Q: What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A: A bass player
Q: What’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a bassist?
A: The vacuum cleaner has to be plugged in to suck.
A young kid told his mother “Mommie, when I grow up I want to play the bass guitar.” His mother smiled, then said,”Now, honey, you know you can’t do both.”
Aaaah, bass players. So easy to make fun of. But so absolutely crucial to a professional-sounding band.
If you’re here to find out the 7 best bass guitars for beginners in 2020, there’re two potential reasons why:
1) You’ve decided that bass is the instrument for you, so you’re ready to purchase, but want to save money.
2) You’re the parent of a child that wants to try bass guitar, and you want a quick, easy and inexpensive way to get them what they want.
Whichever of these two you are, I’ve got good news for you… you’ve come to the right place!!
I’ve been a recording & performing songwriter, and a bass player, for decades. I also worked, for years, selling music instruments and equipment.
These two things have honed in me very informed, practical judgment and skill when’s itself to recommending to you just what you need, at the right price, for the right skill level.
A quick click of any links below will take you straight to the instrument of your choice for checkout. It couldn’t be easier.
But first, let’s educate you on HOW to choose the perfect bass!
That Amp Thing
In a few cases below, you’ll notice that the bass guitars I listed also come with a bass amp.
I did this deliberately for one main reason: it’s extremely hard to hear an electric bass guitar without an amp.
The high notes are okay, but as you play lower and lower on a bass, it gets harder and harder to hear.
Most people don’t want to invest in an instrument that will just be stuck in a corner soon. The reality is, a beginner that plays on a bass without an amp, is much more likely to lose interest in playing.
Why? Because there’s no punch. No power! No electricity that’s needed to drive those big, low frequencies.
Here’s an example of what I mean: if you could see the waveform that is produced when you play the lowest note on a bass guitar (the low “E”), you’d probably be surprised to see that it’s over 27 feet long!!
It takes a lot of juice to get something that massive amplified, just as it takes a lot of might to pick up a boulder, as opposed to a stone.
Human hearing is also not very good with low frequencies. We tend to hear best where human voices speak. That’s mostly above 100 Hertz.
All the open strings of the bass, however, are below 100 Hertz.
All that just means what I said earlier: the electric bass is hard to hear without an amp.
Keep this in mind as you look through the options. I’d much rather you get something that you will keep and play for years, than something that’s given up as “boring” after a short time.
Finally, perhaps the biggest reason to make sure you have an amp as well it’s so you can play with others. An electric bass is typically played alongside a drummer and at least one other rhythm instrument, like a guitar or keyboard.
Those instruments can be quite loud. So a bass played without an amp in that setting?? It just won’t be heard. Not at all.
And since much of the fun of music is playing with friends, you definitely don’t want you, or your child, to miss out on those good times!
So if you don’t already have a bass amp, I highly suggest you include that with a bass guitar.
You’ll be smiling at the excitement it will generate!
The 5-String Question
Another consideration that’s less important, but still comes up occasionally with my students, is whether or not to buy a 5-string bass.
A standard bass guitar has 4 strings. This is what you’ll almost always see someone playing in concert, Plus, practically every bass line you hear on the radio was played on a standard 4-string bass.
For that reason, as a music instructor, I always suggest that a student start with a normal 4-string model.
If a student can learn all those bass lines the way they were performed to begin with, on a 4-string, they’ll be well on their way to playing like a pro.
There is one situation where I DO recommend a 5-string, however: if you, or your child, listens to a favorite group or artist that DOES often, or always, use a 5-string bass, then chances are they’re going to want to play what their hero plays.
In that case, go for it.
If you’re not sure, just watch a video for free on YouTube of your (or their) favorite bass player and look for how many strings are on the bass.
Nine times out of ten… you’ll see four. 😉
I own THIS 5-STRING and love to play it, but, honestly, I’ve never had a gig where 5 strings were needed. Learn to get around the fretboard with 4 strings. Then you can get adventurous with more!
Alright… now that those caveats are out of the way… let’s explore your best options!
1) The Davison Bass “Beginner Pack”
First up on our list today is this bass guitar AND amp from “Davison Guitars“.
