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The Truth About Cheap Bass Guitars For Beginners

So You Want To Start Playing Bass And Need A New Bass Guitar?

I still remember the excitment I felt when I started playing bass. I had been playing classical guitar since the age of 10. At school I had some musical mates and by Year 9 we were jamming on songs by The Beatles and The Bee Gees.

My parents had their own professional band and my mum was a multi-instrumentalist playing keyboards, violin and lead vocals. She also dabbled in bass guitar and actually had a Hofner copy Beatle bass.

Handy hey?

This is the bass I started playing on.

mums-beatle-bass-hoffner-copy

What You’ll Discover In this Article

I hope this article helps you to decide what type of bass is best for you, based on your performance goals, how much you have to spend, your height/age, and the styles of music you like and want to play.

I’ll discuss the factors you need to consider when buying a beginner bass guitar:

  • types of bass guitars for beginners,
  • popular budget bass guitar brands,
  • the pros and cons of cheap bass guitars and
  • I’ll recommend a few for you to consider and check out.

Sound good? Let’s go…

Factors to consider when buying a beginner bass guitar

cheap-bass-guitars

When buying a suitable bass guitar for beginners, it is important to consider factors such as the type of bass, scales and scale length, the number of strings, pickup, material, and price.

For beginners, I high recommend buying a standard four-string bass with frets as it will provide a solid foundation for learning.

Also, it’s smart to establish a budget and stick to it when buying a beginner bass guitar. This will ensure that you acquire a high-quality instrument that fits within your financial constraints.

It’s also handy when negotiating a price with your retailer. More on that later;)

When buying a beginner bass guitar, consider acoustic or electric options. Electric bass guitars are versatile and easy to play, recommended for beginners. They offer more playing styles and can be amplified for better sound. You’ll need a bass amp to play through.

Acoustic bass guitars have a unique sound but are more challenging to play and are used in specific genres.

You’ll need to choose based on personal preferences and musical goals.

Price range of bass guitars for beginners

Price range is an important factor to consider when buying a beginner bass guitar.

Cheap bass guitars can range from around $100 to $300 (USD), with some even below $100.

While these guitars may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive models, they can still be worth it for a beginner.

They are often made with more affordable materials and may not have the same level of craftsmanship as higher-end guitars, but they can still provide a good starting point for learning an instrument.

Additionally, cheaper a bass guitar can be a great option for beginners who are still unsure if they will stick with playing bass in the long term, as they offer an affordable entry point into the instrument.

Quality and durability of cheap bass guitars

It is important to note that not all cheap bass guitars are created equal. Some may have issues with tuning stability, intonation, or overall build quality.

It is crucial to do some research and read reviews to ensure that you are purchasing a reliable and playable instrument.

PRO TIP: Investing in a proper setup and new strings can greatly improve the playability and sound of a cheap bass guitar. [Find a good guitar technician and ask for a ‘bass set-up’.]

Ultimately, for a beginner on a tight budget, a cheap bass guitar can be a worthy starting point, as long as you are willing to put in the effort to make it the best it can be.

Variety of tones you can achieve on a beginner bass

A cheap bass guitar may not offer a variety of tones as a higher-end bass would, but it can still provide a decent range for a beginner.

Until you start performing in some capacity and / or you have developed your own style, tone (from a music style perspective) won’t be your priority. Just getting a nice clean tone out of your bass is important initially. In all honesty, you will be fine with the variety of tones in virtually all beginner basses while you are learning the basics.

While you may not get the same depth or complexity in tone controls as a more expensive bass guitar, you can still achieve a satisfactory sound to learn and practice with.

As you progress and become more experienced, you can always upgrade to a higher-quality instrument for a wider range of powerful tones.

NOTE TO CONSIDER: If you have absolutely decided that you want to develop your bass skills and start performing live with others as soon as you can, THEN, I would recommend you spend more and get a better quality bass with a wider range of tones.

Ease of playability of cheaper basses

Cheap bass guitars can be more difficult to play because they havent been ‘lovingly’ set up properly before they left the factory. Afterall, time is money right? Cheap basses wouldn’t be cheap if they cost more to produce.

That said, most cheap beginner basses have a decent factory setup, straight out of the box.

The main thing that will affect playability is the ‘action’ which is the space (distance) between the bass strings and the fretboard or fingerboard.

