Blues Amp Settings with a Boss DS-1

So what does it take to get a really good blues sound out of your rig? I mean like a solid, soulful blues groove that draws out every note and makes you want to scrunch up your face like Jonny Lang always seems to be doing.

Image Courtesy of Guitar Chalk Media


The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)

2014 will be the first year that we publish a bass guitar buying guide to go along with all our other purchasing resources.

The rules are still the same.

We're pulling together quality, price (less than $1000), reputation and practicality to get a list of bass guitars that would best suit you as the prospective buyer.

All links are Amazon affiliate links, which means they simply take you to Amazon; no strings attached (and no pun intended). If you buy this way, Guitar Chalk gets a percentage and it's a great way to support the site that allows us to avoid posting intrusive banner ads (can't stand those things).

Also if you like our resource, are on board with our mission and would like to donate, that support is likewise appreciated.

At the same time, this isn't just an arbitrary list of bass guitars.
Table of Contents
Click to Jump
Fender Standard Jazz
Ibanez SR600
Ibanez ATK805E
Fender Marcus Miller Signature
Ibanez SR806 6-String
Warwick Alien Deluxe 5-String Acoustic
Lakland Skyline Series 55-01 5-String
Fender Geddy Lee Signature
Sterling by Music Man RAY35-NT 5-String
Fender Troy Sanders Jaguar Signature
Gretsch Guitars G5440LS Hollowbody
Fender Road Worn '50s Precision
Warwick Streamer Rockbass Standard
Warwick Corvette Rockbass Basic
When I used to give lessons, people would always ask, "What kind of guitar should I buy?"

So the purpose of this article is to give you a direction to go in so you know you're not wasting your money.

Once you have some direction, you can focus on getting something you like.

Let's get start with a classic from Fender.

Fender Standard Jazz

The standard jazz bass from Fender was introduced in 1960 and is still one of the best-selling bass guitars in existence. For someone interested in a capable bass that can cross over a lot of different musical styles, the jazz standard is an easy pickup for around $600.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Alder body, polyester finish, maple neck, standard single coil jazz bass pickups, two volume and one tone knob and standard four-saddle vintage-style bridge.

Ibanez SR600

Ibanez handles a wide range of value when it comes to their instruments, but their mid-range bass lines are actually quite good. Anything in the SR line is going to be well made with a nice modern tone, well-suited for the nu-metal scene and post-grunge era. You've got plenty of options within the SR line, but the SR600 runs for about $650.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Ash body, rosewood neck, Bartolini pickups and volume, balance, bass, mid and treble controls are all included on the guitar.

Ibanez ATK805E Premium

This bass is a unique take on the typical Ibanez design with the ATK style bridge and headstock. Familiar Ibanez features like on-board EQ and dual humbuckers are included in this otherwise unconventional five-string bass.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Maple neck, ash body, CAP double humbucker, volume, balance, bass, mid and treble controls.

Fender Marcus Miller Jazz

Marcus Miller's signature bass features a two-band EQ and a Fender Hi-Mass bridge producing a wide range of tones and ideal for the more technical bassist. It's also easy on the wallet, frequently going used for as low as $700.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Ash body, 1-piece maple neck, artist signature on headstock, American vintage single coil jazz bass pickups and Fender Hi-Mass bridge.

Ibanez SR806 6-String

The SR bass series from Ibanez has been around for over 25 years and has remained popular because of its modern appeal. The tongue groove in this model is a unique features that allows players to better utilize the higher frets with the extra strings.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: MK1 Split Coil pickups, neck tongue and on-board EQ.

Warwick Alien Deluxe 5-String Acoustic

The Alien acoustic series basses from Warwick look fantastic with a unique sound-hole placement and a high cutaway. The Fishman preamp comes with a built in tuner and tone controls, as well as a notch control that helps reduce feedback.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)

Features: Fishman preamp with a Piezo pickup, on-board EQ, noise reduction and a laminated spruce top.

Lakland Skyline Series 55-01 5-String

It comes with an MK1 preamp and a deep Lakland-style cutaway giving you access to all 22 frets. Lakland basses are also known for good clarity with their lower tones, which give each note more of a distinctive sound. The 44-01 is a good choice as well.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: 22 frets, ash body, maple fingerboard, maple neck, optional pickguard, Bartolini MK-1 preamp and Bartolini MK-1 split-coil soapbar pickups.

Fender Geddy Lee Signature Jazz

Rush's bassist has played this version of Fender's jazz bass for a long time, most recognizable by the square shaped fretboard inlays. The guitar also features a thinner, fast action neck, along with a Geddy Lee High Mass Bridge.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)

Features: Alder body, maple neck, American vintage single coil jazz pickups, two volume pickups and a Geddy Lee high mass bridge.

