Top 10 Best Bass Guitar for Beginners Reviews

Top 10 Best Bass Guitar for Beginners Reviews

If you are a musician, you probably know at least a couple of jokes about bass players. Have you ever wondered why there are so many jokes about bassists? Is it true that the bass guitar is that easy to play? Can a bass player write a song?

It’s due to these prejudices that a lot of young people choose to play the guitar over the bass. However, this is simply not true. None of it. Other musicians often simply don’t understand this instrument. It is much more than just playing a couple of notes over and over again.

The bass guitar is like a piano because your hands often work independently from each other. With your left hand, you have to play correct notes in order to follow the harmony and the melody of the song. However, with your right hand, you have to follow the drumbeat as the bassist and the drummer always work as a team. So, as you see, it is everything but boring and simple.

Bass guitar Player

In this text, I will introduce you to the most important aspects and elements of the bass guitar. Also, I will list 10 best bass guitars for beginners, so that you can choose the one that suits your needs and preferences.

Why should Beginners consider bass guitar?

The bass guitar is probably the most underestimated instrument out there. Other musicians often perceive bass guitar almost as an integral part of the drum. Although it is true that the bass should follow the drum beat, it is actually much more than that. As I’ve mentioned in the introduction, this is a very serious and complex instrument.

I work as a guitar teacher for many years. During this period, I met a lot of guitarists that are actually bassists. I can easily recognize this in their playing manner and music taste. When I ask them why they didn’t choose the bass, they usually reply something like: “A bass player can’t write a song”, “You just follow what guitarist is doing”, “I can’t practice songs on my own”, etc. Of course, none of this is the truth.

If you think that the bassist can’t compose a song, just listen to the Royal Blood. If you think that the bassist’s job is to just follow the guitar, listen to the Primus. As you can see, it is all just the matter of one’s approach. If you know how you can write a great song on any instrument. Besides that, you can always play in your own unique way.

Of course, there are many advantages of playing the bass guitar (just like any other instrument). However, the most important thing is your personal preference. If you like this instrument, if you are into its low and powerful tone, then the dilemma is over. You should get the bass guitar and start practicing.

A lot of beginners make the same mistake – they pick the instrument that they think is the most popular. This logic doesn’t seem right – if you consider the popularity of the instrument as an important factor, you should actually pick a less popular instrument! This way, not just that there is less competition, but you are also more likely to find a band. When I was a young guitarist, my band members and I couldn’t find the bass player because everyone played the guitar!

Besides that, in today’s popular music, the bass is slowly becoming more and more popular instrument. In pop music, you can often hear just the bass and drums. Also, I’ve seen a couple of very good rock bands without a guitar! Take Morphine for example. This is an excellent band and it has just the bass, the drums, and the saxophone.

So, the bass guitar is an instrument that provides you a lot of possibilities. With the right approach, you can do everything that you can with the guitar, even more!

How to choose the best beginner bass guitar

Having in mind that the bass guitar is less popular than the guitar, future bass players often face difficulties when trying to find the best beginner bass guitar. A lot of them are not sure on what aspect to pay attention, what elements to analyze, is something relevant or not, etc. In this segment, we are going to look at the most important types and parts of the bass guitar.

  • Electric/Acoustic

First of all, the main characteristic that should be determined is whether the bass is the electric or the acoustic one. Unlike the acoustic guitar, the acoustic bass is not very popular, especially among beginners. While the majority of students start with the acoustic guitar and then switch to the electric one, in the case of the bass guitar it is the other way around.

As a bass player, it is not very interesting to play on your own. Of course, when you practice the scales or harmonies you probably are alone, but when it comes to the real playing, you need other band members, especially the drums. This is not necessary for a guy with the acoustic guitar; he can just take it to the beach or the park and sing along with his friends. He can even sit at home and play a song while singing along. If you play the bass, this is usually not possible.

The acoustic bass guitar is usually not intended for playing with a full band. Firstly, the other band members will probably be louder than you. Secondly, if you try to raise your volume, you are likely to activate the feedback problem. This is because the acoustic bass is hollow, so it doesn’t have a lot of sustain.

So, it is probably the best idea to start with the electric bass guitar. You can play it with a full band and with your friend who has an acoustic guitar (you just turn down your volume a bit).

  • Size

Like in the case of the electric and acoustic guitars, there are also different sizes of the bass guitar. This is particularly important because the bass guitars are very big and heavy, so it is almost impossible for children to play a regular size bass. This is why there is a half-size bass guitar as well as a 3/4 size. The second one is not necessarily intended for children; some people with smaller hands also prefer these 3/4 basses, as they are more comfortable to play. Not only that the neck is smaller but the string tension is also looser, so these bass guitars are really easy to play.

