Bass Guitars for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide
Learning to play the bass guitar can be challenging and time-consuming. It can be more difficult if you don’t have a good bass guitar. However, no matter your ability level, having fun playing the bass requires a different approach than playing an electric guitar. For example, a bass player in a deep register has a longer neck, thicker strings, and plays with other techniques. They also have a specific role in a band situation.
As a bassist, you connect the drummer with the band. It will help keep everything in sync. Although you have lots of room to show off your skills, don’t worry!
There are many different types of bass guitars on the market. They all have different features and components. There is no perfect bass guitar, but we can help you find one that is the best for you. We will examine the different bass guitars’ benefits and downsides.
Quick Picks: Bass Guitars for Beginners
5 Best Beginner Bass Guitars
1. Classic Vibe 70’S Jazz Bass V – Maple – Natural Squier By Fender
Because it is easy to learn and affordable, the Fender Jazz Bass is one of the best beginner guitars. It also has a standard size, which makes it comfortable to hold. Additionally, the Fender Jazz Bass can be used in a band setting.
The bass guitar is a relatively common form of guitar. The fretted neck has a scale length of 24″. It is simple to find and usually inexpensive.
2. Sterling By Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar
Songs Guy bass guitars have always been a high-quality choice for beginner bass guitars. They are known for their excellent efficiency, quality, and exclusive price. Sterling is a business that works with Songs Guy, which makes them similar to Squier and Fender.
Sterling by Songs Guy S.U.B. Collection Ray4 is an affordable variation of the original Hurting Ray collection. It has a great sound that is powerful and rich. You can adjust the tone to be whatever you want it to be with a flexible, energetic humbucker and two-band EQ.
Sterling by Songs Guy S.U.B. Collection Ray4 is an excellent beginner bass guitar because it will meet your needs as you progress from beginner to advanced player. It is also suitable for more experienced players. Although it is a bit more expensive, Sterling by Songs Guy S.U.B. Collection Ray4 is worth the investment.
3. Yamaha 4 String Bass Guitar, Right Handed, Translucent Black, 4-String (TRBX174EW TBL)
The mahogany body makes the guitar light and comfortable to hold, whether standing or sitting. The bolt-on maple neck is easy to play with, with a rosewood fretboard and 24 frets.
This bass guitar features a Jazz-style single-coil pickup and a Precision-style single-coil pickup. These knobs give you control over the instrument’s volume and tone. Because of this, it is a very adaptable bass guitar. It is well made for a mass-produced guitar. So it is suitable for beginners.
4. Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right, Brown Sunburst (GSRM20BS)
The next thing we want to show you is a unique little bass guitar from Ibanez. It is just one of their brief range models which have become very popular. In many ways, this bass is very similar to their GSR200 model, and it just has a much shorter neck.
What are the advantages of this design? First, it is easier for both beginners and those with smaller hands to play. While it might seem like you are losing something by having a few inches cut off from the range, the truth is that the difference is limited at best.
The quality of this bass guitar is excellent. It has a nice combination of Agathis body and a standard maple neck. The equipment is strong and holds the adjustments well, and the pickups give you a good range of tones to play with. You might want to consider the Ibanez GSRM20 as one of the beginner’s bass guitars.
5. Schecter OMEN-4 Left Handed 4-String Bass Guitar, Black
Schecter is one of the best bass guitar brands for getting value for your money. Most of their models can provide more than what you would expect for the price. The Schecter Omen 4 is an excellent example of this.
This model of Schecter has a broader range of abilities than other models. It is also less aggressive looking. It has an energetic set of pickups and an excellent two-band EQ area.
The tone of this guitar is versatile. With two warm humbuckers, you can create a lot of intensity for accurate work or get a fat sound when you want to be sloppy. This guitar will serve you well as a beginner for a long time. You might consider the Schecter Omen 4 as one of the best bass guitars for beginners.
What Are the Different Bass Guitar Styles?
