11 Best Beginner Bass Guitars in 2020

As an integral part of any style of music, your role as a bass player will be to glue the band together and create a bridge between rhythm and harmony, laying down the foundations for both.

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Choosing a beginner bass guitar isn’t an easy task if you don’t know what brands and features to look for. I’ll start this guide by reviewing some of our favorite guitars, but if you want to learn more about bass guitars before reading reviews, check out our bass guitar information guide at the bottom of the page here.

Name of ProductImage of ProductAwardPrice RangeFull Review
1. Ibanez SR370EIbanez SR370EBest Overall$400Read Full Review Below
2. Ibanez GSR200B (Best Value)Ibanez GSR200BBest Value$200Read Full Review Below
3. ESP LTD B-204SM ESP LTD B-204SMBest Under $500$500Read Full Review Below
4. Sterling by MusicMan SUB Stingray 4 HH Sterling by MusicMan SUB Stingray 4 HHBest Under $400$380Read Full Review Below
5. Ibanez GSRM20B banez GSRM20BBest Short Scale Bass$180Read Full Review Below
6. Yamaha TRBX174Yamaha TRBX174Great Budget Option$200Read Full Review Below
7. Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass60s Jazz BassClassic Choice$400Read Full Review Below
8. Squier Classic Vibe ’70s PrecisionSquier Classic Vibe 70s PrecisionClassic Choice$400Read Full Review Below
9. Yamaha BB234Yamaha BB234Classic Choice$299Read Full Review Below
10. Jackson JS Series Spectra Bass JS3QJackson JS Series Spectra Bass JS3QGreat Value$350Read Full Review Below
11. Dean Edge 2Dean Edge 2Budget Pick$250Read Full Review Below

Here Are the Best Beginner Bass Guitars

1. Ibanez SR370E (Best Overall)

Ibanez SR370E

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Estimated Price: $40

Body: Maple
Color options: Sapphire Blue or Natural Browned Burst
Neck: Bolt-on, 5-piece laminated Maple/Rosewood
Neck radius: 305mm/12″
Frets: 24, medium size
Scale: 34″ long scale
Neck pickup: Passive, PowerSpan Dual Coil
Bridge pickup: Passive, PowerSpan Dual Coil
Bridge: Ibanez Accu-cast B120
String spacing: 19mm
Hardware color: Cosmo Black
Electronics: Active, 3-band EQ, powered by a 9V block battery
Controls: 1 master volume, 1 pickup blend, 3-band (individual controls for bass, mid and treble) with boost/cut + 3-way power tap switch

My Review: Ibanez is one of the greats of guitar and bass manufacturing, with multiple decades of groundbreaking instrument designs under their belt. The SR line of basses is more than 30 years old now and will not be going away anytime soon. It features a broad spectrum of bass models, starting with the GSR series – oriented towards more modest budgets, up to the quite expensive basses of the SR Premium and SR Prestige series, offering exotic tonewoods and the highest quality of craftsmanship that Ibanez is capable of.

The cornerstones of the SR series, regardless of the price, are playability, versatility, and attention to detail. The SR370E truly shows its pedigree from the start. Like all basses of the SR line, it has the same flowing and organic looking body shape with a double-cutaway, the lower one, perfectly sculpted to enable you to comfortably reach up to the neck’s 24th medium-sized fret. The tonewood used for the body is maple, making for a solid bass guitar. It has the classic SR neck, famed for its slimness and speed, but in this particular case it features a laminated 5-piece maple/rosewood construction with a matte finish and fine Jatoba fretboard accented by white dot inlays, bolted on to the body in its very precisely routed pocket using 4 screws. It has a level of attention to detail you will not find on most basses in this price range.

The 370E comes in 2 color variations, Sapphire Blue and Natural Browned Burst with a matching headstock, both very pleasing to the eye. The hardware for both color variants comes in a dark grey finish Ibanez calls Cosmo Black and is typical of the SR series: sealed tuners on the headstock in a 2:2 layout and a chunky, well built B120 bridge enabling some of the easiest string changes and all the adjustments you could wish for.

The string spacing is set at 19mm which is standard on most basses. The SR370E features 2 PowerSpan dual coil humbucker pickups with exposed pole pieces. On the back of the body, you’ll find access to the electronics and the separate battery compartments, the latter supplying power to the active onboard 3-band preamp with a 3-way power tap switch. This switch enables you to select among 3 pickup configurations: Tap mode runs the humbuckers as single-coil pickups, series mode runs them as standard humbuckers and power tap mode combines a humbucker and a single-coil. The 5 knob control layout features a master volume, a pickup blend and the 3-band EQ (each with its own control) that lets you cut or boost low, mid and high frequencies by about 15dB and in combination with the coil tap switch adds a lot of versatility to an already very versatile instrument. SR series basses have always been known for their bright, open, and transparent tone, and the 370E is no exception to the rule.

This is a great bass for beginners and seasoned bass players alike. It’s packed with features, the build quality is excellent and the factory setup is spot on. It’s really a bargain for how good it sounds and for how much it brings to the table. It’s available in left-handed and a 5-string version called 375E with a slight price adjustment

2. Ibanez GSR200B (Best Value)

Ibanez GSR200B

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Estimated Price: $200

scale: 34″ long scale
Color options: Weathered Black or Walnut Flat
Body material: Nyatoh
Neck: Bolt-on, Maple
Neck radius: 305mm/12″
Fretboard material: Jatoba with white dot fret markers
Frets: 22, medium size
Bridge: Ibanez B10
String spacing: 19mm
Hardware color: Black
Neck pickup: Passive, Dynamix P
Bridge pickup: Passive, Dynamix J
Electronics: Active, Phat II bass boost, powered by a 9V block battery
Controls: 2 volume knobs, 1 passive tone control, 1 Phat II bass boost

My Review: The GSR series of basses from Ibanez was created for bass players who demand premium tone and build quality but don’t want to pay for it. It doesn’t make sense that Ibanez is able to turn out such a good instrument at this price point, but they just do.

