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Can i make studio quality tracks with a 600$ bass?
Old 2nd August 2014
  #1
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Nalkas's Avatar
Can i make studio quality tracks with a 600$ bass?

Hey there gearslutz, i'm planning on purchasing a new electric bass to be used in my studio.

I was thinking i'd spend around 400 SEK which is around 600 usd.
But i am wondering, is this enough of a budget to make great bass tracks and records with?

As of now i am thinking of buying either the Epiphone thunderbird classic IV (4100kr, 595 USD) or the Squier Classic Vibe Precision Bass '50s Maple (3700kr, 537 USD) Any better alternatives?



When it comes to recording i will plug it into my ISA One to my FR 18i20



Cheers
Old 2nd August 2014
  #2
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FFTT's Avatar
 

Absolutely with a good set-up and intonation.

Maybe an $800.00 bass.

I really liked the Gretsch Semi-Hollow Body for the money.
Have not tried the Epiphone Semi Hollow or the Guilds

The industry standard is a passive P-Bass or Jazz Bass, but I'm seeing more and more current artists going to those semi-hollow basses.

I would probably go for long scale over short scale necks just for the improved action, but there's nothing wrong with the short scale versions.
The action is just a bit more loose & rubber bandy on a short scale bass.

If anything, upgrading to TV Jones pickups would be ideal.

You can mic up an amp or go D/I
Play with pick or fingers and try different strings.

Flat Wound or Black Nylon Wrap strings are fantastic for reducing unwanted string noise and finger clack and generally smoothing out the results.

A smooth underlying bass tone can be quite effective supporting both clean and heavily distorted guitar tracks.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #3
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Joao Andre's Avatar
 

Some 600$ instruments sound better than a 2000$ one.
Fact of life.
You can and it is done all the time, but you to listen to it. Fender is always a safe bet on low budget basses.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #4
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FFTT's Avatar
 

Generally speaking a P-Bass or Jazz Bass with passive pickups is a smart buy
if you have no other bass.

Hollow Bodies, Ricks, Stingrays, Alembics are primarily "specialty" basses.

As far as ease of getting a great sound a Fender just makes it so easy, especially going D/I .

With that being said, I can't deny a very strong trend in new artists going to Semi - Hollow Bodies.

Watching live events you see them more and more.

The only thing is that a bass that works for live use may not necessarily be the best bass for recording.

I found that out long ago trying to track with my Rick 4001 Stereo Bass.
To get acceptable results with round wounds we had to bring in my SVT and mic it up. That took extra time on the clock with the band covering those sessions out of pocket.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #5
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Yes, no question. If your bass is set up well and you can play.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #6
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FFTT's Avatar
 

Out of the blue, I remembered a bit of silliness from a drummer I worked with,
that actually applies here.

A carpenter goes into the hardware store and tells the clerk,

"I need a 2"X4""

The clerk answers "How long do you need it?"

The Carpenter replies

"I'm a gonna need it a for a long time, gonna build a house! "


:-)
Old 2nd August 2014
  #7
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Joe Porto's Avatar
 

I was in a session last week and brought a Warwick Thumb Bass for the bass player to try out. We had a heck of a time getting a good rock sound out of it. We ended up using the studio's Bradley P-bass, which is an ultra cheap 80's Fender knock off. It sounded great.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Basses have become really well made, even on the cheap end. That budget won't stop you! Playing the right parts obviously is number one, and I find a good DI and hopefully an amped track with a little hair on it will get you most of the way there.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #9
Gear Nut
 
Luke17's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Porto View Post
I was in a session last week and brought a Warwick Thumb Bass for the bass player to try out. We had a heck of a time getting a good rock sound out of it. We ended up using the studio's Bradley P-bass, which is an ultra cheap 80's Fender knock off. It sounded great.
Sounds familiar,
We were in a cheesy studio in New Hope Pa. Many years ago backing up a prima don(na) singer who wanted to send a demo out to record companies...he booked this filthy little studio on the cheap ...despite the venue, the stoned out studio owner/producer recording thru his old Akai four track that he brought back from 'Nam ... it was coming out pretty good, but the bassman's Jack Cassidy putzed out doing the session.

