Both beginners and advanced players like to ask a question which is hard to answer: “What is the best bass guitar that I can buy?”
The short answer is that more expensive basses are generally better. The long answer is that there are instruments in all price ranges which offer exceptional Price-Performance ratios.
That’s why we have decided to make this buying guide with a list of the best instruments in every price range, starting with the most affordable bass guitars up to professional high-end instruments!
We will include everything from good starter bass guitars all the way to top rated bass guitars. There are many different types of basses but we will try to cover different bass guitar brands and offer you something for every style and need.
If you are in a hurry these are our top picks:
- Oil and wax finished neck
- Made in the USA
- Solid light ash body
- Scale length: 34" (long scale)
- Passive MEC J/J pickups
- A modern 'C' shaped maple neck
- 4 Saddle HiMass bridge with brass barrel string saddles
BEST BASS GUITAR UNDER $500
This affordable bass by Squier is one of the best beginner bass guitars that you can get. The Vintage Modified series is very affordable but offers very decent results for the money. It offers both a P and a J pickup so it gives you a nice tonal variety.
This bass might also attract guitarists who want to double on bass, as well as young girls and boys, because the bass has a shorter neck from a standard bass, which makes it easier to switch from guitar to bass and is good if the bassist has smaller hands and shorter fingers.
A full 34 inch version is also available, as well as other models of the Vintage Modified series like the P and J basses and 5 string models.
While Squier basses are not bad in general, the Vintage Modified series often lacks the full tone of an American Fender instrument. That is also the case with this one.
Although it is a nice instrument to be used from time to time or as a starting instrument, the lack of a really sophisticated, modern sound might be a turn-off for some people.
Another problem is that the transition from a short scale to a full scale might be a problem for some players.
- Sound 85%
- Quality 85%
- Value 85%
Cort offers a variety instruments for anywhere between 200 and 600 dollars, including some more expensive 5 string models.
The T34 series comes only as a 4 string model, but it provides you with a high-quality instrument for a decent price!
It is somewhat of a hidden gem that many people don’t know about.
The Cort T34 Basses offer a fantastic mixture of a Rickebacker-like body, an unique bolt-on neck normally found only on Aria basses and a very slim and narrow neck similar to Jazz-Bass models.
The active-electronics pickups offer a modern and punchy sound, which makes it a wonderful rock and metal bass guitar.
Another big plus is the 24 frets and the body shape which allows easy access to all high notes.
While these basses look and feel very nice, it can be sometimes hard to get a perfect sound out of them. Another problem is that the tuners could be of slightly higher quality.
All in all, this is a fantastic low-end instrument that, with slight modifications, can perform on even ground with much more expensive basses.
- Sound 90%
- Quality 92%
- Value 90%
Normally we wouldn’t add two instruments of the same brand to our list as we like diversity but it would be such a pity not to mention the hidden gem among electric guitars that is the Classic Vibe series!
Unlike the previous Squier bass on our list, the Classic Vibe series offers a nearly perfect emulation of an American Fender bass for just about 400 dollars. Buying a Mexican Fender doesn’t really make sense because the Classic Vibe series by Squier offers high-end materials, professional craftsmanship and the original Fender sound that we all love.
Our choice falls on a Squier Classic Vibe P-Bass with 4 strings, especially if you are a beginner, because it is a standardized, high-quality instrument which you will not only enjoy playing, but it will help you learn what you actually expect from an instrument which you might be later on.
For guitarists who only do part-time bass, bassists who need a practice and travel instrument, bassists who use active-pickups and need a backup passive bass in case the battery runs out during a gig or people who like to customize instruments, this series provides many different models including a wide array of colors, woods, fretboards, both a Precision and Jazz bass variant, 50s, 60s and 70s models, and of course a huge number of Classic Vibe electric guitars.
It is sad that they don’t offer a 5 string version of the Classic Vibe series and that 5 string players have to settle with a lower quality Vintage Modified series.
But if you are into 4 strings, make sure not to spend your money on a cheaper series like Bullet or Standard – the Classic Vibe series will give you everything you’ve wanted from your electric instrument, and even more!
- Sound 90%
- Quality 90%
- Value 92%
BEST BASS GUITAR UNDER $1000
The Rockbass series of Warwick offers affordable quality-design basses for a fair price. The standard high-quality of Warwick is ensured, the fabulous tuners are there, the tone is superb and you simply can’t go wrong with one of these!
There are countless options for these basses: active and passive, 4, 5 and even 6 string models, 34, 32 and 30 inch scale lengths, both fretted and fretless models, left-handed models and a huge number of finishes!
Our ideal model – a Medium Scale 34 inch 5 string with active electronics! They are somewhat harder to get by as 5 string players usually go for 34 or 35 inch, but if you have smaller hands but want to have a all the low end of a 5 string, there is no other bass you should buy!
