Best Beginner Bass Guitar (2020)

When most people decide to buy a bass guitar, they might not even know the answer to the question ‘what is a bass guitar?’  So working out if they want a 4 string or a five-string can seem like another stress. 

This guide will be able to help with those questions and show you what an incredible instrument the bass guitar is. It is important you get the best instrument for you, so working out what you want should be a priority. 

To help you this short guide will take you through 5 of the best options for beginner bass guitars, some of the things you need to consider, and a FAQ section to answer some of your burning questions.

Best Beginner Bass Guitar

Our Top 5 Best Beginner Bass Guitar:

1.    Fender Mustang PJ Bass Guitar

2.    Sterling Ray4 Electric Bass Guitar

3.    Ibanez GSR200 Electric Bass Guitar

4.    Yamaha TRBX304 Electric Bass Guitar

5.    Epiphone EB-3 SG Bass Guitar

1. Fender Mustang PJ Bass Guitar

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Beginnger Electric Bass - PJ - Black

Our rating:

In the number one spot is from the classic brand Fender: the Fender Mustang PJ bass guitars. This is an incredible option from a giant in the industry, even if you’re a complete beginner you’ve probably heard of Fender. So why is this model on the list of best beginner basses? Well for starters, there’s something great about playing a guitar that everyone will recognize and it’s a classic look.

This particular model is a four-string and has a rosewood fretboard, a maple neck, and a truly impressive range of tone. This guitar could be used for funk, punk, rock and pretty much every genre.


Pros

  • Classic tone.
  • The multiple pickups mean it can be used for pretty much every genre of music
  • Fender is respected worldwide
  • Easy to play
  • Can be used from beginner all the way up to expert 

Cons

  • Will need to be played a lot to get the use out of it 

2. Sterling Ray4 Electric Bass Guitar

Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar in Ruby Red Burst Satin

Our rating:

Another brand well known for their bass guitars, this bass from Music Man is a classic. The Ray4 is one of the most comfortable bass guitars to play, due to its double cutaway and body shape that will make any bassist look incredible at any performance,

This guitar’s tone has a richness due to the humbucker pickup. It also has a 2-band EQ for the beginner bassist to tweak the tone when they play. Your music will always sound incredible with this guitar, even if you’re a complete beginner. It also comes in a variety of colors so you’ll stand out from the crowd. 

Pros

  • Humbucker pickup for incredibly rich tone

  • 2-band EQ making it easy to tweak the tone

  • The double-cutaway body makes it easy and comfortable to play 

  • Great for a classic rock tone

  • Easily recognizable 

Cons 

  • Not the best for all genres

Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar in Ruby Red Burst Satin
  • Iconic StingRay bass in Ruby Red Burst Satin finish with black Pickguard
  • Basswood body with Maple neck and Jatoba fretboard
  • Equipped with a Sterling by music Man designed Ceramic pickup and 2-band Active preamp: volume, Treble, bass
  • All Sterling by Music Man instruments receive final set-up and inspection in the USA

3. Ibanez GSR200 Electric Bass Guitar

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Pearl White (GSR200PW)

Our rating:

Next up is a bass guitar designed with the beginner in mind, this bass from Ibanez is comfortable to play with great clear tones. Ibanez is a well-known brand within modern rock circles and is known to be reliable. This particular model has a maple neck and has dual pickup and a decent cutaway to make for comfortable playing.

While it’s not as fancy as the fender or the music man it still has a great tone and is possibly the best bass for a straight beginner due to how easy it to play.

Pros

  • A great starter bass

  • Dual pickups for great tone 

  • Comes in a variety of colors so you can express yourself

  • Great tone for a starter bass

  • Decent cutaway for comfortable playing

Cons

  • Electronics may give out after a few years so this isn’t going to be the last guitar you ever purchase

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Pearl White (GSR200PW)
  • Rosewood fret board
  • Pearl Dot inlay
  • Split Coil and Single Coil Pickup

4. Yamaha TRBX304 Electric Bass Guitar

Yamaha 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Mist Green, 4-String (TRBX304 MGR)

Our rating:

Yamaha is possible the most well-known brand in the music world as they make everything from violins to basses to motorcycles (just an interesting thing to know).