  • Body type

There are many different shapes of the electric bass guitar. However, the shape doesn’t have a decisive importance when it comes to the bass sound. It is more a matter of your personal preference whether you like a Fender Jaguar shape or a Gibson SG shape.

However, the thing that is very important is whether the body is solid or hollow. Bass guitars with hollow bodies are mostly used in jazz and folk music. This is because these basses have more of an acoustic-like tone. Of course, having in mind that the body is hollow, you can’t raise the volume too much, as the feedback problem may occur. There are also semi-hollow bass guitars that are less prone to feedback.

On the other hand, bass guitar with a solid body has a lot of sustain, so there is rarely a feedback issue. Besides that, you can add a lot of effects on this kind of bass guitar, which you can’t do in the case of hollow ones.

  • Body wood

There are different kinds of wood that are used for the bass guitar body. Besides wood, some cheaper basses can have laminate or even plastic body.

A lot of bass guitars have a body made of alder. This is a very good body that provides balanced and bright sound. A lot of Fender bass guitars have alder body.

Agathis is another popular body material. It is not expensive but gives you a good tone, with a lot of low and mid tones.

Ash is also a great choice that produces a bright and full sound, very similar to alder.

Basswood represents an affordable option, so it is often used on less expensive bass guitars. The thing is that this wood is soft so it doesn’t resonate as well as the previous wood types on our list. However, some bassists like this short sustain, as it is suitable for fast playing.

As you probably know, mahogany is one of the most popular woods used for making the guitar bodies. It creates a warm sound that emphasizes the low and mid-range tones. Also, it is a little heavier than agathis or ash.

Maple is a type of wood that is very similar to mahogany, only it often has a little brighter and clearer tone.

  • Strings

Bass guitars usually have 4 strings, although some modern basses have five and even six strings. However, if you are a beginner, I sincerely advise you to start with four strings. Then, after you master these four, you can always get a bass with more strings. Some people believe that fewer strings can interfere with their creative potential. It’s as they cannot express themselves with only four strings. When I hear that, I always mention one of the most creative and innovative bassists Mark Sandman. This man played on only two strings, but his songs are beautiful and his approach is unique and original.

  • Pickups

The electric bass guitars usually have two kinds of pickups: single-coil and humbucker. The humbucker pickup is more aggressive and louder than the single-coil. Also, it is made in order to suppress the hum that can occur in the case of guitars with single-coil magnets. On the other hand, the single-coil pickup has brighter and softer sound. Some bass guitars have both of these magnets, which is, in mine opinion, the best combination.

list of 10 Best Bass Guitars for Beginners recommendations

Fender Standard Jazz Electric Bass

Fender Standard Jazz Electric Bass Guitar

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

The first bass guitar on our list is the famous Fender Jazz Bass. This is not just one of the best bass guitars for beginners, but also for advanced players. I can even say that the professionals can also use it.

Features:

  • Body: Alder
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: Standard J pickups

Ok, the first thing that you’ve noticed is definitely the price, so let’s talk about that. I know that the majority of beginners don’t plan to spend more than $600 on their first guitar; however, you should look at the whole picture. This is the Fender. Not its copy (like the Squier), but the actual Fender.

The truth is that the price of $625 for a Fender is actually very generous. How come that the price is so low? Well, this guitar is also known as the “MIM” Jazz Bass, which means “made in Mexico”. This is the main reason for its low price - it is built in Mexico.

The bass sounds amazing, practically as the Fender built in America. Its pickups and controls work great, so you can shape your tone in various ways. You can get that full and muddy sound and also that Jaco Pastorius-like high and sharp sound.

Another thing that amazed me about this bass is how playable and comfort it is. If you put a little thinner strings (which I advise you to do if you are a beginner), it will feel almost like you are playing the guitar, not the bass!

Not surprisingly, Fender did a great job with this one. If you have a little more than $600 to spend on the bass guitar, this is definitely the best bass guitar for beginners that you’ll find.  

Pros

  • Beautiful look
  • Perfect sound
  • Very easy to play

Cons

  • A little higher price

Fender Mustang PJ

Fender Mustang PJ Bass

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

Here is the second Fender bass on our list. Like the previous one, it is not the Squier (Fender copy), but the original Fender (although made in Mexico). The interesting fact is that the original Mustang Fender was designed by Leo Fender himself! Due to its short scale (30 inches), it belonged to the “student line” of instruments.