It gets great reviews (averaging 4 out of 5 stars), and comes with a starter amp, all for just over $100!
That’s rare at that price. In fact, it’s the only one I found that didn’t have poor reviews.
This as a true beginner bass package, for those who’ve never played before and who are probably under 13 years of age.
The amp that it comes with averages only 15 watts of power, so we’re not talking a very loud amp here, but it will at least be amplified enough to hear all the notes on the bass.
The bass comes in three different colors, so if black isn’t your, or your child’s, thing, no problemo. Blue or Sunburst will come to the rescue. 😉
This pack also comes with a strap and a carrying bag. These will be on the cheaper end, but since no grand stage is expecting a beginner student, that’s just fine at this point. So, this is truly a one-shot deal where you probably won’t have to buy anything else for quite a while.
If, one day, the student wants to play with other musicians, then you’ll have to get a stronger amp. But in light of how I’ve seen students progress, that probably won’t be for a year, or two, down the road.
In the meantime though, they’ll be having a blast sounding like the real deal, which will give them the impetus to study those classic bass lines and become… a real musician!
2) The SafePlus “Starters” Bass
The “P-Bass“, as players call it, has been renowned for decades. This beginner’s model obviously is paying homage to it, because the shape, parts and features all resemble the mighty Precision Bass!
But Fender Precision basses start at $600 and go WAY up from there (into the thousands!).
This one? Clocks in at UNDER $100!!
I think it’s safe to say that price tag won’t be curling your hair anytime soon! Lol
This package will be coming with a strap, a cable, a pic, and some allen wrenches for adjusting the action of the guitar.
Notice, however, it does NOT come with any amp.
So if Dad, a brother or sister, or some other relative has an extra amp lying around not being used, perfect beginner bass to pair with it!
There’s no choice of colors for this particular bass, but the one style that is available (deep blue) looks really good. Again, it’s so resembles a professional P-Bass but even I myself would not be ashamed to pick this baby up and play it live.
It comes in really strong from the perspective of reviews also: 84% of the people who bought it said that they would recommend it and gave it five stars.
Now that’s a strong endorsement!
You also get a gig bag, strap, pick, cable and adjustment wrenches included, so any beginner will have everything they need to get groovin’.
And if they actually know a little about bass guitars, even if they haven’t played… with the thousands of P-basses in the world today, they’ll probably recognize these contours as a bass to die for and be as happy as a drop D tuning in a metal band!
The whole package gives you extra piece of mind by providing a 6-month warranty and a 30-day Return Policy.
3) Squier Jaguar Beginner “Short Scale” Bass
Got a future bass guitar master who’s a little on the smaller side??
No problem; Fender has you covered!
Whether it’s because of young age, or a DNA-induced smaller stature, this Squier Jaguar Short-Scale Bass was designed with smaller hands, and reach, in mind.
A “short scale bass” only measures 30″ from the bridge to the nut.
Compare that to the standard scale which is out there today, which measures 34″, and you can see why this would be easier to play for those… who aren’t Michael Phelps! 😉
The body style of this bass guitar is modeled after the Fender “Jaguar“, another very famous line of guitars that Fender has made for decades. Notice how the cut is a little more “curvy” than the others we’ve seen so far.
You have three choices of color for this bass also: silver, black or red.
This bass will be a lot more versatile than the two we talked about previously. This is mostly because of the two pickups it has: one from a P-bass, and the other from a “Jazz Bass”.
What’s a jazz bass?? Well, you probably can guess… it’s yet ANOTHER famous Fender bass style (they know how to make winners, don’t they?!).
The jazz bass is one of my favorite basses… Check out my article on them RIGHT HERE to learn more about why!
Because you’re paying a bit more for this Squier bass, you’re backed a lot more by the manufacturer – Fender covers this bass to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for two (2) years from the date of original purchase! That’s the longest warranty on this list, and possibly in the whole industry!!
So if you want a good price AND a bass neck that’s easily within reach, with a company like Fender, you can’t go wrong.
