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Online Max Wedge

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Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« on: November 21, 2017, 05:57:50 AM »
So continuing on my modern day renaissance man theme, and wanting to knock another thing off my bucket list, I've started to research learning the bass. Possible for old dogs to learn new tricks? 

I looked for lessons in my area as I thought this might be a good way to kick start my learning. I came up with a high rated "rock school" not too far from me. Renting an instrument was kind of pricey, especially compared to what I could buy a bass for. So my questions for the EOE: Is this a crazy waste of time and money? Is the Yamaha TRBX174 or 304 a decent starter axe?

 I don't want to spend a ton, but I want something that I will like to play and not be frustrated because it doesn't work right or sounds like crap. Similar to starting to ride on a clapped out DT175 or a nicer Rebel.

 My goal is to be able to play along with few songs for my own enjoyment.


« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:14:30 AM by Max Wedge »
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Online SLK50

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2017, 09:28:23 AM »
I’d recommend you buy “up”.
i.e. A Mexican Fender Jazz will feel better and
sound better. Sure, it’s three times as much
but you will only cry once.
If it turns out the bass isn’t for you you’ll be
able to sell it with little depreciation.
The Yamaha, OTOH, is yard sale fodder.
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Offline squeezer

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2017, 11:10:31 AM »
Do it! There's nothing but fun there. And you can get started on bass fairly quickly. If you can play root notes on the downbeat, you can fit into a band. After that, you can go anywhere.

And face-to-face lessons aren't a bad idea to get started. But really, the level of instruction online is pretty amazing. I just started playing again (6 strings, not 4) and I'm finding I can learn what I want at the pace I want from better teachers through online lessons. And I don't have to keep a regular appointment. So, yeah, start with a real person if you can for the basics and to have a chance to meet other people interested in playing. If making the lessons starts to be a hassle, remember that you've got a ton of resources right in front of you.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2017, 11:14:12 AM »
Fourstring.  Fourstring to the white courtesy phone, please.
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Offline R Doug

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2017, 11:41:09 AM »
Learning the bass is something resonates with me (double bass aka THE bass, not bass guitar).  Between riding, track days (4 wheels), kayaking, etc..., I've debated picking up a new hobby.  But, I love speed, the outdoors, and music the most in life.  Why not become more involved in the things we love?

I'm jealous and will be watching your progress with interest. 
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2017, 11:41:35 AM »
Fourstring.  Fourstring to the white courtesy phone, please.

yes please.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2017, 11:52:35 AM »
Just do it. I started playing guitar a couple years ago. I still can't play a true song to save my life but can play some sounds that I rather enjoy. I started with an instructor for a couple months. I had no problem keeping the appointments but I could not keep up with what he wanted me to learn in the week between lessons. As already mentioned, there are plenty of good tutorials online. Get a halfway decent instrument cause if it sounds like crap, you won't know if it is you or the instrument. Even though I can't really play, I still pick mine up a few times a week and really enjoy it. Good luck with it.

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2017, 12:09:28 PM »
Can a decent bass be had for the $400 range?
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2017, 12:14:26 PM »
Learning the bass is something resonates with me (double bass aka THE bass, not bass guitar).  Between riding, track days (4 wheels), kayaking, etc..., I've debated picking up a new hobby.  But, I love speed, the outdoors, and music the most in life.  Why not become more involved in the things we love?

I'm jealous and will be watching your progress with interest.

Thanks for the encouragement. Between the gym/running, range time, and yoga, with bass lessons I'm hoping I can keep my sanity for the winter until I can ride daily again. I find 'zen'* activities help a lot.

*zen for me is an activity that challenges you to become proficient, has a lot of growing room and satisfaction from achievement, along with a concentration level that will not allow the mind to wander and needs focus. I get his from climbing, and if I lived in area where it was readily available, I would be hopelessly hooked.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2017, 12:23:49 PM »
Can a decent bass be had for the $400 range?

Absolutely.  Decent is a relative term but very much yes. 
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2017, 12:30:14 PM »
You can absolutely get a decent bass in the $400 range. I wouldn't go less than $300, but around $400 you start to see higher quality materials and in general, good sounding instruments.

Private lessons are a good approach, but you can also cover a lot of ground with a beginner bass book. There should be plenty of options at the local music store.

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2017, 12:34:43 PM »
I commend your decision.  Assuming you have some sense of rhythm, then you should be fine.  If this isn't already you, I'd recommend the following:

Get a really good set of headphones and start listening to your favorite music but turn up the bass and pick out that instrument and analyze it's role in the music.  Different players have different styles.  Sometimes it will be hard to follow, sometimes it will be boring and easy to follow but you'll learn a lot about the roll of that instrument in the music and how dramatic an impact it can have one way or the other.  Some bass lines are extremely obvious and jump out at you...  sometimes during only a portion of the song.  Example, everyone knows part of the bass line for Hotel California but train your ear to follow it through the rest of the song.  Pretty much all of just about any Rush or RHCP songs will have a prominent bass line.  Learn to set aside the lyrics, set aside the lead guitar and any electronics or keys and just absorb the bass while paying a little attention to the drums because they are often quite incestuous in their purpose.  Once you start hearing bass lines in songs you know but didn't pay attention to before, the instrument and your motivation to play it become much deeper. 

