Investing in a new guitar is one of the most important purchases you can make. Buy the right instrument, and you can enhance your playing. Get it wrong, and your whole musical experience can be impaired.
Thankfully, your choice doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark! We’re here to guide you through the pros and cons of seven of the best bass guitars available online. And our buying guide will help you think through the features to consider before you make your final choice.
So buckle up, and get ready to find out everything you need to know before you make your purchase!
The Best Bass Guitar on the Market 2021
1. Costzon Full Size Electric 4 String Bass Guitar for Beginner, Complete Kit
This full-size electric bass guitar comes with a full range of accessories at a very reasonable price. It’s a great option for a beginner, and the sound quality is exceptional for an instrument at this price point.
The body of the guitar is made of pawlonia wood, giving it a rich resonance. The neck and fretboard are rosewood, and the headstock is maple. It’s a good weight, feeling robust without being heavy.
The gentle curves and overall appearance are very similar to a Fender P-Bass – but without the price tag. The key difference between this and its more expensive counterpart is the shape of the headstock. But you’ll get the same body shape, and it’s very comfortable to hold as you play.
It comes with tone controls and an output jack. You can choose from sunburst, yellow, black and blue finishes, depending on your taste.
You’ll also get a number of useful accessories. There’s a carrying case in smart black fabric, a shoulder strap, bass pick and amp cord. It comes ready-tuned too, so you’ll be able to play it as soon as it arrives.
This is a fantastic deal, but there are a couple of things to watch out for. The first is minor, and it concerns the carrying case.
The fabric here is rather flimsy. If you’re planning to travel with your guitar, it’s worth upgrading to something less vulnerable to wear and tear. On the plus side, it is waterproof. If you live anywhere with unpredictable weather, you won’t have to worry about being caught out in the rain.
The other potential issue is with the consistency of the volume. We’ve heard of a case where the A note on the E-string was louder than the others. If you find that’s an issue, it’s possible to work around it by fretting slightly further from the fingerboard.
Overall, then, this is a great quality package for any beginner. And it offers very good value for money.
- Attractive and comfortable to hold
- Pawlonia, maple and rosewood construction provides excellent resonance
- Includes pickups and tone control
- The carry case included in the set is rather flimsy
- We’ve heard of one case of inconsistent volume on the E-string.
1. ESP LTD B-204SM Spalted Maple bass guitar
If you’re looking for a really distinctive guitar, check out this LTD bass from ESP Guitars.
The body is made of ash with a spalted maple top, so it stands out from the crowd. It’s available in either a natural or a see-thru black stain. Both highlight the beautiful grain of the wood and look extremely cool.
The neck is extra thin, so this is a bass that’s very comfortable to play. It’s formed of five pieces of maple and jatoba wood. The fingerboard is made of roasted jatoba and has a radius of 350 millimeters. All the hardware is made of black nickel, giving it a sophisticated look.
You can control the timbre with passive ESP Designed SB-4 pickups in a humbucker configuration. There’s also an active ABQ-3 EQ.
This is an instrument that doesn’t impart much of its own character to the strings. That makes it a great choice if you want a pure tone as a platform for effects and amps. It will work for any style of music. And you’ll get a good, strong tone from the pickups, with a long sustain and minimal excess noise.
It’s considerably more expensive than the other guitars on our list. But the price still compares very well to higher-end instruments.
Note that there aren’t any frets here. That means you’ll need to be more accurate than you would with a fretted guitar. Slapping won’t work well with fretless guitars either.
This weighs in at just under 12 pounds. That means it won’t be the right choice if you like a lighter instrument. But it is well balanced, which will reduce shoulder fatigue. We’d recommend investing in a well padded shoulder strap if this is the guitar you choose.
One other thing to note is that the most discerning guitarists may want to make some adjustments to the set-up. If you know how to adjust the truss rod and intonation, great. If you don’t, you may want to consider paying someone to do this for you.
- Attractive and distinctive spalted maple top
- Great sound, suitable for any style of music
- ESP Designed SB-4 pickups and active ABQ-3 EQ
- Fretless – so this demands greater accuracy
- Well-balanced but heavy; invest in a padded shoulder strap for a more comfortable playing experience.
3. Ibanez GSRM20 4 String Bass Guitar (Our Top Pick)
If you’re looking for a compact and lightweight bass guitar, the Ibanez GSRM20 could be the perfect choice.
It packs in all the build quality and performance of bigger guitars into a model that’s great for tour buses, or anywhere that’s short on space. And it’s a great option for smaller guitarists too.
The scale is 28.6 inches long. The overall length of the guitar is 39 inches, and it’s 12 inches wide. Anyone with smaller hands will appreciate the slender neck, which is very easy to reach around.
There’s a choice of nine different finishes here too. No matter what your style preference, there’s sure to be one to suit. Choose between classics like black, walnut or starburst, or brighter options like purple or red.