The body uses Nyatoh as a tonewood. This is considered to be a more sustainable alternative to Mahogany from which the GSR200’s body was built in the past. Sonically and visually they should be indistinguishable from each other. The GSR200’s body shape is almost identical to the more prestigious SR line, though slightly less contoured than its cousin and the lower cutaway is still ideally crafted to let you reach the highest frets on its fretboard.

The 34″ long scale, bolt-on neck is built from maple with a satin finish and again, very similar to the SR series in terms of shape, feel, playability and build quality but instead of the 24 frets you find on an SR, there are only 22 medium-sized frets set into the GSR’s fretboard, with simple white dot marker inlays – in a blind test you would be hard-pressed to tell one from the other. The fretboard is made from Jatoba, the same as the SR series, and the sound it imparts is very similar to rosewood.

It comes in two color variations: Weathered Black and Walnut Flat, both with black hardware and a black headstock. The die-cast tuning keys follow the standard Ibanez 2:2 layout. The B10 bridge is very similar to the classic L-shaped Fender bridges, though the B10 has slightly more bulk behind it and the saddles have an improved design compared to the old school classic, allowing you to set everything up as you like it.

The GSR200B has a passive P-J pickup layout, a Dynamix P style pickup in the neck position paired with a Dynamix J style pickup in the bridge position. It is obvious that Ibanez had versatility in mind while designing this bass, as the P-J is one of the most versatile pickup combinations available. But they didn’t stop there, they added the Phat II active bass boost to the GSR’s arsenal, and at its price point, an active circuit is unique indeed. There are 4 controls to experiment with: 2 volume knobs for each of the pickups, a passive, cut only tone control, and the Phat II bass boost. When adding the Phat II into the mix, you will hear a slightly scooped sound, as it boosts the lows and highs much more than it does the mids. Used together with the passive tone control you can get a wide range of very usable sounds.

The GSR200B is the ultimate beginner bass, it’s got a very fast and comfortable neck, a bright and transparent fundamental tone, an active bass boost circuit, very good build quality, and factory setup – at 200$ this is one instance where you get very much more than what you pay for. It’s available in left handed and 5 and 6-string versions called GSR205B/GSR206B with a slight price adjustment. In my opinion, it’s the best beginner bass guitar out there for the money.

3. ESP LTD B-204SM (Best under $500)

ESP LTD B-204SM

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Estimated Price: $500

scale: 34” long scale
Finish: Satin
Body material: Ash with Spalted Maple top
Neck: Bolt-on, thin U shaped, 5-piece laminated Maple/Jatoba
Neck radius: 400mm/15.75”
Fretboard material: roasted Jatoba with Abalone dot fret markers and 12th fret “B-204SM” inlay
Frets: 24XJ  jumbo-sized frets
Bridge: LTD BB-604 with string through body option
Hardware color: Black nickel
Tuners: LTD closed back
Neck Pickup: LTD designed passive SB-4N humbucker
Bridge Pickup: LTD designed passive SB-4B humbucker
Electronics: Active ABQ-3, 3-band EQ powered by a 9V block battery

Control layout: 1 Master Volume, 1 Pickup blend, 3-band EQ(1 bass, 1 mid,1 treble)

My Review: ESP (Electronic Sound Products) started out in 1975 as a small shop providing custom replacement parts for guitars in Tokyo, Japan. In the early 80’s they expanded their business to New York and shortly after that, started crafting custom instruments for the local artists based there. Following their success as a guitar and bass manufacturer, ESP quit the replacement parts business, focusing solely on building premium guitars and basses. In 1995 the LTD series was created to build their high-quality instruments at more affordable prices. 

Enter the ESP LTD B-204SM 4-string bass (the SM stands for spalted maple). It wears its custom shop DNA on the outside for everyone to see. The delicately contoured body with its double-cutaway is made from solid ash, but the first thing that catches your eye is the beautiful spalted maple top and its matching headstock in a natural finish, an absolute rarity at its price point. The lower cutaway is generous in its size and ensures that you’ll reach the highest registers of the fretboard with ease.

The 34” long scale neck has a thin, U-shaped profile, is built from a 5-piece Maple/Jatoba laminate which bolts on to the body via 6 screws and rests in an oversized and impeccably crafted pocket inside the body. 

The fretboard is made from roasted Jatoba and is sonically comparable to Rosewood. On it you’ll find 24 XJ Jumbo frets with abalone dot inlays. Instead of the 12th fret double-dot it has its name (B-204SM) inlaid in abalone, which I think is kind of quirky but not an issue for me personally.

The hardware comes in a black nickel finish. The solid and hefty bridge is LTD’s own BB-604 design, allowing for both top loading and running the strings through the body, the latter method resulting in increased sustain. The LTD closed tuners are placed in a 2:2 configuration on the headstock.

The B-204SM sports a pair of LTD designed passive SB-4 humbucker pickups, actively aided by the ABQ-3, 3-band EQ with boost/cut function, powered by a 9V battery sitting in its compartment accessible from the back of the body. It has a 5-knob layout: 1 master volume, 1 pickup blend, plus 3 EQ pots for the bass, mid, and high frequencies.  

By combining ash and maple in the body as tonewoods, ESP has created a bass with a strong fundamental low end imparted by the ash, while the maple component adds a well defined and clear high end. The humbuckers and 3-band EQ only enhance the B-204’s Hi-Fi sound and versatility. 

