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How to Buy Your First Bass Guitar on a Budget

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A musical instrument is a big investment, especially if you're just starting out. This guide gives some recommendations on how to buy the best starter bass guitar you can afford.



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    Set your price range. A new bass guitar can cost anywhere from $200 to $5000 depending on the brand, quality, and finish. Used basses tend to range from $100 to $1500 and are often just as good, although pricing and selection will vary from one locale to another.


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    How to Choose a Guitar - First

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    Shop around. Over the last year or two, some department stores (such as Target and Wal-Mart) began carrying "starter" instruments that are far less expensive than you might find in a guitar shop. For example, a starter bass currently listed at is priced at $129. However, your best bet is to check guitar shops and pawn shops frequently for a good deal. Also, check the classified ads. Most people have no idea what they are selling, and you can get a good deal.
  3. 3

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    Try before you buy, whenever possible. Most guitar shops will let you plug in and play around with any instrument right in the store. See if you like how it sounds, looks, and feels in your hands. Do not buy something used without playing it first unless it comes from a reputable dealer and has some sort of return policy if it turns out you do not like it. Be very cautious about buying instruments on internet sites such as eBay. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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    Bring someone along who is an experienced bassist. Let him/her play any instruments you are considering buying. If you are a parent buying an instrument for your son or daughter, find someone who can try instruments for you. Your child will thank you later.
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    Consider buying a used bass. Most used equipment drops in price over the years and can offer much better quality and sound for the same price as a new bass. Always check a used instrument for damage, and play it (or have someone else play it) before buying it. If you are buying remotely and you cannot have physical access to it, use your judgment and make sure you can have it returned.


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  • Always take your time. Study the guitars.
  • Squier, Epiphone, and Ibanez are three major producers of affordable, good quality instruments.
  • Fretless basses, acoustic basses, and five-string or six-string basses each have their own unique sounds and advantages, but it is easiest to learn on a four-string electric bass. This is especially true if you plan to learn using online resources or "teach yourself" type books, which are usually written for folks playing a four-string fretted electric bass.
  • Even if you plan to buy an instrument on eBay or through an online vendor, try to find the same instrument in a guitar shop first and test it out.
  • Stay away from Squier Affinity Series basses. Good sound for a low price, but they detune like mad and are poorly built.
  • Remember, you will typically get what you pay for. If you buy a $100 bass, it will sound like a $100 bass. Be wary, though, of some very expensive basses. With some, you just buy the paint job and/or age, instead of its sound and playability.
  • If you like effects, the Line 6 LD15 amplifier sells for about 175$ and has a wah, chorus, octaver, and fuzz with 4 different amp models. Better value than any other amp in that price range.
  • SX, Douglas, and Brice brands are well built for the money, and your paying for the bass, not the advertising expenses.
  • Most pro musicians got their first axe used, or from a pawn shop, its not where you start, its where you finish.
  • Look for someone that bought an instrument and realized he/she has no talent. If the guitar or bass is just taking up space, maybe they will let it go for cheap.
  • Buy your first bass and amp with your personal money, no more than $1000 total, and don't worry about gear again until you're making money as a musician, and use your gig money to buy better stuff, you can get really decent stuff for under a K, and it will sound fine.
  • Set aside enough to buy a combo amp with at least 100w and a 15 inch (38.1 cm) speaker, your bass will realize its full sound potential, don't go cheap on a little 8 inch (20.3 cm) practice amp, you won't be satisfied, spend for the 15.


  • A department store "starter" bass is likely to be the lowest cost solution to get you started and will be fine for lessons, home practice, and jamming with friends, but will not be performance quality. It is not suggested to buy one of these instruments unless it's all you can afford. Many of them are poorly made and they will not last.
  • Guitar shop salespeople often try to sell a lot of accessories to obvious first-time buyers. You will probably want a tuner and a beginner instructional DVD or at least a book to get you started. You don't need the highest-quality patch cable, effects pedals in the store. Simply tell the salesperson that you'll come back to the store later if you decide you need other items.
  • Remember, that most brands have different quality products, just like auto makes (compare a Festiva with a Mustang). A brand name bass or guitar that costs $200 will be no better than a $100 "no brand" instrument.

How to Buy Your First Guitar: 11 Steps - wikiHow

How to Buy Your First Guitar. Learning how to play a guitar is fun, and can be a
hobby that lasts a very long time. It can become an entry into playing with a band,


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