  • If the action on the bass is set too low, it can cause buzzing sounds caused by the string vibrating against a fret higher up on the neck. ie Fret buzz
  • If the action is too high, your fingers will have to work harder than they should and you may get sore fingers from muscle strain as well as blisters or calluses on the tips of your fingers

As mentioned, you can get a bass tech to set up your bass for you and they will set up your bass for optimal playability.

How long will a cheap beginner bass last?

When it comes to longevity, cheap bass guitars may not be as durable as higher-quality instruments. They may have lower-quality materials and construction, leading to potential issues with the hardware, electronics, or overall structural integrity over time.

However, with proper care and maintenance, a beginner can still get a decent amount of use out of a cheap bass guitar before considering an upgrade to a more durable and reliable instrument.

Types of basses for beginners

A key factor to consider when buying a beginner bass guitar is whether to choose an acoustic or electric bass. Both acoustic and electric bass guitars have their own advantages and disadvantages for beginners.

Electric bass guitars

For beginners, electric bass guitars are often recommended due to their ease of playability and flexibility in sound. Their lighter weight and slimmer neck profiles make them more comfortable to hold and play for extended periods.

Electric bass guitars require amplification to produce sound, giving you greater control over your tone and volume.

There is a wide variety of electic basses available on the market including active basses, passive basses, five-string bass guitars, 6-string bass guitars for all budding bassists.

They also offer a wider range of playing styles, as they can be used with different effects pedals and in various musical genres like rock, jazz, funk, and more.

Acoustic bass guitars

Acoustic bass guitars have a unique and warm sound that is often preferred in specific music genres such as folk, country, and unplugged performances. They produce sound solely through the resonance of the hollow body, without the need for amplification.

Acoustic bass guitars are often larger in size, which can be a challenge for beginners with smaller hands or frames. Additionally, the thicker strings and higher string action can make them more difficult to play for beginners who are still developing their finger strength and technique.

Ultimately, the decision between acoustic and electric bass guitars should be based on the player’s preferences and musical goals.

Short-scale bass guitars

short-scale-cheap-bass-guitar-for-kids

Short-scale bass guitars are another option to consider for beginners. These bass guitars have a shorter scale length, meaning the distance between the frets is shorter.

This makes them easier to play for beginners with smaller hands or those who may struggle with the longer reach on a standard-sized bass guitar. They are an ideal bass for kids.

Short-scale bass guitars also tend to have a lighter weight and a tighter string tension, making them more comfortable to play for extended periods.

While they may not have the same range of tones and versatility as their full-scale counterparts, short-scale bass guitars can still provide a solid foundation for beginners to learn and practice on.

Popular budget bass guitar brands

Ibanez

Ibanez is a popular budget bass guitar brand known for its high-quality instruments at affordable prices.

They offer a range of options for beginner bass players, including their GSR series, which provides excellent playability and a versatile sound. Ibanez basses are often praised for their comfortable necks, solid construction, and reliable electronics, making them a great choice for beginners.

They are also readily available at local music stores and online retailers.

Squier

Another popular budget bass guitar brand is Squier, a subsidiary of Fender. Squier bass guitars offer excellent value for money, providing beginner-friendly designs and decent sound quality.

They offer affordable options in both the Precision Bass and Jazz Bass styles, allowing beginners to find a bass guitar that suits their preferred playing style.

Squier bass guitars are often commended for their solid construction and reliable hardware, making them a reliable choice for beginners starting their musical journey.

Yamaha

Yamaha is another reputable brand that offers affordable bass guitars for beginners.

Yamaha bass guitars are known for their reliable build quality and consistent performance. They have a wide range of models available, including the iconic Yamaha RBX and BB series, which provide good playability and decent sound options.

Beginners can rely on Yamaha bass guitars for their affordability without compromising on important features.

Harley Benton

Harley Benton is also a brand worth considering for beginner players on a budget.

With their affordable price range, Harley Benton bass guitars offer surprisingly good quality and value. They have a range of models available, including the popular JB and PB series, which provide decent playability and versatile sound options.

Despite their lower price tag, Harley Benton bass guitars are often commended for their solid construction and reliable electronics, making them a great choice for beginners looking for a budget-friendly option.

Recommended cheap bass guitars for beginners

Squier Affinity Jazz Bass

Ibanez miKro

Yamaha TRBX174

Fender Squier Affinity Series Precision Bass Guitar

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