The ESP LTD B-204SM is not only a beauty to look at, but also a joy to play thanks to its thin, U-shaped neck with satin finish and generous lower cutaway. Its large assortment of sounds and superior build quality make it a great choice for any level of bass player. It’s also available in 5 and 6 string versions B-205SM / B206SM

Related Article: The Best Bass Amps on the Market Right Now

4. Sterling by MusicMan SUB Stingray 4 HH (Best Under $400)

Sterling by MusicMan SUB Stingray 4 HH

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Estimated Price: $380

scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: High Gloss Polyester
Color options: Olive Green or Lake Blue Metallic
Body material: Basswood
Neck: Bolt-on, Hard Maple
Neck radius: 279mm/11″
Fretboard material: Maple or Jatoba
Frets: 21 high profile, stainless steel
Bridge: MusicMan Style, chrome-plated steel with stainless steel saddles
Hardware color: Chrome
Tuners: Schaller BM open back
Neck Pickup: standard MusicMan humbucking pickup with ceramic magnets
Bridge Pickup: standard MusicMan humbucking pickup with ceramic magnets
Electronics: active, 2-band preamp, powered by a 9V block battery

Control layout: volume, bass, treble

My Review: The MusicMan Stingray is an iconic bass guitar and its pedigree is unquestionable. Being designed in part by bass guru Leo Fender in the ’70s, and having a list of famous players as long as the now-extinct telephone book, has only added to its appeal – funk legend Louis Johnson, Colin Greenwood of Radiohead, Justin Chancellor of Tool, Joe Dart of Vulfpeck or Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews Band, just to name a few and the list goes on and on to infinity. The Stingray’s place in history is secured as being the first commercially available bass with an on-board 9V active EQ, fit for the bass player masses, while its characteristic, aggressive growl can be traced back to the oversized humbucker placed near the bridge. After this brief bass history lesson, fast forward to the late 2000’s when finally the Sterling by MusicMan SUB series hits the market. Even though Stirling is tasked with producing affordable Stingray copies, they still have much in common with the original they are based on, in terms of build quality and performance.

The Sterling SUB series StingRay 4 HH has a Basswood body with a double cutaway in the classic Stingray fashion but slightly smaller than the original and comes with an olive, dark green finish.

The Ray4’s neck is crafted from Hard Maple and is bolted on to the body with 6 screws, it has been slimmed down a little as well, making it better suited for newcomers to the instrument. The fretboard is also made from Hard Maple, sporting 21 high profile frets with simple black dot fret markers. The headstock is of classic Stingray design, with Shaller open machine heads in a 3:1 layout. The truss rod adjustment wheel is located near the base of the neck, where it meets the body.

The MusicMan style chrome-plated, hardened steel bridge, is basic in its design and lets you adjust for intonation and action, it is slightly less massive than the original.

The SUB Ray4 is fitted with a pair of standard MusicMan humbucking pickups with ceramic magnets. These beefy, hot signaled pickups are the reason for the Stingray’s signature growl. The dual humbucker layout is connected to a 5-way pickup selector, letting you choose between the single-coils and humbuckers in various configurations, adding greatly to the tonal range of the instrument when compared to the classic, single humbucker layout.

On the back of the body, you’ll find the compartment for the electronics and a separate one housing the 9V battery which supplies power to the 2-band active preamp.

This is a solid bass with solid sounds, ranging from the aggressive bite of the original Stingray to classic J and P-bass-like tones thanks to the dual humbuckers, the coil tap switch, and the 2-band EQ. As a beginner bass guitar, the SUB Stingray4 HH exceeds all expectations and will comfortably serve even seasoned bass players for years to come.

If you don’t like the maple fretboard, there’s an alternative in a finish called Lake Blue Metallic with a Jatoba fretboard. And of course, there are variants with single humbuckers, like the original Stingray. The bottom line is for the money this is easily one of the best beginner bass guitars out there!

5. Ibanez GSRM20B (Best Short Scale Bass)

banez GSRM20B

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Estimated Price: $180

scale: 28.6″ super short scale
Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
Color options: Walnut Flat / Weathered Black
Body material: Poplar
Neck: Bolt-on, Maple
Neck radius: 305mm/12″
Fretboard material: Jatoba with white dot fret markers
Frets: 22, medium size
Bridge: Ibanez B10
String spacing: 19mm
Hardware color: Black
Tuners: Ibanez closed back
Neck Pickup: Passive, Dynamix P
Bridge Pickup: Passive, Dynamix J
Electronics: Passive
Control layout: 1 neck volume, 1 bridge volume 1 passive tone control

My Review: The GSRM20B “mikro” is a 28.6″ super short-scale bass (30″ is considered the standard short scale) designed with young players in mind who would be struggling to learn to play and practice on the standard 34″ long scale basses. The short scale length and narrower frets enable small hands to acquire the proper techniques and apply them correctly without resorting to left-hand acrobatics. Despite its intended purpose as the first bass for young musicians, fully grown, standard scale bass players can have a lot of fun with the GSRM20B mikro bass, as it definitely proves that big tone doesn’t always come from big and bulky packages. The lightweight Poplar body is contoured to the standard GSR/SR template with twin cutaways through all, with reduced dimensions when compared to the mikro’s fully grown relatives. The generous bottom cutaway allows comfortable access up to the end of the fretboard. It comes with two color options: Walnut Flat and Weathered Black.

The bolt-on maple neck has a flat D shape with a satin finish, ending in a jet black headstock(like all GSR basses) with the standard Ibanez closed machine heads in a 2:2 layout.

The Jatoba fretboard is accented by simple white dot fret markers and bears 22 well finished medium-sized frets.

The B10 bridge can be found on the entire GRS line of basses and it has also made its way to the “mikro”. Its design takes inspiration from the old school Fender L-shaped bridges but improves on it by beefing up its mass and string saddles. The hardware is finished in simple, straight forward black.

The “mikro” has a passive P-J pickup layout, a Dynamix P style pickup in the neck position paired with a Dynamix J style pickup in the bridge position. This pickup configuration provides great flexibility in shaping your tone, even when active electronics are not available.

This is a fully passive instrument, with a control layout comprised of double volume controls and a passive, cut only tone control.

The tonal arsenal of the “mikro” is astounding, the P-style neck pickup provides fat, full-bodied, thumping bass, while the J-style bridge pickup delivers transparent, midrange and treble-heavy sounds.

This is a bass guitar mainly directed at young players but Ibanez has outdone themselves in creating this little powerhouse. The mikro could be an ideal bass for the traveling bassist. If you don’t want to lug your full-sized gear with you but still want to practice or even gig, this is the bass you’ll want by your side and at this price, it’s a steal. The GSRM20B is available in a 5-string variant!

