Intro

Not sure which bass to buy? Fed-up with crappy fake Amazon reviews, reviews from inexperienced bassists, or blatantly biased reviews? We got you covered with our no B.S. reviews…

How? Our beginner bass shootout was done BLINDFOLDED by our pro reviewers. No B.S., no bias, just rock solid reliable reviews you can trust.

Blindfolded Bass Shootout

Too Lazy to Read All This?

Get right to the meat…

Jump to the reviews click here.
Jump to the final verdict and the winners click here.

How We Reviewed the Basses

Choosing the Contenders

We scoured the web for hours creating a list of every single bass guitar we could find under $500, ending up with a list of about 200 basses yep — 200 😯.

In order to get from 200 basses down to 7 contenders for the shootout, we needed a lot of tricks. Here’s how we did that…

1. Known Brands Only. We started by eliminating basses from companies with no reputation as bass builders, and basses that didn’t have any reviews to be found anywhere online. While we’re interested to review basses from “unknowns” in the future, it’s safest as a beginner to stick to the popular brands so that’s what we did.

2. Four Strings. We decided to stick to four string basses. Beginners will have an easier time learning on a four string bass, and then trying out a five or six string bass later on if they’re inclined to do so.

3. Standard Scale Length. For the most part, we stuck to standard 34” scale length basses (one 35” bass snuck in there), which are suitable for many people but not all. If your hands are particularly small, it’s worth checking out short-scale basses (which we’ll review in the future).

4. Two Pickups. We limited our choices to basses with two pickups. Single pickup basses have their place in the world, but my opinion as a teacher is that two pickup basses are better for most beginners because they offer more tone options, so that students can explore a wider variety of tones as they “find their sound” and explore different styles of music.

From there, we still had way too many basses to tackle at once, so we used a combination of looking at reviews, popularity, brand reputation, plus more than a little bit of professional intuition, to choose our short list of seven basses for the showdown.

The Contenders

NO B.S. REVIEW PROCESS

As much as humanly possible, we wanted to remove personal bias from these reviews. To do this, I blindfolded my two bass playing buddies so they wouldn’t know what bass they were playing until the end of the review. All three of us are experienced in a wide variety of musical styles, which gave us a basis to judge tone and feel in different instruments.

Pro Reviewer Gio Benedetti

Pro Reviewer Ben Burleigh

We approached this review process with genuine curiosity and desire to bring you the best possible recommendations for beginner basses. We aren’t paid by or affiliated with any of the brands we reviewed, and I told my reviewers not to pull any punches.

To make the group test even fairer, we took all seven basses to our bass tech Kent Fossgreen, the go-to guy for instrument and amp repair in the area (and also my dad!). First we inspected construction quality and factory setup.

Build Quality Inspection

We then put brand new strings on all the basses and did setups so that differences in setup wouldn’t affect our reviewers’ ratings.

In the review room, we monitored the basses out of my TC Electronic RH450 amplifier with RS210 cabinet with the same flat EQ settings for every bass. Again, the only tonal/EQ tweaks that happened at any point in the review process were on the basses themselves.

For the audio you’ll hear on the video reviews I recorded all of our test basses direct into my Audient iD14 digital audio interface running into Logic Pro. In order to give you the best sense possible of the actual “dry” sound of these basses I used no compression or EQ at any point. This is not how bass is usually recorded so keep in mind that all these basses would sound better if the signal was processed in the usual ways.

We Used the Same Strings On All the Basses

HOW WE RATED THE BASSES

Our four review criteria were Playability, Tone, Comfort, and Versatility. Here’s what those terms mean as I explained them to my blindfolded reviewers:

1. Playability. This focused primarily on the neck of the bass – how comfortable it felt to move around, how the string spacing felt, thoughts about upper fret access, string tension, and if any glaring issues came up like sharp fret edges or dead spots.