Features:

  • Body: Ash
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: Vintage-style split single-coil Precision Bass in the middle, Vintage-style single-coil Jazz Bass in the bridge

So, as I’ve mentioned, this bass has shorter scale than the regular bass guitar (which is 34 inches). This Mustang has 30 inches scale and the “micro” bass at the beginning of our list has 28, 6 inches scale (just to make a comparison).

This is why I think this is a great bass guitar for beginners - it is somewhere in between the “micro” and the regular size bass, so it is a perfect way to start. Also, this is the excellent choice for guitar players who also play bass.

Great thing is that it has a three-way toggle, so you can activate each one of the magnets or both of them at the same time. This gives you a whole variety of sound that you can play with.

Great versatility in a small package. It does costs a little more than the rest of the models, but trust me, it’s worth it. If you don’t mind playing a bass with a short scale and have some extra money, this is a perfect beginner bass guitar for you.

Pros

  • Practical
  • Excellent sound
  • Very easy to play

Cons

  • No case
  • Higher price

ESP LTD D-4

ESP LTD D Series D-4 Electric Bass Guitar

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

I’ve noticed that a lot of my students are into metal music. Moreover, I can say that the majority of musicians enjoy metal or, at least, rock music. This is why they often ask me to recommend them a bass guitar that is suitable for a heavier sound. This is why I decided to include this ESP LTD bass guitar on our list.

Features:

  • Body: Merbau
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck: 5-piece mahogany-maple
  • Magnets: ESP SB-4 humbuckers

This guitar is a real beauty. Its natural look and great wood make it one of the best looking bass guitars.

As you probably know, a lot of famous professional musicians use ESP guitars. This company formed a kind of a “brother company” that makes similar guitars but at a lower price, i.e. the LTD brand.

If you are into metal, this is the bass guitar you want! It has active electronics and dual humbuckers, so it is intended for heavy and aggressive stuff. Its tone is huge, clean, and powerful, with a lot of sustain. You can even control the level of the mids, bass, and treble with its 3-band EQ. Although it is primarily intended for more aggressive approach, the diversity of sound that you can get makes it perfect for virtually any music genre.

Cool thing is that its neck is pretty thin, so it is very comfortable for playing.

However, I should mention that this guitar might not be the best choice for beginners with small hands or for children (after all, it has 24 extra jumbo frets). 

This bass guitar is one of my favorites. It does cost more than $500, but once you start playing it, you’ll realize that it is completely worth it. Perfect look, amazing tone, easy to play.

Pros

  • Beautiful look
  • Excellent sound
  • Very easy to play

Cons

  • A little higher price

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series Ray4

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series Ray4 StingRay Bass

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

Ok, now we are entering a more affordable zone. For all of you that don’t plan to spend a lot of money on your first guitar, this one and the next guitars on our list are for you.

Features:

  • Body: Basswood
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: Active humbucker in the bridge position

Although it is not a very common thing for a bass guitar, there are many different colors that you can choose between - black, red, honey sunburst satin, mint green, red ruby burst satin, blue satin, vintage cream, and walnut satin.

You have probably noticed that this guitar is a copy of the Music Man. It looks identical to their String Ray model.

Its hardware is very good. I didn’t have to adjust anything, so you can play it straight out the box (of course, you’ll probably have to tune it first). The tuners are also very stable, so you can rock on.

Very important news for a beginner is that this guitar is very easy to play. It has a slim neck and medium jumbo frets. Also, its satin polyurethane finish is an additional advantage, as the neck stays very slick to the hand.

The thing that surprised me the most about this guitar is its magnet. Some of you might think that, since there is only one magnet, the sound won’t be the best one, but believe me, it is quite the opposite. This bass has an active humbucker, which means that you can shape its sound in many ways. There are three controls - treble, bass, and master volume, so you can basically set its eq without even touching the amp!

Excellent beginner bass guitar for a small amount of money. It has everything that you would expect from a decent bass guitar.

Pros

  • Excellent sound
  • Very easy to play

Cons

  • No significant cons

Yamaha TRBX204 GRM

Yamaha TRBX204 GRM 4-String Bass Guitar

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

Yes, it’s true, Yamaha also makes bass guitars.

Features:

  • Body: Basswood
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: Split-P single-coil ceramic (neck position), J single-coil ceramic (bridge position)

Ok, I know that the previous bass had a lot of color options, but this one has even more. There are 19 options: root beer, red metallic, candy apple red, bright red metallic, translucent black, galaxy black, regular black, dark blue metallic, old violin sunburst, tobacco brown sunburst, gray metallic, pewter, translucent white, regular white, mist green, translucent brown, dark redburst, matte amber, and natural satin. So, even the choosiest of you will find the perfect color!

