Which used bass?
September 16, 2010 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Which beginner bass should I buy, the Ibanez GSR200 or Peavey Milestone III?

I've narrowed my Craigslist search down to these 2 instruments. I looked up some reviews, but I'd like a direct comparison of these manufacturers and models.

The Ibanez is made in Indonesia, has been fixed up nicely, and is at a $125/OBO asking price.

I haven't seen the Peavey yet, but it's presumably in good condition, just not freshly adjusted like the Ibanez. Asking price is $80/OBO.

Have you had an entry level Peavey or Ibanez bass for a number of years? Which would you buy and how much would you offer?
posted by domnit to Shopping (6 answers total)
My first two basses were a Peavey and an Ibanez, though not those exact models. Both companies manufacture solid, if somewhat unremarkable bassess. I found the Ibanez easier to play and thus better to learn on. But really, the best thing to do is to try them both out and see which feels better to you in terms of weight, action, and size. The most important thing about an entry level instrument is your own comfort with it.
posted by googly at 4:41 PM on September 16, 2010

I had an entry level Peavey bass (also used) as a backup a few years ago, and I thought it was great. I'm sure I paid around $100 for it. It was a single split coil pickup, so the sound was a little drab, and it did feel a little cheap and plasticky (tapping on the faceplate revealed a very hollow sound), but it was light, had a thin neck (wasp-waist thin by the first fret and nut), was actually quite durable, and in general I loved the way it played. Some of the Peavey basses are actually really nice, the GSR200 you have there looks good. Mine was a similar shape, sort of a p-bass shape with that thin neck. Yours has the pair of single coils though.

The Ibanez looks good too. Never owned one, but I've fiddled with them enough (I worked part time in a guitar shop through high school) that I can tell you it's a decent product and probably subject to fewer variables than the Peavey. But at the entry level I don't think you're going to find the quality or lifespan of one is really going to dominate the other. All things being equal, go with which one feels better in your hands. If you can find a local shop that has the Peavey, try it out. That's the important thing. Don't buy a used entry level bass sight unseen. If we were talking Foderas or Alembics here, you could probably make some assumptions, but not so much here.

Do the following when you inspect them:

Make sure you try them both when you're sitting and when you're standing. Is it comfortable against your hipbone/ribcage? Strap it on, walk around with it for a while. Drop your hands and see if it's balanced right. Is the neck too thin or too fat? Too narrow or too wide? Push and pull the headstock, is it firm or too willowy and flexible? Are the action screws on the bridge sticking out and pose a risk of scratching your hand? (I've seen this on cheap basses.) Look down the neck from the headstock to the body, is the neck warped at all? Run your fingers along the side of the neck- are the frets properly seated? Check the nut for excessive wear. Play each string on each individual fret, do the strings buzz anywhere? Plug it in, check for crackles when you're adjusting the pots. Press on the pickups, are they excessively springy or good and firm? Are the covers loose or the poles uneven? If you're a finger player, do you have a good place to rest the thumb on your playing hand? The split coil on the Ibanez has a screw right where you might be putting your thumb, that may be very uncomfortable for you after a while. Bring along a friend with more experience/knowledge, if possible.

As far as adjustment goes, every bass owner should at least know how to change strings, raise/lower the bridge, and adjust the tension rod in the neck (for the Ibanez, that's done at the headstock, for the Peavey, where the neck joins the body). If the Peavey hasn't had these done recently, it should take less than five minutes to straighten the neck and adjust the bridge (I'm assuming that he's not willing to throw in a $15 set of new strings on a $80 bass). Strings are also an issue; if they're old, the bass will sound gummy and dull. If they're new, they'll sound brassy and vibrant. Your impression of the bass may be distorted if you don't consciously account for the quality of the strings you're playing.

Gosh, I don't know what else. Definitely play both, even if for the Peavey it's a store's model and not the actual one in question. Good luck!

And buy Quadrophenia by the Who and Farewell to Kings by Rush.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:54 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Either of those basses will do a decent job, although the humbucker in the neck position on the Ibanez will give you a better shot at emulating a Fender Precision sound, which is pretty much all of Motown, Muscle Shoals, etc. Corollary — you must try both on with a strap. If it neck dives, do not buy it. If your left hand is holding the neck up, its range of vertical (up and down the neck) movement is impeded and you are placing a giant road block between yourself and whatever technique you hope to gain.

Download an excellent free guide to setting up your new bass here.

Good luck and happy days to you!
posted by Wolof at 7:10 PM on September 16, 2010

Can't believe I just called the P-style split coil pickup a humbucker. More coffee needed!
posted by Wolof at 7:14 PM on September 16, 2010

The Ibanez is a better bass but neither of them are anything special.

You should realize you are looking at two pretty different sounding basses too. The Peavy has two J-pickups and the Ibanez has a P-Bass split and 1 J. Also, Ibanez has 22 frets and the Peavy only has 1.

Whatever you buy, take it to a music shop and have them do a professional tune-up for you after you buy it. Put on new strings, make sure the bridge is adjusted nice and have them set the fret action pretty low. This will be something that you should learn how to do later but it'll only cost $20 and you won't have to worry if you broke your truss rod. You'll also sound much better which will help your practice and the low action will help you develop a soft touch.

The Ibanez is only 199 new. I definitely wouldn't pay 125 for it used unless the guy installed some nice new aftermarket pick-ups or something.
posted by zephyr_words at 7:27 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, I picked up the Ibanez.
posted by domnit at 8:59 PM on September 16, 2010

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