Various bass guitars are available, ranging from the more traditional, classic design to a full-on metal-sounding guitar. The different bass guitar types, as well as their essential features and attributes, are listed here.
Electric bass guitars are the most prevalent type of bass guitar. They are available in various styles, including upright, fretless, and double bass. They can be directly linked to an amplifier or a sound system.
Electric guitars are easier to play than solid-body guitars.
Furthermore, they are frequently lighter than their solid-body counterparts.
These instruments are perfect for playing music that has a rock or pop feel. They are also excellent for playing a variety of styles and are frequently the first instrument purchased by a new bassist.
The main disadvantages of electric bass guitars are that they are less comfortable to play than solid-body equivalents and have shorter sustain. Because they are not made of solid wood, the sound does not last as long.
The acoustic bass guitar is intended to be played as a musical instrument. It has a body that is more similar to an acoustic guitar than an electric guitar.
The fundamental features include a scale length of 24 inches, a fretted or fretless neck, and a bridge that allows the bassist to regulate the string tension.
Acoustic bass guitars have a thinner necks than electric bass guitars. They are usually utilized for slower, more acoustic music. They are frequently used in jazz and classical music.
Fretless bass guitars can be used for many different types of music, but they are mainly used in jazz and funk.
These bass guitars are usually 24 inches long, have frets on the neck, and a bridge that lets the bassist adjust the tension of the strings.
Fretless bass guitars are easier to play and better for fingerpicking than fretted bass guitars.
However, fretless bass guitars might be challenging to play if you are unfamiliar with them.
Solid-body bass guitars are easier to play and are suitable for fingerpicking.
Bass guitars are generally about 24 inches long, have frets on the neck, and a bridge that allows you to regulate the string tension.
Solid-body basses are typically more expensive than their electric counterparts. However, they are simpler to use and more comfortable to grip.
Additionally, they are great for playing in a band setting.
The main downside of solid-body bass guitars is that they are heavier than electric bass guitars.
Electric-acoustic bass guitars are guitars that have both electric and acoustic features.
They have a 24″ scale, a fretted neck, and a bridge that adjusts string tension. It helps create a sound that is unique to the bass guitar.
An electric bass guitar is more similar to an acoustic guitar than a regular electric guitar.
These instruments are perfect for use in a band setting.
They are more comfortable to play and better suited for fingerpicking than acoustic bass guitars.
Electronic bass guitars are similar to regular bass guitars but have been modified to work with computers.
The conventional bass guitar has a scale length of 24 inches, a fretted neck, and a bridge that allows the bassist to alter the string tension.
They aid in the recording of the bassist’s performance.
The primary disadvantage of electronic bass guitars is their lack of portability.
Buying Tips for the Best Beginner Bass Guitars
The most challenging aspect of playing the Bass is familiarity with the fingerboard geography. A bass guitar has a very long neck. It’s longer and broader, and the frets are farther apart – this is notably noticeable by cross-over guitarists.
As you begin playing, you will naturally experience soreness in your fingers. This will pass, and your fingers will get harder. In the meanwhile, take a rest when your muscles begin to ache. Finding a beginning bass that plays well can help this bedding-in stage go more smoothly, so if your fingers are incredibly sore, check out a few different basses and determine which one feels the most playable.
How to Select the Best Bass Guitar for Beginners (Buying Guide)
Purchasing a bass guitar may be difficult, mainly if it is your first. Never before in bass history have there been so many alternatives to pick from; new manufacturers are constantly emerging while existing companies continue to create better and better instruments with more features and at lower rates than ever before. It’s an exciting time to be a bassist, but it’s even more thrilling to obtain your first Bass.
In this tutorial, we’ll go over some of the fundamentals as well as some more advanced characteristics and ideas of bass guitars so that, by the conclusion, you’ll be able to choose the perfect instrument for your requirements.
There are various things you should know and questions you should ask yourself before rushing out and purchasing the first axe you see that you like the form or color of.
Should I go with the short or long scale?
