The electric bass guitar is my instrument of choice, my passion, and my specialty. I’ve you’re looking to buy your first bass guitar, I wholeheartedly welcome you to this journey. I will guide you through your first bass choice and the reasons as to why you should play bass guitar. I will teach you the basic elements of the ultimate grove instrument and everything you will need to start playing and also point you towards the Easiest Bass Guitar To Play, the best beginner bass guitar exercises and beginner bass guitar kits.
beginner bass guitar exercises
easiest bass guitar to play
1. Fender Mustang PJ Bass
When it comes to bass guitars, we wouldn’t be able to hold our heads high if we didn’t start with the granddaddy of bass guitars, the Fender Mustang PJ bass guitar.
Everyone who plays a bass guitar knows that Fender makes top rated bass guitars, and are known as one of the top bass guitar brands.
Why is this one on the list of best bass guitars? Well, for starters, it’s a classic bass guitar, with the tone and look that everyone can instantly recognize.
Why it special though? Well it has both the smooth “jazz” pickup from a Fender J-Bass, as well as the split pickups from a Fender P-Bass (hence the name PJ in the title).
With a rosewood fretboard, and a maple neck, this is a classy 4-string bass guitar, with good looks and an impressive range of tone to go along with it
- Classic tone.
- Can be used for jazz or funk with ease, due to multiple pickups.
- Internationally respected bass guitar model.
- Easy and comfortable to play.
- Used by many famous bands.
- Cost is quite high.
This bass guitar is definitely a top-rated bass guitar, and it’s easy to see why. Perfect tone, internationally used, can be used for funk, jazz, rock, and pretty much any other genre of music.
Aside from the somewhat hefty price, it’s the best beginners bass guitar you can get.
When it comes to classic bass guitars, you can’t get more classic with this one, and it will definitely turn heads if you bring it to a gig, show, or a practice.
If you don’t get it right away, you should add it to your bucket-list of cool bass guitars, as it’s quite possibly the best one to get (aside from a vintage Fender bass guitar, that is).
2. Sterling Ray4 Electric Bass
Another bass that has been around the block a few times, Music Man is one of the well known classically good bass guitar brands, and also for good reason.
They have been around for years, and everyone has heard of the Music Man Stingray bass guitar. However, this is the next level upgrade of that classic bass guitar, whilst still keeping the “ray” in its title as a homage to its father.
The Ray4 is a brilliant bass guitar. It’s hailed as one of the most comfortable bass guitars to play, with a good double cutaway, and attractive body shape to compliment any bassist who plays it.
This bass guitar boasts a humbucker pickup, which gives the tone it produces a rich complexity. If that wasn’t enough, it has a 2-band EQ for the beginner bassist to tweak the tone to be even sweeter when they play.
This model also boasts 4-strings, and with a Music Man, you don’t need much more.
- Humbucker pickup.
- 2-band EQ.
- Double-cutaway body for ease of playing.
- Variety of colors to choose from.
- Best bass guitar under $400.
- Little pricey for a beginner’s bass guitar.
As you can see, there isn’t much wrong with this bass guitar, which makes it a brilliant beginners bass guitar, apart from the price (akin to the Fender Mustang PJ).
If you’re looking at gong for a classic-rock tone for your music, then this bass guitar is the one for you, as it’s the best sounding bass guitar for that genre, hands down.
It’s easily recognizable, and once you have one, you’ll never want or need to get another bass guitar.
3. Ibanez GSR200 Electric Bass
And now we’re starting with a true beginner’s bass guitar, possible of the cheapest bass guitars for a beginner to start on.
Ibanez are well known in modern rock band circles, as they offer clear tones, are comfortable to play, and have reliable electronics. With the Ibanez GSR200, that’s no exception!
Don’t let low price of under $200 fool you, it’s a really popular bass guitar for a reason.
