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.