We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. Learn more

Guitars & Accessories

Best Bass Guitar

Incessant pop singles may have reaffirmed it in recent years, but musicians throughout history can confirm that it has, in fact, always been all about that bass. The bass guitar is a staple of popular music, playing a significant role in genres such as rock, jazz, soul, funk, R&B, hip hop, and more. And while its cousin the electric guitar may have a slight advantage in the popularity category, the bass guitar plays an integral role in both holding down the bottom end of the mix as well as enhancing the groove and rhythm of a song. If you’re looking to buy a bass guitar, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. We’ve highlighted some important things to keep in mind in our bass guitar buyer’s guide below.

Music Man Game Changer Reflex Bass Guitar

What makes the Music Man Reflex The Game Changer stand out from the rest of the flock the most is its innovative new pickup technology, giving bassists the ability to mix and match two humbucking pickups into multiple configurations with an easy tone switch. Whether you want to utilize one single-coil and one-humbucker, out of phase pickups, series or parallel wiring, or other configurations, you’ll be able to switch sounds much quicker than it would take you to manually dial in these tones. A five-pin MIDI port also allows you to use this bass guitar to trigger sounds from external MIDI devices; now you can use your bass guitar to control the sounds of synthesizers, VST plug-ins, and more.

Of course, outside of the somewhat-unprecedented sound library capabilities, the Game Changer is a solid instrument in the traditional sense, too. Its bolt-on maple neck and matching maple fingerboard makes for a playing experience that puts a high priority on comfort. And with its ash body, maple top, and mahogany tone block tone, this axe has a warm and balanced sound that sounds great even before you factor in all the technological enhancements.

Lakland The Decade Guitar Bass

Lakland The Decade Guitar Bass

The magic of the Lakland Skyline Decade begins with its all-mahogany body, which resonates with a dark and deep tone that all bass players seek to capture with their instruments. This bass guitar also features a slim maple neck that you’ll thank Lakland for later, after you’ve been playing for hours and don’t feel any discomfort in your hands and wrists.

The Skyline Decade is equipped with specialized single-coil Chi-Sonic pickups, created in partnership by Lakland and Hanson Pickups. Thanks to this electronic system, you have a wide dynamic range of tones at your fingertips. Whether it’s thick, bass-heavy sounds or more treble-driven, melodic-favoring tone, you can find what works best for you. Further craft that tone using the on-board tone knob and two volume knobs. Whether you’re looking to groove out on the low end or take melodic, jazz-like solos, you’ll find that the Skyline Decade is a reliable axe to have.

Fender American Deluxe Jazz 5-String Bass Guitar

Feel is everything in music, and there’s no question about how great the Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass feels when it’s in your hands. A contoured neck heel offers a smooth and rounded playing experience that rests comfortably in your hand, and also allows for smooth and easy access to even the highest of the bass guitar’s 21 frets. The maple neck also sports a gloss polyurethane finish, meaning you’ll have no problems moving up and down the neck with speed and, most importantly, without any discomfort to slow you down.

The J-bass also is stocked with N3 Noiseless pickups, electronic devices whose power far exceeds their quiet demeanor. You’re getting a full dynamic range and a classic single-coil sound without any of the unwanted hum. An active/passive switch allows you to run the show with full access to the bass guitar’s preamp; choose passive for a more traditional clear and powerful tone, or go with active if you want to turn things up and make use of the 3-band EQ featured in this instrument.

Ernie Ball Music Man Classic Collection StingRay 5-String Bass

Leo Fender pretty much perfected the formula for a great bass guitar early on, and there’s no better example of this work than the classic 1976 StingRay, which kept things simple yet pristine. The Music Man Classic StingRay (predictably) rekindles the sound and feel in a versatile and absolutely frills-free bass guitar that delivers across the board. This axe forgoes the multiple switches and pickups found in so many of its peers and keeps it simple with a single Music Man StingRay pickup and two knobs to control the 2-band EQ. This is a bass guitar that doesn’t offer much by way of tone manipulation controls, but can cover almost any style thanks to its sheer simplicity.

The embrace of the simple vibe of the Golden Age continues on the fretboard, which is available in rosewood or maple. Eschewing the typical jumbo frets of today, the Classic StingRay features skinny frets, which will appeal to you if you’re accustomed to playing vintage-style instruments. The through-body stringing also features bridge saddle string mutes made from foam, a feature which brings out a cool thumpy tone usually associated with old school R&B and blues.

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV Bass

The Gibson Thunderbird IV bass guitar makes big sounds, but what else would you expect from an all-mahogany body and mahogany/walnut laminate neck? Make no mistake, this bass guitar was made to rumble. But with a narrow 1.6 inch nut, you won’t need huge hands to harness such a huge tone. You can easily tune this axe using the Grover tuners and 3-point adjustable tailpiece which look impressive, and will ensure your bass guitar will stay in tune.

The Thunderbird IV’s dual ceramic magnet humbucker pickups (TB Plus) offer a punch and clarity that complements the overall style of this bass guitar; you’re getting a low-end wall of sound that also manages to remain tight. Finally, the Thunderbird drawn logo on the all-white pick guard and Gibson 120th anniversary inlay at the 12th fret of this axe gives this bass guitar a sense of class in recognizing its heritage and history. Don’t get too carried away with a monocle and champagne glass as this pick is liable to smash those delicates apart with one mighty bass note!

Takamine TB10 Acoustic-Electric Upright Bass

Takamine TB10 Acoustic-Electric Upright Bass

Holding the Takamine TB10 Acoustic-Electric Upright Bass is an experience that’s not easy to forget, largely because there are very few fretless instruments out there that are anything like this axe. As stated before, there are no frets, so it is perfectly capable of being played in the style of an upright bass, a fact further supported by the dual f-holes in a body comprised of an arched spruce top and arched maple back. The resulting sound is very tone heavy and versatile enough to be played in several different settings.

The fingerboard on this instrument is also curved like a double-bass which means that one could play the TB10 with a bow if they so desired. If playing this more like a regular bass guitar is more up your alley, have no fear as it excels in that department as well. Driving the acoustic signal out is a Palathetic pickup, heralded as one of the most accurately organic sounding acoustic-electric pickups in the business. A Cool Tube preamp offers frequency controls, a built-in tuner, and a second RCA input so you can connect a secondary pickup or microphone into your signal.

Warwick Rockbass Alien Fretless Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar

If you’re going to include the word “alien” in the title of your guitar line, it’s only fair to expect a fittingly bugged-out appearance. Warwick’s Rockbass Alien 6 acoustic fretless bass doesn’t let down in that department, with its offset sound hole instantly striking the eye as something a bit different. The fretless nature of this instrument (please note it’s also available with frets) gives it the ability to sound like an upright, but it’s playable just like a regular acoustic bass guitar. Six strings provide players with the ability to truly get melodic in ways that are unavailable when confined by simply four strings...or even five for that matter!

This fretless 6-string is equipped with Fishman Prefix PlusT electronics while its piezo pickup offers a clear and accurate picture of all the fretboard magic you’ll be conjuring up. The built-in preamp includes an onboard tuner which is something that will make your life a little easier, especially when your hands are full with six strings. But you may not necessarily even need the electronics since the body of this guitar is thick and big which provides ample projection on its own, a feat sometimes lacking in other acoustic bass guitars.

Godin A4 Ultra Fretless Bass

Looking for the traditional sound and feel of an acoustic bass? Godin’s A4 Ultra Natural fretless has got you covered, with a fluidly free-flowing tone only attainable from the lack of those pesky confining frets. Its silver maple leaf body provides clarity to a sound which is already balanced and sings, thanks to its solid spruce top. The Lace Sensor pickup in this axe works together with a customized preamp to capture the precise tone and attack of the strings so this guitar sounds like the real deal.

Looking to do some stuff that you would never think to be possible with an acoustic bass guitar? Well, the A4 Ultra Natural fretless can also play for that side of the fence, too. This instrument is equipped with a unique 13-pin MIDI connector, through which you can trigger sounds from the Roland GR Series and Axon AX100 guitar synths. Why be limited to one tone when you can now voice several different voices and instruments in one reliable package?

Kala U-Bass All Solid Mahogany

There’s no way around it, size does matter. However, in the case of Kala’s U-Bass All Solid Mahogany fretless acoustic bass, it’s not quite what you would imagine. With an appearance that makes it look a lot like the ukuleles that Kala is known for making, this is a 21 inch short-scale bass able to pack a mighty punch despite its physical limitations. The proprietary polymer strings produced by Kala give this little guy an impressively deep bass resonance. Of course, the tone of this bass also owes a lot to its solid all-mahogany build; this thing does NOT sound like a ukulele, that’s for sure.