2. Tone. We explored the tones we could get by sticking with standard fingerstyle technique and changing the knob settings on the bass. This rating came from overall impression of the tone of the instrument, the quality of the pickups/electronics as perceived by our ears, and if we could imagine actually using the bass on a gig.

3. Comfort. This criteria had the least influence in the overall rating. I asked my reviewers how the bass felt on their body in terms of weight and balance.

4. Versatility. I had reviewers try out a variety of techniques on the bass like picking and slapping to determine if those techniques were physically comfortable to perform, and also if the bass responded with some good sounding tones.

We also examined each bass for construction quality with our bass tech, but since none of the basses had glaring issues this wasn’t factored into the rating system. We did include interesting tech info in the Tech Corner for each bass though.

The overall rating for each bass is an aggregate of all three reviewers ratings.

General Tech Notes

All of our basses shipped in good condition with a playable setup. Our bass tech Kent said in regards to the setups and quality control we observed, “You could buy any of these basses confidently online.” Basses made in Indonesia came with slightly higher setups than basses coming from China, but they were very playable across the board.

Our Bass Tech, Kent

One consistent issue we noticed is that basses with closed gear tuners had loose tuner bushings.

They had probably only been hand-tightened in the factory, which may have been done on purpose to avoid issues when basses are shipped around the world. You should be aware of this so that you can grab a hex wrench and tighten those bushings up when you get your bass, otherwise your tuners might flop around or fall apart.

Epiphone/Tobias Toby Deluxe IV

Reviewed at $229

Playability
80%
Tone
50%
Comfort
60%
Versatility
60%
★★★★★

VERDICT Did this bass live up to the Michael Tobias name? In our opinion, not so much. The only sounds that really impressed us from this bass were the aggressive rock sounds. For anything else, keep looking.

Epiphone/Tobias Toby Deluxe IV Full Review

The first thing you might wonder about this bass is “why is the name so complicated?” Here’s the deal: Michael Tobias has been a respected bass luthier for decades. After a couple years of collaboration with Gibson/Epiphone in the early 90’s, he left to make basses on his own under the name MTD (Michael Tobias Design), but Gibson still owns the “Tobias” name.

So this bass is made in the style of Michael Tobias, which set our expectations high, having had the pleasure of playing some of his custom instruments. Let’s find out if it merits the Tobias name!

Tech Corner

This bass needed a little more setup than the others, but it set up nicely. The 9V battery for the active EQ didn’t have its own compartment, instead it was designed to fit into a clip in the main compartment. However, the battery had come loose from the clip when we opened up the bass, which would cause rattling inside the body of the bass.

Playability 8/10

I love the 24 fret neck and it feels easy to use the high frets, although the neck is a little thicker than I like. The string spacing is a little wider than I need but that could be good for a beginner.

Tone 5/10

This bass’s default tone is thin with a ton of top end coming from the tone knob. Most of the tones we explored really needed the active bass boost to sound good, which isn’t my favorite – I’d rather the bass sound good “plain.” On the other hand, this was our favorite bass boost knob out of all the basses we tried, it had a nice focused sound. My favorite tones from this bass were with the tone maxed and some bass boost, provided some solid aggressive rock options. I couldn’t get a quacky funk sound I liked, I just couldn’t stand the brittleness of this bridge pickup.

Comfort 6/10

The weight of this bass felt fine to all of us, and the neck balance was good.

Versatility 6/10

I had a huge problem slapping on this bass because the bridge protruded in a way that dug into my arm unpleasantly. This may not affect all players depending on arm length and technique, but for me this alone makes the bass not even an option. Ben and Gio didn’t experience that issue with the bridge, so they enjoyed the slap tones more than I did.

