Best Cheap Electric Basses for Beginners
The best cheap electric basses for beginners or even intermediate players, to play any genre of music, and in different prices with Yamaha, Squier, Ibanez, Epiphone and Sterling.
Which is the best bass brand for beginners?
The best brand of electric bass for beginners will depend on your budget and the style of music you play. While Squier and Epiphone may be the best electric bass brands for classic genres; Ibanez, Sterling, and Yamaha are for slightly more modern audio. Finally, Jackson electric basses stand out for hard sounds like Heavy Metal.
But don’t be guided by labels, you can play with most brands, practically any musical style. Therefore, the most important thing is that you try the musical instruments before you buy them. The bass that most inspires you to play, for comfort and audio, is the best electric bass for you, no matter what brand it is.
What are the values of an electric bass for beginners?
There is a lot of variety on offer, and you don’t need too much money to buy a very good quality electric bass. Thus, in our selection of the best 10 cheap basses for beginners, there is only one that exceeds USD 400 while the two cheapest cost only USD 180.
Criteria for our selection of cheap basses for beginner bassists
We only select standard basses in terms of number of strings, i.e. four-string basses. While the four-string bass is the easiest to play for a beginner, it’s also the one played by most advanced bassists.
On the other hand, we choose different levels of qualities to cover the different demands and budgets of each bass student. Thus, you will be able to find high-quality basses that will continue to be useful throughout your learning. This way, you won’t have to change your bass for a few years. The bass that is also for bass players of any level is the Squier Classic Vibe Jazz Bass.
Also, we have considered the options for those who have limited budgets, and choose by price. But all the selected basses have a minimum quality and are great value for money. Thus, the more money you invest in your electric bass, the better musical instrument you will get.
All basses have round wound strings, but there are several types of bass strings that you may consider.
Our recommendations for a quick selection of the perfect bass for a beginner
Best cheap bass for classic tones
If you are looking for a bass to play classic Rock, Blues, and other songs at a cheap price, the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ is a great option. The Affinity Precision Bass is the budget version of the most classic and traditional bass of all time.
If you like the tone of the iconic Fender Jazz Bass, the Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s is the best bass on our list. Plus, the Classic Vibe Bass is not only great for beginners, but also for intermediate and even advanced players. Although it is the most expensive option, if you opt for this Squier, this bass can accompany you for many years.
Cheapest bass for beginners
If you’re looking for the cheapest bass possible, the Squier Mini Precision Bass priced at just $180, along with the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Bass are the cheapest options.
Best cheap bass for the money
If you are looking for the best value for money, without thinking about labels, our favorite option is the Yamaha BB234 bass. The Japanese company always gives you great value on every product you buy. His BB bassline is no exception. In addition, it is an excellent option to have a bass that can accompany you throughout your growth as a musician.
Best cheap bass for kids and for bassists with small hands
If you are looking for a cheap bass for your child, or you are a guitarist and you want a small bass, or you simply want a portable instrument, the best option is the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro.
Best cheap bass for modern tones
Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q is the best option for heavy styles like Heavy Metal.
Best cheap bass for modern-classic tones
On the other hand, if you are looking for a more modern sound without leaving the classic, the Sterling SUB StingRay Ray4 bass is the perfect option, designed by Leo Fender himself.
Best cheap bass for Gibson tones
Finally, if you are looking for a cheap Gibson type electric bass, the Epiphone EB-0 is the best option.
Best cheap electric basses for beginners
- Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ (the sound of the Precision Bass at a cheap price)
- Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s (Jazz Bass sound with great quality)
- Yamaha BB234 (The bass with the best price-quality ratio)
- Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro (The best for children and with better portability)
- Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200 (The best medium scale bass)
- Squier Mini Precision Bass (Our cheapest option, also great for kids)
- Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q (Our choice of bass with active pickups)
- Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4 (Balance between classic and modern)
- Yamaha TRBX174EW (Tone balanced between warm and defined)
- Epiphone EB-0 (Gibson sounds at an affordable price)
Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ (the sound of the Precision Bass at a cheap price)
Sale Price: $230 / €220 / £200 | Neck Wood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Poplar | Fretboard Wood: Indian Laurel | Scale length: 34” | No. of Frets: 20 medium jumbo | Pickups: 1 Split Coil, 1 Jazz | Controls: 2x Volume, 1x Tone | Left-handed option available?: No | Available finishes: Black, Olympic White, Race Red
Fender Precision Bass, also called the “P-Bass,” is the most iconic bass of not just Fender, but of all basses. Fender, with its second brand Squier, offers a cheap Precision Bass ideal for beginners. Squier Affinity Precision Bass has enough quality and a wide palette of sounds that any beginning bass player can enjoy the wonderful world of electric bass.