The fretless fingerboard is made of rosewood, so you’ll be able to comfortably execute jazz-like maneuvers, all while adding a bit of bright warmth to the dark and bass-driven mix. The customized electronics built into the U-Bass incorporate many tools to help you perfect your tone when you plug this thing in. An active EQ assists in helping you tweak the frequencies of your tone, while an onboard tuner is a real lifesaver for when you have to get your situation straight while onstage. This instrument also comes with a deluxe hard-foam case to protect your new travel buddy.

Michael Kelly MKDF5SKB Dragonfly 5 Acoustic Bass

When Michael Kelly designed the Dragonfly 5, they gave it a vibrantly stimulating design not dissimilar to the majestic look of an actual dragonfly (so it’s not just a clever name, you see). Real pearl and abalone customized inlays on the fretboard depict dragonfly and vine designs that are sure to catch the eye of anyone who gives this baby a once-over. But there’s more to this bass than what initially meets the eye.

The Fishman electronic system contained in this fretless acoustic bass is comprised of a Sonicore transducer pickup and MKAP pre-amp, both of which work to produce a faithful amplification of the natural acoustic tone created by the instrument. That sound is the result of a guitar made mostly from quilt maple on the top, back and sides which makes a world of a difference in producing a tight and precise instrument. With no frets holding you back, you’ll be able to comfortably work your way around the rosewood fingerboard to produce sounds that are organic and really sing.

Lakland The Decade Guitar Bass

Lakland The Decade Guitar Bass

The magic of the Lakland Skyline Decade begins with its all-mahogany body, which resonates with a dark and deep tone that all bass players seek to capture with their instruments. This bass guitar also features a slim maple neck that you’ll thank Lakland for later, after you’ve been playing for hours and don’t feel any discomfort in your hands and wrists.

The Skyline Decade is equipped with specialized single-coil Chi-Sonic pickups, created in partnership by Lakland and Hanson Pickups. Thanks to this electronic system, you have a wide dynamic range of tones at your fingertips. Whether it’s thick, bass-heavy sounds or more treble-driven, melodic-favoring tone, you can find what works best for you. Further craft that tone using the on-board tone knob and two volume knobs. Whether you’re looking to groove out on the low end or take melodic, jazz-like solos, you’ll find that the Skyline Decade is a reliable axe to have.

Music Man Game Changer Reflex Bass Guitar

What makes the Music Man Reflex The Game Changer stand out from the rest of the flock the most is its innovative new pickup technology, giving bassists the ability to mix and match two humbucking pickups into multiple configurations with an easy tone switch. Whether you want to utilize one single-coil and one-humbucker, out of phase pickups, series or parallel wiring, or other configurations, you’ll be able to switch sounds much quicker than it would take you to manually dial in these tones. A five-pin MIDI port also allows you to use this bass guitar to trigger sounds from external MIDI devices; now you can use your bass guitar to control the sounds of synthesizers, VST plug-ins, and more.

Of course, outside of the somewhat-unprecedented sound library capabilities, the Game Changer is a solid instrument in the traditional sense, too. Its bolt-on maple neck and matching maple fingerboard makes for a playing experience that puts a high priority on comfort. And with its ash body, maple top, and mahogany tone block tone, this axe has a warm and balanced sound that sounds great even before you factor in all the technological enhancements.

Aria SB1000RIB Bass Guitar

Aria SB1000RIB Bass Guitar

In the late 1970s, Japanese guitar manufacturer Aria changed the game with the introduction of their SB1000 bass guitar, an instrument so impressive it quickly garnered a list of high-profile fans, including Cream’s Jack Bruce who abandoned his trusty Gibson EB3 bass to lay his hands on the Aria. Decades later, the company has let the beast out of its cage again, with a reissue of the legendary SRB1000RIB, which captures the same high-end magic of its predecessor.

If you feel like getting your Cliff Burton on and want to dance away at the frets which are usually too high for bassists to ever even access, this is the bass guitar for you. Its cutaway body shape gives you a perfect entry point to hit all 24 of its frets. The neck-through-body design of its maple neck makes this instrument have an incredible amount of sustain. The electronics in this guitar are simple yet effective; a single humbucker gives you the ability to punch through the frequency range so the bass player will definitely be heard in the mix for once. A BB-Circuit provides a clear and distinct tone while eschewing any unwanted noise.

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Standard Bass Guitar

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Standard Bass Guitar

Alembic got its start working hands-on with artists, beginning as a consulting firm that worked closely with bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and more. The company sought to improve the quality of live sound and recording live concerts, but they would soon switch their focus to ensuring the sound coming out of the musician’s instrument was top-notch. They have earned a reputation as the Cadillac of bass guitars, and with their Stanley Clarke Signature Standard model, it’s easy to understand why.

A renown bassist whose technique is a style all its own, Stanley Clarke would need a bass guitar that is versatile and built to provide impeccable sound, and Alembic has not failed in this regard whatsoever. This 5-string handmade axe has a thin taper and an ebony fingerboard that provide players with the ability to nimbly zip up and down the frets without fatigue or discomfort. AXY56 pickups provide a sound that is warm and has character, making this an ideal instrument for playing deep rhythms as well as taking on more of a melodic lead approach. And with volume, pan, and low-pass filter controls onboard, you’ll really be able to make this axe the star of the show, by manipulating your tone to fit your exact desire.

Ken Smith Black Tiger

Ken Smith Black Tiger

As one goes deeper down the rabbit hole of high-end, customized bass guitars, it’s amazing to see what kind of care and craftsmanship is waiting to be discovered. Take Ken Smith, for instance; he’s developed a reputation over the years for creating truly impressive and one-of-a-kind instruments for those in the bass community looking for something more. That’s exactly what he’s done again with the Black Tiger bass guitar. Cherry-picking a limited amount of a purchase of an already-scarce black walnut tree wood, this instrument has a look and feel which speaks to the rare nature of its origin.

The aforementioned walnut comprises parts of the neck and body wings, while the fingerboard has a smooth and rich feel thanks to the macassar ebony. This bass guitar can take on a variety of sounds and it definitely shines for those of you who like to slap and pop, offering up that certain brand of “ping” which is hard to describe unless you hear it yourself.

The electronics in the Black Tiger are made up of a B.M.T. 3-Band EQ 18-volt circuit. This setup consists of internal 4-way adjustable frequency switches for each band, which makes adjusting the tone on this thing about as precise as microsurgery. Series/parallel switches are available for each set of custom soapbar humbucking pickups. Put simply, you’ve probably never heard or played anything like this before, and if you’re really looking to go high-end, this is a destination where you’ll want to end up.

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV Bass

The Gibson Thunderbird IV bass guitar makes big sounds, but what else would you expect from an all-mahogany body and mahogany/walnut laminate neck? Make no mistake, this bass guitar was made to rumble. But with a narrow 1.6 inch nut, you won’t need huge hands to harness such a huge tone. You can easily tune this axe using the Grover tuners and 3-point adjustable tailpiece which look impressive, and will ensure your bass guitar will stay in tune.

The Thunderbird IV’s dual ceramic magnet humbucker pickups (TB Plus) offer a punch and clarity that complements the overall style of this bass guitar; you’re getting a low-end wall of sound that also manages to remain tight. Finally, the Thunderbird drawn logo on the all-white pick guard and Gibson 120th anniversary inlay at the 12th fret of this axe gives this bass guitar a sense of class in recognizing its heritage and history. Don’t get too carried away with a monocle and champagne glass as this pick is liable to smash those delicates apart with one mighty bass note!

Fender Squier Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ

Squier’s Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ offers players all of the versatility and comfort typically associated with Fender bass guitars but at a much more affordable price point. The solid maple neck and rosewood fingerboard make gliding around on this instrument an easy and comfortable feat for players of all experience levels. With 20 medium jumbo frets, you’ll be able to play for hours without ever experiencing fatigue in your hands.

The sound of the PJ is what really makes this budget bass guitar something to check out. With a Precision and Jazz Bass pickup combo, you’re getting the best of both worlds; choose the former for an aggressive, hard rock tone, or the latter for something more balanced and classic. Of course, with volume knobs for each, you’ll be able to craft your own mix of the two until you find a tone that you like.

Yamaha RBX170Y 4-String Electric Bass Guitar Black

Whether you’re just starting on bass guitar or are looking for an affordable instrument to add to your musical arsenal, the Yamaha RBX170 is a choice axe that offers quality features far exceeding its price. A dual pickup configuration gives players the choice between a split coil and single coil, along with volume knobs for each setup as well a master tone control so you’ll never have to worry about dialing in the perfect tone.

The RBX170’s 34 inch scale length maple neck makes this bass guitar extremely comfortable to hold and play, giving you the ease of knowing that your hands won’t cramp up anytime soon after playing this instrument. The double cutaway basswood body makes this axe very durable, and the bass will stay in tune for long periods of time without requiring any additional tuning. And with 24 frets at your disposal, you’ll be able to play a full range of notes, making this bass adaptable for multiple styles and genres of music.

Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60's 4-String Jazz Bass Guitar

When Fender first unveiled its Jazz Bass in the 1960’s, they forever music forever by introducing one of the most played and recorded bass guitars of all-time. Years later, musicians are still chasing that incredible sound, and Squier has an affordable option for bassists looking to capture the sweet sounds of the past under a tight budget. The Classic Vibe Jazz Bass ‘60s model is powered by two Fender-designed single-coil pickups that emulate the classic J Bass tone. The electronic components provide a deep and round sound perfect for a variety of styles including jazz, funk, blues, rock, and country. Players can dial in their own specific tone using individual volume controls for each pickup, along with a master tone control knob.

But beyond just sounding great, if a bass guitar is going to emulate a legendary instrument like the Fender Jazz Bass it’s going to need to feel right, too. Luckily, Squier took special care to emulate all of the endearing qualities of the past when designing their Classic Vibe Jazz Bass. The contoured body of this instrument makes it very comfortable to play, and the slim maple neck recognizes the hands are a pretty darn important element to playing bass, subsequently taking care of them by offering extreme comfort. The end result is a bass guitar that can take on the world.

ESP LTD B-4E 4-string Electric Bass Guitar

ESP LTD truly went balls-to-the-wall with their B-4E NS bass guitar. This axe sounds like a mighty warrior in the best way, and when you inspect the individual components of this instrument, it quickly becomes clear why. An ebony-topped mahogany body is the core of the deep and thunderous tone this guitar is capable of producing, and it’s only enhanced by the five-piece maple mahogany neck that runs through the whole length of the axe. This leads to increased sustain as well as a faster response. It gets deep, man, but wait, that’s not all.

Two humbucking pickups provide a wide response and truly give this bass guitar a thick tone. The three band EQ in this axe also allows players to further craft their tone to meet their standards. The balance control switch allows you to mix the signals from both pickups which add further versatility to this instrument. But just because this thing sounds monstrous doesn’t mean it’s a nightmare to navigate; the extra thin neck is designed to make it incredibly easy to rip through all 24 extra jumbo frets with sheer grace.

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Standard Bass Guitar

Alembic Stanley Clarke Signature Standard Bass Guitar

Alembic got its start working hands-on with artists, beginning as a consulting firm that worked closely with bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and more. The company sought to improve the quality of live sound and recording live concerts, but they would soon switch their focus to ensuring the sound coming out of the musician’s instrument was top-notch. They have earned a reputation as the Cadillac of bass guitars, and with their Stanley Clarke Signature Standard model, it’s easy to understand why.

A renown bassist whose technique is a style all its own, Stanley Clarke would need a bass guitar that is versatile and built to provide impeccable sound, and Alembic has not failed in this regard whatsoever. This 5-string handmade axe has a thin taper and an ebony fingerboard that provide players with the ability to nimbly zip up and down the frets without fatigue or discomfort. AXY56 pickups provide a sound that is warm and has character, making this an ideal instrument for playing deep rhythms as well as taking on more of a melodic lead approach. And with volume, pan, and low-pass filter controls onboard, you’ll really be able to make this axe the star of the show, by manipulating your tone to fit your exact desire.

Rock Bass Corvette $$ 5-String Electric Bass Guitar

Bass players of all styles and backgrounds will tell you that Warwick bass guitars are a joy to play in terms of how they feel, but the true root of that makes the Corvette $$ such a great axe is the electronic configuration inside the instrument. Dual MEC humbucking pickups sit very close to one another right in the sweet spot of the bass, and they connect to an active preamp that really drives the sound of this groove machine.

Players can switch between pickup configurations, allowing access to series mode, single, or parallel. You’ll have to play with this to find which sounds you like best, but rest assured that whether you’re looking for bass-heavy boom or more treble-minding, brighter pizzazz, there’s definitely something for everybody here.

The Chinese swamp ash that this guitar is manufactured with gives this guitar its natural resonance and sustaining tone. This bass guitar also has fluorescent side position markers on the neck, which glow in the dark; at least now you’ll never have to give any additional thought to where you’re at on the neck when you’re playing without the stage lights illuminating your axe. A solid brass 2-piece 3D bridge ties this beauty together, giving a solid and accurate transfer of tone and vibration.

Ernie Ball Music Man Classic Collection StingRay 5-String Bass

Leo Fender pretty much perfected the formula for a great bass guitar early on, and there’s no better example of this work than the classic 1976 StingRay, which kept things simple yet pristine. The Music Man Classic StingRay (predictably) rekindles the sound and feel in a versatile and absolutely frills-free bass guitar that delivers across the board. This axe forgoes the multiple switches and pickups found in so many of its peers and keeps it simple with a single Music Man StingRay pickup and two knobs to control the 2-band EQ. This is a bass guitar that doesn’t offer much by way of tone manipulation controls, but can cover almost any style thanks to its sheer simplicity.

The embrace of the simple vibe of the Golden Age continues on the fretboard, which is available in rosewood or maple. Eschewing the typical jumbo frets of today, the Classic StingRay features skinny frets, which will appeal to you if you’re accustomed to playing vintage-style instruments. The through-body stringing also features bridge saddle string mutes made from foam, a feature which brings out a cool thumpy tone usually associated with old school R&B and blues.

Lakland 5514-M-NAT 5-String Bass Guitar

Lakland has always had a distinct and eye-catching approach to the way that they design their bass guitars, and their 55-14 model is no exception to that rule. Beyond just looking cool, the offset waist design is made to give you comfort in addition to great balance and feel. The hybrid mix of alder and maple in this thing offers all you could want in a bass guitar; the former comprises the body, making it harmonically rich and smooth on the hands, while the latter handles the neck for added sustain and grit.

Lakland manufactures all of their electronics in-house, and the resulting sounds make you realize that this is an approach that more bass guitar manufacturers might want to consider trying. You’ll be able to mix and match pickup settings for days thanks to the 3-way bridge pickup coil tap toggle and bass, midrange, and treble knobs. You can also use the panning style pickup control to concoct a blend of your pickup sources, which means the combinations are truly limitless when it comes to crafting a sound to fit the style of music you’re playing.

Fender American Standard 5-String Jazz Bass Guitar V

Why reinvent the wheel? That’s the approach that Fender took in updating its classic flagship jazz bass with its American Jazz Standard V. From the sound to the design to the look of this bass guitar, this is clearly built to follow in the footsteps of the great instruments that came before it, and has an overall “classic” feel. A satin-finish maple neck allows players to play this thing smooth and fast, while the rounded edges give it a comfortable “broken-in” feel that will immediately appeal to your hands as soon as this instrument is picked up.

The single-coil pickup sound in the American Jazz Standard V is classic Fender tone. It has a very punchy character to it, which particular emphasis in the mid-range. While many 5-string guitars sport a lower B string that can get a bit unwieldy and wobbly, this bass keeps it super tight and focused, which results in a stronger low end, sort of the point for a 5-string anyway, right? While this bass guitar is definitely heavy (as Fender jazz basses tend to be), that’s the only criticism that can be pointed at this otherwise excellent axe.

Warwick Thumb NT6 6-String Bass Guitar

Warwick Thumb NT6 6-String Bass Guitar

Warwick represents the perfect hybrid of old world craftsmanship and modern, present-day technology; if you need any further proof, just check out their Thumb NT-6 string bass guitar. With a body made from bubinga pommele and a natural oil finish, this instrument already has a jaw-dropping aesthetic. But the way that this axe is built is even more exciting than its looks. Warwick’s invisible fret technology installation (which it uses for all of its basses) provides all 26 frets with extra stability, which allows you to play with ease.

The 3D 2-piece bridge system has been crafted from solid brass, which is an incredible tone transfer alloy; while many other bridges will color or slightly tweak an instrument’s natural sound, this one does not. The adjustable nut system allows you to raise and lower the string height of the Thumb NT-6 for easy setup adjustments. The electronics of this 6-string (two J-style pickups) give this bass a wide range of sounds, from low end punch to smoother more balanced tone.

Ken Smith BSR6MS 6 String Bass Guitar

Ken Smith BSR6MS 6 String Bass Guitar

Ken Smith has carved out a niche for itself in the world of high-end bass guitars by providing a hands-on approach with all of his products. The BSR6MS-G shows just what he can do with a 6-string bass guitar, offering killer tone and a comfortable feel; if you’re accustomed to wider frets and the type of space that is customary with 6-string bass guitars. If you’re the type of player that does well with wide spaces though, you’ll have no problems whatsoever with how this axe feels.

This selection is built like a tank, so you don’t have to worry about it going out of tune easily.The electronic end of this 6-string bass is right on par with the care and craft of its physical attributes while a proprietary Ken Smith preamp works in conjunction with two humbucker pickups. Players have the ability to do some crafting of their own by using the instrument’s bass, mid, and treble frequency knobs.