The pickups have a sweet sound, but you are limited in how to switch between them. The only way is to roll back one and roll up the other. That won’t be a problem for most players, but there is a workaround if you don’t like it. Install a micro three-way switch and the problem is solved.
One other thing to be aware of here is the strings that come with the guitar. These are round wound, and the sound is rather scratchy and metallic. You’ll get better quality if you swap them for something heavier and flat wound.
The frets are level and smooth, and the tuning pegs stay in tune. There’s a smooth satin finish on the back of the neck, which makes for fast and easy playing. The sustain, though, is a little on the short side.
All in all, you’ll get great sound here and for a very reasonable price. And for those looking for a smaller instrument, it’s an excellent buy.
- Compact and lightweight
- Short scale and narrow neck is great for players with smaller hands
- Level, smooth frets and pegs that stay in tune
- Switching between pickups is limited, unless you install a micro three-way switch
- The strings it comes with aren’t the best quality.
4. Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Beginner Electric Bass Guitar
The Squier by Fender is a great option for those just starting out on bass guitar. It’s offered at a relatively economical price point to encourage new players into the Fender family. But it’s also well worth considering by experienced players, who will love its great sound and finish.
It comes in four colors: black, white and two shades of red. The body is made of poplar, and all the hardware is in shiny chrome. The fretboard is constructed from Indian rosewood, and it’s beautifully comfortable to play. The neck is made of alder.
The pickguard is 3-ply, giving a distinctive and eye-catching appearance. And the Squier logo on the headstock is picked out in black and gold.
It has a classic PJ pickup. There’s a Precision Bass middle pickup and a Jazz Base bridge pickup. Together, they offer great tonal versatility.
The neck profile is C-shaped, and slim enough to be comfortable to hold and play easily. The 4-saddle bridge keeps the strings nice and stable, and the open-gear tuning machines offer smooth and accurate tuning.
It’s pretty lightweight to hold too. You may find that you get some pickup hum when the volume is turned up high. But that’s a characteristic of single-coil pickups of the kind you get here.
You can play it as soon as it arrives, but you may find some adjustments to give you a better result. Swapping the strings for better ones will improve the sound quality. And you may find that you need to adjust the height of the bridge.
But these are very minor niggles for what is a great bass guitar. You could spend twice as much and not be disappointed by the quality on offer here.
- Slim, comfortable C-shaped neck profile
- The PJ pickup offers great tonal versatility
- Excellent value for money
- You may get some pickup hum on high volumes
- Swapping the strings for better quality ones will give you improved sound.
5. Cordoba Mini II Bass MH-E, Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar
If you’re looking for a bass guitar with a traditional acoustic look, you’ll love this one from Cordoba. It’s made from mahogany woods and has a 22 7/8-inch scale, so it tunes perfectly to a standard E.
Use it as an acoustic and the 3-inch deep body provides a mellow, resonant tone. Alternatively, plug it in with the Cordoba MB103 pickup for a rich, robust sound. It uses a Hardtail Bridge system and Piezo pickup configuration.
It takes Cordoba’s original Mini bass as its foundation, but this is slightly bigger. From the head to the output jack it measures 34.5 inches, and it’s 11 inches at its widest point. The sound is much closer to a full-sized bass than to other Minis on the market.
It’s strung with nylon core phosphor-bronze strings, and you’ll get full sound even at the low end. Note that the smaller scale means you won’t be able to use full-sized strings with this one.
The sound quality is well above what you would expect from the modest price tag. It’s also comfortable, lightweight, and a pleasure to play.
There’s very little not to like with this bass. If we were being picky, we’d say that the buttons for the onboard electronics are a little on the small side.
And if you’ve been playing it for a long time, you may find the frets eventually get sharp. That’s not a big deal. The bass comes with an Allen key that you can use to bend them flat again. It’s quick and easy to do.
Anyone looking for a mini acoustic-electric bass with the sound of a full-sized model won’t go wrong with this one.
- Comparable sound to a full-sized bass on a Mini scale
- Rich, resonant sound, even at the low end
- Lightweight and comfortable to play
- The buttons for the on-board electronics are a bit small
- You may find the frets need to be bent back into place after a lot of use.
6. Best Choice Products Acoustic Electric 4 String Bass Guitar (Best for the Money)
This acoustic electric guitar from Best Choice Products offers great sound and unbeatable value for money. It’s one of the cheapest guitars on our list, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on performance. Despite its low price, it’s just as suitable for expert guitarists as beginners.
It has a four-band EQ-7545R preamp for great sound when it’s plugged in. You’ll be able to adjust the bass, mid-notes, treble and presence to your preference. Tweak the controls to create overdrive for heavy metal, slapping funk, or clean classic notes.
The deep body and wooden construction produce a warm, mellow sound when it’s played as an acoustic.
