Buying Your First Bass
If you want more detail and pictures, I have another article on my other site tunemybass.com - bass buying guide. Also, if you are just starting out on bass and you are needing lessons, check out and bookmark my site for bass lessons online there are a lot of useful learning resources.
This site's original article on buying a bass is still worth reading and follows...
The First Thing About Buying Your First Bass
Most importantly I would advise you not to spend too much money on your first bass. Choosing the right bass won’t be easy until after you’ve been playing for a while. Once you have a good year of lessons behind you, you can make wiser choices with your (or your parents') money.
Bass is a large instrument. It can be played with any size hands, but for most everyone it will require some stretching in the beginning that you are not used to. For beginners, it is a little easier starting on a bass that has a smaller neck in terms of thickness. For instance, Ibanez basses have very thin and easy to play necks, where some Fender basses have quite large necks. If your hands are smaller, go with the smaller neck. If you have large hands go with the bigger necks if you prefer.
I could go on and on about tonal differences in basses, but the differences among beginner basses under $300 aren't that big.
The pickups play a large role in the sound of the bass. For a wider range of tone, get a bass that has two sets of pickups. There are 2 common pickup styles P-pickups and J-pickups. They are named after Fender's Precision bass (P) and Jazz bass (J) original pickup designs. The P-pickups look like two offset rectangles - one under each pair of strings. The J-pickups look like a long, thin rectangle. Both have their own unique sound. Also the placement of the pickups affects the tone. A beginning bass with a P-J setup will give you the most tonal variety.
Where was it made?
Most basses are now made in foreign countries. I have taught many beginner students and seen many beginner basses. The poorest quality basses seem to come from China, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia. The best quality basses seem to come from the U.S.A., Japan and Korea. This is something to which you might pay attention. It is usually clearly marked somewhere on the bass. More and more manufacturers are outsourcing their manufacturing to compete. And, recently the quality gap has been closing. This is less important now.