The best bass guitars feels good in your hands, gives you the sound and the feeling you can visualize before you even play, and looks just as aesthetic as you can imagine. Because these factors are rather subjective, we wanted to find the best best bass guitars to give you a few options, because everyone will be different. As far as we can remember in childhood, we still get images of our father’s flashes holding his Fender bass on the stage in the small locations where he and his brother would play.
As a bass player for 50 years, we recommend many novice guitarists to play bass before you start the other. Whether you’re here for your first bass or just ready to upgrade your existing setup, let’s go into details!
List of the best bass guitars of 2021
Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass
Imagine if you were thrown blindfolded into the bass department of your local music store and asked to retrieve the first bass you found, chances are you’d come back with something inspired by the Jazz Bass. Since it was first introduced – irreverently heralded as the “two-pickup Precision” – in 1960, the Jazz Bass has inspired countless imitators, and has been consistently tweaked and revised by Fender over the centuries.
There’s a reason for that; the design looks cool and it works. The Classic Vibe Jazz Bass is based on those original 1960s models, and Fender’s entry-level Squier brand gives you an extremely comfortable ride and some eerily vintage sounds and plenty of change for $500. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Fender American Performer Precision Bass
Look in any guitar store and you’ll see that the bass section is full of Fenders. Although Fender is best known for its better-known Strats and Teles, it has actually had a near monopoly on the bass world for decades, especially thanks to its Jazz and Precision models. The Fender American Performer Precision Bass is the flagship of the 2021 lineup, combining exceptional American-built quality with the sound you dream of. The Greasebucket tone circuit is a nice touch, adding some extra tonal variety, while the satin finish makes it a dream to play. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Sterling By Music Man SUB Ray5
From top to bottom, the SUB RAY5 is an impressive instrument, with the build quality you associate with Music Man instruments and an out-of-tune performance that belies its equally impressive price tag. The level of finish is very good and, although it lacks a bit of the presentation sheen of its big brothers at the top of the range, the player gets a whole lot of bass for his money. Playability is top notch and for those venturing into the world of five-string basses for the first time, this is the perfect introduction. Available in a variety of colors, buy with confidence and be amazed! Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Fender JMJ Road Worn Mustang
We’ve never considered the Fender Mustang to be an all-rounder, but it’s telling that Justin Meldal-Johnsen swears by his ’67 Mustang as his main bass. Meldal-Johnsen is a renowned session player who has played with Nine Inch Nails, Garbage and Beck – and there’s not really a Venn Diagram you can draw with much overlap in between. So what makes the Mustang so special? Well, the 30″ scale makes for an incredibly accessible little bass. It may feel a little short to some, but if you’ve recently switched from guitar to bass, this will feel incredible.
And it sounds great, too. There’s only volume and tone, but there’s a lot of range on that tone pot, and the custom-wound Seymour Duncan split-coil is an excellent all-rounder, putting a little teeth and hair on the tone of the Mustang, a vintage passive voice that holds its own in a band setting. The thumb rest will also come in handy for those who pick up their guitar by the neck. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Fender Geddy Lee Signature Jazz bass
This bass is a very lively performer across the board with a grit and twang that you rarely hear in a bass of this caliber. Right out of the included Deluxe gig bag, this bass stands out for its playability, fine setup and sturdy construction. Black block-style position markers maintain a vintage vibe, along with the black gloss and white scratchplate aesthetic. Players of all styles can take advantage of the features and timbres this bass offers, but at this price few Jazz basses play as well as this model. Prepare to be as blown away as we were. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Epiphone Viola Bass
Short bass guitars aren’t for everyone, that’s for sure, but they were big enough for perhaps the most famous band in history. Paul McCartney himself is synonymous with the Viola bass shape, although his was a German-made Hofner, but these iconic little instruments are still doing well today thanks to the Epiphone Viola. For around $500, you get a great sounding, well-made bass with lots of charm. The shorter scale makes it easier to play for younger students, and the maple body and neck give a nice, punchy twang that goes well with clean guitars. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Fender American Ultra Precision Bass Guitar
The American Ultra Series approach to modernizing Fender’s top American-made instruments is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and we think they’ve found the right chord. Take this Precision Bass. It’s unmistakably a P-Bass; the classic silhouette is present and correct. You have a choice of an alder body or ash, retro pickguard in three-ply mint green or three-ply tortoise. But with a new Modern D neck profile, the 10-14″ compound radius fingerboard, HiMass bridge, lightweight tuners and a newly designed preamp, it’s a totally contemporary proposition.
