A bass guitar is a fascinating instrument. It allows one to pick up and elevate the groove of any song, and is often said to be the instrument which holds a piece of music together. The exponential rate at which modern technology has grown has led us to the point where we now have some of the most sophisticated instruments for bass guitarists.
However, buying a bass guitar could prove to be a tricky act, especially considering the sheer variety of brands, price ranges and different kinds of bass guitars that are now available on the market. This is why it is important for you to get a basic idea of what it is that constitutes a good bass guitar, and also what are the potential red flags when you are making such an endeavour.
It is at this juncture that we have come to your aid. Our experienced researchers have undertaken great effort to bring to you some of the best bass guitars that are currently found in the market which would be worthy of your investment.
We have also looked into the details of what makes a good bass guitar and which are the different types available. It is safe to say that not all bass guitars are for everyone and a lot of this actually depends on you, the buyer and what your requirements are. So let us now delve into some of these themes.
How To Buy The Best Bass Guitar For Your Requirements?
This is the first broad question we want to get started with. A bass, like many other musical instruments is a niche product and it is important to get some basic understanding of what makes a bass worth buying that would suit elements, such as the genre of music you are looking to play or even if you have any preconceived ideas about it that are not strictly accurate.
As mentioned before, the word ‘good’ is being used here in a largely subjective sense, as different bass guitars may be good for different musicians because of entirely different reasons. Still, some common factors could be reduced to get a balanced understanding of the instrument.
It is important to also know about guitar hardware when you are looking to buy a bass guitar. Ergonomic considerations are also of significant importance. These include the weight of your instrument and whether you are a left handed player or a traditional right handed bassist. Keep in mind that a bass which is too heavy may end up causing shoulder or neck pain and that could further complicate issues in the long run.
These aspects may appear somewhat obvious, but it has often been found that buyers tend to forget these minute details when they are bombarded with a plethora of different factors. The string action of the guitar should also be suited to your needs.
String action refers to the height of the strings from the neck. Below we will attempt to discuss a few of these factors in some detail to give you a comprehensive picture of what makes a good bass and how you can gauge whether it is good enough for your needs.
Factors To Consider While Buying The Best Bass Guitars
1. Number Of Strings
Bass guitars, just like normal guitars, have a wide array of string numbers associated with them. Generally, bass guitars usually have four strings, but they can also have 5 or even 6 strings. If you are a beginner, definitely go for the standard four string bass. If you are a very experienced player who is looking for something more detailed and high level, you can go for a five or 6 stringed bass.
But keep in mind that these are usually reserved for professionals of the highest calibre and for most of us, the four string bass does the job more than adequately. Also, this question pertains to matters related to your style of play and also your budget, apart from your level of expertise.
As mentioned earlier, most popular songs are almost always played on a standard four string bass, and it is the easiest to learn and master as well. On the other hand, a five or six stringed base has a higher number of notes to play with, and this is why highly skilled musicians who have years of practice under their belts usually go for these varieties.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that while a six stringed bass definitely gives you more notes and musical range, the stretching around the neck could become slightly tricky if you are not used to it, so make sure to keep that in mind as well.
2. The Best Brand Of Choice For Your Base
As we mentioned before, the modern market is riddled with a whole host of bass guitars of different varieties from different brands. And although this is usually good in the sense that you have more options to choose from, it might get a bit intimidating sometimes to know which is the ideal option.
This is more so the case if you do not have a great deal of knowledge about music brands as a beginner. It is also important to mention that the question of brands is also a rather subjective one, depending upon where your loyalties lie, but there are obviously brands which have a long standing reputation in the music industry for producing top of the rank instruments for many years.
However, there are also a few upcoming brands which do not have the hype of the established brands but which may come at a more affordable price, while giving you a great instrument as well. Arguably, fFender probably sits right at the top of the perch when it comes to popular and trusted bass guitar brands.
The American company is a mega giant of the music industry and almost any shop you visit will have Fender guitars on their shelves on one variety or another. It has grown to acquire global popularity also because of the fact that it sponsors some of the biggest artists and bands all over the world.
Established in 1949, the American company changed the face of bass guitars forever when it released its famous Jazz bass and Precision bass guitars.
