Do you know the stereotype about bored bass players? It’s mostly because they spend hours playing the same four or five chords. And because the lead singer gets all the girls. But if you’re drawn to thumping registers, you’ll keep humming, strumming, and busting baseless musical myths.
But how can you be sure you bought the best beginner bass guitar? We’re here to help. We’ll introduce you to seven top bass guitars. These models are applauded by music teachers and bass players everywhere. We’ll offer some shopping tips and show you our top pick, pun intended.
Quick Glance: The Best Beginner bass guitar on the Market 2021
The Best bass guitar for beginners 2021
1. Ibanez 4-String Bass Guitar (Our Top Pick)
If you’re a younger player, have small hands, or are making the switch from regular guitar to bass, you’ll probably want a short-scale guitar. The average distance from the bridge to the nut is 34 inches (though some guitars get to 35). This Ibanez is a 28.6-inch guitar so it’s far easier to play. You don’t have to stretch your fingers as much so you can focus on speed and fretting accuracy.
The Ibanez is a compact, lightweight model. So if you’re on a tour circuit or you want to lug your guitar to the beach or campfire all summer, this Ibanez is pleasantly portable. It comes in 9 colors from sunburst brown to starlight blue so you can find one that matches your mood and personality. And because it’s a low-end model, you can even buy two or three!
Entry-level bass guitars don’t offer much versatility, but this Ibanez offers dynamic precision play. Its technical specs make it a PJ guitar with both single and double-coil (humbucker) pick-ups. Unfortunately, switching between the two modes is cumbersome so you might have to upgrade the strings and install a 3-way switch for better sound. But only if you’re a pro.
This may take practice – if you don’t install a switch. With most PJ guitars, you can toggle between the precision section and the jazz section. With the Ibanez Mikro, you have to turn one pick-up knob down to zero and dial up the other to its max point. This takes getting used to. But again, these technicalities are for advanced players, so it’s still the best beginner bass guitar.
This guitar has a rosewood fretboard but it’s a mixed-wood guitar overall. The interior body is poplar, the glossy outer casing is agathis, and the slimline neck is maple. The original strings are nickel. Because it’s a PJ guitar, it has a few extra knobs – each pick-up has an independent dial. This might make you mistake it for an active set-up, but the Ibanez is warm and passive to play.
The Ibanez Mikro guitar looks good, sounds great, and because it’s so cool and portable, kids, teens, (and wanderlusting adults) gladly carry it everywhere so you’ll get lots of practice time!
- It’s a short-scale guitar that comes in 9 colors.
- The weight is suitable for portable playing.
- The guitar has both precision and jazz pick-ups.
- This guitar is fine for beginners but if you’re a seasoned player (or music teacher) you’ll probably want to change the strings and install a 3-way switch for better performance.
2. Squier Bronco Bass Guitar
Fender guitars are the most popular (and expensive) models in the musical space. So as a beginner, you probably think it’s out of your price range. But Fender has a specialty sub-brand for budding guitarists. They call it Squier, and this Bronco is one of its best-loved models. And because beginners often struggle with the full-scale length of a bass guitar, this model is a 30”.
When you buy a Squier guitar, you get all the benefits, sound experience, and prestige that comes with owning a Fender. You’ll get familiar with the brand’s trademark shape, style, and design so that when you ‘grow up’ in your playing (and your budget), you can seamlessly upgrade to a Stratocaster. But in the meantime, your Squier Bronco offers a single-coil pick-up.
The guitar’s tuners are die-cast and its neck has a satin finish. These features make the guitar pretty but they extend its lifespan as well. The C-shape neck lends heritage to your otherwise modern guitar, giving it a vintage look and making it easier to play. It’s quite comfortable and intuitive – great for first0time bass players. The body of your Bronco is solid agathis wood.
