For the creation of inspiring music, bass guitars are known to really bring out the rhythm that all other incorporated instruments create. And today, there are so many quality bass guitars today at avoidable prices. You can easily come across options that cost less than $500, or less than $1000 that are still the real deal. They come with great features, ensuring that you don’t compromise on your music quality simply because you have a budget to follow.
Being the helpful folks that we’re, we have compiled a list of the best budget bass guitars for you. Whether you are a seasoned or beginner bassist, the list below is sure to give exciting options on some of the best quality, yet cheap bass guitars. But before we review the guitars, let’s start with some important tips for shopping bass guitars on a budget.
Features to Consider When Looking for Best Cheap Bass Guitars
A bass guitar’s shape may not alter the sound that much, but it’ll definitely affect the tone somewhat.
Hollow body: They’re considerably lighter. However, the volume of the created music becomes considerably limited.
Solid-body: These are created from wood. They’re great at amplifying sound, with minimal feedback interruption.
Semi-hollow: They’re hybrids of hollow and solid models. They’re a preferred option as they’re lighter than solid body options. They create a robust sound.
True hollow: Though rare, they stand out because of their ability to amplify sound. However, this advantage also serves as a disadvantage with higher volume settings.
The material of the guitar influences its sound, so tonewood is a key aspect here. Tonewoods come in two major categories; softwood and hardwood. They give you different hardness levels and a range of sound and tone. Choose from zebrawood, ash, black walnut, Bubinga, and hard maple.
There are a variety of bass guitar body styles. Here, we’ve picked three good ones worth mentioning for those shopping bass guitars on a budget.
J Bass Style: This is a favorite for many bassists due to its sleek design. It even has a handy contour for resting your arm while you play. It’s also ideal for playing while seated.
T-Bass: The shape is ordinary but can produce great sounds.
Z-Bass: It’s designed for easier grip while playing. You can hold the guitar in any position, and the sound will still be amazing.
The neck is decided by your hand size.
Bolt-On Neck: This gets bolted tightly to the body, ensuring stability.
Set Neck: This neck is secured with a dovetail joint, or a mortise and tenon joint. Although it’s hard to adjust, it has enhanced sustain plus resonance.
Thru-Body Neck: This neck and body are created into a single piece, without joints to diminish vibrations.
The neck material is also a factor in your music output. While some guitars are created in their entirety using the same wood, there are those that use differing woods for the neck and body. Whether to use softwoods or hardwoods is an important factor. Hard maples are the most commonly used for electric bass guitars. Other options include ebony or bocote.
- The String Number
Though bass guitars commonly bear four strings, you can also find 5- and 6-string variants. For newer bassists, four strings are the best place to start. However, based on the music you’re looking to produce, you may require the extra strings to achieve the sound you desire.
- The String Types
If you’ve got rather uncomfortable strings, just swap them out. The naming of strings is based on how they are wound;
Roundwound: They have course ridges. Due to this roughness, it can cause your fingers discomfort and wear out the fretboard.
Flatwound: These are flatter than the round-wound, making them more comfortable. They do, however, have a lousy sustain.
Halfwound: Such are tapered-down round wounds. They are smoother and will hardly cause any discomfort to your fingers.
Tapewound: They have been created using nylon. These produce the dark yet warm sound that’s common for acoustical varieties.
String Materials: Consider both the strings and material while aspiring to bring about your ideal tones. Nickel-Plated Steel is loved by many, especially for roundwounds. It creates equilibrium between a tone’s brightness and warmth, perfect for varying music genres. Nickel, on its own, creates warm tones like those created by jazz players. Stainless Steel, on the other hand, works well for creating brighter sounds.
This is the girth of the bass string. It affects the tautness of the string, and the notes created. Tautness additionally determines the ease with which you produce each note. Thinner gauged string varieties have great sustain and create brighter sounds. Thicker gauged strings have less sustain, which creates a dark sound.