Popular Related Article: Our Favorite Short Scale Bass Guitars

6. Yamaha TRBX174

Yamaha TRBX174

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Estimated Price: $200

scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: Glossy
Color options: Red metallic, Black, Old Violin Sunburst and Dark Blue Metallic
Body material: Alder
Neck: Maple, Bolt-on, C-shape
Fretboard material: Sonokeling
Fretboard radius: 254mm/10″
Frets: 24, medium-sized
Bridge: Yamaha Vintage style die-cast
Hardware color: Chrome
Tuners: Die-cast closed back
Neck Pickup: P-style split-coil
Bridge Pickup: J-style single coil
Electronics: Passive
Control layout: 1 neck pickup volume, 1 bridge pickup volume, 1 passive tone control with a cut only function.

My Review: Yamaha’s decades-old history of building very good quality instruments at affordable prices has it uniquely positioned to try to take over the entry-level segment of the bass market. The TRBX174 electric bass could be the ideal choice for someone just beginning to learn the basics of playing the bass guitar but due to its quality construction and no-frills approach, it could serve for far longer than a fist step instrument.

It features a sleek and contoured alder body with a double cutaway design and 4 color options: Red metallic, Black, Old Violin Sunburst, and Dark Blue Metallic. The generous lower cutaway and ergonomically contoured heel enable strainless playing, even in the highest registers of the fretboard.

The bolt-on, 34″ maple neck has a comfortable and very fast modern C-shape profile and is attached to the body using 4 screws.

The fretboard is crafted from Sonokeling which is a Rosewood analog and will add well balanced low-end and midrange to your tone while mellowing out harsh treble frequencies. On it, you’ll find the 24 medium-sized frets and subdued white dot fret markers.

The headstock has a black finish and sports the 4 closed-back die-cast tuners in a 2:2 layout.

Yamaha’s L-shaped vintage style, the die-cast bridge with stainless steel saddles supports only through the bridge stringing. All hardware comes in a chrome finish.

The TRBX174 comes loaded with one single-coil pickup J-style pickup in the bridge position and one split-coil P-style pickup in the neck position, providing you with enough tonal versatility to take on any style of music.

7. Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass

60s Jazz Bass

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Estimated Price: $400

scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
Color options:3-Color Sunburst / Daphne Blue / Black
Body material: Poplar
Neck: Maple with Tinted Gloss Urethane
Neck radius: 241mm/9.5″
Fretboard material: Indian Laurel with white dot Pearloid fret markers
Frets: 20, narrow, tall frets
Bridge: Vintage style 4-saddle
String spacing: 19mm
Hardware color: Nickel
Tuners: Vintage-style open-backed
Neck Pickup: Fender-designed AlNiCo Single-Coil
Bridge Pickup: Fender-designed AlNiCo Single-Coil
Electronics: Passive
Control layout: 1 volume -neck, 1 volume-bridge, 1 passive cut only tone control

My Review: Fender builds the most recognizable basses around and has been doing it for more than sixty years. The Jazz Bass is Fender’s most popular bass, and probably the most copied bass design there ever was. The Asian built Squier series was created to appease the masses demanding affordable alternatives of Fender’s mainstay instruments. Following an uptick of public interest for vintage instruments and the subsequent skyrocketing of their prices, Squier again met this challenge head-on, paying homage to legend by recreating the bass that had set the trend for decades after its inception: the 1960’s Jazz Bass, although with some minor modern tweaks to this iconic design. The Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass is the result of Fender’s labor, and what a great bass they’ve built! The “vibe” part of the name suggests that this is not a reissue of a 1960s era Jazz Bass, but that this is a modern instrument to which certain vintage features were added, to make it look, play, feel or sound in a manner that more closely resembles a Jazz Bass from 50 plus years in the past.

The body is crafted from solid poplar, possessing the same asymmetrical double-cutaway as it’s ’60s era counterpart, and every Jazz Bass ever since. The Classic Vibe Jazz Bass comes in 3 color alternatives: 3-color Sunburst, Daphne Blue, and Black, in a Gloss Polyurethane finish, all of them accompanied by the same 4-ply tortoiseshell pickguard.

The slender, C-shaped maple neck will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has ever laid their hands on a Jazz Bass. It is bolted on to the body using 4 screws and a neck plate with a Squier engraving. The fretboard is made from Indian Laurel and is adorned with white dot Pearloid fret markers and 20 tall/narrow frets. The headstock with its 4 vintage style, open-backed machine heads, is shaped in classic Jazz Bass fashion.

The hardware on all 3 color variants comes with a nickel finish, while the control knobs are made of black plastic. The L-shaped, vintage-style bridge with the threaded steel saddles feels appropriate for the general vibe of the instrument and offers adjustment options for intonation and string height.

The twin Fender-designed AlNiCo single-coils help deliver all the vibrant, harmonically rich tone you would expect from a Jazz Bass. The Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass obviously doesn’t have active electronics inside of it, however, it provides a 3 button control layout with 2 volume controls (one for each single-coil) and 1 passive tone control for rolling off the treble.

It comes with a decent factory setup straight out of the box, so you can start jamming right away without having to set it up yourself or taking it to a guitar tech. The quality of the finish and detailing isn’t as clean and precise as with non-budget-oriented Fender basses, if you take a closer look at your instrument you’ll start to spot these small imperfections, but at this price point, you can’t expect even as much attention to detail as they have already given to it.

If you are looking for a vibrant, rich, transparent tone from a Jazz Bass, this Squier model has all of that and much more. The Vibe ’60s Jazz sounds great even when unplugged, it resonates like a much more expensive instrument, there is lots of sustain and it has a surprisingly powerful voice whether you are playing with your fingers or a pick. Plug it into an amp and you’ll see for yourself what all the fuss is about. While there are many basses out there that have copied the Jazz Bass, with some even in the same price bracket, the classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass outclasses them all in terms of value, playability, and vintage sounding goodness. This a bass for the ages, a gem for beginners, and vintage bassists alike.