Specs

ManufacturerEpiphone
SeriesToby
ModelToby Deluxe IV
Manufacturer Websitehttp://www.epiphone.com/…
Price$229
Active or passiveActive (bass boost)
Scale length34″
Weight7.8lb / 3.54kg
Number of frets24
Body woodRadiata
Neck woodHard maple
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius12″
PickupsTobias TBR™ Dual Rail Humbucker x2
Knob functionsMaster volume, Pickup blend, Passive tone, Active bass boost

Snapshots

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar

Reviewed at $249

Playability
70%
Tone
60%
Comfort
50%
Versatility
70%
★★★★★

VERDICT Squier makes some really solid entry-level instruments, but this Jaguar has a couple issues. Gio described the active bass boost as a “doom knob” that could be really dangerous on your first gig if not handled carefully, and I totally agree.

This bass had a wide spread in the ratings between the three of us. Despite the bass boost issue, Gio liked it a lot more than Ben and I did, which he readily admits may be because a higher-end Fender Jaguar is one of the basses he plays regularly so this bass felt very familiar.

It’s not the worst beginner bass you could choose, but let’s keep looking and see if we can find something better.

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar

Squier, Fender’s budget line of instruments, has been a standby of the beginner bass market for a long time. Having played the higher priced Fender Jaguar in the past, I was curious to try out the less expensive Squier model and see if it would reproduce the classic Fender sounds we wanted. Let’s find out!

Tech Corner

The Jaguar came with the action a little high, but the intonation was good and the factory strings were nice and fresh.

Playability 7/10

I had fun playing this bass even though the way it feels isn’t really what I like in general. It’s got a relatively thick Fender neck, and you’ve got the typical Fender problem of a huge neck block and bad upper fret access, which is a problem for my playing style. But personal preference aside there, the neck feels good to move around (except those top frets). There seems to be a dead spot on the G string at the 6th fret.

Tone 6/10

All three of us agreed that the neck pickup was much more exciting than the bridge pickup, lending some classic Fender Precision-style tones. We found some nice warm vintage soul tones from the neck pickup with the tone rolled down. Again, the bass sounds a little thin without the active bass boost, and the bridge pickup lacked the “quack” and “punch” we wanted.

Comfort 5/10

Fenders/Squiers always feel a little heavy and clunky to me, and the headstocks are so bulky that the neck tends to dip quite a bit, and I found this to be true with this particular Squier Jaguar too.

Versatility 7/10

Fingerstyle, slapping, and picking all felt great on this bass physically, and there were a couple solid tones to be found with each technique.

Specs

ManufacturerFender
SeriesSquier Vintage Modified
ModelVintage Modified Jaguar
Manufacturer Websitehttp://shop.fender.com/…
Price$249.99
Active or passiveActive (bass boost)
Scale length34″ (864 mm)
Weight8.8lb
Number of frets20
Body woodBasswood
Neck woodMaple
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius9.5″ (241 mm)
PickupsNeck: Vintage style Precision bass, Bridge: Standard Jazz bass
Knob functionsNeck volume, Bridge volume, Passive tone, Active bass boost

Snapshots

Cort Action 4 PJ

Reviewed at $199

Playability
80%
Tone
60%
Comfort
80%
Versatility
70%
★★★★★

VERDICT Is this lesser known bass worth checking out? Yes, definitely. We were all really pleasantly surprised by this bass. It wasn’t the best bass we played, but for the money you would be hard pressed to find a better instrument. We’re very interested to try out Cort’s more expensive offerings later down the line.

Cort Action Full Review

Cort came to our attention thanks to jazz bassist Jeff Berlin, who in 2014 became the first big name bassist to endorse Cort instruments. While we were focusing on more popular brands for these reviews, we had a feeling Cort would be worth throwing in the mix.

The Cort Action is also one of the less expensive basses in our review group. So how will the cheaper, least well-known bass stack up against the big names?

Tech Corner

The factory setup was great out of the box, with no buzz even though the trussrod was flat. Maybe the best out of the box setup we saw. We did have to bottom out the E string on the bridge while dialing in the action, which indicates less setup flexibility than we’d like.

