Electric Bass Guitars that I owned and loved, but were awful! Along with recommendations for good bass guitars!
I got into electric bass guitars when I was fourteen years old, inspired by artists like Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue and Blacky from Voivod, particularly 1987’s Killing Technology album.
I was 15 when my mother bought me my first bass guitar and amplifier, a Hondo bass and a Gorilla amp! It was one of the cheapest bass guitars on the market, but the gift was a surprise and it stayed with me for the remainder of my life; presently standing right next to me on a guitar stand I bought for it years ago. At 21 years of age, it is beaten up, has strings practically rotten, candle wax and dust all over its body, paint chipping off its jet black body and a door screw and latex from underneath a soda bottle cap holds the strap on. It was one my favorite and most used birthday gifts I received as a teenager.
And although this electric bass guitar was rather awful by being extra heavy, had a humming sound and the frets seemed to destroy strings quickly, I would practice with this beast non-stop. I could compare it to driving around in a 1977 Monte Carlo, in 2010. I was never any good at it either, but I did manage to learn to play a few metal songs and even created some original music with it. The best of course was joining a couple of bands, rehearsing in downtown Manhattan music studios as well as the nasty studios around Times Square, and playing my first and only live show at a Long Island, New York dive in the winter of 1989, where I went on a mad and horrific bass guitar solo as my band was wrapping up after our set! Somewhere out there is a VHS recording of this that I’m glad never to have seen!
In a testament to how similar we can be sometimes, my wife bought herself an electric bass guitar in her 20’s. And not only was it an electric bass guitar like I had, but it was also one of the cheapest brands in the market, a Carlo Robelli!! Once at a party this musician guy asked what type of bass she had after learning she played. She responded that it was a Carlo Robelli. He was so disappointed while she and I laughed. He asked me if I played and what type of bass I had, and after letting him know I had a Hondo, he put his hands on his face in regret and just couldn’t understand why - and we laughed and laughed!
I love both our electric bass guitars, but if my children asked us for an electric bass, I would not be quick to offer either of these cheap-o brands. Instead, $300 is the right price for a beginner’s bass guitar like the Yamaha RBX374 Electric Bass, Black. It offers a contoured double cut alder body with a maple 24 fret neck and high output ceramic humbucking pickups and 2 band active equalizer. It’s $300, but a fantastic value considering its quality for the money.
If you need to go cheaper, one of the best brands out there for electric bass guitars is Ibanez. With the Ibanez GSR200JB costing around $200, you get a good value with its Agathis body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard and an inlay Split coil as well as a single-coil pickup combination with active EQ and Phat II Bass Boost. This is the entry model and can go up to $395 for the Ibanez GSR200BK.
In general, if you’re getting your teen a bass guitar, you have to speak with them about what they want and discuss a budget. $300 is really the ideal price where value exceeds the quality in less expensive electric bass guitars and can compete with higher priced bass guitars. One main consideration for spending this much is that if your teen is serious about learning this instrument, cheaper versions just dampen inspiration and creativity, while a good quality beginner bass guitar can have much better results with your young musician. Trust me, this comes from a guy who’s lugged around a Hondo for over 20 years!!
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