Best Bass Under 500 Review – Top Rated Models in 2019 with Buying Guide
Identifying the best bass guitar under 500 is not an easy task, especially if you lack time. Fortunately, the following short paragraph can point you in the right direction. After studying the market and reading numerous consumer reports and surveys, we’ve concluded that the Squier by Fender Vintage is the model you should consider. It uses a modified design that sees the return of the ‘70s classic period in Jazz Bass history. It sports two crisp-sounding pickups that have been designed by Fender with the same quality as its outstanding acoustic guitar pickups. What’s more, the body uses soft maple that gives it great tone and durability. If this model is not available for sale, we recommend you bear the Yamaha TRBX504 in mind.
Our Top Choice
Bass guitars never looked this beautiful. The unit is a finely crafted piece that feels robust in the player's hand and responsive to the extreme. It is a versatile machine with a classic J-bass body design that mimics the original Fender model, and which can be your ideal companion no matter what style of music you want to pursue.
Downsides-wise, the bass meets all the premium requirements except the fact that it is sometimes delivered without being tuned.
The piece looks like it was taken from a ‘70s movie, but its sound is anything but outdated. The slim "C"-shaped maple neck will make it easy to use, and the 9.5"-radius maple fingerboard with 20 medium jumbo frets is just perfect.
It is hard to find a premium feature-rich product with a tiny price tag. If you are a student looking to broaden your musical horizons without breaking the bank, try this beauty. It is constructed from solid mahogany, and it has a luxurious finish that will make people turn their heads. Tone-wise, this guitar is quite punchy and has powerful sounding.
Speaking of flaws, some people were very disappointed with the packaging, and they said it should be more substantial.
The elevated design of the product will show as you play it. You will realize that there's no excessive vibration and that all the chords sound clear. It comes from a famous brand and it has such a durable construction, ideal for an audiophile.
This is a 6-string bass which is renowned for its tone and enhanced versatility. The manufacturer has somehow managed to include all of these marvelous features into a well-made body that is not heavy or bulky, but rather compact and clean. It is one of those tools that will allow you to become a world-class player in no time.
Note that the product comes without any accessory and without a case, so if you need one, you'll have to buy it from another seller.
Experts also praise its slim-profile maple neck that gives it stability and speed, and the subtle Phat II EQ with active bass boost, which will allow you to dial in the tone you require effortlessly. It has no other feature that’s missing.
The first thing you’ll notice while getting your hand on this beautiful model for the first time is the incredibly robust construction. It is built to last and keep playing for years to come, and the many customers that have tested it have reported that it looks like it can withstand any treatment.
So even if you are more of a tempered musician, or you like to act like a rock star on the stage, the Squier is extremely versatile in that regard. You also get amazing value for your purchase due to the classic J-bass body design that mimics the original Fender models. Artists that are looking for that trademark sound will not be disappointed.
The appearance of this unit is also a real standout as the luxurious look and presentation with the help of the vintage tinted gloss neck with block inlays will transport you through time. The ‘70s jazz bass design is in perfect concordance with the sound that it creates.
What’s more, the amateur guitarists won’t need a new guitar tuner yet as this instrument comes with a setup that is very playable and does not require many adjustments, unless you want it to suit your particular preferences.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
This Yamaha variant is another excellent bass under 500 and to be frank, we were surprised to see it available for such a low price after considering the premium features that it offers. It is the perfect instrument that a student needs if he or she wants to advance and keep growing since the TRBX504 plays and sounds great.
It also provides a variety of sounds that will make it ideal for people that want to tackle a wide array of playing styles and genres. The body is constructed from solid mahogany that is just as durable as it is pretty to look at. The 3D design is optimized for a perfect balance between tone and comfort.
The neck also uses a comfortable profile with a 5-piece mahogany and laminated maple construction which helps add impressive stability and tone. The H5 pickups are designed by YGD and offer a clean and open sound that is complemented by the flexibility of the active/passive preamp design.
Another feature worth mentioning is the electronic component present in this device. This model uses audiophile-grade active/passive circuits which give the user fine control over the tone which in turn makes this instrument incredibly versatile and flexible.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($499.99)
The Ibanez 6-string bass can deliver a monstrous tone and the critical playability that most guitarists demand. All that without having to spend a fortune for it. Indeed, this is one of the most affordable models on the market right now that can still manage to give the user all the features he or she might require.
This model is a member of the famed Ibanez Sound Gear series so you can rest assured knowing that it is capable of delivering the balance and solid feel that bass players worldwide have been raving about for decades. If you are ready to move up a level and try a serious 6-string bass, this is the model for you.
Customers appreciate the contour of the slim-profile maple neck that gives an outstanding combination of stability and speed combined with plenty of sustain. This unit is extremely comfortable to play and the slim-profile aids this even further by allowing you to play for hours without feeling uncomfortable.
