5 Top Tips For Buying Your First Bass Guitar | Beginner Bass Lesson
How to Buy a Used Bass Guitar
Beginning bass guitarists (or musicians on a tight budget) often find that a used guitar fits their needs better than a new one. Used guitars are generally more affordable, and you may feel less pressure while learning if your bass guitar's price is a bargain. Choosing the right used bass guitar, however, requires some research beforehand. Know what you want and how to choose a used guitar in good condition so that yours lasts for a long time.
Researching Bass Guitars
Determine your budget.Before you research types of used guitars, decide what your budget is beforehand. Bass guitars are usually cheaper when used, but different models will be pricier than others. Think about what you need this guitar for and what quality you'd prefer so you don't overspend.
- If you are a hobbyist or new player, commit to a certain budget beforehand so you're not lured into buying a more expensive brand.
Ask bass players for recommendations.Talk to more experienced bass players and ask them what they'd recommend for you. Tell them your experience level and what you're hoping to get from your new guitar. Ask them what model they used and why they chose it.
- You can also ask them where they got their guitar and whether it was used. If they bought theirs new, ask them if they know of any used instrument stores in the area. A fellow musician will have your best interests (both quality and price) in mind.
Research different brands.Bass guitar brands range in price and quality. Your needs as a musician and your personal style might fit one brand better than another. The most respected brand for bass players is Fender because it offers a variety of guitars depending on a player's skill level, musical style, and budget.Other popular brands include Yamaha, Music Man, and Ibanez.
- No one bass guitar brand is necessarily better than another, but certain brands are superior in specific qualities. Research the pros and cons of each brand and determine which best fits your musical tastes.
Look for a model that fits your playing ability.Most brands will have a range of guitars, with more complicated models for advanced players. A model in your playing range will fit you best regardless of which company made it.
Choose a starter bass guitar if you are a beginner.Starter bass guitars are an inexpensive option for new players. Most companies offer affordable starter basses made from lower-quality hardware but still very playable and user-friendly.
Decide how many strings you need.Bass guitars traditionally have four strings, but five-string, six-string, and beyond models exist. The more strings you have, the wider range of notes your bass will be able to play. The cheapest used models will be four-string guitars; they will also be the easiest to play. If you're on a tight budget or you're just starting out, choose a four-string guitar.
- If you're an experienced bass player on a budget, avoid used starter basses: opt instead for a bass with richer tonewoods and better hardware. Your bass will be a little pricier but will fit your needs for a longer time.
Look for a bass guitar with frets, unless you are an experienced player.Fretless base guitars offer a smoother sound but usually require more skill. If this used guitar is your first bass, make sure you find a model with frets. New players don't have the muscle memory or trained ear required to play with fretless guitars.
Check music stores in your town.Often these stores will sell used instruments at a lower price. Employees will be well-versed in instrument quality and be able to help you choose a guitar based on your experience and budget.
- Even if a music store does not sell used instruments, chat with the employees about your search. They may know used bass guitar sellers nearby or tell you more about what to look for in a used instrument.
- Contact local instrument repair stores as well. Their employees may know of a used guitar seller, or they may even be willing to renovate a used bass guitar for you at a reasonable price.
Visit local thrift stores.Check thrift stores in your area for used bass guitars. Often players will donate their old guitars in decent condition. Bass guitars at thrift stores are not usually in perfect condition, but they are often cheaper. You never know what surprise buy you might find in a thrift store.
Go to flea markets and pawn shops.Flea markets and pawn shops can also be an inexpensive place to buy an instrument. Check for flea market listings in your town and ask vendors if they know of any instrument sellers. Pawn shops also sell items in good condition for a low price, much like thrift stores.
- Often pawn shops sell used vintage instruments at a low price. If you are an experienced player, a vintage bass guitar might be of interest to you. Ask the seller or store owner for a certificate of authenticity, especially if the used bass guitar is older.
Look in your city's classifieds.Check your city's classifieds online or in the newspaper for people selling their guitars. If you buy a bass guitar from a local seller, you can ask them about their experience with the guitar and what qualities they enjoyed about it.
- If you're in no hurry, you could also check local garage sales. Because you never know what someone will sell at their yard sale, this could be a time-consuming process.
Shop online.Check online marketplaces or auction sites for used bass guitars. When searching online, make sure to ask the seller lots of questions about their bass guitar and ask for a variety of photos. Because you won't be able to determine its quality in-person, you'll want to get a clear idea of its condition.
- Don't buy from a seller who uses simple descriptions or refuses to send you more pictures. They may be scamming you or trying to hide a flaw.
- Check your seller's feedback before you make a purchase. If they have high ratings, you're more likely to receive a guitar in good condition.
Inspecting Bass Quality
Bring an experienced musician along.If you have a friend who's spent time around musical instruments, bring them along (especially if they also play bass guitar). Even musicians who have little experience around guitars can help you inspect the instrument and determine what condition its in.
Try the instrument out for yourself.If you're buying the instrument in-person, ask the seller if you can strum the guitar. More experienced musicians will be able to play a few notes on the bass and tune as needed; from there, you'll be able to determine its quality.
- Beginners might not know what to look for as much but will still be able to test how the instrument feels in their hands and whether they like its sound.
- If you have never played a bass guitar before, ask the seller if they could play a song for you. You'll get a better sense of its condition by watching someone play.
Make sure the length is comfortable for you.When holding the guitar in your hands, decide whether the length is comfortable for you. Bass guitars are available in a variety of lengths, and some will fit you better than others. Smaller players should look for guitars with a scale length of 30 inches (76.2 cm) or less.
- The average bass length is 34 inches (86.3 cm) This will be the most versatile bass length, if your guitar will be used by multiple people.
Check for damages.Check for any nicks or cracks in the frame, as even small fractures can distort the bass's sound. Some parts of the guitar, like the strings or tuning keys, can be upgraded. Others, like the neck, are a permanent part of the guitar. Thoroughly examine the guitar, and ask the seller about any possible damages.
- If the guitar is in poorer condition but is being sold at a reasonable price, ask the seller if they know of any instrument repair shops. You may consider purchasing a used guitar for a cheap price, then having a repair shop refurbish it.
Ask for lots of pictures, if buying your instrument online.Even if you're not inspecting the guitar in-person, you can still get a good sense of its condition. Ask the seller to send pictures of the guitar from a variety of angles, and ask for close-ups of any spots that look damaged.
- Ask the seller to make a recording of themselves playing a song on the bass so you know how it sounds. When buying instruments, what you hear is just as important as what you see.
- Buy a used bass guitar with a hard case or nylon carrying bag to protect your investment. Used guitars can sometimes be more fragile than new ones.
- Some used bass guitars, especially if they are vintage, will actually be more expensive than a new model. If you're concerned about cost, research bass guitar costs by brand beforehand.
- Familiarize yourself with the anatomy of a bass guitar before you buy. Even basic knowledge will help you determine what you want and what quality your possible buy is in.
- Pick a used guitar that looks aesthetically pleasing to you. If you like it, you'll be more motivated to play.
Video: Bass Lesson - What to look for in buying a bass
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