I'm switching from guitar over to bass, and I've been trying to learn through using my acoustic. I really need a bass, but I don't really have a lot of money to spend. I'm willing to save up a bit, but the sooner I get it the better. I just want it to have a decent sound and be decently made, but be a reasonable price. Any suggestions?
I'm switching from guitar over to bass, and I've been trying to learn through using my acoustic. ...
A short answer: look for the "combo" deals. You get a bass, amp, chord, and sometimes more for around $250-450.
Here is an example - http://www.guitarcenter.com/ESP-LTD-B-10-Bass-Pack-521008-i1426884.gc
A better answer: when it comes to any kind of musical instrument, you get what you pay for.
Really inexpensive guitars are usually made with plywood instead of tone wood which robs you of sustain and great tone. They tend to have very low end electronics with low output and very poor/muddy tone. Frets, machine heads, and other parts are also low quality plated metal and can break/corrode/strip/wear very quickly.
A better route is to go to a local pawn shop or mom&pop music store and look for used basses. They might have a few dings and scratches in them, but you'll get a bigger bank for your buck. Scratches and dings will not change how the guitar sounds, and that is what it is all about...right?
Save your cash, do some research into pickups and such that you might like, then go hunting!
A rule of thumb with new guitars and basses - a good quality instrument will usually start you at around $700. Look for tonewood bodies like maple or mahogany. Look for high output, high quality pickups. Look for necks with as few of pieces as possible (this helps your sustain dramatically), thru-necks will give you the best tone/sustain.
Also, look for a good amp. You can have the best instrument in the world, but if you play it through a bad amp, it will sound like crap. Rule of thumb for amps - there isn't any. Find one with good sound and a good wattage for your uses.
Keep in mind that pawn shops don't have warranties. If you buy an amp and it breaks a week later (it's happened to me) you just lost a couple hundred bucks for the purchase and another couple hundred for repairs. Guitars are nearly as much of a risk - repairs (other than finishes and pickups) cost usually $30 or less.