The high-quality tone woods offer exceptional sound and a loud, aggressive and crunchy Low-B notes.
Warwick offers a very interesting combination of tonal settings that makes these basses excel in both a very harsh metal environment, but also in styles like funk and gospel music.
The only thing we dislike about these basses are the somewhat big, baseball-bat-like necks that also lack fret-markers. Many players are used to playing without fret-markers and don’t care about a bigger neck, but especially with the short scale versions, which might appeal to beginners with a bigger budget, that poses a problem.
Still, Warwick offers us an amazing instrument for an amazing price! If you want to try something new that you’ve never tried before, like get into fretless instrument, try a 5 or even a 6 string bass or need a short-scale model, then you should definitely add a Warwick to your collection!
- Sound 94%
- Quality 100%
- Value 90%
The Ibanez BTB bass guitars are another type of bass which seems to appeal to a huge number of players of different genres, and seem to be part of every bassists musical journey at some point.
These aggressive looking basses give the impression to be a true metalhead bassists best friend, which would normally go with the Ibanez brand.
But they are way more than just that!
The Boutique-grade BTB series offers deep cutaways give you unlimited access to the upper fretboard and the necks are very comfortable, despite the 35 inch scale length used to make the B string feel less floppy.
It comes with amazing hardware and a neck-through construction that offers amazing tone and sustain.
The bass is also available as a 4 and 6 string model, as well as a very unique 33 inch model, which is strung with a high C instead of a low B.
Another unique variation on this instrument is the singlecut version which gives a less aggressive impression and even more sustain.
The only downside to these basses is the fact that they don’t offer a 34 inch scale for people who don’t want to go 35. While the 33 inch model is very comfortable, adding a low B string instead of the high C would require you to change the nut and re-adjust the whole set-up of the bass, which can get quite costly if you don’t know how to do it yourself.
But if you can look past the 35 inch scale, this is a fantastic instrument that will suit you well regardless of the genre you are using it for!
- Sound 90%
- Ease of Use 100%
- Price 90%
BEST BASS GUITAR UNDER $2000
The Rickenbacker 4003 is a true bass icon that has set the standard for the modern rock-and-roll bass sound and opened up the doors to heavy-metal.
Rickenbackers sell for around 1600 dollars but older models that are no longer in production can cost you up to a few thousand dollars.
Rickenbacker offers ringing sustain, treble punch and solid underlying bass.
The neck binding and the fairly narrow neck make the bass extraordinarily comfortable to play and the neck-through construction provides massive sustain.
Schaller Deluxe tuners will give you perfect tuning stability, as well as the rest of the near- perfect hardware.
The high-output single-coils offer a punchy, vintage tone so if you like to emulate the sound of older players, then Ricks are the best basses you can get.
Sadly, their wish to preserve the vintage tone has led them to not producing any variations on the model.
5 string Rickenbackers are extremely rare as the 4004Cii/5 series is discontinued, there are no 24 fret models and generally no variation to the standard 4003 model.
While Rickenbackers don’t offer a lot of variation, they do offer flawless craftsmanship, wonderfully emulated vintage tone and a very comfortable instrument with a lot of character.
- Sound 98%
- Quality 100%
- Value 94%
The Music Man Stingray bass offers everything a bass-guitar should offer – amazing tone with a lot of tonal settings, high-quality build, amazing hardware and active-electronics, and both a 4 string and a 5 string model!
The ash body, maple neck and a maple or rosewood fretboard provide you with a very traditional and classical sound, while the active-electronics and the wast variety of knobs gives you a lot possibility to get a much more modern tone.
The compensated nut, easily adjustable neck and the Schaller Tuners deliver absolute tuning stability and intonation, which, together with the numerous yet intuitive tone settings, make this bass an absolute winner in the live-performance setting.
There are a few different pickup- configurations to chose from but it’s always a very authentic sound that you will definitely love!
There is nothing much to complain about with these basses. They offer a very unique blend of traditional and modern technology, so the bass can cover almost every musical genre.
They are very comfortable and playing them is really fun! Simply an amazing instrument!
- Sound 100%
- Quality 100%
- Value 98%
Most brands offer a variety of low-end and high-end instruments with the wish to suit all budgets. The players have a choice – now it’s up to the players to use that choice wisely!
Be careful when choosing your instrument as you will spend a lot of time sitting with it in your hands. One of the most important things to look out for when choosing a bass is comfort.
Make sure that your bass feels right and that you can play it even for a few hours without feeling uncomfortable.
Finding your dream bass is also part of your hobby so don’t be worried too much if your first or second instrument doesn’t seem perfect to you! All instruments are unique in their own way – no two instruments are the same, just like no two players are the same, either!
We hope that we were able to help you come a little closer to your dream instrument and that you will find a bass that will be by your side for many years to come!
While you are still here, make sure to check out some of our other articles and to share this one with all of your bassist-friends! Have a nice day and keep on rocking!