Another well known model that has been steadily climbing the hype tree when it comes to guitars in general and bass guitars in particular is Ibanez. The company comes from the ancient and far eastern land of Japan, where the focus on style and aesthetics is as important as playability and sound.
Ibanez guitars have often been compared to elegant works of art due to their fancy designs which really stand out when they are hanging from your torso amidst the glittering lights on stage.
Apart from these two there are many other popular brands such as Yamaha, Gibson (which is used by the famous guitar player Slash from the iconic 90’s band Guns and Roses) as well as a few others such as German company Warwick which has created signature models for famous guitarists such as Robert Truijillo from Metallica and John Entwistle from The Who.
All in all, this is not an easy debate to settle and all of the brands mentioned above have something special in their bass guitars and that is why they have been so successful in the industry for so many years.
3. What Kind Of Pickups Should You Be Looking For?
A pick up is basically what is called a transducer, which is tasked with the job of picking up or capturing the mechanical vibrations that are produced by musical instruments. All electric guitars, whether they be bass or lead guitars, are equipped with guitar pickups. Different guitars have either active or passive pickups.
Active pickups have a higher output because they rely on a power source, such as a battery whereas passive pickups create a comparatively weaker electrical signal, making your amplifier more important for producing the right sound.
Bass players who prefer a punchy tone in the mould of the classical traditional style of playing would probably prefer a passive pickup, which enables them to explore a more dynamic range of sound. On the other end of the spectrum, the newly emerging active pickups enable players to get access to a brighter, sharper and clearer tone, thanks to the built-in preamps which come with the power of separate batteries.
Another difference between active and passive pickups is that active pickups have much of a higher output when compared to its counterpart. This is largely in part due to the preamp that comes with the active pickups. This feature also ensures that unwanted background noise and other interferences are reduced to the bare minimum, giving you a much more wholesome experience on your instrument.
4. Issues Related To Scale Lengths
When it comes to the question of scale lengths, there are generally three options to choose form for bass guitarists. These are lengths of 34’’ which are called long scales, 30’’ or less which are short scales and finally scale lengths of 35’’ or more which come under the category of extra long scales.
These values and an adequate understanding of them are important, as they represent important ergonomic considerations, which ultimately translate to how efficiently you can make use of your instrument.
Nowadays, the long scale option is more commonly preferred by most bass players, but this should ideally depend on your comfort zone and other unchangeable factors such as the length of your fingers. If you are able to cover the entire length of the longer frets without any problems, then you should go for the long scale alternatives.
Short scale bases on the other hand are more suited for younger bass players and beginners. They are also usually lighter in weight and easier to carry and use. The downside of bass guitars with shorter fret sizes is that they are a little bit floppy and have a somewhat darker sound, since the strings on these bass guitars are comparatively shorter.
The final variant i.e. extra long fretted basses are mostly found in 5 or 6 string bass guitars. The additional length is useful for the extra B string that comes with such models.
5. Fretted Vs Fretless Bass Guitars
Frets are the spaces or sections that are carved along the length of the neck which performs the function of dividing each string into various subsections, with each section representing a particular note, for e.g. A#, B-flat and so on.
Most guitars have this feature and it is the same for most bass guitars. However, fretless guitars are also found in the market, where the strings are not divided into various segments and they run continuously throughout the length of the entire entirety of the neck.
For most ordinary folks like us, the fretted bass guitar is generally the most viable option, as the demarcation of various notes into frets helps us to stay in the key of a particular song without having to run the risk of playing a wrong note which sticks out like a sore thumb.
Fretless guitars on the other hand are niche instruments which require a detailed knowledge of the idea of musical keys, and are generally reserved for players who have a vast experience in playing.
They are more often than not used by highly experienced musicians or the odd musical genius. Thus, if you are venturing into bass guitars as a relative beginner looking to start out on your musical journey, we would definitely recommend the fretted bass guitar for your purposes.
6. Types Of Guitar Necks
The neck of the guitar is a particularly important part for the electric bass guitar. It is the area where the body of the guitar is attached to the extended part of the guitar which consists of the frets, and is responsible for acting as the base for the continuity of the strings.
Since the strings used on a bass guitar are particularly heavy as compared to other acoustic or electric guitars, excessive pressure on a weak neck attachment may prove to be the perfect recipe for disaster, if the tension on the neck gets too much for the guitar to bear.
