While guitarists, drummers, and singers seek stardom, the bassist is content to simply hold down the rhythm section. Watch any performance by The Who from the ’60s. While Pete Townshend is smashing his guitar and Keith Moon is kicking over his drum kit, John Entwistle is peacefully playing along to the cacophonous noise of his bandmates destroying their equipment. Sure, the guitarist will party with you all night, but the bassist will make sure you get home safe. Bassists, in short, are a good lot.
The glamour associated with guitars and drums draws a lot of talent to those instruments. That means that good bassists can be scarce. To put it in blunt economic terms, it’s a seller’s market if you play bass. Don’t be surprised if you have to start turning down offers to join bands.
What to Consider Before Buying a Bass Guitar
If you’re just getting into the bass guitar, it makes sense to first pick up a “starter” bass — one that’ll help you learn, but that you might not necessarily take on tour when you make it big. A couple of the best starter bass guitars also come with accessories like carrying cases, picks and shoulder straps. Bass guitars, just like their higher octave sibling, are available in acoustic and electric styles. Electric bass guitars tend to be much more popular than acoustic guitars, as it is a more versatile instrument. Another variation when shopping for bass guitars comes in the form of short-scale bass guitars. Bass guitars have a considerably longer neck than guitars, which can make it difficult for newer or younger players to reach different frets. That’s why it can be worth considering a short-scale bass guitar.
How We Chose the Best Bass Guitars
We looked at reputed brands like Fender and Ibanez for some of the best bass guitars, but we focused on affordable, starter versions from these top brands. We also looked at some short-scale options that can be great for getting young people into learning the bass guitar, when their smaller hands might struggle with a full-scale guitar.
If you’re looking to get into playing bass guitar, we’ve rounded up a few choices that are great for beginners.
1. Ibanez GSR 4 String Bass Guitar
Ibanez is one of the most reputed guitar brands, and they’re especially well known for their focus on bass guitars. The GSR 4 is an economical way to get into this instrument, while still delivering solid performance and a quality build. Plus, you can find the option that suits your style, because this guitar comes in red, black and multiple shades of blue.
Pros: Economical option from top bass brand. Knobs to control tone, bridge pickup volume, EQ and neck pickup volume. Rosewood neck.
Cons: No extra accessories like straps.
2. Squier by Fender Bronco Bass
Squier is an affordable sub-brand of Fender. This listing features multiple basses of different sizes, including a more expensive precision bass, a jazz bass, and a short scale style called “Bronco.” The price and picture shown are for the Bronco. The benefit of a short-scale bass is that it’s easier to play if you have smaller hands.
Pros: Good sound and great value.
Cons: Some mild fret buzz.
3. ESP LTD Bass Guitar
ESP may not be as well known as Ibanez or Fender, but they have been trusted for over 40 years. ESP instruments can be found in bands as disparate as Sly and the Family Stone and Slayer. This bass guitar has a unique satin wood finish and black nickel hardware for a sophisticated look. It’s available fretted or fretless and in four-, five- or six-string setups. It has passive pickups and active EQ.
Pros: Sleek satin wood finish. Active EQ.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
4. Glarry Electric Bass Guitar
This affordable bass guitar is specifically billed as a great option for beginners. Besides the attainable price, this bass guitar also comes with a carrying bag, shoulder strap, pick and amp cord. And while it is a beginner bass, it doesn’t look like one — it has a full-length neck. The bright red color of the bass also helps it stand out.
Pros: Comes with accessories like a carrying bag, shoulder strap, pick and amp cord.
Cons: Fret has some buzz.
5. Best Choice Products Full Size Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar
Don’t let the acoustic look of this bass guitar deceive you, it has some serious tech under the hood. Specifically, it comes with a preamp that lets you adjust the volume, bass, and treble levels, and it can be played acoustic or amplified. It’s an affordable option that’s great for beginners.
Pros: Affordable acoustic/electric bass guitar, built-in EQ works well.
Cons: Truss rod will need to be tightened, so it won’t be ready to play right out of the box.