Bass Guitar For Dummies
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You need to decide how much money you can afford to spend on a bass guitar so you still have some left for an amp, a cable, and a few other essentials. You can certainly play a bass guitar without an amp — you just won’t be able to hear it…and neither will anyone else.

If you feel that your commitment level is strong, buy a bass that can keep up with you throughout your playing career. Such an instrument will cost anywhere from about $700 to…well, the sky’s the limit.

If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure whether bass playing is for you — Are you serious? Of course it’s for you! — you can get package deals that include a bass guitar and an amp for about $400. Beginner basses start at just under $200.

The lower your budget, the more important it is for you to try out several basses of the same brand before you settle on one. In the lower price ranges, the quality is inconsistent, even within the same brand. Some instruments may fall apart fairly quickly, while others may last for years and sound and feel great.

Checking out magazines, such as Bass Player and Bassics, for articles that review and compare the quality of various basses is a good idea. You also can find reviews on bass websites like and

Talk to as many bass players as you can and ask them what they would recommend. If you’re lucky enough to have a bass-centric music store in your area (even if it means a three-hour trip), go and talk to whoever runs the bass department. And plan to play a lot of basses before deciding which one to purchase. You may get lucky and find a diamond in the rough.

About This Article

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Patrick Pfeiffer is a professional bassist, bass educator, and composer. His former clients include Polygram, Red Ant Records, Arista Records, and other major labels as well as Adam Clayton of U2. He has recorded with George Clinton, Phoebe Snow, Jimmy Norman of the Coasters, Paul Griffin and Bernard Purdie of Steely Dan, and many other stars.

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