Best Beginner Bass Guitars (Updated for October 2023)

Published on 06 October 2023

Welcome to another instalment of our Beginner’s guides! This is the article to read if you are thinking of taking up bass, or indeed buying a bass as a gift for a loved one.

The market place for beginner-level basses is crowded and fierce with lots of bewildering choices to be made. To make things simple and as straightforward as possible, I have selected a few star buys and rounded them up here to guide you into safer waters! Whether you are shopping for a bass guitar only or an entire bass starter pack, you’ll find what you need here!

Fledgling bassists of the world, I salute you! You have figured out some important life lessons: that there is a shortage of bassists in the world, that they are often the coolest members of the band, and that the bass is reasonably easy to get good on quickly! Good effort!

Now, that does not mean for a second that bass is ‘easier’: it’s just easier to get ahead more quickly. Mastering any instrument is a life-long passion but, armed with the correct instrument from the get-go, your progress will be fun, satisfying and addictive.

When choosing a bass to begin learning on, the most important thing is not the looks, nor the price, the sound or the feel. It is the fact that you want to actually pick it up and play it. If your bass excites you and makes you feel like grabbing it and playing around on it, then that is the single most important factor for you. Those other points we mentioned will all come into play after that, and they are important in and of themselves, but firstly, you need to want to play the instrument you have. That’s why your own opinion on what you choose is so important, even compared to a friend/parent/teacher. This is your journey, not theirs, okay?

That said, I'm writing this blog for you because I've played basses for decades, and sold basses for decades. I've helped countless people begin their voyage to bass greatness, and I want to share what I've learned with you today, so that you are properly prepared, and fully ready to rock. This is your journey, but maybe I can help guide you on your path? I want you to succeed, and I want you to be happy. Let's face it, the world needs more bassists.

With all this in mind, we’ve picked out a couple of basses that should have the desired effect on you. Let’s look at them…




Great Beginner Bass Guitars

This section is where I’ll recommend a number of basses that I personally think will serve you well as you embark on your mission to reach Bass God status! I’ve tried to keep a good mix of looks and styles, whilst always reaching for quality and keeping an eye on the price tag. As I often like to say: you don’t need to spend a million bucks to sound like a million bucks!


EastCoast PJ4-SB

Let’s kick things off with a bass that’s super affordable but also looks and sounds the part. The EastCoast PJ4 is, like a great many basses out there, based on Fender’s classic 1950s bass designs. They still rule supreme in the bass world, but it’s perhaps sensible to begin with a choice that isn't too much of a financial commitment.

EastCoast are a brand known for making good, solid beginner instruments. I like them because they are comfortable, classic looking and play well. This model provides an excellent first bass to begin your life as a bassist, with its good looks and easy to play neck.

There are a variety of sound options available, too, thanks to the two different pickups fitted to the PJ4. This is known as a ‘PJ’ pickup configuration since it refers to the use of both a Precision-style pickup (P) and a Jazz-style (J) pickup. Bringing both of these historical pickup styles together allows you to have lotso f tonal options just by changing the volume of each pickup in whichever balance of sound appeals to you. Adjust to taste and make a nice blend!

I think this bass brings a lot to the table for a very reasonable outlay. For a first bass, this is an excellent choice.


Squier Sonic Precision Bass

Squier are Fender’s younger siblings, and their instruments are designed for the beginner/student market. Well, that’s how it used to be, certainly, but the world has gotten wise to just how good Squier instruments are, and so you’ll see pros playing them too!

This bass is the Squier Sonic Precision Bass. It’s from the Sonic Series, which is Squier’s entry level range, and the ‘Precision’ refers to this being an affordable take on the world famous Fender Precision Bass. It looks killer, feels great and offers up a more than passable rendition of those inimitable Fender tones. Would this be my own personal pick? Very likely, in all honesty. It’s just too cool to pass up!


Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jazz Bass

That said, if I had more cash in my wallet, it would be very hard to say no to this wonderful Squier Classic Vibe 70s Jazz Bass! The Fender Jazz Bass is their other main bass design, and it has a more ‘offset’ body than the P Bass (look at the middle of the guitar body and you’ll see that it is not symmetrical), which is one of its distinguishing marks. Two single coil pickups are the most other difference, since the Precision bass typically has only one pickup.

