Best Bass Under 500 – Top Rated Models in 2020 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The piece looks like it was taken from a ‘70s movie, but its sound is anything but outdated.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.
Also To Consider
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.
7 Best Bass Guitars Under 500 (Reviews) in 2020
Purchasing the best bass for under 500 requires a lot of research, and even then you might still have difficulties navigating through the sea of options. This is why we have gone and read countless reviews of bass guitars under 500 so that we can identify and show you these critically acclaimed products.
- 1. Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass
- 2. Yamaha TRBX504 TBN 4-String Premium Electric Bass Guitar
- 3. Ibanez 6 String Bass Guitar Right Handed Black GSR206BK
- 4. Sterling RAY4-BK/M Low Black
- 5. Squier by Fender Affinity Jazz Beginner Electric Bass Guitar
- 6. Orange O-Bass 4-String Electric Bass Guitar with Bag Black
- 7. G&L Tribute JB2 4-String Electric Bass 3 Color Sunburst
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently Asked Questions:
- Best budget bass guitar brands
1. Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass
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.
Sporting a robust construction that promises to last, the Squier is committed to helping you give various shapes to your sonic creativity whether you want to play more aggressively or keep it tempered.
Thanks to the setup it comes with, the instrument does not need many adjustments, so you can use it immediately upon arrival.
Rest assured that employing it for extended practice sessions or gigs won’t be a problem as the neck was designed for both fast and comfortable playing.
To further boost your comfort when employing it, the unit sports 20 medium-jumbo frets that ensure easy playability.
The unit is not only durable and versatile but also stylish as it mimics the original Fender models; therefore, it will also make a great visual addition to your gigs.
The instrument might be delivered without being tuned, yet taking care of that yourself shouldn’t be a difficult task.Click to see the price on Amazon!
2. Yamaha TRBX504 TBN 4-String Premium Electric Bass Guitar
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.
If you want an instrument that looks and sounds good, this model is worth adding to your list of options since it was designed to deliver high-quality sonic results while adding a touch of style to your gigs.
The product is ideal for beginners but also for musicians interested in versatility since it provides a variety of sounds to serve different styles and genres.
Due to the quality mahogany and maple used, employing this item for many hours of practice and gigs won’t be a problem as it ensures durability.
The choice of materials and the 3D design promise to deliver just the right balance between comfort and tone and add stability to your sonic outputs.
Thanks to the audiophile-grade active/passive circuits featured, you will get to enjoy fine control over the tone, which increases the flexibility offered by this model.
The unit might be a better option for beginners and intermediate players than for more seasoned musicians.Buy from Amazon.com for ($492.69)
3. Ibanez 6 String Bass Guitar Right Handed Black GSR206BK
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.
Built to deliver stability and balance, this 6-string bass is worth paying attention to as it sports features that make it stand out.
The unit is committed to ensuring a remarkable tone, playability, and plenty of sustain for a long time.
Furthermore, the Phat II EQ with active bass boost will allow you to dial in the tone you need to achieve your sonic goals; this feature further enhances the product’s flexibility and versatility.
The item was designed with the player’s comfort in mind and thus features a slim-profile maple neck and a lightweight body that will make sure extended practice sessions and gigs won’t get you tired.
The unit will also add nice visuals to your gigs as its stylish cuts; it is available in different colors including black, natural gray burst, and walnut.
The product does not come with accessories; therefore, you if don’t have the needed accessories, you will have to buy them separately.Buy from Amazon.com for ($280)
4. Sterling RAY4-BK/M Low Black
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.
Ideal for beginner or intermediate players, this model promises to keep up with your musical needs for a long time as it features only quality materials.
Since it is built with novices in mind, the instrument was designed to ensure easy playability and keep users comfortable even if employing the item for hours.
To make sure that you get to play comfortably, the product sports a slim full-scale maple neck and a narrow nut, which means that it can be used by players with large and small hands alike.
The materials employed for this unit are committed to lasting and keeping up with the needs of beginners.
Even if it is designed for beginners who might not take this unit on a stage, the instrument is still stylishly built.
The product is ideal for beginners and intermediate and might not be that satisfying for advanced or professional bass players.Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. Squier by Fender Affinity Jazz Beginner Electric Bass Guitar
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.
In case you’re looking for a versatile product packed with a variety of feature but you’re stuck on a limited budget, this affordable model should not be ignored.
Thanks to its quality components including the two single-coil pickups, you will get to enjoy a rich selection of both classic and contemporary tones.
To provide players with flexibility and enable them to tailor the sound according to their needs and preferences, the instrument comes with volume and tone controls.
The alder body and a maple neck promise to deliver durability even if you engage in a more aggressive playing style.
Reaching the tones you desire is further simplified by the rosewood fretboard featured; this component also allows for fast and smooth playing.
The warm brown look and quality finish will also complete your performance from a visual point of view.
The strings included might not deliver outstanding results; therefore, you might need to replace them and thus spend more.Click to see the price on Amazon!