Oh, and learn good technique right away please.  :)  It'll be worth it in the long run. 
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2017, 01:06:38 PM »

Oh, and learn good technique right away please.  :)  It'll be worth it in the long run.

Absolutely. Some of us (ahem) are having to relearn things because we didn't do it well the first time.

But don't obsess over that either. The music is the fun part.
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Online Max Wedge

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2017, 01:25:13 PM »
Once you start hearing bass lines in songs you know but didn't pay attention to before, the instrument and your motivation to play it become much deeper. 

Which is why I picked the bass, it is the instrument I always hear.I have always listened for the bass lines, but they jump out at me anyway.

So recommendations for a bass?
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Offline fourstring

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2017, 02:26:28 PM »
Can a decent bass be had for the $400 range?


Oh yes.  The new stuff coming out of Korea and Thailand is outstanding, although China has a ways to go in its QC.  Japanese, Mexican, and of course the US-made stuff is usually considered superior in quality, but anything in that range is going to be good these days.  I prefer Yamaha to some of the Ibanez stuff, but that's just my preference.  I've owned MiM Fender and the price these days is a little dear for what you get, IMO.  I would avoid Fender's cheap section, Squire.

Couple of sites for you:

www.talkbass.com is the go-to forum for bass knowledge and hangout, including instructions, questions, links, and feedback.  It's "well curated", meaning it can get a little prissy, but there are some genuinely nice guys posting regularly.  My handle there is fourstr00. 

www.sweetwater.com is where I buy most of my gear these days.  Excellent customer service and return policies, and midwest-based. 


From an instruction standpoint, if you just want to learn a couple of tunes and get a feel, I have to admit that Rocksmith is a hell of a tool.  You can learn at your leisure and focus on what interests you.  I would also take at least a couple of local lessons to get the fundamentals, especially form, stance, fretting, and plucking.  It'll save you injury and soreness later and increase your enjoyment.  Plus playing it right looks cooler.

Bass can't be that hard.  They let me do it.


If you want to ever talk about it, PM me and I'm happy chat.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2017, 03:19:26 PM »
Once you start hearing bass lines in songs you know but didn't pay attention to before, the instrument and your motivation to play it become much deeper. 

Which is why I picked the bass, it is the instrument I always hear.I have always listened for the bass lines, but they jump out at me anyway.

So recommendations for a bass?

I'll leave that to the experts.  I've only had one.  I'm not a bass guy.  I'm a guitar guy who got a bass because three guys playing acoustic guitars seemed a bit redundant when I was playing out with my brothers...briefly.  It was an older Kramer but it was pretty nice.  I got a good deal on a trade for a couple guitars.  I got a nice little Peavy bass amp and was happy as could be.  Eventually traded it for an electric which was a HUGE mistake cuz I never played the electric and ended up giving it away.  sadface
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Offline fourstring

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2017, 03:26:52 PM »
Is the Yamaha TRBX174 or 304 a decent starter axe?


No direct experience, but between the two, for a starter, I'd recommend the 174 over the 304, even if it's a cheaper model.

The 304 has active electronics, which while they're not impossible to grasp, add a level of complexity to obtaining a sound that's probably a distraction for a first axe.  I would recommend passive, and simple volume/tone controls until you get more familiar with their use.  Cheap active electronics sound much "cheaper" than cheap passives, IMO.

I've recently been converting all my instruments from active to passive, so take this with a grain of salt.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2017, 03:31:24 PM »
kinda like getting mountain bike advice from a guy who rides a fully rigid, single speed 29er. 
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2017, 03:55:39 PM »
I started playing bass 1.5 years ago and I'm 57. I started gigging with the band after a month. Of course, I know how to play guitar which helped a bunch, but bass *is* different.

Lots of good values for bass guitars out there. I would recommend looking at the Ibanez SR300. You can find a nice used one for cheap ($200? $250?). Fast, easy to play necks.

There is a lot of free online bass education out there. For a newbie, I would strongly consider "How To Play Bass" (https://how-to-play-bass.com/). His approach is to learn to play bass by learning to play songs and I totally agree with that. Most other programs are a lot more academic/theory-based which just isn't any fun to learn.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2017, 08:46:36 PM »
I started playing bass 1.5 years ago and I'm 57. I started gigging with the band after a month. Of course, I know how to play guitar which helped a bunch, but bass *is* different.

