Top Cheap Bass Guitars – Guide & Comparison
You might be browsing the internet and wondering where you can find the best cheap bass guitar. Fortunately, we have created a guide, complete with some cheap bass guitar reviews, to help you in your search. Our team has carefully examined the qualities and the value of some of the most popular models out there and they concluded that the Yamaha TRBX174 is the instrument that you should certainly have a look at. It’s designed to be easy and comfortable to use, it has a simple and reliable hardware setup and it offers some really good pickups that bring a nice sound to the instrument. If you’re unable to find our first recommendation, try the Ibanez TMB100 MGR 2015, which is the second one on our list.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
We’ve done our research and we have selected some of the most popular models after considering experts’ opinion, consumer reports, and sales figures. The following bass guitars are the ones that we liked the most.
Although Yamaha is a brand known for their exceptional keyboards, they produce other instruments too and this bass is a prime example of how good these instruments can be.
It is a model that is part of their affordable line. It brings quality, consistency, and performance.
The design of this bass makes it easy to use and comfortable.
The tonewood used in making it is alder, while the neck is made of maple and completed with a rosewood fretboard, a general characteristic in this market segment.
In terms of hardware, this bass provides a bridge that comes with four individually adjustable saddles. The tuners are of the die-cast type.
This simple setup works great and ensures that the instrument stays reliable.
A good feature that this instrument possesses is the presence of some quality pickups, that have a good range and provide a great sound definition. Each of them can be controlled by a volume knob and they both share a tone knob.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
Ibanez TMB100 MGR 2015
If you’re searching for a cheap bass for sale you might expect it to compromise somewhere, be it in the sound compartment or regarding the design. However, that is not the case with this model, as it has no problems.
The design is one that is not commonly used in bass guitars but it certainly looks good. The curvy body is made of mahogany and the finishing touches and the color give it a vintage look.
It has a long 34-inch neck made of maple. The sleek neck offers comfort and the ability to play the instrument fast. The fretboard is rosewood and has 22 frets.
When discussing the hardware it’s important to say that the bass in general is great and it offers a feeling of satisfaction. The same thing can be said about the two dynamic pickups.
The four tuners and the fixed bridge are chromed and give a nice feeling.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
Squier by Fender
This is a bass guitar made for beginners so it’s easy to handle, while it possesses the looks and the curvatures needed to make it attractive to anyone.
Being easy to hold, players will benefit from the short neck that measures 30 inches, instead of 34, as usual. The finishing on the neck is polyurethane and that makes it easier to be played fast.
By the way, if you’re also looking for a starter electric guitar, see our guide on that.
The neck is made of maple and it has a classic rosewood fretboard with 20 frets. The materials used make it sturdy and destined to last. In the hardware compartment, this bass offers two different pickups.
It has a split single-coil precision pickup in the middle and a single-coil jazz bass pickup at the bridge position. This combination offers a lot of versatility.
There is no switch between the pickups but they each have a separate volume so you can adjust how you want your bass to sound like.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
Ibanez GSRM20BWNF GSRM20B
It is known that Ibanez is the brand that offers some of the most versatile, good and affordable bass guitars and this model is no exception. In addition, this bass guitar brings all the benefits that a short-scale model does.
The shape of this instrument is standard for Ibanez fans, and the tonewood chosen for it is agathis. It comes in several shiny colors.
What makes this instrument interesting is the neck. It’s a lot shorter than average, measuring 28.6 inches and it shows a rosewood fretboard with pearl dot inlays.
The hardware is good enough to keep you playing the bass for a long while. It offers a standard bridge with adjustable saddles and four die-cast tuning pegs at the other end.
The pickups are versatile enough, especially for this category, and they are both standard models, placed one at the bridge position and one at the neck.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($179.99)
Epiphone “Toby” Standard-IV
This bass guitar definitely deserves a mention on our list because it brings so much class and performance to players. The instrument’s body is particularly lightweight and compact and the design is sleek and makes the bass comfortable in a player’s hands.