Ibanez BTB676 6-String Electric Bass (Natural Flat Finish)

A 6-string bass guitar can look like an overwhelming beast sometimes, but Ibanez has taken great care to make sure their BTB676 is easy to handle and sounds fantastic. The first notable element about this 6-string is its 5-piece neck which is made from maple and bubinga, allowing it to offer extreme playability, stability, and great tone. It’s through-neck construction is responsible for the tonal transfer and accurate vibration translation powering the natural sound of the instrument.

Because you’re dealing with a lower string (the low B), the BTB676 is built at a 35-inch scale, which provides better tension and a more comfortable feel on the lower strings. Each string is separated by a Mono-Rail II bridge, giving all six strings their own exclusive mini-bridge to prevent any interference as the individual strings vibrate. This axe comes equipped with Bartolini pickups and preamps; the ceramic magnets in the pickups provide a warm tone and a great dynamic range, while the 3-band EQ gives you the option to meticulously tweak your tone.

ESP RB-1006SM-NAT-KIT-2 Spalted Maple Natural 6-String Electric Bass

The first thing that’s striking about the ESP RB-1006SM is the natural finish and swamp ash body with solid spalted maple top. This 6-string bass guitar looks like it came from nature, and that’s only fitting considering how natural this baby feels and plays. If you’re choosing a 6-string bass guitar as your axe of choice, you’re likely looking to explore all over the neck, take solos, play more complex chords, and add a serious range to your riffs. The contoured C shape of the 5-piece maple and walnut neck allows you to do all of this with extreme comfort and flexibility.

The electronics in this instrument include a Aguilar J pickup in the bridge position and an Aguilar P pickup in the neck position. These two pickups can be modeled and shaped with an onboard OBP-2 active 2-band EQ/preamp, alongside individual volume and tone balance controls. Finally, the bolt-on neck offers a stability that will put you at ease as you rip through six strings of musical power.

Michael Tobias 635-24 6-String Bass Guitar

Michael Tobias 635-24 6-String Bass Guitar

Michael Tobias has done it again with his MTD 635-24 6-string bass guitar, furthering his reputation as a guitar builder. Because of the boutique nature of his business, the 635-24 follows a basic design which can be customized in many ways, including the type of tonewood that gives this axe its gorgeous natural tone. Potential options include mahogany body with satin finish, makore body with a maple burl top, and more. Whatever you settle on, you’re getting the attention to detail and craftsmanship that has become synonymous with the MTD brand.

With such a natural look to the body and neck of the instrument itself, the MTD 635-24 doesn’t need much to complement its style when it comes to hardware which is simply black in this case. There are other elements that remain the same regardless of what kind of customization you choose for your MTD bass guitar. Custom Bartolini active pickups have been calibrated to enhance every sound that this dynamic 6-string can produce. A Hipshot bridge and matching tuners give this mighty axe the type of stability you can count on. MTD offers players the ability to walk away with whatever they’d like, similar to a kid in a candy store, making them unparalleled in the realm of high-end bass guitar options.

Michael Kelly Sojourn 4 Travel Bass

I can’t think of any specific sojourns I’ve had to take in my life requiring that I bring a bass guitar, but you never know what’s around the corner and should the opportunity arise, I know that I can pick up the Michael Kelly Sojourn 4 Travel acoustic bass for all my wandering needs. On second thought, this axe is probably just useful for any kind of travel gig that requires you to move that bass without a fraction of the size or weight.

A solid Englemann spruce top is the key factor in helping this bass guitar produce such a defined and clear sound. That source audio is further powered via a B-Band 22R UST pickup and a B-Band A1.2 preamp which offers exceptional frequency response. You’ll also be able to boost this signal thanks to 24 dB of gain. The mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard ensure you’ll have an extremely comfortable playing experience with the Sojourn. The fact that it comes with a gig bag means you have even less to worry about when it’s time to take your bass with you, wherever you happen to be headed.

Kala U-Bass Solid Mahogany Fretless Ukelele

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the Kala U-Bass All Solid Mahogany Fretless acoustic bass guitar, Despite its small size, this axe brings the bass like no other, thanks in large part to its all mahogany build, which favors a dark and low-heavy tone. Kala also manufactures this bass guitar with polymer strings that help to increase the deep bass resonance.

If you’re looking to plug this in and really bring the noise, the U-Bass customized electronics are here to save the day. This system includes a built-in tuner as well as an active EQ to help you sculpt your tone. You’re really getting the best of both worlds with this instrument; it’s easy to transport like a ukulele, (especially in its included deluxe hard-foam case), but you’re still getting the deep rumble of a bass guitar.

Traveler Guitar Escape MK-II Acoustic-Electric Travel Bass Guitar

They say good things come in small packages, and if we’re to take that as the truth, the Traveler Escape MK-II acoustic bass guitar is really, really good. Weighing in at just 5.25 pounds and at only 36” long, this axe epitomizes everything you’d look for in a travel instrument. Its design is a bit funky with its sparse face, but that doesn’t take away from the fact this guitar is extremely playable, thanks to high action and an ebonized rosewood fretboard. Its 32” scale-length definitely will have you thinking that you’re playing an actual bass guitar if you close your eyes.

An onboard LR Baggs Hybrid-Element preamp drives the tone of this thing to the next level, giving players the option to either plug into an amp or use headphones to practice. You can also use the onboard EQ to alter the tone of this instrument to your liking. It’s unlikely that any players will full-on replace their bass guitars with a travel bass like this; however, the playability of this little thing (along with the fact it’s so easy to travel with) definitely makes it an instrument any traveling musician should look into.

Traveler Guitar ULB5 NAT Ultra-Light 5-String Travel Bass

Although it may be relatively stripped down in comparison to other bass guitars (and even other travel bass guitars), Traveler’s Ultra-Light 5-string acoustic bass gets loud just like its bigger older brothers. Clocking in at 3 pounds and measuring in at 30” x 5.5” x 2”, you can take this acoustic travel bass with you anywhere. The one-of-a-kind design maintains the scale length of a 30”-scale bass with just barely any room left over (but they’re able to make it work) and the foldable string design means you don’t have to acquire specialized strings for this guitar either.

A Shadows electronic system provides an under-saddle piezo pickup, which helps translate the Ultra-Light’s natural acoustic tone into a sound that is far larger than the package it comes from. A customized gig bag that comes with it will allow you to fit this thing anywhere, whether it’s in the trunk of your car, in your backpack, in an overhead airplane compartment, or practically anywhere else you could imagine storing a bass guitar. Now you never have an excuse to not have your bass guitar with you ever again!

Gold Tone MicroBass

Gold Tone MicroBass

Whether you’re looking for an instrument to travel with for practice, live performance, or take to the studio, Gold Tone’s Microbass 23 fits the bill. This is an acoustic travel bass which adopts a mini dreadnaught design that not only feels comfortable to hold and play, but produces a sound that might make you do a double take. High tension polymer strings enable you to play a variety of styles in different intensities, without having to worry about the guitar being too flimsy due to its size.

This ukelele-sized acoustic bass also weighs 2.8 pounds which makes it ideal for the musician who’s on the go. Its mahogany neck and back give it a deep low-end tone necessary for any instrument that identifies as a bass, and the electronic system includes a piezo transducer with built-in tuner, EQ, and volume. It’s a one-stop-shop for bassists who want to have all the finer things in a simple, compact package. Available in both fretted and fretless configurations, this is definitely a versatile instrument that gives players a deep sound without taking up a large amount of space at an affordable price.

Ibanez GSR206 6-String Bass

Ibanez has long been a go-to brand for bassists who like to explore the outer limits of the low end. All of their bass guitars (whether 4, 5, or 6-string) offer a variety of tonal options and are built to provide a comfortable and intuitive playing experience. With their GSR206, Ibanez provides a great entry point into the somewhat-niche realm of 6-string basses at a very low price tag. It’s a good starting point for those who are still new to playing an instrument of this caliber.

First off, the 1-piece maple neck is definitely wide, which should come as no surprise considering it is built to accommodate six strings. However, this isn’t too prohibitive for playing, as it is still very fast and smooth. You’ll have no problems swiftly maneuvering across all 22 frets. There are also two passive Dynamix pickups sit in the neck and bridge positions.

The tone this 6-string bass guitar can be a more subtle, round sound, or it can really have some bite to it depending on how you dial in your tone using the active/passive toggle and tone knobs in conjunction with the built-in Phat II EQ. This bass sounds great for more traditional rock and jazz playing, but also can shine when used with slap and pop techniques, making it a good option for funk and harder styles as well.

Dean Edge 6-String Bass Guitar

With their Edge 6 bass guitar, Dean presents a 6-string instrument that is ready to be played, and played hard. Eschewing the maple top most bass instruments often favor, this axe is made from a solid double-cut basswood, providing a deep and resonant tone. At the same time, its build offers great durability, meaning it can take a beating and still keep on jamming. Surprisingly, this bass guitar is quite light for its size and thick sound, so you don’t have to necessarily worry about developing neck and back problems from hours of playing with it.