Playability 8/10

I love the 24-fret neck on a bass this inexpensive. That said, I wish the cutaway went deeper so I could access the top two frets more comfortably. As it is I have to cram my hand in there a little bit which limits my mobility and ability to play chords up there. I also wish the neck was narrower at the lower frets. But overall, we’re pretty impressed with the neck and playability of this bass.

Tone 6/10

I don’t know if the sparkly pink finish was getting to my head, but there was something I just really liked about this bass’s tone that sounded “sweet” or “earnest.” The bass does seem to be missing some high end – the tone knob doesn’t get very bright, so it’s hard to find crystal clarity for harmonics, and also the upper mids and treble for an aggressive rock sound. For general use, I would keep the tone all the way up, and roll it off for tubby vintage sounds.

Since this is a passive instrument, there aren’t many tone options, but what tones there are sound good.

Comfort 8/10

This bass feels nice and light, and the neck balances well and doesn’t drop.

Versatility 7/10

Fingerstyle and slap both felt great on this bass. While using a pick, I noticed that the corners on the neck pickup were a little sharp when my hand hit them from that particular angle – not dangerously so, just uncomfortable. If this was your bass, you could probably sand them down to be smooth though.

Specs

ManufacturerCort
SeriesAction
ModelAction 4 PJ
Manufacturer Websitehttp://www.cortguitars.com/…
Price$199
Active or passivePassive
Scale length34″
Weight8lb
Number of frets24
Body woodAgathis
Neck woodCanadian hard maple
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius15.75″ (400 mm)
PickupsPowersound PSEB4-4/F & PSEB1-4/R
Knob functionsNeck volume, Bridge volume, Tone

Snapshots

Ibanez Gio GSR200

Reviewed at $199

Playability
60%
Tone
30%
Comfort
60%
Versatility
60%
★★★★★

VERDICT Despite its popularity and favorable reviews elsewhere online, the resounding chorus from all our pro bassist reviewers is that this bass sucks. Don’t buy it.

My one regret with selecting basses for these reviews is that I would love to hear the cheapest bass in the Ibanez SR line up against the Yamaha TRBX304 we look at later, they’re at the same price point and have a lot in common. The Ibanez SRs I’ve played are much better basses than this GSR200.

Ibanez Gio GSR200 Full Review

Ibanez is one of the most popular bass guitar manufacturers, and this is one of the most popular beginner basses we could find – does it deserve the spotlight? Let’s see what happens.

Tech Corner

The Ibanez came with a decent setup, no buzz, and the factory strings were okay. It set up really well. We hated the flimsy chrome plastic knobs. On the plus side, the headstock has a slick little trussrod cover that flips open by hand, no tools required.

Playability 6/10

This bass felt pretty average to play. The neck was playable and there was decent access all the way to the 22nd fret. The neck feels a little wider and thicker than I personally like.

Tone 3/10

This bass had an obnoxious active bass boost knob that added a ton of gain and boominess. I couldn’t get any of the funky punchiness I wanted out of the bridge pickup even when I plucked right over it. Overall the bass sounded dull even with the passive tone maxed.

Comfort 6/10

Fine.

Versatility 6/10

Plucking, slapping, and picking all felt fine on this bass physically, but again the tones were really lacking all around.

Specs

ManufacturerIbanez
SeriesGSR
ModelGSR200
Manufacturer Websitehttp://www.ibanez.com/…
Price$199.99
Active or passiveActive (bass boost)
Scale length34″
Weight7.3lb
Number of frets22
Body woodPoplar
Neck woodMaple
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius12″
PickupsStd. P neck pickup, Std. J bridge pickup
Knob functionsNeck volume, Bridge volume, Passive tone, Active bass boost

Snapshots

Dean Edge 10 PJ

Reviewed at $239

Playability
40%
Tone
20%
Comfort
60%
Versatility
40%
★★★★★

VERDICT Despite all the positive reviews elsewhere, this bass did not fare well in our tests. All of three of us agreed – only buy this bass if you just care about looks and have matching white shoes.

