Peter Criss - Makeup to Breakup
Aussie Rock: King Cannons

From Guitar to Bass

JayTurserViolin

I've never been a guy with a lot of natural rhythm; it's always been something I've struggled with.  Unfortunately, both bass players I play with have left their respective bands --one due to, ah, creative differences, and the other has gone back to his home of Australia.  So I decided to throw my hand in and attempt to learn to play bass.  I figured it would be good for me as a way to improve my rhythm.  And for some of the rock and blues songs we've been playing ("Come together", "Day Tripper", "Sunshine of your Love", "Killing Floor", "Early in the Morning") the bass line is pretty much the same as one of the guitar parts.  So how hard can it be, right?  I mean, it's only got four strings!

So I picked up a couple of used short scale basses and Roland cube amps on Craigslist and GuitarCenter.  One bass and amp are kept where I rehearse with my guitar buddy Rob, so I don't have to schlep gear every time we play, and the other set is at home.  

  • Jay Turser Violin Bass ($150 w/case) 
    A Hofner "Beatle bass" clone with a 30" scale that I picked up in white as seen in the photo above.  I've never seen another Beatle Bass in white, so I'm pretty chuffed about this.  
  • Ibanez Mikro Bass ($100)
    A really short 28" scale bass, also in white
  • Roland Cube 20XL Bass ($150)
    A solid practice amp, with built-in amp emulation and loud enough you can play with a drummer 
  • Roland Cube 100 Bass ($200)
    This is a discontinued model, loud enough to play a gig, but still only 35 lbs.  Lots of built-in effects so you can go from smooth Motown sound to Stranglers growl.  At $200 this was a steal.

I decided to go with a short scale bass which would be easier to transition from guitar.  It's still a bit of a stretch, but not too bad.  That makes it a different sound than the classic rock Fender P-Bass, but I figure with the effects and amp emulation, I can boost the low-end if I really need to.  For guitar players interested in picking up bass, a short scale bass makes a pretty easy transition.  The Ibanez Mikro is about the same size as a Fender Strat, so it fits nicely in the trunk of my convertible.  Alas, the Beatle Bass has to ride in the passenger seat.

I'm not giving up on guitar, but I'm going to see what I can do to learn some proper bass skills. Heaven knows you always seem to have more guitar players than bass players, so I figure it's a good skill to have.  It's certainly different from guitar.  But it's a cool feeling when you get a groove going with the drummer.  And so far, no pressure to do a bass solo.  

Any other bass players coming from guitar who want to provide advice?  Let me know in the comments below.  And if anyone has another short scale bass (Ibanez ARTB100, Eastwood, Gibson EB0 etc) in white they'd like to sell, I'm all ears.  

Comments

Hi, I really like your blog, since I decided after many years of trying to learn guitar alone, to finally get some instruction. And I also love Photography, and have taken lots os concert pictures over the years.

I used to play bass years ago, and have played in many rehearsals and also life a couple of times. I have one advice for you: get a more powerfull amp, 100 watts is not nearly enough for you to be heard near a drummer. Aim for at least 350 watts and either a 2x10 or 1x12 cab, Behringer stuff is really good, top bang for the buck.

This was my trusty cheap "never let me down rig":

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v510/chriskbass/behringer1.jpg

Happy bass playing and contrata on the blog!

Chris

I meant "congrats" on the blog...

Haha! Thanks a lot. Yes, bass amps definitely require more wattage than a regular guitar amp. That said, I think some bass amps, like the Roland Cube definitely seem to be a lot louder than others, based on wattage alone. The guys I play with are not excessively loud so, so far I've not had to really crank the Roland past 2 on the volume. But I'll keep the Behringer in mind.

I agree with you, I had a Hartke Kickback 12 before, and it was really loud at 150W, thoug I never regreted getting more watts. Keep in mind, if you find yourself sometimes digging really hard on the strings, it's because you need more (clean) volume. The amp should be doing all the hard work, not you. BTW, this is one of the best resources about bass playing on the Net: http://wheatsbassbook.com/

Hello,

When it comes to watt usage, definitely, bass uses more but still i love to use when ever i am with my group, students or onstage with "Hartke LH 1000 Bass Amp" .Liked the options you have mentioned and would take a look at their performance too and might include in my list of gears.
:-)

I loved the article I will definitely point my students to your blog. You give a lot of great tips and I will be coming back to see more. Thank you again.

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