Related Article: Roudup of Our Favorite Acoustic Bass Guitars

8. Squier Classic Vibe 70s Precision

Squier Classic Vibe 70s Precision

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Estimated Price: $400

Scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
Color options: Walnut / Black
Body material: Nato
Neck: Maple with Tinted Gloss Urethane
Neck radius: 241mm/9.5″
Fretboard material: Maple With ’70s Style black block inlays
Frets: 20, narrow, tall frets
Bridge: Vintage style 4-saddle
String spacing: 19mm
Hardware color: Nickel
Tuners: Vintage-style open-backed
Neck Pickup: Fender-designed Split Single-Coil
Electronics: Passive
Control layout: 1 master volume, 1 passive cut only tone control

My Review: The Squier Classic Vibe series was created as Fender’s response to the upsurge in the demand for vintage guitars and basses and their sudden rise in prices. They elected one of their all-time legends for the resurrection: The Precision Bass in its 1970s version. The Precision was the first electric bass to earn widespread attention from the general public, becoming one of the best-selling and most imitated bass designs in history. The “vibe” part of the name hints at the fact that this is not a reissue or recreation of a 1970s era Precision Bass, but that it is a modern instrument with certain vintage features added, altering its aesthetics, tone or handling to more closely resemble an instrument from decades-long past- this is, in essence, a modern tribute to a 1970’s P-bass.

The body exhibits the standard Precision shape and is made from Nato which is used as a replacement tonewood for Mahogany. This will change the fundamental tone of the Vibe in ways that you might not expect from a 1970s P-bass, the latter having been built with an ash body. The Vibe has a little less pronounced low end but will make up for this with much more midrange presence than its forebearer. There are 2 color options for the Vibe ’70s P-bass: Walnut and Black.

The neck has a narrow C-shaped profile and is made from one solid piece of maple. It includes the fretboard with its ’70s style black binding, black block inlays, and the 20 narrow but tall frets. It is bolted on to the body in its reasonably precise pocket, using 4 screws and a neck plate featuring a Squier engraving. On the back of the neck, you can see the so-called “skunk-stripe” through which the truss rod has been inserted. On the headstock, you’ll find the 4 vintage-style open-backed machine heads, the bone nut, and the Squier Precision Bass logo in its 1970’s variant.

The L-shaped, vintage-style bridge with the threaded steel saddles feels appropriate for the general vibe of the instrument and offers adjustment options for intonation and string height. The hardware on both color variants comes with a nickel finish, while the control knobs and pickguard are made of black plastic with white accents.

The single, Fender-designed Split-Coil pickup with AlNiCo magnets sits in its rightful place roughly in the middle of the distance between the neck and the bridge. This is obviously a fully passive instrument, with no active preamp and EQ. The control layout features 2 knobs, a master volume, and passive tone control with a treble cut only.

It comes with a good enough factory setup straight out of the box, so you can start playing comfortably the moment you take it out of its wrapping, without having to fiddle with it yourself or taking it for a check-up. The quality of the finish and detailing isn’t as spotless and precise as with non-Squier models. If you take a closer look at your bass you’ll start to see these small imperfections. Luckily they don’t influence playability so it’s not a real issue and also, complaining over minutiae at this price point borders on ungratefulness when you get an instrument as good as this one.

In some regards, the Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Precision Bass is a better instrument than basses from the ’70s ever were. Maybe with this Vibe P-bass, Fender tried to remedy some of the mistakes of the past. The addition of the Mahogany-like Nato tonewood seems to improve on the classic P-bass’ lack of well-defined midrange. If you are looking for your first bass, or second, or third, this could be the one you won’t part with. From thumping dub-like sounds to midrange-heavy tones that cut through any mix like butter – this is the Squier Classic Vibe ’70s, Precision Bass.

9. Yamaha BB234

Yamaha BB234

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Estimated Price: $300

scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: Gloss Urethane
Color options: Red + white pickguard, Natural Satin + black pickguard, Black + white pickguard and Vintage white + black pickguard
Body material: Alder
Neck: Modern C-shape, Maple
Neck radius: 254mm/10″
Fretboard material: Rosewood
Frets: 22, Medium-sized frets
Bridge: Vintage style, L-shaped
Hardware color: Chrome
Tuners: Open-geared
Neck Pickup: passive Yamaha VSP3n P-style split single-coil
Bridge Pickup: passive Yamaha VSC3b J-style single-coil
Electronics: Passive
Control layout: 1 neck pickup volume, 1 bridge pickup volume, 1 passive tone control with a cut only function

My Review: Yamaha’s iconic line of BB (Broad Bass) bass guitars is more than 40 years old at this point in time. The first BB1200 rolled off of the assembly line in 1977. It was basically a high-end P-bass clone, featuring a neck-through-body design with a 5-piece laminated neck and a single split-coil P-style pickup with its cornerstones being superior sonic versatility and playability. Not long after the release of the BB1200, Yamaha realized the advantages of the P-J pickup combination and has arguably become one of the best P-J bass makers around.

The BB234 builds on this 40 plus year legacy by delivering the superb sound and build quality that this series is known for in a smaller body with even better playability geared towards new bass players. It features a very ergonomically contoured solid alder body with double cutaways and classic 1977 BroadBass styling. It comes in 4 color variants: Red with a white pickguard, Natural Satin with a black pickguard, Black with a white pickguard, and Vintage white with a black pickguard, all of them with a black headstock and gloss urethane finish.

The 34″ scale, bolt-on maple neck has a very fast, comfortable, modern C-shaped profile, a Rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium-sized frets and is adorned with white dot inlays. The L-shaped, vintage-style bridge efficiently transfers the string vibrations to the body and lets you adjust the action and intonation.

The BB234 features Yamaha’s high output ceramic pickups, with a passive VSP3n P-style split single-coil in the neck position and a passive VSC3b J-style single-coil in the bridge position. This is a fully passive instrument and has a 3 control knob layout: 1 volume for the neck pickup, 1 volume for the bridge pickup, and passive tone control with only cut function.

