Best Bass Guitars for Metal – 2019 Top Picks Reviewed

Bass guitars play a vital role in all types of music, but nowhere is this more true than in the crunchy, deep music of metal. Many qualities will stand out and shine as you shred that wicked bass lick or solo the vibrations moving you down deep in your soul. 

But with so many options on the market, you may think that finding the right one is like picking one up and being able to play like Lemmy from Motorhead… a long shot! Though we may not be able to help you play like any of the bass gods of metal, we can pull together an awesomely hardcore list of the best bass guitars for metal. 

In this guide, we will take an in-depth look at some of those as well as give you the lowdown on other important information we feel will be handy when beginning your decision-making process. So here we gooooo!

Comparison of the Best Bass Guitars for Metal

Product

Rating

Price

Schecter Stiletto Studio-5 Electric Bass

Schecter Stiletto Studio-5 Electric Bass (5 String, Honey Satin)

Best Overall

Fender Steve Harris Precision Bass

Fender Steve Harris Precision Bass, Maple Neck, Olympic White with Stripe

Runner-up

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Electric Bass PJ

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Beginnger Electric Bass - PJ - Olympic White

Best for the Money

Yamaha TRBX204

Yamaha TRBX204 GRM 4-String Bass Guitar, Gray Metallic

Epiphone THUNDERBIRD-IV

Epiphone THUNDERBIRD-IV (Reverse), Electric Bass Guitar

What’s Different About a Bass Guitar That’s Great for Metal?

There are a lot of qualities that need to be present to make a bass suitable for metal. The first is the pick-ups. Passive preamps are great for things like hard rock or jazz, but when you are dealing with deep and dirty tones of metal, you will want an onboard preamp so that you can get the tone you are looking for. 

A major factor to look at in variations of basses is the tonewoods. When digging deep into the low end, you will want a tonewood that offers resonance and depth; so, a metal bass will be constructed of deep, woody tonal woods like mahogany.

Another thing that differs from the regular bass is the string number. A lot of metal bassists love the five-string, but that is not a universal feeling. 

What Size of Bass Do I Need?

Basses are not one size fits all by any means! So, when looking to find your perfect little black t-shirt of a metal bass, you will want to consider a few things. 

The first thing is the build. This means that when you are a younger or slimmer player, you will want to look for a bass that is made of a lighter tonewood or has a better strap system for support. On top of that, when you yourself are of a smaller build, you often have smaller hands, so looking at the scale length and neck construction is vital. All these factors will play a key role in making sure you can sling the right size ax on stage. 

For those of a smaller frame, you will want to look for a shorter scale length of the fretboard, and a less dense neck would be nice too so that you will get a full range of playability.

If you do not have this issue, then sticking with a standard scale length fretboard would be fine; however, if you want a faster play on your bass, then go with the shorter scale length and see what you can do.

Why Did These Bass Guitars Make Our List?

There are always factors that when pulled together come to exemplify the perfect instrument or product. With the basses we have gathered below, all of them have some combination of the following attributes. These attributes are what we used to compile our list.

Here are the biggest components to look at when considering your choice: 

Necks

There are three main types of neck:

  • Bolt-on: This type of neck is best for string vibration transferal, offers better stability, and helps improve sustain, all of which are great for metal.
  • Set: This has good resonance and sustain, but it is hard to adjust if needed.
  • Thru-Body: This neck construction doesn’t allow any vibrations, providing the ultimate response and sustain; another excellent choice for metal.

Bridges

Bridges play a crucial part in the crafting of your bass's sound. This is the piece that the vibrations are sent through that creates the tone and resonance that the pick-ups take in and amplify. You can move these up, down, forward, and backward to adjust action and intonation. You will want to look for a bridge that has more weight and dimension to be able to transfer more vibrations to get that crunchy metal sound we all love.

Pick-ups

Three main types of pick-ups help capture vibration and turn them into electrical signals. When looking at pick-ups, you will want to pay attention to where they are mounted, as well as the type. Closer to the fretboard will leave you with smooth low-end sound, but for metal, you want a little edgier sound, and that comes when the pick-ups are closer to the bridge.

Types of Pick-ups:

  • Single Coil: These crafted a crisper sound and can be quite noisy.
  • Humbucker: No hum and provides a fuller sound; can get muddy when played loud. 
  • Split-Coil: This is a single coil split into parts; offers a quieter play with the tone of the single coil.

Passive/Active Electronics

This is the internal wiring built into your bass. There are two types:

Passive

These work without a power source and often have less control over sound crafting via knobs. Guitars with passive electronics also have a more traditional sound.

Active

This means you need power and will bring an enhanced control over the tone as well as a stronger volume. Active electronics may be the best option for metal.

Review of the Best Bass Guitars for Metal

Now with a little knowledge, we can turn this up to 11 and get to the good stuff. Here is our comprehensive list of the best bass guitars for metal on the market today:

Schecter Stiletto Studio-5 Electric Bass (5 String, Honey Satin)

PROS

  • Nice solid electronics
  • Offers incredibly expressive tones
  • Crafted with high-grade pick-ups
  • Built with excellent tuning stability
  • Great quality, high powered sound

CONS

  • A little on the heavy side
  • Just an average-looking bass

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers talk this bass up for its high-powered sound and solid electronics, both of which they feel outweigh the basic design of the piece, especially for metal.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason we chose this as our overall best option is plain and simple -- the level of electronics built into this highly adaptable instrument. With a 3-band EQ and high-quality pick-ups, you will find yourself able to craft your tunes to just the right level of sound perfect for those heart-stopping notes.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass is great for the metal head with some experience due to its 5-string configuration. That said, the heft and build of this bass require a bit of strength, so a smaller framed bassist may find it challenging to handle.

