Looking for a budget-friendly bass guitar that doesn’t skimp on quality and packs a punch with its sound? You don’t have to settle for less when it comes to craftsmanship, sound quality, or playability just because you’re on a budget. In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to explore the best cheap bass guitars in 2023.
We’ll talk about a variety of models that give you great value and performance, perfect for beginner and intermediate-level bassists. With this info, you’ll be ready to make a smart choice, confident that you’re getting the most for your money. So, are you ready to discover the perfect bass guitar that won’t empty your wallet? Let’s get started!
The Ibanez SR300E is an electric bass guitar recognized for its quality, affordability, and playability. Part of Ibanez’s mid-range basses, it is popular among rock and heavy metal guitarists.
The guitar features a double-cutaway mahogany body paired with a sleek and slim maple neck. Equipped with two dual-coil pickups, five equalization controls, and a Power Tap selection switch for tonal customization, this bass guitar boasts of a wide range of sounds, making it a versatile instrument. Its lightweight, well-balanced construction, along with a smooth satin finish neck with solid intonation, provides a comfortable, extended playing experience.
- Custom 3-band EQ and PowerSpan Dual Coil pickups for precise control over the bass tone
- Thin, fast neck ensuring a comfortable playing experience
- Versatility in sound range due to PowerSpan dual coil pickups
- Unique “Power Tap” switch for more tonal options
- Easily accessible battery compartment
- Lightweight, balanced design with a smooth satin finish neck for comfortable play
- PowerTap selection switch for tonal customization
- Visually appealing design, with various finish options
The Ibanez SR300E is known for its affordability. It offers great value for its price range, being a high-quality, versatile instrument with numerous features that enhance the playing experience.
The SR300E is a well-constructed bass guitar that delivers a high-quality playing experience. Its sleek, ergonomic design, lightweight body, and PowerSpan Dual Coil pickups offer a wide range of tones and excellent clarity. This makes it suitable for various musical styles, from rock to jazz to funk and anything in between.
The active 3-band EQ allows for precise control over the sound, and the fast and smooth neck facilitates easy navigation on the fretboard. Its solid construction, made up of high-quality materials like mahogany body and maple neck, provides a warm and rich tone which adds brightness and sustain to the sound. The overall build quality is excellent, making it a reliable instrument for both studio recordings and live performances.
However, there can be curiosity about the battery life of the guitar. Even though the guitar is equipped with active electronics allowing for high-volume sound when needed and the battery compartment is conveniently located, more details about the battery life would be beneficial.
The SR300E is a reliable, well-built bass guitar that offers excellent value for the price. It has comfortable playability and versatile tone options, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced players. Whether for band performances, studio recordings, or home practice, the SR300E is a reliable instrument that delivers the sound you’re looking for.
The Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray4 is a gig-ready, budget-friendly bass guitar designed for beginner and intermediate players. The guitar boasts a precision basswood body, a sleek hard maple neck, and a smooth fretboard.
Despite a slightly narrow neck near the headstock, the overall construction is quite durable. Sporting open-gear tuning machines, a truss rod for neck adjustment, and a fully adjustable fixed bridge, the hardware on the Ray4 may not be the most high-end but it is user-friendly and provides good control over the guitar. It is equipped with a single coil humbucker and volume and 2-Band EQ controls, offering a surprising tonal range and definition.
- Good quality and playability for beginner and intermediate players
- Durable construction with a precision basswood body and hard maple neck
- User-friendly hardware including open gear tuning machines, a truss rod, and a fully adjustable fixed bridge
- Single coil humbucker and volume and 2-Band EQ controls for a wide tonal range and definition
- A 34-inch scale length for a balanced response across all strings
- A comfortable C-shaped neck profile for extended play
While the pricing of the Sterling SUB series varies with different models, the SUB Ray4 offers a perfect balance of affordability and quality. The Sterling StingRay Ray4HH and the Ray24CA are also worth considering as alternatives with similar body construction.
The sterling SUB Ray4 is not merely a beginner’s bass but a product that offers value for its price. The build quality is top-notch and the sound is impressive, making it a joy to play and can be appreciated by players of all abilities. However, the electronics area of the SUB Ray4 may seem compromised due to the use of a lower-level humbucker and a 2-band EQ instead of the impressive 3-way lever switch found on higher-end models. This, however, does not affect the guitar’s performance and it is ready to play right out of the box. It’s worth noting that the default strings may not be the best, but they are easily replaceable.
The Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray4 is a stylish bass guitar with a solid hardwood body and a glossy finish. It features a powerful humbucking pickup that delivers a rich and punchy sound. The bass also has a 2-band active preamp, allowing for a great degree of tone customization. It also strikes a perfect balance with a 34-inch scale length for a well-rounded response across all strings.
The bass guitar has a 21-fret design, providing ample range to explore different musical styles and techniques. It also comes with a sturdy and reliable bridge that ensures excellent tuning stability and intonation. Despite being a budget-friendly option, the guitar does not compromise on hardware quality. It features smooth and precise tuning machines for a seamless playing experience.
In essence, the Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray4 is a versatile and affordable bass guitar suitable for both beginners and experienced players. It offers a great combination of quality, performance, and value for money.
The Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Precision Bass is an affordable and modern replica of the iconic Fender Precision Bass models of the 1960s. This bass guitar is a tribute to the classic P-Bass designs, featuring a Fender-designed alnico split-coil pickup that provides the massive and warm tone characteristic of the original models.
This instrument is a part of the Classic Vibe series by Squier, a brand renowned for delivering affordable and high-quality alternatives to Fender instruments. The Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Precision Bass is not only a highly desirable choice for beginners but also for experienced players who appreciate the aesthetics and tone of the original 1960s Precision Bass models.
- A tribute to the iconic P Bass models of the 1960s.
- Features Fender-Designed alnico split-coil pickup, offering massive tone.
- Provides player-friendly features, including a slim “C”-shaped neck profile and vintage-style bridge with threaded saddles.
- Equipped with vintage-style tuning machines, it offers rock-solid tuning stability.
- Built with a maple neck and Indian Laurel fingerboard, it provides a comfortable playing experience.
- Nickel-plated hardware for a classic, retro look.
The Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Precision Bass is a budget-friendly option, providing an opportunity for many to experience the sound and feel of a P-Bass without having to spend a significant amount.
This bass guitar definitely has its fair share of strengths. The standout feature would be the vintage-style split single-coil pickup, which delivers the classic P Bass tone that has been adored by bassists for decades. This produces a warm and punchy sound with plenty of low-end thump and clarity. The bass also offers great playability with its “C” shape neck profile and medium jumbo frets, making it easy to navigate the fretboard. The smooth finish on the back of the neck contributes to a comfortable playing experience. Additionally, the balance and solid feel of the instrument in the hands comes as a notable upside.
On the flip side, it could be argued that the bass guitar has limited versatility due to the single tone control knob and single volume knob. However, this limitation allows for the signature P-Bass tone, which is an appealing factor for many. The bass guitar may also contain materials that are known to cause cancer and reproductive harm. However, this instrument is accompanied by a warranty which provides a layer of security for potential buyers.
Overall, the Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Precision Bass is a fantastic instrument for bassists that offers a nostalgic P Bass sound, high-quality craftsmanship, and an affordable price tag. Its vintage-inspired design and impressive playability make it a standout option in its price range.
The Yamaha TRBX305 is a robust five-string bass guitar that is part of Yamaha’s TRBX series. It is known for its versatility, balanced tone, and solid construction. The bass has a solid mahogany body and a five-piece maple/mahogany neck.
The guitar is armed with active electronics that include a multitude of controls such as a master volume, pickup balance, bass boost/cut, treble boost/cut, and a Performance EQ switch. The EQ switch has five settings for different playing styles, enhancing its adaptability.
- Features a solid mahogany body and a five-piece maple/mahogany neck for durability.
- Equipped with active electronics including a master volume, pickup balance, and bass boost/cut controls.
- Offers a Performance EQ switch with five different equalization settings for various playing styles.
- The bass has a comfortable weight ensuring easy playability.
- Yamaha offers a lifetime warranty, highlighting its value and reliability.
- The hardware operates smoothly and is of high quality.
- The bass offers a tonal performance that is colorful without being excessive.
The Yamaha TRBX305 is a budget-friendly five-string bass guitar. Its affordability does not compromise its quality, offering high-quality construction, versatile sound, and comfortable playability.
