When buying a bass guitar, there are so many questions to be asked and answered. Basses are very intricate instruments with a variety of options, tonal approaches, styles and nuances.
If you are wondering about how to get the best guitar money can buy, the answer would be to first and foremost know what you’re after. You need to jot down your exact taste, preferences, needs, and budget first. Only then will you be able to find the one that suits you the most.
We took the liberty of sifting through today’s market and inspecting it very, very thoroughly, to bring you the best bass guitars across just about any category you can imagine. We have summed up our thoughts, displayed the results, and hopefully piqued your attention with a string of low-end bad boys!
What Does “Best Bass Guitar” Mean?
A valid question! Even in the category of the most expensive, high-quality, exclusive instruments, there is no such thing as an objectively best product. Music is a subjective matter, and while a string of objective criteria can be drawn to separate the acceptable from plain bad, a large grey zone remains in the center, packed with instruments that work for some folks, but don’t work for others.
And then there’s another thing to add – “best” doesn’t necessarily mean “best of all basses ever made,” at least not in our book. We always prefer focusing on certain playing level such as beginner, intermediate, and pro, or on certain price ranges like under $300, under $1000, and so on. When all of this is added to the mix, the answer simply has to be divided into multiple categories.
How Are We Going To Do This Then?
It’s pretty simple, really. First and foremost, we set up that objective set of criteria we mentioned – we take out the basses that have poor quality, major flaws, too many user complaints, low value for money, bad craftsmanship, flawed electronics, and so on.
Then, we place the boundaries. We have boundaries for different skill levels, primarily beginner basses, and we have a variety of price categories going from cheap to high-end. Once the boundaries and categories are in place, we conduct separate searches and pack each of the segments with as much worthy instruments we find.
We did our best to present all the info we have in a concise manner without wasting your time. We drew tables and all the other super fun things, but we also got up close and personal with each of our favorites in separate reviews. Standard stuff, you could say.
Which Exact Criteria We Use
We didn’t want to over-expand the factors we take into consideration, and simply used the ones we – and we believe you folks as well – see as the most important. Those would be first and foremost sound quality and value for money, as well as design, build quality and features. Let’s dissect those now!
- Value For Money
- Sound Quality and Performance
- Design and Build Quality
Time To Break It Down
Alright, we’ve done the basic explanation, now we figured is the right time to bring you some bass guitars! The categories we decided to present to you are Best Basses for Beginners to cover the newbies, Best Cheap Basses or Best Basses Under $300 to cover the budget-conscious folks, Best Basses Under $500 for the intermediate realm and Best Basses Under $1000 for the high-end domain. You can check out the basic rundowns and explanations below, don’t hesitate to click on individual instruments for in-depth reviews.
In this section, we dissect the basses we see as perfect fits for newbie players. This means that while we are always targeting a low price, we also take into consideration that the instrument has to be user-friendly.
When it comes to a specific price, these fellas usually line in between $150 and $300, but what makes them different from say, Best Basses Under $300 is that we took extra attention of getting instruments that are easy to play. This means that we were after slim necks, instruments that are easy to adjust, basses that give a realistic image of the potential of bass guitars in general, instruments with easy to grasp electronics and sound controls, low fret noise, and similar requirements.
Sound quality was of course a priority, but while we would for example gladly put a bass with top-notch sound yet lower playability into the Under $300 category, we would not include that puppy in the beginner club.
The main mission of the instruments located in this section is to offer the player a strong musical foundation for further development. We also see this as the most exciting category of any instrument. That feeling of buying your first instrument is one of the most special things in any musician’s life, and we try to cater to that energetic newbie spirit the best we can. The quick Top 3:
This category is reserved for cheap bass guitars that give top value for money and an outstanding performance for their league. Note that these instruments are not first and foremost beginner friendly, but rather first and foremost quality-sounding. Our main goal here was to find a cheap bass that can serve you well not just in the beginner stage, but well through the intermediate period as well.
Most commonly, these are the instruments that feature budget cuts made at all the right places. They sometimes utilize a killer combo of cheap wood and quality electronic department that makes that wood really sing, or surprisingly good tonewood that still works with lower-quality pickups.
