So, you’re looking for the best bass guitar you can find that will fit in your budget? From my experience, there are two main types of players looking into the best bass guitars. Young players, looking to learn the instrument. Students usually are looking to get the best cheap bass guitar that will sound good but not cost more than they can afford. More advanced players, who are part of a band or musical group and are committed to their art, will want something that will really sound good. These folks are willing to pay what quality requires.
I’ve spent some years playing bass guitars and have had time to look at what is available. The quality of cheaper guitars, in general, has improved in recent years as manufacturers have improved their processes so that even less expensive materials can be made to have good sound.
When it comes to bass guitars, the musician has to pick an instrument that will fit the needs of the music and the proportions of the player. The length of the scale has to be considered. The scale is the length between the nut which is the notch between the top of the fretboard and the head stock down to the bridge where the strings are anchored. There aren’t many, but a few bass guitars that have scales under 30” can accommodate smaller players who have smaller hands. Most bass guitars have a scale that measures 34”.
Typically, bass guitars have 4 strings, which is the type of guitars on this list. Most also have frets down the neck. Some expensive bass guitars have no frets for smoother play. All of these things will help you decide what the best bass guitar will be for you.
There are three ways necks can be attached in bass guitars. The cheaper guitars have the neck bolted on. The next step up the neck is a separate piece and set into the body with a dovetail or mortise joint. The highest level of guitar, the neck runs the entire length of the body with the curves and wings glued on. This creates the best resonance because there is no joint or bolt to inhibit the vibrations.
Cheaper bass guitars are made of laminated layers of wood or softer woods, while finer, more expensive instruments are made of solid pieces of hard wood. These guitars are usually made of maple, alder, mahogany or swamp ash because these woods transfer vibrations well. This effects the sound the guitar produces.
If a new student is taking up the bass guitar, a less expensive instrument may be in order because the dedication and long term commitment to playing may determine how much should be spent. If the player is advanced and is using the instrument to play in a band, especially a professional group, a more expensive, top line bass would be a better choice.
Does it feel good in your hands? I recommend going to an actual guitar store to shop for bass guitars. There are plenty available on the internet, but you won’t know how they sound and feel until you hold one in your hands and give it a try. Rather than taking a gamble and ordering one online sight unseen, go to a local store and check out the bass guitars. Then, get online and place your order. You’ll have a better idea of what you’ll be getting in the mail.
There are different configurations of pickup systems for bass guitars. The sound and control you want will determine what kind of pick-up system your guitar should have in it.
For the student or new player, less expensive instruments will fit your needs. Let’s take a look at the best bass guitars under 500.
Fender Squier guitar is priced at $200. It is comfortable to hold. This bass guitar comes in Olympic white with three play black-white-black pick guard. It features a single-coil Jazz Bass bridge pick-up with the traditional split single-coil Precision Bass pick-up. It has separate volume controls for each pick up, giving the player more control over levels. This guitar weighs in at 12.4 pounds and measures 52.2 x 4 x 15.5. The body is solid wood and has a rosewood fretboard with a maple neck. The bridge system is fixed.
The Fender Squier Affinity Series Precision Bass is a great starter instrument for the beginning student. With some adjustments, it may be a satisfying instrument to play for years to come.
This guitar is priced at $200. It is one of those uncommon short scale electric bass guitars. This Fender’s scale measures 30” with an ultra slim neck for fast action and play. It features a split single-coil Precision Bass middle pick-up paired with a Jazz Bass single-coil bridge pick-up. The size makes it comfortable to play. It measures 43 x 4 x 15 inches and weighs 15 pounds. It has 3 control knobs, one for tone and 2 for volume. The body material is agathist with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The bridge system is adjustable.
Overall, this is a good beginner bass, especially for a child musician just getting started.
This guitar is priced at $200. This guitar features a solid basswood body and a one-piece maple neck with a rosewood fretboard with a fully adjustable bridge with a scale length of 34”. The pick-up system is a split coil and single coil combination with an active equalizer with Phat ii Bass Boost. It weighs in at 9 pounds and measures 40 x 3 x 12 inches.
Overall, the Ibanez GSR200TR is a good cheap bass guitar, perfect for the beginner who is learning how to handle an electric bass. This one is straight forward and easy to handle.
This guitar is priced at just under $300. It features a maple neck and a maple top on a solid mahogany body. The fretboard is rosewood with a 34” scale. The pick-up system is the active Dynamix P neck pick-up, passive bridge pick-up and passive Dynamix J bridge pick-up. The equalizer is the Phat II Eel. It has a clean stylish look with black hardware. It measures 40 x 3 x 12 inches and weighs 9 pounds. The bridge system is fixed.