Scale length pertains to the distance between the nut and the bridge of a stringed instrument. The usual length of the neck of a bass guitar is 34 inches. Though much longer than a guitar’s, this allows the Bass to keep its tone, feel, and string tension even when playing at lower frequencies. It may be a stretch for some, but after you’ve gotten accustomed to playing a long-scale bass, you’ll have a far more extensive selection of items to pick from when it comes time to upgrade.
The scale length of a small-scale bass is generally approximately 30″ or shorter in the case of the Squier Mini Precision Bass or Ibanez Mikro. These are often favored for their more rounded low-end, which may be useful when performing with other instruments. However, they are a terrific alternative to explore for younger players, and inexpensive short-scale basses are often marketed towards this market.
If you desire something in the center, a medium-scale bass is the one for you. Medium-scale basses are less frequent and typically measure approximately 32″ in length. The Ibanez Mezzo in this tutorial has a 32″ scale, and its frets are a touch closer together, making the neck a little more approachable.
Is an active or passive bass guitar better for me?
Passive basses produce all of their sounds via their pickups. Active basses include an integrated preamp often powered by one or two 9V batteries. These increase the bass sound and usually contain a two or three-band EQ to reduce or amplify specific frequencies.
Neither one is better than the other. A passive bass, as some would have it, is more dynamic and highlights the subtleties of your playing, plus it never needs a battery.
Advocates for active basses may respond by emphasizing the inbuilt preamp’s hum-canceling and tone-shaping capabilities. Many people like that the active signal is somewhat compressed, even if you are playing.
While finding an active bass for under $400 may be tricky, we have a few active alternatives here, including Jackson’s superb Spectra, which includes a push-pull mechanism on the volume control to activate or bypass the onboard preamp.
Is ‘tonewood’ essential for first-time bass guitar buyers?
When deciding on the finest beginning bass guitar for you, it’s essential to understand what wood your Bass is made of and how it impacts your tone – thus the phrase “tonewood.” Mahogany-bodied basses, such as Epiphone’s EB-0, offer a warmer tone, maybe a touch softer around the edges than alder or ash.
Just as mahogany conjures up images of Gibson guitars, alder-bodied instruments conjure up images of Fender guitars, with full-bodied clarity and robust low-end. At the same time, basswood delivers a well-balanced tone with a reasonable degree of weight to the low end.
Poplar is another tonewood you could discover here, which is pretty balanced but without a distinct tonal leaning. This ‘blank canvas’ approach may pique the interest of some, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Which is the best? Whatever feels and sounds right to you. That is all that is important.
What are the best pickups?
Another essential factor to consider when searching for the finest beginner bass guitar is the pickups, which are the tone generators at the instrument’s core. There are two types of pickups: single coil and humbucker.
Single coil pickups are common on older models and have a little lower power, allowing them to keep a clean tone for longer.
Humbuckers are often advertised as having a larger, thicker sound and a hotter output. What’s best for you is a matter of personal choice. However, humbucker pickups may appeal to people interested in performing harder music.
A Bass Guitar’s Anatomy
The Headstock: This is the section at the end of the neck where your tuning keys are and where most manufacturers place their branding.
The Neck: This is the section of the Bass where you play notes. It is bolted or bonded to the body and contains the fretboard with frets, dot markers, and the truss rod nut for regulating the neck’s tension and relief.
The Nut: The strings rest here at the headstock’s base, and how their vibrations are transmitted to the neck and, ultimately, the body depends on the headstock’s composition (bone, plastic, or metal, respectively). Different materials will provide modest variations in tone.
The Fretboard: This is where the frets and dot markers are situated. It is often made of some form of hardwood (Ebony, Rosewood, or Maple are mainstays), and the material used determines the tone of your Bass.
The Frets: These are the metal wires put into the fretboard; each fret symbolizes a musical note, and the number of frets varies – generally between 20 and 24. (2 octaves per string)
The Body: The body of a bass is typically constructed from one or more solid pieces of wood bonded together. Pickups (or a single pickup in some instances), neck joint and heel (where the neck connects the body), bridge (where the strings are fastened and adjusted), different control knobs ( tone control and 1 or 2 volume knobs are normal), and input jack are all located here (where you plug in your guitar cable). The electronics compartment, which houses all pots and electronics, is located on the rear of the body. It is, however, sometimes seen under the pickguard on the front of the instrument.
