The bass guitar is a cool instrument to play, whether you learn as a child or teenager, or you pick it up as an adult.
If you decide that you want to learn to play, having an instrument to learn on is essential. Hiring instruments is possible, but bass guitars are very affordable, so buying one usually makes more sense. You also need to buy an amplifier and make sure you have the necessary accessories, so it’s important to consider these in your budget. Take a look at our choices for some of the best Top 10 Beginner Bass Guitars and beginner bass guitar kits available. You can find out why we have made these picks and what each of these bass guitars has going for it.
When you’re learning bass guitar, choosing an affordable option is ideal. There’s no point spending a lot when you’re not sure if you will enjoy it or if you will continue to learn. You can always choose to buy a more sophisticated instrument later.
Ideally, a beginner’s bass guitar will still be good quality, even if it’s on the more affordable side. You might be looking for a smaller bass if you’re choosing one for a child or teenager, or you just have smaller hands. Most people start learning on a 4-string bass, although they can also have 5 strings. Some things to consider include comfort, sound and how easy the bass is to play.
Top 10 Beginner Bass Guitars
1. Yamaha BB234
A classy build with an awesome vintage-modern vibe
Price: $299/ £314 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 21, medium | Pickups: Custom V3 single-coil (bridge), Custom V3 split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x Volume, tone | Hardware: Vintage-style bridge, lightweight open-gear tuners, chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Vintage White, Black, Teal Blue, Natural Satin, Raspberry RedNo price informationCHECK AMAZONSee all prices (1 found)A really classy looking bassYamaha delivers a corker at a good priceP/J pickup configuration offers wide range of tonesA blend control knob would be niceSome players prefer an active bass
The BB234 does for basses what the Pacifica 112 does for the beginner electric guitar: it is living proof that Yamaha knows exactly how to make a formidable instrument of real substance for younger players and those on a budget.
A most inviting bass with a vintage-modern body shape and design, the BB234 has an exceptional build, with a warm and rich low-end that’s got a surprising amount of tones given the fuss-free control setup. This will cover most styles; ideal for when you’re still trying to work out what sort of player you are.
There’s no blend control or pickup selector, but playing around with the individual pickup volumes allows you to set the mix how you like it, with the tone knob on hand for fine-tuning.
2. Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro
The best short-scale bass for small fingers
Price: $179/£159 | Body: Agathis | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 28.6” | Fingerboard: Jatoba | Frets: 20 | Pickups: PSNDP split-coil (middle), PSNDJ bridge | Controls: 2x Volume, tone | Hardware: Ibanez B-10 bridge, chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Starlight Blue, Black, Pearl White, Orange Metallic, Brown Sunburst (w/Rosewood fingerboard), Transparent Red Rosewood, Weathered Black Rosewood, Metallic Purple, Root Beer MetallicNo price informationCHECK AMAZONSee all prices (1 found)Ideal for young bassistsThe price is a giveawaySmall bass, big tonesLots of finish optionsSome players prefer a longer scale
If you are looking for an entry-level bass for kids to get started on, this has got to be it. First off, it’s exceptional value, so in the worst-case scenario of them losing interest in the instrument it is not the biggest loss. Second, well, courtesy of its short scale – which is generously short of 30” – and slim neck profile, the chances of that worst-case scenario are minimal.
That said, we’re pretty sure bassists at all levels and all ages would have big fun on the Mikro. Its pokey scale lends itself to a nice rounded thump, but play around with the pickups and work the EQ on your amp and you can accommodate most styles.
There are heaps of cool finishes available. The setup is excellent, and the B-10 bridge a simple, solid design that allows easy adjustments to intonation.
3. Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q
The best active bass for beginners
Price: $349/£309 | Body: Poplar with quilt maple veneer | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Laurel | Frets: 24, jumbo | Pickups: 2x Jackson medium-output mini-humbuckers (bridge and middle) | Controls: Active 3-band EQ, volume (push/pull active/passive) pickup selector | Hardware: HiMass bridge, die-cast tuners, Chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Dark Sunburst, Amber Blue BurstUS$349.99VIEW AT AMAZONSee all prices (2 found)A really fun and stable bass to playAn affordable active optionIt has 3-band EQ and active/passive push/pullSolid build with excellent hardwareQuilt maple is a nice touchNot much
The Spectra Bass series shows the other side to Jackson, decommissioning the sharp edges with a sumptuously contoured, offset double-cutaway body and elongated upper horn.
Now, you might say this is not the most original design – it calls to mind basses such as Ibanez’s SR300E – but the contouring is quite different and it makes for a perfectly balanced and eminently playable bass. There’s a full two-octave fretboard and a neck that makes easy lifting of busy basslines.
You will find a wide range of tones here, with thick and warm low-end and that elastic bounce in the upper mids and baritone twang with the treble dialled in. The string-through-body HiMass bridge makes for a super-stable bass, and we love that there is push/pull for active or passive performance, meaning a drained battery come showtime is not the disaster it could be.
4. Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s Jazz Bass
The vintage ‘60s J-Bass with friendly 2020 price
Price: $399/£319 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Indian laurel | Frets: 20, narrow tall | Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico single-coil (bridge), Fender Designed Alnico split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x Volume, tone | Hardware: 4-Saddle Vintage Style with threaded steel saddles, vintage-style open-gear tuners, chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Daphne Blue, Black, 3-Color SunburstPrimeUS$399.99VIEW AT AMAZONPrimeUS$399.99View at AmazonPrimeUS$399.99View at AmazonSee all prices (6 found)A great representation of vintage Jazz Bass tonesValue for moneyLovely slim C neck profile makes it very playableGood range of tonesA couple of niggles with the finishNo left-handed options
This is the best vintage-inspired bass guitar for beginners, just beating the Classic Vibe ‘60s Precision Bass to the punch. You wouldn’t go wrong with the P-Bass but the Jazz Bass’s dual pickup configuration lends it that extra bit of range.
Of course, tone is a matter of taste, but there’s no arguments about the Classic Vibe’s credentials here. The Fender-designed Alnico pickups nail those early Jazz tones. Think that mid-range chewiness in the bridge position and warm, rounded thump in the neck, and there are plenty of tones in-between.
All in, the Classic Vibe Jazz Bass is excellent value. Setting aside the odd niggle with the finish, this is an excellent build, right down to the period-inspired logo on the headstock and the neck lacquer that makes it look as though it is just off a hundred-show run at a smokey dive bar.
5. Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4
An affordable take on a modern classic
Price: $299/£349 | Body: Basswood | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 21, medium | Pickups: 1x H – 1 Ceramic Humbucker (bridge) | Controls: Volume, Hi and Low Cut/Boost | Hardware: 4-saddle adjustable bridge, open-back tuners, Chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Mint Green, Black, Vintage Sunburst SatinNo price informationCHECK AMAZONSee all prices (1 found)It’s super-playableIt looks the real dealExcellent range of tonesLong-scale format might be cumbersome for younger players
The SUB, or “Sports Utility Bass,” Ray4 is the sort of instrument that makes you do a double take when you see the price tag. It looks like a StingRay, it feels like a Music Man StingRay, and yet it comes in at the 300-buck mark.
Now, obviously, to achieve this there is some downsizing, perhaps most notably in the electrics. Where the flagship Music Man StingRay 4 models have an active 18V pickup and preamp with 3-band EQ, the Ray4 has got the 9V active pickup and preamp combo with simplified 2-band hi and low cut/boost controls. But this hardly invalidates the Ray 4’s status as one of the best budget bass guitars on the bass market.
You can still tease all kinds of inspiring tones out of this, from the electric bounce of funk to more bruising low-end thunder for rock’n’roll, or simply roll back on that treble for woody jazz. The StingRay neck profile offers a taste of its top-dollar sibling’s feel, and, likewise, the fully adjustable bridge gives you a similar amount of control over string height and intonation. Altogether it feels like a grown-up bass.
6. Yamaha TRBX174EW
Exotic wood veneer, great feel, fresh price
Price: $224/£262 | Body: Mahogany with mango veneer | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Sonokeling | Frets: 24 | Pickups: Yamaha single-coil (bridge), Yamaha split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x Volume, tone | Hardware: Vintage-style bridge, chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Translucent Natural, Root Beer, Tobacco Brown Sunburst, BlackNo price informationCHECK AMAZONSee all prices (1 found)A well-balanced and super-playable entry-level bassExcellent neck profileAnother solid value option from YamahaNo good reasons, but a few dollars more could get you active electronics
Yamaha’s TRBX series has a similar body shape to the Jackson Spectra and Ibanez Soundgear basses, but here there’s a clever twist on the recipe by using a mango veneer on top of a solid mahogany body.
Mango? Yes, why not, and bass guitar design has always been one for using the so-called exotic tonewoods in pursuit of fresh adventures in low-end tone. Here, it is difficult to say how much the veneer contributes to the tone, but it gives this entry-level bass a pseudo-boutique vibe that’s surely a permission slip for working on your jazz-fusion chops.
And that’s what the TRB series is ideal for; honing your craft, making full use of the two-octave fingerboard, zipping up and down that svelte neck. Roll back the tone to dig into that rich mahogany warmth for some truly viscous low end or jack it up for punchy, articulate tones.
7. Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200
Compact powerhouse with active pickups and modern P-Bass vibe
Price: $299/£239 | Body: Poplar | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 32” | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 22, medium | Pickups: Dynamix J Style single-coil (bridge), Dynamix P Style split single-coil (middle) | Controls: master volume, balance, 2-band Active EQ | Hardware: Ibanez B-10 bridge, Ibanez covered tuners, chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Aqua Green, Vintage White, Black Flat, Sapphire Blue Metallic, Roadster Orange Metallic, Candy Apple Matte, Sea Foam Pearl GreenUS$299.99VIEW AT AMAZONUS$299.99View at AmazonSee all prices (3 found)A well-balanced and playable bassSuperb valueGreat choice of finishesNo passive mode
The Mezzo positions itself somewhere between the long-scale 34” basses and the short-scale basses of 30” and under. Is it a happy medium? It’s hard to argue it isn’t. The body shape is nicely contoured and fits snug against the body, and the 32” scale makes it feel a little more grown-up than the Mikro.
As a down-sized addition to Ibanez’s superlative Soundgear lineup, you can consider playability a given. The Mezzo’s neck is shorter than its Soundgear siblings but has the same width and profile, and it will flatter those of us working our way toward busy, show-stopping basslines.
The tone shoots for a classic active P-Bass voice, with the single-coil/split-coil configuration well exploited by the active 2-Band EQ and balance control. Whether you are a slap-happy funkster, a burgeoning jazz-fusion futurist, or simply a rocker holding it down in the pocket, the Mezzo has you covered.
8. Gretsch G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet Bass II
The best retro-rocking short-scale bass guitar for beginners
Price: $299/£319 | Body: Basswood | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 30.3” | Fingerboard: Walnut | Frets: 20, medium-jumbo | Pickups: 2x Gretsch mini-humbuckers (bridge and middle) | Controls: volume, tone, 3-way pickup selector | Hardware: 4-Saddle adjustable bridge, die-cast tuners, Chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Tobacco Sunburst, Torino Green, Walnut StainPrimeUS$299.99VIEW AT AMAZONSee all prices (2 found)It looks very coolShort-scale makes it extremely approachableGreat low-end thumpIt doesn’t have the widest range of tones
The Junior Jet Bass II is an exceptional option for beginners. It might be an entry-level Gretsch but it is one of the brand’s strengths that it can sustain that old-school rock ’n’ roll vibe across its stable and across all price points. Perhaps it’s something to do with the “G Arrow” tone and volume controls.
The only singlecut here, the Junior Jet Bass II has a basswood body, bolt-on maple neck and walnut fingerboard, and two mini-humbuckers in the bridge and middle positions. It is a passive bass but there’s a real exuberance to the tone that will flatter fingerstyle and flat-pickers alike.
The bridge pickup has a forthright presence to it, while the neck is not short on detail either. You could have a lot of fun running this through a Big Muff and pumping out eighth notes all night. Or rolling back the tone for busy jazz lines. Or, well, just having fun with this, period.
9. Epiphone EB-0
Siri, find me an old-school thunder merchant for under 300 bucks
Price: $269/£209 | Body: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany, bolt-on | Scale: 30.5” | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22, medium | Pickups: 1x Sidewinder humbucker (neck) | Controls: volume, tone | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Cherry, EbonyUS$435.99VIEW AT AMAZONSee all prices (2 found)Short-scale and simple setup is ideal for beginnersThere’s no denying it is one seriously cool bassThick low end tonesMight be too minimalist for some players
A big ol’ plank of mahogany with a big ol’ humbucker in the neck position. What else do you need? The genius of the EB-0 lies in its simplicity. One passive pickup, volume, tone; your fingers do the rest.
The short 30.5” scale is brilliant for beginners. The slim D profile neck has a gentle taper to it and fills the palm without feeling too clubby. Tone-wise, it’s all width and big on bottom. Crank it up, stick on an overdrive, and it’ll cause structural damage to your practice spot.
This, of course, is a good thing, and is by design. You don’t have a lot of range here, and it can sound dark to some ears, but there’s enough attack when playing with a pick and if you dial up the high-end on your amp you can get some deadly mid-range clank. Lovely stuff.
10. Spector Performer 4
A sleek, beginner-friendly four-string from the high-end masters
Price: $399/£347 | Body: Nato | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Amara ebony | Frets: 24, medium-jumbo | Pickups: Spector J style Single-coil (bridge), Spector P Style Split Single-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone | Hardware: Spector Standard bridge, JinHo JB150 tuners, black | Left-handed: No | Finish: Metallic Red, Solid White Gloss, Metallic Blue, Solid Black GlossNo price informationCHECK AMAZONSee all prices (1 found)The neck profile is excellentNice fingerboard feelWell-balanced in weight and in tonesNo active pickupsLimited finish options
Spector’s entry-level Performer series might not have the active electronics, the grained maple top or the pickups of its high-end models but it has the body shape, that sense of balance and proportion, and a playability that makes it a serious option at this price.
There is a passive P+J pickup configuration, with each pickup’s independent volume and tone controls allowing you to dial in your own blend of both. There’s a lot of musical tones to be had, and a lot of styles you can cover with this.
Slap players should surely find the funk. Rockers will find the thunder. And everyone should find that nato body nicely contoured. But the big selling point is its three-piece neck, which is stable, zippy and comfortable enough to support you through some epic jams.