The studio guy had some old pieces of gear lying about that looked like they were only good for firewood, he said 'here, try this,' and handed this Japanese knockoff that looked like a fender Jaguar to the bass guy...
After tuning the old strings and letting them stretch and retuning...that piece of doo-doo bass kicked some righteous ass that evening, course the bass player was a sterling musician...
After the session the bass guy asked the studio guy if he wanted to sell the bass...
Studio guy answered ,
'I can't part with that, It's a bless-ed Bass.'
Old 2nd August 2014
  #10
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Sure is, but I would personally take that $600 onto the used market and pick up something even nicer… At least in the states you can buy a used American Fender for $600ish or less every day of the week. Put a good set of strings on it and get it set up by a competent luthier and yes, I would say that's good enough for most… The Squier you suggest may sound all right…but certainly would not be my choice if I'm spending that kind of money...
Old 2nd August 2014
  #11
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Joe_K's Avatar
You can record no problem with affordable basses these days. First, make sure the intonation is good. That's the deal breaker on most any stringed instrument. You can learn to set the intonation yourself at the bridge as long as the neck doesn't require any physical alterations. If you have good intonation, everything else is going to be possible. My next order of business are the pickups and electronics for a well balanced tone that is noise free.

Since you asked for alternatives, check out the G&L Tribute line. For something with traditional looks and passive pickups, the JB-2 (Jazz) and SB-2 (hybrid Jazz/P) are good choices. I personally like the L Series (either passive or active, but these pickups have their own sort of voice with a huge range of flexibility), but these run ~$100 more.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #12
Yamaha also make great basses in the budget range as an alternative too.

And yes you can record really great "studio quality" music with cheap instruments. Tonnes of mojo at the low end of things. As others have said the intonation is the kicker with basses, but also the electronics are an easy thing to overlook and tend to be horrible on the lowest of the low end, either simply falling out of the body because of bad fitting/bad materials used, or poorly shielded or crackly. However at the prices you're going for that shouldn't be a problem at all, in fact you're actually budgeting towards the mid level bass there, basically a solid studio workhorse instrument. The only important thing is to actually go into a store and try it out yourself before you buy, Squier are not great for quality control so you could go through several stores before you find one that's actually decent.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
zombiesarebad's Avatar
 

legend has it that James Jamerson used a ratty old P-bass with a warped neck and action so high that some people found it to be unplayable. So yeah, you should do fine with a cheap bass, as long as you can play.

My bass of choice these days is an Epiphone EB-3 with D'Addario flatwounds. I think I paid $300 for it and the strings were like $40. It kicks a fair amount of ass, in my opinion.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #14
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Oldone's Avatar
You can't make a pro sounding recording with any bass under $600. It's the cutoff point for professional sounding results. I think that's the official rules.

Old 2nd August 2014
  #15
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DirkP's Avatar
 

I own 10 basses from the USA (4), Japan (4) Mexico(1) and Taiwan (1) from Fender, Musicman, G&L and Yamaha and play bass for about 30 years. I would say: Yes, you can. But it depends a bit on the sound you are after. If you're looking for a low-mid heavy flatwound sound nearly any halfway decent P-copy will deliver. If you are after more of a hifi-sound, it becomes a bit harder to archieve. I would stay away from cheap active basses - as long as they didn't make a huge progress during the last years. What those preamps do can be done better with a decent outboard preamp or even the preamp-section of a bass amp. But not the most expensive eqs and preamps can restore what these preamps have done to your sound. Most of the cheap on-board-preamps just worsen the sound. They might sound o.k. in a live concert or at rehearsals, but not for recording. And the cheap active electronics will often fail after a few years and get noisy and hard to replace. As on my taiwanese made Yamaha BB1100s.

I'm a convertit. When I was younger I thought that wood would play a major role in the sound of electric basses. I no longer hold this believe. And pickups can always be switched. If you are looking for a cheap bass, make sure that the workmanship on the bass is o.k., that the tuners work reliable, that the neck is straight, that the neck feels good, that the fretwork is halfway decent (meaning: a good compromise between fret-buzz and low action)! Everything else can be changed for a few bucks.

