If you are choosing an electric bass for your child or teen, here are some tips:

The cheapest bass is probably not the best value. Nowadays, there many very inexpensive, quickly put-together “no-name” electric basses available from major music stores and even department stores. These basses are so cheap for a good reason: they are made with lower-quality materials and they are often put together by workers without proper training in musical instrument building. These instruments tend to have a thin, hollow tone, and they are more likely to have input jacks that stop working, solder connections in the volume knob that come loose, and necks that warp when the humidity changes.

Consider a used instrument. Particularly when buying a birthday or Christmas gift, some parents feel that a present has to be brand new. However, with musical instruments, the stigma that some people associate with buying used goods does not apply. When professional bassists go shopping for instruments, they will often try out used vintage instruments, because they know that older instruments tend to have better tone and better workmanship.

There are several good reasons to consider getting a used instrument for your child or teen. For about the same price as a brand new, cheaply-made “no-name” instrument, you can buy your teen a used instrument from a trusted, well-known instrument manufacturer, which will have a better-quality wood body, neck and pickups, and which will be more sturdily built.

Buy from a store with a good return/exchange policy. The most important reason to buy from a store with a good return/exchange policy is to protect yourself in case there are manufacturing defects or problems. If you buy a used electric bass from a private seller (eBay, Craigslist, etc.) or from a pawnshop, even if the neck cracks the second day your kid is using it, you are often stuck with the instrument. At Spaceman Music, all store-owned guitars and basses carry a 6-month warranty. (Consignment items do not have a warranty, but they can be brought back during 3-day period after the sale for a full refund if the guitar is defective).

For a kid under 12, consider a short scale bass: If your child is under 12, a full-size electric bass might be too big for their left hand to fret the notes easily. You might want to see if your child finds a short-scale bass more comfortable. A short-scale bass has a shorter neck. Most kids over the age of 13 will do fine with a regular bass, unless their hands are small for their age.

An electric bass for my daughter?: Sure, the history of rock bass was dominated by men, but women bassists have always been there, in every style of music. Carole Kaye played on scores of 1960s and 1970s rock and pop hits. Tina Weymouth played bass with the avant-garde rock band Talking Heads. Kim Gordon plays with punk pioneers Sonic Youth; Gail Ann Dorsey plays with musical heavyweights like David Bowie and Bryan Ferry; and Jo Bench plays with the UK metal band Bolt Thrower. So Spaceman Music says YES, your daughter can play electric bass!

by Nathan Morris for Spaceman Music Corp.
Copyright 2009: Spaceman Music