There’s a smart inlay and die-cast chrome tuners. You’ll even get a choice of three different colours: natural, black or blue. All have an attractive glossy finish. You’ll need short-scale strings for this one – that’s 30 inches from the nut to the saddle.
Although it comes pre-tuned, expect to need to do some set-up to get the best results. Check that the neck is straight, and adjust the truss rod if it isn’t. There are plenty of guides to how to do this online. You may also need to adjust the saddle to get the intonation right.
One other thing to be aware of is that the electronics don’t as effectively pick up the lower strings. You can deal with that by turning the bass dial up and the others down.
Note that if this is your first guitar, you’ll need to invest in some accessories like a carrying case. The good news is that you’ll be saving so much on your guitar, you’ll have extra to spend on them!
So to sum up, this is a good-looking bass at an amazingly low price. As long as you’re prepared to spend a bit of time on the set-up, you can get excellent sound quality too.
- 4-band preamp allows you to tweak the sound for different musical styles
- Play plugged in or acoustic
- Unbeatable value for money
- You’ll need to do some set up to get the best results
- The electronics don’t pick up the lower strings as well – turn up the bass to deal with that.
7. Glarry Electric Bass Guitar
The electric bass guitar from Glarry is another that offers amazing value for money. It’s the cheapest instrument on our list – you could buy five of these for the price of ESP’s LTD bass.
But there’s no sign of cost cutting when it comes to its looks. It’s available in a choice of six different colors and natural shades. The fretboard is made of rosewood, and the top and back are made of basswood for a warm sound.
It’s lightweight and comfortable to play, although it is heavier at the neck than the body. The tuning machines are a good weight, move smoothly and hold effectively in place. The pots work smoothly too, creating a gradual change of volume and tone.
The frets are made with high-tensile strength fretwire, so they stay nice and smooth. One small niggle is that the pickguard is protected with clear plastic. Removing it from around the pots is a bit of a pain.
There’s only one set of pickups here, so it’s less versatile than some guitars. But the tone is impressive.
The low price even includes a range of accessories. You’ll get a carrying case, shoulder strap, pick and amp cord. The carrying case is made of black fabric and it’s fairly flimsy – but at this price, that’s hardly surprising. It will still do the job.
You won’t need to do any set-up with this one. Having said that, you will get better results if you give a bit of attention to the truss rod and saddle.
All in all, this is a fantastic bass at a great price. It’s perfect for a beginner, and even experienced players may find it a useful back-up instrument.
- Great tone
- Lightweight and comfortable to play
- Comes with a range of accessories at an unbeatable price
- Be prepared to spend some time removing the protective plastic from around the pots
- Will benefit from a bit of attention to the truss rod and saddle during set-up.
That brings us to the end of our reviews of seven of the best bass guitars we’ve found! Hopefully, you’re one step closer to making the choice that’s right for you.
But if you’re feeling confused, check out our buying guide. By answering just a few short questions, you can narrow down your shortlist.
Electric or acoustic?
To start with, consider whether you want to be able to play your bass guitar unplugged. Acoustic guitars are great for intimate settings and they produce a distinctive sound. But if you’re playing big venues or want to crank up the volume, you need an electric guitar.
Of course, you may feel that you want both those kinds of sounds at different times. If that’s the case, an acoustic-electric guitar could be the answer. This can be played either wired up to an amp, or without an amp at all.
The Cordoba Mini II and Best Choice Products guitars on our list offer great acoustic-electric options.
Are you happy to do some set-up?
The next thing to consider is how much – if any – set-up you’re prepared to do. Some of the guitars on our list will give a great sound straight out of the box. Others will require various degrees of tweaking to get the best results.
It’s possible to pay someone else to set up your guitar for you. If you don’t feel confident about tasks like adjusting the truss rod, this could be a good option. And it will expand the range of instruments available to you. But remember to factor this into your budget.
Do you need accessories?
Finally, consider whether you want to focus your expenditure on your bass. If you don’t already have a guitar, remember that you’ll need a case to protect it, and a shoulder strap to play it.
Some of the instruments on our list come as part of accessory packs. They can be a very cost-effective way for beginners to get everything in one go. You’ll also be saved the time and effort of shopping around.
And if you want to upgrade any individual items, you can do that as and when your budget allows.
Ready to Play?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of seven of the best bass guitars out there right now! You don’t need to spend a fortune to get an instrument that offers great – and versatile – sound.
If you’re just starting out, consider buying your guitar as part of a combo with other accessories. That can be a convenient, as well as cost-effective, option.
Our top pick is the GSRM20 by Ibanez. It’s good-looking, comfortable to play, and suits all musical styles. And it’s a particularly good option for guitarists with smaller hands, or for those playing in confined spaces.
Whichever guitar is right for you, we hope you – and your audiences – are soon enjoying music from your new bass!