It comes with a one-piece maple neck, as well as dual P and J pickups, copying the Fender Mustang PJ bass in pickups layout. Don’t be surprised to see this bass guitar model being used by famous and newcomer bands alike.
- Best bass guitar under $200.
- Popular as a starter bass guitar.
- Dual pickups, both J and P.
- Multiple colors.
- Decent cutaway.
- Tone not as clear as a humbucker of similar quality.
- Electronics might give in after some time and playing.
- Very commonplace tone, lacking warmth and depth.
This bass guitar could quite possibly be the best cheap bass guitar on our list, but don’t let that dissuade you.
It might be the cheapest, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad bass guitar.
For the price range, it’s a good-quality bass guitar, and you shouldn’t overlook it due to the price.
In fact, if you’re wanting to start out on a bass guitar, then this one should be considered by any prospective bass guitarist to be.
4. Yamaha TRBX304 Electric Bass
Now we’re talking! Yamaha are a well known brand in the music world, as they make everything from top rated violins, to high quality digital pianos, to motorcycles (not musical instruments, but still worth mentioning).
As they’ve had success with all of their other ventures, it makes sense that they’d create a quality bass guitar or two, and this is definitely true!
The Yamaha TRBX304 is a well know, widely used bass guitar by many bands, and here’s why.
First of all, it sports the attractive curves of a double-cutaway, which makes playing the high notes particularly easier than without. It also comes in a variety of colors, which appeals to a great many bassists.
However, what makes it special is the double-humbucker pickups built into the body. One humbucker offers a richness of sound, but having two pickups means you can go for the bass-heavy tone that is needed for metal music, or use the treble-friendly tone that is needed for funk and pop music.
This bass guitar screams versatility, and as a beginner bass guitar, that’s what you’re needing!
Coming in between $300-$400, it’s still somewhat pricey for a beginners’ bass guitar, but worth it.
- Multiple colors.
- Twin humbucker pickups.
- Double-cutaway body.
- Multiple and complex electronics for tone adjustment.
- Price a little high for beginners.
- Would be more versatile with 5 strings.
As this bass guitar is used by many modern bands, it’s definitely a solid choice for any modern bass guitarist, and you can’t go wrong with this one.
In terms of versatility, it’s one of the best value bass guitars, as you can play multiple genres of music, and look and sound good doing it.
If you’re looking at a mid-to-high range bass guitar, then this is the one for you!
5. Epiphone EB-3 SG Bass
Epiphone. You’ve probably heard of this electric guitar and bass guitar brand, and if you haven’t then you’ve definitely seen and/or heard them.
Heard of Gun’s & Roses? Their lead guitarist plays an Epiphone. AC/DC? Also an Epiphone lead guitar. However, this is an electric bass guitar review, so let’s have a look at the Epiphone EB-3, and why it’s on this list.
It’s a classic bass (as are a few of the ones above us), and it’s been played in the blues and rock’n’roll band Cream. It looks like an Epiphone SG electric guitar, and sounds like the 50’s are singing in your ear when you play it.
It comes with not one, but two pickups. The main one is a standard humbucker at the base of the neck, and a mini-humbucker in the bridge.
This offers versatility of tone, and when combined with the mahogany body, it gives you a mean kick when you want to play anything from blues, to rock’n’roll, to swing music.
Yet another classic bass guitar, and you should want to add this one to your bucket list for sure!
- Classic body shape, with attractive real-rood color.
- Multiple picks for versatile tone.
- Complex electronics for added versatility.
- Widely used by many famous bands.
- A little pricey for a beginner’s bass guitar.
- No cutaway makes playing higher notes a little uncomfortable.
Alright, so this one might not be the best bass guitar for beginners, but it should definitely be considered when looking at upgrading your beginners bass guitar to something better.
It’s got a classic look, sound, and feel, and you should seriously consider getting this one if you’re a fan of the Rolling Stones, rock’n’roll, or blues music and jazz.
