Bass for Beginners: What to consider when buying
Bass for Beginners: What to consider when buying

Bass for Beginners: What to consider when buying

It’s clear: If you want to learn bass , you need a bass for beginners. So clear, so simple. Unfortunately, the range is so extensive that you need a little background information to find a suitable instrument. You can find out from us what you should look out for when buying a bass for beginners.


If you go to a music store for the first time to choose your first bass, you probably don’t know much about the instrument. You may have heard of four-string or five-string, but the different body shapes, scale lengths or pickup types are confusing at first, not to mention strings… But there are a few details that are easy to explain and allow narrowing down your selection.

Buying a bass for beginners: choosing the pickups

One of the most important features of an electric bass are the pickups, because they shape the basic sound (along with the electronics, the body and the scale) – more on that later. There are two basic types here, namely single coils and humbuckers. Technically, the single coils consist of a single coil, the humbuckers, the further development of the single coil, consist of two coils. The humbucker hums and hisses less and also has a significantly higher output, but it also sounds different.

Fender Original Jazz Bass PU Set

Fender Original Jazz Bass PU Set

This results in a completely different sound. Not better, not worse, just different. The single coil sounds rather clear, crisp and with a nice attack, while the humbucker usually performs more oppressively and fatter. Of course, these descriptions tend to be understood, and the final tone depends on the interaction of all components.

An example of a single-coil bass would be the Fender Jazz Bass. It features two of these pickups that can be used individually or together, each resulting in a different sound. The Music Man Sting Ray, on the other hand, may represent a bass with humbuckers. The Fender Precision Bassis a special case, it seems to be equipped with two coils, but each of them is only responsible for two strings. This design is called “split coil” and is ultimately a modification of a single coil and sounds quite similar.

Fender Player Series Jazz Bass PF BLK

Fender Player Series Jazz Bass PF BLK

Bass for beginners: 4 or 5 strings?

Next comes the question of how many strings the bass should have for beginners. It is available with four, five and even six strings . Here the clear recommendation applies: If you have already informed yourself and know roughly where you want to go, then you should do that and, for example, get a five-string as your first instrument if you want that. If not, then a four-string is a good choice as the default instrument.

Buying a bass for beginners: the scale

An important consideration when buying a beginner bass is the scale length. This means the length of the vibrating string. Here the four categories are roughly short (short scale 30 inches), medium (medium scale 32 inches), long (long scale 34 inches – this is the standard scale of most jazz and precision basses) and extra long (everything over 34 inches extra). /super long scale).

With the short scale, the frets are closer together than with the longer scale, so you don’t have to spread your fingers as far. Especially for people with small hands it is more comfortable to play. But you have to be aware that a bass with a short scale length will sound different. The longer the scale, the fatter the sound of the lower strings in particular. On the other hand, a short-bore bass has its own unique sound with its own appeal.

Bass for beginners: fretted or fretless?

The basses we have been talking about have frets. There are also basses without frets, so-called fretless basses . Here the fretboard is either completely without markings, or instead of the frets there are lines that are inlaid into the fretboard. You can play super cool slides on a fretless with its warm, cello-like tone. But since it doesn’t have any frets, you have to play it very precisely in order to intonate the notes correctly. Often (but by no means always) fretless basses are strung with so-called flatwound strings. In contrast to roundwound strings, these have a smooth surface and are therefore very soft to grip. They also sound different, namely warmer and rounder, but not as brilliant and aggressive.

Harley Benton B-450FL BK Progressive Series

Harley Benton B-450FL BK Progressive Series

Buying a beginner’s bass: Still no idea?

But what do you do when you really don’t know what you want? Except that it should be a bass, of course. In this case, it is best to use the most flexible and popular bass type. This has four round wound strings on a long scale, two single coils – and a phenomenal reputation.

👉 With these bass sets for beginners, you have everything you need right away!

👉 More learning about all things BASS in our bass guide!

Harley Benton PB-20 SBK Standard Bundle

Harley Benton PB-20 SBK Standard Bundle

Harley Benton JB22-Set 1

Harley Benton JB22 Set 1

Our advice for you

Are you still unsure? Or do you have questions? Our team in the bass department will be happy to advise you, and, of course, without obligation. Come by our shop in Treppendorf, chat with us or give us a call. As you prefer. Your first bass is waiting for you. Start groovin’!

guitar@thomann.de

+49 9546 9223-20

Author’s gravatar
Joe has been singing since he can remember and started playing guitar when he was 10. He's been using it as a songwriting tool ever since. He is passionate about melody and harmony and admires musicians who create these in unique ways. Check out his alternative / indie projects Best of Feelings and Zef Raček.

One comment

    A most excellent helpful write up about purchasing your first Bass guitar… Now, I have a question buying a beginner bass… You play sufficiently and you need to upgrade to a semi or professional bass… You lose money on the sale of the second hand beginners Bass and the New one cost’s you more… Why not buy a semi / pro Bass to start with… Please recommend a good semi/pro bass limit 1200.00 Euro…

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