If you are in the market for a bass guitar
, you will find that it could be quite complicated and difficult to choose the right one - there are a multitude of styles, and with varying numbers of strings (4, 5 or 6), and different shapes and tones, it can get confusing. This is especially true for someone who is looking to buy his/her first bass guitar. While the bass player is never going to get the adulation of a lead guitarist, he can be confident that he is the one that locks in the groove with the drummer, and as such the bass is an extremely important instrument. Here are some pointers to help you choose the right bass guitar for yourself.
The price is often the biggest factor for many people while picking their own bass guitar. Although it may be tempting to go for the cheapest available instrument in the market, it is really not a good idea to compromise on quality. Cheap bass guitars don't play well and they will go out of tune more quickly than a more expensive quality instrument.
An important thing to look for while buying any bass guitar is the intonation, or the tuning accuracy. This is what will determine whether your bass plays in tune or not across all the frets. Bass guitars are more difficult to tune by ear so it's advisable you take a digital tuner along to plug in to check the tuning and intonation.
The pickup setup is another factor to consider. The most common playing style (excluding slap bass) is to rest your thumb above the pickups and just use the fingers to pluck the strings. A bass guitar may have a plastic piece built in for this purpose although some players just choose to rest it on the pickup or the lower string.
Check the action of the bass. This is the height of the strings off the fretboard. Pick an instrument with an action that you are comfortable with. Usually electric bass
es have a lower action than an upright double bass or an acoustic bass. A lower action makes a guitar easy to play, however, if the strings are too close to the fretboard, you will end up hearing a buzzing sound that is called fret buzz.
The scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge saddle and it relates to the vibrating length of a string. The scale length determines two important things: the tonal quality of the notes and the tension of the string when a note is played. Choose the scale length based on the tone you want. It also will depend on the instrument that you are thinking of buying for yourself.
Besides these, the neck should also be considered. While the type of the neck you can cope with depends on the size of your hands, you can choose a bolt-on neck or a neck-through bass depending on your personal preference. You should be able to easily pluck and fret the strings and your fingers should be able to move along the fretboard smoothly. Bass guitars can have twenty-one, twenty-two, or twenty-four frets and you can choose one keeping in mind your own personal preference.
The amplifier is a big portion of the sound of a bass guitar. Try to get a balance between a guitar that's easy to play and looks good, and one that sounds good through the amp of your choice. Considering the fact that the instrument is going to give you the pleasure of music for years to come, it is well worth the money investing in the best bass you can afford. If you are concerned you might not stick with it (or you're purchasing for a child), try a rental option first.
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