If you are looking for a versatile bass, I would prefer a Jazz Bass against a Precision. This is the reason I own 3 Jazz Basses, but only 2 Precisions:-)

You can somehow use a Jazz Bass like a Precision but you cannot make a P sound like a J. For example slapping a P-Bass will never sound like slapping on a Jazz Bass. The Jazz is extremely versatile, although easy to handle. The P has the wrong pick-up position for funk or slap tones (I know I know masterpieces of funk were recorded with a P, I don't dispute this, but these sound mid-heavy. I like that, but I can do this with a Jazz too, but a P will never get that Markus Miller sound). The two pickups of the Jazz give you much more flexibility.
If you can get any japanese made JV-Squier from the early 80's for <= 600,-. Go for it. These are incredible instruments with a lot of charme.

Dirk
Old 3rd August 2014
  #16
Gear Nut
 
Luke17's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkP View Post


If you can get any japanese made JV-Squier from the early 80's for <= 600,-. Go for it. These are incredible instruments with a lot of charme.

Dirk
Ditto for the JV Squier Strat...got one for my daughter about a year ago and keep borrowing it...Just a peachy guitar...haven't had the opportunity to try a JV bass yet.
I mentioned on another thread I'm looking for a decent mid priced bass too...If I have the good fortune to find a JV Squier bass in good original shape like the Strat I'll definitely give it a look-see on your recommendation.
Thanks,
Old 3rd August 2014
  #17
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

What ever you end up with get it set up, intonated, frets dressed by a real luthier, not the kid behind the counter at the music store.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nalkas View Post
Hey there gearslutz, i'm planning on purchasing a new electric bass to be used in my studio.

I was thinking i'd spend around 400 SEK which is around 600 usd.
But i am wondering, is this enough of a budget to make great bass tracks and records with?

As of now i am thinking of buying either the Epiphone thunderbird classic IV (4100kr, 595 USD) or the Squier Classic Vibe Precision Bass '50s Maple (3700kr, 537 USD) Any better alternatives?



When it comes to recording i will plug it into my ISA One to my FR 18i20



Cheers
yes definitely, in general Squires and Epiphones are good basses . You should have to spend no more than $200-$300 for a good bass. I have a $150 ibanez bass, it sounds great. Bass tone is pretty much all in the fingers, electric bass doesn't matter like it does with acoustic guitars for instance.

Does a $5000 specter or alembic bass sound better than a $1000 Fender? not necessarily, So then what rational is there to think a $1000 bass sounds any better than a $200 one??? This is providing it stays in tune and the frets and bridge are decent, a $200 bass is going to do just as good of job as a $1000 one in most cases. But you have to try them out first.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #19
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lame pseudonym's Avatar
 

If you get a Squier P-Bass, replace the cheap ceramic pickups with a real standard Fender alnico set, and set the instrument up nice, you have all you need.

Many of the great bass parts were played on modest basses. And I, for one, consider the strain of goofy elaborate basses to be ... goofy.

But if an instrument just turns you on, and it's a relationship made in Heaven, go with it. Whatever it costs. You have to be happy.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Everyone's advice is really good. I'd also echo the main responses that you're safest overall staying in the Fender family of P and J basses.

If you do go with something active, make sure you test it out plugged in and abuse the knobs on the bass to see how quiet the preamp is. On cheaper basses a hissy preamp can be a huge pain on recordings, especially when you try to dirty them up.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #21
Well this explains why Im not raking in the money yet!! My only bass is a lowly MIM Standard Jazz that only cost me $300!!!
Old 3rd August 2014
  #22
Well, for sure. If you can play it to get it to sound good. More important that you can play than the quality of the bass itself. There are inexpensive basses that are good enough to get the right sound if your fingers are hitting the notes clearly, and you are picking with your fingers. If you are a keyboardist or guitarist hoping that the quality of the bass will make up for your inexperience, uh, nope. I have not played so many basses, but I can vouch for the Yamaha basses. And I have an old Ibanez P-bass copy that works very well. I'm normally using a Fender Jazz bass on my recordings.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nalkas View Post
Hey there gearslutz, i'm planning on purchasing a new electric bass to be used in my studio.