The DXH-5N neck and DXH-5B bridge humbuckers will help serve up a classic and memorable punchy and fat tone. As a plus, the Phat II EQ with active bass boost will allow you to dial in the tone you require.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Sterling S.U.B. Series Ray4
The S.U.B. Series is a family of instruments that seek to introduce a new level of quality, value, and features for beginners and intermediate players. It is part of the reputable Music Man & Sterling family of instruments, and that is all most people need to know to realize they have a high-quality product on their hands.
It’s true, despite the low and affordable price, Sterling uses only high-quality components and hardware, all wrapped in a design built to give you an amazing user experience. Because this is a beginner and intermediate-oriented model, playability is a big feature and this model will help you discover your sound.
The goal of the S.U.B Series is to deliver a piece of equipment that offers outstanding features at a price that will surpass your expectations. After looking at the overwhelmingly positive reviews this model has garnered, we believe it is safe to say it has succeeded in its goal.
The body features solid hardwood. The light and airy bodies are full of tone and attached to a slim and easy-to-play full-scale maple neck. The slim neck and the narrow nut are easy to use by both large and small hands.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Squier by Fender Affinity (B005N2C5J4)
If you want to find an affordable model, the Affinity is a good choice. It offers numerous features and outstanding performance, which makes it one of the most impressive models in its price range. It is a value-priced version of the famous Fender Jazz Bass with the same feel and tone of the original instrument.
The two single-coil pickups offer a great range of classic and contemporary tones, and they create a sound that is comparable to what fantastic acoustic guitars are capable of. The neck and bridge pickup volume control combined with the master tone control will allow the user to tailor the sound this model creates to his or her preferences.
The quality construction of this unit that features an alder body and a maple neck will confer it outstanding durability to suit any type of musician, and play styles, from the more gentle ones, all the way to the more aggressive ones. The rosewood fretboard will make it easier to reach the tones that you desire.
The low price of this unit makes it ideal for amateur and aspiring musicians, and that can be seen clearly when looking at what the customers had to say about this unit. We were pleased to notice that many novices had their first lessons on this model.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Orange O-Bass 4-String
If you’re looking for a beginner electric guitar that can also help you transition to a higher level, the Orange O-Bass is an alternative we recommend. There’s also the fact that some of the most renowned bassists use Orange amps, including Geddy Lee, Tom Petersson and more. This is a seal of approval that can’t be ignored.
The body of the O-Bass is constructed from Okoumé, which is a lightweight wood native to Africa and topped with a basswood veneer. The lightweight construction makes it a great travel guitar that you will be able to play for hours on end without getting tired or feeling hindered by your instrument.
This unit also has ABS binding on the black and burst versions that make for an outstanding retro touch. What’s more, the bold headstock atop the maple neck is finished in white, and that helps highlight the logo and the oversized open-gear tuners.
It’s not just about the looks, as once plugged into your quality guitar amp, the real power of this instrument will be revealed, and the sound with buckets of personality will come alive. It is best described as familiar but still unique, with its own characteristics that help make it stand out.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
G&L Tribute JB2
If you are up for trying something new, the G&L Tribute Jb2 is all about refining and blending the “holy grail” Alnico single-coil tone with the modern Leo Fender improvements. Thanks to the work of Paul Gagon, from VP Engineering, this model has the classic Alnico V pickups that provide a tone reminiscent of the best examples from the early ‘60s.
The 34 inches ScaleTwo Leo Fender design and the single-coil pickups help this model achieve a level of performance that hardly seems to fit into an affordable bass guitar. If anything, this is a premium level unit that somehow manages to sell at a more than fair price that will not have you break the bank.
The swamp ash body comes in a natural color that is in perfect accordance with the classical tone that it can boast. The maple neck and the rosewood fretboard are easy to grasp by both small and large hands. This instrument can also tackle a large variety of genres effortlessly, from funk and jazz to rock and metal.
It can be played by both amateur and more experienced musicians as the G&L alternative is versatile and can accommodate any skill level. It will also help you grow and find your style.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($449.99)
Yearly Guide & Report
Finding the best under 500 bass is not an easy task as it requires that you do a lot of research and in this day and age where time is the essential resource of all, some people are simply not capable of doing their homework. This is where our buyer’s guide comes into play by offering you all the information you require.
We have read the most popular reviews, consumer reports, surveys, and other specialized resources so that we can help you find a good bass under 500. So take a look below if you want to have a better understanding of what features your ideal instrument should have, depending on your requirements.
A comparison of tonewoods
The tonal properties of the wood are determined by a number of factors, but most luthiers believe that it is the wood chosen for the top that is the most important in determining the tone quality of the instrument.
