Bass Guitar Buying Guide

Bass guitars on shop wall
Facts ExpertChecked

If you're in the market to purchase a new bass, you could probably use a bass guitar buying guide. Although some guides provide more information than others, buying a bass guitar comes down to figuring out exactly which type of bass you are most interested in and then going out there and finding one that fits that criteria.

Points to Consider

Before you begin hunting for a bass, it's best to figure out what you need. Ask yourself these questions as you begin to figure out your needs.

  • How important is money to your decision? What is your price range? Price can be a deciding criteria for many players, but it doesn't mean you'll have to settle for a lesser item if you aren't looking to spend much. Instead, it may just mean you decide to find a used bass instead of buying a new one from the local Guitar Center.
  • Which type of bass guitar do you want? Are you looking for the more common electric bass, or are you interested in an acoustic bass? Making this decision can really narrow your search.
  • How many strings do you want? Although basses most commonly come with four strings, there are other varieties with more strings than that. While you can customize other parts of your bass, you won't be able to change the number of strings.
  • Does the finish matter? Are you looking for a certain color? For some people, a bass just isn't a bass unless it has a nice rosewood finish and laquer. To others, the color isn't as important. Figure out exactly what you want before buying an instrument that won't make you happy.

Bass Guitar Buying Guide

How to Evaluate A Bass

Whether you're looking to buy your first bass or you are a veteran owner out on the hunt, there are a few things to look for when evaluating a particular bass.

  • The neck of the bass should be smooth, both down the back and under the frets (or under the strings if you're looking for a fretless rig). A tight neck will give you a great sound and durability. If the neck is glued on like some necks are, you'll have a lot of strength, but notes may ring a little longer than you may like.
  • The body of the bass is important to how the bass feels. If it's not going to be comfortable, you're less likely to want to play it. If the bass is a solid body, it will have a bit more weight to it than a hollow bass. For some players, the body can be a deciding factor.
  • If you're evaluating a used bass, you'll really want to check out the pick-ups. A lot of the bass' sound and tone comes from these. Some users may even prefer two sets of pickups rather than one. Two sets provides a much more rounded out sound that is preferable to some players.
  • While scale length is commonly 34 inches, you might find a bass with a slightly different scale. While scale length won't affect sound that much, it can affect your personal comfort when playing.
  • While it might seem like an afterthought, be sure to check out the finish on any bass you consider purchasing. Make sure it is of high quality, and make sure there are no large imperfections, especially if you're looking at a used bass. While spying a dent might seem like a great way to get a break on the price, a dent can affect the sound quality if it's deep enough or located closer to the fretboard than the strap button.

A Final Thought

Buying a bass is a big decision whether you're a professional player or just looking into getting your first bass kit. Consider all the points in this bass guitar buying guide, and take the time to make the right decision rather than rushing to get a bass in your hands. You'll thank yourself later for taking your time and paying close attention to all the details.

Bass Guitar Buying Guide