In terms of the wood used, the manufacturer chose a different style, using a rare radiata, and bringing a fresh feel to the bass.
The neck is pretty standard, made of hard maple, a strong material; however, it’s thinner than regular models and thus provides more speed to the player. The general feeling is that this instrument is made to offer maximum comfort.
The hardware is all black, and that makes the bass look even better. The saddles are fully adjustable and at the other end, the die-cast tuners make a good job of keeping the bass in tune.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Dean Guitars Edge 09
As it’s the case with many bass guitars in this category, this one offers a body made of basswood and a top built of the same material. The finishes are variable and include options for every taste, but we think the classic black is a good choice.
The neck is one that offers the possibility of fast playing, due to being narrower and made of maple. The fretboard is built of standard rosewood and it has pearl dot inlays.
This instrument generally features quality materials and construction and it doesn’t give a cheap feeling.
Something rather rare is the bridge, a flush model that brings a vintage look to the bass. The pickups offer simplicity in their layout and they are controlled by a single tone and a single volume knob.
What this bass was made for is heavier music like rock and metal, and thus it offers a sound characterized by a certain roughness when played.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199)
Dean Guitars Custom Zone
You are sure that an instrument will have a big visual impact when it features colors like “nuclear green” and “fluorescent pink”.
Although the colors definitely look their names, they are not able to glow in the dark. This bass sure is eye-catching and it has such an attitude that you are either going to love it or hate it. We like it so that is why it has to be one of our top picks.
The body has some nice curvatures and is made of basswood, a standard for this range of instruments. The bolt-on neck is also standard, made of maple, and features a fretboard with 20 frets that match the body color.
A general impression that this bass offers is that it’s easy to play and comfortable while feeling fun and well-made.
In the electric compartment, it features a single passive precision-style bass pickup, put in the middle position. It is controlled by a volume and a tone knob.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($229)
Davison Guitars Full Size
If you’re looking for an ultra-affordable package for a beginner bass player, this one is for you. It offers all the things required to successfully start practicing and building a solid foundation.
The pack contains the instrument itself, an amp with cable included, a strap and the carrying case. You can add a tuner pedal to all of that to make the set complete.
It’s a basic bass that has a standard double-cutaway body, and that makes it comfortable to hold even when sitting and playing. The body is made of solid wood and finished with a glossy black paint. The neck is bolted on and made of maple and it offers 22 frets.
Out of the box, this instrument feels to have a good setup, although it might need its strings to be changed with some better ones.
The electronics are simple too, the single bass split-coil is placed in the middle and it’s controlled by a volume and a tone knob. Generally, the instrument has a decent tuning stability and offers a clear tone, adequately so for a beginner bass guitar.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.95)
Crescent Electric Bass
Sometimes it’s pretty hard for a beginner bass player to find everything he or she needs, but fortunately, this electric bass kit is accessible to everyone.
It includes everything needed to start playing. It offers the bass guitar, an amplifier, cables, a tuner, extra strings and even picks. If you want you can add a guitar multi-effects pedal to your setup so you can get some extra style out of your instrument.
It’s a full-sized bass guitar that requires very few tuning adjustments. Surprisingly, it’s entirely handmade, built of basswood, and weighs just under 10 pounds. The neck offers 22 frets and it’s made of maple and finished with a rosewood fretboard.
The pickup offered is positioned in the middle of the body and is controlled by one volume and one tone knob. For such an affordable instrument, the tone quality is impressive and the wood used gives this electric bass a strong mid-range sound.
The tuning pegs and the bridge aren’t the best and that will make the instrument lose its tone. Fortunately, the tuner comes in handy in that aspect.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Yearly Guide & Report
Getting a good cheap bass guitar can be a challenge when taking into account all the alternatives that you have these days. That’s why we wrote this guide — to help you find the bass guitar that you want without having to go through all the effort yourself.