The fortuitous combination of a solid alder body, slim bolt-on maple neck, and P-J pickup configuration is one recipe that Yamaha knows well. When you crank up the P-style neck pickup, you instantly get the classic percussive, low-mid heavy growl of a P-bass while dialing up the J-style bridge pickup will get you the punchy and transparent fingerstyle sounds the single-coil is known for. This bass is a no-frills powerhouse with a 40-year legacy and a modern twist, you can’t go wrong with it.

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10. Jackson JS Series Spectra Bass JS3Q

Jackson JS Series Spectra Bass JS3Q

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Estimated Price: $350

scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: Glossy
Color options: Amber Blue Burst
Body material: Poplar
Neck: Maple, Bolt-on, modern C-shape
Neck radius: 12″-16″ compound
Fretboard material: Laurel with binding
Frets: 24, Jumbo-sized
Bridge: Jackson HiMass bridge
Hardware color: Black
Tuners: Jackson Sealed Die-cast
Neck Pickup: Jackson passive Medium-output Humbucker
Bridge Pickup: Jackson passive Medium-output Humbucker
Electronics: 9V battery-powered active onboard 3-band EQ with a 2-way coil tap switch
Control layout: 1 master volume (push/pull – active/passive), 1 pickup blend, 1 Bass,1 Mid, 1 Treble, 2-way coil tap switch.

My Review: Jackson has more than 30 years of instrument building expertise under its belt and the Spectra JS3Q undoubtedly shows their mastery of this craft.

The Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q packs a lot of punch in a very aesthetically pleasing package, so if you’re looking for a great all-rounder bass guitar, this could very well be it.

It features a contoured poplar body, topped with an eye-popping quilted maple veneer, stained in an Amber Blue Burst, with a glossy finish. Its double-cutaway was designed with the comfort of the bass player in mind. The large upper horn keeps the bass well balanced while preventing neck dive and the lower one is much more restrained in its size, leaves enough space to allow you access to even the highest frets of the fingerboard.

The bolt-on neck is made from hard maple with a Laurel fretboard and is joined to the body through the use of 4 screws. Due to its compound-radius (heading up to the upper register of the instrument, the radius flattens out for easier runs and string bends) and smooth satin finish, this neck is very fast and is a joy to play on. Its 24 jumbo-sized frets are accented by simple white dot fret markers. The fretboard features a pleasing, well-executed white binding on its edges. The simple black headstock sports the same white binding as the fretboard, on it you’ll find the 4 Jackson sealed die-cast tuners in a 2:2 layout.

The recently upgraded Jackson HiMass bridge has plenty of heft behind it for it to properly transmit the string vibrations to the body making for a very resonant bass. It allows for the adjustment of intonation and string height. All the hardware on this bass comes in a black finish.

The JS3Q is equipped with twin passive Jackson Medium-Output Humbucking pickups, with exposed pole-pieces. It also has a 9V battery-powered, onboard active 3-band EQ which you can switch to passive mode through the push/pull volume control and as an extra cherry on top, a coil tap switch, not leaving much to be desired.

The Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q is a unique instrument and hard to compete against in this price segment. It’s stunning looks aside, it really is feature-packed. From the active 3-band EQ, 2-way coil tap switch, the compound radius fretboard, to the very fast satin-finished neck, everything is designed to make you play and sound better. Hands down a great choice for beginners and veterans alike.

11. Dean Edge 2

Dean Edge 2

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Estimated Price: $250

scale: 34″ long scale
Finish: Vintage Natural
Color options: Natural
Body material: Basswood
Neck: Bolt-on, Maple, C-shape
Fretboard material: Rosewood
Frets: 24, medium-sized frets
Bridge: Die-cast Vintage L-shape
Hardware color: Black
Tuners: Closed-back die-cast
Neck Pickup: DMT Design humbucker
Bridge Pickup: DMT Design humbucker
Electronics: Passive
Control layout: 2 volume, 2 passive tone control with the cut only function

My Review: The Edge 2 Electric Bass very much reflects Dean’s mentality and 20-plus years of experience in designing bass guitars. This is a straight forward, no bells and whistles workhorse bass, created to get the job done, be it practicing, or gigging.

It features a light basswood body, ergonomically contoured for very comfortable playing, whether hanging from a strap or resting on your leg. The generous lower cutaway lets you reach the highest frets on your neck with ease. It has a Vintage Natural finish that enhances the natural tone and grain of the solid basswood body and creates a pleasing subdued aesthetic.

The bolt-on, 34″ long scale maple neck has a modern C-shape and is profiled to be very fast when playing and with a sleek feeling to the touch. A custom-designed neck joint and heel along with an asymmetrical 4-bolt pattern ensure an impeccable transmission of vibration from the neck to the body greatly enhancing sustain and attack. The neck features a rosewood fretboard inlaid with the 24 medium-sized frets and simple white pearl dot fret markers. The headstock has a matching veneer to the body and sports the 4 closed-back, die-cast tuners in a 2:2 layout.

The L-shaped, vintage style die-cast bridge efficiently transfers the string vibrations to the body and lets you adjust the action and intonation. The hardware comes in a black finish.

The Dean Edge 2 features twin DMT Design humbucker pickups with exposed pole pieces in the neck and bridge positions. They deliver fat and full-bodied low-end, percussive and punchy mids with less high-end definition, that cuts through the thickest mix. Each of the two humbuckers has its own volume and passive tone control which allows you to mix and match as you please, offering a wealth of tonal versatility. If you’re looking for the best bass guitar for beginners this is definitely a top contender!

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Beginner Bass Guitar Buying Guide

Buying a bass guitar is a daunting task, especially when it’s your first one. Never in the history of Bass have there been so many options to choose from, new manufacturers are popping up all the time while established brands offer better and better instruments with more features and at lower prices than ever before. It’s a great time to be a bass player, but an even greater time for choosing your first bass.

In this guide, we’ll be going through some of the basics and some more advanced features and concepts of bass guitars so that at the end of it you’ll be able to choose the best instrument that suits your needs.

There are a few things you should know and a few questions you should ask yourself before going and impulsively buying the first ax you like the shape or the color of.

Anatomy of a Bass Guitar

The Headstock: It’s the part at the end of the neck, this is where your tuning keys are located and where most manufacturers put their logos.

