If you’re looking for the best bass guitar under 500 dollars, you may notice that there are very decent options that provide you high quality playing experience. Of course, they can’t be compared to high end bass guitars, but if you’re on a tight budget, don’t think that cheaper choices can’t give you what you want.
Bass guitar is an important contribution to your music, and the best bass guitar under 500 dollars can satisfy your playing needs. And you don’t have to do all the research on your own. In this post from Breathe Carolina, we’ll review 15 best bass guitars under 500 dollars in detail, including their features, pros and cons. We also provide information on how to choose the best option for yourself.
Best Bass Guitar Under 500 Dollars Comparison 2020
Best Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar Under 500 Dollars
Best 5-String Bass Guitar Under 500 Dollars
Best Bass Guitar Under 500 Dollars For Beginners
** Below, you will find our detailed reviews of the best bass guitar under 500, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Detailed Reviews Of Top best bass guitar under 500
This is a 5-string guitar that has a retro, woody, natural vibe. You’ll want to touch it and pick it up just by looking at it.
The guitar body is made of maple and ash. Its neck is made of rosewood. The 24 jumbo fretboard is also made of rosewood. All are decent tonewoods that allow your bass guitar to sing even though it’s a budget option.
In terms of electronics, the ESP LTD B-205SM has 2 ESP humbucker pickups built on the bridge and neck. The 3-band EQ combined with these pickups allow you to freely customize and express your basses.
There are controls for volume and tone. It has a bright and punchy sound, perfect for a variety of genres, especially jazz, blues and rock. It has 2 color options, and you can choose between fretted and fretless versions. You may need some adjustments (truss rod, intonation) at first to get the highest quality of the best bass guitar under 500 dollars.
Fender is already a well-known brand for the high quality instruments. The Fender Affinity with a poplar body and maple back, with laurel “C”-shaped profile neck, will give you the groove, vibe, and rhythm you want from your bass guitar.
The all-new Affinity Series Precision Electric Bass models have a unique, good look, with excellent sound, and are also versatile for different genres such as jazz, rock, or pop. The finish includes Olympic White, Race Red or Black, all of which look stunning.
The range of tones produced is decent, and the guitar is able to provide a rich, full low end. There are controls for volume and tone, so you can play around a bit with them. The PJ pickup configuration allows some tonal versatility to the guitar.
There’s a Fender Play app that provides a platform for you to learn and play, with a diverse music library. This model, with the great tone and playability, and amazing design, is favored by many players and receives tons of positive reviews.
There's no doubt that this is an amazing budget acoustic-electric bass guitar. It has an attractive design with a bright mahogany wood color. It’s lightweight and comfortable enough for both practicing and performing on stage.
The tone is bright and clear when amplified and when not. The resonance and clarity of mahogany is excellent on this guitar. The Gold Tone also features a built-in tuner and the piezoelectric transducer for adjusting the EQ and volume.
An adjustable bridge makes the guitar easy to adjust, great for both beginners and pros. There’s a bag included. We can’t find anything to complain about this guitar, really.
This bass guitar from Yamaha is made of mahogany wood, while its neck is made of mahogany and maple. The combination of tonewoods gives the guitar a warmer tone.
Yamaha has produced a great deal of budget instruments, and this one is no exception. Every vibration of the strings are projected with clarity and warmth.
There are humbucker pickups and 2-band EQ on this guitar, which allow you to play around with different styles whether you strum with a pick or slap. The switch is easy to access, giving the guitar a better playability and versatility.
The sound when amplified is clean and clear. This Yamaha guitar also comes with many color choices for you to choose. Choosing the best bass guitar under 500 dollars has never been easier.
This Ibanez guitar has a maple well balanced neck, which offers a bright and warm tone. It also has an attractive and awesome look.
Because of the balanced neck, the playability of the guitar is easy. The satiny finish makes it smooth on your hand for long hours. The passive pickups provide excellent midrange.
Stagg is another name for manufacturing the best bass guitar under 500 dollars. This bass is made of solid alder wood, with a maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. It’s a fretless option, so if you’re looking for some flexibility and vibrato, this is a perfect choice.
The guitar is very lightweight, solid and smooth, great for sliding for hours. The upright bass sound can’t be found anywhere else, it’s unique. A 4-string guitar like this is perfect for beginners who have just started out, and even for experts who have spent years practicing.
With 2-band EQ, you can easily adjust the sound to your liking. For such an affordable price, this bass guitar is worth investing in.
This guitar features a mahogany body, a maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. This wood combination gives you a great tone and high sustain.