Fretboard Layout: There are fretted and fretless layouts. Fretted versions have steel frets separating the scale steps. Fretless versions are exactly as the name suggests, without frets. This leaves a smooth surface, which some believe helps to create warm sounds in comparison to the fretted ones.
The Headstock: This is where the strings are attached to tuning keys. Adjusting these tuning keys as required changes the tautness of the strings, resulting in pitch variations.
Bass Scale Length: This is the distance between the nut and the bridge, where the strings are held in place, and it influences the tone produced, plus how easily you play. The average scale length is 34 inches. 5 and 6 string basses have 35 inches of the scale length, while the shortest possible distance is 30 inches.
Pickup Type: These are transducers that capture the string’s vibration through magnetic fields. These change into electrical currents that are amplified, creating sound. There are passive pickup options that create warm tones and active pickup variants that create clear, brighter tones.
The Truss Rod: This is a metallic rod fixed inside the neck, keeping it from buckling under string tension. In case the neck does get twisted, you can adjust it back to position.
Fingerboard: Depending on the tone you’re looking to create, you would need to choose between bass guitars with coated or uncoated fingerboards. Coated versions have more extended sustain while the uncoated ones produce warm and more lifelike sound.
Intonation: This refers to how well notes play out as you move along the fretboard. Intonation can be affected by a number of factors such as your strings being worn out, the truss needing readjustment, or the frets needing repairing. In case your bass sounds a bit off-key, this can easily be remedied by moving the saddle to either raise or lower the string length.
Best Cheap Bass Guitars worth Less Than $500
1. Fender’s Squire Vintage Modified Jaguar
Why it’s hot: The combination of its scale length and string tension makes it easy to use. It’s also got an eye-catching look.
For starters, it’s got a short scale length of 30 inches, leaving shorter distances between the frets. The design makes it ideal for bass leaners as well as kids and pro players with smaller hands. It’s got a basswood body with a hard maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. It also comes with two pickups. These are the single-coil bridge and the split single-coil middle pickup. Each pickup has its own controls, with a master control for setting up the two that allows you to customize the music you create.
Basses with lengthier scales produce more tightened sounds as they have extremely taut strings. However, with this model, you can expect brighter and tighter sounds featuring more vibrations and bends as the strings’ tension is reduced. If you’re new to bass playing, this design will make it easy for you to learn the ropes.
2. The GSRM20 By Ibanez
Why it’s hot: It’s got a very compact design that’s also lightweight, with a small neck that makes it easy to grip when playing.
This 4 string marvel by Ibanez features a scale length of 28.6 inches. As with the Squire Vintage Modifier Jaguar, it’s ideal for professionals with small hands or aspiring bass players who are much younger. It’s always a bonus for guitar players to be able to move around with their instruments easily. The GSRM20 is light and has a compact design that’s easy to handle when you’re on the move. This makes it easy to manoeuver as you play.
This guitar has a dynamic passive pickup for warmer and fuller tones with fat highlights that pack a punch. You won’t be able to do much about the tone; however, you can adjust the bass and treble to your liking. For a short-scale bass guitar that offers both warmer and fuller tones, this Ibanez model is what you need to hit the right notes.
3. The Artcore AM53TF By Ibanez
Why it’s hot: Comes with a mahogany neck to resist immense string tension. It also produces high notes.
This semi-hollow electric guitar comes with 6 strings. As is characteristic with semi-hollow models, you get a solid body that’s also light to carry. It’s made using tonewoods which aren’t just aesthetically pleasing but also musically enchanting. To keep up with the string tension and ensure durability, it’s created with a slim mahogany neck. Ibanez also added an ART-ST bridge to handle the fine-tuning, and infinity R pickups to create dynamically balanced tones. This is one bass that’s ideal for varying genres.
The AM53TF achieves warm earthy sounds with deep notes due to its semi-hollow structure. Much as it would give results with any given genre, its humbucker pickup makes it most suitable for heavy rock or metal players. For an instrument that allows you a wider range of high notes to use with different musical genres, the Artcore AM53TF will certainly make due.
