So you’ve decided you want to play bass. With the bottom-end becoming the focus more and more, there’s never been a better time to take up the bassist mantle. However, when choosing to learn a new instrument it can always be a little daunting to know what equipment you need, what is essential etc.
Here at Sutton Music Centre we have many years of experience in both providing musical instrument equipment advice for beginners to seasoned professionals as well as providing musical instrument tutoring.
We aim to provide you with a list of essential products to start you on your bass playing journey!
You’re obviously going to need a bass to practice and learn on. Now, unlike guitar, there aren’t quite as many variations in the instrument so it’s a bit more straight forward to get started.
One thing you should consider when starting bass is whether you want a short scale 3/4 bass or a full size instrument. If you’re quite young or you’re a complete beginner then a short scale bass may be a good choice for you- it’s not quite as difficult to play and the frets are slightly smaller, making it a bit easier to play scalic parts- check out the Squier Mini Precision Bass for all your 3/4 needs.
FUN FACT! Mike Kerr, bassist from Royal Blood uses short-scale basses as they suit his more guitar-like playing style better!
If you’re already somewhat experienced with stringed instruments or you feel like you want to jump head first into the world of bass then you’ll be interested in a full size bass.
4 Strings VS 5 Strings?
Your standard bass guitar will have 4 strings tuned to E-A-D-G, similar to the tuning of guitars. Most pop and rock music will only really require the range that a 4 string bass offers- as a general rule of thumb, the heavier, more technical the music gets, the more strings the bass player gets. For a standard, well-made 4 string, check out the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass
If you just want to jam along to your favourite songs, learn the basics and maybe take grades or be able to record for yourself then a 4 string bass will be perfect for you.
If you’re interested in heavier, metal style music or more technical funk or jazz, you may find that a 5 string bass is necessary. These basses are tuned in the same way as 4 string basses (E-A-D-G) the only difference is the new lowest string is a B. Come in store and try out the Fender Squier Active Jazz Bass to get a feel for fretting five strings.
There are basses out there that have 6 strings or more but they are quite rare, even amongst circles of players who use extended range instruments- check out Anthony Jackson and John Myung if you want to hear what a 6 string bass sounds like!
Yes! Basses do come in acoustic variants. Perfect for if you’re playing a small coffee shop show with a singer-songwriter and absolutely incredible for home practice; they do suffer a little bit in any loud set up’s so we wouldn’t recommend using an acoustic bass for any kind of performance where a drummer is using sticks- brushes and hot-rods are much more accommodating in the frequency spectrum to acoustic basses. If you feel like you want one, check out this Tanglewood DBT AB BW Discovery Acoustic Bass, available to try in store.
When deciding on an amplifier there are several things you need to consider before making a purchase, for example- Where am I going to be playing? How loud do I need to be? Do I need headphone/ DI outputs?
Answering these questions will help guide you into making the right choice. As a beginner you’ll probably only need a practice amp with quite a low wattage, for example the Hartke HD15 Combo Amplifier. However, if you’re looking to gig you will want something with a bit more power- at least 100 watts worth. In this case you may want to look at buying a separate head and cab, maybe something like the Hartke TX600.
A Gig Bag/ Hardcase
If you’ve got yourself a bass, it’s important to consider a case if you are planning on travelling with it. We offer an extensive range of styles with varying degrees of padding. If you're looking for a case for your acoustic bass we'd recommend either the soft-case from Kinsman or alternatively the hard-case from Gator or CNB.
Pedals and FX are a world unto themselves but it might be worth thinking a little bit about whether you’d like to dip your toe into said world. As fun as it is, we wouldn’t recommend spending too much time in the FX pedal world as a beginner; a good place to start might be a tuner pedal and a pre-amp type pedal. The NUX MLD Bass Preamp + DI Pedal is a great all in one solution for someone just starting out- though if you’re after something slightly different, as long as you can control your EQ you’ll probably be in the right ballpark.