Otherwise, look elsewhere. With the huge disparity between this bass’s user reviews and our experience with it here, I have to guess that most bass reviews are written by beginners who aren’t qualified to comment on the differences between instruments and how they stack up to professional quality instruments.

Dean Edge 10 PJ Full Review

The Dean Edge 10 PJ has very positive user reviews. Will it withstand the test of three pro bass players?

Tech Corner

This bass came to us with no buzz and playable action, but the intonation was a hair off on the A and D strings. The pickups had a surprisingly high output volume, which later proved to be an issue when trying to record this bass. There were subtle paint lines on the finish on the back of bass. The bridge saddles were already up against the bridge so we weren’t able to lower the action as much as desired.

Playability 4/10

This bass only has 22 frets, but the top two felt hard to reach around the cutaway. We didn’t really like the overall feel, which we ascribe to some combination of the setup, string tension, and neck.

Tone 2/10

Bummer. Overall this bass sounded boomy and undefined. The electronics were confusing at first since they didn’t match the manufacturer’s description. I couldn’t get a single sound I really liked. The bridge pickup is in a really strange position, almost three inches from the bridge, where most bridge pickups are one or two inches from the bridge, which resulted in a lack of satisfying “quack” and “punch” that we expect from a bridge pickup.

Comfort 6/10

This one felt a little heavy. The neck balance was good.

Versatility 4/10

The space between the fingerboard and neck pickup felt too tight for me to be comfortable slapping, particularly for doing index finger pops on the lower strings. It was hard to find a spot for the pick too, making this bass the most difficult physically to pick and slap that we’ve seen.

Specs

ManufacturerDean
SeriesEdge
ModelEdge 10 PJ
Manufacturer Websitehttp://www.deanguitars.com/…
Price$239
Active or passiveActive (bass boost)
Scale length35″
Weight8.9lb
Number of frets22
Body woodBasswood
Neck woodMaple
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius16″
PickupsDMT Design P, DMT Design J
Knob functionsNeck volume, Neck tone, Bridge volume, Bridge tone

Snapshots

Yamaha TRBX304

Reviewed at $350

Playability
70%
Tone
80%
Comfort
80%
Versatility
90%
★★★★★

VERDICT Do you get what you pay for? For the most part, the answer is yes. The electronics in this bass operate at higher standard than any other bass we looked at. To quote our bass tech Kent, “The Yamaha is a really nice modern bass, it’s got a lot of really great features for an entry level bass. The fit and finish is really nice, the hardware’s good… a step above everything else we’ve looked at. I’m pretty impressed. You definitely get what you pay for”

Yamaha TRBX304 Full Review

Do you get what you pay for with beginner basses? We’re gonna find out by reviewing the Yamaha TRBX304, which is the most expensive bass we’ll look at in this review series.

We’d like to thank Loud and Clear Music in Cotati, CA for providing this bass to us for our reviews. If you’re in the area, go in there and check out their ever-changing selection of new and consignment basses and other instruments.

Let’s check out the TRBX304 and find out if spending a little more on a bass pays off.

Tech Corner

The factory setup came with a little buzz on the G string, but we were able to adjust it out with no problems. The trussrod actually didn’t need any tweaking, maybe because the five piece neck is more stable than the solid maple necks. The Yamaha has higher quality hardware overall than we’ve seen on the other basses.

Playability 7/10

I felt really comfortable on this neck. I love the 24 frets but I wish the cutaway went deeper so I could reach all the frets without changing my technique. There was something about the string tension that Gio and I didn’t like, it maybe felt a little floppier than we wanted, but this might be resolved by setting the action a little higher.

Tone 8/10

This is where the extra money you pay for this bass goes. Better electronics means more versatility and better functioning knobs. Since the electronics in this bass are of a higher quality than we’ve looked at in the other basses in this series, any issues we had are more subtle.