Pickups lie underneath the strings and turn their vibrations into an electrical signal, amplified by your amp through the guitar cord.
The Bridge: Also known as the tailpiece, the solid metal piece where the strings are fastened and changed for height, intonation, and occasionally string spacing.
Knowing what you want:
Do you have any favorite bass players? Is there a particular bass sound you want to replicate? For example, Motown icon James Jamerson had a very different setup and approach to the bass guitar than Metallica’s Robert Trujillo. When searching for your first or next Bass, answering some of these questions may help point you on the correct path.
Knowing what you’ve got:
It is critical to set a budget for your Bass. It will assist you in narrowing down your alternatives from among hundreds.
Where are you in your bass-playing journey? If you’re beginning on the Bass, avoid fretless or extended-range basses like five and 6-strings. These have higher learning curves than a regular fretted 4-string bass, which might make your development sluggish, frustrating, or both.
Knowing what you require:
Because it will hang from your shoulder for hundreds of hours, a good first bass should be light and comfy. It must be simple to play, have a wonderful tone, and suit your bass demands without impeding your growth as you refine your technique.
What kind of music do you wish to perform?
Those basses are designed for specific styles of music, and although a decent instrument will work well in any scenario, some will make your life simpler than others. For example, if you play metal, a bass with a 35′′ scale length (which allows for tighter drop tunings) might be preferable to a 34′′ scale bass like a Fender Jazz. That’s not to say you can’t accomplish it on an ancient Jazz Bass. Certain tools are more suited for specific activities than others, and understanding those duties can help you pick the best Bass for your requirements.
How many strings are required?
The majority of bass guitars you’ll come across will have four strings (E, A, D, G). This is the industry norm, and you may go your whole life without ever touching an extended-range bass (5-string or 6-string), as many bass superstars did. A 4-stringed bass is an excellent place to start if you’re new to the instrument.
The “low B” string is below the E string on a regular bass. A 5-string bass (typically B-E-A-D-G) adds a layer of intricacy. The “high C” string is added above the G string in a 6-string (B-E-A-D-G-C). Although the advent of rock and metal has made a “low B” prevalent, you may restring a 4-string bass with a B-E-A-D. This makes things easier since you won’t have to change your playing style to accommodate an additional string while still gaining access to the low register of the B string.
The takeaway here is: If you’re starting, shun the extended-range basses for the time being. If you perform in a band that requires a low B, you may restring your 4-string Bass.
Scale Length Explained
Scale length is the distance from the neck’s nut to the bridge that defines how long the bass neck is. It impacts how your bass sounds, handles, and feels to play. The usual scale length for an electric bass guitar is 34 inches, sometimes known as “long scale,” and is used on the Fender Precision and Jazz basses. 30′′ or less is considered “small scale,” as in Paul McCartney’s violin bass, 30′′-33′′ is considered “medium scale,” and 35′′ or above is considered “extra-long scale.”
Short-scale basses feature softer and more melodic mid-tones than regular 34′′ scale basses, but extra-long-scale basses have tighter lows and punchier mids. As a result, many metal bassists choose extra-long scale basses. Another factor to consider is that as the scale length of the bass increases, so does the total weight of the instrument. Longer necks need bigger bodies to compensate. Because of their shorter necks and lighter bodies, small and medium-scale basses are ideal for youngsters or short individuals.
A shorter neck also implies less distance between frets, so little hands don’t have to extend as much while playing. Don’t be concerned about the size of your hands since, like many others before you. You’ll learn to adjust to any scale length.
Bottom line: If you have tiny hands or like the more harmonically rich sound of shorter scale lengths, choose the short/medium scale option. Keep in mind that a child’s little hands will not last forever. Extra long-scale basses may be your best choice if you wish to play metal.
