Realistically Speaking

I have started saving us for that big bass guitar purchase some time in the moderately distant future. My saving scheme was to set aside as much as I could; 250 Philippine Pesos (~5.95 US dollars roughly using $1 = P42) per week, without losing my sanity over starving. I still am in school and going to class with an empty stomach severely affects not only academic performance, but even simple tasks such as walking. With that set, I did a short approximation of how much money I would end up after a few years and by the time I hit graduation, I would have theoretically around 36,000+ Pesos (without possible extras) which would buy me a decent bass but not that Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass that I’ve always wanted. I’ve thought it over and it the Geddy Lee Jazz Bass won’t really suite my needs in the long run. First of all, it’s obviously a bit pricey. Secondly, it won’t offer that much variety of tone. Thirdly, it has a lot of physical limitations for me; it only has 20 frets and is a 4-stringer. Since I only have enough money for one bass guitar, it would be better if I’d buy a “Swiss-knife” bass offering a lot of features and tonal ranges than a one specialized bass guitar. Realistically, I will have no narrow down my choices.

Because of this, I had to resort to window shopping again over the some music instrument websites such as Musician’s Friend, Music123 (which recently have known to have been bought by Musician’s Friend) and Guitar Center that I could possibly drop by when I travel sometime next year. I had a lot in mind while viewing all their catalogs.

The first bass guitar the caught me was an Ibanez SR506. Yes, it’s a 6-string bass guitar which I have always wanted because of it’s extended bass range. I’ve already seen it and played with it at my last brick-and-mortar window shopping. Decent and light on the pockets with a lot of features. Most importantly, it has a 34 inch scale which I can quickly adapt to and find very comfortable than 35 inch scales. If I had the money right now, I’d purchase it right away but unfortunately, I don’t so I had to leave it. After a few days, it sank to me that 6-string basses could be more than bite I could chew. If you think about it literally, that 2 more strings to mute and deal with while playing. Also, I a huge drawback is that bass strings for 6-string basses are not locally available. This means that every time I’d want to replace my strings, I’ll have to specially import them just for me or that I’d have to reply on chance that some unknown local retailer would carry them when I needed them. In the long run, this would not be pleasant to deal with.

Naturally, it would point out that a 5-string bass or a standard 4-string bass would fit me better. I also remembered than I might not need than C string if I would get a 24 fret bass. One setback for me with my current bass it that it goes up to 20 frets only limiting my playing ability especially with chords on the upper range. A 5-string bass would be the way to go then so I could finally play most Dream Theater songs that I’ve always wanted to play.

The cheapest 5-string bass I liked were the Schecter Stilettos. They offer fine looking instruments at good prices and even have different ranges depending on what your looking for. My only gripe here is that is has a 35 inch scale which I have found are not that easy to play at times. One inch does make a lot of difference for me and can severely affect playing difficult lines such as the ones found in prog rock. Nonetheless, I went on searching. Again, Ibanez offers variety of good basses than are closely priced. I couldn’t pick a specific model as they all looked good. Over what I heard, the TRB Yamahas are exceptional instruments. They have very positive feedback and rise above all that I have mentioned so far. Again, it has a 35 inch scale but 34 inch scales are rare in 5-string basses. If my savings would reach this price range, I would be very satisfied to buying a Yamaha TRB.

If a miracle occurred and I won the lottery, my choice would be likely be a Music Man Bongo. I know it’s a far cry but that is one of the best mass produced bass guitars available. Modern (and arguably acquired) looks, a 4-band eq and on top of it all, a 34 inch scale win my heart. I’d love to own one someday.

At this point, all I can do now is save and hope that I’d end up with a Yamaha TRB or even better, that Music Man Bongo.

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12 Responses

  1. yan din ang pina-plano kong pag-ipunan: Bongo 5 string HH. Pero matagal pa yun. I just acquired a Schecter Stiletto 5 and it’s true that the 35 inch scale of the bass made me incomfortable at first but I’m working on my technique right now (beginner pa rin talaga) and I’m getting by. By the way, in your search for different basses, I would like to offer another suggestion when selecting basses and it involves looking at the upper horn. The upper horn on my jazz bass is on top of the 12th fret and because of the 34″ scale, it was breeze to play. Along came my Schecter 5. The upper horn is on top of the 13th fret, so the body of the bass shifts a little bit on my left side. Ok lang sana kung 34″ yung scale but it’s 35″ so nahirapan talaga ako. Noong tina-try ko sa music store yung bass, di ko napansin yun dahil naka-upo ako at walang strap. I didn’t really felt the impact of the extra 1 inch. But after I bought the bass and put a strap on it, that’s when I realized that it’s quite challenging for me to play it. Moral lesson: Check the upper horn and try to play all the bass you are eyeing using a strap. Dun sa bongo, wala tayong problema! E-mail me so we can bass-talk!

  2. Another bass that I would suggest is the Lakland Skyline 55-02. It’s 35″ but the upper horn is on top of the 12 fret. A lot of reviews I read about comments on its amazing B-string. It’s quite pricey and it only has 22 frets but it’s a versatile bass too. I think you previous bassist nang freestyle uses that bass. Sa youtube ko nakita. Oh by the way, did you know that John Myung of DT is using the Bongo 6 as his main bass now?!

  3. Salamat sa bass suggestions. Medyo OK lang sakin kung hindi balanced ang bass kasi mataas akong magpatugtog, above the waist at malapit sa katawan ko kaya hindi masyadong gumagalaw.

  4. if you want to read reviews about bass guitars, go to harmonycentral.com and I would suggest joining talkbass.com. Mostly 34″ ang mga 5_String ng Ibanez except for the BTB Series. $500+ yata ang pinakamura nilang Fiver. Another great bass is the GL Tribute L-2500. Although 21 Frets lang at made in Korea, it has the same specs and pickups as the American GL Model. Here’s the review at youtube.com:

    4-string version yung nasa review.

  5. oops Indonesian made pala!

  6. […] Realistically Speaking […]

  7. Sir Lanz, what is wrong po ba with te Ibanez BTB Series? My friend owns an Ibanez BTB 405 QM…any info on the BTB series?

  8. the Ibanez BTB’s are 35 inch scaled basses.

  9. Hmm… 35-inch scales are probably better fivers than 34-inch basses since it will help lengthen the B string. My 34-inch fiver’s B is so muddy I try to avoid it always. It’s easy to adjust to 35’s anyways.

  10. btw, i would be more scrutinizing on the string spacing (distance bet. strings @ the bridge) than on the scale length, but hey, that’s me. i’ve been playing the 5 for 2 years and i feel myself gravitating back to the 4. but i do a lot of thumping. even though, i don’t find much use of the B string except when a song we play in church needs that sub-E notes.

  11. I just have high hopes this does not seem a mindless question. Nevertheless after reading your content I’m somewhat lost. Just what were you looking to communicate here with this??

  12. […] already talked about my current bass choices in my previous post. But if in case something happened that would cause me to fail to reach my choices, I would have to […]

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