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My Thoughts on a Bunch of Basses

I stopped by The Bass Place in Scottsdale, AZ, today and I sat in the corner and played a bunch of different basses by makers such as Sadowsky, Rickenbacker, Lightwave, G&L, Warwick, Lakland, Spector, Fender, Music Man, Peavey, Ibanez and some others.

I have to say that my article How to Buy a Bass is still right on target: Pull everything off the wall regardless of price and see how you like it. There's other stuff in the article to help first-time buyers, but the basic advice I give here still stands: Play everything. You'll probably find stuff you like and hate in every price range. If you like it, that's all that counts.

That said, here are some more specific comments after playing about $25,000 worth of basses.

Spector - I own a Spector Euro 4 string. I wanted to check out their five string basses. The fiver I played felt almost as good as my four. This one was a bolt-on (not a Euro) for $2,300. They have some Euro-5s on order, so I'll check them out when they come in. Really, folks, if you get a chance, check out European or American Spector basses . To me they are a genuine pleasure to play. That's Spector, not Schecter.

Lightwave Saber VL Bass Guitar Review Lightwave - Sounded pretty good. These are optical pickup basses. Check 'em out at their website. As expected, the sound was pretty clean. To my ears (granted, they are screwed up right now - see my other post) they reminded me of EMG pickups. If you're looking for a distinctive tone purely from the bass, go somewhere else. If you're looking for a very clean tone, check 'em out. I thought they played smoothly.

Squier vs. American - Compared a $300 Squier Jazz to a $1,500 American Jazz. To be honest, not a whole lot of difference. I'm not a Fender guy, so I may not notice the subtleties, but if I was planning on adding a Fender to the stable, I'd definitely check out some Squiers at the same time.

Fender Precision - I'm not a slap guy, mainly because I haven't applied myself because I don't feel like my situation needs it. But like a lot of guys I dabble. The tone never seems quite right to me on the basses I've owned. The Precision both unamplified and amplified sounded like I think a good slap should sound. I've been told this before, and now I got to witness it first hand. That's not to say you can't get a good slap sound out any other bass, but to me my novice hands never produced a better tone.

Sadowsky - I saw a lot of those at School of Bass in 2006. I can now appreciate the appeal. The one I played sounded great. It was a full, powerful tone with some balls to it. It played very smoothly. When I'm ready to pull the trigger on another expensive bass, I will definitely consider a Sadowsky, even if the wood grain is not perfect (inside joke to my friends in alt.guitar.bass).

Peavey Grind - Some people brag on this bass. For an inexpensive bass I think it sounded great. It was okay to play - no better/worse than my Epiphone Thunderbird IV . I'd definitely recommend that those with a budget check them out.

Ibanez - Some pretty good bang for the buck basses. Nothing special, but nothing I would have an issue owning or recommending. If you're on a limited budget, you simply have to check out the Ibanez line of basses.

Lace Helix - This was a new name to me. The Lace basses didn't do much for me, but if you're into something other than a very clean tone, check 'em out. It was an interesting sound. Only your ears can decide what's right for you.

G&L - Felt pretty much like a Fender.  This is no surprise considering the history behind G&L. Not worth the bucks to me, but some people love them.

Lakland - Like the G&L, they don't do much for me. Both Lakland and G&L are very well constructed.

Music Man - Interesting tone. Fairly smooth to play. Well built. Everybody should try one on for size.

Rickenbacker - Had two used ones (one a lefty). The neck is still not quite comfortable for me. I really like the sound, but think of it like my motorcycle - it would only come out on certain occasions. Still, I want a Rickenbacker in my stable.

Anyway, that's about it. I hope I didn't offend anyone. If you like your bass, that's all that counts.

Basses are like women. Actually, basses are better than women because...

  • A big bottom is a good thing
  • They are always up for a little finger plucking and a tasteful slap
  • You always find them with a G-string
  • They show up at every gig and never leave with the guitar player
  • You can have as many as you want
  • And when you get tired of one, there's always ebay!

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