The Yamaha TRBX304 is a great bass used by many bands and guitarists worldwide. A double-cutaway makes playing high notes easier while also looking amazing. It comes in a variety of colors so you can go to town with expressing yourself. What makes this guitar special is the double-humbucker pickups built into the body.

This means that the bass offers a rich sound associated with one humbucker but two means you can play metal with its heavy bass, or play funk and pop with the treble-friendly tone. This bass is versatile which is exactly what you need in a beginner bass where you’re still working out your sound. 

Pros

  • Variety of colors
  • Twin humbuckers mean a variety of different genres
  • Double cutaway makes for comfortable playing
  • Play multiple genres of music
  • Great electronics for easy tone adjustment 

Cons

  • Would be more versatile with five strings

Yamaha 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Mist Green, 4-String (TRBX304 MGR)
  • Perfectly balanced, ultra-comfortable solid mahogany body provides the optimum tonal foundation
  • Solid Mahogany Body
  • Five-Piece Maple/Mahogany Neck
  • Active Electronics
  • Performance EQ switch for Slap, Pick, Flat, Finger, or Solo play

5. Fender Montecito Bass Guitar

Epiphone EB-3 Electric Bass Guitar, 2 Pickups, Cherry

Our rating:

Even if you haven’t heard of Epiphone you’ll definitely have seen or heard them. Guns & Roses, for example, use Epiphone as the lead and bass. But this particular electric bass is a classic and has two pickups. One mini-humbucker on the bridge and a standard one on the base of the neck which gives a great versatility of tone which means you can play everything from blues to swing. Its classic body shape means that every guitarist will look great playing, while its electronics add to its versatility.

This guitar has everything, a great look, sound, and feel. It also has the added benefit of being the first choice of many of the greats, so you can properly feel like a Rockstar!

Pros

  • Classic body shape

  • Great versatility due to the electronics and humbuckers

  • Well known brand, known to be dependable 

  • Durable- this bass is suitable for beginners but also professionals 

Cons

  • This model doesn’t have a cutaway so higher notes can be a little uncomfortable

Epiphone EB-3 Electric Bass Guitar, 2 Pickups, Cherry
  • The Epiphone EB-3 bass has mahogany body with a mahogany set neck along with a slimtaper "D" profile neck. The fingerboard is rosewood and has the classic trapezoid inlays.
  • This bass is loaded with a Sidewinder Humbucker pickup in the neck and an NYT bass mini humbucker pickup in the bridge and chrome hardware.
  • The EB-3 comes with Epiphone's Limited Lifetime Warranty and Gibson 24/7/365 customer service.
  • Mahogany body
  • NYT Bass Mini-Humbucker pickups

Final Thoughts 

Here’s a list of a few things to consider when you’re a first-time buyer of a bass. Make sure that you’re choosing the right guitar for you. After all, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on something you’ll only play casually, so it's worth looking and thinking about how much use you’re going to get out of your instrument. 

Think about what genre of music you’re looking to play, and the tone you want. There’s no point getting a guitar built for funk if you want to play heavy metal. Different guitars, like a classical, acoustic, or electric are good at different things and you need to make sure that your guitar is the best one for you and your music. So it’s worth thinking that even if a guitar isn’t the most well known or a ‘classic’ it might deliver the perfect sound. Choosing the bass that’s best for your genre is possibly the most important step to your purchase and your onward musical journey, so it’s worth taking the time to think about it. 

A good way to find out what you’re looking for if you don’t know what your sound is is to listen to bands you like, think about what they play, and look at what bass guitars they use. Chances are, even if you don’t get the exact model, the brand will be the same and that’s a great way to making sure you get the best bass for your genre. The best thing about buying a bass is listening to your favorite bands as ‘research’, so go and have a listen. It’s also a great way to learn about the guitars used in your genre, like for example that most metal bands need a 5-string to hit those low notes which will help give you the know-how when you’re looking for yourself. 

You need to think about the functionality of your bass, things like how much maintenance you’re prepared to put in, what guitar amp it works well with. Most beginners go for a passive bass guitar because there’s no wiring or batteries to figure out. However, the downside of that is the freedom to tweak tones and blast the volume like you can on a guitar with active pickups. If you’re hoping to perform, either solo or in a band then this is something you’re probably going to want.

