Bass Newbie

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BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 171
Having been playing guitar for a while now (badly), I am curious to have a go at playing bass.  I am a total newcomer to bass and wondered if any of you lovely people could give me any hints or tips to get started? I can’t afford lessons sadly so it’s going to be a case of trying to teach myself.  Will I find bass easier, harder or just different to guitar? 

Also I have been looking at the Squier Classic Vibe Sunburst Jazz Bass.  I love my CV Tele so it was kind of a natural attraction.  Can anybody give me any views or opinions on one please. 

Thanks loads! 


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  • martmart Frets: 3444
    You’ll probably find it easier to begin with, but to master it is as hard as guitar, just different.

    The Squier CV jazz is an excellent beast - highly recommended.
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 3292
    Try using flat wound strings. They're easier on your fingers and have a mellow, less aggressive tone. Jazz bass is a good starter instrument; the narrow neck is easier to get to grips with when you're starting out.
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  • BranshenBranshen Frets: 1078
    The tone of a precision is a classic sound. I'd recommend that over a jazz bass. 
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 3819
    I'd recommend a mix of the above advice. Regular Roundwound strings and depending on if you have small hands a Jazz Bass with the narrower nut. 
    Playing wise, you need to spend more time listening to the drums and locking in your timing. You'll use both the right hand muting and the left for controlling note length. 
    There are lots of tabs around, so much music to get started with. Playing bass in isolation is not as much fun as guitar so at the very least I usually play to drum loops or actual music. 
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  • Jazz and Precision basses are great and are obviously absolute classic designs. However, you might want to consider trying a short or medium scale bass if you're just dipping your toe in the waters to take the step up from guitar to bass. Going from a guitar to a full length bass can feel like a bit of a stretch at first (literally).

    Something like a Squier Jag Bass - https://www.pmtonline.co.uk/squier-vintage-modified-jaguar-bass-special-ss-lf-silver

    Epiphone EB-0 - https://www.gak.co.uk/en/epiphone-eb-0-sg-style-bass-cherry/16580

    Or maybe a 'medium scale' like an Ibanez SR Mezzo - https://www.gak.co.uk/en/ibanez-srmd200-bass-sea-foam-pearl-green/923100

    All cheap as chips and pretty much ubiquitous so should be easy enough to try one out if you live near any of the big guitar retailers. :)
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  • Blackjack said:
    Will I find bass easier, harder or just different to guitar? 
    Easier in the sense of (mostly) only holding down one string at a time.

    Harder in the sense that bigger strings put up more resistance.

    Different in the sense that you will sometimes be using a different portion of your fingers. Guitar tends to use the tip. Bass tends to use the flatter part of the finger, halfway to the cuticle. 

    Very different in the role that a bass instrument usually plays in a band context.
    Be seeing you.
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 388

    I started by learning guitar but, after a few months, took up bass and I was a bass player for the 25 years.  Whilst the two instruments are quite different your knowledge on guitar will give you a good start (things like knowing where the notes lie on the fretboard).

    Compared to when I learned the resources available to you today are fantastic.  YouTube vids, tabs, forums etc.  Modern production techniques / low cost country manufacture mean that you can get a very usable instrument for relatively little money.  I can recommend the Ibanez SR range.  I got an SR500 about 4 years ago and I cannot find fault with it, the bass player in my band has one of the higher end models.  After many years of playing guitar I wimped out and fitted very light strings.  

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  • MrBumpMrBump Frets: 808
    When I started playing bass I found I had to readjust my ear to the frequency.

    Also - I found that I was listening to music I'd not usually listen to in order to learn interesting bass lines.  Stevie Wonder is one - YouTube some of his greatest tracks and see if you can pick out the bass lines.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 40539
    edited September 10
    I would get the Jazz Bass if that's the one you want, and just leave it as it is until you've played it for a while. No need to change strings, the stock ones are fine. A Jazz has a nice slim neck which guitarists tend to find comfortable - I actually prefer the sound of a Precision, but they can feel like a bit of a handful.