The Squier Classic Vibe Series are very well-regarded: built to a higher spec than other Squiers, these instruments pull features and stylings from famous Fenders of the past, with this one sporting a cool 1970s look. In my opinion, this is well worth the extra spend: it’s actually hard to find a nicer bass in this price range.


Yamaha TRBX174

I think this modern looking TRBX174 bass by market giants Yamaha is a very solid choice. Well built, cool looking and modern, it’s all very comfortable and easy to play. The shape of the body allows you a lot of space to get around the frets (of which there are 24, more than many other styles), and you’ll get a good selection of sounds from the two pickups, which are the same PJ configuration we looked at with the EastCoast bass. Together, that’s a lot of ground covered! It’s a contender!


Sterling Sub Series Ray4

Sticking with a modern aesthetic, this very cool Sterling Sub Series Ray4 bass is a great alternative to the ones we’ve looked at so far. Now, the naming can get a little confusing with this brand, so it’s worth stating that Sterling is the affordable sibling-brand to Music Man, just as Squier is to Fender. Music Man are one of the most revered manufacturers in the business, and this Ray4 bass is a great value version of the famous Music Man Stingray bass.

It has its own look and sound, with a punchy humbucking pickup supplying some very solid, contemporary bass sounds. Not only that, this bass has an ‘active EQ’ on board, which uses a 9v battery to supply it with power. An active EQ is basically a set of knobs for treble, middle and bass, but noticeably ‘wide’ in their use: you can really cut and boost frequencies here, and shape your sound in a manner that is definitely more extreme than any of the other basses on offer today.


Ibanez SR300EB

One more choice for you comes from Ibanez, another big-hitter in the guitar world. Ibanez are well known for flamboyant designs, rigorous quality control and great value.

You’ll find all three of these things present in this Ibanez SR300EB. This sleek bass is built for business, featuring cool additions like two humbucking pickups and an excellently-named ‘Power Tap’ switch for adding more tonal options.

This bass is kind of like the Yamaha and Sterling basses merged together, but offering its own unique style, too. If you like modern-looking basses, this one is great sounding and plays really, really well.



Go for a Bass Starter Pack

Basses need to be plugged into a bass amp, of course. Then there’s a strap, a tuner, a cable… all of these extra purchases that will either be fun to choose or a headache to figure out, depending on your disposition!

Why not take all of the guesswork out of the situation and just go for a bass starter pack like this EastCoast PJ4 Bass Starter Pack?

This is the same great value beginner bass we looked at way back at the start of this blog. This time, you also get this stuff:

In one fell swoop, you’ve covered all of your bases! Please excuse the pun. Yes, it’s important to use a dedicated bass amp, because electric guitar amps have different speakers and components, so your bass won’t sound great through one of those!


Short Scale Basses

Now, the basses we’ve included in today’s blog are all what we’d call full-sized basses. These have a measurement referred to as a scale length (that’s the distance of the string essentially from nut to bridge, as it sits on the instrument) of 34”. That means, the distance of playable string from the bridge to the nut up at the headstock is 34 inches. We don’t count the string elsewhere, like where it’s wrapped around the tuner, since that’s not a part you can play a note on.

34” is pretty standard for a full-length bass scale length, but there are plenty of basses that are shorter. 30” scale lengths are popular and offer an easier, slinkier feel that may well be preferable to younger or smaller players. Also, guitarists transitioning from guitar to bass may prefer a short scale bass since it’s less obviously different to what they are used to. If this sounds like you, then please click through to check out our current selection of Short Scale Basses, but here's one I think you should know about...


Epiphone SG Bass E1

For my choice of a short scale bass, I wanted to include this Epiphone SG Bass E1. Epiphone are, once again, a sister-brand to a big-name manufacturer. This time it’s Gibson, and this SG bass is taken from their own SG guitars and basses. It’s a timeless, cool design that’s very ‘classic rock’, so the pose potential with this bass is strong!

The Epiphone SG bass will appeal to players with smaller hands since it has a shorter neck. This means it’s easier to get around the fingerboard, so learners will like this one, as will guitarists transitioning to the bass. This is a good starter bass.


Best Beginner Bass Guitars

Final Thoughts

Each of these choices represents a different vibe and price point. As you can see, the market is wide and contains lots of basses to admire and choose from. I think you’ll be well served by all of the top picks here but if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch! At guitarguitar, we are always here for you and are happy to help. We want your first foray into bass buying to be memorable for all the right reasons. Happy shopping!

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