A nice acoustic bass guitar at a reasonable price?
October 16, 2012 6:55 PM   Subscribe

What are some suggestions for a nice acoustic bass guitar (not a stand-up bass fiddle; not an acoustic-electric) that I can purchase for my son at a VERY reasonable price?

What kind of $$$ am I looking at? Is Guitar Center a reasonable place to purchase this, or should I find a used guitar? This is for someone who is quite a good player -- but we are trying to save money these days. He has an electric bass, but he wants to have a bass guitar he can play without an amp.
posted by DMelanogaster to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's a Fender Kingman on sale on Hello Music today for $375 today. I don't know whether you can click through the link without signing into that site. Sort of a daily deals site for musical instruments.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:59 PM on October 16, 2012

Rondo Music has many positive reviews for their products in general. I do not have any experience with the acoustic bass guitar linked.
posted by blob at 7:04 PM on October 16, 2012

The above are both acoustic-electrics.
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:38 PM on October 16, 2012

Try http://www.elderly.com/ They sell new and used.
posted by michellenoel at 7:59 PM on October 16, 2012

Most acoustic bass guitars will be acoustic-electric, just because most people play bass in a group setting and an bass instrument as small as a guitar will need sound reinforcement in most group settings. There is no reason why the added electronics will make a difference, unless you are thinking it will add to the cost (which will be minimal) - but in a brief look around all of the cheapest acoustic basses have electronics, and the ones which don't are more expensive.

For cheap instruments which will still be playable, you'll have a hard time finding something cheaper than this or this. Personally I would spend the extra $60 for this.
posted by ianhattwick at 8:06 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honestly an acoustic bass guitar is quite a strange beast. A guitar size body is the wrong size to resonate with bass frequencies, and the frequencies that become the loudest are exactly those most players decrease in order to fit with other instruments. Has he tried out some acoustic bass guitars? I'd definitely try doing this a lot first to make sure it's the right thing.

Having said that, if you're really looking for cheap definitely try the used market. Alternatively if you had a bit more to spend and wanted to try something fun and very portable, the Kala U-Bass could be worth a shot.
posted by iotic at 11:50 PM on October 16, 2012

ianhattwick listed out seemingly decent ones above. I only have experience with a Michael Kelly Firefly. Make sure your son tries one out before you buy, just to get a good feel for how an acoustic handles. And I mean try it for ten or twenty minutes straight...there's a lot of potential ergonomic issues that need some time to surface.

Any acoustic bass of note will have a bridge amp so it can be a useful instrument in rooms larger than a closet.

Buy used if you can, because you may well be selling it back inside of a month. Avoid the depreciation hit.

The upside for an acoustic bass is that you won't need an amp in a small room. The downsides are that it will need low-tension strings, it is hard to find gig bags that fit, the action is awful even on adjustable necks, it is a pain to set up and keep set up, and the things are ungainly (to say the least).

If the reason your son wants to get one is so he doesn't have to haul an amp around to practice, get a good headphone amp like this one instead. If the reason is your son doesn't want to lug around an amp to play out, he'll likely be disappointed.
posted by graftole at 4:52 AM on October 17, 2012

The above are both acoustic-electrics.

They are acoustics with pickups in them. There is no difference except they have the option to be amplified if you want. If the option is really offensive you could possibly take the pickups out.
posted by bongo_x at 11:02 AM on October 17, 2012

Knowing where you are located might help, since an acoustic instrument like this is not typically something you want to order online, and guitar center is not always a great choice. If price is more of a concern than quality, however (if your son just wants something that can get banged around or brought camping or whatever), than ebay might be OK, and Rondo music usually has very good prices. Definitely check craigslist, though, since acoustic bass guitars are one of those instruments that a lot of people buy and then sell not too long afterwards, so a used one will definitely save you some cash.
posted by markblasco at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2012

The bass player in my band just bought an acoustic, and he went with the Dean ianhattwick linked to above. Told me he played a bunch of them, and that one had by far the best feel and loudest sound. He's not interested in running it though an amp, so that was pretty important to him.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:26 PM on October 17, 2012

To answer a couple of questions: we are located in New York City as far as purchasing, but my son goes to college a couple of hours upstate. I went to Guitar Center today and was told, as someone posted above, that there is virtually no acoustic bass that is not also an electric bass.

My son wants to be able to go outside in the woods where he "escapes" [many things] and plays a bass by himself. He also has an electric bass and amp up there for playing with others, but is obviously not so happy playing a not-plugged-in electric instrument.

We're going to check out many of the suggestions above, and I (and we) thank you. (any more suggestions/comments certainly welcome).
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:19 PM on October 17, 2012

Simply by virtue of being in NYC, I would think you've got some other store options besides the "big box" Guitar Center, and a good chance of finding a used one in good shape, either through stores or on craigslist.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:53 AM on October 18, 2012

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