There are usually three different types of guitar necks on electric bass guitars. These are commonly called ‘bolt-on necks’, ‘set necks’ and ‘through body necks’. Most commonly found guitar necks are the bolt-on necks, because they are the easiest to assemble and adjust.
The downside of these types is that they are also the least stable and offer the most minimum levels of sustain. Set necks offer better sustain than their bolt-on counterparts because they have a higher degree of overlap between the areas of the neck connecting through to the body.
And finally, the through-body necks are the rarest and are generally found in most high-end guitars. It should however be mentioned that bolt-on necks are also found on many good quality bass guitars, and these should be good enough for most standard musicians.
In the following section we will look at some of the best bass guitar brands and their respective models found in the market.
A few of these could also be categorized as the best bass guitars of all time owing to the wide popularity they have garnered and the number of people they have served with consistency and quality. This list is based on the research we have conducted keeping in mind the myriad factors such as price, value, plausibility and ergonomic considerations.
Top 15 Bass Guitars 2020
1. Ibanez GSRM20BS 4 String Bass
We start this list with a cracker from Ibanez which has the look and feel of a high end bass guitar, but has been made available to you at a very affordable price. Launched first in August 2013, the Ibanez Sunburst is a model that has been very well received by musicians and bass players throughout the industry, owing to its classy design and comfortable playability.
It boasts of a body made of high quality poplar wood which is responsible for giving you the depth of sound that most musicians look for in a bass guitar. The fretboard is made from rosewood and has a very smooth feel to it.
It comes with a dynamic P pickup and has a very well constructed compact body. Weighing in at a modest 7 pounds approximately, it is relatively light in weight and can be easily carried. This gives it extra points for maneuverability and only ends up adding to its overall appeal.
As a standard 4 string bass, this is an extremely user friendly instrument that has been designed keeping all the relevant requirements of a musician in mind. It has a scale length of 28.6 inches and is therefore the ideal choice for intermediate musicians who are looking for a trustworthy instrument that they can use exhaustively under different circumstances. All of these factors definitely make it a worthwhile starting product on this list.
2. Glarry Electric Bass
Our second entry on this list is the Glarry Electric Exquisite Burning bass, which has made steady headway into the bass guitar market over a very short span of time. For beginner bass players who are on the lookout for a feel good instrument that can allow them to learn and progress with their musical knowledge and application, this really is the ideal choice.
The plus points of this model from Glarry are quite a few, including its smooth neck and standard scale spacing, which does not make excessive finger stretching demands on the player and allows the player to play freely, without worrying too much about the mechanics of movement.
The strings on this bass are equipped with higher tension, allowing for a subtle touch to achieve the desired sound. A fretboard made of rosewood and a front and back body surface constructed of basswood gives this guitar a warm and deep sound, which is instantly pleasing to the ear.
They also help a great deal by enhancing its durability, so that you can use it for many years, thereby extracting the maximum value from your investment. Furthermore, the package gives you a complementary guitar strap and a convenient guitar bag to carry the instrument. As a standard solid companion for your musical journey, this one is surely a keeper and will not disappoint you.
3. Hofner IGNITIONSB Electric Bass
Hofner has been known for making some very innovative and out-of-the-box bass guitars. This electric violin bass is another one of its innovative concoctions, and anybody with one glance at this beauty will find it difficult to resist picking it up and having a go at a walking groovy bass line.
It has a semi-hollow body, which is unique for any bass guitar and has been priced perfectly keeping in mind the average musician’s seasonal struggles,and hence is very affordable and pocket friendly.
As for its construction, the back is made up of flame maple and sides are topped with spruce, which gives it the additional acoustic resonance that is a missing feature in so many modern day bass guitars. The neck of the guitar is made up of maple and gives the player an excellent range of sustain while enhancing playbility at the same time.
Additionally, with this model you will also get the full set of 500/1 control options, which will let you perfectly set up your own unique custom sound for any gig. At 6.84 pounds, it is one of the lightest electric bass guitars you will find and because of its lightweight body, it is extremely convenient to carry and travel.
