Will Buying Better Gear Make Me a Better Player?
In nutshell – no. Having a cheap bass set up correctly and functioning properly will is just as good as an expensive one.
Allow me to elaborate …
Your sound or voice on the bass is a mix of a few things:
1. You – how you hold it, how you strike the strings
2. The Bass – pickups, construction, hardware etc.
3. The Amp – speaker size, amp settings
But if you were to play my bass through my amp with my settings would you sound like me or vice versa? Probably not…
Of course, there is a clear line between super cheap and super expensive basses and a clear comparison between them. Let’s look at some key factors which determine the cost of your instrument:
2. Construction time
3. Labour costs
4. Quality control
Now, most instruments, including basses, have a global price tag, which can only fluctuate by 1-2% depending on things like shipping, availability. For example you’re very likely to find Squire Affinity basses in most countries around the world due to their quick production time, cheap construction materials, low labour costs, and minimal quality control. Whereas a Wal bass, handmade in England, can fetch anywhere from £5,000+.
What if we focus on the mid-range priced basses (£500-1000)?
Well, the same process applies; however you may see an increase in quality control but the materials/hardware remain similar to their cheaper counterparts or vice versa. This is why people like to modify most mid-range basses to create a far superior instrument without the hefty price tag from Western companies, such as Warwick and Fender. I did precisely this with my Squier Classic Vibe 60s P Bass. It has a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pickup and a Mighty Mite Neck, but I’ve kept the original bridge and wiring. Hey, if it ain’t broke…
Standard Squier Classic Vibe 60s Precision Bass
My Modified Squier Classic Vibe 60s Precision Bass
So why do professionals use such expensive instruments?
1. Endorsement/Sponsorships – Artists are given equipment to promote and use on a particular tour/album.
2. Longevity – in theory, more expensive gear is built to last but I’ve found that’s not always the case. More on that in a future post.
3. If money isn’t an obstacle – why not!
4. It’s a workhorse – it will take more of a beating than the average weekend warrior.
5. It suits the sound of the band/music – sometimes only a custom instrument can provide the sound you want.
Shouldn’t I start saving up then?
As with any expensive purchase, treat it like an investment – what am I going to get out of it? Will the cost justify its usage?
I’ve made several very expensive mistakes in trying to find out what type of bass suits me best and it’s something I wish I hadn’t done (financially that is) but it has taught me more about budgeting and how basses work/sound and why.
Now down to business: Talent
Back to my first point of finding your voice and sounding like yourself… Your sound is just one component in the overall band mix. There are some basses which may not fit certain genres (it’s rare to see/hear a Daisy Rock Heartbreaker in a metal band!)
There is one thing which trumps everything that I’ve mentioned above:
Good, structured practice with a clear purpose and goal is what makes you an awesome bassist.
For tips on best bass practice, look out for my next blog…
Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions.
For more practice tips and free lessons check out my YouTube Channel below
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