The American Ultra body is also more heavily contoured across the back, with a newly sculpted heel that provides a free pass through to the upper frets. The Ultra Noiseless pickups are also an excellent combination, with the punchier Vintage Jazz single-coil in the bridge position providing a nice counterbalance to the rounded warmth of that split-coil in the middle position. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
G&L Tribute L2000
Leo Fender’s third instrument company, G&L, was where he said he built the finest instruments of his life. Despite the fact that this is a cheaper version of the American-made L2000, there’s no doubting the quality offered or the tones reproduced. With an active two-band EQ, series/parallel pickup switching and selective preamp control, the player has a plethora of options at his disposal to model his tone. Solidly built, this bass can handle any style of music and perform admirably, while slap and pop players will enjoy the glassy high-end available. The L2000 Tribute is a joy to play and well worth investigating. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Yamaha TRBX504 TBN
Now we move on to another leading industry giant for a look at a 500 series model that is precision built to perfection. Yamahas main goal with the 500 series is literally tone, which is why extra measures have been taken for design and craftsmanship and why it is made of premium tonewood. It has a solid mahogany body, has good weight and balance between the neck and body, and sits quite comfortably on the shoulder.
It has a typical Strat-like shape with a slim profile, nicely shaped cutouts and an ergonomic angle at the top and bottom, which promotes a comfortable arm position. The neck is very smooth and is made with a 5-piece maple and mahogany design, which gives it extra tensile strength against the strings and inevitably makes intonation more accurate and pitches more precise in each fret.
The fingerboard glides easily across the fretboard, the action is good, but does require some adjustment right out of the box. The pickup is humbucking, with active-passive electronics that give it a gritty analog depth and monstrously amplify the low E. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Ibanez GSRM20BS Mikro
If you’re specifically looking for a smaller model, the Ibanez Mikro series of bass guitars are a good choice. They are essentially focused on providing the best models with a smaller scale, while still ensuring that they don’t lose their meaty sound due to their smaller stature. This cheap bass guitar has a 28.6″ scale neck with a very slim profile to provide a comfortable grip and allow for quick hand movement. The frets are medium-sized and the neck has a pearl dot inlay to help you keep track of the notes on the neck.
The body is made of poplar wood and has a compact shape, a smooth armrest and 3 easily accessible rotary knobs with good spacing. It is equipped with a typical P&J pickup setup that are each Dynamix branded and together provide a fat popping sound that packs a punch. The bridge is a B10 bridge which kicks the sustain up a notch, it has durable hardware and maintains good intonation. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Yamaha Billy Sheehan Signature Attitude 3
Another Yamaha that caught our attention is one from their signature series, the Billy Sheehan-inspired Attitude 3 that has undergone a recent upgrade and benefits from Yamaha’s A.R.E. and I.R.A. Processes. It’s a full-scale (34″) solid mahogany bass guitar that has a spline-jointed body to enhance its natural resonance. It has a fresh Will Power pickup designed from the backs of DiMarzio and Sheehan himself. It is accompanied by a Yamaha custom woofer pickup, to replicate a fuel-filled signature tone.
It has a wider magnetic field and provides more punch per pick. The dials and switches give the user good control over its sound, with a high-cut switch and amplified bass that lets you play a variety of tonal qualities. It features stereo output jacks to allow separate front and rear pickup outputs, in addition to your typical mono line. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Now a 6-string version of the GSR that we’ve sniffed out before. The 206BWNF is an option for the seasoned bassist who would like a little more range to play with. It’s a brilliantly inexpensive 6-string bass, and while we wouldn’t recommend it for complete beginners, it’s a great introductory instrument to get your string count up without a premium price tag. It has a solid mahogany body with a good weight. The GSR series does not have the angled armrests and has a wider, more rounded body shape.
The neck is maple, it has good balance and is quite comfortable. It has a nice low action right out of the box and plays easily. It is equipped with a DXH-6N neck and DXH-6B bridge pickups that give it a much more powerful tone. The low strings are fat and the high strings are bright and punchy. It benefits from Phat II EQ that gives players much more freedom over their tonality, and it’s backed by an active bass boost feature that makes the depths powerfully much denser. Overall, this is one of the best bass guitars.
Many people believe that the best bass guitars are the simplest rock ‘n’ roll instrument to learn. And somehow they are correct, it is much easier to get a simple groove from a bass than to play a few chords on a guitar or a beat on a drum set. But to play bass well, you take as much dedication and skill as playing the guitar or drums. Most average guitarists can play bass, but very few can do well. Good bass guitarists are not unsuccessful guitarists who can not make a guitar with six strings, they are a different breed, they love the groove and low end.