4. The Edge 1 Bass
Why it’s hot: This Dean Guitars 5 string model comes in an impressively contoured body, which makes using it a breeze.
If you’re looking for a light and compact 5 string bass, the Dean Edge 1 has got it. The shape of the body ensures you can easily carry and play the guitar. It also has an impeccable glossy finish to complete its stylish look. The neck is made of strong mahogany with a 34-inch scale length to accommodate the 5 strings.
You’ll find soap bar pickups on the Dean Edge 1 5-String to create bright and full tones. The 34 inches of scale length makes it excellent for down tuning.
5. The O-Bass Electric Guitar
Why It’s hot: O-Bass features 4 strings that produce amazing and unique tones.
The first thing you’ll notice about it is its sleek design. With a custom split-coil pickup, you’ll receive unique notes from its well balanced and bold mid-range. The neck is maple, and it’s added to the light Okoume body fashioned using basswood. This guarantees a strong frame to help you bang out your tunes. This is yet another bass with a scale length of 34 inches for extraordinary tones and playability.
The O-Bass comes with a single-coil pickup for more earthy tones. There’s also a single-coil humbucker with volume controls and a master tone that make playing an easy process. This is one bass that Orange took a lot of care to craft. Add that to its impressive sound, and you’ve got a beautiful bass that delivers, true to its name.
Cheap Bass Guitars worth Under $1000
6. The Affinity Jazz Bass Guitar
Why it’s hot: With both master and pickup volume controls, you can customize the music you create.
With Fender’s Affinity Jazz, players get a solid frame that creates a great sound sustain. It’s got a short neck with a 34-inch scale length, which happens to be the standard size within the industry. On the neck and bridge, you will come across the pickup volume controls and the master control, allowing you to customize the sounds made to your liking. There’s also a rosewood fingerboard, an alder body, as well as, a maple furnished neck.
With this Fender model, you’ve got two passive pickups that allow you to create both classic and modern notes to suit your preferred genre. This is a great affordable bass guitar for beginner bassists. It will save you money and still give you the bass you’re looking for in a guitar.
7. The Standard Precision Electric Bass Guitar
Why it’s hot: It’s got an impressive design that’ll have you looking stylish while you strum some of your top of the line notes.
Fender has got the ideal instrument for those looking for a more professional bass guitar. It comes with a C shaped neck that provides comfort for you while you play. You’ll find the push-pull switch on the tone nob to divide the humbucking pickup coil, creating a single-coil chime.
Those looking to strum out some electric bass tones can do so with this bass guitar, as it comes with a split single-coil pickup which will suit metal and rock musicians just fine. This Standard Precision Electric Bass Guitar will upgrade you in terms of the tones you produce, and the professional look you pull off as you play.
8. Fender’s Standard Jazz Electric Bass
Why it’s hot: Whether you’re a newbie to the bass guitar scene or seasoned professional, this bass merges its vintage style with ease of playing.
Just as is the case with the Standard Precision Electric Bass Guitar, this is yet another Fender model you can use to exude some professionality in the bass-playing world. To have you feeling like the professional you know you can be, this bass guitar comes in a variety of vintage colors. Pick whichever suits your style. You’ll have two single-coil jazz pickups sure to deliver bright and precise tones. This model also comes with a C shaped neck to complete that vintage look, in addition to its maple neck and glossy finish.
This Fender comes with a single-coil pickup, which makes it possible for new bassists and experienced ones as well to create clear tones. From its professional look to the sound produced, the Standard Jazz Electric Bass Guitar aims to create an exemplary musical experience regardless of your level of expertise. You can be sure of clear, distinct tones whenever you play.
9. The Sterling RAY34-NT
Why it’s hot: It’s light and comes with active pickups to create warm yet loud tones.
This Music Man bass is made of swamp ash, which makes it both light and nice to look at. You’ll find a six-bolt maple neck, strong enough to handle the stress of everyday use by enthusiastic bass players. The RAY34-NT’s bass bridge is uniquely crafted by Music Man and placed where the strings anchor on the body. This bass guitar uses active pickup electronics with a battery-powered pre-amplifier. You can use it to increase or completely cut frequencies. Active pickups are ideal for those looking to create louder yet clearer tones.
