Originally Posted by Starlight
I have been researching for the last month for the same purpose and the consensus seems to be that:
- Passive pickups are better or easier (I forget which) for recording than active pickups.
- Jazz style basses with 2 pickups offer a greater variety of sounds than a Precision style bass with only one.
- A maple neck will have a slightly brighter sound whereas a rosewood neck will have a slightly warmer sound. Given that different types and gauges of string also affect the tone I am not sure that the neck's wood is a major contributor to the overall sound.
- A good preamp will assist with getting a good sound.
I decided to buy a Squire Affinity Jazz bass; it is about as cheap as basses come. The only significant negative I kept reading about is that the pots have a poor reputation at anything other than fully on. For recording this is less of a problem as that can be catered for when gain staging.
I hope you find something that suits your purpose well.
The answer here, as with many things, depends on what you want to spend, and what sort of music you want to make/what kind of tone you want from the bass.
Active pickups are way easier to record with than passive, largely due to the much increased output. However, if you're making music where the bass is really going to shine through and you want to hear some of that classic old fashioned bass tone - the passive instrument is more likely to please your ears. If the instrument is going to be buried under piles of heavy guitar or a huge production, the extra punch you usually get from an active instrument will be a winner.
The wood the fretboard is made out of will have a greater tonal effect than the strings, but not so much as the pickups. A bass with maple fretboard will sound drastically brighter than rosewood.
The Squier Affinity is the industry standard starter bass. It won't give you the greatest recorded sound, but if it is set up well, it will make a huge difference, which I can help you with if you wish to mail me for any advice.
Recording passive basses, di box imperative, not so essential with a good active.
The Precision has one sound. It's the most popular bass sound since the beginning of bass time, but it's one sound. The Jazz is easier to play, it's more comfortable to sit with, better balanced, and the blend of sounds you can get will help you achieve something that sits in the mix just right. Wouldn't suggest rolling off much tone at all.
For a passive bass with a great sound but not a bank breaker, I'd go for a Vintage or a Squier. For a good Active, look at Ibanez SRX or Yamaha RBX.
For strings, I'd use rotosound.
If you get a different guague string to whats on, you might start needing to make neck adjustments.
Bass amps - Hartke. You simply can not go wrong.