Sterling by Music Man RAY35-NT 5-String

You can think of Sterling as being to Music Man what Epiphone is to Gibson. They're a more affordable, economy line, but still great guitars. This particular model features a six-bolt neck and active, built-in EQ.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Swamp ash body, maple neck, six-bolt neck joint, rosewood fingerboard and three-band EQ (preamp).

Fender Troy Sanders Jaguar

The look is distinctive and a nice break from the traditional Precision and Jazz bass design that you usually see with Fender. You also get the best of both worlds with a P-bass and Jazz vintage pickups.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, custom noiseless single coil jazz bridge pickup, split single-coil Precision Bass middle pickup and active preamp with bass and treble thumb wheel controls. 

Gretsch Guitars G5440LS Hollowbody

Gretsch is more often known for their guitars as opposed to their basses, but you're getting the same good quality and reputation and the unique appeal of a hollowbody bass. This one also comes in black.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Five-ply maple body, rosewood fretboard, maple neck, three-position pickup toggle switch, adjustable truss rod and four-saddle Adjusto-Matic bridge.

Fender Road Worn '50s Precision 

The road worn finish looks great with the P-bass, which is one of the most popular and widely used bass guitars in existence. It's ideal for someone interested in a more classic and time-tested solution.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Alder body, one-piece maple neck, one Precision bass single coil pickup and American Vintage Precision Bass bridge.

Warwick Streamer Rockbass Standard

The Streamer Rockbass from Warwick is considered an "entry-level" guitar but is one of the best of its kind and certainly in its price range. For around $550 you get a solid Carolena body and MEC Vintage humbuckers.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Carolena body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, MEC Vintage humbuckers and passive electronics.

Warwick Corvette Rockbass Basic

This model runs close to $650 most of the time, which is still a great deal for a Warwick bass. The guitar is comparable in quality to the Streamer five-string.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Features: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, MEC J/J Pickups, dual tone controls (for neck and bridge pickups) and 24 frets.

The Value Threshold

I've come to believe that when buying guitars (bass or otherwise) the $1000 mark is a pretty good target price.

Going much higher usually means you're spending more than you need to, at least for the casual or semi-professional musician.

In most cases people also want to avoid that four-figure jump.

So if you want to spend more and that works for you, go for it. I'm not saying it's a waste of money.

On the other hand, if you want to buy a bit cheaper, but you're not sure which basses are going to give you the best value, this list is a great place to start.

What else should I look for in a bass?

Getting good value is often what people don't trust themselves with.

Buying a bass guitar is a big investment, so most of the time people worry about the return, whether or not they're making a "wise purchase" or ending up with a lemon.

But what else should you look for?

You know you want value, but once you have a direction to go in, what should you focus on?

Stylistic Preferences

It's alright to just look for something you like or that looks appealing to you.

Style matters, because you're going to have to play the guitar and look at it all the time, so you want to be happy with the shape, color and other aesthetic attributes.

Simplicity or Versatility?

Do you want a plug in and play type of bass, or something that's really going to allow you to customize your sound?

Some players want a simpler solution, perhaps just a volume and tone knob, and one pickup.

Others like to have the EQ options and more opportunities to customize their sound.

Your own preferences in this area are worth considering when making your purchase.

Your Playing Levels

Whether you're just looking to pick up the bass for your own enjoyment or trying to open at jazz festivals for Marcus Miller should have an impact on what bass you buy.

If you're a casual musician, that doesn't mean you can't get something of good quality, but it might have an impact on how much quality you afford yourself.

The Ultimate Bass Guitar Roundup: 2014 Edition (under $1000)
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Guillaume Laurent

It also has practical implications for where and when you'll use the guitar - whether you'll use it to record, play live gigs or just jam with your buddies - which matters when you're making such a big purchase.

The point is to find something that suits you and that fits with your own goals and stylistic leanings.

So yes, try and target good quality and value, but once you find out where quality and value are, use what you like to narrow down your choices and find the ideal bass.

Your Thoughts

What other bass guitar belong on this list? What bass do you own that's under $1000 but plays like it cost three grand?

We want to hear about it.

Get in touch and share your story over at Twitter and Google Plus.

Flickr Commons Image Courteys of Kmeron

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About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.


5 Guitar Focused Skills of a Marketable and Professional Musician

5 Guitar Focused Skills of a Marketable and Professional Musician

It's better for business if you're good at what you do.