With a very stylish design that is based on the 70s violin bass models, this bass oozes class and style while also delivering on the performance factor, without any sort of compromise whatsoever. Considering all of these factors, it is easy to see why this has grown to become such a favourite for so many bass players all around the world, and has captured the musical imagination of so many budding bass players who want to have that classical feel of playing a traditional instrument.
4. Ibanez GSR206BWNF 6-String Electric Bass
As we mentioned before, Ibanez certainly knows how to make a good bass guitar, and this model is another unmistakable proof of the fact. The Ibanez GSR206BWNF electric bass with a stylish walnut finish has been one of the most highly sought after 6 string models in the market. Along with the usual stylish design that is a consistent feature of Ibanez bass guitars, this model gives you a strong punchy tone that is ideal for bass guitarists who want to stand out and provide something extra to their band.
The walnut finish accentuates the overall design quality of this classic bass, with just the right amount of flash intermixed with class.
Also, as one of the most economical variants from Ibanez, the GSR206BWNF 6-String Electric Bass proves to be a very desirable and must-buy product that has all the elements of a fine bass guitar. Additionally, you will also get a gig bag with this which will help you to keep its compact mahogany body well protected.
Weighing in at 25 pounds, it is one of our heavier bass guitar models on this list, so you should keep that in mind while considering its purchase. Finally, it gives you the additional girth and texture of sound thanks to the active Phat I bass boost.
Considering all of these features and also keeping in mind the modest price at which it has been made available, this one should surely be in your shortlists as one of the best bass guitar models out there in the market today.
5. GLARRY Bass Guitar
Next on our list of the best bass guitars being sold in the market currently, comes the Glarry Natural Wood bass, which has been doing the rounds all over the music industry owing to its smooth usage potential and perfectly ergonomic body design. Much like the previous bass on this list from Glarry, this one is also a very pocket friendly model that is ideal for beginners, as well as for more intermediate players who are looking for an affordable new bass that could be used for a long period of time.
This bass has been a crowd favourite for many, as it is extremely easy to hold and is quite light in weight compared to most other bass guitars that you can find in the market at this price range. Weighing a meagre 3.7 kgs, it is easily transportable and can be carried over long distances with the utmost ease and convenience.
Most of its body is made up of basswood and has a very polished feel to it, while the fingerboard material used is rosewood, giving it ample strength and durability to withstand heavy usage. The fret spacing is also ideal on this product for most bass players and natural wood colour gives it an aura of class.
At this price range, there are not too many bass guitars which are so user friendly and have been so well received by musicians across the spectrum. Taking all these aspects into account, it is definitely worthy of your investment.
6. Ibanez GSR205BWNF 5 String Electric Bass
Ibanez bass guitars are the most well known models in the market when it comes to having the best stylish designs. These models are extremely popular, not only because of their easy usage and fantastic sound, but they also secure the highest rank when it comes to elegance and visual appearance.
The GSR205BWNF model from Ibanez is a classic example of a bass which perfectly reconciles the twin themes of style and functionality. Equipped with a dynamic H neck, it is very enjoyable to play as an instrument, and has a huge fan following amongst bass players all over the world.
The spacing of the frets are perfectly designed to account for the differences in finger length of different bass players, and this standardized spacing mechanism ensures that everyone is comfortable playing the instrument. Not all good things in life have to be the most expensive, and this bass is a perfect example of this notion.
Despite its attractive walnut finish and accompanied by well designed active pickups, this bass is a great choice for players from varied musical backgrounds to exercise their creative potential. All in all, this bass is one that ticks all the boxes and has to be considered as one of the most budget friendly options that give you the best value for money.
7. Ibanez GSR200BLWNF 4 String Electric Bass
We are almost halfway through this list of the best bass guitars found in the market at this time and it is no surprise to see that we have another stylish and competent model from Ibanez that forms a part of this list at this juncture. This one is special because it is a rare variety. That is because this is a custom left handed guitar for all the lefties out there.
As a lefty, everyone knows how difficult it is to find a good range of options to choose from when you are looking for the best bass guitar suited for your needs. We live in a right handed dominated world and guitars for left handers are a rarity all over. This issue has been solved by Ibanez with this fantastic model that comes with dynamic J bridge pickup as well as a dynamix P neck pickup.
