Buying a new bass

Bas Foto

Since last summer I’ve been the bassist in a band with two of my friends (we’re still looking for a drummer, so contact me if you are a drummer that can keep up with at least 180 bpm). We make really shitty punk, and I’ve been having the greatest time playing with them. The thing is; I’m not a bassist originally. I started playing guitar in 2017 at age fourteen on an acoustic guitar I got for my birthday that year. The year after I got to borrow my uncle’s Fender strat from the 80’s, which, for a 15 year old who could still barely play Stairway to Heaven was the coolest thing ever. This also inspired me to buy my own Fender strat the year after.
I followed music as a class in secondary school, and a requirement of the class was to play a couple of songs every few months in a small venue on a Friday night: these were the best nights of my entire secondary school experience. We would go out for pizza first, then play our set and listen to what the other 4th, 5th and 6th years were up to and afterwards go have fries at Café de Prins on Leidseplein (best fries in Amsterdam, very close to Paradiso). And every time a ton of our friends, some of them not even attending my school, would come and see us as well.
Another requirement of this class was that you had to play several instruments and/or sing at at least once, and that’s how I got into playing bass. For Sinterklaas in 2018 I asked for a very simple Fazley bass guitar, that included a bass amp. This bass was the absolute shittiest thing that existed, but I loved playing it nonetheless. I performed several times with but mostly used it for practising at home. The action was very high (meaning that the strings were really far away from the neck) and that made playing a full workout . My 16 year old self had a ton of confidence that I could fix this, and so, without watching as much as a simple tutorial, I went to work and “fixed it”. it wasn’t too shitty a job at first, but as I graduated high school and started playing less bass, I failed to notice that the bridge had started to bend up until I picked up my bass again last spring and saw that it was now about half a centimetre away from the body of the guitar. (For non-players, that’s really bad.) I laughed at my 16 year old hubris, and didn’t think too much of the consequences this might have on the sound until last Sunday, when I brought in my bass to record one of our tracks. The thing is, before this I would play on a bass I would borrow from the music school we rehearsed at, cause it was way easier than bringing my bass all the way there, since it’s in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Rotterdam. When writing the bass track I had already noticed that my notes sounded a bit weird sometimes, but I thought it was just because it was a recording and the bass was tuned a half step down with not that much precision. But alas, the bridge coming up had caused my bass to become completely unplayable. Open strings were the right notes, but with every fret the notes became a bit more out of tune. I debated whether I would fix this bass or just buy a new one. Eventually I decided that since fixing it would probably cost more than the bass cost in the first place (I also needed a tuning mechanism thingy to be replaced), I was gonna invest in a better, new bass. Now, am I any good at bass? Absolutely not. But buying new instruments is always a good idea. (That’s a lie, please be responsible with your money.)
So me and my friend André went on our way to Amsterdam to visit the Bax music store, with no luck. If you have planned to buy an instrument from over 300 euros before, you know that you want to buy the right thing. The only basses that spoke to me were the ones that were way out of my budget. So we ventured to Dijkman Music in the Jordaan. It’s the neighbourhood where I grew up, and the store where I have bought both my acoustic and electric guitar. It’s a cosy store with the opportunity to test out all sorts of instruments and amps. We went upstairs and André went to play some guitars while I tested out several basses. Now I have one question for all guitar stores, why do none of them have price tags? Eventually I just pulled out their website and looked up the prices of their basses so I wouldn’t pick up and fall in love with a €1300,- bass. Eventually it was between two black Ibanez basses, and I was having a full-on breakdown. It was a cycle of picking up one, playing a bit, then grabbing the other, playing that one, then standing in front of them just looking with utter panic that I couldn’t pick one. I texted one of my lovely bandmates, who told me “just pick the one you like the most”, which is useless advice. Eventually André used the tactic of “pick that one”, and then asked if it felt right. Of course that worked so I toddled downstairs to ask one of the employees to check me out.
Now, was the service the great service I had before? Absolutely not. They were surprised I was even buying anything at all. It took way too long and then my card declined which was just embarrassing. (I had to set a new max spending limit, oops) But I had it in my hands! A beautiful Ibanez RGB300 in matte black (in case you wanna look up the one I bought). I’m gonna record with it this Sunday, so stay tuned for some bangers coming to your speakers soon.