Best Beginner Bass Guitars – 2019 Complete Guide

So, you have decided to buy a bass guitar. Congratulations!

Playing the bass guitar is a great, yet often underrated choice. 

After choosing to buy a bass guitar, there are a lot of other decisions you need to make. Electric or acoustic? What size and make is best for you? This article will help you decide what to buy.

Comparison Chart of the Best Beginner Bass Guitars

Product

Rating

Price

Ibanez 4-String Bass Guitar GSR200BK

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Black (GSR200BK)

Best Overall

Sterling Ray4 Electric Bass

Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar in Black

Runner-up

Yamaha TRBX174

Yamaha TRBX174 Old Violin Sunburst Agathis Body, 4-String Electric Bass Guitar

Best for the Money

Fender Mustang PJ Bass

Fender Mustang PJ Bass - Pau Ferro Fingerboard - Sonic Blue

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Jazz Bass

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Jazz Bass - Laurel Fingerboard - Brown Sunburst

What Size of Bass Guitar Do I Need When Starting?

Like many other instruments, the bass guitar comes in different sizes. Besides the regular size, there are also half-size and ¾ size. The half-size is usually meant for children, as a full-sized bass guitar can be too heavy for them. However, the ¾ size is not necessarily for children only.

Some people prefer it simply because it may be more comfortable to play, especially if you have small hands or short fingers. Not only is the neck of these models smaller, but the strings are also looser, which makes it easier to play. This could be a viable choice for a beginner who wants to try a smaller bass guitar (full-sized one is much larger and heavier). 

However, if your goal is to become a professional bass guitar player, it may be smart to start with the full-sized one, so you will get used to the size and weight.

How to Choose a Bass Guitar as a Beginner?

Before buying, there are a couple of things you should consider that can make or break your enjoyment in playing the bass guitar.

Electric or Acoustic

The most obvious choice is electric. Unlike with regular guitars, bass players tend to start with an electric and possibly consider an acoustic later on in their career. The reason for this is that bass players are more often practicing or jamming with other people than by themselves. An acoustic bass does not provide enough volume to be heard behind other instruments.

Think About the Size 

The best option for a beginner is something comfortable, not too heavy but not too small, and something that provides an enjoyable playing experience. This depends on your preferences and your size as well – someone over six-foot-tall with a heavy build will play very differently than a five-foot-tall, small-handed person. Enjoying the experience itself is important, too because if you are uncomfortable playing, you are more likely to give up on your new hobby. 

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Beginner Bass Guitars

Now that you know a bit about the different factors you should be considering, it’s time to look at some viable options. We have chosen to review five of the current top beginner bass guitars to make your decision a bit easier. 

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Black (GSR200BK)

PROS

  • Comfortable to play
  • Sleek, beautiful design
  • Optimal for beginners, as it isn’t large and heavy
  • A very affordable option without compromising on quality or sound
  • Full-scale bass guitar – optimal if you are hoping to become a professional

CONS

  • Some of the knobs have a cheap feel
  • A couple of buyers have reported some fret buzz

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers report being happy with their choice and especially feel this bass guitar is an excellent value for the money. Some customers were unsatisfied with a couple of the knobs having a cheap feel but replaced them with others without issue.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This bass guitar has everything you need as a beginner – it is sleek, stylish, and comfortable to play. Although this is a full-scale bass guitar, the slim neck and the type of wood make it easy to handle, even for those with smaller hands.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass guitar is best-suited for someone looking for an affordable, yet sturdy option. It is an excellent choice for a first-time buyer, but a professional bass guitarist with a higher budget and more precise needs might look elsewhere.

Bottom Line

This is an excellent choice for a first bass guitar for someone looking to start playing as a hobby or even to pursue music as a career. The minor issues of the feel of the knobs or possible buzz from the fret table are not unforgivable and can be fixed with some fine-tuning.

Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar in Black

PROS

  • Sturdy and good quality design from a famous brand
  • All models receive final setup and inspection in the U.S.A.
  • Noise-free Humbucker pickup with custom controls ensures a fantastic sound
  • Includes a ceramic pickup and 2-band active preamp for volume, treble, and bass
  • Fabulous, iconic StingRay design – this bass guitar is going to steal everyone’s attention

CONS

  • Although this purchase includes setup, you might still have to do some tuning yourself
  • The quality, although good, does not match the expensive-looking design of the bass guitar

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report being very happy with their purchase, and some even say this guitar was as good as some of their much more expensive models. This bass guitar was reported to be comfortable and quick to play. Some report needing to adjust the setup themselves.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This bass guitar stands out because it is an iconic make from a well-known brand. The design is stylish and eye-catching, without being flashy or too “show-offish”. Not only is it a classic look, but the quality and sound are also amazing. It is not only popular with beginners but also those who have a long history of playing.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass guitar is an excellent choice for someone who wants style and quality. As mentioned, it is an excellent choice for a beginner but will also provide a satisfying experience for more experienced players, too. If you want a classic choice, you have found it!

Bottom Line

Providing style and good sound, you have the whole package here. Although this bass guitar is set up before delivery, you will most likely have to do your own setup also. This is because they are easily affected by delivery, so don’t let it put you off.