Like the previous bass on our list, this one also has active electronics. There are four knobs - the master volume, the balance of pickups (so you can boost the neck pickup, the bridge pickup, or set the equal output), and two eq knobs for bass and treble frequencies. This means that you can shape its tone in many different ways. Also, it has a really loud and powerful output.

Besides that, these bass guitars with active electronics are also great for overdrive signal. So, if you plan to play in a band, you can always get an overdrive pedal, and boost your tone while the guitarist is playing the solo. It will sound awesome!

The only thing that concerns me a little is the guitar’s neck. It has a good finish and its straight, but it’s a bit chunky, i.e. it’s more rounded. This means that some of you with smaller hands might face difficulties while playing this bass.

A very good and affordable Yamaha bass guitar. The only shortcoming is the rounded neck, which may not be suitable for beginners with smaller hands.

Pros

  • Excellent sound
  • Many color options

Cons

  • Not the best solution for players with small hands

Dean Custom Zone Bass

Dean Custom Zone Bass

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

If you want an original, unusual, and extravagant bass guitar to start with, this is the one for you!

Features:

  • Body: Basswood
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: Precision-style bass pickup in the middle position

This bass guitar is probably the most interestingly looking guitar ever - its fretboard has the same finish as the body. And not just any finish but fluorescent pink, green, and yellow. Whatever color of these you choose, one thing is certain - your bass guitar will be noticed.

Although it looks like spacecraft, it is actually very simple. It has just one pickup and two knobs, one for master volume and the other one for master tone control.

It is very light (around 8 pounds) and has a fairly comfortable neck.  

The sound is also very decent. Of course, you can’t expect too much for this amount of money, but it is more than good enough for beginner’s purpose.

The only major problem is that I had to do a quick setup. You can play it straight out of the box, but there are smaller issues considering its action (which could be lower) and intonation. So, the best idea is to find some experienced bass player to do a setup for you. If not, you can always pay for it; you won’t need a lot of money for it.

This guitar is definitely not for everybody; you can either love it or hate it. Some of you will find that it is original and cliché-breaking, and the other will think that it is childish and kitschy.

If you like flashy colors and ’80 metal scene, this is the perfect beginner bass guitar for you. It works just fine. A quick setup is advised, just to tighten it up a bit.

Pros

  • Decent sound
  • Interesting looks

Cons

  • The basic setup is advised

Squier Affinity Jazz Bass

Squier by Fender Affinity Jazz Beginner Electric Bass Guitar

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

Squier basically represents an affordable brand that makes copies of Fender guitars. Although not as good as Fender, these guitars are more than decent. This is also the case with the Squier Affinity Jazz Bass.

Features:

  • Body: Alder
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: 2 vintage-style single-coil Jazz Bass pickups

This model comes in four colors: black, brown sunburst, red, and silver.

The cool thing with jazz bass guitar is that it allows you a little more variation of the sound than the regular bass guitar. This is because this kind of bass has a lot of bright tones that can be combined with the low ones. A lot of famous bassists use jazz bass guitars precisely for this reason.

This guitar has a solid, vintage tone, although its output is not very strong. Of course, it doesn’t sound like the original Fender (after all, it costs $200!), but you can get pretty close to it.

It is a very light guitar, so you won’t have much difficulty caring it around. The body has a double cutaway, so you can easily reach higher frets.

The “C” shaped neck is very comfortable and very similar to the ones on much more expensive Fender guitars. I should mention that the neck on this guitar is pretty big (34”), so younger players and bassist with small hands might face some problems when it comes to playing faster licks. 

Excellent Fender copy, very similar to the original. This guitar is as close as you can get to the professional bass guitar, considering its very low price.

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Excellent sound
  • Playable

Cons

  • It might be too robust for some beginners

Squier by Fender Vintage SS Modified Special Jaguar Bass

Squier by Fender Vintage SS Modified Special Jaguar Bass

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

A lot of beginners (especially at the young ages) share the same problem - they want to play the bass but it is just too robust and too big instrument for them. This is why a lot of these “wannabe bass players” start with the guitar and later on try to switch to bass.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Good news for young players and people with small hands is that this Squier has a 30” scale instead of a regular 34”. As you have probably assumed, the “SS” stands for “short scale”.

Features:

  • Body: Agathis
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: Single-Coil Jazz Bass Pickup (bridge position), Split Single-Coil Precision Bass Pickup (middle position)

I have to mention that this bass guitar looks pretty cool. I was always into this Jaguar shape, so it’s great to see a Jaguar-like bass guitar.

