A Beginners Guide to Buying a Bass Guitar

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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Bass Guitar

The bass guitar is a familiar instrument that is popular with both bands and some solo performers. Beginners can find a wide range of bass guitars suited to learning and improving their performance on the instrument. With practice, a bass guitar will reward the player by producing a great sound and allowing their musical ability to flourish. With a huge variety of finishes, sizes, and styles available, each beginner can be sure of finding an appropriate bass guitar, which will provide many years of service. Investigate brands and then study individual guitars in turn in order to find the right bass.

About Bass Guitars

A bass guitar is a long necked, stringed instrument that is very similar in appearance to other types of guitar. It produces a distinctive sound which can be adapted to work within a range of musical genres. Bass guitars have a lower pitch than an average guitar and are used to create the beat or rhythm for a song. Its strings are played either using a guitar plectrum, or the musician's thumb and fingers in a popping, slapping or stroking motion. The bass guitar is used in many diverse styles of music, from reggae to jazz, pop to rock, its versatility makes this instrument a good choice for the beginner. A small number of left-handed musicians opt for playing a specially designed left-handed bass, but this is not by any means vital. Although there are less of these left handed models on the market, they are available.
Bass guitars were first manufactured in the 1930s, and they were marketed as an alternative to the upright double bass. Since then, the instrument has been regularly adapted and developed to meet the changing demands of players and musical genres.

Choosing a Bass Guitar

Finding the ideal guitar will be largely down to personal preference, however, there are certain elements to consider when beginning a search. These include the size, colour, and functionality of the bass guitar, as well as the cost.

Types of Bass Guitar

When first selecting a bass guitar, it is necessary to choose between three main types. In order to make a choice, consider where the guitar will be played and the sound level required. Here is a table to show the three main types of bass guitar.

Acoustic Bass Guitar

Acoustic bass guitars have a hollowed area at the centre which acts as an amplifier. In the body of the guitar, a small opening allows the enhanced sound to emerge. The level of musicianship needed to play an acoustic bass, means it can be hard to manage for a beginner.

Electric Bass Guitar

An electronic bass guitar must be connected to an amplifier in order to be heard. Therefore, if this type of guitar is purchased, an amplifier will also be needed. This is the most commonly used bass guitar in popular music, and is an ideal choice for beginners.

Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar

The acoustic electric guitar can be played either attached to an amplifier or unplugged for smaller venues.

Materials Used in the Construction of Bass Guitars

Bass guitars are primarily made using a number of exotic solid woods, these are most commonly mahogany, maple, or alder. However, a range of other natural materials such as ivory, rosewood or walnut maybe also used on the fret board, to create an attractive design feature. A bass guitar will then be given a smooth sheen with a coating of wax or polish, which produces a gleaming finish.

Fretted and Fretless Bass Guitars

Frets are the vertical divisions that are positioned along the length of a bass guitars neck. They sit under the strings of an instrument, separating the specific areas where each note is played. Playing a fretless guitar enables a musician to get a wider range of sounds and fluidity into their performance. However, it involves using intuition and experience to hit the right notes, and may prove a challenge for a beginner. Although some accomplished players prefer the artistic freedom of a fretless bass guitar, many beginners will stick to a fretted model for the assistance it provides. Frequently, new players begin to learn on a fretted bass guitar, and then switch to a fretless model when they feel more confident in their musical skills.

The Strings of a Bass Guitar

The strings of a bass guitar are what provide the musical range for the instrument, they are made from metal, although they can be coated with various substances. The more strings that are present, the greater the available range between the highest and lowest notes will be.

Four Strings

Most bass guitars will have four strings. These are tuned to be one octave lower than the bottom four strings of a standard guitar.

Five Strings

A bass guitar with five strings increases the range of lower notes. Many rock groups use this type of instrument to get a deeper sound from their equipment.

Six Strings

A six-string bass guitars is a very adaptable instrument, capable of a varied range of notes. It takes a great deal of skill to master a six-stringed bass guitar. They are frequently used when one instrument has to provide many different sounds, such as in a recording studio. It is a popular model with Latin American performers and jazz artists.

Buying a Second-hand Bass Guitar

Like many musical instruments, bass guitars are frequently offered for sale second-hand. It is often the case that an owner has decided the hobby was not for them and they sell on a perfectly good instrument, just to get it out of the way.
A second-hand bass guitar is sometimes known as a blem, a reference to the word blemished. However, second-hand models are often in good condition and offer a value for money alternative to buying from new. As with a variety of other products, even a few years of ownership will see a fall in the market value of a bass guitar. Moreover, well-known brands will retain their quality over time, so an excellent second-hand instrument may be bought at a bargain price.

The Scale of a Bass Guitar

Bass guitars commonly come in four main sizes, small, medium, long, and extra long. The area measured runs the length of the strings. The following is a table to describe the four different scales and their functionality.


Small bass guitars have a string length of 30 inches or less, this scaled down version is light and often suggested for younger beginners or players looking for a higher pitch.


A medium scale bass guitar will have a string length of between 30 and 33 inches. This size will play slightly lower and deeper sounds, whilst remaining relatively light in weight.


A long bass guitar has a scale of 34 inches and this is the version most popular with musicians. The tone will be mid range and the dimensions should suit most adults.

Extra Long

A bass guitar of 35 inches or more is known as extra long. The lower notes are far deeper on such a large instrument. Players with large hands will find they are able to comfortably reach across the scale.

Find a Bass Guitar on eBay

In order to buy a bass guitar on eBay, firstly head to the home page. Start the search by clicking on the All Categories tab and next select the link for Musical Instruments and then Guitars. Open the tab marked Bass. Browse the list of available items, or narrow the search again by selecting from the panel to the left of the page. Another method of finding a specific item is by entering more detailed terms into the search box. This can be found in the centre of any eBay page, towards the top. To find a used Hagstrom electric bass guitar, for example, enter the term “Hagstrom electric bass guitar used” into the search bar.


A bass guitar provides one of the key rhythmic elements in many musical compositions and boasts a low, deep musical range. With practice, a beginner can increase their performance standard considerably and get the most out of the instrument. Buying a bass guitar and learning to play will be a different experience for every budding musician. In order to purchase a bass guitar that combines style and longevity with ease of use, spend time researching the brands and models available. With such a wide range of sellers and individual items, it is necessary to search thoroughly in order to be sure of obtaining the best product at the most reasonable price.

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