Another interesting aspect is the fact that wood can take on different characteristics depending on which part of the bass guitar it is used for. It’s not just the wood types that are responsible for the tone of the guitar, but also the design, quality of the wood, and skill of the maker.
The ash and alder tonewoods are fairly similar which is why we see it best fit to take them together. They both provide sustain and a balanced tone that is even, resonant, and rich in harmonic overtones. Another reason why manufacturers choose ash is the fact that it features an attractive grain best visible under a transparent finish.
The agathis is used by many entry-level basses since it is quite inexpensive while still managing to offer a good tone. From a tone perspective, it is a medium wood between ash/alder and mahogany.
If you’ve prospected the market for a budget bass guitar, you’ve probably noticed that mahogany basses are the most common and for a good reason. The low resonance and medium density of mahogany give the bass a more pronounced emphasis and a warm tone.
Basswood is a fan-favorite for bassists who play a wide range of music since this versatile wood is more than up to the task. Quite an interesting feature of the basswood is its extreme softness which allows it to absorb vibrations. It also has a shorter sustain, ideal for more complex or fast playing techniques.
Finally, we have another popular choice in the form of the maple. This is a very dense wood which helps it produce a phenomenal sustain and a crisp and bright tone. Many bassists are in love with this option due to the definition and clarity it gives bass guitars.
How many strings?
When buying a new product, you can be tempted to think the more, the better, but that is not always the case. In the instance of the bass guitar strings, you should first consider your skill level. For new players, starting with a four-string bass is not only recommended but dare we say mandatory.
Going with more than four strings at first will add a new level of difficulty that will make learning even harder than usual. What’s more, you also need to consider that most players use a four-string model since it is perfectly adequate for most music styles, and a lot easier to handle.
The five-string basses add a lower B string and that helps give the instrument a deeper range. The added lower B string leads to the neck being necessarily wider than a four-string. That makes it a little more difficult to play. For metal, fusion, rock, and jazz bassists, the five-string models are quite popular.
Finally, we have the six-string alternative which has an even more extended range because of the low B and high C string. Since the bass now needs to accommodate six-string, the neck is wider yet, which adds a whole new level of difficulty. Though they may be challenging, they are ideal for players that do a lot of soloing and want more room for creativity.
Passive vs. active electronics
When purchasing your unit, you should also consider the type of electronics it uses. The terms active and passive make reference to the preamp circuitry of the bass. The preamp helps boost the pickups’ output and provide tone-shaping controls.
Passive preamp systems don’t require a power source, and they have fewer controls. Most of the times they only feature a volume knob, a tone knob, and a blend control. One advantage of this option is that it is not dependent on a battery and the fact that it is very simple to operate.
The active basses, on the other hand, need power and that is usually provided by an onboard battery. Their advantage is that they have a stronger output and a lot more control over tone shaping. There are also some manufacturers that provide both an active and passive preamp system on their instruments.
Best budget bass guitar brands
The Squier name translates to a low-cost and value brand alternative that was initially manufactured and distributed in the Japanese domestic market, soon after that being offered to North America, Europe, and the rest of the world. Despite being an affordable option, each Squier model stands out due to the high-quality materials it uses.
In order to maintain and control costs over the years, Squier instruments have often switched the country of production. Among these countries, we find Japan, Korea, Mexico, Indonesia and more. No matter the place of origin, its products have managed to maintain the same level of quality over the years.
Ibanez is a Japanese guitar brand owned by Hoshino Gakki. It is based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Ibanez was one of the first Japanese musical instrument companies to gain a significant foothold in import guitar sales both in Europe and the United States. This has mostly to do with the outstanding quality its products feature.
The same is true for its affordable line as well. No matter the price or the type of instrument that you get from this brand, all its products feature the same craftsmanship and attention to detail. It also offers a wide range of accessories for each of its models.
Best known for the quality Yamaha violins, this brand specializes in a wide array of instruments, including bass guitars. What customers love about the Yamaha experience is the fact that it offers a wide range of models fit for any budget and skill level. This makes finding the right instrument a much easier task.
The company is committed to creating excitement and cultural inspiration together with people around the world. The customer experience is another standout point. Yamaha believes that when customers use or own one of its products, they should experience a profound response that can stimulate their emotions and senses.
Music Man is an American bass guitar and guitar manufacturer, and it is a division of the reputable Ernie Ball Corporation. It is well known in the industry for providing some of the highest-quality instruments on the market ever since its inception in 1971 when Forrest White and Tom Walker formed the company.
Among the models it offers, the Sterling series is one of the best-received that’s currently available for purchase. It stands out due to its affordable price and plethora of features that help it compete head-on with the more expensive units that other manufacturers have to offer.