Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meet the new bass... same as the old bass (well, not quite)

After all the excitement of the bass guitar unboxing, when I actually tried to play the thing I had a problem.  The bass didn't work with the amp I bought.  It didn't take me long to figure out that the bass had active pickups and a 9-volt battery in the back.  I changed the battery (using the one from my smoke detector at first, then with a new one) and tried again, but I still didn't get any sound from the bass.  I took it to the guitar store and tried it on their amps.  I still didn't hear anything.  So I showed it to their guitar technician.  He poked and prodded it with a voltmeter and some other tools for 10 minutes, then said he couldn't tell what was wrong without taking it apart and charging me some real money.  He said that the electronics weren't working and he could replace some of the parts.  But the cost for the repairs would be close to, if not more than, the cost of a new bass guitar, and with no guarantees that the bass would work.  In essence, my bass was DOA.

So I went shopping at the guitar store again.  I spent a few hours in the bass guitar room trying out different 4-string basses.  I even tried the upright electric bass just for kicks.  I settled on a Squier Affinity P-Bass with passive pickups.  Between the amp and the bass and the other assorted equipment I needed, I've spent about $700 on this hobby already and I barely know what I'm doing.  But I found some websites with bass tablature and now I spend my evenings listening to songs on my laptop and playing along as best I can.  I can play 12-bar blues fairly well already.   I played through most of the soundtrack to "The Blues Brothers" on Tuesday night.  On Saturday I tried selections by Green Day, Led Zeppelin, and Rush.  I can play Green Day but John Paul Jones' bass lines are beyond my skills right now, and possibly forever.  The good news is that I have a bass that works and I'm a quick study.  Once I get used to the feel of the instrument and where the notes are, I'm certain I'll be able to play well enough to jam with my friends.  Or hide in the back and not mess them up.


Tom said...

I'm surprised you didn't go with a fretless bass? It's more like a classical string instrument than a fretted model. I had both types and I guess I would choose the fretted for playing rock anyhow.

Enjoy the new hobby!

PhilCatelinet said...

I never thought about getting a fretless bass. That seemed like another degree of difficulty beyond the strings, tunings, and the clef. Maybe I'll go fretless for my second or third bass.

The guitar center did have an used upright electric bass for $1000 that looked like it would be a lot of fun to play.

Tom said...

Upright basses are much more difficult to play, plus they play an octave lower than an electric bass so they're more difficult to amplify. They require more hand strength as well.

With frets you have more leeway in finger placement. There are no microtones in-between notes, so it's more forgiving than a fretless.

Shy Girls Win said...

Oh you play bass! I just finished editing my blog and I clicked on "Next Blog" and it directed me here and I read this blog post and I was like "Well that's so cool!" I love people who love music, and I don't mean that bad electronic stuff that most girls my age listen to. Of course, I'm not your average girl. Isn't it sad how they all forget Aerosmith and all the other good bands? Oh and by the way, I play regular guitar, but I'm just a begginer. I mean, I can play like 5 songs, all by either Green Day or AFI (I am obssessed with AFI!!!). Okay, enough rambling. ByeBye!