Squier Precision Bass is an electric bass that features a Fender-like maple neck and poplar body. The Indian Laurel fretboard features 20 medium jumbo frets, the ideal size for beginning bass players. The letters PJ, stand for Precision and for Jazz, which means that it has not only the classic split coil pickup in the middle of the Precision, it also has a Jazz pickup in the bridge that the normal P-Bass does not have. This allows you not only to get the deep tones of the P-Bass, but also the unique attack of the Jazz Bass or J-Bass, giving you a whole range of classic audio.
Pros of the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ
- Iconic P-Bass tone plus J-Bass bridge pickup: all the most famous classic tones of all time.
- Great price-quality ratio.
Cons of the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ
- There is no left-handed version.
Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s (Jazz Bass sound with great quality)
Sale Price: $430 / €380 / £400 | Neck Wood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Poplar | Fretboard Wood: Indian Laurel | Scale Length: 34” | Frets: 20 tall narrow | Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico single-coil (bridge), Fender Designed Alnico split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x volume, 1x tone | Left-handed option available?: Yes | Available finishes: Daphne Blue, Black, 3-Tone Sunburst
The Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Bass is the best Jazz Bass option at a low price. This is Squier’s best series with spectacular build quality and tones, very close to that of Fender Mexico. While it’s not the most affordable option, it’s as close as you can get to a Fender bass. Thus, if you have enough money and are looking for the most direct tone of the Jazz Bass, this is the best option.
The Jazz Bass Classic Vibe pickups are Alnico, designed by Fender achieve those iconic tones. Pickups with Alnico magnets are usually found on medium to above quality basses. Generally, for cheap basses, pickups with ceramic magnets are used. The pickups on this bass have the midrange and bright pop of the bridge pickup and the warm, rounded thump of the classic Fender Jazz Bass neck, and everything in between.
Despite being the highest priced bass, the Squier Classic Vibe Jazz Bass is worth every penny of its price. It’s designed to be the precursor to a true Fender bass. It is an electric bass with excellent sound quality, also with an extraordinary vintage look, which makes it one of the best cheap options for not only beginner bassists, but for any level of musician.
Pros of the Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s
- A true Jazz Bass at a fraction of the value of an original Fender.
- Construction and quality components similar to mid-range basses.
- The best price-quality ratio.
Cons of the Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s
- The price can be very high for beginning bears.
Yamaha BB234 (The bass with the best price-quality ratio)
Sale Price: $300 / €330 / £340 | Neck Wood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Alder | Fretboard Wood: Rosewood | Scale length: 34” | Number of frets: 21 medium | Pickups: Custom V3 single-coil (bridge), Custom V3 split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x volume, 1x tone | Left-handed option available?: Yes | Available finishes: Vintage White, Black, Teal Blue, Natural Satin, Raspberry Red
The Yamaha BB234 electric bass is probably the best value for money option for beginners with a relatively cheap price. Yamaha is famous for making quality instruments for beginning musicians at low prices. The BB234 in cheap electric basses for beginners, is the equivalent of the Pacifica 112 guitar.
This cheap entry-level electric bass combines classic design with exceptional construction, with warm, rich low end. Yamaha BB234 bass, thanks to its two Fender Jazz and Precision Bass type pickups, offers a variety of classic tones. This will allow you to cover most of the classic sounds from Rock, Blues, Pop and more. It’s a perfect electric bass for the bass player looking for versatility at a cheap price.
The Yamaha BB234 electric bass, just like a PJ, has the volume controls for both pickups to configure the mix as desired and a single tone. If your budget doesn’t allow you to afford a Squier Classic Vibe, don’t worry, this is probably a great option.
Pros of the Yamaha BB234
- Extraordinary price-quality ratio.
- Perfect for bassists looking for a wide variety of vintage and modern sounds.
- The pair of P-Bass and J-Bass type pickups offer a wide range of tones.
Cons of the Yamaha BB234
- Not suitable for modern styles that require active pickups.
Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro (The best bass for children and with better portability)
Sale Price: $199 / €190 / £180 | Neck tonewood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body tonewood: Agathis | Fretboard Tonewood: Jatoba | Scale Length: 28.6” | Number of frets: 20 | Pickups: PSNDP middle split-coil, PSNDJ bridge | Controls: 2x volume, 1x tone | Left-handed option: Yes | Available Finishes: Starlight Blue, Black, White Pearl, Orange Metallic, Brown Sunburst (with Rosewood fretboard), Transparent Red Rosewood, Weathered Black Rosewood, Metallic Violet, Metallic Root Beer
The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro is the perfect cheap electric bass for kids, for bassists looking for a shorter or more portable instrument. Plus, this cheap Ibanez electric bass boasts exceptional value. The scale of this affordable electric bass ideal for children is only 28.6”, versus 34” for a full scale bass. The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro is the best choice for bassists with small hands or who like the rounder tones of shorter scales. In addition, the B-10 bridge on this inexpensive entry-level electric bass has a simple, solid design that allows for easy intonation adjustments. But this bass isn’t just limited to being great for kids, players of all skill levels and all ages can enjoy the excellent GSRM20 Mikro.
Pros of the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro
- Excellent price.
- Great for kids or bass players with small hands.
- Super transportable electric bass.
- Many finishing options for all tastes.
- Round tones characteristic of short scale basses.
Cons of the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro
- It doesn’t have the bright tone and attack of a long scale bass.
Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200 (The best medium scale bass)
Sale Price: $300 / €280 / £275 | Neck Tonewood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Tonewood: Poplar | Fretboard Wood: Maple | Scale length: 32” | Frets: 22, medium | Pickups: Dynamix J Style Single-Coil (Bridge), Dynamix P Style Split Single-Coil (Middle) | Controls: Master Volume, Balance, Active 2-Band EQ | Left-handed option available?: No | Available finishes: Aqua Green, Vintage White, Flat Black, Metallic Sapphire Blue, Metallic Roadster Orange, Matte Candy Apple, Pearl Seafoam Green
The Ibanez Mezzo is the best cheap mid scale electric bass for beginners. This 32″ scale bass offers a midpoint for those looking for a balance between the attack of long scales, and the warmth and sustain of short scales. The body shape is very ergonomic, with contoured edges that fit the body well.
The Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200 gives great versatility of classic and modern tones thanks to its classic active P-Bass type pickups with single coil / split coil configuration. It has an active 2-band equalizer and balance control. No matter what style of music you play, the Mezzo will suit any style, from Hard Rock to Jazz-fusion.
Pros of the Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200
- Intermediate scale ideal for a balance between attack and sustain.
- Super versatile JP-type active pickup configuration.
- Excellent playability and comfort.
Cons of the Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200
- No passive mode.
- There is no left-handed version.
Squier Mini Precision Bass (Cheapest option, also great for kids)
Sale Price: $180 / €165 / £160 | Neck Wood: Maple | Body Wood: Poplar | Fretboard Wood: Indian Laurel | Scale Length: 28.6” | No. of Frets: 20 | Pickups: Precision Split Single Coil | Controls: 1x volume, 1x tone | Left-handed option available?: No | Available Finishes: Black, Dakota Red
The Squier Mini Precision Bass is a mini version of the most iconic bass model in history, the Precision Bass. This cheap electric bass is ideal for children or those beginners with small hands or who are looking for an instrument that is easier to transport.
The Squier Mini Precision Bass has a 28.6” scale neck and features a split single-coil Precision pickup. It is a cheap electric bass, with low quality, but enough for a child to embark on the world of music. Thus, Squier achieves a super low price of $ 180 using cheap hardware that does not have the strength of the other options in this line. Thus, surely over time they will begin to have problems and require replacement. However, if you want to spend as little as possible right now, for $180 it’s a great electric bass.
Pros of the Squier Mini Precision Bass
- Kid friendly short scale.
- Ultra low price.
- Design and comfort of the iconic Fender Precision Bass.
- excellent portability
Cons of the Squier Mini Precision Bass
- Hardware and accessories are of poor quality and will need replacement over time.
- There is no left-handed version.
Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q (Our choice of bass with active pickups)
Introductory Price: $350 / €330 / £290 | Neck Wood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Poplar with Flamed Maple Veneer | Fretboard Wood: Laurel | Scale length: 34” | No. of frets: 24, jumbo | Pickups: 2x Jackson medium output mini-humbuckers -bridge and middle- | Controls: Active 3-Band EQ, Volume Pickup Selector (Active/Passive Push/Pull) | Left-handed option available?: No | Available Finishes: Dark Sunburst, Amber Blue Burst
The Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q has a 34″ neck with a 24 fret fretboard. It stands out for having an active pickup system, ideal for bass players who play with modern tones. Thus, this bass will deliver a wide range of sounds through its three-band equalizer control. Additionally, the active system features push/pull control for use in active or passive mode, allowing you to keep playing even when the battery runs out.