Again, think about how much effort you want to put into your music and plan accordingly. It might seem difficult and overwhelming for a beginner, but a first guitar that has extra electronics like EQ adjustment can help you progress faster and really help with your playing. But it will require you to put a bit more effort practicing to get to grips with it all. A bass with humbuckers or multiple pick-ups can help you find that perfect tone faster, if you want to be a serious musician than you need to find your sound and the faster you do it, the faster you can become an expert performer. 

So, think about what you’re looking in terms of functionality even on your first guitar. 

Your playing style is also incredibly important, so when you buy your first guitar think about what you’re looking for. If you want a clear twangy sound like a funk player then look at brands designed for that genre. If you want a cleaner tone then looking at an Ibanez might be a good bet. 

An acoustic bass or a fretless bass have a warmer tone for jazz- style of playing, where the notes need to be clean and smooth. The bassist is looking to flow easily up and down the neck to achieve that sound, so again it is important to think about what you want and are looking for. Consider the distance between the neck and strings because this will help determine the sound you’re going to make. More height is terrible for a genre like jazz but brilliant for funk. 

What you want to play and how you want it to sound are the most important things to consider when buying a bass because otherwise, the bass you buy will choose for you. After all, regardless of how much you’re looking to spend buying any instrument requires you to spend a lot of time playing it for it to be worth buying. You don’t want to buy an instrument that only sounds good in a genre of music that you hate. Either you’ll give up or learn to love it, but its probably a smarter option to know what you want in the first place. 

FAQS

What Is a Bass Guitar and what’s the difference between a bass and regular guitar?

A guitar and a bass are different things because of a variety of factors such as the style of play, the strings, and the neck. One of the main differences is the strings as a bass has 4 or 5 while a guitar has 6, or even 7 if it’s an electric guitar. A bass guitar’s strings are thicker than a guitars string because the thicker the string, the lower the notes it can hit which is why the bass is so important. To this into context, a bass’ thinnest string is still thicker than a guitar’s thickest.

The next difference between a guitar and a bass is the neck. Thicker strings mean a longer stretch, and that requires a longer neck than a regular guitar would. A bass guitar can also have a fretless neck, though this isn’t the case on every bass. A guitar needs frets to make the notes sound good. A fretless neck is a bonus on the bass because you (usually, unless you’re really, really good) only play one note at a time on a bass, which can add a more ‘classic’ bass tone to your playing, it also makes the notes cleaner and clearer which is what most bassists are aiming for.

Acoustic guitars are generally used for cords, and electric guitars are used with a plectrum, but bass can be played in all sorts of ways. 

While some bassists continue with the regular plectrum style of playing which you’ll begin with when you first start playing, often regarded as the most rewarding style is ‘slap-bass’ style or funk. Funk playing is when you ‘slap’ the lower strings with your thumb, or ‘pop’ the high strings by plucking them.  And if you want to add a few background repeats or country slap backs to your bass guitar sound delay pedals might be what you're looking for.

These are the main difference between a guitar and a bass guitar and it is important you know them before you buy a bass and realize that you wanted something completely different!

Can I be a solo bass player? 

You can if you want to, but a bass sounds better in a band or group environment. But it’s a great instrument for beginners because it doesn’t take long to build your skills up and become a decent player relatively quickly. 

Can I learn bass on a guitar?

Again, you could if you used the lowest 4 strings on a guitar. But it wouldn’t sound very good, and you won’t be able to properly get the technique. 

Am I too old/too young to become a bass player?

No, there’s no age limit on learning a new skill or on rocking out. By putting the work in and practicing, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can grow as a player. Bass is a great first instrument because it can be picked up so quickly. It should be noted though that while anyone can play bass, the length of the neck is something to be considered for younger players. Anyone around 12 should be fine, if you're younger try out these kids guitars first.

How long should I practice?

As with every instrument you get out what you put in. If you want to become a great bass player than there really is no shortcut. You need to practice. Practicing for at least 30 minutes a day will lead you to become a better player surprisingly fast, and the more you practice the better you’ll be. 

Hopefully, this guide has answered your questions around the bass guitar in general, and if you’re looking to buy your first guitar you should now have a pretty good idea about what you need to look for. Remember to keep your genre in mind, this is a big purchase, but it should also be an exciting one! There are a lot of options out there and finding the best one for you should be a fun experience. Listening to your favorite music is the best way to get started, and once you’ve got your guitar you’ll be on your way to becoming an amazing performer!