Lots of good values for bass guitars out there. I would recommend looking at the Ibanez SR300. You can find a nice used one for cheap ($200? $250?). Fast, easy to play necks.

What he said.  I've been playing acoustic for about 15 years, and like Bill, at school we had two acoustic players- me and a co-worker.  I picked up a cheap one on CL for $50, a Washburn XB100.  I've been playing it for probably 3 years now, and I REALLY enjoy it.  I think I had an advantage in knowing the notes on the strings thanks to lessons (and life-long instrumental experience, albeit rather lame) and understanding a bit o' chord stuff, but the thing I like best about the bass is that when it comes to runs I find it's mostly what sounds good and right- then you begin to know where to run- then you throw in some slides and octave jumps and such- great fun!  I had a lesson from a guy I knew- just a couple pointers really.  That helped a bit.

Now I float between mostly acoustic and some bass at church, and probably 50/50 at school.  Bass when I play with my co-worker, acoustic when I play with students.

I have Rocksmith- I used it for the electric a bunch, but I really need to hit the bass on it- it is lots of fun! 

I'm actually starting to wonder if I'm a bass guy that plays acoustic (plus I have fat fingers- making a few chords tricky on the acoustic.  In fact, a better bass it on the short list for me right now- time to upgrade to something that plays a little better up the neck.  I love it- I think you made a great choice!
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Offline fourstring

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2017, 11:12:07 PM »
Also, as you go on your first shopping spree for bass, amp, tuner (!), cable, etc., spend 40 bucks and get a professional setup.  Basses, especially entry models, are often set from the factory with fairly high action, which prevents fret buzz but makes playability suffer before you have the hand strength to compensate.  Intonation is (more or less) set and forget, so once you've got a good setup you've got a bass that's easier to play, which means it's more fun.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2017, 11:13:11 PM »
I have a Yamaha RBX 170. I picked it up as a scratch and dent model form my local GC for under $100. It's fine after a good set up. Not amazing but better than I expected at that price. If I were shopping for a bass I would probably look for a used Mexican P bass. I see them around $300 pretty frequently. The higher end Squires and lower end Ibanezs are pretty good value for money as well.

The nice thing about playing bass as a beginner is that you can put in a passable performance by looking at the rhythm guitar player's chord charts and riding the root note. Work on rhythm and timing while you build dexterity.

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2017, 04:57:49 AM »
The nice thing about playing bass as a beginner is that you can put in a passable performance by looking at the rhythm guitar player's chord charts and riding the root note. Work on rhythm and timing while you build dexterity.

^This is huge too. Playing rhythmic root notes, paying particular attention to locking in the drummer (especially the bass drum) will get you a long way with a quickness.
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Online Max Wedge

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2017, 05:59:23 AM »
Wow! So much great info in this thread. thanks to everyone who chimed in. I did a quick run through a GC  near my work, and looked at the Yamaha, which looks much cheaper in person than online The Chinese Squier didn't LOOK bad, but I was not convinced, as I work with China on a daily basis, and I know what they don't know about QC. They will get there, but not yet.  So taking some of the advice here, I am going to another one to look at what they have used and to check out the Ibanez SR370e if they have nothing non-China used. Sound reasonable?

Side note: walking into a GC with my knowledge base is a little intimidating. Must be similar to what some people feel first time they go into a motorcycle dealer, or showing up for yoga the first time. Gotta be a first time for everything..
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2017, 09:13:41 AM »
I think you'd be very happy with the SR370E. I recently picked up a SRH500, which has similar dimensions and neck specs as the 370, and it has quickly become my favorite bass to play. I've looked at several Ibanez models and I think you get a lot of value for the price.
That being said though, Guitar Center should have at least several options in the price range you're looking for. I would try each one without even plugging it in just to see how it feels playing different notes along the neck. Then when you have a couple that feel the best you can start comparing sound, quality, looks etc.

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2017, 08:16:53 PM »
Don't be afraid of Craigslist either. Instruments are something that gets puchased and not used, to be sold of with a healthy layer of dust. Just do a minimum of research on what you're buying and avoid true 'starter pak' instruments. Judicious purchases can net you a perfectly adequate instrument at a minimal cost. Reality is that music stores are just like car dealers, the sales guy is commission driven and is more happy to sell more than you may need. They're less concerned with what you need than what you can afford.

Case in point, for approximately the price of the guitar you are investigating, Craigslist produced all of this:
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None of this for more than $125, most averaging $30-70.
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I'm not trying to dissuade you, but there's a lot of nice stuff out there that isn't pro gear but could be a great learning rig, without breaking you're bank. Even China can make decent stuff if you don't plan to make a living off it.  Good luck!
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2017, 08:39:23 AM »
I’d recommend you buy “up”.

i.e. A Mexican Fender Jazz will feel better and sound better. Sure, it’s three times as much but you will only cry once.