The Yamaha TRBX305 stands out for its versatile sound, making it suitable for a variety of musical styles. The combination of the mahogany body and maple neck produces a rich and warm tone, while the humbucking pickups deliver a punchy sound. The active 3-band EQ allows detailed control over the bass’s tone, making it adaptable to diverse musical needs.
The playability of this bass is also noteworthy. The bass boasts a comfortable and ergonomic design, with a slim neck that allows for fast and smooth playing. The rosewood fingerboard provides a smooth surface for easy fretboard navigation. The weight distribution of the bass is balanced, reducing fatigue during prolonged playing sessions.
In terms of build quality, the Yamaha TRBX305 shines. The solid mahogany body and maple neck provide stability and durability, demonstrating the bass’s ability to withstand regular use. The hardware, including the bridge and tuners, are of high quality, ensuring accurate tuning and reliable performance.
However, some players may find the tone slightly clinical and clean, yet it still offers a pleasing tonal palette with good power and projection. While it might lack some of the finesse and fine detail of more expensive basses, considering its price, it certainly delivers more than expected.
The Yamaha TRBX305 is a solid choice for those looking for a budget-friendly five-string bass. It offers a balanced combination of sound versatility, comfortable playability, and high-quality construction, making it a reliable and affordable choice for bass players of varied skill levels.
The Epiphone SG Bass is a renowned selection for bass players across genres. Boasting a sleek design and a versatile sound, this bass guitar is great for a wide array of music styles, including rock, blues, and funk.
Its solid mahogany body delivers a rich and warm tone, while the mahogany neck promises stability and sustain. The bass is also outfitted with a Sidewinder humbucker pickup in the neck position and a TB Plus humbucker pickup in the bridge position, enabling a broad range of tones – from deep and punchy to bright and aggressive.
- Versatile sound: The Epiphone SG Bass can handle various genres, making it an adaptable choice.
- Solid construction: The bass’s solid mahogany body and neck contribute to its rich tone and stability.
- Wide range of tones: The combination of Sidewinder and TB Plus humbucker pickups allows for a broad spectrum of sound.
- Comfortable play: The lightweight design and ergonomic shape provide an easy and comfortable play experience.
- Shorter scale length: At a 30.5-inch scale length, the bass is slightly smaller than the standard, making it perfect for players with smaller hands or those who prefer a compact instrument.
The Epiphone SG Bass provides excellent value for its price, offering features and a tone comparable to more expensive bass guitars, like the Gibson SG bass, but at a fraction of the cost.
Pros & Cons
The Epiphone SG Bass is well-balanced and comfortable to play, thanks to its lightweight design and ergonomic shape. It’s a versatile instrument that can deliver a range of tones, making it suitable for various music genres.
However, the product might require a setup out of the box for optimal playability. Yet, once properly set up, it performs remarkably well and stays in tune.
It’s worth noting that while the Epiphone SG Bass shares a similar body shape with the Gibson SG bass, it is not a Gibson SG bass. It’s a more affordable alternative, but this does not compromise its sound quality and performance.
Overall, the Epiphone SG Bass is a commendable choice for bass players of different levels, offering a great combination of playability, sound, and affordability. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, this bass is worth considering.
The Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II is a member of the reputable Gretsch Electromatic series, a collection that revives retro models with modern upgrades.
This bass guitar, with its sleek design and quality construction, is notable for its 30.3″ short-scale length, making it an accessible option for beginners. Despite its shorter scale, it delivers an impressively massive subsonic tone and exhibits considerable punch and clarity.
- 30.3″ short-scale length for easier playability
- Basswood body and bolt-on maple neck for a great sound
- Black walnut fingerboard and Gretsch single-coil bass pickups contributing to its sound quality
- Tonal versatility with a three-position toggle switch, master volume, and master tone controls
- Four-saddle adjustable bridge, synthetic bone nut, and die-cast tuners for precise adjustments
- High-quality nickel-plated steel D’Addario strings
- Excellent performance in genres like hard rock
The Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II is an affordable instrument, priced at $299.99 USD. Despite its low cost, this bass delivers a high-end feel and tonality, offering a different option from the usual bass guitars in the market.
The Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II is a compact and affordable bass guitar, prized for its balance of style and performance. Its lightweight basswood body, coupled with a gloss finish, gives it a sleek and stylish look. The short scale length of 30.3 inches makes it comfortable to play for players of all sizes and skill levels.