Because it’s a short scale bass, it’s very suitable for jazz and rock. The neck is thin, smooth on your hand, and easy to navigate. It’s perfect for a beginner, or for anyone with small hands.
The pick-ups are very nice for such an affordable price, and the pots and knobs are also decent. This Dean guitar comes with dual humbucker pickups, which give it a high quality output. The Black Satin color is also a very attractive finish.
Here’s another great bass guitar on our list - the Schecter Stiletto. The guitar has a mahogany body with a maple top and neck. The fretboard is made from rosewood which is sturdy and easy to fret.
The built-in Schecter humbuckers pickups are controlled by the 2-band EQ. There are knobs for volume and blend. You can easily adjust the tone until it matches your expectations. It gives you a deep resonating tone.
The sound and responsiveness are incredible. The intonation is true up and down the neck. The action is low which enhances the playability. This is a great bass that you should add to your guitar collection.
Here’s an option from Ibanez that deserves some big time. It features a mahogany body with a quilted maple top, which gives you a rich, full sound and a gorgeous finish. The bolt-on neck with a rosewood fingerboard is thin, perfect for fast playing and for those with small hands.
The 3-band EQ and the active pickups allow you to play different genres, adding to the versatility of the guitar. The guitar also has a 3-way power tap switch and you can switch between single-coil mode and dual-coil mode. You can shape the tone and customize the sound however you want.
At such a budget friendly price, you get the handsome look and the decent sound quality, as well as the excellent tonal versatility.
The B-204SM is a beautiful 4-string bass. It has a stunning look, with unique coloration and grain pattern, and is able to stand out from the crowd. The guitar features an ash body with a spalted maple top in Natural Satin or See Thru Black Satin finish.
The ash gives the guitar a bright, resonant, deep tone. The guitar features string-thru-body construction, with a maple/jatoba neck and a rosewood fingerboard. The electronics include the active 3-band EQ with volume and balance controls and ESP-designed pickups.
The pickups are able to produce a full, fat tone with lots of sustain and very little noise. The guitar is quite heavy, but is well balanced for playing the whole day comfortably.
Inspired by their '70s Violin Bass models, this bass from Hofner is one of the world's iconic guitars. It has a fully hollow body and the look of a beautiful violin. The book-matched flame maple back is stunning and the sunburst finish reflects excellent craftsmanship . You can hang it on the wall for display and still want to take it down to hold it in your arms.
It’s lightweight and comfortable to play for hours. The guitar has a thin neck which is easy for those with small hands. The Hofner 511B Humbucking pick-ups offer a mellow, woody sound.
The original strings that come with the guitar aren’t that good. You can easily replace them with better quality strings to get a better sound quality.
If you’re looking for the Beatle or McCartney sound from the old days, this guitar can give you that. The guitar also comes with a case for protecting and storing your guitar.
The Squier Classic Vibe Jazz Bass is one of the best bass guitars under 500 dollars you’ll find. The 70s version features a maple body and a maple neck, as well as a maple fingerboard.
This instrument offers a slim C-shaped neck profile for a comfortable playing experience. The Fender-designed alnico single-coil pickups provide a punchy and articulate tone. There’s a vintage-style bridge with slotted barrel saddles for solid string stability and a vintage look.
The nickel-plated hardware and a gloss neck finish give this guitar an old-school vibe. This guitar is such a steal. You get the sound and play feel of a MIM Fender but for a lot less money. The guitar is easy on your eyes and ears, easy to play, and hard to put down.
This is a guitar from Ibanez that has a stylish and sleek finish. It’s available in 6 other colors, all of which look great. The mint finish looks specifically outstanding and amazing.
The shape of this Talman is quite classic and cool, with a sound quality that excites guitar players of all ages. TMB100 offers one-two punches with a combination of passive P/J pickup configurations that delivers a rich and vintage sound. The neck is nice and chunky, not too thin, you’ll feel comfortable playing on it. It also has a satiny finish which makes sliding up and down easier and smoother.
The DXP neck pickup and DXJ bridge pickup with two-band active EQ provide a better tonal quality and versatility. This allows you to play around with the sound until you get what you desire. The range of tones you can get out of this bass guitar is insane.
The modern version of the Yamaha BB Bass series is a BB434 4-string bass guitar that has all the characteristics of the legendary BB bass guitars. The new model has undergone a significant redesign with subtle contour changes and body weight reduction for better comfort and playability, while still keeping the classic silhouette of the BB body/ head design.
It offers a clear sound and a great design, making it an inspiring instrument and at an affordable price. Either you are a beginner or an experienced, the thin profile of these guitars will please you. It’s not only lightweight, but also well balanced, great for holding and playing for hours.
