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DukeThylacine

Beginner buying a bass (4 or 5 strings; need help)

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Hey guys.

So (kinda) recently I decided to collect money for a bass. When I listen to songs, I just love how it sounds and the rumble it makes :D
But I have a little problem - I don't know which one to get.
I really dig folk metal and the majority of folk metal bands use 5 string basses. This doesn't mean that I will gather a folk metal band and play in it, but I want to learn to play those songs (just for my own pleasure basically)...which is another problem because folk metal tabs (in general and at specially the bands I love) are hard as hell to find.

But putting tabs aside, what do you recommend. I'm a beginner. I've never actually practiced playing a bass, so this would be my first time (I did practice acoustic guitar for a really short time; the basics).
I do have a friend who has a (4 stringed) bass and he did show me some things and I really liked the sound of it (at specially with distortion). I do like slaps the most..and then I found out that slaps are harder to pull off on 5 stringed basses compared to a 4 stringed basses because the strings are a bit closer together.

Would getting a 5 string bass as a beginner be a bad choice? Would it make practicing harder?

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No, a five-string should be fine. There will be a learning curve with whatever you get; once you learn more and get more comfortable playing, you'll have a better handle on what works for you, and minor differences will become more important. If you really get into it, you may find that you want both a four- and a five-string anyway. My advice would be to invest a bit more money in an intermediate-level bass of decent quality, rather than the absolute cheapest beginner's model, and buy a cheap practice amp to learn on (even a small guitar amp would be fine to start). You'll enjoy playing a better instrument more, and you can grow into it and keep playing it even if you wind up needing a bigger amp at some point. And if for some tragic reason you wind up not enjoying it, you'll have a better chance of reselling a better instrument.

I don't know what's available in your area, but the Ibanez Soundgear series is popular, affordable, and easy to play. I've had my Ibanez five-string for about ten years, and currently I have it tuned to match my guitar in C# standard, so my extra string is high rather than low. I played a four string for years, but I'd miss the extra range if I tried it now. Neck shapes and widths, and therefore string spacing, vary a good bit by brand and model, so the best thing you can do is try whatever you can get your hands on at music stores or friends' houses, and see what turns you on. Over here, about $400-600 will buy an instrument that plays well, will last for years, and looks and sounds fine too.

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Well this is the store in my capital city of Belgrade where all of my friends bought their guitars. I don't know of any other store.
http://www.mitrosmusic.com/proizvodi/k:25-Petožičane-bas-gitare.p:16-Ibanez
(I've already selected 5-stringed Ibanez's on that link)
http://www.mitrosmusic.com/proizvodi/k:25-Petožičane-bas-gitare.b:1.s:4
(^and that link are all 5-string basses they have; from the cheapest to the most expensive bass)
(also if you click on a guitar, you'll see dimensions in English)

Honestly I don't have a job yet (will start looking for something this month), but even when I get a job scraping 500-600 EUR would be too much for me at the moment, but I could save for those 45K DIN ones (360 EUR).
I'm waiting for my December paychecks to arrive from a company (wasn't a full-time job) and with the current savings all together I'd have ~177 EUR in stash. I say that 500-600 EUR guitars would be too much for me because average wages I could get in factories in my town are ~240 EUR, so I'd have to leave all of that money for a bass of really high quality...then I would have to take from another wage to buy an amp (not to mention that I have to save money for driver's licence).
(not to mention the shock this would bring to my mom's face, but I'll have to deal with that anyway xD)

I know the links of the site I posted up there are in Serbian, but do you guys see any good ones below 45.000-50.000 DIN?

Should seriously reconsider whether to start learning programming...

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Another thing thats possibly even more important than getting a decent instrument is setting it up. Ask for the shop you buy it from to set it up, if you buy online you can have your friend take a look if he knows how to, most likely does. If the bands you like and want to learn to play use 5 string (and actually take advantage of it), then definitely go for a 5-string bass,. It´s propably the biggest motivator when you start to learn your favourite songs. I learned guitar practicing Metallica, Megadeth and Sepultura songs with an acoustic that i won from an amusement park.. it was such a shitty instrument and i never would have learned anything if there weren´t my favourite music to learn to play. It´s really impossible to suggest any particular instrument, when we don´t know your exact budget. I did try a 200e Ibanez Bass the other day since i needed a bass for my home recording but that just felt really bad, i put a bit more and got a Squier Precision Bass which is actually a really good instrument for the price. One thing you can do is go to a local music store and try out instruments a bit, the problem however is that it might be hard to see for beginner what is badly setup and what is just plain bad. I definitely second what Alabaster said, allthough i don´t think there are any "beginner" instruments, it´s just a marketing trick to sell bad instruments.. there are just bad and good instruments. With a 100$ you get a 100$ instrument, simple as that. Spending a sensible amount and not trying get one as cheap as possible will help your motivation and makes learning smoother too. From above 300$ you can get stuff that´s actually pretty good if you know what to get. When you are on a budget a second hand purchase is a very good option, but i would definitely ask help from your friend if you decide to go that route.. that would get you the best bass for your money for sure.