Equipped with two Gretsch mini humbucking pickups, the bass delivers a punchy and versatile tone. The controls include a master volume, master tone, and a three-way pickup selector switch, allowing players to dial in their desired sound. Additionally, the bass features a fully adjustable bridge and die-cast tuners, ensuring excellent tuning stability and intonation.
However, the limited tonal variety can be viewed as a drawback. While the tone from both pickups is clear and forthright – with the neck pickup offering warmth and roundness, and the bridge pickup providing a bright and twangy response – the tonal options may not be as varied as some players would prefer. Despite this, the overall tones are smooth and thorough, with no tonal harshness.
The Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II offers comfort, easy playability, and solid construction. Its vintage name and heritage, along with its simple and effective design, make it a suitable alternative for those who want a comfortable and easy-to-play bass without the physical effort required by most basses.
The Epiphone Thunderbird E1 is a budget-friendly electric bass guitar, modelled after the Gibson Thunderbird. It’s built to the same specifications and standards, making it a popular choice for those desiring a unique design and sound quality without breaking the bank.
Its body is made from alder, and it features a 34″ scale maple neck, along with a rosewood fingerboard consisting of 20 frets. A classic, iconic body shape combined with a Vintage Sunburst finish gives it a retro look.
- Built to Gibson Thunderbird’s specifications, offering premium quality without the hefty price tag.
- Made from Alder body and a 34″ scale maple neck, providing sturdy construction and durability.
- Classic design with a unique body shape and retro look, making it visually appealing.
- Equipped with two TB-Plus humbucker pickups and two volume and one tone control knobs, providing a powerful and versatile sound.
- Noted for high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, ensuring a premium playing experience.
- Backed by Epiphone’s limited lifetime warranty, adding value and assurance.
The Thunderbird E1 is a great option for musicians looking for a high-quality instrument without breaking the bank.
Pros & Cons
There’s a lot to appreciate about the Epiphone Thunderbird E1, especially its distinctive deep and rumbling tone which makes it perfect for rock and metal genres. The guitar’s weight is substantial but not overly heavy. However, the neck has a tendency for neck-dive. The company tried to correct this issue by moving the strap attachment point to the back of the instrument, although this adjustment seems to have caused some issues with the neck bolt.
The sound range of this bass can vary from compressed to a full growl with deep and powerful lows. The tone is clear and balanced, with pronounced mids and compressed highs. However, the weight of the bass and the design of the body may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with small hands or who are used to playing Fender-style basses.
Despite some minor issues with the strap attachment point and the weight of the bass, these do not detract from the overall quality and value of the instrument. The Thunderbird E1 is a high-quality instrument that offers great value for its price, making it a worthy consideration for those in search of a professional rock bass without spending a fortune.
The Dean Edge 1 PJ Bass is a robust and versatile bass guitar designed with over two decades of Dean’s experience. It sports a mahogany body that’s contoured for comfort and a 34″ scale maple neck which is fast playing and sleek.
The bass guitar offers a custom design neck joint and heel that provide uninterrupted access to the 2-octave walnut fretboard. Outfitted with DMT Design pickups, this instrument delivers a clean low-end sound that cuts through any mix. Other aesthetic touches include black hardware, pearl dot fingerboard markers, and a satin natural finish.
- Comfortable contoured mahogany body and a sleek, fast-playing maple neck
- Custom design neck joint and heel for uninterrupted access to the 2-octave walnut fretboard
- DMT Design pickups which provide a clean low-end sound that cuts through any mix
- Aesthetically pleasing with black hardware, pearl dot fingerboard markers, and satin natural finish
- Versatile and suitable for a wide range of musical styles and genres
While the price for the Dean Edge 1 PJ Bass can vary depending on the retailer, it is generally recognized as an affordable option within the bass guitar market, offering excellent value for money given its features and overall quality.
Pros & Cons
From the user’s standpoint, the Dean Edge 1 Pj Bass definitely has some solid features that make it a worthwhile purchase. The first positive that often comes up is the comfortable design. The contoured body and maple neck are designed for comfort and speed, making it a pleasurable experience to play. The bass also stands out due to its sound. The DMT Design pickups deliver a powerful and punchy tone that cuts through any mix.
However, it’s not all praise. Some people may find the sound to lean more towards classic tones rather than modern rock, which may not suit everyone’s musical style or preference. The bass has been noted to be more suitable for blues and classic rock genres. This makes it a slightly less versatile choice for those who are into modern rock and edgy sounds.