Yamaha has added some modern features to this BB series guitars, including sustain-enhancing 6-bolt miter neck joint and the convertible bridge. This makes the sound of the guitar catchier than ever. The joint increases the efficiency of vibration transmission to the body, providing you a more resonant, organic feel and tone.
Because of the alder body, you get a clear and articulate tone. There’s nothing much to complain about, this guitar is perfect for nailing that audition, hitting that stage, or getting lost in your bedroom. Can it be the best bass guitar under 500 dollars? Totally yes.
RAY34-NT Bass from Sterling by Music Man features a lightweight swamp ash body that not only offers a bright look but also makes it comfortable to use. The bolt-on maple neck is sturdy and easy to move up and down.
This guitar features active pickups which allow you to have more control over your sound. You can also expect some bright, warm and articulate tone. There’s no excess noise or feedback interferences. With these onboard electronics, you can freely customize, tweak, adjust the sound however you like until you get exactly what you want.
The built-in tuners might not be the best, but they’re acceptable at this price. The guitar also comes with a padded gig bag, but to be honest, the bag is not that good. If you love the nuances and clarity that Music Man basses have been known for, this guitar certainly gives you that.
We hope the list above has given you some ideas to choose the best bass guitar under 500 dollars. Keep reading, there’s still a guide to help you make the final decision!
Everything You Need To Know About Choosing The Best Bass Guitar
When choosing the best bass guitar under 500 dollars, there are some features you need to consider before opening your wallet:
Bass Guitar Type
There are 4 common types of bass guitars: electric bass, acoustic bass, semi-acoustic bass, and acoustic-electric bass.
These guitars use the pickups to transform the signals into sounds, and an amplifier to amplify the sounds. There are controls for volume, tone, and so on, so you can easily customize the sound to your liking.
- Acoustic Bass
These basses often have a hollow body. They don’t require an amplifier for you to hear the sound.
This is an acoustic bass guitar that has pickups and you can plug it in an amplifier to have a larger and powerful sound.
This is a hollow body guitar that has a built-in microphone for sound amplification.
The body type of the bass guitar will certainly affect your guitar tone. Some common body shapes are:
Solid body guitar doesn’t have a normal soundbox and it needs to be plugged in an amplifier to create sounds. It’s less expensive and reduces the feedback interference.
Hollow body includes one chamber on the inner part of the guitar and has magnetic pickups. It’s lighter and it feedbacks more easily.
These guitars are fully hollow and produce acoustic bass, but they are prone more to feedback problems.
Semi-hollow is between hollow body and solid body. It’s lighter than solid body and versatile, while providing resonant and warm sounds.
Besides body shape, bass guitars also come in different body styles. Let’s look at some common ones.
J Bass Style
J Bass guitars often have a contour for resting your arm and a duped tummy cut, which is designed for comfort when you play, both standing up and sitting down.
T Bass Style
T Bass guitars have a less balanced shape compared to J Bass, but they can be semi-hollow or hollow, giving more sound diversity.
Z Bass Style
Z Bass guitars have sharp edges and extreme bevels, but they are still comfortable enough to hold and play.
The tonewoods that make the guitar largely impact the sound and the durability of the guitar. Each kind of tonewood has a different level of hardness, grain and color. And each of them gives the guitar a distinct and unique sound.
Some common tonewoods you can find on bass guitars include hard maple, ash, alder, basswood, rosewood, agathis, etc.
Maple: This is the most common and affordable wood type on bass guitars, especially for the necks. It provides a clean and bright tone.
Ash/Alder: These woods are very similar to each other. They both produce clear and even tones. They both have beautiful grains, which gives the guitar a sleeker look.
Rosewood: This wood is often used for fretboards. It offers a dark, resonant and soft tone.
Basswood: Because it has a short sustain and is affordable, these tonewoods are also commonly found on bass guitars.
Agathis: This kind of wood is inexpensive, while providing a decent tone. That’s why it’s often found on entry-level basses.
Just like every other kind of guitar, bass guitars are generally made up of a combination of different tonewoods. Based on your needs and preferences, you can choose the combination that pleases your ears the most. The best bass guitar under 500 dollars should be the one that you love listening to.
There are 3 common types of neck, and you can choose a suitable one based on your hand size.
The neck is joined with the body via a dovetail or mortise. Neck adjustment is not easy, and the guitar has a better sustain.
The guitar neck is bolted on the body with nuts. These guitars are often stable, provide great sustain and vibration.