The Ibanez GSR200BWN is a good entry level bass electric guitar. Like many new guitars, it may need a professional set up to make it fit your specifications and overcome some sound problems.
The Yamaha TRBX174BL4 is priced cheaply at $200. It measures 47.8 x 17.9 x 3.7 inches and weighs 12.2 pounds. The body is solid mahogany. The pick-up is a single coil system. The guitar features an individually adjustable bridge system. There are three control knobs, one for the bridge pick-up allowing the player to blend the neck pick-up with the bridge to give the sound variation. The third knob is for tone.
Yamaha delivers again on quality for a low price. It is a great choice for the beginner or the casual hobbyist who is looking for good sound and solid build for a cheap entry into the bass electric guitar.
Yamaha TRBX304MGR4 guitar is a bit more expensive, priced at $350. It features a solid mahogany body to give it great tone and balance. It has a Performance EQ active humbucker pick-up system with the ability to give the player total control. The body is comfortable to hold. The neck is maple and mahogany. It measures 47.8 x 17.9 x 3.7 inches and weighs 12.3 pounds. It has a low action to make it very playable and fast.
This electric bass guitar is a great instrument at a really reasonable price. The Yamaha TRBX304 is very affordable and would be a great choice for the musician on a budget who still cares about high quality and good sound. I believe it is the best bass guitar under 500 on this list.
Epiphone guitar is priced at $350. The body is mahogany and basswood with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard and a 34” scale. The pick-ups are passive Epiphone high-output TB-Plus bass humbuckers. It measures 56 x 21 x 9 inches and weighs 12 pounds. It also features a killpot switch, which when pushed down, kills the sound immediately to enable the player to create unique sounds and effects.
This is a great guitar for the beginning bass guitar student. It will probably require some work by a luthier as there have been some reported problems with the bridge.
For the more serious musician, quality is worth the price. Here are a couple of nice examples of the best bass guitar under 1000.
This bass guitar is priced at just under $800. It is built of swamp ash giving it a lightweight feel. This type of wood is great for clarity of sound. The pre amp is the active Sterling 3, designed by Music Man. It is a versatile humbucker pickup system with plenty of control and variation. It measures 16.5 x 5.9 x 52.4 inches and weighs 14.8 pounds. The neck and fretboard are maples with a 34” scale length, with a fixed bridge system.
The Sterling by Music Man is a high-quality mid-range priced bass guitar with excellent tone and vibration. The pick-up system is premium. This is a great sounding professional grade electric bass guitar at a great price for the serious musician.
The Schecter Hellraiser Extreame- 4 4 string guitar is priced at $1000. It features a high-quality neck through body construction which helps to create a great tone and vibration to get that deep resonate sound. This is the only bass guitar on this list with that type of construction. The fretboard comes in ebony or maple with a scale length of 34”. The binding is the mother of pearl. There are several bridge configurations to choose from. It measures 52 x 6 x 20 inches and weighs 11.6 pounds. The body is solid basswood.
The Schecter Hellraiser Extreme is a beautifully built and designed bass guitar. It is nice to handle and hold. The low action makes it easy to play fast. This is a professional grade guitar for the serious musician and I believe the best bass guitar under 1000 on this list.
As always, I recommend musicians shop around at local music stores to try out the guitars that are available before making purchases online. Most of these guitars on my list are pretty equivalent in the lower price range. It comes down to what feels good, looks good and sounds good to you. I personally like both the Yamahas in the under 500 categories. Yamaha produces good quality instruments that sound good at very affordable prices.
The 1000 category guitars are a mid-range quality which sounds surprising to some new to this group of guitars, but it is the nature of the instrument. For this list, I like the Schecter Hellraiser because it does have the best sound and tone which are what you are looking for in a quality bass guitar. You do save some with the Sterling by Music Man and it also has a good sound, but I like the quality materials in the Hellraiser and the neck through the body construction.
We’ve covered a lot of ground on this list. As the musician, you have to decide what kind of musician you are and what your ambitions are to decide which is the best bass guitar for you.
Hi, I am Joe Nevin, 30 years of age. Despite being involved in a different occupation where I have to work from 9 to 5, I am very passionate about music and playing guitar since I was 12 years old! Thus, being inspired to start guitareviewed.com with an intention of pursuing my passion as I offer important information in the line of music and guitar.
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