The Neck: It’s the part of the bass you play notes on, it is bolted or glued to the body, on it you’ll find the fretboard with its frets, dot markers and the truss rod nut for adjusting the tension and relief of the neck

The Nut: This is where the strings rest on at the base of the headstock, the material it is made of (bone, plastic, or metal) affect the way in which the string vibrations pass on to the neck and through it, to the body. Different materials will lead to subtle differences in tone

The Fretboard: This is where frets and the dot markers are located, it is commonly made out of some type of hardwood (Ebony, Rosewood or Maple are staples) the type of material has an influence on the tone of your bass.

The Frets: These are the metal wires that are inserted into the fretboard, each fret represents a musical note, their number varies – it’s usually between 20 and 24 (2 octaves per string)

The Body: This is the main part of the bass, it’s usually made out of one or more solid pieces of wood glued together, on it you’ll find the pickups (or a single pickup in some cases), the neck joint and heel(where the neck meets the body), the bridge (where the strings are anchored and adjusted), various control knobs (1 or 2 volume knobs and a tone control are standard) and the input jack (where you plug in your guitar cable). On the back of the body, you will find access to the electronics compartment housing all the pots and electronics, though sometimes it is located under the pickguard on the front of the instrument.

The Pickups: These sit under the strings and convert their vibrations into an electrical signal that will be sent to your amp through the guitar cable to be amplified.

The Bridge: Sometimes called the tailpiece, this is the solid piece of metal where the strings are anchored and adjusted for height, intonation and sometimes string spacing

Knowing what you want:

What music do you like to listen to?

Are there any bass players you like?

Is there a specific bass sound you would like to emulate?

As an example, Motown legend James Jamerson had a vastly different setup and approach to the bass guitar than Robert Trujillo of Metallica has. Answering some of these questions will help nudge you in the right direction when looking for your first or next bass.

Knowing what you have:

Setting a budget for your bass is important. It will help you to narrow down the list from the hundreds of options you have.

At what point are you in learning to play bass? If you are just starting with the bass, maybe stay clear of fretless or extended-range basses like 5 and 6-strings. These have steeper learning curves in mastering them than a standard fretted 4-string bass and could potentially make your progress slow, frustrating, or both.

Knowing what you need:

A good first bass should be light and comfortable as it will probably be hanging from your shoulder for hundreds of hours. It must be easy to play, have a great tone, and as you perfect your technique, it should meet your bass needs without hindering your progress.

What style of music do you want to play?

Some basses are tailored for every style of music, and while a good instrument will do a fine job in any situation, there certainly are some that make your life easier than others. For example, if you play metal you would probably be better served by picking a bass with a 35″ scale length (making drop tunings tighter) than with a 34″ scale bass like a Fender Jazz. That is not to say that you can’t do it with a good old Jazz Bass. Just that some tools are better suited for certain tasks, and knowing what that task is will help you choose the right bass for your needs.

How many strings do you need?

Most bass guitars you will encounter will have 4 strings (E, A, D, G). This is the standard among bass players, and you could play your whole life without laying your hands on an extended range bass (5-string or 6-string), – many bass legends never did. If you are new to the instrument, you should probably start with a 4-stringed bass.

A 5-string bass (usually B-E-A-D-G) adds a layer of complexity with the “low B” string below the E string on a standard bass. A 6-string (B-E-A-D-G-C) adds the “high C” string above the G-string. The evolution of metal and rock has made a “low B” commonplace, but you can make do with restringing a 4-string bass with a B-E-A-D. This will keep things easy as you don’t need to adjust your playing technique to an extra string while giving access to the low register of the B string.

The takeaway here is: If you are starting newly, just skip the extended range basses for now. If you play in a band where a low B is mandatory, you can easily restring your 4-string bass.

Scale length

Scale length refers to the distance from the nut of the neck to the bridge and determines how long the neck of the bass is. It influences how your bass sounds, handles, and feels to play. The standard scale length for an electric bass guitar is 34″ and is called “long scale”, this is the scale length of the Fender Precision and Jazz basses. 30″ or less is called “short scale” like Paul McCartney’s violin bass, 30″-33″ is called medium scale length and the extra-long scale which is 35″ or above in length.

Short scale basses will have softer and more melodic sounding mid-tones than a standard 34″ scale bass, while an extra-long scale bass will have tighter lows and punchier mids. This is why many metal bass players prefer extra long scale basses. Another thing to consider is the fact that as you increase the scale length of the bass, you will also increase the overall weight of the instrument. Longer necks require heavier bodies to balance them out. Short and medium scale basses are a great option for children or short people because of the shorter neck and lighter bodies.

A shorter neck also means that the spacing from fret to fret is also smaller, so small hands don’t have to stretch as much when playing. Don’t worry too much about the size of your hands, as you’ll learn to adapt to any scale length as many others have before you.

Bottom line: If you have small hands or require the harmonically richer sound of the shorter scale lengths, take a look at the short/medium scale offering. Bear in mind that a child won’t have small hands forever. If you want to play metal, extra long scale basses could be your best bet.

Fretted/fretless

Standard bass guitars will have metal frets inserted into the fingerboard to mark the exact spot where a particular note will ring true (fretted bass). This is opposed to a violin or double bass, where you need to know where to place your finger to produce the same note. A fretless bass is the same as a fretted one, but with all the frets removed. Playing fretless is not recommended for someone just starting with the bass guitar, so if you are a beginner, just get a standard fretted bass – you’ll be grateful you did this in the long run.

Body woods

The type of wood that a bass guitar is made of will greatly influence its sound. Harder woods will produce a more acute, percussive sound with more sustenance while softer woods will sound warmer and mellower. Hardwoods used in building bass guitars include Ebony, Rosewood, Hard, Rock, or Maple. These are commonly used for fretboards, while Walnut, Mahogany, Wenge, Koa, and Bubinga are some that are used for the bodies. Softer woods that are used as resonance woods for bass bodies include Alder, Swamp Ash, and Basswood.

Alder is one of the most frequently used in bass construction because of its well-balanced sound, offering well-defined lows, punchy mids, and clear highs.

