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Low-End Theory – The Best Bass Guitar Buys For Any Budget

by | Bassists, Gear Reviews

Much like their stringed siblings, bass guitars are one of the more widely used instruments in modern music today. A great bass player is an essential and irreplaceable cog in any great live performance outfit. The greatest gatekeepers of the groove will all attribute some of their skill and success to having the right gear, including a solid, reliable, and easy-to-use bass guitar. We’ve put together a shortlist of basses covering all budgets to help all players get a little closer to finding the proper selection for their playing and performances. Whether you’re a first-time player or a full-time professional, there should be something in the list below that suits your needs.

Budget/Beginner Guitars

Yamaha TRBX305

If you’re a beginner player and still have to get your hands used to move around the Bass, you’ll need something that isn’t too hard on your fingers. The Yamaha TRBX305 is one of the company’s finest budget builds and caters well to novice players. This TRBX305 comes with a 24 fret fingerboard that houses five strings. 5 string basses are excellent for players looking to get into styles like jazz, fusion, and metal as the low B string gives you extra options for runs or expression. This guitar is made primarily from maple, with the body and neck all composed of this high-quality wood. The guitar is surprisingly lightweight despite its weighty appearance, although junior players probably have to find something smaller should they wish to practice or play for long periods. Alternatively, they can try out the TRBX304, which is a slightly smaller 4-stringed model.

Epiphone Viola Bass

Bass guitars come in a surprisingly broad spectrum of shapes and sizes. A lot of musicians are unfamiliar with the short-scale Bass. As the name suggests, these guitars are designed to be compact, smaller versions of traditional bass guitars. The Viola Bass is possibly one of the more popular versions of the short-scale Bass and looks like a bass sized violin. Ask any experienced player about the viola Bass and they will almost always reference Paul McCartney of the Beatles, who toured and frequently wrote with the Bass during his prime years with the group. The Epiphone Viola bass is a more budget-friendly version of these guitars but is built using the same maple wood that gives the guitar its highly identifiable tone. Short-scale basses deliver a lot more presence around the mid and high-end frequencies and have a distinctly poppier sound than solid body basses. With that being said, you can still get an exact amount of sub and boom out of these basses when used with the right amps or preamp.

Mid-Range Models

Music Man S.U.B Stingray

The ’60s and 70s were highly prolific eras for bass guitar-driven music. Disco, funk, and soul music took up a decent amount of the airwaves during these times, and great bass players carried the same rock star status as most lead guitarists or singers of popular bands. The Stingray by Ernie Ball is a fantastic tribute to this electric time in music history. This guitar can give serious players the same classic punchy retro tone of yesteryears’ legends without seriously denting their pockets. The guitar only comes with a single pickup, which does a fantastic job of picking up the intricacies of most finger movements. Still, it might be a bit limiting to players that like to explore all the sonic possibilities of their instrument. However, if you’re looking for a bass guitar that does its job reliably, without any complex electronics or eccentric designs, the Stingray is an excellent choice for you.


ESP’s guitars have always been designed to catch people’s attention and push the boundaries of conventional design. This particular model is a stunning middle ground between traditional bass design and eccentricity. Even the most hardened audiophile will first note the aesthetics of this guitar’s ash wood body, and duly so as they come in a beautiful Maple grain finish. The guitar comes with two of ESP’s signature pickups that can be switched over three configurations to give you a vast spectrum of choices for tone. There are also five tonal control knobs at your disposal with the B-204SM, and when used in conjunction with a pedal chain or some effects, this guitar can escape the sonic limitations that basses generally come with. The neck is also skinny and easy to navigate, even for beginner players. This guitar is terrific for those that like to experiment with their instruments in unorthodox ways.

Top Shelf

Ibanez Premium SR1340B

If it’s time for you to take a giant leap and invest in something more long-term for your bass playing, Ibanez is a terrific brand for you to consider. The Japanese company has produced well-crafted instruments consistently for decades now, and the Premium SR1340B is one of the finest products in their bass department. The guitar is composed primarily of Panga wood, a textile that has long been revered for its flexible and tensile nature. The body, neck, and fingerboard all feature this rich wood, and the quality is ever-present in the effortless playability and lush sound of this model. The guitar comes with two Nordstrand pickups and a 3-way active switch, giving the guitar a very reactive and bright tone without ever being overly
abrasive. The Ibanez Premium is exceptionally well constructed, and with reasonable care, should see any player through years of fluid and enjoyable play and practice.

Fender Precision Bass

It’s nearly impossible to build a list of quality guitar builds without featuring the Fender brand. The Precision Bass is one of the creams of the company’s crop and is the first choice amongst most full-time touring or session bassists. The Precision bass body is constructed using an Alder wood common in many Fender guitars and is a large part of what gives them their instantly recognizable warm tone. This guitar’s maple neck and fingerboard are an absolute dream in the hands of most experienced players and can be played for long hours without any excessive strain on the muscles. Fender used Yosemite Jazz pickups on this particular model, and it gives the guitar a weighty, full tone that still cuts the mids and highs in all the sweet spots when tuned correctly. When it comes to value for money, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worthy competitor for Fender basses, especially for models like the Precision.

Final Thoughts

Unless you’re purely looking to have fun and fool around, we recommend taking some time and research before settling on the right bass guitar for you. Try to discern your requirements and preferences as a player and spend some trying out or practicing on the options you’re considering before making a final purchase. Also, try to seek the advice of experienced gear heads and musicians, as they will probably have relative hands-on experience as to what instrument will keep you grooving for years to come. Thanks for reading through our quick guide on the best bass guitar buys for any budget. We hope this list gets you one step closer to finding your next boomy best friend.

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