Best Cheap Bass Guitars Of 2020

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.

Ranking

Name

Feature

Current Price

#1

Fender’s Squire Vintage
(Editor's Choice)

The shorter scale length is more comfortable

#2

The GSRM20 By Ibanez

Easy to handle and play

#3

The Artcore AM53TF By Ibanez

A durable mahogany neck Light with a compact design

#4

The Edge 1 Bass

Substantial scale length for seasoned players

#5

The O-Bass Electric Guitar

Features an optimum scale length Its made of strong materials

#6

The Affinity Jazz Bass Guitar

Brings out warmer, clearer tones It’s ideal for beginner bassists

#7

The Standard Precision

Great for those looking to exude a more professional appearance

#8

Fender’s Standard Jazz

Brings out clear, articulate tones Ideal whether you’re a beginner or professional

#9

The Sterling RAY34-NT

The pickups on it ensure there are no external interferences picked up

#10

Multi-Scaling

The multi-scaling technique ensures you have taut strings

Features to Consider When Looking for Best Cheap Bass Guitars 

Body Type

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.

Body Material

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.

Body Style

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.

Neck Type

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.

Neck Material

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.

Bass Strings

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.

String Gauges

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

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.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • The shorter scale length is more comfortable
  • Great structural characteristics
  • Exceptional electronics selection
  • Tighter and brighter sounds
Cons
  • Players with longer hands wouldn’t benefit more from its design.

2. The GSRM20 By Ibanez

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.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • Small and light
  • Easy to handle and play
  • Durable quality
  • Offers fuller sound pickups
Cons
  • Comes with round-wound strings/li>

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.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • Can bring out the sound necessary for different musical genres
  • A durable mahogany neck Light with a compact design
  • Easy to work with
Cons
  • Its finish may start peeling if exposed to extreme heat/li>

4. Nektar Midi Controller

Why it’s hot: This Nektar Midi Controller string model comes in an impressively contoured body, which makes using it a breeze.

Characteristics

If you’re looking for a light and compact string bass, the Nektar Midi Controller 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.

Performance

You’ll find soap bar pickups on the Nektar Midi Controller to create bright and full tones. The 34 inches of scale length makes it excellent for down tuning.

Pros
  • Substantial scale length for seasoned players
  • The contours of the body offer the user comfort
  • It’s got an attractive finish It’s made using durable materials
  • Affordable
  • Perfect for begineers
Cons
  • Set up might be necessary before you start using it

5. Akai Professional MPK261

Why It’s hot: Features strings that produce amazing and unique tones.

Characteristics

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 body fashioned using basswood. This guarantees a strong frame to help you bang out your tunes. This is yet another bass with an extraordinary tones and playability.

Performance

The Akai Professional MPK261 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 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.

Pros
  • The design is eye-catching It creates earthy tones for a great playing experience
  • Features an optimum scale length Its made of strong materials
  • Sleek design
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not ideal for smaller hands

Cheap Bass Guitars worth Under $1000

6. The Affinity Jazz Bass Guitar

The Affinity Jazz Bass Guitar

Why it’s hot: With both master and pickup volume controls, you can customize the music you create.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • Brings out warmer, clearer tones It’s ideal for beginner bassists
  • You can tweak the sound to your liking
  • A sturdy structure that’s extremely durable
Cons
  • The quality of the strings is lacking and may need to be changed/li>

7. The Standard Precision Electric Bass Guitar

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.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • Great for those looking to exude a more professional appearance
  • Creates amazing sounds
  • Designed to be comfortable yet practical
  • Made using sturdy materials for durability
Cons
  • The frets may need a little finishing

8. Fender’s Standard Jazz Electric Bass

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.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • Sleek vintage design
  • Easy to handle and use
  • Brings out clear, articulate tones Ideal whether you’re a beginner or professional
Cons
  • No string through body

9. The Sterling RAY34-NT

The Sterling RAY34-NT

Why it’s hot: It’s light and comes with active pickups to create warm yet loud tones.

Characteristics

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.

Performance

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.

Pros
  • Light Creates clear and bright tones.
  • The pickups on it ensure there are no external interferences picked up
  • You can customize your frequency
Cons
  • The bag that accompanies it isn’t stylish

10. M-Audio Hammer 88

Why it’s hot: Bassists can extend the scale length, enhancing the sounds and tones produced.

Characteristics

With an ash body and cutaway shape, it’s also got a glossy finish. The M-Audio Hammer 88 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.

Performance

The M-Audio Hammer 88 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. This is a great bass guitar for players who are looking to produce different musical styles whenever they play.

Pros
  • A slim and easy to grip neck
  • Exceptional tonal ranges
  • The multi-scaling technique ensures you have taut strings
  • Sleek and attractive design
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Does not come with a case

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

Your Style

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.

Its Purpose

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.

Your Budget

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.

Comfort

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.

Conclusion

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.

Jeff Day
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