The bass guitar, as we know it today, is a newcomer when placed against most other instruments. Before 1930 we would not have been looking for the Best Beginner Bass Guitar or any bass guitar for that matter.
Most people consider the bass guitar to have arrived in the 50s. However, it was with us a bit before that. In the 1930s, Paul Tutmarc invented a bass guitar, but it didn’t really catch on.
Fast forward twenty years…
And the bands and combos were getting louder. The double bass that all bass players used was being lost and overwhelmed in the sound. Something had to be done, and along came Leo Fender with his Fender Precision Bass.
It wasn’t that popular to start with. It just wrecked the little amplifiers that tried to amplify its low frequencies. The following year Leo gave us the Fender Bassman amp, and the Precision took off. It was and still is the greatest bass guitar ever made.
Standards rise and fall…
Over the years, Fender has produced some total claptrap bearing the Precision name in the US and other places. Bass guitars that were so poor they weren’t worthy of that illustrious name. In the last few years, they have begun to get their act together a little. But they are still not the same as those pre-1965 Precision basses.
Kids want to learn to play the bass. Most start on guitar and then move across often in their early or middle teens. Some of us have never really played anything else.
But when you start, what is the best bass to learn on? That’s the question we will be answering in this in-depth review. So, let’s take a look at the Best Bass Guitars for beginners currently available and find the perfect one for you…
Top 5 Best Beginner Bass Guitars In 2020 You Should Buy
1 Yamaha BB434M BB-Series Bass Guitar, Black – Best Bass Guitar for Older Beginners
First up, it’s Yamaha. In today’s world, they are probably the most important instrument manufacturer there is. They produce instruments across every style and every genre at every level. From pro to starter, Yamaha is recognized and admired.
This Yamaha has a full-scale 34-inch body made from a solid piece of Alder wood. The styling is quite nice with edges that are rounded and slimline design to its shape, and the contours seem to first nicely to your body as you play. It is a more modern style of slimline bass design that is popular these days.
Alnico V magnets…
It has a five-piece maple and mahogany laminated wood neck with a miter neck joint with six bolts. But, it has quite a thick profile with 21 frets that are nicely rounded.
Hardware is quite decent with a hardtail bridge and single-coil V5 pickups with Alnico V magnets. There are two volume controls and tone control. And there is a slightly different design to each pick up to give you a sharper sound.
The convertible bridge is lightweight with individual string saddles and is worth a mention. It has a 45-degree angle of string-through design, which is unlike the other string-thru guitars that have vertical stringing as it passes through the body. This places a little less stress on the strings. It also allows them to be attached to the bridge’s tail end.
The machine heads are interesting. They are a very lightweight open-geared design and offer a balance to the guitar.
A quality reputation…
This guitar is no lightweight at 11.82 pounds and measuring in full length 50.2 by 18.5 by 4.1 inches. It is made in Japan. The BB series of Yamaha basses have got a reputation at improver levels and perform well with a nice rich sound. It is no cheap alternative, though, if you are looking for a bass for a beginner.
There is no doubt it is a very good bass, but is it suitable for a starter?
It would depend on their age and size. It is quite heavy, and the well-rounded neck is not going to be easy on small hands. Being a 34-inch scale, they might also struggle with the length. It will suit an older starter, I think, but not someone younger with smaller hands.
- Great Yamaha build with good materials and hardware.
- Nice pickups with a good cutting sound.
- Might be slightly large for a young starter on bass.
2 Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar – Best All Round Beginner Bass Guitar
So let us envisage a situation I was confronted with recently. A dad came to me and said that their son wanted to play the bass. Could I show him a few things, let him try mine (eek!!!) and maybe recommend a guitar if he wanted to pursue it.
Around he came, and when he saw the two bass guitars I have in my practice room, his eyes lit up. He was just nine years old. I sat him down and gave him my Fender Precision. End of conversation – he couldn’t even hold it, let alone play it.
I suggested a short scale, and I have a vintage 1968 Gibson EB0 here. But, I didn’t want to let him play that in case the neck fell off! You know what Gibsons are like. Look at them, and bits fall off. I think the weight of the Precision actually scared him. Getting the right bass for a starter is absolutely vital.
What is the purpose of this story?
Because this bass from Ibanez would have done the trick and it could well be the Best Bass Guitar for Beginners that you can get because of that.
If you are young or possibly just have small hands, this is a great bass. A full-scale bass was intimidating for him and for anyone else just starting out. The Ibanez miKro series of basses are excellent. Short scale and lightweight. Perfect for smaller hands. But don’t let the size fool you. It can still pack a punch.
Wonderful to play…
This is a 28.6-inch short scale with a nice slim body made from Poplar. It has a slim contour bolt-on maple neck with a truss rod that plays beautifully. It weighs under seven pounds. The body and neck have great balance and feel very comfortable. Because of this balance that has been built into the design, it feels so comfortable.
