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.
If you’re looking to get into playing bass guitar, we’ve rounded up a few choices that are great for beginners. If what’s turned you off from trying bass is the length of the neck, we’ve included some short scale bass guitars as well.
1. Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar
Bass guitar necks are even longer than guitar necks, which can be a challenge for those with smaller hands or shorter arms. A short scale bass guitar, like this one from Ibanez, allows you to play bass without too much hand discomfort. Ibanez is one of the top bass guitar makers, and this is an affordable option with a serious pedigree.
Pros: Affordable bass from a trusted brand that counts Thundercat among its adherents.
Cons: Some minor fret buzz.
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 is 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. Best Choice Products Full Size Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar
Don’t let the acoustic look of this bass guitar deceive you, it’s 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Fender Beginner Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
If you want an option you can easily take on the go, an acoustic/electric bass guitar can be a worthwhile investment. This option is from legendary guitar maker Fender, and it has several features that make it well worth its modest price point. It has a solid spruce top and a mahogany back. The Fishman brand preamp allows you to plug in and control bass, treble and volume.
Pros: Good acoustic/electric option from legendary guitar maker. Spruce and mahogany build.
Cons: More expensive than some other “beginner” bass guitars.