This neck often appears on high end, expensive bass guitars. The neck and the body are one piece and there’s no joint or bolt, giving the guitar the best sustain and resonance.
Just like the tonewoods made for the body, the material of the neck also influences the sound quality, durability and playability of the guitar. The neck should be easy on your hand, so that you can play it for a long time.
Bass guitar necks are usually made out of maple, ebony, mahogany, rosewood, etc.
Most bass guitars come to your house with the manufacturers’ original strings, but you can always change the strings based on your preferences. Some common types of strings are:
This is the most popular string type. It gives you an outstanding metallic sound. It’s often rough and hard on your fingers. The range of frequencies is excellent, though.
Flatwound strings are smoother on your fingers. They deliver darker and softer sounds for jazz and rock. The frequency range is also the smallest out of all the string types.
Halfwound strings have the smoothness between roundwound and flatwound strings. They offer warm sounds and are softer on your fingers.
These are the rarest types of strings. Made of nylon, they deliver a warm sound, but don’t give the best amplified sounds. You can find these strings on acoustic bass guitars.
Number of Strings
We often think that bass guitars only have 4 strings, but these days, there are many options with 5 and 6 strings.
4-string bass guitars have a smaller neck, which are easier to learn and are suitable for beginners, but 5 and 6-string bass guitars can be versatile if you have a particular genre that requires more strings.
Every piece of material on a guitar affects the sound quality, and so do the strings.
Nickel-plated steel strings offer a well-balanced and warm sound that is great for different music styles. Most bass guitars on the market use these strings.
Pure nickel strings offer a softer and warmer sound, which is perfect for blues and jazz.
This kind of string provides the brightest sound that is great for pop, funk and metal.
String gauge is the thickness of the strings. The thinner the strings, the more tension they create, the higher sound they produce. Thicker gauge has less sustain and provides a darker sound. String gauge also affects playability, as it influences the smoothness and ease of fretting the strings.
There are 2 different types of fretboard layouts: fretless and fretted. A fretless guitar has no frets and the fretboard is just plain wood. Of course, it’s more difficult to locate the frets and notes, so it’s more for advanced players. But it gives you a unique, vibrato tone.
A fretted guitar is what we often see on the market. It has...frets. It’s much easier to locate the exact notes, great for beginners.
A bass guitar with an uncoated fingerboard gives a more natural and warmer sound, while a bass with a coated fingerboard gives you longer sustain.
Truss rod is the part inside the neck that controls the curvature of the neck. Guitars that have an adjustable truss rod can be beneficial if you want to tweak the neck.
There are 2 types of pickups on bass guitars: active and passive. Active pickups offer a clear and bright tone, whereas passive ones produce a warmer, fuller and more dynamic tone.
A passive pickup requires a power source and is more difficult to control the sounds. An active pickup requires batteries to operate, and you have more control over the sounds.
Many guitar makers will offer versions of both active and passive pickups. Guitars with passive pickups are cheaper.
Intonation is the ability to keep in tune up and down the neck.
Knowing what genre you prefer to play will help limit the choice and helps you pick up the guitar that suits your needs best.
If you have a plan on how you’ll use the guitar in the future, such as for travel or performances, you can also look for features that are convenient for these purposes. You can look for a lightweight option, for instance. If you don’t intend to drag the guitar around with you everywhere, then the tonal quality and versatility are prioritized over the weight.
Many experts will agree that the most important thing about a bass guitar is how comfortable it is to hold and play. To be honest, all you actually need when starting out is a bass guitar that is comfortable to play with an easy setup and decent quality.
It’s quite challenging to shop for a musical instrument while on a tight budget. But with some research and our help, you can definitely choose the best bass guitar under 500 dollars that gives you a decent quality.
If you’re a beginner, owning the best guitar under 500 dollars is enough for practicing. You can always upgrade to a more advanced and expensive option when your skill is leveled up.
Here’s a bonus video about choosing bass guitars that we think will be helpful for you:
Final Thoughts of best bass guitar under 500
These days, it’s totally not difficult at all to choose the best bass guitar under 500 dollars that features a decent look and a decent sound quality. Almost every brand offers you affordable bass guitars, so even if you’re on a budget, you still have a plethora of options to choose from.
It’s important to know what you’re really looking for in a bass guitar and how you’re going to use it. This will help you limit down the choices, and focus on searching for the features that you actually need. With our easy to understand guide, you can choose the best bass guitar under 500 dollars without any sweats and still figure out the option that can fulfill the bass role of your band.
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Have you found the best bass guitar under 500 dollars for yourself? Feel free to drop your comment, question, or concern below.
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