Overall the tones coming out of this instrument sounded very modern and somehow metallic to me, which matched the look of the bass. Even with the bass boosted a bit and the treble all the way down, I couldn’t quite find the thumpy tubby sound I would want for Motown or soul. The neck pickup had a great growl to it. The bridge pickup is solid and has more low end than the cheaper bridge pickups, but like every other bridge pickup we looked at in these reviews it’s still not quite giving me the punch that I want.

While I liked the 5-way EQ selector at first, my enthusiasm waned over time. It felt a little too complex for beginner use, and I didn’t love the EQ curves. The slap setting felt a little boomy, and the solo setting had a nice gain boost but added extra low end I didn’t want.

Those issues aside, all three of us gave this good marks for tone. There were lots of usable tones, and the knobs responded well to our tweaks.

Comfort 8/10

Solid. Bonus point for the thumb rests on the pickups!

Versatility 9/10

Fingers, pick and slap were all easy to perform on this bass, and each had some good tones. I especially liked slapping on it, either with just the neck pickup or with both pickups balanced, it had a good modern sound.

Specs

ManufacturerYamaha
SeriesTRBX
ModelTRBX304
Manufacturer Websitehttps://usa.yamaha.com/…
Price$350
Active or passiveActive
Scale length34″
Weight9.1lb
Number of frets24
Body woodSolid mahogany
Neck woodMaple and mahogany 5pc
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius10″
PickupsMHB3n,MHB3b
Knob functionsMaster volume, Pickup blend, Bass boost/cut, Treble boost,cut, 5-way Performance EQ selector

Snapshots

Squier Vintage Modified Jazz

Reviewed at $349

Playability
60%
Tone
70%
Comfort
50%
Versatility
90%
★★★★★

VERDICT The verdict is in: this thing rocks. It’s built well, the electronics are nice and simple, and it gives you the sounds you want from a Jazz bass. Being a passive instrument, it doesn’t have as many tone options as we saw with the Yamaha TRBX304, but the sounds it has are great.

There was some disparity in our reviewing of this bass over the bridge pickup. My guess is that Ben and Gio would have both given higher ratings for tone if they could have heard my pickup height adjustment.

Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Full Review

The Jazz bass is one of the classic designs upon which many other basses are based. But can you really get the Jazz bass sound at this low price? Let’s find out how the Squier Vintage Modified Jazz performs when we put it to the test.

Tech Corner

The Jazz bass came with good intonation and no buzz. The action was a little high but playable. The factory strings were live and even.

Playability 6/10

This was a lot of fun to play. It had the same dead spot as the Jaguar on the 6th fret of the G string. I liked the neck gloss, but we all hate the typical Fender issues – huge neck block, not enough frets, and bad upper fret access. I would give it four stars for how much I enjoyed it, but minus one star for the Fender problems and for the dead spot.

Tone 7/10

Like any passive Fender bass, the Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass only has a few tonal options, but they are great options. The neck pickup soloed with the tone down give that nice “tubular” sound that Gio described, and bringing the tone up gives it a nice growl and click for digging into some hard rock.

Gio and Ben both experienced some disappointment with the bridge pickup tone, feeling it was missing some punch and quack (as we experienced across the board in this series). I was curious to see if I could improve the sound of this bass, so I tried bringing the bridge pickup a hair closer to the strings. After that I was much happier with the punchiness and output of the pickup. It actually sounded pretty good by itself with the tone most of the way up, and I finally got the funky punch and quack I’d been looking for in all these basses.

Comfort 5/10

This bass was the heaviest in our review group, and the neck dipped substantially due to the bulky Fender headstock. No comfort issues otherwise.

Versatility 9/10

Pick, fingers and slap all felt and sounded great on this bass! I particularly enjoy the slap sounds out of either the solo neck pickup, or both pickups combined.