Bass Fretted vs. Fretless
Metal frets are put into the fingerboard of standard bass guitars to identify the precise location where a specific note will ring true (fretted Bass). In contrast, to generate the same note on a violin or double Bass, you must know where to lay your finger. A fretless bass is similar to fretted Bass, except that all the frets have been removed. Playing fretless is not suggested for someone just beginning with the bass guitar. Therefore if you are a beginner, acquire a regular fretted bass – you will be glad you did in the long run.
Body Woods Explained
The kind of wood used to make a bass guitar has a significant impact on its sound. Harder woods generate a more sharp, percussive tone with more sustain, and softer woods give a warmer, mellower sound. Ebony, Rosewood, Hard, Rock, and Maple are some of the hardwoods used in constructing bass guitars. These are usually used for fretboards, while Walnut, Wenge, Mahogany, Koa, and Bubinga are used for bodies. Alder, Swamp Ash, and Basswood are the softer woods utilized as resonance woods for bass bodies.
Because of its well-balanced sound, alder is one of the most often utilized woods in bass construction, with well-defined lows, punchy mids, and clear highs.
Swamp Ash has less snappy mids and a more noticeable high end than Alder, but it has a powerful bass end and sounds transparent and pleasant.
Basswood is used for less expensive basses and gives a warm and clear tone.
Mahogany is a tonewood that falls halfway between hard and soft. It is often used in electric basses and guitars’ bodies, producing a deeper sound with a well-balanced tone and less noticeable highs than softer woods.
The kind of wood used for the fretboard will also affect the tone of the Bass. Rosewood, Ebony, and Maple are the most frequent fretboard woods, with Rosewood being the most common of the three.
Rosewood fretboards provide a mellower sound, even out harsher frequencies, and give your Bass a warm, rich tone.
For ages, Ebony has been utilized to produce fretboards for classical instruments such as cellos and violins. An Ebony fretboard has a bright and crisp tone with exceptional attack and sustain.
A Maple fretboard has a bright tone (similar to but not as loud as Ebony) and well-defined lows with a strong punch and sustain.
Neck Types Explained
How a bass guitar’s neck and body are attached affects how the instrument resonates, hence its tonal qualities. The bass world has three popular kinds of neck joints: bolt-on, set neck, and neck-through design.
The bolt-on neck joint is the most common form of the neck joint. The neck is attached to the body using screws or bolts, as the name implies. Bolt-on-neck basses are less labor-intensive and time-consuming than the other two variants. Because of this, the bolt-on neck joint is used on most entry-level basses. However, this does not imply that it is inferior to the other categories. A bolt-on design will have the quickest attack but less sustain than a set-neck or neck-through design. Many’slap bass players choose basses with bolt-on necks because of their rapid attack and secondary sustain using this approach. Furthermore, all Fender basses have bolt-on necks, and nothing is more iconic than a P-bass.
A pocket is carved into the body, and the neck is cemented using the set neck, commonly known as a dovetail. This neck joint takes more luthier ability than a bolt-on neck and is often seen on higher-priced basses. It is a hybrid of the bolt-on and neck-through designs, with a quick attack (albeit not as fast as the bolt-on) and increased sustain (not as much as a neck-through).
The neck-through neck joint is featured on the more expensive end of the bass guitar pricing range. The neck will run the length of the Bass, and the “body” will be bonded directly to the sides of the neck. A neck-through bass has a stronger bottom sound, a slower attack than a bolt-on neck, and a long sustain. Because of the “piano string” like tone quality, this design is appreciated among players who like to solo.
The pickups of an electric guitar or Bass transform the strings’ vibrations into a signal amplified by your amp. As a result, they significantly impact your tone, and you must select intelligently since each pickup type has pros and downsides.
On most basses, you’ll find three main pickup designs: single-coil, humbucker or double coil, and split coil.