The bridge is glossy chrome and the fretboard is laurel wood. This is an entry-level musical instrument so its pick-guard only has one ply and its weight is on the lower side. Because you’re buying a name brand, look out for the black-and-gold logo to ensure authenticity. You can also pair your Squier Bronco with the Fender Play app for virtual bass guitar lessons on your phone.
Beginners often tire of long repetitive rehearsals. But the stylish, lightweight body of this Bronco Squier invites you to bring it everywhere and sneak in pockets of practice time. Enjoy!
- At 30 inches, it’s still a short-scale guitar.
- It mixes black, white, and red in 4 color options.
- This single-coil guitar gives off a warmer sound that’s closer to acoustics.
- This guitar is so slim and cozy so it’s ideal for beginners, but you may face a learning curve when you graduate to standard-sized bass guitars.
3. Yamaha 4-String Bass Guitar
A lot of experts consider this the best beginner bass guitar. Especially in terms of tone control. For budding bassists who want to play like the pros (as opposed to following the bored bassist stereotype), this guitar offers immense playing versatility so you can have a lot of fun with it.
You can alternate between neck and bridge pic-up – or combine the two. This guitar is part of Yamaha’s TRBX line of guitars. It’s from the 100 series – musical instruments with superior specs and entry-level prices. Design features include nineteen color options with three shades of red and three shades of black, among others. So your guitar can match your style.
The guitar housing is made from exotic, glossy mahogany giving it a sleek contemporary look. But its vintage bridge keeps it cool and retro. This guitar weighs a smidge over 12 pounds. That’s almost double the mass of other beginner models. The vintage bridge is fully adjustable and apart from mahogany, this mixed-wood guitar has a maple neck and Indian rosewood fretboard.
Its strings are 45 t 100-gauge alloy steel and the single-coil set-up provides soothing sounds and intuitive play. The sound is a tad tinny, but that’s not an issue for beginners. It may bug you as their teacher, but it’s a cool-looking guitar so it’ll keep your students playing long after their interest fades. This is key because with younger players, looking cool is the whole point.
The Yamaha TRBX174 BL is the best beginner bass guitar for kids and teens. Adults who want to play casually may tinker with it, but if you take music seriously, buy something a little warmer.
- It comes in nearly twenty exciting shades with a vintage shape and style.
- The guitar offers precision, jazz, and blended pick-up options.
- Its glossy mahogany body is both pretty and durable.
- At 12 pounds, it’s on the heavier side.
4. GoPlus Electric Bass Guitar
While the rest of the bass-playing world was fighting about humbuckers and single coils, GoPlus got a little creative. They designed a single-coil beginner’s guitar … but they split the studs to give it a double-coil appearance. Neat trick! But if you’re buying this for students, run them through the basics of coil-style and technology so they don’t look lost on guitar spaces.
Innovation aside, this GoPlus makes the perfect birthday gift for kids (and adults) interested in bass. It comes as a kit with a guitar bag, strap, pick, and amp cord (though you’ll have to buy the amp). And it’s pocket-friendly enough that you won’t feel the pinch if your kids lose interest in sex weeks. The guitar has a 4-saddle bridge and a polished body carved from empress wood.
Soundwise, its notes are crisp and clear, and the split-coil prevents muffling for enhanced amplification. This is helpful for first-time bassists who are still struggling with fret control. The split coils offer extra spacing so it’s easier to perfect your fingering technique. It’s a passive guitar with two control knobs and an output port for your amp. The fretboard is rosewood.
But the headstock is raw maple with upgrade copperheads. These work with the bridge to keep your guitar in tune – a crucial tool for beginners that haven’t mastered the tuning process by ear. The GoPlus has a high-glass finish and the bridge uses a tremolo system to give your notes a delicious-sounding reverbs that will impress far beyond your beginner bassist skills.
If someone you love has a sudden interest in guitar, this GoPlus is the perfect starter kit. It looks cool, sounds decent, and you won’t feel wasted if your budding bassist loses interest just as fast.
- The guitar comes with essential accessories for starting bassists.
- It has a copper headstock so it stays in tune longer.
