A lot of people, perhaps including you, are attracted by the richness and depth of the bass sound.  The bass keeps the band together by functioning as the foundation of the harmony, harmonic rhythm, and at times as melodic embers.  It may just be the most important instrument in a band. Before we become pro bass players and rock out, let’s talk a little bit about a few things you would need to know before buying your beginning bass.

For your very first bass, we recommend that you do not buy a high-end bass.  A beginning bass is much more suitable and easier to play for first time players. Also, you wouldn’t want to find out that the bass isn’t as interesting as you initially thought and just be stuck with an instrument that cost thousands of dollars.

First, start with a 4 string bass rather than 5 strings.  There are plenty of things you can learn and do on a 4 string bass before moving onto a 5 string bass.  It would also be much easier to play on a 4 string bass since the fretboard will be smaller than the 5 string.

Main Parts

Bass has three main parts, the body, neck, and head.

The body is shaped in many different ways depending on the brand and model. Although bass is an electric instrument, the material of the instrument still affects the quality of the sound.  A good quality body is made with woods like mahogany, alder, agathis, or maple. The magnetic pickups are mounted on the body of the instrument. There are many different types of pickups, but the two that are most prominent are single-coil pickups and double-coil (aka humbucker) pickups.  Single-coil pickups produce a clear and bright sound, but they are vulnerable to external noises.  Humbuckers may not be as clear and bright as the single-coil pickups, but they are less sensitive to external noises.

The neck is put together with metal frets on the fingerboard. Frets help you to play specific notes just like any other types of guitar. Good quality fingerboards are made of rosewood, ebony, or maple.

The head is the top-end part of the bass, and it holds the strings with the tuning pegs. The head of the bass has an important job of maintaining the tune of the strings.

Since bass guitar is an electric instrument, you would need an amplifier to produce real sound. The overall sound of the bass will depend a lot on the amplifier so try to get a good one.  In addition to the sound quality, look out for a few features that are helpful. Having a headphone jack on the amp is helpful when practicing quietly. Having a “line in” for external devices is also helpful.

Parts and Accessories

There are other parts and accessories you should look into other than just the instrument and the amp.


Having a carrying case is a must if you plan on traveling with your bass. Hard-shell cases are highly durable but tend to be heavy. Soft-shell cases are much lighter than hard-shell cases but provide less protection.


Guitar strings will deteriorate over time and break eventually regardless of playing ability. If you plan on playing bass for a while, buy the strings in large quantity and save money.


Get a tuner that tunes bass well. It is important to hear the instrument in tune at all times during the beginning stages of learning bass, that way you will develop a good ear for tuning as you improve in playing.

It is easy to feel lost when purchasing a new bass, but having some basic knowledge of the instrument might help you feel confident at choosing your first bass. If you have any specific questions about purchasing a beginning bass feel free to leave them in the comments below. Also don’t forget to check out our “Top 3 Beginning Basses for Your Money.”