A single coil is wrapped around the magnet within the housing of the single-coil pickup. They generate a bright and powerful tone. However, like with a Fender Jazz Bass, single-coil pickups will pick up noise or “hum” from anything (computers, fluorescent lamps, radio waves) when the levels on both pickups are not the same. Humbuckers and split coils were invented to prevent this buzzing.
The humbucker is a double-coil pickup. Essentially, two single-coil pickups are out of phase and bonded to balance the hum that single-coils are notorious for. They provide more power while sounding darker and less brilliant than single-coils. This pickup configuration may be found on a variety of MusicMan basses.
As shown on the Fender Precision Bass, the split-coil design is essentially a double-coil pickup divided into two parts, with each half lying beneath two bass strings. This pickup produces a sound with meaty lows and forceful mids but less high-end sparkle than humbucker or single-coil pickups.
Active vs. Passive Electronics
During the earliest stages of the electric Bass, there were few choices for shaping the tone of your instrument. You either combined your pickup levels in various ratios or utilized the tone control knob, which only allows you to reduce high frequencies. Because passive basses lack tonal diversity, players looking for greater control over their sound have turned to active onboard electronics.
An active bass is typically a conventional bass with passive pickups. Still, it is outfitted with an active – battery-powered – preamp powered by a 9V block battery or two (18V – with better fidelity and headroom). Most active onboard preamps provide a 2- or 3-band EQ with boost and cut functions. Active basses, in addition to more adaptability and tonal control, are less prone to introducing noise or interference and will give a hotter signal with less deterioration than passive basses. NOTE: Leaving your cable hooked into your Bass may deplete the battery, so unhook it or switch it to passive mode (most preamps let you do this).
The tuning keys and the bridge are two musically crucial components of a bass’s hardware. Tuning keys are classified into two types: sealed and open-backed. The difference is that open-backed tuners must be cleaned and oiled regularly. The bridge or tailpiece is an essential part of your Bass. It’s where the strings connect to and pass through the body. The vibrating strings will reverberate the instrument’s tonewood, shaping your tone. A good bridge must have some bulk behind it to adequately transfer string vibrations. This is one of the most often modified components on Fender basses since their stock L-shaped bridges are among the thinnest you’ll find on a bass guitar and offer just the most basic adjustment choices. Each string will be put in its saddle, allowing for adjustments to string height, intonation, and string spacing in the case of more complicated bridge designs.
The body form has less to do with the sound of the Bass and more to do with playability, aesthetics, and how comfortable it is to hang from your shoulder. Electric basses often feature a double-cutaway design, which means they have two horns above and below the neck. One of the two strap buttons used to connect the strap is normally situated on the upper horn, which is usually bigger (the second strap button is usually found near the bridge). The smaller horn or cutaway is crucial; depending on its size and form, it will be easier or more difficult to play in the upper registers of the neck. It is preferable to have a large bottom cutaway with rounded corners. A well-contoured, ergonomically designed heel will provide better access higher up the neck.
Even though we have told you what to look for in the best bass guitar, many different types of bass guitars are available. You might want more than one type of best bass guitar. But it is essential to know what to look for before buying the best bass guitar. If you are looking for a bass that will be an excellent companion to your favorite band, then you should check out our list of the best electric bass guitars.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bass Guitars for Beginners
You can make playing the bass guitar easy or harder, depending on how much you want to learn about it. You can apply what you know to play simple or more complex basslines in songs.
If you are a beginner, it is a good idea to keep the budget under $200. There are some excellent bass guitars in that price range. Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha, Jackson, and ESP are some of the best brands. They all offer starter instruments that will not break the bank.
This model has two Squier single-coil J Bass pickups, allowing various tones. It is perfect for players at any stage.
A 35″ scale bass is a good choice for getting an excellent low B sound on a 5-string bass. That is because it makes the string sound better and rings more clearly. If you have small hands or if a child will use the bass under 12, you might want to consider a short-scale bass.
Keeping your budget under $200 is suitable for a bass guitar. You can find some great guitars in that price range from brands like Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha, Jackson, and ESP.