6. Squier (by Fender) Affinity Jazz Bass
If you look at the title of this bass guitar review, you might be wondering about it. Squier bass guitars are made by Fender, but not in the main factory.
Why would we be mentioning this? Well the top-shelf Fender bass guitars can get up to $1000 easily (unlike the $500 of the Fender Mustang at the top of these reviews).
So if you’re offered a Fender-made bass guitar around $200, then chances are you’re going to want to have a look at least. That’s where the Squire Affinity Jazz Bass comes in to the mix.
If you’re wanting to experiment with cheap rock tones, then you can find a Santa Fe bass for next to nothing, but the quality is too low for this review to comment on.
However, if you’re wanting a great-sounding jazz-style beginner’s bass guitar, then this is the one you’re going to need. It has dual pickups, and the classic “fender tuning pegs” for added authenticity.
The warmth of the jazz tone will bring back memories of the original Fender bass guitars, and that’s what every bass guitarist wants!
- Nice warm bass guitar tone.
- Made by Fender.
- Dual pickups for added tonal versatility.
- Not top-quality bass, can sometimes be outclassed by higher-grade basses.
If you’re wanting the signature Fender bass guitar tone, or want to try out the feel of a Fender without spending too much on it, then this bass guitar is the one you should go for. It’s made by Fender, and looks (and sounds) a lot like one too, so why not?
Many a bass guitarist started out on this bass guitar for the above-mentioned reasons, and we recommend that you consider it too.
7. Yamaha TRBX174 Electric Bass
Yet another incredibly popular beginners entry-level bass guitar, and yet another Yamaha bass guitar.
The TRBX174 is a common student’s bass guitar, due to the incredibly affordable price, and with P and J pickups, it’s not surprising that it’s a popular bass guitar in music schools.
This guitar has a steep cutaway, perfect for runs all the way up the 24-fret neck. If you’re a student bassist, then you’re going to want this to complete all of your music exams.
The glossy sheen that it has is just waiting for a few scuffs and scratches to give it personality, but that might take a while as the durability of this Yamaha bass guitar has been noted by many a bass guitar student in the past.
- Incredibly durable.
- Popular as a student bass guitar.
- 24-frets, perfect for runs and solo work.
- P and J pickups, good for multiple genres of music playing.
- Clarity of tone and quality of sound is lacking.
- Not an active-pickup bass, so volume is lacking too.
- Not respected by accomplished bassists.
One of the top student bass guitars on the market, it’s easy to find this bass guitar in most music shops, and if you’re lucky, you can get a combo deal that comes with a bass guitar amp, and bag, and cable.
A really good choice for a first bass guitar if you’re unsure about the severity of your future play levels.
8. Ibanez AEB5E Acoustic-Electric Bass
We would be amiss if we didn’t mention the famed acoustic bass guitar. However, as this is a beginner’s bass guitar review guide, we can’t talk about the expensive Warwick, Taylor, or other custom-made acoustic bass guitars.
Now, if you speak to any professional bass guitarist, they will tell you that an acoustic bass guitar is the best sounding through an amplifier. Yes, this might sound like a redundancy, but don’t worry, it’s not.
The acoustic side of the bass guitar is great for any beginner bassist who wants to practice wherever they go, without needing an amp. This is always useful, don’t let anyone tell you anything differently.
However, if you’re going for an acoustic bass guitar, then make sure you get an acoustic-electric bass guitar.
Why should you get one with a pickup? Because any bass guitar sounds better through an amp, all bassists agree on this.
If you add the hollow body of the acoustic bass guitar, it means the sound waves get in a few extra bounces before going through the pickup to the amp.
This will give you one of the richest bass guitar tones you’re ever going to get through a bass amp
- Acoustic bass guitar, you can play it anywhere.
- Rich tone when played through an amp.
- All bass guitarists want one.
- Affordable price at around $300.
- Usually has 18-frets, instead of 24.
- Somewhat uncomfortable to play, due to body thickness.
