Best Budget Bass Guitars 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews

Expert Contributor

Rose Annemarie

Do you consider yourself a fan of great bass? Maybe you’re a dedicated music man, like one of the best bass players, John Entwistle. Do you want to find an inexpensive bass guitar at a decent price tag, so you can rock out for hours on end? Well, do we have the article for you!

Here, we’ll be taking you through our top choices of the best cheap bass guitars, from those that are easy to play and suited to entry level guitarists, to those that are a little more high-end on the price range and offer premium features like sound quality and build quality.

Finding the right modern bass guitar with a range of tones and decent single coil pickup and be hard, especially when you’re looking for affordable bass guitars. However, we hope that our list of budget bass guitars will help you to find the best cheap bass guitar for you.

Have a read to see what we recommend when looking for the best cheap bass guitars. If you’re in a hurry, here’s a table of contents of everything you need to find a quality bass guitar at a low price:

10 Best Cheap Bass Guitars

1. Jackson JS Series Spectra

Jackson JS2 - Tobacco Burst

Best Features:       Active J/P pickup with easy control knobs and volume knobs. As opposed to a poplar neck, maple provides a smooth finish and high quality look.


Our first product is the Jackson JS Series Spectra JS2 in stunning Tobacco Burst. This four string guitar provides active pickup J/P bass, and with its poplar body it’s a high-precision bass for all of your needs. So many different audiences will enjoy the likes of these, they’re easily some of our favorites for the purpose of striking a serious chord.

Easily dial into your chosen tone, and grasp the thin neck and its laurel fingerboard for effortless playing. The jumbo frets make playing so easy, and with the amazing price you’ll be hard pressed to find another with this level of playability, affordability and, let’s face it, good looks.

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2. Fender Player Precision Bass

Maple Fingerboard - 3 Color Sunburst

Best Features:       C shaped neckboard with short scale and easy to play fingerboard. Awesome, classic finish and feel on the fretboard and other components – some of the best basses in the world!


Our second option is from Fender, and is the Fender Player Precision Electric Guitar with a Maple Fingerboard. Available as right or left handed, the 3 color sunburst is a classic design with a retro feel.

We would easily call this the best bass guitar under $1000, due to its amazing features at a cheap price. The guitar bridge system is a hardtail bridge pickup, while the single split coil pickup provides amazing playability and a clear, punchy sound. The four saddle vintage/ retro style bridge is engineered for accurate toning and easy control, providing a great setup for musicians.

What’s more, in addition to the pickup configuration, these instruments are some of the best on the market compared to brands like Yamaha because of their controls, finish, and overall quality of music – they have every thing you’re looking for in one awesome instrument. A classic guitar that packs a serious punch.

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3. Squier by Fender Contemporary Jazz

Contemporary Jazz Bass - Laurel Fingerboard

Best Features:       Scale is easy to play – providing value in your hands for all bassists. Range of color choice such as ocean blues, does the job where style is concerned.


These next models give a lot to their buyers, including a smooth look and a brilliant jazz bass sound. The Squier by Fender Contemporary Jazz is one of the few models that offers absolutely every thing you need in an instrument – with a smooth look and style too! Way better than Yamaha designs, even if you’re on a budget, the dual ceramic single-coil pickups align with standard bass controls.

The parchment pickguard, bolt-on neck, and 12 inch radius fingerboard leave nothing to the imagination. From the fretboard, to the bridge pickup, to the design and feel of the neck and body – this gives you the lot right out the box!

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4. Ibanez Standard SR300E Bass Guitar

SR300E Bass Guitar - Cerulean Aura Burst

Best Features:       All components including the fretboard are top quality and easy to use. Sounds amazing and high quality due to ideal scale.


Our fourth value items are the Ibanez Standard SR300E. They come in ‘Cerulean Aura Burst’, which is one of the more stylish blues that look impressive… and this sounds impressive too, whether you’re seasoned bassists or absolutely newcomers. They’re our best bass guitar under $500, so be sure to read on and check them out.

Compared to its sister Ibanez TMB100, or other bass models, these bass combo models are the masters of modern rock. With 2 bass humbuckers providing an easy pickup combo, this 4 stringer gives you a maple and walnut neck with a jatoba fingerboard, as well as a gloss finish.

One of the greatest instrument options for an easy to hold ergonomic neck and body, for any bass player, these models are the way to go for rocking sounds, a top experience, and a variety of options you can feel in your hands.

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5. DeanCustom Zone Bass

Nuclear Green

Best Features:      Sealed die-cast tuners, so no need for high-price tuning machines. Amazing build with a maple neck and fingerboard and black hardware – the positive reviews herald the design as brilliant.


