Becoming a bass player isn’t all about fretboard knowledge, rhythm and technique. A career as a bassist also hinges on how well your bass guitar performs in any given situation. This is why it’s extremely important for you to consider some key points when choosing the best bass guitar for your needs.
When it comes to buying a bass guitar, it’s a common mistake to overlook important features in favor of looks. We totally understand – you don’t want to be seen on stage with an axe that looks like pieces of wood slapped together with bits and bobs all over the place, however, this can be rectified by using guitar skins to boost its appearance. But while appearance is a factor, you still have to see what the bass can actually do. So what should you look for? Here’s a brief guide.
The features you want
Before shelling out cash for a bass guitar, you should already have an idea of the features and specs you want in a guitar, such as a particular tonewood combination, neck type, kinds of pickups, color or finish and the like. Prior research is recommended – check out manufacturer websites, bass guitar reviews on sites like Know Your Instrument, demo videos and the like so you can familiarize yourself with what’s available and which models meet your requirements.
The sound you like
Watching product videos and in-store demos are great ways to determine the kind of sound you like in a bass guitar because you will be able to see how pickup and tone control settings shape the sonic output from a bass guitar. See as many as you can to gauge consistency and determine which model clearly has the sound you’re going for.
Fingerboard width that’s right for your hands
The width of the fingerboard dictates how close strings are to each other. Fingerboard widths vary the same way hand sizes vary, so choosing a bass depends on your personal playing comfort.
If you’ve never held a bass guitar before, it’s a good idea to go to a music store to get a feel of different bass necks and fretboards to see which ones feel the most natural to you. Note how well the neck fits in your hand not only at the end but also in the middle and upper frets. If you find a certain guitar’s string spacing to be too wide for you, go for a bass that has a narrower fingerboard.
While you’re at it, see how it feels like to hold the bass both standing and sitting. Some bass guitar shapes may not feel comfortable on your lap or the neck may feel to heavy for you when you’re standing.
Emotional connection is important too
If at the end of the day you’re still choosing between two or three bass guitars, go for the one that really speaks to you, the one that you not only like looking at but also really, really want to play. An emotional connection is a great motivator when it comes to learning to play the bass guitar. Without it, you’ll just feel obligated to practice because you’ve spent your hard-earned money on the instrument.
Even if all three meet your requirements, you will find yourself gravitating toward the model that your whole being considers to be The One. Listen to your gut – most of the time it’s in the right.
What are your absolute must-have features in a bass guitar and which bass guitar models are you currently eyeing? Let us know how your quest for the best bass goes!