Specs

ManufacturerFender
SeriesSquier Vintage Modified
ModelVintage Modified Jazz
Manufacturer Websitehttp://shop.fender.com/…
Price$349.99
Active or passivePassive
Scale length34″
Weight9.5lb
Number of frets20
Body woodBasswood
Neck woodMaple
Fingerboard woodRosewood
Fingerboard radius9.5″
PickupsFender-Designed Single-Coil Jazz Bass x2
Knob functionsNeck volume, Bridge volume, Tone

Snapshots

The Final Showdown

We’ve seen some great beginner basses, and some surprisingly lame ones. But which bass guitar punches above its weight to win the BassBuzz Beginner Bass award? Drum roll…

BASSBUZZ AWARDS BEST BEGINNER BASS

Overall Winner Yamaha TRBX304

The Yamaha TRBX304 had hands down the highest quality construction and electronics we looked at, and comes with a wide range of tones you can explore for different styles of music and bass playing.

Vintage Winner Squier Vintage Modified Jazz

While it was less versatile than the Yamaha, if you’re just looking for that classic growly-yet-refined sound of the Fender Jazz, you’ll get a wallet-friendly version of it with the Squier Vintage Modified Jazz. A simple, functional Fender-style bass with a few great sounds.

Budget Winner Cort Action 4 PJ

The Cort Action wasn’t the best bass we played, but for the price it was built well and had some cool features like a 24-fret neck. If you’re on a tight budget, this bass will perform as a beginner instrument no problem.

Some Pointers for Buying

Reviewing all these basses, having them setup, and having multiple reviewers play them was a big undertaking. What did we learn?

1. Active bass boosts — be wary. Me and my reviewers all share a concern about cheap active bass boosts. They have a HUGE effect on the output of the bass, so beginners need to be extremely careful about moving those knobs around on a gig where the bass is running through a house sound system. These basses also tended to sound thin without the bass boost, which makes me think these basses could have been better with higher quality passive pickups and no cheap/gimmicky active electronics. If you’re going for a bass under $300, you’re probably better off buying a passive instrument than getting a cheap bass boost “doom knob.”

2. Fret Access. We all love the classic tones you can get out of Fender basses, but really hate that huge block of wood at the neck joint and the terrible higher fret access. Fender needs to step it up in that area to attract players who like doing a lot of soloing, chords, tapping, and anything else that uses the upper register.

3. You Get What You Pay For. Based on what we saw with these seven basses, it seems to be largely true that “you get what you pay for.” The more expensive Yamaha TRBX304 had nicer, more versatile electronics than any of the other basses.

4. Look to Spend $200 Minimum. Based on these basses and past experience, I don’t think you should try to spend less that $200 on a new bass. If the electronics or construction were any cheaper in these basses, they would really suck. This is the lowest tier of basses that I would actually consider playing in public. If you’re trying to save money, buy a used bass from a well known brand, not a brand new bass from a company you’ve never heard of.

5. Different Strokes. With both Ben and Gio, the favorite they picked in the shootout was not the bass they had given the highest star rating in the individual reviews. This shows that pros pick basses primarily by feel, and all the analysis we do is helpful, but secondary.

Go Buy a Bass

Now you’ve got a good idea of the beginner basses that are available and what to look for hopefully you’re ready to buy a bass and start rocking. What are you waiting for?

P.S. If you’re looking for a quality practice amp for your shiny new bass, check out our amp reviews here.