I was thinking i'd spend around 400 SEK which is around 600 usd.
But i am wondering, is this enough of a budget to make great bass tracks and records with?

As of now i am thinking of buying either the Epiphone thunderbird classic IV (4100kr, 595 USD) or the Squier Classic Vibe Precision Bass '50s Maple (3700kr, 537 USD) Any better alternatives?



When it comes to recording i will plug it into my ISA One to my FR 18i20



Cheers
Of course you can if you're a studio quality bass player.

If you're not it doesn't matter if you have a $5000 bass.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #24
Talent is the only variable that you can't actually change, it's a defined constant, like the rate of gravity.

But talent is only a measure of potential. Anybody with a little dedication can get past the suck. Talent isn't always the reason someone is successful. But, all successful musicians are extremely competent.

So, with that being said, any instrument in any budget in competent hands will sound good enough to record. Many great records were made with cheap gear. A lot of highly prized gear was really created to be low-cost with real corners being cut. But, many great studio records have been made with them.

I mean, there's a reason people like high end stuff. A lot of it has to do with comfort, some of it style. I mean, man has displayed his wealth in various ways. I'm not sure, but most people I know have collections of things they like to display. Some guys buy fancy cars, trick out pickups, buy large pieces of jewelry, belt buckles, boots, amps, tattoos, pedal boards...

I find it funny when I see ads on craigslist that say "must have pro gear." I mean, if you can play the hell out of a junky agile running through a behringer amp, you're always going to sound better than someone with an unlimited budget and isn't as competent on their instrument. But, there is a correlation between competency and quality of gear. There's statistical anomalies.

Once you start making money, you start chasing the edge of your potential. A lot of guys can't afford to spend 15 hours a day practicing, but they can afford S1 switching. When someone practicing 15 hours a day can afford the nice stuff, they tend to buy nice stuff. You don't see Eric Clapton playing an SX though he'd still sound incredible anyway. It's hard to find really, truly great stuff cheap. Almost all gear that's not broken is competent at its role in the result.

The problem is that music is a visual thing. It sucks, but appearances matter. I'm not the best looking cat, but I'm always working at putting on a better show. If my audience is primarily amateur musicians, a certain amount of snobbery happens. It's ok, we're all human. Even if only some of your fans are gear-heads, you'll want to appeal to them as the gear is part of the show. It's why Yamaha sponsors musicians. It's why every mid-range and high end gear manufacturer sponsors musicians. Every live concert I've been to or seen on TV/Netflix/YouTube of any semi-successful band is just covered in sponsored gear. I think it's great. Great gear is great to play on. It's even more great when you can afford it either by money or by endorsement. But, cheap gear only holds you back if you let it hold you back. If you're hung up on what something costs, you'll have a hard time finding something truly inspiring and instead focus on the quality of the details like finish, range of tonal possibilities, fret work (past playable), etc. Jack White's early stuff was all cheap pawn shop finds if I remember correctly. Now, guys custom build super-nice instruments meant to look like the cheap stuff.

In the studio, the audience can't tell a Squier from an alembic. They can only tell the difference between good and bad. Quality is very much a taste issue. I've heard a lot of very hi fi-sounding demos by very uninspired bands...

Find an instrument in your budget that speaks to you. I totally second the idea of buying locally. I've had a lot of luck buying online, but I know it's only luck. I also admit that my instruments bought online are less inspiring than the ones I bought locally. I have uninspiring instruments bought locally as well. I have inspiring instruments that were cheap and inspiring instruments that were expensive. But, I don't have any expensive instruments that aren't inspiring.