Our midway pick happens to be our favorite premium pick. It’s the Custom Zone Bass, which comes with an array of amazing features. With a fab pickup selector and ease of options on master tone, this fabulous option provides a quality playing experience better than makes like the Ibanez Talman TMB100, or in some cases the Squier Affinity Series.

For every guitar, price is a important consideration against playing style, to make sure you’re getting the best rock tones if you’re among the more machine heads lot of guitar players. Luckily, this model gives you amazing bass tones and a range of volume controls for when inspiration strikes and you need to shred. Try to find a better option – you’ll have a bit of trouble.

The sensuous alder body and lightweight Basswood body is brilliant and makes this model an easy starter bass guitar.

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6. Best Choice Products Acoustic/ Electric

Electric Bass Guitar w/ 4-Band Equalizer

Best Features:      High ratings from a large volume of reviews. Short scale bass that is easy to play.


This amazing model gives Squier Classic Vibe a run for its money. The full size acoustic/ electric guitar from BestChoice Products is highly rated and one of the greatest products for you. Coming in three color variations (which unfortunately doesn’t include specific ones such as mint green), this model offers rich, resonant audio which is perfect choice for a beginner or a pro.

The split coil pickup is amazing for playability compared to other single coil basses, while the string spacing and volume control makes this model seem very high-end, despite its shockingly cheap price.

With chrome die cast and a glossy finish, this acoustic/electric is easy to play and even easier to buy. If you’re unhappy with your purchase, just keep a hold of the company registration number and check out the terms of the warranty policy.

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7. Ibanez TMB

Ibanez TMB100WNF

Best Features:     DXB neck pickup and Dynamix J bridge pick up for a rich, custom audio with a vintage/ retro comfort feel. Custom 2-band active EQ.


Our seventh pick is the Ibanez TMB 100WNF. Coming in Walnut Flat, this wide, chunky maple neck guitar has dynamic P & J pickups as well as a custom 2-band EQ. This offers a variety of tonal options for all people and players!

Compared to an alder neck, maple necks are swift, smooth, and look great – so you know you’re getting a quality comparable to the Squier Classic Vibe or other high-end models. It’s easy to create a load of funky bass lines at a master volume with this model, whose neck joint and bridge position is constructed with top quality.

The scale and bridge construction is easy to play, and the fretboard makes this instrument a masterful version that looks great, provides comfort, and gives you peace of mind with studio quality sounds.

As brands go, Ibanez are one of the better choices you could opt for, so get the balance between comfort and quality sounds with this version.

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8. Ibanez 4String in Brown Sunburst

Ibanez GSRM20BS

Best Features:     Big name manufacturer with brilliant customer rights policy – the power is in your hands, compared to others with less effective warranties on purchases. Excellent for a number of reasons including sound quality, and plenty of other things you could think of – just check out the review guide!


Our eighth pick comes from Ibanez once more, with the GSRM20BS bass. It’s truly one of the greatest models you could go for. With the easily compact lightweight body, Dynamix P basses pickup, and short scale, this couldn’t be easier to use.

Rock out like you’re in AC DC with this maple top design – it’s perfect for space restricted areas like tour buses, or even for younger players.

With an agathis body, use with different bass amps, and a comfortable and efficient fretboard, scale, and bridge, this body is well-crafted to give you a body that makes the difference, feels good, looks good, and offers precision to all buyers. Suit your vibe with this classic number – buyers can easily strike a balance between quality sounds, construction, and an effective bridge.

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9. Squier by Fender Bronco

Black with Maple Fingerboard

Best Features:     Sealed gear die cast tunings gives you all the differences compared to items in any store – any student guitarist needs this model. The laurel fingerboard makes this a perfect workhorse for all of your learning, helping you to improve your ability many times over – at such cheap prices.


Our penultimate model packs a punch compared to brands like Talman. It’s the Squier by Fender Bronco Bass, and it offers anything you could possibly want.

This bass is our best bass guitar under $300, with its single-coil, thin and lightweight body, and satin finish neck.

The short scale length and other elements of construction make this product perfect for many musicians. It’s a true classic, which offers stability, soft touch, and a middle-range price.

This will go the distance with functionality, no question asked, and if you find yourself wanting to make improvements or return altogether, just check the details of the returns on the page before contacting the team.

The combination of vintage audio and quality alternative aesthetics gives this bass a true funk – a vintage appearance with all of the right finishes, suited to any audience or fans of rock music. It’s common sense- the conclusion is you need to slap this bass asap!

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10. Ibanez 4 Stringed Root Beer Metallic

Ibanez 4 GSRM20RBM

Best Features:     Many useful extras in these versions which are suited to recording and make for brilliant deals. This is a brilliant pick for a starting point – parents take note!