If you’re wanting to add to your collection, or you’re thinking of recording your bass guitar, then this is the one for you.
All bassists want an acoustic bass guitar, and if you get this one, it’ll be the talk of the music school.
You can bring it anywhere to play, and if you need to plug it into an amplifier, then you’re just going to end up happier.
Common Mistakes When Buying Your First Guitar
Often people get inspired to play guitar and jump straight to purchasing something that might not suit them. Here are seven common mistakes people make when buying their first guitar:
Mistake #1. Getting the wrong sound – Classical, Acoustic or Electric?
You have 3 basic choices of sound when you buy a guitar:
- Nylon String Classical
- Steel String Acoustic
A lot of people believe that the best choice is to start on an Acoustic Guitar and build up to an Electric Guitar. However, I think that your first guitar should be appropriate to the style of music you enjoy listening to.
If you like AC/DC, Green Day, or say the Foo Fighters, you really need an Electric Guitar to get the sound you want. If you like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper or Taylor Swift, an Acoustic Guitar could be a good choice. Nylon String Guitars sound great for flamenco music, classical music and a lot of traditional music.
Having said this, if it’s for a child under 12 we normally do recommend a nylon string as it’s easier for them to press the strings down. Some children can have tougher hands than others, so if you have a rough and tumble child, they mght be able to handle steel strings earlier than usual. Check out our buying guide for Choosing a Guitar for a Child for more information.
If you’re not sure what type of guitar is best for you, then just think of the music that you like to listen to the most, and call or email us. We will give you a personalized recommendation.
Mistake #2. Getting the wrong size
This is something that a lot of people get wrong. Electric Guitars are much smaller than Steel-String Acoustic Guitars and Nylon String Classical Guitars, they can basically be used by most people, but you do need to consider the extra weight. An Electric Guitar can weigh 5-6 Kg which can be difficult for children to handle. We would normally recommend children be at least 13 years before they try an Electric Guitar, but this is a generalisation and some children (sometimes as young as 10) have been ok. Every child is different, and some children may be capable at a younger age, so if you consider your child to be quite strong for their age, then by all means go for an electric. We carry a broad range of sizes in our entry level range. The correct size is most accurately determined by the player’s height, age and in some cases gender. If you can tell us these three details we can give you a personal recommendation.
- Smaller in size than acoustic or classical
- Good for rock, metal, pop and country music
- Has steel strings which can be hard on young fingers
- Can be heavy, depending on the model.
- Recommended for:
- Good for folk, pop, country, slow rock music
- Has steel strings which can be hard on young fingers
- Sounds bright and loud, great for strumming chords
- Light weight but bulky
- Recommended for:
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|5 – 12||100 – 120||3/4 Size – See LSP34|
|12 – 15||120 – 165||Small Body – See LSPS|
|15+||165 +||Full Size – See LSP|
Classical Guitar (Nylon String Guitar):
- Good for classical, flamenco, Spanish music.
- Available in the smallest size – 1/4 size.
- Gentle on finger tips – perfect for young children
- Sounds mellow and soft – not as loud as acoustic
- Recommended for:
|Age||Height (cm)||Recommended Size|
|2 – 5||75 – 100||1/4 Size – See CL14|
|5 – 8||100 – 125||1/2 Size – See CL12|
|8 – 12||125 – 165||3/4 Size – See CL34|
|12+||165 +||Full Size – See CL44*|
* A full size classical guitar has a wider neck than other guitars. If you have small hands we recommend the CL44S slim neck classical guitar.
Mistake #3: Buying a guitar with strings that are too high and hard to play
String action is one of the critical things for getting an easy to play guitar. The easiest way to understand action is that it’s just the measurement of the gap from the bottom of the string, to the top of the fret and it’s measured at the 12th fret (the half way pint of the string).