Do your research
You might be tempted to go out, find a bass that you like and you afford and get that straight away. But before you do that, make sure that you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in your instrument. Read as many reviews of cheap bass guitars as you can, have a look at your idols and then decide. Speaking of reviews, you can also check our article on cheap electric guitars, if you’re interested in that.
When you know what you like, get some more information on those types of units. Find out what they’re made of, what hardware and electronics they use and so on. If you are familiar with the characteristics of a professional electric bass that you like, you might find a cheaper one that offers almost the same capabilities but at a lower price.
Even though you might not be aiming to get an expensive bass, you can always practice on one so that you know how a good instrument should feel and sound. Find a good bass that replicates the characteristics of a quality instrument. Look for features like how the neck feels, how the electronics and hardware are installed or what the finishing touches look like.
Check the neck
Although you might not be an experienced player, when you touch an electric bass guitar’s neck you can feel if it’s comfortable for you to hold it or not. Move your hand along the frets and see how well you can wrap your hand around the neck and if the fingerboard feels too narrow or too wide, if it feels easy to play or if you struggle to grab the chords.
Another important aspect to consider is the weight of the neck. Although a bass with a heavy neck can be played, it often leads to sore arms and it makes it more difficult for bassists to play it for an extended period. It will also have negative effects on your wrist. Check if the neck points to the ground. If it does, it means it’s too heavy.
The next thing that you should do is try to play it a little bit. If you don’t know how to play the bass yet, bring a friend that does with you. Try playing notes on every fret and string and listen closely for possible buzzing noises or frets that don’t sound too good.
If you encounter these issues it means that the string is too close to the neck and the nut of that fret needs to be replaced. Sometimes buzzing is caused by a slight misalignment that’s easy to fix, but other times, the issue can be bigger and because of a bad fretwork or a twisted neck, the bass can be unplayable.
However, you can always make your bass sound better and add a distinctive lush sound to it with a phaser pedal.
Inspect the body, as well
Although some think that the wood that an electric bass is made of doesn’t matter, those with great hearing skills, the ones that really know to listen, think that different types of wood and constructions offer different sounds. Usually, those basses that find themselves at the lower levels of the quality spectrum have their body made of an amalgamation of pieces of wood.
They resemble the look of a butcher block, with different pieces of wood glued together. The glue offers no resonance and will make those instruments sound bad. Although some of these units can sound good to your ears, it is always better to try and find a solid wood bass, meaning that the body should be built of one single piece of quality wood.
Sometimes, even though the manufacturer says the model is made of solid wood, you still need to check for imperfections. If you look from certain angles and find straight ridges on your bass, those ridges suggest that two pieces of wood have been glued together imprecisely in that spot.
You can also pay some extra attention to the paint job. While an instrument that doesn’t have a great finishing can still play great, it sometimes suggests that the manufacturer didn’t put enough effort in it and you might find other problems in different, more important areas of the bass.
Check the electronics and hardware
Unfortunately, as is the case with instruments, hearing how good one is can only be done after you actually get it. So if you’re ordering an electric bass online you will probably not know its full potential until you actually start playing it. If you find that it doesn’t sound as well as you expected, make sure that you can ask for a refund.
When you get your instrument, besides checking the body, you will need to have a look at the pickups, the bridge, the controls, and the tuners. Ensure that all of them and the strings are attached properly, and that the screws that hold the hardware in place are inserted at the right angle.
The tuning pegs are pretty important because they need to keep your instrument in tune. That’s why they should turn smoothly with little resistance, and not be too stiff. Tug on the strings but not too hard, and if they pop out, it’s a clear sign that the bass is not a quality one.
Turn the knobs and the switches as well. They should also feel smooth and offer little resistance. Once you’ve done all these you know that you’re ready to play the bass. Plug the bass into a small guitar amp and listen to how it sounds.