- This GoPlus has a rosewood fretboard and split pick-ups.
- The body looks glossy but it’s Paulownia aka empress wood so it’s not sturdy.
5. Dean Edge Mahogany Electric Bass Guitar
Some people prefer their instruments glossy and futuristic. Others prefer a simpler approach. This Dean Edge caters to the latter. It’s a simple musical instrument with a ‘raw’ finish. The outer body maintains a sienna-colored tone with just the slightest bit of shine. The knobs and components are black to match and textured to avoid slipping. Even the pic-up is fuss-free.
While other guitars have split studs and PJ switches, this bass guitar has an understated soap-bar pick-up that works with its black vintage bridge and its black die-cast tuners. The guitar is full-sized with four strings and 22 frets. The knobs control volume and treble so you get a fair amount of tonal shaping. But the body of this device is solid wood, which can be an issue.
How so? Well, it looks gorgeous but needs constant attention. The slightest shift in temperature or humidity needs you to adjust the truss rod and tuners. Which is fine if you’re familiar with guitars. But if you’re a beginner and your guitar keeps ‘sounding weird’ you won’t know what’s causing the problem. You may blame it on your playing and end up giving up the instrument.
So if you do buy this guitar for someone (or for yourself) make sure you have a pro around to keep it in tune. That aside, the basswood body of this passive guitar handles sound beautifully. The neck and fret are dark maple and they offset the lighter tone of the body. The heel and neck-joint on this guitar are standard to the brand so you can easily spot a counterfeit version.
Dean Guitars have a 40-year heritage and this entry-level model is well-suited for beginners. It has a 4-bolt pattern that’s asymmetric, letting your fingers stretch freely to the top fret.
- This guitar combines a sweetly simple acoustic look with an electric silhouette.
- The pick-up has a soap-bar style paired with a vintage bridge.
- It’s a full-sized guitar with a 34-inch scale.
- The wooden body is susceptible to weather changes so you need to regularly ‘reset’ this guitar to avoid buzzing and tuning issues. It’s good for beginners, but your budding bassists will need a seasoned housemate to keep the guitar in shape.
6. Sterling Sting Ray Bass Guitar
MusicMan is a high-end guitar brand with a price tag to match. But the Ray 4 is specifically designed for entry-level musicians, both in specs and price. It has the standard ‘cut’ and shape so you’ll instantly recognize it as a Sterling. But it’s offset on a black body, unlike he colored version on higher-end models. This guitar is known for its warm sound and smooth play.
Other iconic features are the elliptical bridge and pick-guard. This is an active guitar so it’s good for bassists that want to explore higher tone ranges and sound shaping. The bass guitar has a 2-band equalizer and its glossy finish gives you high-end visual appeal. It’s a 9-pound guitar so its weight is mid-range and its body has a solid heft in your hands while you play.
The Sub 4 Stingray is relatively pocket-friendly (compared to its more professional siblings) but it has a sturdy body that belies its price. So it’s still tough enough for entry-level gigging and busking. The guitar can be confusing because it only has one passive humbucker.
Buts it’s included equalizer put this guitar squarely in the active bass category. Its tuning pegs are asymmetrically arranged – three on one side, one on the other. This gives your fingers free rein as you play the higher frets. And the extra room lets you express your bassist flair and experiment with stylistic playing. The 9V battery in the back is used to power the equalizer.
When you’re buying a String Ray 4, double-check the specs against the pricing. There are lots of variants including maple vs rosewood and 4-string vs 5-string hat affect your musical price tag.
- You get a recognized name at a reasonable price.
- Its housing is basswood but its neck and fretboard are maple.
- This is an active bass guitar with equalizers and pre-amps.
- This guitar needs 9V batteries. You don’t expect that from electrical guitars. So while it ships with your first set but when it ‘suddenly stops working’ you may panic when all it needs is a basic battery change. The guitar is made in Indonesia but pre-tested in the US.