The Spectra features warm, powerful bass, upper mids, and a baritone tone with punchy highs. The string-through-body HiMass bridge makes for a super stable bass. In addition, this electric bass features an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable and stable to play standing up. Finally, its flamed top is to stand out in cheap electric basses, it is a differential compared to the rest of the options.
Pros of the Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q
- Active pickup system with 3-band EQ for modern tones.
- You can use it in active and passive system.
- An instrument with excellent construction, stable and solid.
- The aesthetics with the flamed maple is excellent.
Cons of the Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q
- Price not friendly with limited budgets.
Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4 (Balance between classic and modern)
Sale Price: $350 / €370 / £320 | Neck Wood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Basswood | Fretboard Wood: Maple | Scale length: 34” | Frets: 21 medium | Pickups: 1x H – 1 Ceramic Humbucker (bridge) | Controls: Volume, High and Low Cut / Boost | Left-handed option available?: Yes | Available Finishes: Mint Green, Black, Satin Vintage Sunburst
The Ray4 SUB -“Sports Utility Bass”- electric bass is one of the best options on this list, combining classic tone with modern playability. The founder of Fender after leaving the company, founded a new company called Music Man. Sterling is the second brand of Music Man. Leo Fender himself designed this electric bass as an evolution of the Precision and Jazz Bass. Thus, the SUB StingRay Ray 4 electric bass is a true modern classic. Sterling’s StingRay offers a wide variety of inspiring tones for funk, rock’n roll, jazz, and many other musical styles. The bridge on this electric bass is fully adjustable, giving you control over the height and intonation of the strings.
Like its big brother Music Man, Sterling’s Ray4 has an active pickup system. This cheap beginner electric bass has a 9V preamp with 2-band hi and low cut/boost controls. While the Music Man StingRay 4 flagship models have an active 18V system and a preamp with 3-band EQ. Hands down, the Ray4 is one of the best cheap basses available for beginners looking for the perfect blend of classic and modern.
Pros of the Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4
- Perfect balance between classic and modern bass designed by Leo Fender.
- Excellent build quality and configuration.
- Extraordinary price-quality ratio.
- Versatility of sounds thanks to its active bass pickup system.
Cons of the Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4
- Price not friendly with limited budgets.
Yamaha TRBX174EW (Tone balanced between warm and defined)
Sale Price: $250 / €225 / £220 | Neck Wood: Maple, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Mahogany with Mango Veneer | Fretboard Wood: Sonokeling | Scale length: 34” | Frets: 24 | Pickups: Yamaha Single Coil (Bridge), Yamaha Split Coil (Middle) | Controls: 2x volume, 1x tone | Left-handed option available?: No | Available finishes: Translucent Natural, Root Beer, Tobacco Brown Sunburst, Black
The Yamaha TRBX174EW is an excellent very cheap electric bass for beginners. It is an instrument with warm sounds in a long 34″ scale. Additionally, this Yamaha bass is distinctively finished with a Mango wood veneer on the top and headstock. Also, it has an ergonomic similar to that of the Jackson Spectra and Ibanez Soundgear basses. Thus, it is a comfortable and stable bass to play standing up.
This affordable bass features a mahogany body, a wood characterized by warmer tones than alder and basswood. Thus, the Yamaha TRBX174EW will give you a warm tone combined with the attack of a long scale bass. The two pickups on this bass are JP type: a Precision Bass type in the middle and another Jazz Bass type in the bridge position, which give it great sound versatility. Finally, the fretboard has twenty-four frets and its super comfortable neck profile makes it easy to play high notes.
Pros of the Yamaha TRBX174EW
- Excellent price-quality ratio.
- Unique aesthetics thanks to the exotic Mango wood veneer.
- Full comfort and playability.
Cons of the Yamaha TRBX174EW
- There is no left-handed version.
Epiphone EB-0 (Gibson sounds at an affordable price)
Sale Price: $270 / €250 / £220 | Neck Wood: Mahogany, Bolt-On | Body Wood: Mahogany | Fretboard Wood: Rosewood | Scale Length: 30.5” | Frets: 22, medium | Pickups: 1x Sidewinder humbucker (neck) | Controls: Volume, Tone | Left-handed option available?: No | Available finishes: Cherry -red-, Ebony -black-.