For a beginner we recommend an action of:
- Electric Guitars 2-2.3mm
- Acoustic Guitars 2-2.7mm
- Nylon String Guitars 3-3.6mm
A common issue with most entry level nylon string guitars is that the necks are usually made in a very traditional manner using a section of metal bar a few mm thick to keep the neck straight (you can’t see this bar it is built into the neck).
We started finding that this type of construction leads to the neck bending (or bowing) after about 6 months. Unfortunately with the traditional method there is not an easy way to adjust it back to normal – once it is bent it’s time to get a new guitar! This lead us to re design our classical guitars to use a truss rod. A truss rod is a much stronger example of the bar used in traditional manufacturing, but its main advantage is that it is adjustable. So if in the future you neck begins to bend it can easily be adjusted back into correct shape. Here’s our guide to adjusting your truss rod.
Mistake #4: Getting stuck with bad machine heads guitar that don’t stay in tune
Here is an example of a basic covered machine head:
These are made out of gears and pressed metal, it used to be the only way to make machine heads (so a lot of vintage guitars use this type). While it can look cool and retro, these vintage style tuners are often very hard to tune and to keep in tune.
Now there is a modern way to get a much better guitar – the die-cast machine head:
Made from a mould these machine heads are much smoother and more accurate than a covered machine head.
Mistake #5: Choosing a popular brand name because you think you’re getting a superior product
Most popular brand name guitars are indeed very good quality at the higher levels but their entry level guitars, in our experience, are not such a great deal.
In the entry-level market, brand-name guitar companies are usually forced to make their guitars with cheaper materials. There is a simple reason for this. Most major brand-name companies have a brand owner (sometimes an American company). That company buys from a factory in China, and in Australia they will have a distributor who will sell to a retailer (your local music store). It’s pretty easy to see why they can be forced to use cheaper materials. There is a lot of price pressure to get a guitar manufactured at a low enough price for everybody to take their cut of the profit down the chain.
At Artist Guitars we manufacture our Australian designed guitars at our trusted factory in China and sell direct to you. There is no need for us to choose inferior components because we don’t have the pressure of keeping the costs low.
Mistake #6: Buying a guitar without any support materials
When most people buy their first guitar they can be a little confused about what to do. A guitar can be a confusing purchase and most guitars don’t even come with a manual explaining how to use them. That becomes a problem because most people then have to search for the information (which
can be hard to find).
Unfortunately it’s during this critical time that a lot of people get discouraged and may even give up on playing altogether. The first 6 months of learning guitar are critical, statistics show that if someone can still be playing at 6 months they will be much more likely to go on to play guitar for life, so the first 6 months are actually the most important time.
Mistake #7: Paying for features you just don’t need
At the beginner level, you need a good quality instrument, but having a more expensive instrument generally doesn’t make your playing any easier. Higher level instruments are designed for high-level players who want the ultimate in sound.
As a beginner most people are not very sure of the sound, style or type of guitar that they would ultimately like to play, but after playing for 6 months or so I’m sure you will know a lot more about guitars and when it comes time to choose your next guitar it will be an easy choice. The key features a beginner needs is a guitar that is well set-up and easy to play, but you don’t really need to spend too much money on getting a better quality of sound. Higher level guitars will only sound better when your playing has progressed to the level that you can play quite well.
Most beginners find that during the process of learning (after a year or so) you will figure out your own sound. You will naturally be drawn to music that features guitar in it, and great guitar parts. So what usually happens is that your own musical tastes will change and with this change the type of instrument that suits your sound the best will also change. So when you’re ready to take the next step, you will have a much better idea of what you really want.
So in summary…
The 7 key mistakes when buying a beginner guitar are :
- Getting the wrong sound
- Getting the wrong size
- Buying a guitar with strings that are too high and hard to play
- Getting stuck with bad machine heads guitar that don’t stay in tune
- Buying a brand name and thinking you will be getting a better guitar.
- Buying a guitar without any support materials
- Paying for features you just don’t need