In conclusion,you're fine in your budget, you're just going to have to look around. Make sure whatever you buy is playable, but just go make some killer tunes with it.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Of course you can if you're a studio quality bass player.
But a studio quality bass player can be someone who is good at editing in protools and someone who can use a compressor to fix poor dynamics. You can go line by line and make it sound pro. And what's wrong with that? if it sounds good it sounds good.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule View Post
But a studio quality bass player can be someone who is good at editing in protools and someone who can use a compressor to fix poor dynamics. You can go line by line and make it sound pro. And what's wrong with that? if it sounds good it sounds good.
Overly edited, heavily compressed, etc will make it sound as good as it can be, but a truly great player will get it right so much and so often that your editing choices are really more about feel, energy, etc. You can get close editing everything to a grid, but it will sound unnatural. If you think that sounds 'pro,' then by all means. The quality of the instrument won't have any real impact either way. I was just watching joe pass play a cheapo mustang in a video in another thread and it sounded amazing. Highly coveted fenders from the 50s were designed to be cheap and easy to manufacture. I mean, maybe they're somehow superior in workmanship than someone working in a foreign country for the same wages (NOT adjusted for inflation over time), but I doubt it.

Cheap prices on quality foreign goods is a good thing the economists say. And honestly, the quality on a cheapo epiphone can be equal to if not better than the American Gibson. The same can be said for Squier vs fender or MIM vs MIA.

That being said, there's a lot of dogs out there made in every country, some more than others...
Old 3rd August 2014
  #27
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krevvy's Avatar
Nope impossible, must be at least $601.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
Overly edited, heavily compressed, etc will make it sound as good as it can be, but a truly great player will get it right so much and so often that your editing choices are really more about feel, energy, etc. You can get close editing everything to a grid, but it will sound unnatural. If you think that sounds 'pro,' then by all means. ...

Obviously a pro bass player is the best bet but lots of those guys want to get $$paid$$. I personally would rather cut and paste and punch in line by line than pay a guy. Cutting and pasting requires talent in itself at least to avoid the type of rigidness you are talking about. You don't have to cut and paste everything exactly. Just take the worst duds and move them, and adjust amplitude of notes that stick out or are hidden. Melodyne is great for this.

Takes like 10-20 minutes to fix a bass track even a really bad one. The trick is to know what to fix and what not to and then know how much of a percentage of duds to actually fix it. Not being sarcastic but editing is almost an art in itself nowadays. It takes a little know how to make things not so obvious and rigid while still fixing a poorly played track.

I worked out of some bigger studios in the 80s and I recall lots of **** going on like bass players tuning down a half step playing to a slowed varisped tape to get it really tight. Lot's of compression, razor editing, punch line by line, 2 people playing different bass parts of the song. Some well know guys too. Same with guitarists and drummers. Lot's of these guys were "pros". But no one is perfect and in that decade you had to be. Everyone thinks people only cheat nowadays... not at all.. Lots of stuff went on in every era. Sure it is worse now since you have to keep up with the jonses. My opinion is do whatever it takes to get the job done quickly and cheaply.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #29
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FFTT's Avatar
 

If you are working in your own or a friend's home studio where you are not paying by the hour for time, a budget bass can be used, but it may take more time & experimentation than you think, to capture the sound you have in mind.

If you take a budget bass to a professional studio and burn up 6-8 hours on the clock just trying to dial in a usable bass tone, you haven't saved any money.

Sometimes it really is smarter to save up, try more instruments and go for a better instrument with quality pickups and electronics.

An American Standard P-Bass or Jazz Bass can be found in great condition used for under $1000.00 + $40 +/- for strings & $80 or so for a professional set-up, fret dressing, getting it right.

You may spend $600.00 more to buy a better bass, but over the life of the instrument, that's chicken feed compared to the time you would spend on the clock in a studio with a lesser instrument.
Old 3rd August 2014
  #30
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

Even with 3 excellent basses, it was easy to burn up 6 hours just figuring out which bass and which strings to use and if we were going D/I, amped or both and then to get the technique down to everyones satisfaction.

I didn't need to bring my Rick or my Hofner or even bring my SVT, because after that 6 hours, everyone agreed my jazz bass with nylon wraps sounded best, D/I through a $250,000.00 API Gold Seal Console.

6 hours paid out of pocket by the band with the band waiting to get rolling on their parts.

Getting a usable drum sound took another 8 hours before the 1st beat went to tape.

Just something to consider.

Yes you can record with a budget bass, but when your instrument costs everyone you are working with, time and money,
it may be better in the long run to hold out for a better instrument.
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