The Epiphone EB-0 Bass is the cheap version of Gibson’s iconic bass, perfect for beginners. This bass features a mahogany neck and body, a passive humbucking pickup in the neck position, and a 30.5″ semi-short scale. The Epiphone EB-0 features a unique warm, round tone. Thus, the Epiphone EB-0 is a simple bass, with little variety of sounds. This bass may sound dark to some players, but great for Gibson fans.
Pros of the Epiphone EB-0
- Warm and fat tones.
- Semi-short scale ideal for children and beginners with small hands.
- Simple and easy to use setup.
Cons of the Epiphone EB-0
- It has little versatility of tones.
- There is no left-handed version.
Buying tips for cheap electric basses for beginners
Short scale or long scale?
Scale length of an electric bass and any other stringed instrument is the distance between the nut and the bridge. The industry standard scale is the 34”, this is long scale. Long scale can be awkward for kids and small-handed bassists. But if you get used to a large scale bass, you will have much more options when choosing. Also, basses with this scale have more attack and lows than shorter scale instruments.
Short scale basses typically have a scale length of around 30” or less. The shortest scale basses in our selection are the Ibanez Mikro or Squier Mini Precision Bass which are 28.6″. Sometimes these are preferred for a rounder, warmer sound. These basses are the best choice for kid bassists or those who want a smaller, lighter bass for easy portability. Also, these electric basses are a good option for guitarists who want to start playing bass.
Somewhere in the middle are mid-scale electric basses, which are typically 32”. Midscale basses are the least common, and there are fewer options. In our selection of the best cheap electric basses for beginners is the Ibanez Mezzo.
Basses with active or passive pickups?
Passive pickups capture the sound of your electric bass without adding anything to the signal, but you can cut frequencies with your tone control. So the tone pot on a passive bass cuts the treble, but doesn’t add lows. Instead, basses with active systems feature a built-in preamp, usually powered by one or two 9V batteries. These active systems can cut or add frequencies to the signal, be it low, mid or high frequencies, if you have a 3-band equalizer. In the case of a preamp with a 2-band EQ, you’ll usually be able to adjust bass and treble.
What are better active or passive pickups?
Neither is better, they are just different. An active pickup sounds different than a passive one, it’s like comparing Singlecoil pickups with Humbuckers. Thus, as general characteristics, those who prefer basses with passive pickups point out that they have a more dynamic sound, which allows playing with nuances; Plus, you don’t have to worry about the battery running out. In contrast, bassists who prefer active pickup basses highlight the ability to drive the sound with the preamp EQ, also that they are less noisy thanks to their hum cancellation, and finally, their more compressed sound.
Finally, one drawback of active basses is that they are more expensive than passive ones. Therefore, it is more difficult to find an active bass for less than 400 dollars. Regardless, we’ve included some great cheap electric basses with active pickups for beginners, like the Jackson Spectra, Sterling SUB StingRay Ray4, and Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200.
Electric Bass Tonewoods
A fundamental factor to consider when choosing an electric bass, for both beginners and advanced, is what tonewoods they are built with. Keep in mind that the pickups, the bridge, the tuner pegs of the instrument can be changed, but the woods with which they are made cannot.
The importance of tonewoods is not just a matter of quality, but also a matter of tonal characteristics. Thus, basses with mahogany necks, such as the Epiphone EB-0, tend to have a warmer tone and less treble than those made with maple. The same goes for the body of the electric bass, mahogany is warmer than alder, basswood or ash. But it doesn’t mean they are better or worse, it’s about what kind of sound you want for your electric bass.
Just as mahogany is standard on Gibson guitars and basses, so maple necks and alder bodies are synonymous with Fender guitars and basses.
Mahogany from Honduras, Aliso and Fresno, are tonewoods that are found in instruments of medium and high ranges. Maple is the only wood found in electric basses in all price ranges. Other tonewoods you can find here include poplar, which is largely balanced in that it doesn’t have a particular tonal bias. To many, that means the the poplar lacks of character. But for others it can be a great platform from which to build the tone of their musical instruments.
You always have to try and play the electric bass
Regardless of your preferences regarding scale, active or passive pickups, or tonewoods, the most important thing is that you play all the electric basses that are within your reach to choose from. So, before choosing a bass, try it out. This way you can see which cheap beginner electric bass inspires you to play the most.
What is your favorite bass player? Which bass does he use? Do you prefer long or short scale? Have you tried passive and active basses? What tonewoods do you prefer? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.