That is an important issue for a beginner. Balance and comfort are important in the early days.
The best of both worlds…
For the sound, they have included two single-coil pickups ala Fender. With a Precision type at the neck and a Jazz style at the bridge.
The hardware is all typical Ibanez. Good quality. The bridge is set deep on the body and allows a lot of playing area over the two pickups. It also provides a lot of sustain. Up top, the machine heads are colored black and of good quality.
Finally, the look…
Finished in Walnut, it is impressive. In fact, everything about this guitar is impressive for a young player. And you know what? The price point is more than attractive. Now, where is my credit card?
- Lightweight short scale with good balance and excellent hardware.
- Good punchy sound at a great price.
3 Best Choice Products Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar – Best Budget Beginner Bass Guitar
Moving on with our search for the Best Beginner Bass Guitar, we have a bass from Best Choice Products. The company does not manufacture the goods themselves; instead, they source those products they feel are most suitable for their customer base. In that role, they are always looking for decent quality products at a very cost-effective price.
You are not going to buy a guitar of real quality here. But what you will get is a decent guitar with an attractive price point. It is an ideal place to start if you are on a budget. It is also a place to have a look if you are not sure the student will continue with their bass.
Loud or quiet, your choice?
This is one of those rare instruments, an acoustic-electric bass. You can plug it into an amp or practice quietly without one and just play acoustically. An ideal scenario for the beginner, their parents, and probably the neighbors.
It is made of wood that is probably laminated, which has an attractive rosette around the soundhole. Finished in an attractive blue, it has a black pickguard. It has also been given a cutaway to make the full length of the neck available.
Basic but functional…
The neck is made from mahogany, and has a rosewood fretboard with inlay dots. It has an adjustable truss rod. It is very starter friendly, being only five pounds in weight. The hardware isn’t going to surprise you if we say it is basic. The tuners are sealed chrome die-cast that are adequate and hold it in tune. The bridge is just a basic wood design. The nut and saddles are plastic.
It has a humbucker pickup with a preamp with a four-band EQ. There are controls for treble, bass, and middle, as well as a presence, which is a nice addition. There is also a volume control. However, it does not have an onboard tuner. It takes a nine-volt battery.
Will probably need a good set-up?
This is a bass guitar that, as they say, is ready to play ‘right out of the box.’ However, to get the very best out of it, it might well need setting up properly. Your local guitar shop probably has a technician that can do that for you.
So let’s cut to the chase. It is a cheap instrument made on a budget so it can be priced accordingly. It is, though, quite playable and unplugged it has a decent sound. Plugged in, it is ok, but just don’t expect too much.
An excellent budget option…
It is lightweight, so it is easy to hold, and it has a reasonable balance. For a starter, the thickness of the neck might be an issue. But it should be just about manageable for the smaller beginner. That will really depend on the hand size.
The advantage with this guitar is that you don’t necessarily need an amp, whereas, with the majority of bass guitars, you will. It is, therefore, ready to play. It isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg (especially since you don’t have to buy an amp either) and, if they decide the bass is not for them, it will be no huge loss.
The downside is that it isn’t the best you will find as an instrument. But then you shouldn’t be expecting it to be. A decent place to start. This could be the best affordable Beginner Bass Guitar if you are on a tight budget.
- Plays well acoustically and has an attractive look to it.
- Quite well made with electrics built-in at a very attractive price.
- Not the best instrument you will find.
4 Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 70’s Jazz Bass Guitar – Best Looking Beginner Bass Guitar
The Fender Jazz bass arrived in our consciousness in 1960, following hard on the heels of the Precision. It became a popular bass guitar but suffered slightly because its cousin, the Precision, was just better.
There have long been arguments from the supporters of both camps over which is better. But you only have to look at the stats. The Jazz is way behind. But it did have its place and produced a different sound that some players, including vast numbers of professionals, loved.
A solid recreation…
As it was originally too close to the Precision in sound, Fender started to play with the design. Moving the bridge pick up closer to the bridge gave it an edge, and by the 70s, it had acquired a maple neck. It was now a different guitar and appealed to a different market of buyers. This Squier is a reincarnation of that 70s Jazz bass.
It has a body made from Poplar that is given a glossy polyurethane finish. It has all the contours built-in that made it popular in the first place. However, it is a slightly ‘off-set’ body shape compared with the more standard Precision. Some prefer that and think it more comfortable.
Full access to the neck…
The maple neck is still there with its comfortable ‘C’ shape and the standard block inlays. It has 20 frets, all of which are available courtesy of the deeper lower cutaway. It is given a glossy finish that highlights the color of the maple wood. For a starter, though, it is a full 34-inch standard full-size scale length. And it weighs in at 11 pounds.