Besides looking great, it also sounds great! You have two magnets and three knobs (volume for the bridge pickup, volume for the middle pickup, and master volume). This means that you can adjust the level of each magnet. I was really surprised how good it sounds; it has a full and rich tone. You can adjust the more muddy sound with lots of lows or make it sound more bright and punchy. Also, it’s pretty loud.

Needless to say, this bass is extremely easy to play. Not only that the string tension is not as high as on the regular bass guitar (due to its short scale), but it also has a low action and a very comfortable neck. Besides that, it is really light, so even a kid can hold it on a strap.

Without any doubt, this is the perfect beginner bass guitar for children and people with small hands. It is very light, comfortable, sounds excellent, and cost a small amount of money. You really can’t ask for more than that!

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Excellent sound
  • Extremely easy to play

Cons

  • Practically no major cons

Ibanez GSRM20

Ibanez GSRM20

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

Ok, from now on, the bass guitars are under $200. So, all of you that don’t plan to spend a lot of money - better pay attention!

This Ibanez has a 28, 6-inches short scale (this is why it’s often referred to as the “micro”). This is why this bass is one of the best beginner bass guitars for small hands.

Features:

  • Body: Agathis
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Neck: Maple
  • Magnets: PSNDJ bridge position, PSNDP neck position

There are a lot of colors available: black, purple, orange, red, brown sunburst, blue, and white. I have to admit, they all look very cool.

This bass has a slim profile neck; in other words, it is very comfortable to play, which makes it a perfect beginner bass guitar.

Like the previous bass guitar, this one also has looser string tension (due to its shorter scale) which is always a plus.

The hardware is good enough for beginner’s purpose. I surely wouldn’t recommend any form of experimentations, so just keep it as it is.

I can’t say that there is anything wrong with its sound. By adjusting the knobs, you can set up muddy or clear tone, whatever you prefer the most. The only shortcoming is a little buzz in the bridge pickup, but this can be fixed.

Considering its low price, this bass guitar is a great deal. Every beginner will be satisfied with it - it is easy to play, has decent sound, and is very practical. The only shortcoming is a little buzz; however, when your amp is not too loud, this is hardly noticeable.

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Good sound
  • Easy to play

Cons

  • Discrete presence of buzz

Full-Size Electric Bass Guitar Starter Beginner Pack

Full Size Electric Bass Guitar Starter Beginner Pack

Feature

Hardware

Sound

Price

This is the absolute champion in the category “the cheapest bass guitar”. First of all, just the fact that you can get a bass guitar for $130 is hard to believe. However, not only that you’ll get the bass guitar, but you will also receive a gig bag, strap, cable, and the small amplifier (30 watts). Of course, you can’t play with a band with this amp, but it’s more than good enough for practicing purposes.

The guitar is definitely functional; the magnet works, you can tune it, you can hear it.

However, having in mind the ridiculously low price, it’s obvious that there are some shortcomings.

It is not the easiest bass guitar to play, due to its robust neck. Besides that, the fret edges are sharp. I’ve also noticed that the input jack is very loose, so you definitely should do a setup before you start to play this one.

I would recommend this guitar to all of you who are not sure whether you are going to play the bass or not. With this one, you can get an insight into how it feels to play the bass guitar. If you decide you don’t like it, it’s not a big deal; it’s just $130 and you still have the amp and the strap.

All in all, it’s what you can expect for $130.

Conclusion

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this text, the bass guitar is probably the most misunderstood instrument. There are many prejudices about the bass and the bassists. I hope that this text was helpful in terms of disclosing these misconceptions, but also in understanding basic elements of the bass guitar.

We talked about the common prejudices regarding the bass guitar and the bass players. The bass guitar is like any other instrument; however, some people tend to blame the bass guitar for their lack of originality and creativity. As you could see, there are many examples of very innovative bass players. This is an extraordinary instrument that gives you numerous of possibilities - you just have to find the right approach.

After that, we looked at some of the most relevant types and characteristics of the bass guitar – the size, body types and materials, wood types, magnets, and strings. I also included a list of 10 best bass guitars for beginners in order to help you to choose your first bass guitar. I believe that there is the perfect beginner bass guitar for each one of you on this list. 

For the end, I want to give you one final advice. If you are into bass guitar remember that there are two kinds of people with bass – bassist and musician who actually play the bass. For example, any guitarist can be a bassist in your band; he will just take the bass and simply play a couple of notes over and over again. However, the majority of them can’t really play the bass. So, don’t be just another bassist, but learn how to really play this instrument. Learn different techniques and combine them in an unconventional way, add any effect you want, try to play with a slide, take off a couple of strings… In one word – experiment and don’t be afraid to make a mistake!

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