Because if you really are a talented guitarist and if you've developed the right skill set, then people will come to you and ask you to play for them.

That's a lot better than having to canvas other musicians and bands for a chance to play.

Session work, live gigging and teaching opportunities will present themselves readily and you won't have to prove yourself worthwhile.

You come pre-approved because your reputation precedes you.

What's the right skill set?

So the right skill set I mentioned; what is that?
A group of skills on the guitar that are marketable and make you a more desirable musician.
And since it depends on the niche, genre and situation that you're trying to break into, it's not about a universal standard of raw talent.

Though talent certainly matters.

But talent is a baseline requirement; a no-brainer. Of course you need to be talented.

5 Guitar Focused Skills of a Marketable and Professional Musician

Feel free to share the infographic.

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More so you need to be talented in the right areas; those that make you a flexible musician, a focused music student and a comfortable performer.

We'll identify those skills for you and talk about honing in on them and developing each one.

First, lest talk about practice and time management. 

Managing Practice Time

When we devote time to our instrument, though not all practice is equally valuable.

If we don't know what to focus, and spend too much time on topics and concepts that don't improve our market value as a musician, we likely won't make it out of our living rooms and basements.

So the decision we must make every time we pick up the guitar is this: What is our ultimate goal?

What are we working towards and how are we getting there? What's our wheelhouse?

It can be as simple as just picking up and playing, but taking it a step further and really examining our practicing habits helps us focus on the skills that are going to make us the most marketable as a player.

That's where we really want to be.

1. Quick, Clean and Subtle Chord Transitions

Chord transitions are one of the toughest issues that beginning guitar players face.

Eventually you can get your fingers in place to play most chords, but switching between chords, much less doing it quickly, can be an incredibly difficult skill to develop. Many players don't ever really master this aspect of the guitar, usually because they move onto other topics.

Spending too much time on something that seems so elementary tends to be frustrating, especially to a beginner. So much so that they skip onto more difficult topics that they believe should take a long time.

But leaving chord changes behind is a huge mistake which leaves a glaring hole in your skill set that's going to get noticed.

Developing or revisiting this concept takes time, but there are a few practical steps you can take to address it in your practice sessions.

  1. Arpeggiate chords and play one note at a time, making sure each one rings clean.

  2. When you change chords find a "lead finger," which is the first finger to land on a note for the next chord.

  3. Always keep in mind that the less you have to move your fingers and hand the better your changes will be.

  4. Practice keeping your hand close to the fretboard or even sliding to reach new chords in a progression.

  5. Memorize the most typical chord progressions.

Getting really comfortable with chord transitions takes a lot of time and a lot of intentional practice. You've got to develop a system and identify which chords you most often use and which ones you're most familiar with.

For most guitarists that's a mix of open, barre and power chords that all need to be used interchangeably.

Identify those chords and apply the aforementioned practice techniques until your chord changes become second-nature.

2. A Keen Sense of Timing

The mathematical aspects of timing can be taught, but to really grasp and understand it, you have to be able to hear and feel musical beats and time signatures.

It's also critically important that you do this early on, because if you don't have timing right, all the tone, technique and theory in the world isn't going to make you sound good. Timing is a foundational skill that should be developed by guitar players as early as possible.

This doesn't mean you have to play drums or even understand the theory behind musical time.

Instead, you should practice training your ear and listening to the beat of musicy with the intention of mixing it into your guitar playing.

So once again, a practical approach is sufficient.

  1. Listen to the drums and key in on the beat when you listen to music.

  2. Play along with the snare and kick drum when you're playing a song.

  3. Use a metronome.

  4. Plug an iPod into your amp or stereo and play along with some of your music.

  5. Practice counting along with beats when listening to music.

The more you hear timing, the easier it will be for you to replicate and follow it on your guitar. A lot of it can actually happen without a guitar in your hands.

3. A Melodic Approach to Fills and Solos

Fills and solos have an underlying purpose that have nothing to do with the speed or technicality with which they are played.

That purpose is simply to provide melody.

Now it's not to say that a melodic solo can't or shouldn't be fast, but too often the focus is on impressing with speed instead of inspiring with a melodic line. Guitar players make it harder than it really is by forcing on themselves an expectation of needing to play really technical for any lead guitar segment..

The correct approach is to first develop the melodic outline of a given solo or fill.

You need to ask; what's the story that you're trying to tell in that moment?

For example, Joe Satriani wrote "Flying in a Blue Dream" based off of dreams he had as a kid where he'd jump off of a ledge and just float.

Thus his solos in that song (which are incredibly fast and technical) are first and foremost, telling a story and providing a melody.

The speed comes later.