The Dean Edge 6 has some truly spectacular mid-range capabilities, making it an ideal bass guitar for chords and other less-traditional playing techniques. This unique tone is of course powered by a dual EMG pickup in the neck and bridge positions. These active electronics are able to be tweaked and manipulated by a pickup blend, tone knobs, and a master volume. Finally, the guitar’s bolt-on neck not only provides stability to your playing, but also adds warmth to the already-superb sounds provided by this budget-friendly instrument.

Brice V2 6 String Bass

Brice V2 6 String Bass

Brice may not be in the typical lexicon for bassists (let alone 6-string bassists), but that can most likely be attributed to its source. New Hampshire-based instrument distributor Rondo Music is the chief supplier of Brice’s entry-level axe the V2, but just because it’s not available through most budget guitar outlets doesn’t take anything away from its standard of quality and playability. To start, its resonant Agathis body is topped with quilted maple and transparent finishes that give this axe a shade of elegance. Its bolt-on Canadian maple neck offers stability and comfort, which is important on an instrument that can be as physically daunting as a 6-string bass.

Deep cutaways on the body provide easy access to all 24 frets on this 34-inch scale bass guitar while 2 humbucker pickups are responsible for this instruments punchy tone. Players can adjust the tone further through balance control as well as tone knobs conveniently located right on the body. Finally, the V2 gets an extra dab of pizzazz thanks to die cast gold hardware on the bridge, tuners, knobs, strap button, and neck bolts. At only 9.5 pounds, this 6-string bass guitar is easy to handle and gives quite the bang for the buck.

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Bass VI

In the 1960’s, Fender introduced a 6-string baritone guitar that instantly magnetized players with its deep and distinct sound found in an instrument that played like an electric guitar. This low end magic was used by George Harrison and John Lennon (the Beatles), Jack Bruce (Cream), the Cure, and has even been adopted by more current artists like the Black Keys. With their Vintage Modified Bass VI, Squier has emulated all that was great about the original forefather and made it available to players in an affordable quality instrument.

This Squier’s “Strangle” circuit allows players to precisely scoop their octave-dropped guitar tone to create an inarguably distinct sound that is great for double guitar or bass parts. That tone is driven by three custom Jaguar single-coil pickups, each one paired with an on/off switch to help players easily sculpt their sound. And because this is essentially a bass-like spirit contained within the skeleton of an electric guitar, this is way more playable than instruments that would usually dwarf this axe. It’s got a 30-inch scale and a fast maple neck, so you’ll be harnessing the rumble of a 6-string bass guitarminus the width and often-taxing physical dynamics of a bass guitar instrument.

ESP B206 6-String Bass Guitar

Many 4-string bassists may eventually find themselves limited by the confines of their instrument, and that’s where the 6-string comes in. Opening up both the low end as well as adding an extra string on top, an instrument like ESP’s B-206SM is ideal for bassists who want more out of their playing. This 35” scale bass is comprised of an ash body, maple top, and 5-piece maple and rosewood neck, giving this axe not only a natural beauty, but also a tone that warmly emanates and is ideal for playing styles taking on a more melodic role.

The B-206SM is equipped with ESP pickups in the neck and bridge positions. These electronics are paired with an active 3-band EQ which allows players to alter their tone to fit the setting and style accordingly. Whether you want to harness low growling tones similar to the bass notes on a piano or approaching with a more Jaco Pastorious/finger-tap/harmonic technique, this bass guitar offers you the ability to do it all.

Ibanez Gio GSR105EX 5-String Bass Guitar Black

Whether it’s a high-end instrument or a more budget-friendly axe, a good 5-string bass needs to be able to sustain itself and resonate in the lower frequency range introduced with the added fifth low B string. With their GSR105EX 5-string bass guitar, Ibanez has made an instrument is affordable but more than capable of fulfilling this requirement. A single PPD5 pickup offers a large and chunky tone that also sustains, thanks to its high-output exposed pole piece design.

The 1-piece maple neck and basswood body are what make this budget-friendly bass guitar balanced in tone and feel, providing the right mix of treble and bass, respectively. There isn’t much by way of tone control here (a single volume knob and a single tone knob is all you get) but you won’t necessarily need to tamper with much with a setup this simple. Chrome hardware gives this axe an added touch of sleekness.

BASS Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass

Because of its short scale design, the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special SS is an ideal instrument for those who don’t necessarily favor the length and breadth of normal-sized bass. Four inches shorter than the standard 34”, this bass guitar moves quicker and can be much easier on players’ hands. The finish on maple neck won’t slow you down at all, and the body shape (the classic Jaguar design) gives this thing personal attitude and style from the jump.

Two pickups are housed in the Vintage Modified Jaguar; you’ve got the standard single-coil jazz bass pickup, which has more of a nasally, treble-favoring tone, and a vintage-style split single-coil precision bass pickup for a more growling, low-end sound. While there’s no pickup switch, you can control the output of each pickup via onboard volume knobs to blend into a tone of your liking.

Because of its affordable price and smaller scale design, this is an ideal bass guitar for those who are just starting out on the instrument. It’s also great for guitarists who primarily don’t play bass but need something for laying ideas down while remaining in their comfort zone.

ESP LTD B Series B-205 5-String Bass Guitar

When budget-friendly instruments are brought up in conversation, people will often picture something flimsy and unreliable. It goes without saying that the ESP LTD B-205SM easily defies any stereotypes. Its 5-piece maple body assures this instrument has supreme stability, while the maple and rosewood neck give this axe a bright pop. A natural satin finish and extra thin U neck contour ensures you’ll have no discomfort playing this bass guitar, either.

Two active ESP SB-5 bridge and neck pickups are what power this bass guitar to have that extra bit of snarl and bite. You can also adjust the tone coming out of the electronics with a 3-band active EQ. The end result is a bass guitar that is great for many styles, particularly those that require the bright and funky slap sound/technique.

Peavey Millennium BXP 5-String Bass Guitar

For what is ostensibly a beginner’s instrument, Peavey’s Millennium BXP sure goes out of its way to impress like it’s playing in the big leagues. Anytime a budget 5-string bass guitar is made available at such an affordable price, it’s natural to assume there must be some area in which corners were cut. Fortunately, that’s not the case here. From a visual standpoint, the real maple quilt top and basswood body give this axe an impressive look. It’s also worth noting that this bass guitar weighs just under 15 lbs, which is very light when compared to other 5-string basses.

Two single coil pickups are what makes this baby really cry, and for those who might already anticipate unwanted hum or noise, no need to fret. When used together, the two single-coils cancel each other out, providing a clean tone. The body design with waist cutaway gives players easy access to the full fretboard, and is also a factor in what makes this bass guitar so comfortable. The fact that Peavey has included a five year warranty on this instrument is just icing on the cake.

Yamaha TRBX305 PWT 5-String Electric Bass Guitar

Most “budget” instruments are typically positioned to be a great option for beginners, but Yamaha has kicked things up a few notches with their TRBX305. This is really a 5-string bass guitar that could easily find a coveted space in an intermediate bassist’s life, but it’s still available at a very affordable and welcoming price. Because it’s an active bass guitar, you’ll have more tonal control when manipulating the settings between two soap bar-style humbucking pickups. A 2-band EQ and pickup switch allows you to meticulously craft your tone and even blend the separate signals.

What’s truly remarkable about this bass guitar is the Performance EQ, which is a 5-way switch that allows you to quickly hop between EQ pre-sets optimized and intuitively set up for different playing styles (such as pick, slap technique, and fingers) which allows you to quickly demo sounds on the fly. The 5-piece maple/mahogany neck allows you to move fast in a different way making for all comfort and no limitations, so you’ll be zipping around on the frets in no time.

Lakland Hollowbody Bass Guitar

What is the root of the Lakland Skyline Hollowbody’s beefy tone? It’s hard to figure out where to start. The mahogany body with carved maple top definitely gives this bass guitar a warm, balanced sound, but throw the classic hollowbody f-holes into the mix and it immediately becomes apparent that this axe is truly the sum of all its wonderful parts. A maple neck and rosewood fretboard make this bass guitar a smooth and comfortable playing experience, while the fretboard itself is marked either by fretted dots or is unmarked but with side dots; this gives you options to help you stay on course in your musical pursuits.

The Lakland Skyline Hollowbody’s Chi-Sonic pickups are high-output humbuckers built to produce a wide frequency response. These electronics will help your tone cut through the mix without losing the warm and full low-end sound that fulfills the most basic function of the bass guitar. This instrument is able to maintain a solid tone that otherwise often gets lost in the mix when it comes to other hollowbody bass guitars.

Warwick RB Star Bass

Warwick RB Star Bass

As a brand, Warwick has built its reputation by creating high-end bass guitars favored by some of the premier bassists in music. Their RockBass subdivision offers the same care and quality afforded to their main line, but at a more welcoming price bracket, and so with their RockBass Star. Players now have a chance to get their hands on a hollowbody instrument without hollowing out their bank accounts.