Both of these facilitate the seamless ease of playing groovy bass lines with relative simplicity, and an overall body weight of 18 pounds ensures that this model is very easy to carry around and transport as and when required.
So if you are one of those rare lefty bass players who has had an agonizing time trying to find a good bass that will allow you to reach your musical potential, then you are in for a treat. Wehighly recommend you consider this as an option and taking into account its playability and elegant design, we are sure that you will not be left disappointed.
8. Fender Mustang PJ Bass
Fender as a brand requires no real introduction to musical aficionados. It has been around the block since forever, and it has mastered the art of making stylish, comfortable instruments at very modest price levels.
It is no surprise that a bass from Fender will have the guarantees of quality and consistency that you can expect from a well known highly popular brand that has a reputation to uphold. Featuring a short scale length of around 30 inches, it is ideal for most bass players and most beginners will find it extremely comfortable to use as a starting bass to hone their skills.
Additionally, the PJ pickup configuration allows for a great deal of versatility which will be much admired by more intermediate bassists looking for a greater degree of flexibility from their instrument. This versatility is achieved as a result of a three way toggle pickup switch, allowing you easy access to the bridge pickup or the neck pickup or even both.
Fender is well known for its uber cool and comfortable c-shaped neck designs which have now become a classical feature of nearly all of their guitars and bass guitars.
This one is no different in that regard. Another distinguishing feature of this model is the hard tail four saddle bridge, which is responsible for giving you solid tuning stability, precise intonation and a highly increased sustain.
9. Yamaha TRBX305 WH TRBX-305 Bass
Yamaha has been engaged in manufacturing a wide variety of highly affordable and user friendly products in a whole host of different fields. Its foray into the music industry has also been a successful one, with its musical instruments showcasing the same resilience and consistency of performance as was expected based upon its record in other sectors.
The Yamaha TRBX305 is a highly rated 5 string bass guitar that has all the ingredients that a budding bass player needs to build a great musical vocabulary and have the most fulfilling experience.
The white coloured body gives the feel of comfort and elegance, whereas the mahogany wood used to construct the body is the fulcrum upon which its unparalleled durability rests. With a total number of 24 frets and a scale length of around 34 inches, it has all the standard markers of a good bass guitar, whether it be for novice beginners or professional intermediate bass players.
Everyone will equally see the value in this well designed bass guitar that has been made available at an extremely pocket friendly price. We highly suggest that you give this model a try, and we are sure that it will manage to live up to your expectations, if not exceed them altogether.
10. GLARRY 4 String GJazz Electric Bass
The number ten position on this list of the best bass guitar that is currently available in the market is taken up by another high performance model from Glarry, which has been dishing out quality bass guitars one after another ever since its first model. The 4 string GJazz electric bass is another example of a fine work of art that has received wide acclaim from all sections of the music industry for its superb design and unmatched performance.
One of the most highly rated budget options for budding bassists, the GJazz bass is a specialty bass that is a great option for musicians in a jazz band. It shows remarkable versatility, when placed in other genres of music such as rock and blues.
The single-coil design of this model has been highly appreciated by many of its users and the rosewood and basswood of the highest quality that makes up its fretboard and body. This bass manages to strike the perfect balance between durability and playability, with its streamlined outlook further enhancing its overall desirability.
It is certainly no surprise to see why it has so many passionate supporters who recommend it after using it for an extended period of time. The overall package will also fetch you a very handy guitar bag, as well as a bass pick and amp cord all for the price of peanuts.
11. Yamaha TRBX305 CAR TRBX-305 Bass
At number 11, we are proud to bring you another dazzling model from Yamaha that our experts have been drooling over. The dazzling red colour of this bass is certainly not the only thing that leaves users speechless about this model ,as it has the perfect combination of features to woo any bass player. This elegant 5 string bass comes with the standard 24 frets and a scale length of 34 inches, which makes it an ideal for most bass players looking to get that perfect groove.
It also has a fingerboard composed of rosewood that gives it a great deal of strength to handle rough usage, and makes it much more durable than your typical run of the mill bass guitar. Weighing in at about 27 pounds, it is on the slightly heavier side, but that does not seem to be a problem for many of its certified users.