6. Orange O-Bass 4-String Electric Bass Guitar with Bag Black
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.
Great for beginners, this 4-string bass guitar boasts a lightweight yet durable body that will keep up with the requirements of a novice and deliver high-quality sounds.
The unit is built with Okoumé topped with a basswood veneer, materials that ensure durability yet keep the construction lightweight, so you can play for hours without your comfort being affected.
The Okoumé used is appreciated not only for being lightweight but also for being resonant.
To give players enhanced control over the sounds they produce, the product sports tone and volume controls.
Given the lightweight build, you can easily add the unit to your travel gear or transport it from one place to another.
The stylish design and finish will complement your playing sessions from a visual point of view as well.
This bass guitar might not be that versatile as its tone might be described as angry or aggressive and thus suitable only for certain music genres.Buy from Amazon.com for ($439)
7. G&L Tribute JB2 4-String Electric Bass 3 Color Sunburst
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.
In case you’re looking for an electric bass that will get you a premium sound and feel without breaking your wallet, this unit should not go unchecked before you hit the button order.
The item was designed with versatility in mind and can thus be employed for various genres ranging from jazz to rock and metal.
To accommodate both small and large hands, this unit features a maple neck and the rosewood fretboard that are easy to grasp.
What’s also great about this particular model is that it can be employed by amateurs and seasoned musicians alike thanks to its features.
Durability is not an issue as the materials employed for the product’s construction promise to keep up even with a more aggressive style.
The quality and performance of the pots featured might not meet the requirements of more demanding players.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.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can you play bass if you know guitar?
While there are similarities between playing the guitar and playing the bass, the two instruments should be approached differently; therefore, knowing how to play the guitar might be of help only to a certain degree if you start to study the bass.
However, to become a good bassist, it is not enough to just use the knowledge and skills you’ve gained while playing the guitar. The bass should be approached like any other instrument, which means that it requires dedication, perseverance, and lots of practice. As far as music theory and notation are concerned, when it comes to bass guitars, the course of study is a bit different.
Not to mention that bass guitars require different pieces of equipment and they have fewer strings. What’s more, when in a band, bass players are responsible for creating the foundation of a song along with the drummers whereas guitarists focus on rhythmical patterns that are based on melodies.
Q: How hard is it to learn bass guitar?
A fair answer would be that learning to play the bass guitar is as hard as it is with most musical instruments. Just like it happens with guitars, drums, pianos, and other instruments, it takes years of study and practice to reach mastery in bass playing.
You might hear many musicians saying that it is easier to start on a bass guitar than a guitar. That’s because it is enough to know single notes to play a few songs on a bass guitar. A guitar often requires the player to learn long chords to do that.
If you practice daily for an hour or so, you can get the hang of this instrument in a few months, yet that still depends a lot on the player’s learning capacities. However, to master this instrument, it takes years of consistent and regular practice.
Q: Does a bass guitar need an amp?
Without the necessary gear, you won’t get too far just with the bass guitar; therefore, before starting to learn and play this instrument, you need to make sure that you have everything you need to actually make some nice sounds with the bass you’ve purchased.
In order to fill the stage or the room with cool vibrations when playing the electric bass guitar, you need a bass amplifier as well as the so-called “patch cord” or the cable that will connect your bass guitar to the amp. The power of bass amps is measured in Watts, which is a feature you will have to consider when getting an amp for your bass.
If you want a model just to help you when practicing at home and exploring the instrument, a 100-Watt amp should do. For stage shows, something bigger than that is required and recommended.
Q: How important is a bass guitarist in a band?
Most bands that take their job and passion seriously include a bass guitar and the reason behind that is simple: a bass guitar is needed to provide both the rhythmic and harmonic foundation. A bassist will support the rest of the band by providing a steady pulse, otherwise known as the rhythmic foundation.
Music pieces and band performances that are appreciated have a steady beat or rhythm and here is where the bass guitar plays a significant role. The drums will also aid in providing this rhythm. Even if every instrument and player in the band should have a good rhythm independently, the bass and drummer lay down this foundation.
Furthermore, the bass will also lay the harmonic foundation. By supplying the right foundational notes, a bass player will define the harmony; therefore, the role of a bass guitar in a band is to lay the foundation for rhythm and harmony.
Q: Who is the best bassist in the world?
The world of music has known many skilled musicians throughout time and the bass stage is no exception. From the earliest rock bands to today’s artists, bass players have tailored sounds and translated their skills to a degree that has gathered appreciation worldwide.
Naming the best bassist in the world is a difficult task as the answer depends on one’s music and playing style preferences. However, one of the world’s most appreciated bassists is Cliff Burton, best known for his performance as part of the thrash metal band Metallica.
Then comes Geddy Lee who has been not only a bassist but also a lead vocalist and keyboardist for the rock band Rush. The list goes on with Flea or Michael Peter Balzary, the bassist and co-founder of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who has been highly appreciated for his style and technique. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), and Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) are also worth mentioning.
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.