An all-maple curved body gives this axe its warm and resonant tone while the neck is also made from maple, and holds extra high jumbo frets that will give you the room to play and feel comfortable all over the instrument. After all, if you’re picking up a Warwick, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to be pulling off some impressive bass playing and not just sticking with simple root note techniques.

The electronics in the Warwick RB Star are passive vintage MEC single-coil pickups located in the neck and bridge position. Alternate between a warmly huge sound or a smoother, more low-key approach, or find the option that’s right for you anywhere in between using a 3-way toggle pickup switch and volume/tone knobs for each pickup configuration. The RB Star is available as a fretted or fretless instrument; the former features a smooth rosewood fingerboard, while the latter’s is built from Tigerstripe ebony to allow for more fluid, seamless playing styles.

Epiphone Jack Casady Signature Bass Guitar Ebony

Jack Casady made a name for himself playing bass for bands like Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, partially because of his reliance on hollow body bass guitars. Years later, Epiphone has teamed with Casady to make the Jack Casady Signature Bass can summon the tone of an electric mixed with the response and playability of an acoustic. The axe’s vintage body style and tone can largely be attributed to the maple body and top. Contrary to what it may look like, this instrument is actually pretty light. The set mahogany neck is thin and comfortable, so if you’re a guitarist who’s just visiting in the world of bass guitars, you won’t have much trouble getting acclimated.

This is a bass guitar that is designed to let players truly wander around with a double-cutaway design which gives you all access to frets normally deemed too high up on the neck to reach. One JCB-1 humbucker pickup delivers a tone that is both natural and pure. The Varitone knob gives bassists the option to wildly alter their sound, ranging from a clear and clean “unplugged” tone to a more deep and raw rock-sounding approach.

Gretsch G5440LS Electromatic Hollow Body Long Scale Bass Guitar

The first thing that’s notable about the Gretsch G5440LS Electromatic hollow body long scale bass guitar is how bright and warm it sounds; you can thank the 5-ply maple body and neck for that. The long-scale neck is not only built to feel solid and secure, but it delivers an amazing response that is rich with resonance and depth. The aforementioned resonance is of course only bolstered by the dual f-holes located on the body of this instrument.

While it would be amazing to just own a hollow-body bass that sounded this great and warm when unplugged, Gretsch successfully crosses over to the electric world, thanks to its Black Top Filter’Tron humbucker pickups. These electronics deliver an accurate and detailed response, meaning that you’ll get a strong and clear tone whether you’re noodling up on the highest, most treble-heavy frets or grooving out on some low-end rhythms. Because of how faithful the electronics make this instrument sound, players are able to get the “soul” of an acoustic instrument with the amplification and power of an electric.

Hofner H500/1 Vintage 1964 Violin Electric Bass Guitar

Paul McCartney single-handedly brought Hofner into the spotlight when he purchased a 500/1 Violin Bass for use in a little band you may have heard of called The Beatles. Since then, the unique-looking style of bass guitar has become a go-to staple for musicians of all genres that have followed. That original axe model has been faithfully duplicated in the H500/1 Vintage 1964 Violin Electric Bass Guitar and most people would think the good folks at Hofner actually stepped out of a time machine with this instrument as soon as they start playing it.

This guitar’s 3-piece flame maple and beech neck allows players to move quickly and comfortably in their playing with its slim carve also contributing to the axe’s fast and smooth-feeling action. The standard Staple humbucker pickups in this instrument provide a warm and classic tone. A pair of volume controls, pair of on/off switches, and a rhythm/solo switch (with volume boost) on deck, ensure ample options to further develop the sound of the axe as you use it to play not just the sounds of the 60s, but everything that followed up to modern day music.

MusicMan Bongo 6-String Bass Guitar

MusicMan Bongo 6-String Bass Guitar

At first glance, the Music Man Bongo 6-string bass guitar looks like something off the set of a sci-fi thriller. Its distinct body style definitely makes it stand out in a crowd, particularly with the cool-looking headstock design which could also serve as a intergalactic scepter or space-age weapon if push came to shove. But this axe has more going for it than just looks as its basswood body offers quick response and a full spectrum of tonal possibilities.

The Music Man Bongo 6 comes in a variety of pickup configurations, letting you choose between dual humbuckers or single humbucker setups. Either way, the electronics sound great with a 4-band EQ which allows you to really find the tone that works best for your style and technique. Bass, treble, and mid knobs can take you anywhere you want to go, from a flat tone to a more boosted bass sound to adding treble for brightening up the mix. The 17.5 mm spacing between strings makes this bass guitar a great candidate for those looking to get their slap on, but the overall spread at 3.5 inches ensures you won’t split your hand open handling this bad boy.

Spector Legend Classic 6-String Bass Guitar

Spector implemented a curved body shape on its Legend Classic 6-string bass guitar that makes this axe instantly comfortable to hold and play. Made from solid maple and sporting a figured maple top, the sound that this instrument produces is warm and thick. Aided by a 24-fret rosewood fingerboard and 3-piece maple neck, this axe is smooth and fast, allowing you to play rhythmic patterns, melodic leads, or complex chord shapes at a quick and comfortable speed.

Customized SSD humbucker pickups work in conjunction with a TonePump Jr. active tone control, giving bassists the ability to boost and cut their signal by 12dB. Treble and bass controls also offer players the ability to further tweak their tone. A five year warranty comes with this 6-string bass guitar, so you’ll have nothing to worry about as you explore everything it has to offer.

Ibanez BTB676 6-String Electric Bass (Natural Flat Finish)

A 6-string bass guitar can look like an overwhelming beast sometimes, but Ibanez has taken great care to make sure their BTB676 is easy to handle and sounds fantastic. The first notable element about this 6-string is its 5-piece neck which is made from maple and bubinga, allowing it to offer extreme playability, stability, and great tone. It’s through-neck construction is responsible for the tonal transfer and accurate vibration translation powering the natural sound of the instrument.

Because you’re dealing with a lower string (the low B), the BTB676 is built at a 35-inch scale, which provides better tension and a more comfortable feel on the lower strings. Each string is separated by a Mono-Rail II bridge, giving all six strings their own exclusive mini-bridge to prevent any interference as the individual strings vibrate. This axe comes equipped with Bartolini pickups and preamps; the ceramic magnets in the pickups provide a warm tone and a great dynamic range, while the 3-band EQ gives you the option to meticulously tweak your tone.

Warwick Thumb NT6 6-String Bass Guitar

Warwick Thumb NT6 6-String Bass Guitar

Warwick represents the perfect hybrid of old world craftsmanship and modern, present-day technology; if you need any further proof, just check out their Thumb NT-6 string bass guitar. With a body made from bubinga pommele and a natural oil finish, this instrument already has a jaw-dropping aesthetic. But the way that this axe is built is even more exciting than its looks. Warwick’s invisible fret technology installation (which it uses for all of its basses) provides all 26 frets with extra stability, which allows you to play with ease.

The 3D 2-piece bridge system has been crafted from solid brass, which is an incredible tone transfer alloy; while many other bridges will color or slightly tweak an instrument’s natural sound, this one does not. The adjustable nut system allows you to raise and lower the string height of the Thumb NT-6 for easy setup adjustments. The electronics of this 6-string (two J-style pickups) give this bass a wide range of sounds, from low end punch to smoother more balanced tone.

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Bass VI

In the 1960’s, Fender introduced a 6-string baritone guitar that instantly magnetized players with its deep and distinct sound found in an instrument that played like an electric guitar. This low end magic was used by George Harrison and John Lennon (the Beatles), Jack Bruce (Cream), the Cure, and has even been adopted by more current artists like the Black Keys. With their Vintage Modified Bass VI, Squier has emulated all that was great about the original forefather and made it available to players in an affordable quality instrument.

This Squier’s “Strangle” circuit allows players to precisely scoop their octave-dropped guitar tone to create an inarguably distinct sound that is great for double guitar or bass parts. That tone is driven by three custom Jaguar single-coil pickups, each one paired with an on/off switch to help players easily sculpt their sound. And because this is essentially a bass-like spirit contained within the skeleton of an electric guitar, this is way more playable than instruments that would usually dwarf this axe. It’s got a 30-inch scale and a fast maple neck, so you’ll be harnessing the rumble of a 6-string bass guitarminus the width and often-taxing physical dynamics of a bass guitar instrument.

Fender American Deluxe Jazz 5-String Bass Guitar

Feel is everything in music, and there’s no question about how great the Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass feels when it’s in your hands. A contoured neck heel offers a smooth and rounded playing experience that rests comfortably in your hand, and also allows for smooth and easy access to even the highest of the bass guitar’s 21 frets. The maple neck also sports a gloss polyurethane finish, meaning you’ll have no problems moving up and down the neck with speed and, most importantly, without any discomfort to slow you down.