It has garnered rave reviews from many sections of the music industry and continues to be one of the most desired bass guitars to be found in the current market scenario. It is fascinating to see that such a highly rated bass is purchasable at such a pocket friendly and economical price. For all these reasons, we have no qualms about giving it a place on this list and you should definitely consider it for purchase too.
12. Yamaha BB234 YNS 4 String Bass
Continuing with our select choices of Yamaha bass guitars on this list, the next in line is the Yamaha BB234 which has a yellow natural satin colour that makes it look extra marvellous under the lights on stage. It has a bolt-on neck that gives it ample stability and sturdiness, while also ensuring that the player has enough room to use the sustain to your advantage.
For someone who is ready to take that next step in their musical journey, this really is a great option. And this is the case not only because it has all the standard markers that you wish to see from a proper bass, but also because unlike many other models found in the market, this does not leave a gigantic gaping hole in your pocket.
It is a perfect value for money choice for musicians who cannot splash out a lot of money at the moment, but want to get the feel of a professional instrument that won’t let them down. For all of these reasons, it deserves a place on this list and we highly recommend you give this one try.
13. Ibanez GSR105EXMOL 5-String Electric Bass
We are nearing the end on this list of some of the most highly sought after moderately priced bass guitars that you can find in the market, and at number 14 we are going back to the celebrated brand Ibanez and this 5 string model – which is one of the most well liked and trustworthy bass guitars you can possibly invest in. The B15 bridge and well spaced out medium length frets are perfect for any seasoned musician looking for a brand new shiny instrument.
Furthermore, its SR body style has been extremely well received and has the potential to change your bass playing experience once and for all. Talking to people who swear by this instrument, it is easy to see why it has had such a resounding success in the market uptil now. At 20 pounds, it is relatively light in weight and can be transported or carried with extreme convenience.
14. Yinge 5 String Electric Bass
The penultimate product on this list takes us back to a left handed bass guitar that is doing the rounds in the musicians circles and has been highly acclaimed by many professional as well as beginner bass players.
Yinge is probably not the most well known brand out there, but this marvellous looking bass is certainly worth your attention. For left handed bass players looking for an affordable and trustworthy musical instrument, this really ticks all the boxes.
This 5 string bass comes with a maple neck and composite ebony fingerboard, which makes its operations ultra smooth and gives a clarity of sound that is hardly found in such economical models. With a scale length of 34 inches and an overall length of 44 inches, it is perfectly designed to help you play in the most comfortable manner possible.
It also comes with the added endowment of two volume controls and three different tone control options which increases the musical range of the player. All things taken into account, this is a dream bass for any left hander and we are sure that it will prove to be worthwhile for you.
15. Black 5 String Electric Bass
We have finally reached the end of this list, where we have explored some of the best bass guitars you can purchase currently in the market today. We have looked at many well known popular brands but the last entry on the list is somewhat of an unknown commodity.
The Balck 5 string bass from Gstyle is not your most well known bass guitar, but it is certainly one that has earned a right to be on this list with some of its other celebrated counterparts.
Giving you the solidity of a bolt-on maple neck and a composite fingerboard made from ebony, the Black 5 string is a bass guitar that is delicately designed for hardcore performance. It has a body made of poplar wood and comes with a metallic gold finish that adds a royal touch to its already delightful appearance. Equipped with a standard scale length of 34 inches, this is one of the best budget friendly options you can go for if you are looking for something out of the ordinary.
Buying a bass guitar is often tricky, as there are many aspects to keep in mind. In this article we have tried our best to conduct the most comprehensive enquiry of some of these issues, so that you can get a fair idea of what kind of bass you need and what are the factors that you should keep in mind while making a final choice.
We started off by looking at some of these factors in detail without overburdening you with too much information. Then we used the wealth of knowledge gathered by our industry experts to compile a list of some of the most viable options that are playing the markets today when it comes to good quality affordable bass guitars.
We should make it clear that this list is by no means all encompassing, and there are many other models that are available for purchase. But in our view, these choices represent the best of the lot, keeping a wide variety of factors in mind.
We hope that you have accumulated useful knowledge from this article, which will help you in making an informed choice about which bass guitar to go for. We urge you to conduct more research into these matters as more knowledge is never a bad thing, and it will eventually give you the tools to make the best possible choice.