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Best Beginner Bass Guitars

The backbone of the band, holding the rhythm, controlling the key, and filling out the mix. The bass guitar is the unsung hero and a vital part of making any band sound great.

Not only that, it’s also one of the most fun instruments to play. With a low barrier to entry too, so anyone can easily jump in and start to sound good on the bass.

But what bass should you get to start with? Well today we are going to list our top 10 basses for beginners as well as answer some commonly asked questions people often ask when first starting out.

Squier Classic Vibe 70's Jazz Bass

    Number of Frets:
    20


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ESP LTD B-204SM

    Number of Frets:
    24


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Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4

    Number of Frets:
    21


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Jackson JS Series Spectra JS3Q

    Number of Frets:
    24


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Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar

    Number of Frets:
    24


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Fender Player Jazz

    Number of Frets:
    20


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Sterling By MusicMan 4 String Bass

    Number of Frets:
    21


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Warwick Rockbass Corvette Basic

    Number of Frets:
    24


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Schecter Hellraiser Extreme-5

    Number of Frets:
    24


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Fender Artist Series Duff McKagan

    Number of Frets:
    20


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Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 70’s Jazz Bass

The original 70’s Fender Jazz bass was an incredible step for the instrument, inspiring many techniques and styles which are considered the norm, such as slap bass. And having that iconic mid growl and bite that made it really pop.

Needless to say, the model is still commonly used and in high demand. But with the premium Fender ones costing several thousand dollars, Squire offered their own version which plays every bit as smoothly, but at a fraction of the cost.

It also has some modern quality of life upgrades such as the flatter fretboard radius and newer alnico pickups.

 

 

ESP LTD B-204SM

The great thing about LTD basses is they can be used for any style, from the distorted gritty tones needed for metal all the way to the glassy and bright pop needed for funk, this guitar can handle it all.

An aesthetic visual treat with its solid ash body and beautiful spalted maple top, providing the brightness and snap needed to cut through.  With a maple/jatoba neck providing that stability and dense resonance needed for the consistent low end.

Visually understated with its natural finish and nickel hardware, this guitar can be used for anything.

 

 

Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4

The Musicman StingRay bass has been an incredibly successful series of guitars over the years. However, the all American made versions can be quite expensive, so Sterling offers an internationally manufactured model that essentially feels and plays identically, but for a fraction of the cost. 

These guitars are still subjected to the rigorous QA of the more premium Musicman instruments, so you can be sure your purchase will meet the high American standards of quality.

The guitar also features an active, humbucking pickup powered by a 9v active pre-amp. Allowing you to achieve all of the pushed, modern tones you could want.

 

 

Jackson JS Series Spectra JS3Q

The first thing you will probably notice about this guitar is the absolutely stunning amber blue burst finish over the vibrant quilted maple top. Which results in a guitar that looks like it should be selling for considerably more than it actually is.

The guitar also has an extended upper horn for ideal weight distribution when standing – no more saggy guitar when playing with a strap!

With its poplar body, maple cap, and a graphite-reinforced maple neck for ultra stability and resilience against things such as weather changes. This is a versatile guitar that will facilitate a broad range of applications.

 

 

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar

For those on a slightly tighter budget. Ibanez’s GIO range offers a lot of bang for your buck, giving you a no-frills instrument to serve your early days as a learner. But still maintaining that modern construction and quality you would expect from a company like Ibanez.

The guitar itself features a solid mahogany body with a maple neck, giving it that thick and rich sound you would expect, while providing that tuning stability from the maple neck.

Featuring Ibanez’s own designed pickups along with an additional tonal shaping control Ibanez calls the ‘PHAT II EQ’, so you can get a great sound even while on a budget.

 

 

Fender Player Jazz

A few rungs above that of the Squire Classic Jazz mentioned above, yet still remaining far more wallet friendly than the more premium Fender version. The player series is designed to respect the heritage of the original, while bringing it up to speed for today’s player and offering a reliable and affordable workhorse for you to use and abuse.

Featuring a more modern C shaped neck with medium jumbo frets to hold up to the demands of rigorous playing. But also an alder body which is quite bright with that prominent mid-range to really pop and slice through the mix when playing single note basslines.

 

 

Sterling By MusicMan 4 String Bass

While still coming in at a more affordable price than a full Musicman, this is one of Sterling’s higher end basses.

The first thing you will notice about the guitar is probably the vibrant, poplar burl finish in a trans black satin burst. Which looks incredibly sleek, premium, and wouldn’t look out of place as a display piece.

Aesthetics aside, this still boasts great versatility and playability with its mahogany body and roasted rock maple neck. Which is extra hard in order to provide resistance to movement and retain tuning stability. The guitar also comes with a Sterling heavy duty gig bag in case you need to travel with it.

 

 

Warwick Rockbass Corvette Basic

Warwick basses are considered one of the most prestigious bass guitar manufacturers ever. With many of their models being boutique instruments that are inaccessible to the average (and very often professional) player due to their price.

But back in 2009 Warwick re-released their Rock Bass series, which were designed to be on the upper end of the mid-range guitar market.

Featuring a beautiful natural finish, with a mahogany body and alder top providing a great tonal balance. As well as a maple neck and rosewood fretboard.

This presents a winning work-horse style tonal combination on a very high quality constructed instrument.