Click this link to learn more!:
4) Yamaha TRBX174 Bass
Another company that has long-standing reputation for dependability and excellence in the music field is Yamaha. They are especially well-known for making great beginner instruments.
You can tell from the design of this Yamaha TRBX174 Bass that they are trying to go head-to-head with the Fender products. They are extremely similar: the shape; the pickups; the control knobs… the price! We just saw much the same on the Fender Jaguar.
The plus side on the Yamaha is that you get more color variations – seven to choose from, instead of three the Jaguar has. They are:
- “Root Beer”
- “Red Metallic”
- “Translucent Black”
- “Dark Blue Metallic”
- “Old Violin Sunburst”
- “Tobacco Brown Sunburst”
Also, this is the first guitar which you plug the cable into on the bottom SIDE of the guitar, not in a port on the front. I much prefer this design myself, since I don’t like the look of a cable popping out from the face of my guitar. It looks messy and gets in the way, I think, so this Yamaha is my favorite in our list thus far.
You’ll be pleased to know that Yamaha stands behind their products: they give their guitars a limited lifetime warranty on the Top, Back, Sides and Neck.
They also offer a 1-year warranty on the electronics/wiring & hardware (which include the tuners, bridge, nut, and saddle pins).
So there you go – another “can’t-go-wrong-for-the-price” option for your bouncing bass beginner!
5) Ibanez TMB100 Bass
I played for years in a band the guy who had one bass, and one bass only – an Ibanez!
They have made good products for decades also, and they offer dependable quality for all levels of players… including beginners.
The Ibanez TMB100 Bass is a good example of their beginners line of guitars. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but, like the ones we’ve covered so far, it gives you all the basics you need to sound good in a live band context.
I especially like the “Mint Green” color of this model. There are four other colors too, but if I were buying it… I’d be getting this minty freshness in a heartbeat! Lol
We’re back to plugging the cable into the front of the guitar for this bass. Not my favorite look, as I said, but for how cool this overall design is, and for how well it plays (based on all the reviews), I’d probably still buy it.
As Shakespeare said ( or should have): “Beauty maketh our heads to turn!” 😉
Ibanez has also adorned this bass guitar with a similar Jazz and P-bass pickup combination that we saw earlier on the Squire. You’ll see more of this combination. Fender has a huge following… even other manufacturers tip their hat to them!
One benefit Ibanez has over the others, though, is their custom control knobs. Each knob has a top and a bottom that work independently.
The top knob gives you a volume control for each of the two pickups.
The bottom knob allows for 2-band EQ control: the top of the knob boosts or cuts the treble frequencies, and the bottom of the knob boosts or cuts the bass frequency spectrum.
So, for all practical purposes, you actually have four knobs – two for volume, and two for EQ control.
Cool, huh?! That’s better than any bass we’ve seen this far, and it’s because of this richer tonal variety that we can dial in did I would choose this bass as my favorite in the under $200 category.
Here’s a video so you can hear it in action:
Whadja think?? Pretty impressive, right?
It’s amazing how good of an instrument we can get these days for such little money. Whether it’s because of capitalism, advancing factory robotics or some other unknown… who cares?! We just like getting great stuff for less, right?! LoL
Obviously, as we go up in price you start to see little tweaks upward in quality as well. This Ibanez is not the cheapest in our list, but may be the first one yet to offer a pretty professional feel and sound for a lot less than you’d normally pay for a “famous bass”.
If you like the look and sound as much as I do, follow these links to get one into your or your child’s hands in a jiffy. You’ll be glad you did!
6) Squier Affinity Series “PJ” Beginner Pack
Now we come to our second combination deal – a Fender- made bass guitar and bass amp specifically designed and constructed with beginners in mind.
Since Fender was the company that designed both of these pickups originally, and since both basses have been hugely popular for decades, well… they’re no dummies. You’ve got to give the people what they want!
The amp, just like we saw before, delivers 15 watts of power. This is just right for a beginner. Unless you or your child starts playing out on live gigs,
If and when the time comes when an audience will need to hear this bass, you can simply upgrade to get something with a little more “oomph”.
