Best Beginner Bass Guitars Under $400

So you need a bass guitar. Maybe you were inspired by our recent video of Michael League (from Snarky Puppy) getting funky and far out. Maybe you’re sick of being the second or third guitarist in a band. Maybe you’re thirteen.

Whatever the case, you’re probably not looking to spend an entire paycheck or go into serious debt just to feel the floor rumble as you groove. And you don’t have to. To make your life easier, we distilled out a list of gear snob-approved models from the hundreds of bass guitars that pass through Reverb each week. Whether you play them as they came from the factory or decide to mod them out, these five get our nod as the best beginner bass guitars.

Model Type Best For Price On Reverb
Ibanez SR300E Long-Scale Comfort. $270-$330 Shop Now
Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special Short-Scale Offset body. $150-$200 Shop Now
Epiphone Viola Bass Short-Scale Beatles fans. $250-$300 Shop Now
Yamaha TRBX304 Long-Scale Tried and true beginner brand. $270-$350 Shop Now
Sterling SUB Ray4 Long-Scale The classic. $250-$300 Shop Now

OUR PICK
Ibanez SR300E

Infinitely playable. Supremely comfortable. Surprisingly versatile thanks to active EQ and coil-tapping.

Compare Prices

OUR PICK
Ibanez SR300E

Infinitely playable. Supremely comfortable. Surprisingly versatile thanks to active EQ and coil-tapping.

Compare Prices


Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special

P-Bass + J-Bass pickups in short-scale or long-scale version with active bass boost. Enough said.

Epiphone Viola Bass


Because you don’t want a conventional bass guitar. And you love Paul McCartney.

Yamaha TRBX304


Great all-around bass. Hard to argue with Yamaha’s decades of building quality beginner instruments.

Sterling SUB Ray4


Because the original StingRay is amazing. And not everyone wants a Fender bass.


Ibanez SR300E

Infinitely playable. Supremely comfortable. Surprisingly versatile thanks to active EQ and coil-tapping.

It’s hard to find a better entry into the world of bass than the Ibanez SR300E, recent successor to the original SR300. The entire series is extremely popular for beginners, as it features specs that are usually found on much more expensive bass guitars.

With a five-piece mahogany body with a maple and rosewood neck, the curves of the SR300E fit nicely against the body, making it a light and comfortable instrument to play. The slim, smooth neck adds to this effect. If a traditional P-Bass is Chuck Norris, then the SR300E is Bruce Lee - deceptively slim, punching above its weight.

The SR300E is an active bass, meaning it requires extra power (in this case, a 9-volt battery) to support additional tone-shaping tools. Along with the typical volume and tone knobs, it sports a 3-band EQ and Power Tap, which gives you the choice between single coil sounds, humbucker tones, or a sweet combination of both. The PowerSpan humbuckers pack an enormous punch in all modes.

RELATED ARTICLE



Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special

P-Bass + J-Bass pickups in short-scale or long-scale version with active bass boost. Enough said.

We could’ve gone with a starter J-Bass or P-Bass, but that’s boring. The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special can replicate the same tones as those classics while giving you the hipster cred of an offset. Ok, maybe you don’t care about the hipster cred.

The split single-coil P-Bass middle pickup and single coil J-Bass bridge pickup work with an active bass boost circuit (long-scale version only) to add on some thunderous low-end boom. Most importantly for beginners, it has a fast, thin neck that is available in short-scale form, perfect for younger players or guitar players who don’t feel too comfortable with big ol’ bass necks.


Epiphone Viola Bass

Because you don’t want a conventional bass guitar. And you love Paul McCartney.

There are tons of Beatles-esque viola basses out there. Some of them are of questionable quality. Others clock in over the $1,000 mark. If you want to pay homage to Sir Paul or just really like the look and feel of a viola bass but don’t want to risk potentially picking out a vintage off-brand lemon, there’s the Epiphone Viola bass.

It has the same iconic shape and vintage sunburst finish as McCartney’s icon but with Epiphone’s new and improved mini-humbuckers. Let’s be honest. The Viola bass is about looks. But it happens to also play great out of the box. We’ll take that for under $400 new. If you don’t mind buying used, the price tag is even lower.

RELATED ARTICLE



Yamaha TRBX304

Great all-around bass. Hard to argue with Yamaha’s decades of building quality beginner instruments.

Yamaha is well-known for its excellent beginner instruments, and the TRBX304 doesn’t diverge from that general perception. At $350 new, the TRBX304 offers a unique look with its precisely sculpted mahogany body. It also offers active electronics with a 2-band EQ and an additional circuit with five performance-configured EQ curves. That’s a pretty great price-to-performance ratio.

Its ergonomic body shape includes a thumb rest and offers extended access to higher frets for increased playability. And with its 19mm string spacing, the TRBX304 is ideal for bassists who want to learn different styles of bass playing, like slap.


Sterling SUB Ray4

Because the original StingRay is amazing. And not everyone wants a Fender bass.

No list of bass guitars would be complete without an offering from Music Man. Technically, Sterling is a subsidiary of the famous bass-makers, but that doesn’t mean you’re not getting the look and feel of a classic StingRay.

With the SUB Ray4, you’re getting the same low-noise humbuckers and active electronics that put the StingRay on the map, with the same, highly recognizable Music Man body shape. A light and slim basswood body and incredibly playable neck complete the instrument, giving you the vibe of one of Music Man’s most quintessential instruments for a fraction of the price.

RELATED ARTICLE



Bass Guitars Under $400 Shop Now

comments powered by Disqus