 

 

Schecter Hellraiser Extreme-5

The Schecter Hellraiser series was incredibly popular for musicians involved in heavier styles. It boasted unbeatable value for money and was a great choice for those with a little bit of a budget who still wanted something that could hold its own in a professional setting.

The Hellraiser Extreme 5 is exactly that, but in bass form. 

Featuring active pickups to provide that stable and consistent bass thump while also accenting the distorted top-end growl. And even a 5th string allowing you to be in key when playing along with down tuned guitars.

 

 

Fender Artist Series Duff McKagan Deluxe Precision Bass

Sometimes people are a little wary towards signature models due to their association with a particular artist. But oftentimes, these instruments are fantastic models by themselves regardless of whether you are a fan of the artist in question or not.

One such model is the Duff McKagan precision bass. The infamous P-Bass by Fender is an extremely popular model already, but Fender designed this with the intention of creating a ‘player-friendly P-Bass’.

With an alder body for a rich and balanced sound, and an updated C shape neck to appeal to the more modern player.

It also comes with Seymour Duncan pickups and a 10 position tone control for additional tonal variety.

 

 

FAQ

What should I learn first on bass guitar?

The bass is an incredibly in-depth instrument that one can spend a lifetime mastering.

But irrespective of where your journey takes you, there is a base set of skills everyone should learn to ensure they have a rock-solid foundation to grow from.

This includes basic technique, learning how to physically produce notes on the instrument and have them sound good. Basic theory, understand the key you’re in, and what notes you can play in that key in order to sound musical. Lastly, and this is especially important for bass, rhythm! Holding the groove and staying in time.

Is it easier to play bass or guitar?

Both have their own pros and cons. The bass guitar has only 4 strings which means there is less real estate on the fretboard to memorize than the guitar. Which might make the early stages of theory a little easier to digest.

But it also uses thicker strings and generally has higher action, combined with a longer scale than guitar, it can be a little more strenuous on the hands and tougher to do big stretches.

None of these aspects should persuade/dissuade you from playing the instrument you think is coolest! You will be able to handle both of them just fine.

Do you play chords on a bass guitar?

Absolutely! The bass guitar is a polyphonic instrument (meaning you can play more than 1 note at the same time) that has 4 strings, meaning you can play up to 4 notes at the same time.

This means intervals (2 note) triads (3 note) and tetrads (4 note) chords are all available to you.

Now, most of the time you will be holding the bassline using single notes, but a well executed chord using the right notes and at the right part of the song can be extremely effective.

How long should I practice bass each day?

As long as you can before your concentration and happiness starts to wane. Keeping motivated and not getting burned out is extremely important when learning a new instrument. But at the same time, the biggest defining factor that will contribute to your progress is the number of hours you are putting into it.

You can take all the lessons in the world, but if you aren’t sinking as many hours as you can into practice your progress will be severely hampered.

If putting Netflix on while you practice allows you to play for longer, do it!

What should I practice on bass?

Generally speaking, there are 2 ‘camps’ when it comes to practicing bass.

Firstly there is the technique camp, this means what your hands are physically doing with the instrument. You can improve your technique by running scales or exercises to a metronome, or simply by jamming to your favorite songs. 

Secondly, there is the theory camp, which is the study of scales/chords etc. Memorizing all your scales, modes, chords and the notes of the fretboard is a tall order – so even if it takes a while, try to dedicate at least some of your practice time to studying theory.

Can I play bass if I play guitar?

There is a massive crossover between almost all aspects of the bass guitar on the regular guitar. The fretboard layout is similar, the techniques and phrasing you use are similar. This makes it incredibly easy to jump between the two as if you have spent any time playing the guitar you will already have some skill on the bass right from the get-go.

Of course, the functions each of these instruments serve in a band situation are quite different and it’s important to make sure you play bass as a bass, and not just as a low-tuned guitar.

Do you strum a bass guitar?

You can absolutely strum the bass guitar. But generally speaking, basslines are played monophonic, meaning only 1 note at a time.

Because of the low tuned nature of the bass, strumming for a long period of time can cause a buildup of low frequencies and clutter the song a lot. So most of the time songs call for more clear and defined single note basslines.

With that being said, it’s very common to use strumming sparingly as accents in songs and can serve to enhance the bass parts a lot. The key here is to use them sparingly and tastefully.

Can I teach myself bass?

These days there is a staggering amount of tuitional material available online and on youtube. Everything you need to teach yourself is out there if you are willing to find it.

But should you do this? Many bassists run into trouble by consuming fragmented tuitional material and often get lost by moving into areas of music they don’t have the foundation to understand yet.

So while it is possible, a good bass teacher can save you a lot of trouble and headaches by walking you through the process and teach you exactly what you need to know at your current stage of development.

How do you memorize a bass fretboard?

As the 4 strings on a standard bass guitar are identically tuned to the top 4 strings of a guitar (E A D G) you can learn them exactly the same way as you would on a regular guitar!

There are several ways people like to memorize the notes on the fretboard. Some like to learn all the notes on the first string to begin with, then once they have that memorized they learn the second, third, fourth, etc.

Another way is to work it into your scale practice. So as you are learning, let’s say for example the minor pentatonic scale, as you learn this scale you can call out the notes as you play and engrain them into your memory.

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