The active pickups on this Music man model ensure you always have bright and clear notes as through amplifying your sound, they don’t pick external noises in the process. This is yet another budget bass guitar for those looking for more professional instruments as it creates rich, bright tones, improving the quality of your music.
10. Multi-Scaling Electric Bass By Ibanez
Why it’s hot: Bassists can extend the scale length, enhancing the sounds and tones produced.
With an ash body and cutaway shape, it’s also got a glossy finish. The SRFF805 comes with varying fret to bridge distances, making it possible to improve the tonal range, which in turn creates better sounds. Through multi-scaling, each of the guitar’s strings is able to get increased tautness. This, in turn, brings out warmer, more open tones.
The scale length on this Ibanez model is 34 inches on the G-string end and 35.5 inches on the low B end. Its neck is a 5-piece jatoba neck. There’s also a sturdy V-bridge monorail for string isolation, better intonation, and transfer of vibrations. Bassists will also have a custom 3 band equalizer to help improve tonal variations.
This 5-string bass guitar comes with passive pickups to create warmer and fuller tones. On top of that, there’s the multi-scaling technology employed during the crafting stage to ensure each note is warm and bright. The Ibanez SRFF805 is a great bass guitar for players who are looking to produce different musical styles whenever they play.
How To Make Savings By Purchasing Great Cheap Bass Guitars
The Difference Between Bass Guitars and Standard Guitars
These two guitars may look the same to a newbie, but seasoned players can tell the differences right off the bat. Here are a few differences you should keep in mind as well:
- An electric guitar comes with six standard strings with the notes E, A, D, G, B, and E. A bass guitar, on the other hand, has four thicker standard strings with the notes E, A, D, and C.
- These two guitars aren’t the same size. Standard guitars are slightly smaller than bass guitars.
- The two guitars differ in pitch, with bass guitars bringing out lower octave notes than their counterparts.
There are standard sizes, but there are also unique versions. You may come across an electric guitar with 7 strings or bass with 5 strings.
What’s the Importance Of Bass In Music?
Scientific research has brought to light that bass plays a major role in the structure of musical compositions, regardless of its muted presence. As such:
- Bass can amplify rhythm.
- Bass accentuates melodies
- Bass gives music the capacity to motivate
Things to Consider when Shopping Cheap Bass Guitars
You’re looking for an instrument to play out which musical genre? Coming up with the answer to this will help you narrow the search to bass guitars with characteristics you’re seeking out.
Will you move around a lot with your instrument? For this, you’ll need a compact bass that’s light. Will you simply use it indoors? If so, the weight of whatever you pick won’t be a deciding factor.
Bass Guitar Types
Major bass guitar types can be narrowed down into four:
Electric bass: These are ideal as you can change the volume and tone frequencies to your preference.
Acoustic Bass: Their hollowed out bodies create powerful sounds that don’t require additional amplifying.
Acoustic-Electric Bass: This is a hybrid of electric and acoustic options. It’s great for acoustics that may require amplification for larger performances.
Semi-Acoustic: This bass comes with an in-built microphone amplification which, when combined with its hollow frame creates great sound. It’s not very ideal for beginners, though.
Before you start shopping, you need to have a budget in mind. Cheap bass guitars offer exceptional quality to get you started on your musical journey.
Before you purchase any budget-friendly bass, feel it up to ensure you can use it comfortably. Just because you make savings by purchasing a cheap bass, doesn’t mean you should compromise on comfort. There are plenty of inexpensive options that will suit you perfectly.
In A Nutshell
Getting an affordable bass to use is a hassle-free process. Narrow down your selections by establishing your preferred genre, how it’ll be used, and how much you can spend on it. From there, you’ll be able to seek out budget-friendly options as you save up for upgrades. The best part is that even on a limited budget, you can still upgrade to more professional bass guitars without compromising on your quality.