2 minutes ago, DukeThylacine said:


I'm waiting for my December paychecks to arrive from a company (wasn't a full-time job) and with the current savings all together I'd have ~177 EUR in stash.

With your budget, a second hand bass for sure.. just ask your friend to help. :) 

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14 minutes ago, GrayscaleDawn said:

*Text*

Now I've fully edited the previous post (and links as well).

My sister's boyfriend is an expert on electric guitars, but he does know basses as well (he learned by himself and read a ton of books on guitars; he can also play by reading musical notes). Has his own band and plays goddamn great, and even if he's not so much informed about basses, he could perhaps introduce me to his bassist bandmember.

I've also talked with my friends and pretty much everyone says that I shouldn't buy second-hand instruments, because, as a beginner, I wouldn't know if the neck is bent too much, or similar stuff. Then, ofc I'd take it to my sister's BF to check it.

My general opinion on our largest second-hand site is that people do put good stuff there, it's just that it's used (it's 2nd-hand right), which doesn't mean that it's bad. Some people do write in descriptions if there's something wrong with the instrument while others don't. 2nd-hand sites are generally a gamble. But I just want to get into playing the bass, see how it feels, how it works, and then, along the way, I can go for something more "professional".

(that's all for tonight; going to sleep; checking replies tomorrow)

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There are a lot of ways to make buying second hand safe, and being an used instrument literally doesn´t make it bad or worse. People use guitars built in the 50´s and 60´s. Hell in most cases a well kept, properly adjusted instrument is better and the owner can give you good tips about that particular instument too. I think your friends are right, you should not buy a second hand ON YOUR OWN, however you seem to have people around you who know about those things and can go through the purchase with you. If buying a second hand feels too scary, then just go to the music store and feel them out a bit. Buying blind is never too good of an idea. But i do REALLY mean it when i say that use the resources available to help you decide, meaning the people around you who can help you beyond our jibba jabba. Bass and guitar aren´t that different btw and have the same principles in function, usually a guitarist can see if a bass is good or bad.

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I agree with GrayscaleDawn, used instruments can be great, and setup is very important - it can make the difference between playability and garbage no matter the quality of the instrument. My personal experience of Squiers has been pretty negative, but even the more expensive Fenders are hit and miss for my taste. You really won't know until you play a few of them. Judging by that link, in your price range, I'd be most interested in the Ibanez (I have an SR405, but even the 305 is a decent step up from the 205) and the Yamaha, but also try the Squiers and the Epiphone. Also try some of the more expensive ones to see if you can feel and hear the difference!

The lowest end of everything (including Ibanez) these days is total crap, but there is (or was) something to the idea of a beginner's instrument - making them harder to play helped to condition the fingers and build the muscles, so that a better instrument would be that much easier to use. Unfortunately now it just means wasted money on a bad-sounding instrument you'll quickly either outgrow or lose interest in.

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Thank you all for replying and for your advices! <3

I have decided to go for a used (second-hand) bass guitar for my beginning. As I said, knowing how my motivation can fail me, I don't want to start off with something pricey and maybe fail....but I promise, I'll give everything I've got and push on practicing!
(+I also have to save money for an amp).

I've already messaged my bassist friend, and he agreed to go with me if I decide to buy the bass (few days ago, I've actually found a nice 5-string Hammer bass of Slammer Series; I like it, so I decided to go for that one and see if it's good). I just have to wait for that December paycheck to arrive and I can set off :D

Thank you again guys!

 

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Nice that things seem to work out, and good luck for practicing. Trust me, the start is the tough part, once you get over it so that your fingers don´t hurt that bad anymore and you can navigate around the bass enough to learn first songs.. from that point forwards you have gained yourself fun for a lifetime. :) 

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16 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

Good luck dude, let us know how it works out.

Don't worry I will ;)

@GrayscaleDawnI know every beginning is hard and I'll try to do my best. I'll also contact my sister's BF to give me tips about what should I do (aka what things should I practice first), and of course I'll search the internet as well.

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