Our final products will show a mix of cool style and easy functioning – they’re perfect for bands, learners, and pretty much anyone that wants a bass. Glance at this – which is definitely no small toy – if you want a blend of looking cool and sounding incredible.

The Ibanez Metallic designed bass includes a fast, slim maple neck, a compact and lightweight body, and a Dynamic P Pickup with a short scale. It’s got everything you could ask for, and more.

A bargain solution and one of the better investments you’ll make if you want many a good spec, flexibility, reliability and quality manufacturing. Don’t just take our word for it, this one of a kind design is heralded by artists for rocking out on a crowd or even practising at rehearsal.

The in-depth specifications, in comparison to others, make this an exception which wins every argument and exceeds expectations. With many recommendations, don’t just take our opinion – read the customers’ voice!

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Best Budget Bass Guitar Overall

Our best budget model overall is the Jackson JS Series Spectra Bass, in the beautiful Tobacco Burst. It’s suitable for any beginner or pro, with its 4 stringed poplar body. This electric bass has active pickups, a laurel fingerboard, and a maple neck.

The jumbo frets provide exceptional playability, so you really couldn’t get better than this 5-star-rated bass.

Jackson JS Series Spectra Bass JS2 - Tobacco Burst
  • 4-string Electric Bass with Poplar Body
  • Active P/J Pickups - Tobacco Burst
  • Laurel Fingerboard
  • Maple Neck

Best Affordable Bass Guitar for Cheap

The most cheap bass we have available is the BestChoice Products Full Size Acoustic/ Electric Bass. Coming in three colors, this defines value for money. The 4-band EQ guitar pre amp produces a high-quality audio for any beginner or pro, whilst the adjustable features provide quality playability. Features include:

Best Choice Products Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar - Full Size, 4 String, Fretted Bass Guitar - Black
  • ACOUSTIC-ELECTRIC BASS: Equipped with a 4-band EQ-7545R guitar preamp to produce high-quality sound for beginners and pros alike
  • RICH, RESONANT SOUND: The wood composition creates a beautiful sound, great for unplugged jam sessions or performances
  • 4-BAND PREAMP: Built-in volume control, a 4-band equalizer adjusts bass, middle, treble, and presence
  • FOR BEGINNERS OR PROS: Ready to use right out of the box, it's perfect for beginning guitarists or professionals who want to practice on-the-go
  • BEAUTIFUL FEATURES: Crafted with an attractive inlay, chrome die cast tuners, and a glossy finish
  • Chrome tuners
  • A cutaway design
  • An adjustable tross rod
  • High quality wood
  • Premium tone controls

With all of these features, you wouldn’t believe that this model is less than $200!


Best Premium Bass Electric Guitar

Our best premium bass guitar is the Dean Custom Zone Bass, which comes in Nuclear Green or Fluorescent Pink. If your band is playing a cool underground venue, these guitars are perfect to rock out with neon glow.

Features include a basswood top and body, a bolt-on neck, a maple fingerboard, black hardware, and 20-frets. The maple neck is comfy and easy to hold, while the split pickup gives you a range of options for the tone and volume quality.

Described as an “unruly axe”, this highly rated item is a must-buy on your list! With a really cool look, fab design for playability, and just about any other thing people could think of, of course, this is perfect for all players and is a clear winning choice on the market.


 

Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Bass Guitars

Size and Width

The first sort of factor you’ll need to think about in the search for your cheap bass guitar is the size and the neck width. The greatest entry level best cheap bass guitars will have an easy to use scale, which determines the bass’ size.

It’s important you carefully inspect the size of your best cheap bass guitar in order to find one that you can play comfortably. The body shape and neck profile can eventually affect your play style, so pay attention to this.

The neck width is also important to consider, as wider necks are generally harder to navigate. Therefore, if you want a more amateur playing experience with a greater level of tone control, you’ll want a smaller neck profile.

Tuning and Action

The action refers to high how strings are placed in relation to the neck’s fret board. A high action will make playing more difficult, but a low action has the potential to make a buzzing noise that is unpleasant. The most ideal action is just high enough for strings to ring true, so that you can press them down with ease.

Another key feature is the tuning. Rarely will you get the best cheap bass guitars coming with tune issues, but you do still need to check. Compared to other types of guitars, because bass guitars have bigger strings, they tend to be more stable.

Still, check the tunings of your guitar to make sure it’s stable before playing. This will put you in a good position with playability before you’ve even started. Check how other guitarists and players tune their bass guitars via Youtube videos, in case you run into a problem.

Frets and Electronics

For starters, you’ll want to think about whether your best cheap bass guitars will have frets or not. If you’re opting for those with frets, you need to check that the frets are level and that the notes sound good all the way up and down, on every string of your best cheap bass.