Yamaha TRBX174 Old Violin Sunburst Agathis Body, 4-String Electric Bass Guitar

PROS

  • Great quality fit and finish
  • A favorite with pros and beginners alike
  • Individually adjustable bridge system fitted
  • An affordable option without compromising on quality
  • Beautiful design with several color options to choose from

CONS

  • Some report issues with quality control and delivery
  • Has a slightly larger body than some other bass guitars

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers report this to be a good value for money. Buyers were especially happy with the active controls that give you more room to adjust the sound for your personal preferences. A couple of buyers reported issues with delivery and the guitar not being packaged securely enough with slight damage on arrival but this doesn’t occur often.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The biggest reason this guitar is on our list is its excellent quality, paired with a reasonable price tag. The variety of controls means this bass guitar is not only suited for beginners but is a viable choice for experienced players.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a perfect choice for those passionate about creating their own, personal sound. However, if you are a beginner and are worried about having too many functions, and want something straightforward, you may want to consider something else. On the other hand, as you develop as a player, you may be glad you have more room to play with the sound.

Bottom Line

All in all, this is a great choice for a novice or an experienced player. It is most notable for the affordability and adjustable bridge system. Some slight issues have been reported with delivery. These should be reported to the seller, who is responsible for providing a replacement if the item is damaged. There is always a risk when delivering easily breakable items.

Fender Mustang PJ Bass - Pau Ferro Fingerboard - Sonic Blue

PROS

  • Adjustable sound and comfortable to play
  • The classic Mustang design never goes out of style
  • Three-way toggle pickup switch – providing bridge or neck pickup, or both
  • Features a short scale length for comfortability – especially good for beginners
  • Hardtail bridge gives solid tuning stability, more precise intonation, and an increased sustain

CONS

  • More expensive than other models
  • Slightly bigger than some of the other bass guitars

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report this model to provide a comfortable playing experience and a good, quality sound. It is an overall good product, with easy adjustability and a wide variety of tones. The short scale neck means it is a suitable size for most people.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a very sturdy yet comfortable model, making it suitable for beginners. The sleek and classic design, finished off with chrome, makes it stand out as a stylish choice. The combination of a PJ pickup and the tone of a short-scale bass make the sound rich and pleasant.

Who Will Use This Most

This model is not exclusively for beginners. It is an excellent choice for a first bass guitar. As it is slightly pricey, this makes is best-suited for someone serious about their musical hobby, who will put their purchase to good use.

Bottom Line

Although not the cheapest, this bass guitar is an excellent choice for anyone looking for unique sounds and who is serious about their bass guitar hobby. It is well worth the money, as it is likely to help you pursue your musical passion for years and years to come.

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Jazz Bass - Laurel Fingerboard - Brown Sunburst

PROS

  • An eye-catching design
  • Made especially for beginners
  • Amazing quality for a very reasonable price
  • Clear tone and a punchy low-end – a classic sound
  • Rosewood fingerboard provides a comfortable playing experience suited for any style of playing

CONS

  • Advertising for beginners might put some people off
  • Not best suited for the smallest players – slightly bulky

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report being amazed by the quality of this bass guitar that has focused its marketing on beginners. Users say this model is even better than some of its way more expensive cousins. The set up and sound are also well-rated. Many reviewers rated this bass guitar extremely high overall.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This model is designed for beginners, which makes it stand out to us as an ideal choice. However, it is also of fantastic value. For the quality of this bass guitar, Fender could be charging a whole lot more. With deep tones and a comfortable playing experience for this price, it has to be one of our favorites.

Who Will Use This Most

This is an excellent choice for beginners but also for those more experienced, who are looking to invest in a new instrument. The amazing sound and comfortable design guarantee a lovely playing experience. This bass is suitable for anyone wanting to invest in their hobby and looking for something of amazing quality.

Bottom Line

Although not the cheapest option on our list, it is one of the most popular choices. If you are serious about music, this could very well be the perfect choice of bass guitar for you.

What Do I Need To Know Before Buying A Bass Guitar? 

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when considering a bass guitar. Here are a few things to remember when making your decision.

Electric or Acoustic?

Yes, there is a difference - and it does matter! An acoustic bass makes sound when the strings vibrate. An electric bass makes sound when the strings vibrate and are converted into an electric signal that is translated by an amplifier into sound. When it comes to bass guitars, it is almost always best to purchase an electric bass guitar. You can control more features and if you decide to play in concerts or gigs, you can easily do so.

What Type of Music Do You Want to Play?

Whether you enjoy metal, rock, blues, or country, knowing what you want to play will affect which bass guitar you buy. Some basses are made to suit certain genres of music, whereas others are more general in sound. It is worth your while to purchase a bass guitar that is suited to the type of music you want to play.

Is it Advisable to Buy a Bass Guitar Online?

As this is likely your first guitar, we highly suggest you purchase it online. This is mainly because you will have access to more models. People who have bought and used these guitars have left reviews and remarks which you can take into consideration. Plus, the pros and cons of each guitar will be mentioned. When purchasing in-store, you may find the agent only mentions the advantages and steers you toward more costly options.

Conclusion

Hopefully, now you know some of the choices you need to make before buying a bass guitar. A lot of these will depend on your personal playing preference. However, if you are not playing yet, this might be difficult to determine. We hope this article gives you some insight into what models are out there, how they differ, and which may be suitable for your use. 

People Also Ask

Here are some common FAQs:

How Much Should I Spend on My First Bass Guitar?

Buying a new bass guitar can set you back quite a bit, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. New bass guitars cost anywhere from $180 to $6000 depending on quality, finish, and brand. A used bass can go for $80 to $1400 and are typically as good as new. So, it is best that you shop around a bit.

This will also depend on your budget, and how serious you are with your hobby. If you are sure you will be playing for years, you should consider spending more money on getting something of good quality. If you are unsure about whether playing is for you, you might want to start with something cheaper.