Though melody may seem like an ambiguous idea, you can think of it as a vocal line or the predominant note sequence of any piece of music. Take the whistling at the beginning of the Andy Griffith show for example. That whistling is the melody.

Or the solo that Kurt Cobain plays for "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

That solo is just the melody of the lyric line in the song's verses.

A good way to come up with melody lines for a guitar solo is to think about a lyric line or a melody in your head. It doesn't have to be long, it just needs to have an emotional track. Once you've thought of something, tab it out on your guitar and build your solo or fill from there.

4. An Understanding of Song Structure (Instrument Roles)

To get work (paying or otherwise) as a guitar player, it's not enough to just be really good at your own instrument. That's not to say you have to play other instruments, but rather you need to have an understanding of how they all fit together and compliment each other.

The head knowledge is fairly simple. Drums and bass are foundational instruments, where drums set the time and bass builds a chord progression.

Guitar, piano and vocals are melodic or harmonic accents, otherwise thought of as "decorative."

If you start to apply this to how you view music, you'll begin to develop a more complete understanding of how a song is actually created and how all the instruments fit together. That helps you stay within the role of the guitar and not become an intrusive presence when playing music with other people.

It's not that you need to be less aware of what you're doing on the guitar, but you need to become more musically minded and more concerned with the final product (the entire song) as opposed to your own playing.

Your playing should contribute to that as much (or as little) as necessary.

5. Understanding the Role of a Contributor

Since the guitar is not a foundational instrument, a guitarist is almost always limited to the role of a contributor.

All this means is that your sound is an additive and not critical to the song's structure.

That means you've got a responsibility to understand what a song needs from your guitar and how to contribute.

It might involve a lot of loud playing or it might not involve much playing at all.

Understanding how to contribute means you're alright in either scenario and that you're comfortable with both ends of the publicity spectrum; either being heard a lot, or not being heard much at all. They both have their place at one time or another.

So how do you practice being a contributor?

  1. Learn to distinguish between the rhythm and lead guitar parts when listening to other music.

  2. Start to take note of how often each guitar plays in particular songs. Do they ever drop out? Are you constantly hearing a particular sound or riff? What parts of the song do you typically hear a given guitar part?

  3. Listen to music that's similar to the niche that you play in and pattern your playing after what those guitar players do.

A practical way to learn how to contribute is to keep in mind that less is more. You're better off to start from a minimalist perspective and to add guitar portions as you progress through a song rather than over-saturating it with noise from the beginning.

So it's a safe bet, if you're just strumming or picking aimlessly, without any real intent, you're probably not contributing anything of value.

Think about why you're playing what you're playing.
Every audible not should have a purpose.
If most of your playing doesn't have a purpose or direction, then you're misunderstanding your role in a musical setting.

That purpose should be one (or more) of the following.

  • Adding melody.

  • Accenting the vocal line.

  • Layering melody.

  • Adding harmony.

  • Accenting the bass line (chord progression).

  • Layering the bass line (chord progression).

Learn to recognize when these things are necessary; how to fit them into a song and place them properly. It's different, depending on the genre of music and each individual song, but you'll develop a feel for the niche you're in and it'll become second nature.

Cultivating These Skills

It's difficult to practice some of these traits, because in a lot of respects they're understood outside the context of just your guitar.

So things like melody, timing and chord transitions are concrete topics that can be practiced literally.

However, song structure and contribution are difficult to nail down because they're more theoretical and heavily situational. My advice would be to focus on the three concrete skill areas and develop the two theoretical areas over time as you fall into your musical niche.

The process is a long one and it takes years to develop this kind of playing. But knowing where to put your energy and what to work on when you do sit down to practice can help.

Depending on your natural abilities and giftedness with the guitar, you may progress faster than others.

Follow up Resources

We've got plenty of material here to help you with both the concrete and theoretical topics covered in this article.

Use them to develop your own practice schedule and to target the areas that need the most work.

Here are just a few resources that you might find useful.
When you do sit down to practice, block of some time to deal specifically with these five skills and to learn how to apply them to the type of music you play. Avoid the temptation to cover them and move on, because in order to really master something, you need to keep revisiting it.

So don't be afraid to review and don't just check a practice topic off your list.

You can always get better and you can always improve.

Thoughts and Feedback

Would you have added (or removed) something from this list? Are you a successful musician with something to share?

Let us know over at Twitter and Google Plus.

Further Reading

Harmony and Theory: A Comprehensive Source for All Musicians by Carl Schroeder

Soloing Strategies for Guitar by Tom Kolb

Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Iraun

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About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
touch with him here, or via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.