The J-bass also is stocked with N3 Noiseless pickups, electronic devices whose power far exceeds their quiet demeanor. You’re getting a full dynamic range and a classic single-coil sound without any of the unwanted hum. An active/passive switch allows you to run the show with full access to the bass guitar’s preamp; choose passive for a more traditional clear and powerful tone, or go with active if you want to turn things up and make use of the 3-band EQ featured in this instrument.

Ernie Ball Music Man Classic Collection StingRay 5-String Bass

Leo Fender pretty much perfected the formula for a great bass guitar early on, and there’s no better example of this work than the classic 1976 StingRay, which kept things simple yet pristine. The Music Man Classic StingRay (predictably) rekindles the sound and feel in a versatile and absolutely frills-free bass guitar that delivers across the board. This axe forgoes the multiple switches and pickups found in so many of its peers and keeps it simple with a single Music Man StingRay pickup and two knobs to control the 2-band EQ. This is a bass guitar that doesn’t offer much by way of tone manipulation controls, but can cover almost any style thanks to its sheer simplicity.

The embrace of the simple vibe of the Golden Age continues on the fretboard, which is available in rosewood or maple. Eschewing the typical jumbo frets of today, the Classic StingRay features skinny frets, which will appeal to you if you’re accustomed to playing vintage-style instruments. The through-body stringing also features bridge saddle string mutes made from foam, a feature which brings out a cool thumpy tone usually associated with old school R&B and blues.

Ibanez BTB675 5-String Electric Bass

Ibanez BTB675 5-String Electric Bass

You’ve got the extra string, so you should be able to have full range of access to all the notes on a 5-string bass guitar. That was a primary concern that Ibanez had when they made their SR505 bass guitar, whose bolt-on neck gives bassists easy access to the upper frets (24 in total) that are normally a bit harder to reach on other guitars of this caliber. The all mahogany body provides a deeply rich sound that has become synonymous with Ibanez bass guitars, while the rosewood fingerboard gives the frets a smooth and easy feel that will have you gliding around without a care in the world.

The Ibanez SR505 is equipped with Bartolini MK-1 pickups in the neck and bridge position. These electronics are packaged with a 3-Band EQ that allows players to sculpt the sound emanating from their strings with precision and character. And finally, the single-crew saddle height adjustment allows players to have better stability and firmness than normally allocated in standard double-screw designs. In short, this axe allows you to readily explore the possibilities of an extreme low-end that’s only attainable via a 5-string bass guitar.

Lakland 5514-M-NAT 5-String Bass Guitar

Lakland has always had a distinct and eye-catching approach to the way that they design their bass guitars, and their 55-14 model is no exception to that rule. Beyond just looking cool, the offset waist design is made to give you comfort in addition to great balance and feel. The hybrid mix of alder and maple in this thing offers all you could want in a bass guitar; the former comprises the body, making it harmonically rich and smooth on the hands, while the latter handles the neck for added sustain and grit.

Lakland manufactures all of their electronics in-house, and the resulting sounds make you realize that this is an approach that more bass guitar manufacturers might want to consider trying. You’ll be able to mix and match pickup settings for days thanks to the 3-way bridge pickup coil tap toggle and bass, midrange, and treble knobs. You can also use the panning style pickup control to concoct a blend of your pickup sources, which means the combinations are truly limitless when it comes to crafting a sound to fit the style of music you’re playing.

Yamaha TRBX305 PWT 5-String Electric Bass Guitar

Most “budget” instruments are typically positioned to be a great option for beginners, but Yamaha has kicked things up a few notches with their TRBX305. This is really a 5-string bass guitar that could easily find a coveted space in an intermediate bassist’s life, but it’s still available at a very affordable and welcoming price. Because it’s an active bass guitar, you’ll have more tonal control when manipulating the settings between two soap bar-style humbucking pickups. A 2-band EQ and pickup switch allows you to meticulously craft your tone and even blend the separate signals.

What’s truly remarkable about this bass guitar is the Performance EQ, which is a 5-way switch that allows you to quickly hop between EQ pre-sets optimized and intuitively set up for different playing styles (such as pick, slap technique, and fingers) which allows you to quickly demo sounds on the fly. The 5-piece maple/mahogany neck allows you to move fast in a different way making for all comfort and no limitations, so you’ll be zipping around on the frets in no time.

Takamine G Series GB30CE-NAT Jumbo Acoustic Electric Bass Guitar

Takamine has spent over 50 years perfecting the craft of making instruments. Part of their company ethos is a dedication to quality tonewoods and construction techniques, along with a willingness to experiment and explore new technological territory. With the GB30CE acoustic bass, they’ve done just that, particularly with the proprietary TK-40B preamp system built into the instrument.

This system has it all, a 3-band EQ to let you tweak your sound, gain and mid-shift controls to make adjustments to the signal sent out when you’re plugged in, a bass-boost switch to really turn things up, and an EQ bypass to strip things down to the most basic level. This guitar also includes a tuner, a huge convenience when it comes to making sure your instrument is in the right key.

Outside of the electronics built into this acoustic bass, the instrument itself is crafted to sound amazing from the start. A solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides are responsible for the resonant and rich tone that this instrument is known for. You’ll be able to pull off fast fret maneuvers thanks to the slender mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. Lastly, the Venetian cutaway design ensures that you’ll never feel uncomfortable holding guitar in your lap as you play.

Ibanez AEB10EDVS Acoustic Bass Sunburst

The heart and soul of the Ibanez AEB10E acoustic bass is its electronic core, which makes this instrument extremely versatile and ready to go as soon as you plug it in. The Fishman Sonicore pickup carefully captures the sounds that emanate from your strings, faithfully reproducing the tones. Meanwhile, the SST preamp takes that sound and punches it up, giving a thick and substantial tone. After all, what good is a bass sound if you’re not able to really sink your teeth into it?

Low end is obviously a very important factor for bass guitars, and to that end, the AEB10E is constructed from a mahogany neck, back, and sides; can you say deep? The spruce top provides more of the balance, bringing out some of the high-end so your tone isn’t lost in the murky low-end either. An onboard tuner has got you covered and ensures that you’ll never have to scramble for an external device again. The body’s cutaway style gives you easy access to all 22 frets, so quit wasting your time and go get your walk on!

Godin A5 Ultra Bass Fretless SA 5-String Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar

Godin is really asking players to choose their own adventure when they pick up the A5 Ultra Natural SA acoustic bass guitar. First off, the model is available in both a fretted and fretless configuration, meaning that you have the option to go with a more traditional bass sound or a more fluid, jazzy, free-wheeling option, respectively. This 5-string is constructed with fine tonewoods that capably reproduce the sounds that you play on the strings, so there’s no way around sounding great. The body is made from silver leaf maple, which adds a degree of clarity to the brightness of the solid spruce top.

But who says you have to keep it all acoustic on an acoustic bass, anyway? Certainly not Godin, who have provided a 13-pin MIDI connector which allows you to control the sounds of the Roland GR Series and Axon AX100 guitar synths; basically, this guitar can sound like whatever you want it to. However, if you’re looking to stay in the lane of traditional acoustic bass there’s no need to worry. The built-in Lace Sensor low-profile pickup and custom Godin saddle transducers work in conjunction with a customized preamp to accurately capture, reproduce, and amplify the sound of your fretwork in a clear and versatile manner.

Breedlove Atlas Series Solo BJ350/CM4 Fretless Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar

Acoustic bass guitars occupy an interesting paradox. Bass is an obviously important component to any type of music, and the level at which it is heard is absolutely crucial to the overall sound and mix of a piece of music. If it’s too soft, a huge aspect is lost, and if it’s overpowering, it will take over everything to the detriment of the overall big picture. Add in the fact that an acoustic bass can be particularly difficult for the actual bassist to hear, and it’s no wonder that so many musicians feel that no one has truly gotten the acoustic bass guitar right. Well, Breedlove is here with their Solo Bass, and they’re addressing this quandary head-on.

The unique side sound hole in this instrument allows players to better hear their own instrument, without having an adverse effect on the overall projection and output of the guitar. The hand-crafted, satin-finished nato mahogany neck makes this bass guitar very comfortable to play. The LR Baggs Element pickup and LR-TCV preamp comes with a back-lit LED tuner and the right electronics to accurately transmit your tone once you plug this thing in. Lastly, the jumbo shape of the guitar’s body ensures a rumbling performance experience, allowing tones emitting from the instrument to resonate and fill the room.

Michael Kelly Dragonfly 4-String Fretless Acoustic-Electric Bass

With their Dragonfly 4 acoustic bass guitar, manufacturer Michael Kelly opted to build an instrument that was primarily constructed from quilt maple for the top, back, and sides. The end result is a bass guitar that’s brighter and more focused than others in its peer group, and also has an increased sense of projection to its tone. But the tone is not the only thing that is loud on this thing as it’s got a beautiful visual design, with a gorgeous dragonfly and vine custom inlay adorning the fretboard, all laid out in real pearl and abalone.