Swamp Ash will have less punchy mids and a more pronounced high end than Alder but will still have a strong low end and sound transparent and sweet.

Basswood is used for more budget-friendly basses, but the sound it produces is warm and transparent.

Mahogany stands somewhere between the hard and soft tonewoods. It is widely used in electric bass and guitar bodies and delivers a darker sound, having a well-balanced tone with less pronounced highs than softer woods.

The type of wood the fretboard is made of will also influence the tone of the bass. The most common fretboard woods are Rosewood, Ebony, and Maple; Rosewood being by far the most common of the three.

Rosewood fretboards have a mellower sound to them, evening out harsher high frequencies, and will imbue your bass with a warm and rich tone.

Ebony has been used for centuries to make fretboards for classical instruments like cellos and violins. An Ebony fretboard sounds bright and crisp, with great attack and excellent sustain.

A Maple fretboard will have a bright tone (comparable but not as bright as Ebony) and well-defined lows with a good punch and decent sustain.

Neck Types

The manner in which the neck and body of a bass guitar are joined will influence the way the instrument resonates and therefore influence its tonal characteristics. In the Bass world, there are 3 common types of neck joints; these are the bolt-on, the set neck, and the neck-through design.

The most used type of neck joint is the Bolt-on neck. As the name suggests the neck is bolted on to the body using screws or bolts. Basses with bolt-on necks are not as labor-intensive and time-consuming to build as the other two designs. Because of this fact, most entry-level basses use the bolt-on neck joint. However, this does not mean it is inferior in any way to the other types. A bolt-on will have the fastest attack but not as much sustain as a set-neck or neck-through design. Many bass players who like to ‘slap’ use basses with bolt-on necks because of their fast attack sustain being secondary with this technique. Also, all Fender basses have bolt-on necks, and there’s nothing more iconic than a P-bass.

With the set-neck which is also called a dovetail, a pocket is cut into the body and the neck is glued inside. This type of neck joint requires more skill from the luthier than a bolt-on neck and is generally found on more premium-priced basses. It is the common ground between the bolt-on and neck-through designs, having a fast attack (not as fast as the bolt-on), and improved sustain (not as much as a neck-through).

The neck-through type of neck joint is found on the higher end of the price range for a bass guitar. The neck will run through the entirety of the bass, while the “body” is then glued directly to the sides of the neck. A neck-through bass will have a strong low end, slower attack compared to a bolt-on neck, but will have sustain for ages. This design is preferred by players who like to solo because of the “piano string”-like the quality of the tone.

Pickups

The pickups in an electric guitar or bass convert the vibrations of the strings into a signal that will be sent to your amp to – go figure – be amplified. Therefore they have a great influence on your tone and you will need to choose wisely as every pickup type has its advantages and disadvantages.

There are 3 basic pickup designs that you’ll encounter on most basses: the single-coil, the humbucker or double coil, and the split coil.

The single-coil pickup has a single coil wrapped around the magnet inside the housing. The sound they produce is bright and punchy. But there is a problem with single-coil pickups as with a Fender Jazz Bass, they will pick up noise or “hum” from anything (computers, fluorescent lighting, radio waves) when the volumes are not the same on both pickups. To avoid this humming, the humbucker and split-coil were created.

The humbucker is a double coil pickup; basically, two single-coil pickups glued together and out of phase with each other to cancel out that hum the single-coils are known for. They sound generally darker and less bright than single-coils but have greater output. This pickup design can be found on MusicMan basses and many others.

The split-coil design, as on a Fender Precision Bass, is basically a double coil pickup, but it is split into 2 halves, with each half of the double coil sitting under 2 of the bass strings. This design delivers a sound characterized by fat lows and punchy mids, but less high-end sparkle than single-coil or humbucker pickups.

Electronics: Active vs. Passive

In the early days of the electric bass, you had very few options to shape the tone coming out of your guitar. You either mixed the volumes of your pickups in different ratios or you used the tone control knob which only lets you cut high frequencies. This lack of tonal versatility present in passive basses has pushed bass players searching for more control over their sound to adopt active onboard electronics.

An active bass is usually a standard bass with passive pickups but it will be equipped with an active – battery-powered – preamp running on a 9V block battery or sometimes two of them (18V – with better fidelity and headroom). Most active onboard preamps let you tweak your sound with a 2 or 3-band EQ with boost or cut function. In addition to greater versatility and tonal control, active basses are less prone to introduce noise or interference and will deliver a hotter signal with less degradation than a passive bass. NOTE: If you leave your cable plugged into your bass it will drain the battery, so either unplug your bass or switch it to passive mode (most preamps let you do this)

Hardware

The hardware on a bass has two sonically significant components, the tuning keys, and the bridge. The tuning keys come in two basic varieties: sealed and open-backed, the difference between them being that open-backed tuners need to be cleaned and oiled once in a while. The bridge or tailpiece is a very important component of your bass. It’s where the strings attach to the body and through it. The vibrating strings will resonate the tonewood of the instrument and thus, shape your tone. A good bridge must have some mass behind it so that it will transmit the string vibrations properly. This is one of the most frequently upgraded parts on Fender basses, as their standard L- shaped bridges are some of the thinnest you’ll see on a bass guitar and they only have the most basic adjustment options. Each string will be placed in an individual saddle, allowing for the adjustment of string height, intonation, and, with more complex bridge designs, the string spacing.

Body shape/contour

The shape of the body has less to do with the sound of the bass, and more to do with the playability, aesthetics, and how comfortable it is while hanging from your shoulder. Electric basses usually abide by a standard double-cutaway design, meaning they have 2 horns above and below the neck. On the upper horn which is usually larger in size, you’ll find one of the two strap buttons (the second strap button is usually found near the bridge) used to attach the strap. The smaller horn or cutaway is the important one, depending on its size and shape it will be easier or harder to comfortably play in the higher registers of the neck. A good-sized bottom cutaway with rounded edges is preferred. The heel of the bass is where the neck meets the body and a well-contoured, ergonomically shaped heel will also allow easier access higher up the neck.

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