7. Davison Full Size Bass Guitar
You probably don’t want to be known as the ‘cheapest’ in any category. But in this case, this is the cheapest and best-selling guitar in its class. Plus, while many beginner guitars come with cases, straps, and cables, this is the first one with an amp included. Given it’s a low-end 30W amp, but it ships with everything you need to get started, and many music teachers validate it.
This Davison bass guitar is a full-sized one with a 34-inch scale and a 45-inch overall length. The fret and neck are maple wood while the body is glossy black. This guitar comes in right-handed and left-handed configurations, so the lefties won’t be … left out. The guitar comes with P-style split pick-ups and two control knobs. The amp is great for practice, it’s not a gig guitar.
It’s fine for beginners though – and your roommates will appreciate the relatively reduced noise. (You should still get headphones though – you don’t want to get evicted!) Low price and low noise aside, this guitar gives a decent sound. But it’s not the type for tantruming musicians, it may not hold up to their man-handling. It’s good for dramatic stage-smashing though…
As you shop for the best beginner bass guitar, the price on this Davison may attract you. But only if your new player has a calm temperament. Otherwise, they may crush it in frustration.
- The Davison is perfectly priced for beginners.
- It ships with a case, a strap, an amp, and a cable.
- You can buy a right-handed or left-handed version.
- It’s an extremely low-end guitar, so handle it with care and if you start to get frustrated by the challenges of fingering and fretting, step away from the bass!
How did you decide to play bass? Some people picked their preferred musical instrument because of their celebrity idol, their parents, their teachers, or even their friends. But once you’ve settled on bass guitar, how do you know which brand to buy? Here are some tips.
Active or Passive
Passive bass guitars are the most basic type. They don’t have too many features so they’re good for establishing your bass technique. They let you control your volume and pick-up so it may have two or three knobs. They sound ‘warm and natural’. Active bass guitars are more versatile.
They may have extra knobs for equalizers and tone shapers. And while these multiple shiny dial buttons help you try out more effects, they sometimes make your guitar sound more ‘electronic’. Plus, they raise the price. Also, as a beginner, you probably won’t use those features for months.
Scale and Strings
The distance between the bridge and the nut is called scale length, and it’s usually 34 inches. But some guitars are shorter and more stylized. Some beginners are content to play a P-bass (the ‘p’ means precision), but you might prefer a jazz bass. Both have the same standard parts, but jazz players explore their instruments more than any other genre. They’re known for improvisation.
Jazz music also syncopates a lot, so you get to play with rhythm and tempo. So buying a jazz guitar will open up these options and let you indulge in broader music ranges. Standard bass guitars have four strings while jazz guitars can have seven strings or more. They’re thicker too. Bass guitars with more strings will have a wider nut width and more spacing between strings.
Style and Structure
This may be a tad intense for beginners, but you can consider whether you want a single coil or humbucker (double-coil) pick-up on your bass guitar. Some bass guitars have both and they might be marketed as ‘PJ bass’ meaning they have both precision pick-ups and jazz pick-ups. The neck matters too. Heavier necks need better-padded straps, but it’s best to test them in person.
If you can’t try out the guitar before buying (or if you’re ordering online), consider the wood on your fingerboard and the string number. More strings mean deeper notes but the neck must be thicker and heavier to accommodate the extra strings. As for the wood, maple wood has a lighter color and a crisp, snappy sound while rosewood is darker and sounds warmer when you play.
Pick It Up!
Based on our research, pun still intended, we recommend the Ibanez. Here’s why:
- Its color options include weathered black and metallic purple.
- It’s a short-scale guitar at 28.6 inches.
- The maple neck is slim for added comfort and warm sound.
- The rest of its body has mixed woods including agathis, rosewood, and poplar.
- The guitar is passive but has both single coil and humbucker pick-ups.
- At just under 7 pounds, it’s ideal for touring, busking, and gigging.
What bass guitar do you currently have your eye on? Send us a photo in the comments!