Bottom Line

This 5-string bass is a prime choice for those about to rock, and once you slap that first string, the audience will salute you. If you want pick-ups that will make monster music, then this is the bass guitar for you. Plus, its timbre is simply unmatched in its price range.

Fender Steve Harris Precision Bass, Maple Neck, Olympic White with Stripe

PROS

  • Easy to play neck
  • Excellent looking design
  • Built with solid sound
  • Great feel when playing
  • Nice quality passive tones

CONS

  • Weight might not be ideal for some musicians
  • Some issues with warping

What Recent Buyers Report

Though there are a few reports of the neck warping a bit while being shipped, overall the recent purchasers of this instrument love its neck, which makes it exceptionally easy to play. The design looks great, which was a big plus for users, and the robust construction is ideal for all those headbanging gigs and practices.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Fender is a fantastic bass for any metal enthusiast for many reasons, but we believe its finest feature is the overall build of the piece. It has a fast, easy to play neck, a hi-mass bridge, and pick-ups that limit hum, all of which make for some killer metal bass.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass is great for musicians who spend a lot of time playing, whether it is on stage or in a studio. The comfortable neck allows for prolonged use and awesome playability.

Bottom Line

Fender has done it again with the Steve Harris Precision Bass. This model offers everything you want to craft a metal sound that will have your audience headbanging for hours.

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Beginnger Electric Bass - PJ - Olympic White

PROS

  • Nice aesthetic
  • Fast playing and smooth
  • Provides nice warm tones
  • Price versus value is amazing
  • Versatility of tone from dual pick-ups

CONS

  • Issues with tuning 
  • Not as high-quality as other options

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent reviews demonstrate that buyers are thoroughly pleased with this budget-friendly bass. Though some have noted that it may take a few attempts to tune and have it stick, most find the look to be pleasing and the neck fast-playing and smooth.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were very impressed with the quality of sound you get from this bass and the fact that compared to other comparable alternatives, its price tag is surprisingly affordable. One of these things that makes this bass so superior in sound quality is its dual pick-ups, which offer a degree of versatility unlike any others in its price range.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass is great for the novice metal player. Often when you get into an instrument, you feel like you must sacrifice sound for budget, but with this option, you get both.

Bottom Line

Built with quality in mind, this model from Squier by Fender will give you that metal edge that you need to create music that inspires. We all know that the bass guitar player often gets overlooked in a band setting, but with this guitar, you will look metal through and through.

Yamaha TRBX204 GRM 4-String Bass Guitar, Gray Metallic

PROS

  • Nicely constructed
  • Easy to use electronics
  • Offers a variety of tones
  • Wide variety of color options
  • Crafted with high-quality pick-ups

CONS

  • Issues with saddle quality
  • Weight may be an issue for some
  • Not good for small-handed players

What Recent Buyers Report

This instrument has many customers talking about the quality of craftsmanship and the way Yamaha did so while keeping it easy to use. While there are a few customers who have found fault with the quality of the saddle, by and large this bass has them ready to strap in and blow those speakers out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The design and attention to the qualities needed to craft a high-quality bass for metal are what struck us the most. Built with the perfect tonewood and fitted with easy to control knobs for sound crafting, this Yamaha bass was an obvious choice for our list.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass is great for the metal bassist that is hitting the road. It may not be light, but with all the careful consideration put into its electronics and build, this bass is not only a quality sound generation instrument but is durable to boot.

Bottom Line

Though many bassists go for the tried and true names like Fender and Epiphone, this Yamaha is just as great of an option. So, if you go with this, just know that you will never feel any buyer’s remorse as you slide across the stage.

Epiphone THUNDERBIRD-IV (Reverse), Electric Bass Guitar

PROS

  • Cool design
  • Superb deep tones
  • Price is affordable
  • Awesome passive pick-ups
  • Built-in high-quality electronics

CONS

  • Poor quality neck dive
  • Weight may be an issue

What Recent Buyers Report

Designed with a full-scale fretboard and high-quality tonewoods, this bass is built to impress. Many recent buyers love the fact they can rely on Epiphone for quality instruments; in this case, the build leaves nothing to be desired, with both younger and older players enjoying the “metal” look.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Everything about this bass screams quality, from its cool design to its overall build, right down to its electronics. This model is simply one of the best basses out there today. The pick-ups give a kick where it is needed -- it is ideal for all those big bass notes that you need to drive the melody.

Who Will Use This Most

This bass is great for any metal musician that is looking for a nice design and tremendous quality. There isn’t one player that this amazing bass would benefit more than the other. Whether you are looking for a beginner bass guitar for your garage metal band or you are a seasoned pro looking for a practice bass to rough-house with, you will love this bass guitar.

Bottom Line

While this bass guitar may not be the best overall, if you choose this option for your metal needs, you will not be sorry. It is a high-quality bass that offers tonal quality that is absolutely rocking! Plus, it is really affordable, so you can use it as your practice bass or touring bass if you are worried about damaging your more expensive guitar.

Can You Really Find a Quality Bass Guitar That’s Affordable?

This question is often asked when looking at things that may require a bit of an investment, and in the end, the absolute honest answer is yes. Many quality products don’t come with a hefty price tag and yet still offer the same quality of sound. 

Quality and value are not synonymous when you are hunting for a bass that will allow you to rock out to your heart’s content. Though the higher-end options may come with better tonewoods used in their construction and higher quality electronics, you can find a nice budget-friendly model that will gain warm, crunchy tones and help you solidify your rock star status.

Conclusion

In the end, finding the best bass guitar for metal is really about your preference and sound desires. Hopefully, with the information and options we've provided, you feel better armed with the capability to find the bass that will give you the sound and the feel you are going for.