Grab More Good Stuff

Comments

Got something to say? Post a comment below.

avatar
27 Comment threads
32 Thread replies
25 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
26 Comment authors
Kevin BakerDiego RoigJoshua EdwardsGianluigiJon Briel "Fat Al" Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Danielle Kennedy
Member
Danielle Kennedy

Hi Josh, You guys are great! These reviews are so helpful…. thanks for all your work, well done. I bought my first bass a year ago (before I discovered your sight) It’s a Peavey~ ok as a beginning instrument. In a year or two when I can play much better (thanks to your course!) I may reward myself with a classier bass! Again, thanks. Danielle

antonin
Guest
antonin

Hy guys, first of all let me say thank you. these series of reviews is out standing (and i ve seen a lot of reviews of bass and guitars). Your idea of having 3 pro bass player assessing in a blinfolded way is great. I m tired of amateurs or sponsored reviews. Here I feel that I can confidently follow your recommendation. Thanks again. I have a question. On of the bass that is now seelling like hot cakes in this range are the sire (markus millers). The 7 (v7, M7) I beleive is around 500 usd and the newly… Read more »

Don Zumwalt
Member
Don Zumwalt

Josh At 63 years young I was given an Ibanez GIO Soundgear bass. I don’t know what model number this guitar is, it has 2 pick-ups 2 knobs for volume and tone. I have started my lessons and finished Module one. I love playing the bass and have enjoyed the lessons so far. They are made simple, like me, and easy to understand and follow. I read the reviews of bass guitars. Is this Ibanez OK for now? What was the other Ibanez you liked that compared to the Yamaha? This guitar is a not so handsome light blue, so… Read more »

Peter Graziano
Member
Peter Graziano

Hi Josh, I’m writing from the future (not too far in the future – Module 5 – lesson 4), but I learned something today that I know you know but I thought I would share for anyone who is just now buying her/his Bass. I bought a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Special because I could afford it and I liked the way it sounded. It’s an active Bass and that’s what I wanted (I have no idea why – I think the word “active” appeals to me). Anyway you warned us about the battery issue in a couple of places… Read more »

Christopher Harrington
Member
Christopher Harrington

While I already purchased my first bass about a year ago, I still found this series of videos really insightful. I wound up purchasing the Squier vintage mod. I like it quite a bit! You’re right about the balance though. I’m 6’4″, and pretty strong, but even I fatigue after awhile with that thing around my neck. I was wondering though… would you folks do a series on selecting an amp? I have to say, my current setup kinda sucks. I’m running through my computer, which makes me less likely to just pick up and play. I’m thinking moving to… Read more »

Rick Bridwell
Member
Rick Bridwell

Hey Josh. Good things are not cheap and cheats things usually not good. As you mentioned, you get what you pay for. What do you think about the the Fender USA Geddy Lee signature Jazz bass? I can only spend the money once so want to get a good what and from what I have read, and reviewed, seems like a good one for it;s price point of $1,600. Thoughts?

Don Zumwalt
Member
Don Zumwalt

Josh, I know you played the Ibanez GSR200 during the review and did not like it. How about a better Ibanez like the GSR 300E or the GSR 400? I am the 63 year young rookie to playing bass and I don’t think I will ever play in a big band or anything, but I do want to have a good bass to play at church and enjoy playing and feel good about. By the way, I am in Module 5, yes the sessions in Module 4 are hard, but I am enjoying the lessons. When I get music to… Read more »

Michael
Guest
Michael

I actually like the sound of the Gios; it works for gothic metal. I just don’t like the craftsmanship; I bought a 206 that had sharp frets and sharp slot edges in the tuning pegs that were busting strings. They didn’t cover those things on warranty and I didn’t have the money to replace the machine heads or take it to a tech to level the fret ends, so I just sent it back. Best bet is to buy one used; these issues have either been dealt with by the previous owner or you have enough left in your budget… Read more »

dave
Guest
dave

bummer. no epiphone thunderbird? as a beginner having just bought one, i’d love to see how they stack up against other basses.

Brian Packard
Guest
Brian Packard

Hi Josh, Well done!. This is absolutely the best review of beginner basses I have found on the web. I am wondering why the Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4 did not make your cut since it can be had for around $459?
Thanks again for the great work!
Brian

dayessi galvez
Guest
dayessi galvez

Hello I would like your opinions about yamaha trbx 204 for beginners. Thanks