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Bass guitars for church and worship players

Schecter Stiletto Custom-4

I don't talk about bass guitars very often, but as much as people say that bass players aren't needed anymore, they are - especially in a worship setting.

The place where you see bassists quite often are in churches. Stage types for churches come in all sizes, from small cathedrals all the way to full blown arena style venues that somewhat resemble a rock show (yes, really.)

Bass players look for very specific things with certain basses for use in worship settings, and these are some that fit the bill nicely.

(Note: I'm purposely listing 4-string models but may do an article later on basses with more strings, such as the Schecter Stiletto Studio-6.)

Schecter Stiletto Custom-4

This is the bass seen above, and it is absolutely perfect for church playing. The look is right, the EMG 35HZ pickups are right (responsive, quiet and a very nice place to rest the thumb,) the shape is right, and most importantly the price is right.

The Stiletto Custom-4 is a no-brainer buy for church bassists.

Ibanez GSR200BWNF

Ibanez GSR200

This is another no-brainer buy for bassists, but for a totally different reason compared to the Stiletto Custom-4. The GSR200 model has two major selling points. First, it's cheap. Second, it's pretty much the best bass for the price it sells for. There are other basses as cheap as the GS200, but you get the most for the money with the Ibanez. And by "most for the money," I mean "everything works like it's supposed to and won't fall apart in a year."

The other nice thing about the GSR200 is that it's arguably the best cheap bass that covers the most tonal range. Why? The P/J pickup layout and four control knobs (volume and tone for each pickup.) That's actually really good on a bass priced as low as the GSR200 is.

Yamaha TRBX204

Yamaha TRBX204

You're probably saying to yourself, "This looks almost identical to the Ibanez GSR200. Why show it?" The reason is something I guarantee you missed. The P pickup. The Ibanez mounts its P pickup flipped while the Yamaha has a traditional Fender Precision Bass P pickup mount.

Why does this matter? Because some bassists rest their thumb on the P pickup, and many are used to the Fender style orientation. But then there are other bassists who actually prefer the P pickup flipped because it feels better to rest the thumb with the pickup mounted that way.

Is the P pickup's tone affected based on orientation? No. I'm sure some bass players would disagree with me, but I've never heard a significant difference in a P pickup's tone based on just that.

Oh, and there is one more cool thing about the Yamaha over the Ibanez. Truss rod adjustment. It's at the heel and done so in the best possible way. There's a channel there where you can insert a wrench very easily to make relief adjustments. No need to take the neck off, no truss rod cover plate to remove (it's always open,) and you don't even need to detune the strings. The channel was very smartly designed with proper length and a raised "lip" so you have plenty of room to get a wrench in there with absolutely no danger of scratching the body. It really doesn't get any better than that.

Squier Vintage Modified '70s Jazz Bass

Squier Vintage Modified '70s Jazz Bass

You can go cheap and buy the Squier Affinity Jazz Bass, but spend a little extra and you get a much better bass with the VM '70s Jazz from Squier.

The Affinity model gets the job done, but you will probably find yourself fighting with the instrument from time to time, and that's no fun at all. The VM model just outright feels like a proper Jazz Bass. Yes, it's Squier, but it easily captures that "feels like Fender" vibe. Everything is where it's supposed to be and it is a mod-friendly Jazz, so it's ready for upgrades later on.

VM '70s Jazz is one that can easily be used to gig regularly and reliably with. Can't say the same for the Affinity.

Fender Standard Jazz Bass

Fender Standard Jazz Bass

If you play bass, you knew the tried-and-true Fender Jazz Bass would make an appearance here, and for good reasons.

The trusty Fender J Standard (and yes I am specifically talking about the Mexico made J) is a bass you can rely on. It just works. But that's not really its main selling point.

What really makes the J Standard a good buy is the unbelievable amount of mods and upgrades out there for it. Unless stated otherwise, anything third party made that "fits Fender Jazz Bass" will fit the Mexico made J.

I'll say it another way. If you want a Fender you can mod, get the J Standard. If on the other hand you have no intention of modding the bass, get the USA made Professional Jazz instead.

What about the more ritzy expensive stuff?

If you're more than just a casual bass player, you've probably drooled over an Alembic or maybe a Sadowsky, Pedulla or Dingwall bass. These are all fine instruments, but are out-of-reach for most bass players. Not everyone has $3,000 or more to drop on an instrument.

My advice for church and worship bassists is to use a bass that looks nice but isn't a trophy queen. Church gigs are still gigs whether you get paid for it or not, and you need a bass that can take a knock.

Remember that getting a ding or a nick in a bass you paid $600 or less for doesn't hurt nearly as much as one you paid over $3,000 for.

Published 2017 Nov 15

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