To get both an instrument AND an amp bearing the legendary Fender name for under $300 is quite a feat. But the company knows that if they put good tools within reach of progressing student musicians, they’ll probably have returning customers for life.
They take the gamble – you reap the benefits!
The reviews for this ensemble were, as is expected for this list, all above 4 stars (4.6 average). Quite a few actually said they gigged with this setup right after it was shipped to them and that it worked great.
As before with the other Fender Squier bass above, you again get that same, awesome “two (2) years from date of original purchase” warranty. Ooooo, the tinglies ya get from just sayin’ that! TWO YEARS!!! Ooooo…. !! LoL
Another hard-to-beat setup for the starting student musician – with a bass, amp, bag, cable and strap all included, once again, you’ll have no reason to buy anything else for a long time.
Do it right the first time and you’ll be helping them be the best they can be right outta the gate.
Here’s your link to for all the pertinent info!
7) Rogue LX200B Bass & Fender Rumble 25 Bass Amp
Okay, so now we come to my last recommendation… and it’s a bit different.
This is the best bass guitar and amp combination on today’s list, so I see this option as more for the experienced musician who is nonetheless starting to learn bass.
This is a fantastic “package deal” for someone who is probably going to be playing out fairly soon, either because they already play other instruments, or perhaps because they have already committed to a group and to playing out live.
That would be brave indeed, but I’ve done it myself and I know I wasn’t the first. It’s always easier to learn other musical instruments once you already can play one.
So if you’re taking up bass, but plan on playing in front of people with it sometime soon, I would get this package.
The bass and the amp are from two different companies. What I did here was put together the best quality bass and amp, at the lowest price I could find. For what’s available on the market right now, I don’t see anything better at the same price, or lower.
The Rogue LX200B Series III Bass Guitar is the first half of this equation. It has really good review ratings (4.6 average stars!), but to make it even better… it’s on sale right now at Guitar Center at just over $100!! Steal of a deal.
This bass sports two pickups, just like the previous four on the list. That versatility, combined with the many ways you’ll be able to change your tone with the EQ on the Rumble amp, gives you wide tonal dexterity, so you’ll be able to play any small venue with other musicians and not get drowned out.
The value in this combination is pretty unbeatable. Another big reason is the Fender Rumble 25 amp – instead of 10 or 15, this amp kicks out 25 watts of power, which is a considerable step up from anything else on this list! It’s the most power I could find at the lowest price from any online merchant.
If you ever want to play for an audience of more than a 100 one day, then you may have to upgrade to a higher wattage amp.
Then again, most sound people prefer that you not get too loud; they like to mic an amp just like this so they have control over its volume, but you still have a monitor to hear yourself play. So this could be the first, and last, amp you’ll ever need!
So, I obviously saved the best deal for last. This bass is currently on sale though, and I don’t know how long Guitar Center will keep it at this price. So if you like to save cash and you need a gig ready bass setup, click both of these links below, put them in your shopping cart, and get ’em delivered before they change the price.
Here’s to you bringing the Boom to the Room at a great gig soon! Don’t forget to invite us!!
Be A First-String Player!
As an addendum to our best of list, let me fill you in on a little industry secret: cheaper guitars always be shipped with very cheap strings.
Because of this, if you want to make any cheap guitar sound better within minutes, just order some good quality strings and put them on. The harmonic content, loudness and sustain will be improved immediately.
Most beginners probably won’t even care about this, but as they progress, and especially if they start playing with others, this is one quick, easy cheap way to sound better without buying more expensive equipment!
Hope this helps you make someone (yourself??) VERY happy by providing them with the bass guitar they’ve been wanting for a while now. Did you find one that’s just right?!
The links above were well-researched, and we believe they really are the Best Bass Guitars For Beginners at the moment (especially that last one!).
So save money; save time; stop shopping and start the playing! These are the best values out there for the big, bad bass!
Let us know how it goes with you, or your student/child, and make sure to check out our bass lessons here at Seriousgas.com. Being a private music instructor myself, I’m all about making proficiency on an instrument as attainable and as easy as possible.
The best music is often made that way. 🙂
Now, go… make… sounds!!