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What is the Right Bass Guitar for Me?

What is the Right Bass Guitar for Me? –> If you are looking to buy a bass guitar there are a lot of things to consider. You will want a bass that has the look and style that you like. You will also need a bass that is geared towards being able to produce the sounds of the genres of music you want to play. Any bass you buy should be at a level of quality that will allow you to play it without worry of running in to any problems. And it of course needs to make sense for you economically so that it fits your budget.

However the most important things to consider when purchasing a bass may boil down to being able to answer yes to these two questions:

  1. Is the bass comfortable for you to play?
  2. Is the bass playable for you?

Let’s explore these two questions in further detail…

Is the bass comfortable for you to play?

When trying a new a bass, test it out by playing in different positions. You’re going to play while both sitting and standing. So be sure that any bass is comfortable in both of these positions. Also – when standing make sure to use a strap (obviously). And that your strap is adjusted to the position that you typically play. If you use various strap lengths, test the bass using each of these lengths.


Sweetwater online bass guitars

Be sure that the bass is a comfortable weight. In most cases you want a bass that is light enough for you to play for longer durations of time (several hours). To determine a comfortable weight be sure to test a bass in a standing position. Bassists in general prefer to play lighter basses. And newer basses are being manufactured at much lighter weights than in the past. But some still prefer heavier bass guitars that better match their physique and playing style. The weight of your bass boils down to personal preference. A bass that is too heavy for one bassist, may be the perfect weight for another. Compare the weights of several basses to help determine what you prefer.

Yamaha TRBX304 Heavier New Bass Guitar
The Yamaha TRBX304 is a heavier bass guitar weighing around 12 pounds (5.4 kg)
Fender Aerodyne Jazz Light Weight New Bass
The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass is a lighter bass weighing about 7 pounds (3.2 kg)

Is the size and shape of the bass comfortable? Basses come in various shapes and sizes – all of which can affect levels of comfort. Factors such as the design of the edges and forearm of a bass can affect the level of comfort for individual bassists. Some bassists prefer a more rounded belly, while others feel more comfortable with a more traditional, flatter shaped bass. The overall size of a bass can affect level of comfort. Some may prefer standard sized basses, while others are more comfortable with larger or smaller instruments. Be sure to try basses with different shapes and sizes to determine which type is the most comfortable for you.

Is the bass playable for you?

No bass is going to be the magical solution for making you a great bass player. Getting better at bass is a matter of putting in the work in to practice and learn. However some basses are a better fit which allows it to be more playable. Consider these factors when determining if a bass is playable for you:

Use various techniques when trying out a bass. If you play using a pick and by plucking, be sure to test a bass using both of these techniques. Bassists often prefer an instrument that allows them to comfortably rest the palm of their hand on the bass when picking. Your bass should also have a set up that fits your plucking style. It’s important that the bass allows you to easily anchor your thumb on a pickup, or lower strings when plucking – in your preferred position on the strings.

If you pop the strings when playing, be sure to try a bass using this technique. The bass should have enough space between the pickup and the end of the fretboard so that you can dig in and pop the strings. That’s why a lot of bassists prefer basses like a Fender Jazz or Music Man Stingray because they have adequate space between the fretboard and pickup that allows for fluent popping of the strings.

StingRay Special Bass Guitar good for Popping and slapping
Bassists like the “StingRay Special H” bass for popping because it provides adequate space between the pickup and fingerboard allowing your fingers to reach in and pop the strings

Getting good at bass will require you to build hand strength and the technique for accurately stretching and placing your hands and fingers on the fretboard. However, basses are made with a variety of neck widths and radiuses which can effect playability. For example, most 4-string Fender Jazz basses have a neck width of 1-1/2″ (38mm) at the nut. A Fender Precision has a larger neck width of 1-11/16″ (43mm) at the nut. Also the neck width on a Precision is consistent from the nut to the last fret. While the neck of the Jazz bass gets larger in width as you move up the fret board. Be sure test any bass by playing it from the highest to the lower frets to help determine if its neck size is most appropriate for your hand size and playing technique.

The overall length and scale length of a bass can effect is playability. When playing, your left and right wrists should be as a straight as possible. You shouldn’t have to move or adjust your bass while playing in order to keep your wrists straight. You should be able to comfortably place your hand at the higher frets without bending it too much. You should also be able to comfortably reach the lower frets without having to stretch out to reach them. Be sure to try out basses with different overall and scale lengths. Many bassists find that a standard sized bass is the right length. Others may prefer a short scale bass with a shorter fretboard and overall length. Be sure to test basses with various lengths while using a strap. Sometimes a strap can help with adjusting your bass so that it is in a playable position.

fender american ultra jazz bass regular length
This “Fender American Ultra Jazz Bass” has a total length of 46.5 inches (118cm), and a scale length 34 inches (86.4cm)
Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ short scale bass
This “Fender Player Mustang PJ Bass” is a short scale bass with a total length of 42.5 inches (108cm), and a scale length of 30 inches (76.2cm)

Try (several) Before You Buy

Throughout this article we’ve talked about how important it is to try out several bass guitars to determine which one is right for you. You can do this is a number of ways. If you have your eye on a particular bass, see if you can find it in a local music store and test it out. While they may not have the exact model you’re looking for (different color for example), you can still get a feel for the bass and then purchase the exact one you want – have the store order the one you want, or buy it online.

Buy From an Online Company that Has the Best Return Policy –>The percentage of musical instruments purchased online has drastically increased throughout the last several years. So this may be the route you prefer. But if you order a bass online, be sure the company you buy from has the best return policy. Don’t ever settle for a bass just because you don’t want to go through the hassle of returning it. Don’t make the mistake of buying a bass that you aren’t 100% sure you like. Make a return (several times if needed) until you find the bass that is best for you.

One company that is a leader in online musical instrument sales is Sweetwater. This is partly because they go out of their way to make returning and/or exchanging an instrument as easy as possible. They also have one of the largest inventories of bass guitars. We highly recommend Sweetwater for purchasing a bass online – click here to visit their site.


Sweetwater online bass guitars

Related Article –> Best New Affordable 4-String Bass Guitars

Bass Guitar Gear & Equipment – Main Page

What is the Right Bass Guitar for Me?

What is the Right Bass Guitar for Me?