The first step of our quest here was to filter out the unacceptable models. In this budget range, it is quite easy to stumble upon poor-sounding instruments or basses with low build quality, and we made sure to detect those boys and remove them from any consideration whatsoever.
Further on up the road, we pinpointed instruments we find universally solid, along with a few basses that are a great fit only for certain genres. There are some bonafide hidden gems in this range, make sure to check all the goods out in great detail. The quick Top 3:
Picking things up a notch, up next are products below the $500 price mark. As expected, the sonic quality has increased here, leaving us with far less basses that can be instantly discarded. This way, we are left with much more room to navigate through the sonic realm and find products that can suit a variety of personal preferences to a tee.
The main goal of this section is to find bass guitars that belong in the intermediate domain in terms of price, yet deliver a sound quality worthy of the pro league. We looked both for multi-genre versatile items, as well as basses targeted towards certain styles only such as jazz basses or metal basses.
Although a solid portion of players required more in time, there’s a decent chunk of quality and active musicians that stuck to their instruments from this period. This proves that a killer under $500 bass is sometimes all you need as a professional bassist.
What characterizes these instruments is a significant jump in terms of tonewood quality, as well as a decent boost in the quality of pickups and electronics. Even if you think that a $1000 bass is what you need, take a look around here, you never know if the perfect fella will jump up to surprise you. The quick Top 3:
In this area, there’s no limits, no budget cuts, and no poor quality in any department. However, it’s still not a safe zone where every instrument is killer; not by a long shot. If you want to dive into the price range where almost every single instrument kills it, that would have to be at least $2,000+ if not $3,000+. Here, you can’t really get a low-quality bass, but you can get an instrument that realistically belongs in the under $500 in terms of overall sound quality.
Therefore, sifting and filtering was still required to make sure that we bring you genuinely professional products for less than $1,000. It wasn’t about finding a mixture of low-quality tonewood and electronics that somehow pack a decent punch, but about finding a combo of good wood, good pickups, and good electronics that deliver a GREAT performance.
What we found here is nothing short of quality stuff and basses we would personally love to play on long-term basis. These are the instruments that can serve you for the rest of your life, so although they are all top-notch, make sure to consider all the options and find the one that truly suits your needs to a tee. You can browse the goods here, feel free to visit individual reviews for more details. The quick Top 3:
Now we’d like to run through the brands and manufacturers we covered on the site. This way, you can get the basic picture of what to expect from each of the manufacturers, regardless of the price range. In total, we’re looking at around a dozen companies, some of which are definite household names. We also feature manufacturers that are well-known, but only among musicians, as well as some less-known hidden gems. Nothing is out of boundaries for us as long as the sound quality is present. Let’s dig in now!
- Music Man
What Is The Best Place To Buy a New Bass Guitar?
This is an interesting question, and there are basically two rough answers – guitar stores and the internet.
The guitar store option can be anything from massive chains like Guitar Center to your local instrument store. Internet on the other hand, means purchasing the goods through sites such as Amazon, eBay, Ali Express or any other.
While many folks tend to stress that buying instruments is something that you should exclusively do at a local store, we have to disagree a bit. We think that in order to get the best deal, you need to check both option. Yes, it is best to test the instrument out first, and you can only do that in a store. But there’s more to the whole concept than meets the eye.
So first of all, do your research online. There are so many reviews, lists, video demonstrations and other useful goods out there, and you should check those out first. Then, you can consult your local store and see which options it offers. But then, the important part – see which price is the best. The reason why we said that we disagree up there is because Amazon often tends to offer some amazing discounts your local store can’t match. If a deal is better at the store, go to the store, of course, but don’t discard the web just because of the shipping.
The shipping came a long way, and they really know how to pack and ship guitars these days, so don’t worry about it too much.
And we have steadily reached the end of our lovely journey here. What we can say at the end is to take it easy, but be thorough and active. First of all, jot down your needs, preferences, expectations and available budget. Then, check all the options out there and make sure to inspect all the options before making the big purchase.
In our humble opinion, all of these instruments are worthy of the title of the best bass guitar in the world within their niche. Thank you for sticking around, feel free to subscribe to The Guitar Files Newsletter to stay in touch and keep track of all the killer deals popping up on the market. Rock steady, roll easy!