If it turns out the bass isn’t for you you’ll be able to sell it with little depreciation.

The Yamaha, OTOH, is yard sale fodder.

I absolutely LOVE the Jazz (over the Precision which always felt too thick along the neck for me even though I have long fingers).

I'm learning guitar after setting down the bass 30+ years ago. Do it. Keep your mind working.

For a DIY approach there's Yousician as a program for PC/Mac/Mobile that is really good, too.

One thing I learned about GC is that their storage, treatment and setup is seriously lacking. Window shop there then consider some place like Sweetwater (on line). Their customer focus is amazing.

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2017, 08:25:15 PM »
I'll second the recommendation for Sweetwater. Though the candy in my last order was seriously lacking. A single Laffy Taffy and a handful of peppermint pinwheels.

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2018, 01:46:05 PM »
UP DATE!!! UP DATE!!! UP DATE!!!

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2018, 06:16:35 AM »
 Well, if you remember back (or not) to my 'learn me up on yoga' thread, you will see that it was 11 months from idea to execution. That is to say, things have come up and this quest got back burnered. I am still doing research, and if something falls into my lap I will jump on it, but right now I am too busy to persue like I want. I was expecting a much slower winter hibernation. Stay tuned, I'll be back-this is a bucket list item.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2018, 09:32:22 AM »
Schecter started out as a company that made components that many used to upgrade their guitars and basses (pickups, etc.).

They decided to make their own stuff in whole clothe.

Pretty good performance/price point.

http://www.schecterguitars.com/bass

I picked up a CV-5 from the place I was taking guitar lessons. They were merging with another place and their inventory was marked down a bit.

http://www.schecterguitars.com/bass/cv-5-gloss-natural-detail
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2018, 05:12:54 PM »
Based on the advice of our esteemed bass expert, I'm picking up a Fender Noir Limited Edition P-bass tomorrow.  I currently have a Washburn XB100, which (IMO) is an excellent low-cost starter bass, but it's time to upgrade.  I've been playing more often at church and very frequently at school.  I'm startying to think I'm a bass player that started out on and plays acoustic most of the time.   :lol:

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #32 on: January 26, 2018, 09:01:44 PM »
niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.
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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #33 on: January 26, 2018, 10:41:51 PM »
Kudos. Looks nice. Time to strip it down and give it a good waxing with some canuba wax on the body and some lemon oil on the fret board.



I got this when the shop I was taking lessons at merged with another. I'm rethinking the 5 string though.

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Online CLAY

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #34 on: January 27, 2018, 10:54:40 PM »
She's home.  Neds a setup though.  Literally like new- the plastic is still on all the bits!  It came with all the new paperwork and stuff.

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Played it on Rocksmith for awhile.  It's fun!  Sold my Washburn to a buddy who came over tonight.  The guy is selling me the fit Fender case as well.    :thumbsup:

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2018, 07:59:10 AM »
She's home.  Neds a setup though.  Literally like new- the plastic is still on all the bits!  It came with all the new paperwork and stuff.

Fourstring is always reading Talk Bass listings to me.  It's incredible what people buy then never use.  But then again, this is a motorcycle forum.  I should be used to it!
She's got a worm in 'er belly? That's disgusting! That's interesting, but very disgusting. 

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Online Bounce

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2018, 12:20:04 PM »
Installed Shaller locks on the Schecter. It's a heavy bastid and gives the Les Paul a run for its money (weight-wise).

Easily swap 1 strap between guitars without multiple straps or messing with o-rings/washers.

https://www.schaller-electronic.com/hp135050/Security-Locks.htm?ITServ=_s07hrpv582ic857tevpbeniufs
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 10:52:45 AM by Bounce »

Offline fourstring

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #37 on: January 28, 2018, 05:49:58 PM »
That’s a nice find. :thumbsup:
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 07:59:47 PM by fourstring »
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Online CLAY

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2018, 09:14:33 PM »
That’s a nice find. :thumbsup:

I had a recommendation.   :bigok:

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2018, 05:42:05 AM »
That is a nice find! Can you say how much they were asking?
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Online CLAY

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2018, 10:38:30 AM »
He was asking $495, then $450.  I jumped at $450 and got it for $450 with a fit Fender case.  It really was brand new and had not been played other than plugged in and checked at his house.
"Most accidents happen when the meek meet the douchebags."  -Viffergyrl
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Offline Meemuh

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #41 on: January 30, 2018, 05:34:37 PM »

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Re: Learning the Bass: Whatcha think?
« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2018, 11:52:49 AM »
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2HKTx5WFcs0

I remember seeing that live (first airing). I was in tears from laughing so hard.