There’s no use in finding the best cheap bass guitars, only to realise that the frets aren’t even or smooth.

Electronic vs Acoustic

Ever since Leo Fender invented the world’s first modern electric solid body bass, the world of classic rock – and other genres – has never been the same. It’s for this reason that you need to consider whether you want an acoustic, traditional upright fretless bass- which is a little harder to play and transport.

Electric guitars can be seen to have many advantages over an acoustic guitar – basses are no different. Bass electric guitars come with the following advantages:

  • Shorter scales, meaning the electric guitar bass is more accessible for younger and less experienced players
  • Wider use in an array of musical genres
  • Smaller so easier to play
  • Can produce a wide variety of tones from smooth jazz to distorted metal
  • Amplification can allow for sound to be heard more easily
  • Sound can be manipulated by pedals, which are popularly used in genres such as shoegaze

If you’re a folk aficionado, however, looking for the best bass guitar for the money to play all of your favorite Willie Nelson tunes, steer clear of electric.

Be sure to check out our best budget audio interfaces if you’re opting for electric – they’ll help you get maximum volume out of every play.

Strings

The very first best cheap bass guitars came with 4 strings, however, in the 1980s, the popularity of 5 and 6 string basses exploded. This added lower pitched notes to the arsenal of jazz bass players, so they wouldn’t be disadvantaged by the versatility afforded by synth.

Nonetheless, each type of guitar with a different stringing setup can give you different benefits. Check them out below.

4-string bass guitars…

  • Can be tuned to lower pitches if required
  • Are commonly used in rock and pop music
  • Are most suited to beginners

5-string bass guitars…

  • Reach lower pitches without the hassle of re-tuning
  • Are often used in metal genres
  • Are typically alright for beginners, but are less easy to pick up than a 4-string

6-string bass guitars…

  • Reach lower pitches without the hassle of re-tuning
  • Are less suitable for beginners
  • Are suited to jazz players

Passive vs Active Pickups

There are two main types of bass guitar pickups to choose from. Pickups are devices which consist of a magnet surrounded by a copper coil. When the strings of a jazz bass, or any other type, disturb the magnet’s magnetic field, small voltage changes are produced in the copper coil – which are then changed into sound.

Passive pickups…

  • Have been around for longer
  • Provide a dynamic sound
  • Provide a warm, full tone
  • Give less overall control of instruments

Active pickups…

  • Are much newer in these categories
  • Are common among modern bassists
  • Provide a bright, percussive, clear tone
  • Produces a higher output than passive pickups, allowing someone more freedom

 


FAQs

Which bass guitar is best for beginners?

If you’re a beginner looking for the best option for your price range, one of the best bass guitars, whether an electric bass or a vintage style bass, will have to be easy to play and incorporate a decent volume and tone.

There are particular features of a bass guitar that make them suitable for a beginner, such as being easy to play – you usually achieve this with a short scale bass, which is a 4 or 5 string model.

These models make it easy to play bass if you’re a newcomer, which ensures you’re getting the right level of difficulty for your price range.

The model we would recommend for a beginner is the Squier Bronco by Fender. The slim and comfy C-shaped neck profile and short scale makes this bass a perfect instrument at a quality price, perfect for beginners. No one can deny how brilliant it is, in style and quality.


How much is a decent bass guitar?

If you’re looking to join a rhythm section and just don’t know which bass guitar brand or bass design is best for a low price, we have you covered. Our list of precision bass guitars ranges from around $160 to $350 – so there’s something for everyone if you need to find a 4-string bass guitar under $200, or if you’d like to find a 6-string bass guitar over $300.

Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find a bass with a good pickup configuration, single coil pickups, a decent build quality, and more, in an easy budget option. Scroll back up for our round-up of the 10 best cheap bass guitars!


How can I make a cheap bass guitar sound good?

Making a cheap bass play better is actually not as hard as you’d think. There are quite a few different ways to improve a low-level bass to a level that’s typical of a higher price tag. These include:

  • Adding a compressor pedal
  • Lowering the bridge pickup tone
  • Considering an EQ, or an equalizer
  • If you’ve opted for an EQ, try matching the EQ to that of a higher quality bass
  • Changing the string or pickup settings
  • Trying an external preamp

These options are bound to do something to performance, for a beginner or an expert bassist. Reviews suggest that having a play with the designs, controls, scale of tones and volume, and pickup settings can help enhance the versatility and playability of your bass in performance.

There’s no reason why you need to buy a high-end market model when you can adjust the controls with an option in this list to make your bass more impressive!

About This Expert

Rose Annemarie
Full-time writer. Blogger. Dedicated wife. Mother of 3 amazing kids. I love learning about everything from the latest tech gadgets, innovative new home designs and can be found regularly reading up on parenting tips. There is always room to grow!