Re: Speaking of the Bass Guitar...
I've played bass for a few years now. I play a Yamaha BB414 - which is a fairly low-mid level bass, but is well featured. The trick is not to fall into the 'light strings' trap like I did. I thought having lighter strings would make it easier to play - it doesn't and in fact having more resistance against your picking fingers gives you a more confident and defined tone.
As for a starting instrument? There's a lot to be had out there. My Yamaha is what I would actually recommend as a basic workhorse and as is the same with drums, Yamaha make great instruments at all price points. I was recently surprised by a rather good low-end Dean that a friend bought. Just look for good build quality and the rest will be secondary.