In my opinion, the most significant bass selection features are the following.
1️⃣ Does the bass work well? That’s a no brainer, but a gig-worthy bass shouldn’t have any technical issues; such as malfunctioning pots, a bad setup, buzzing frets, bad soldering, etc.
2️⃣ Which sonic spectrum do my basses occupy?
- A loud classic rock band could benefit from a bass occupying the low-mids naturally; such as a P-bass.
- If the bass is taking a solo / melodic role, one could prefer a more articulate bass occupying the high-mids / trebles naturally; such as a J-bass (bridge pickup).
- For slapping, one would prefer a naturally scooped bass; such as a StingRay.
3️⃣ How does the bass make me play? The overall sound & feel of different instruments bring out the different players in you. Some basses make me want to play simple, groove-oriented support lines, while other make me want to take the spotlight and fiddle.
4️⃣ How comfortable is the bass? If my hands and back aren’t happy, I won’t play that good anyway.
5️⃣ How is the bass perceived by people whose opinion matters (band leader, contract giver, producer, etc)? I would neither bring an axe-shaped bass to a tuxedo cocktail gig, nor a violin bass to a death metal club – even if they would work fine technically.
So; for a given session / gig, I would try to pick the bass which…
- …occupies the required sonic spectrum
- …makes me play like I should
- …won’t cause discomfort
- …wouldn’t look awkward
Obviously; there are no rules in creativity – those are generic guidelines to inspire.