Desperately Speaking

I’ve 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 settle for even lower end choices. It’s always safe to have a back up plan in life even if you’re never gonna use them.

First of all, I would go for a Squier Vintage Modified ’70’s Jazz Bass as my first choice.

I’ve heard great feedback and reviews about this bass. Don’t let the Squier text in the headstock fool you, most owners of this bass have praised it to play even better than MIM Fenders. To add, because of it’s low price point, a lot players are modifying them such as replacing the tuners, bridge and pickups that in the end make it a great bass for value.

Lastly, my final choice would have to be an SX jazz bass. They’re carried by Rondo Music.

According to the populace of Talkbass, SX (or more commonly known in the community be “Essex”) bass guitars are the holy grail of low priced bass guitars. They offer the most value for any instrument out it the market today. Again according to owners, they are almost on par with MIM Fenders with exception to the neck radius and sometimes hardware. Nonetheless, they’re great instruments that are even available locally in the Philippines after contacting a JB Music representative (though I’ll have to wait till September till their shipment arrives). Because of their low price point, I’m even tempted to buy two of these; the other a Precision bass that would offer more tonal variety than one expensive bass.

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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.

Woes Of A Bassist In The Philippines

Being a bassist and living in the Philippines is hard. No one pays much attention to bass guitars locally as compared to guitars or to some extent the drums. When you enter every music shop, there will always be a significant difference between the number of choices available. Luckily, there are some shops that pay appropriate attention to us.

Yupangco is one of them. They carry a multitude of mid to high end bass guitars that will satisfy my crave for a new bass. I recently e-mailed them to inquirer the price of the new 2008 Fender American Deluxe. This is exactly how I e-mailed them:

Hi. I’d like to inquire if you carry the new Fender Deluxe Jazz Basses (2008 model) for retail.

They did reply 3 days after, but the problem is it wasn’t what I specifically asked. The important parts are quoted directly from their reply:

Model			Description			Regular Price

Fretless Jazzbass	US Standard Fretless Jazzbass	P52,950.00

Package Jazzbas		Jazzbass Package w/ 15w amp	P18,750.00

Well, I tried to be as specific as possible but still some people don’t understand. The Standard is very different from the Deluxe. I no longer want to resend an inquiry due to their high prices. They’re asking for 52,950 Philippine Pesos (approximately US $1261 using $1 = P42) which can be bought for 48,300 Philippine Pesos abroad. Yeah sure, shipping is an issue but that’s a different issue. I asked for the Deluxe damn it.  Even though it was just an inquiry, it was incorrect with what I asked.

EVERYMUSIC is a store, that imports all sort of goods regardless of being music instruments or not, which I discovered online. They do have a brick and mortar business at Cubao but I am hesitant to visit their show room since I’m afraid of creating another episode of a misadventure when I go exploring to some destination I’ve never been to before. Again, I e-mailed them using the power and convenience of the internet and their reply came in less than 24 hours:

Good day sir,

Geddy Lee Jazz Bass ; p49470

Thank you.

That’s a lot for the bass. After conversation, the cheapest available Geddy Lee Jazz bass is avalable for Good day sir, 35,700 Philippine Pesos. If you want tax on some US shores, it amounts to 39,270 which is distant from their asking price. Of course, I am aware that there are other complications to the price boost such as single shipping and local tax but that’s still a lot.

After deliberating, the best decision I have then is to buy it abroad in some music store or online and have it shipped at home.

But the main concern here is the lifespan of Stella (my Washburn XB120 Bantam Series). I fear that she might not last until I get to actual buy a new bass guitar. Those reasons are enough to be explained on a separate entry.

The End In Mind

I remember that we used to have reflection periods back at high school and during this time we’d listen to some inspirational story of advice that would hopefully alter the course of the day. One of the reflections I clearly remember back then was our moderator telling us to “begin with the end in mind.” What she meant was that we should have an end goal as early as now and work our way towards it. And so, this is my end goal for now:

Fender Geddy Lee Jazz

I’ve used the same bass guitar for the past 3 years and it’s really starting to age. I need a new bass guitar, something that is an essential and external part of me. This is going to be a long saving fund but in the end, it will be worth it.