What kind of tone do you need for bass and what do all these things matter?!?
I get questions like this all the time and I think the best answer is that we just don’t need all of that stuff. What you need to be sure of is that you have good ear. Some of the best tone can be made in just about any setting from the first few notes to the final notes of the guitar riff.
So, for example, if you’re using a pick-only setup then you should expect it to have the perfect tone if there are no strings. If you’re using a pick-and-drill setup then you probably want to have about 10-20 seconds (maybe longer) of extra tuning on the guitar to let the string tension settle a bit so that you can move around without taking a lot of breaks. If the pick’s off and you have lots of free hand you might have to make a small notch at the string position at the very beginning of the riff where you can set off a nice humbucking pickup and start playing. With a bridge setup it’s a bit more complicated to tune up to an intermediate frequency, but you can still do a lot of great clean bass tone by just using one pick or picking out a few notes at a time and getting that “hollow” tone. Then of course if that’s done in different spots on the neck you can have a pick-and-drill setup with different string tension.
What makes a good guitar?
It is the guitar which is playable well, with the guitar in your hand, and the tone of that guitar is good. I know that’s a broad definition, so lets give a slightly more specific example.
A nice guitar that is playable, with a good tone is one which is tuned down from a high E tuning. Then you can also try to play as flat as possible, but you will still need to have a good pick-and-drill setup and a good pick-and-drill setup for each string.
What are some great places to start playing?
In many situations you don’t need any additional tuning or string adjustments. Just pick up a good pick and do a decent clean pickup of something like a Fender Telecaster or Telecaster. Then play your own guitar to a little bit lower. Then play it in the normal scale up. This is where you really pick up on your picking finger, you start to use only the fret