The world of budget friendly bass guitars became a bit of a riveting place in recent years. The market has significantly expanded and allowed just about everyone to pick up a very good beginner instrument and start jamming along, which is awesome.
However, as the time went by, the beginner instrument market kinda outgrew the pro market in terms of quantity, leading to manufacturers investing more and more into their cheap guitars to compete on the market. This further led to some ingenious innovations and production of genuinely high-quality instruments at fair and affordable prices. We did our best to filter these hidden gems out, resulting with this little rundown.
For user convenience, we decided to present our findings in the form of a chart, with a comparison table featuring a variety of different bass models, their respective ratings and links to extended reviews if you’re interested in more info. Additionally, a set of extra tips and guidelines has been included below the chart so you can know what to expect from these instruments and how much you should invest into them to get the desired results. Away we go now!
The Top 10 Cheap Bass Guitars:
Tips and Tricks on How to Get the Best Bass Guitar Under $300
First and foremost, we should all be well aware that this is beginner budget, and that means that you should be happy with anything that can be classified as a solid beginner instrument. These instruments rarely use pricier wood and typically utilize standard electronics.
What we look for when sifting through the market are items that stand out in one of these areas, or even both although those are quite rare. So at best, you can hope for an instrument you can use throughout your beginner and intermediate stage. These aren’t basses you’ll play for the rest of your life if you advance to the pro stage, but I’m guessing that the majority of your folks are just fine with that.
But the big thing you should expect from these guitars is playability. Many manufacturers are aware of the fact that these instruments are bought by newbies, and do their best to make them easy to play so they don’t put the player off with hard-to-play instruments.
The thing you should watch out for are poorly placed frets. Many of the basses in this department suffer from fret buzz, and require additional tweaks by pros in order to sound properly. In our experience, the listed fellas have shown the best performance in this department.
In the sonic department, you shouldn’t believe people who tell you that decent sound isn’t something these instruments can offer. They most definitely can, and not just decent, but solid, gig-worthy sound. Your expectations shouldn’t be too high either, but a solid variety of frequencies, warm basses, punchy middles and bright trebles are something you should most definitely expect.
Finally, inspect the instrument and make sure that it’s sturdy and reliable. You don’t want any cracks or holes in there, it will mess up the sound and durability, especially in the long run.
How Much Money To Spend On Related Gear If Your Bass Costs Under $300?
That’s an interesting question, and the answer depends on this key factor – what do you intend to do with the bass? If you are just a beginner who wants to learn the instrument, then a small 15 watt amp along the lines of Fender Rumble 15 will suffice, which would be around $100 tops.
Apart from that, you’ll most definitely need a metronome and a tuner, which will set you back another $30, and miscellaneous things like a cable, a guitar strap, and a guitar stand (plus picks if that your preferred style of playing), which should be around another $30 in total. We also recommend changing the strings as soon as you’ve bought the instrument, which is around $20. So in total for necessary newbie stuff, we’re looking at around $180.
But if you want to hit the gigs, well, you’ll need a powerful amp, which is at least $300 if you want a decent sound. And there’s a variety of pedals that can also improve your sound, but that’s a matter of personal preference. The one pedal we say every bassist can benefit from is an EQ pedal. A decent option in this department is the Boss GEB-7, which is around $100.
What Can You Get For A Little Extra?
Well that one would depend on what you see as “a little extra.” If that was $50 – $100, you have two options – a better bass or extra gear.
For $400, you can get a bass that sounds better enough from the $300 instrument, but we could also argue that getting a $100 practice amp could be of better use to you. Also, getting an EQ pedal could make you capable to do live shows if you plug into the proper PA, and that’s also a $100 investment.
But if that “little extra” is more on the side of $50, we say get gear. Get a pack of fresh strings, get a tuner and a metronome, get a guitar strap. You’ll need this stuff and if your budget is tight you better make sure there’s room for it for the essential accessories.
We see the $300 limit as sort of this upper limit on top-notch beginner instruments, and in our opinion the next step of instruments that really make a big difference starts at the $500 basses category, so if you have a bit of extra cash that you’re willing to spend, we’re always more on the side of getting better gear that putting those $100 into the bass.
Other Things To Consider
When it comes to other notable things you should take into the equation, you should first and foremost know that getting a bass isn’t the final purchase. This is an electric instrument, and those can’t work without an amp. And then, the amp can’t deliver the sound unless it’s connected via cable.
And even then, if you’re a beginner there’s no way you’ll be able to tune the instrument by ear, even with the help of online tuners (they only give you the pitch, your ear still isn’t trained to match that pitch just on hearing alone), so you’ll need a tuner. Additionally, having a metronome is crucial for developing accuracy and technique. And then, you’ll probably be standing up while performing, so it’s essential you get a guitar strap and practice standing up, it’s a whole other world to sitting down and playing.
What we’re getting at here is that as noted, you will need to invest around $150 – $200 more to actually start playing on a daily basis and be able to practice for extended periods of time. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it is something you need to be told in order to calculate the budget properly.
New Bass Guitar vs. Used Bass Guitar For $300
OK now that’s a tricky one. First off, getting used models who initially cost under $300 is not that recommended unless you have an expert to take with you and test the bass out. As all the cheaper things out there, these instruments tend to be on the more fragile side, so if someone didn’t treat the thing properly, and that can mean more than just dropped it on a few occasions (storing these dudes in humid rooms can be devastating, for example), you could be looking at a useless bass. And it is far better to get a usable instrument for $300 that something you can throw into garbage for half the price (or three times less or whatever).
But then the other side of the coin would be to sift for basses that initially cost more but are now available for around $300, which is a hit and miss domain, a gray zone and not something we can wholeheartedly recommend or say we’re against. So if you feel like diving in that whole second-hand scene, sure thing and good luck, but if you like to be one the safe side that getting one of the puppies listed here is the way to go in our book.
And that’s about a wrap. If your question is are basses under $300 worthy of buying, the answer from a guy who spend a decade or two playing bass would be yes, absolutely. We are talking about instruments that absolutely hit the sweet spot for beginner musicians and a variety of surprisingly strong instruments.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey, feel free to check the individual reviews for more info and subscribe to The Guitar Files newsletter for constant updates on best deals on the web. Rock steady, roll easy!