A rosewood acoustic bridge provides this instrument with added resonance, which is also aided by the scalloped bracing of this instrument. The Fishman electronic system takes the tone that you naturally get from this axe and faithfully recreates it, thanks to a Fishman Sonicore transducer pickup and Fishman MKAP pre-amp. The end result is a bass guitar that looks and sounds luxurious.

Buyer's Guide

 

Bass Guitar Buyers Guide

When purchasing a bass guitar, there are many things to consider before even starting the selection process. Assessing what style of music you are going to play (along with what sort of approach or technique you want to utilize) will help steer you in the right direction. It’s also important to consider whether or not you think you will be using the instrument primarily in the recording studio or in a live environment. And acknowledging what skill level you currently play it can also make things clearer for the purchaser. Above all, remember that this is an instrument that you are going to be using for quite some time, so be sure to give yourself an opportunity to test out different models hands-on before making your purchase. In the meantime, we’ve outlined some key concepts to keep in mind before shopping for a bass guitar. 

Large, bold sections require a general overview of a particular feature and how it fits into the instruments overall functionality. Subsections have been included for additional information where applicable.

Body Style

While the body style of bass guitars doesn’t tend to vary as much as that of the electric guitar, there are still some variations available on the market. The body of the instrument has an effect not just on the sound that is produced, but the way in which the bass guitar can be played and comfortably held.

Solid Body
As the name might imply, a solid body bass guitar is comprised of one solid piece of wood. It is the most common bass guitar body type, and is exemplified by some of the most popular models used today. Depending on the type of wood and electronic pick-up configuration, solid body bass guitars can pretty much be used for any genre or style of music. When not plugged in, these bass guitars barely make any sound at all.

Hollow Body
Hollow body bass guitars are more typically used for styles like jazz and folk. In contrast to solid body instruments, they are hollowed out by design and produce a warmer tone and deeper low-end range. They are lighter, but also don’t produce as strong an output signal as solid body bass guitars.

Neck Type

The construction of a bass guitar’s neck is an important factor to consider when choosing a bass. There are two main ways in which the bass neck can join the rest of the instrument.

Bolt-on Neck
The neck is attached to the body of the bass guitar with four screws. This setup makes the bass guitar’s neck extremely accessible for repair. The configuration of a bolt-on neck doesn’t have much of an effect on the sound produced by the instrument, as long as the connection between the neck and body is tight enough to ensure enhanced sustain and vibration.

Neck-Through-Body
The neck extends throughout the length of the entire bass guitar. This configuration generally results in a greater amount of sustain and typically signifies that the bass guitar’s wood is of extremely high quality. This in turn increases the value of the instrument.

Strings

While electric guitars are most commonly equipped with six strings, there are a few options that are frequently seen for bass guitars when it comes to strings.

4-String
The more traditional configuration is the 4-string bass (E-A-D-G). Because this option offers the fewest amount of strings, 4-string basses tend to have smaller necks and are easier to handle, making them an ideal bass guitar for those who are just learning how to play.

5-String
The 5-string bass adds a low B string to the mix (B-E-A-D-G); this type of bass guitar provides more low-end, and is often preferred by bassists playing in genres such as jazz, hard rock, and metal. They also tend to be a little more difficult to play.

6-String
6-string basses add an additional higher string (B-E-A-D-G-C), resulting in the widest neck of all bass guitars. Though these are understandably even more difficult to handle, they provide great space for bassists who often solo and are seeking a wide range of notes to be able to play in their performances.

Fret and Fretless Bass

Bassists can choose whether they want their bass guitar to have frets or to be fretless. The standard configuration for most bass guitars is usually 21, 22, or 24 frets. While the number of frets clearly doesn’t effect the sound produced by the instrument, it does impact the size of the bass guitar (specifically the length of the neck) and typically just comes down to personal preference.

Fret
Standard instruments have metal frets that partition the neck into half-step increments, much like any other type of guitar. This makes it easier to find the notes and positioning on the neck, making it an ideal bass guitar for beginners.

Fretless
These guitars offer a neck without any of the fret markings, similar to how an upright bass or violin is designed.

Many bassists prefer the sound that a fretless bass provides, citing added warmth and a smoother sound that has a unique character that cannot be achieved by standard bass guitars. However, this design also makes it more challenging to find the frets on the neck, making it a poor choice for beginning bassists.

Once bass players have built their skills on standard instruments and have excellent ears as well as muscle memory, they may find that they have an easier time handling a fretless bass.

Passive vs. Active Pickups

Shifting over from the actual physical build of the instrument itself, bass guitars also generally offer players two different options when it comes to considering the electronic component of the pre-amp circuitry. The pre-amp of a bass guitar boosts the signal received from the pick-ups, and also provides players the ability to shape and adjust the signal’s tone via the knobs on the instrument.

Passive
Passive bass guitars are generally easy to spot – they usually only offer a few knobs for volume, tone, and a blend knob that mixes the signal if the instrument has two pick-ups. The sound that a passive system bass guitar offers is relatively straightforward and simple to adjust.

Although it can be looked at as considerably lo-fi when compared to an active system, its biggest benefit is that it is not battery-powered; worrying about power supply is one extra thing to have to think about when onstage or in the studio.

Active
Active bass guitars, on the other hand, provide far greater control for players to shape their tone. Extensive EQ manipulation is available, and players can often rely on contour switches that instantly reset the EQ settings, meaning that you can spend as little (or as much) time as you’d like tweaking the perfect tone. These bass guitars depend on an on-board battery in order to stay powered.

Scale Length

Bass scale length refers to the distance between the bridge and the nut on a bass guitar. This distance can determine both the tone and pitch of an instrument. Bass guitars with longer necks (35-inch scale) offer more clarity for lower notes; these are typically found in 5 or 6-string bass guitars. The standard length for most bass guitars is 34 inches.

Smaller scale length options also exist; these options usually measure up to be around 30 inches, and are more ideal for beginners or players with smaller hands. This configuration is ideal for children, but not exclusive to younger players – during his time in the Beatles, Paul McCartney played a short scale bass.

Tonewoods

Outside of changing the appearance that a bass guitar guitar may have, the type of wood that is used to make the instrument can also alter the way that the instrument sounds. When the sound of the bass guitar vibrates from the strings and reflects off of the wood, the type of wood that is part of this process can have an effect on the end product.

Ash/Alder
Both ash and alder are quite similar as they both provide a balanced and even tone to the bass guitar’s output. Many manufacturers also tend to favor ash because of its smooth-looking grain finish.

Agathis
Agathis is the go-to choice for beginner/low-budget bass guitars, as the material is generally less expensive. The sound that agathis bass guitars produce generally tends to lean more towards low-end frequencies, providing what is considered to be a very rich tone.

Mahogany
Mahogany bass guitars have a rich and fuller sound than the aforementioned tonewood types. Because of the dense nature of the material, these guitars are generally heavier – something to keep in mind if you’re going to be holding the instrument around your neck for long periods of time.

Basswood
Basswood is a preferable type of tonewood for styles of playing that rely on more complex and limber playing techniques, due mainly to the fact that the material tends to have a shorter sustain. It is a softer wood that also does not resonate as much as some of its other counterparts.

Maple
Maple wood bass guitars are similar to mahogany wood bass guitars, except for the fact that they tend to yield a brighter, more high-end tone. This gives it a significant advantage for studio recording.

Fender Precision vs. Jazz Basses

Although there are many brands and models of bass guitars that are available for today’s modern bassist, two of the more popular and commonly found instruments both fall under the Fender umbrella. The Fender Precision and Fender Jazz basses both offer slight advantages that may sway a musician, depending on a variety of factors, including playing style and genre of music. It’s easier to tell which one is right for you just by testing them out yourself, but here are some of the basic differences.

Precision
The Precision bass guitar debuted in 1951 and models its body shape after the classic Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, with sculpted grooves in the top and bottom of the instrument, which make it easier to hold.

The Precision’s neck maintains a consistent thickness, tapering off only slightly when approaching the nut of the instrument. As far as pick-ups are concerned, the Precision offers a classic split-coil configuration that has been praised for its solid and bass-driven tone.

Jazz
The Jazz bass guitar premiered nearly a decade after the Precision first hit stores, and there are some marked differences in all of the aforementioned instrument attributes between the two. Basing its body shape more along the lines of the Fender Jazzmaster electric guitar, the Jazz bass offers a body shape that is pushed more forward, freeing up space around the player’s right arm.

The Jazz neck is distinctly different from the Precision, in that there is a much more narrower spacing around the nut; many bass guitarists feel that this provides for easier fingering on the fretboard. And finally, the pick-ups that are typically featured in Jazz basses are dual 8-pole humbuckers – these allow for far greater tone control and manipulation, as well as a sound that many players believe to be clearer.

Bestcovery Staff
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related
Go to top