The two single-coil pickups with Alnico magnets, of course, deliver a good sound. There is a master tone control and volume controls for the neck and bridge pickups. The bridge has been designed similar to the originals with four saddles.
Up at the headstock, there is the traditional Jazz shape with a bone nut, which is a nice addition. The nickel-plated machine heads also have a traditional styling about them — a brief description of what is on offer.
Squier has done a good job with this. I have had the chance of playing one of these a couple of times, and another writer for this website even uses one in his professional recording studio along with a number of other basses. They are quite good and stand up quite well. Deep, punchy Jazz bass sound and a fast neck. It is easy to pull off some quick, tight runs.
But is that what a starter needs?
So once again, let’s cut to the chase. Is this a good guitar for a starter to bass guitar? The answer to that is probably if they are an older starter. An adult or mid to late teenager will be fine. Anyone younger will have a similar experience to my young visitor we talked about earlier.
It is big and full-size. It weighs a bit. Starters are not interested in growling sounds or fast action necks. They will want to master a few scales first before worrying about things like that.
As a bass guitar, it is similar to a Made in Mexico Fender Jazz. In fact, it is probably better than that in my opinion, if that gives you an idea.
It looks great; there is no doubt about that, and for the money is an excellent bass guitar. If it is for a beginner, it is going to be better if they are not too small or young, then it will be fine.
- Well-made reincarnation of a 70s Jazz bass that looks great.
- Good materials and a very good Jazz bass sound.
- Very big in size for a young starter.
5 Schecter OMEN-4 4-String Bass Guitar, Walnut Satin – Best Beginner Bass Guitar for Metal
Schecter was founded in 1976 as a company to build spare parts for Fender and Gibson guitars. Since then, they have established themselves with their special own brand guitars. They make a variety of guitars, but it is for their heavy rock and metal instruments they are widely known.
This is one of their bass guitars from the Omen range. It is a full-size, 34-inch scale instrument that weighs in at just under 11 pounds. It has a typical Schecter shape that we have seen on many of their guitars in the past. The body is made from basswood with a quilted top using maple wood.
It has a maple neck with a Rosewood fingerboard. There are some attractive Pearloid vector inlays. The neck is quite slim with a thin ‘C’ shape.
The tuners are a standard die-cast that are made by Schecter as is the bridge which they install on many of their guitars. All of the hardware has a black chrome finish, including the Tusq nut at the top.
It has two Diamond bass pickups and an active preamp, which offer a wide sound range. The sound though, is what you might call neutral. It doesn’t offer too much in the way of the usual Schecter aggression in the sound. I am sure that it has been designed that way so that it will cover a wide range of styles.
Practical and versatile…
The pickups are quite hot, as you might imagine from a company that does like its metal. But they do have a softer side if you haul them back a bit.
As a guitar, it looks very nice and plays well. The sound is definitely leaning towards a certain genre that is going to suit some people. But once again, is it good for a starter? Well, the answer is that if it’s for an older starter, then yes, a very young one maybe not. Not really a cheap option for a beginner but a decent buy for an improver.
- Well-made with a nice design and good finish.
- Good hardware and pickups and a good sound.
- Might be too big for a young starter.
Best Beginner Bass Guitar Buyers Guide
Getting the bass-ics right.
This is a hard one – buying that first bass guitar. In some ways, it is like buying a first car for a young person who has just passed their test. They want one thing. You want them to have another.
With the bass, many will want to play the same instrument as their bass heroes, but that probably isn’t possible because of budget and payability. But there are some important issues to consider.
Who is it for?
The size of the beginner player is probably the most important thing. If they’re very young, and by that, I mean under 10, then care needs to be taken. You will want them to persevere. But if the bass is too heavy and awkward to hold, it isn’t going to be long before they give up.
The size is more important than what it looks like, they will, unfortunately, be disappointed to hear.
Full scale, 34 inches is going to be just too big, and probably too heavy. It will be better to come down to a short scale. There is even an acoustic bass we looked at. That could be a very good idea if you don’t want to spend too much.
Bigger starters have a wider choice, but then the cost will go up. The big question is, will they stick with it. It might be better to start small and grow into it.
Looking for more excellent Bass Guitar options?
If so, check out our reviews of the Best Bass Guitars, the Best Acoustic Bass Guitars, the Best 5 String Bass Guitars, as well as possibly a better choice for beginners, the Best Short Scale Bass Guitars currently available.
So, what is the Best Beginner Bass Guitar?
We have been there with this issue, it is not easy, but there are some excellent options. For me, if I was buying a bass for a starter, I would pick the…
It’s a well-made short-scale from a great guitar builder. It is lightweight, well-balanced, and sounds good. All starters could benefit from this great beginner’s bass guitar.
Good luck on your journey into the wonderful world of bass!
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