Another point of contention is that the bass is made in China, and some players may have reservations about the quality control standards of instruments manufactured there. But despite these potential issues, overall, the Dean Edge 1 PJ Bass is a reliable and well-crafted instrument that offers great value for its price.
While you’re likely looking for affordability when deciding on a cheap bass guitar, it’s not the only thing you should consider. The quality and construction of the instrument are paramount. For instance, the type of wood used in the guitar’s construction can significantly affect the instrument’s tone and overall quality. You’ll find bass guitar bodies made from alder, ash, mahogany, and basswood, each with its unique set of characteristics and tonal qualities. The neck, often made from maple or mahogany, also influences the instrument’s sound and playability.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the hardware and electronics of the bass guitar, including the pickups, tuners, and bridge. These play a major role in the instrument’s tone and performance. Cheaper bass guitars might have lower quality hardware, which could result in tuning stability issues or a less desirable tone. So, it’s important to inspect the hardware and electronics carefully before you buy.
Lastly, don’t overlook the overall build quality and brand reputation. Cheaper bass guitars might have inferior craftsmanship, leading to issues like fret buzz, poor intonation, or uneven frets. Make sure to inspect the instrument thoroughly for any signs of poor build quality. Some brands are known for producing high-quality instruments at low prices, while others might not. Reading customer reviews can give you valuable insights into the instrument’s overall quality and performance. Ultimately, the best way to determine if a cheap bass guitar is right for you is to try it out in person to get a feel for its sound, playability, and overall quality.
When you’re considering the materials and construction of bass guitars, especially within budget-friendly ranges, certain factors really matter. The materials used in the guitar’s construction can significantly affect the sound, playability, and durability of the instrument. You’ll often find agathis, basswood, and paulownia used in budget-friendly bass guitars. But, when you’re going for a cheap bass guitar, you’ll likely run into compromises like lower-quality materials and pickups, sharp fret edges, poor neck alignment, and less durable hardware.
Take the Yamaha TRBX 305, a budget-friendly five-string bass, as an example. It shows that good quality materials can be used even on a budget. This bass features a solid mahogany body, five-piece maple/mahogany neck, high-mass die-cast hardware, and YGD-designed M3 ceramic humbuckers. These features enhance the quality, reliability, and overall playability of the guitar. However, it’s worth noting that you might find its tone a bit too clinical compared to more vintage-sounding instruments.
Budget bass guitars, despite being affordable, can still offer quality pickups without breaking the bank. They might not provide as much definition or clarity as their pricier counterparts, but they do allow for a decent range of tones and sounds. However, the accessories that come with the bass guitar, like cables, might be of lower quality and need replacing more often. Similarly, plastic components on a bass guitar, such as the input jack or nut, might wear out faster and need more frequent replacement.
A cheap bass guitar might not have the same level of craftsmanship and tone as higher-end models, but it can still be a reliable instrument for professional performances in some cases. This often depends on the amplifier and effects pedals you use to make up for any limitations of the guitar. So, when you’re buying a cheap bass guitar, your goal should be to find an instrument that offers good value for money and meets your needs in terms of sound and playability.
Finding your way in the world of cheap bass guitars isn’t easy, especially if you’re starting with the idea that affordability means compromise. But, as you’ll see, that’s not always true. From the Ibanez SR300E’s playability and versatility to the sturdy construction of Yamaha TRBX305, there’s a lot of value in these budget-friendly beasts.
Buying a bass guitar is a personal journey, and what works for you might not work for someone else. Each of these guitars brings its own unique features and tonal palette to the table. But they all prove that you don’t have to empty your wallet to get a taste of the low-end action.
Whether you’re a beginner stepping onto the musical scene or an experienced player looking for an affordable backup for your premium bass, these instruments show that quality, playability, and affordability can happily coexist.
No matter where your musical journey takes you, remember that the price tag isn’t always a reflection of the joy and satisfaction a guitar can bring. It’s about how it feels in your hands, the groove in your heart, and the music you’ll create. With the right cheap bass guitar, you can strike a balance between affordability and quality, all while bringing your dream sound to life.
So, plug in, play on, and let these budget-friendly basses serenade your senses without draining your bank account. Let your budget guide you, not limit you, on your ultimate bass guitar adventure.