    You can use your guitar amp too, at low volume - it's safe as long as you don't push the speaker too hard, which you won't at home volume.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • Depending on your musical likes and taste, you can get away with pumping away on the root note for each chord.

    I did that for twenty years. 

    I have played more elaborate lines for a few years. Wish I'd have tried earlier.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 11095
    Listen to bassists in different styles. You'll probably have listened to them for years, just not concentrated on what the bass was doing and it's relationship with the other instruments. Just a few examples

    Simple - Adam Clayton
    Composed and simple - John Deacon
    Counter melody - Jack Bruce
    Melody - Marcus Miller
    Beyond comprehension: Les Claypool

    Hello darkness my old friend.


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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 171
    Thank you so much guys, there is a lot there to get me started on the thought process!  Being a female I do have relatively short fingers so will need to try a few to see what suits me best.  The only thing that lead me to the Jazz was it being a CV guitar and loving my CV Tele as I do it seemed a good place to start! 
    Thank you for all your help, will let you know what happens! 
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  • martmart Frets: 3444
    You are going to have to correct the last word in your avatar now though. ;)
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 3344
    A fairly simple country bassline in the key of C:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5VYOXm0gu4


    How to play Wagon Wheel (and to understand what you are doing) in the key of A:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMYHvUU1xnw


    Lock in to the drum beat, keep it simple and nobody in your band will complain.  Until you stop playing.........
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 388
    Blackjack said:
     Being a female I do have relatively short fingers so will need to try a few to see what suits me best. 
    I have small paws - I’ve never found it an obstacle to playing bass.  If anything I think that it’s less of a problem when playing bass compared to guitar and certainly to keyboards.  My basses are all long scale.
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  • BasherBasher Frets: 751
    edited September 10
    Although you'll find it hard to go wrong with either a Squier Precision or Jazz bass, particularly the CV range, there is a third way...

    At the risk of muddying the waters, there are "PJ" basses, so named because they have both a precision and a jazz pickup. I think there's a Squier model but I'll put in a shout for the Yamaha BB basses - always well made and set-up and the entry level BB234 comes in at quite a bit less than the CV basses. 

    Here's a demo I sound that shows the tonal variety available from the rounded, dunky P neck pickup, the snarky, honky bridge J pickup and the slightly hollowed out tone of both together (using the tone control at various settings). Of course there are countless variations of pickup blending and tone settings between these extremes. 

    Maybe not quite as simple as a Precision but you can use the instrument purely as one if you so wish. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDwt65o1XKY 
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  • SteveRobinsonSteveRobinson Frets: 2354
    tFB Trader
    My bass is a Squier Classic Vibe  Jazz Bass. I went to PMT and tried them all, the only one to beat it for playability or sound was the American Deluxe which was 4 times the price.  I reckoned I could upgrade the pickups which I've never felt the need to do.

    It came fitted with D'Addario strings from new.

    I agree totally with @ICBM on Jazz vs Precision, I've since bought a US P-Bass but resold it quickly as I much preferred playing the Jazz Bass.
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  • I shall further muddy the waters by dividing the P versus J argument into two parts. The sounds and the neck profiles.

    Some variants exist that combine a skinny J neck with either a P body or, at the very least, a P pickup. The Fender Reggie Hamilton signature Jazz Bass is one of the few that positions the P pickup correctly.

    Some bass guitar lines are easier to pull off on the tighter string spacing. I find some bass lines and grooves physically easier to play on the wider spacing of an early Sixties Precision Bass. e.g. A bunch of classic Motown and Stax/Volt bass moves make perfect sense on the ubiquitous P Bass with flatwound strings. The bounce is right. 

    What is right for you is a matter of personal taste. 


    Erm, actually, anyone who wishes to play bass guitar but expects to keep a fair degree of guitar-like elements in their style might want to check out a Rickenbacker 4001/4003 or naughty copy.
    Be seeing you.
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