I want/need? Where is the best place to buy one? Do I need to buy anything else? How much should I spend? If this sounds like you then this post is designed to try and answer some basic questions you ma and hopefully make shopping a bit easier.

When it gets down to it, all you really need to get started are three things: a bass, an amplifier, and a way to connect the two together. This concept seems simple enough but can sometimes bog people down with the amount of choices available. The key is to find out your personal needs and tailor your purchases to suit them. Let’s take a look at each element and explore the possibilities.

Finding the Right Tool

The first thing you want to decided is what kind of bass you want to buy. There are tons of styles and companies to choose from and generally you want to pick one that “speaks to you” both in the way it sounds and in the way it looks. Beyond that though, there are other things to consider that you may not have thought of. One of them is the number of strings. The most popular variations are 4, 5, and 6 string varieties. The more strings you have the more extended the range of the instrument in pitch either high, low, or both. Another, sometimes overlooked, factor is whether you want to buy a passive or active electronics bass. In short, passive electronics have a fair amount of flexibility in shaping the bass tone and are able to run simply from the electric current being sent through the pick-ups to create sound. You are, however, kind of married to that particular bass’ tone options. Active electronics have a very wide spectrum of shaping the tone of the bass for more precise sounds but the onboard electronics most likely have to be powered by a 9 volt battery which you would inherently rely on to keep your sound going. You may also be stuck on a brand of bass that interests you. My advice is to try out different ones until you find one that suits you. Almost all brands have a wide variety of price ranges to choose from. Some great companies with some tried and true beginner models are Fender, Ibanez, and Gibson. Once you search and find a model that is in a comfortable price range for you and suits your personal needs, you’re one step closer to making music.

Bring the Noise

To make sure you (and possibly others) can hear what you’re playing, you’re also going to want to buy and amplifier to go along with your bass. The key things to look for when purchasing an amp are power/wattage, weight, and format. Power is going to determine how loud you could possibly be heard. It’s important to note that all amps have the ability to be played at soft volumes, even ones with a lot of power. It’s the application of that power that should be taken into consideration. You are going to need a lot more power to be able to be heard over a loud drummer than someone that is just playing or practicing solo. If you plan on moving your amp around, weight and portability can be a factor as well. To go along with that the format of the amp can be examined too, do you want an all in one combo style amp or would you rather mix and match the power amp with a different speaker or group of speakers? All these things can factor into the purchase of your amplifier. Some great amp providers are Fender, Hartke, and Ampeg.

Bridging the Gap

In order to get your bass sound to come through your amplifier you have to have a connection between the two. This seems obvious but when tasked to purchase a cable to do so, quality seems to go right out the window for some buyers. I get it, you just spent a whole lot of money on your bass and your amp that worrying about the connection cable seems unimportant. This however could be the difference between a good sound and a great sound. Like many electronics, the flow of power works best when the connections are good conductors. This is a good concept to remember when buying a connection cable and it pays not to skimp on the price of a good, reliable cable. Some good cable brands are Mogami, Monster Cable, and Asterope.

All Together Now

One thing to keep in mind throughout the purchasing of each of these things is the concept of “You get what you pay for”. With music gear this couldn’t be more true. In most cases, a fine product will be commonly priced higher because of its performance quality. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just have to pay attention to the difference of what you may find to be useful and worth paying for. Overall, when you put it all together you simply want to be inspired to pick it up and play. Try to make this a conscious descision that affects your purchase and you’ll be sure to get a lot of mileage out the what is hopefully a long musical journey.


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