Best Cheap Basses for Beginners 2022

Best Cheap Basses for Beginners 2022

The best cheap electric basses for beginners, to play any style, and for any budget with Yamaha, Squier, Ibanez, and more.

Table of Contents

What is the best bass for beginners?

The ideal bass is one that inspires you and keeps you playing. That is the golden rule of purchasing any instrument or piece of musical equipment. It has never been so easy to get quality musical instruments for so little money.

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How much does a beginner electric bass cost?

Excellent electric basses are available today for less than $400. In fact, in our selection of the 11 best cheap basses for beginners there is only one that exceeds $400 with a price of $429, and there are basses that are only $179.

Considerations for our selection of the best basses for beginning bassists

We have only considered four-string basses since it is the standard and the easiest to play for a beginner. However, in this selection you will find excellent quality basses that are not only for beginner bassists. For example, the Squier Classic Vibe Jazz Bass is a bass for any level of player. Of course, these are all good basses and great value, but the more you spend the better bass you get. In our selection, all basses come with standard Round Wound strings, but you may want to consider making a switch to other types of electric bass strings.

Fender Precision Bass, the most iconic bass of all time.

Our selection for every need

If you’re looking for the classic tone of the most recognized and storied bass, the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ is a true P-Bass at a cheap price. Undoubtedly a great cheap bass options for beginners. Also, we love the Yamaha BB234, Yamaha specializes in giving a lot for little money, without a doubt if you are looking for an all-rounder for the minimum value, the BB234 is a great option for players of all levels.

If you are looking for a cheap bass for a child, or want to play bass and have small hands, or are guitarists and want to start small, the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro is the best bass to start with. In case you are a beginner bass player playing modern styles the Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q is the best option.

If you like the sound of the Fender Jazz Bass, there’s no better cheap beginner bass than the Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s. If you’re looking for a modern classic sound, the Sterling SUB StingRay Ray4 is the perfect choice, designed by Leo Fender himself. On the other hand, if you are looking for a Gibson bass at a low price, the Epiphone EB-0 is the best option. Finally, if you’re looking for the cheapest bass possible, the Squier Mini Precision Bass is priced at just $179.

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Best cheap electric basses for beginners

  • Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ (A true Precision Bass at an affordable price)
  • Yamaha BB234 (Best Value)
  • Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro (Best for Kids)
  • Squier Mini Precision Bass (Cheapest)
  • Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q (Best with active pickups)
  • Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s (Best for Jazz Bass tones)
  • Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4 (A Modern Classic)
  • Yamaha TRBX174EW (The best with balanced tone)
  • Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200 (The best with medium scale)
  • Epiphone EB-0 (Best for Gibson sounds)
  • Spector Performer 4

Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ (A true Precision Bass at an affordable price)

Squier Affinity Precision Bass, one of the best cheap basses for beginners.

The Fender Precision Bass or “P-Bass” is the most iconic bass in history. Squier offers a cheap Precision Bass for beginners. The Squier Affinity Precision Bass has enough quality and a wide tonal palette to make this bass a serious instrument for players of any level. 

The Squier Precision Bass features a Fender-like maple neck and poplar body. The Indian Laurel fretboard features 20 medium jumbo frets. The pickups are a classic split coil in the middle and a Jazz in the bridge. This allows you not only to get the deep tones of the P-Bass, but also the unique attack of the J-Bass, giving you a whole range of audio.

Pros of the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ

  • All the tone of the most iconic bass of all time.
  • Excellent price-quality ratio.
  • Precision middle and Jazz bridge pickup configuration giving a wide range of tones.

Cons of the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ

  • Not suitable for modern styles that require active pickups.
  • There is no left-handed version.

Price: $229 / €229 / £199 | Body: Poplar | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Indian Laurel | Frets: 20 medium jumbo | Pickups: 1 x Split Coil, 1 x Jazz | Controls: 2x Volume, Tone | Lefty: No | Finishes: black, olympic white, race red | Manufacturer Site: Squier/Fender

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Yamaha BB234 (Best Value)

Yamaha BB234, the beginner bass with the best value for money.

The Yamaha BB234 is another great example that Yamaha knows exactly how to make a great quality instrument for younger players at a low price. Thus, the BB234 is to the electric bass what the Pacifica 112 is to the beginner electric guitar.

With a classic design that blends vintage and modern lines, the BB234 is exceptionally built, with warm and rich low frequencies. Thanks to its two Fender Jazz and Precision Bass pickups, which are the two most iconic basses ever, this bass delivers a surprising amount of tone with no-fuss control setup. This will cover most styles, ideal for the bassist looking for versatility or still trying to figure out what kind of player he is.

The Yamaha BB234 electric bass doesn’t have a mix control or pickup selector, but you can use the volume controls on both pickups to set the mix to your liking. In addition, you have the tone knob at hand for fine adjustment of your sound. Without a doubt, one of the best cheap basses for beginners.

Pros of the Yamaha BB234

  • Excellent price-quality ratio.
  • Ideal for modern bassists looking for a vintage vibe.
  • The Precision and Jazz Bass-type pickup configuration offers a wide range of tones.

Cons of the Yamaha BB234

  • Not suitable for modern styles that require active pickups.
  • Pickup Mix Control would make it easy to control the wide variety of tones it has.

Price: $299 / €329 / £339 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 21 medium | Pickups: Custom V3 single-coil (bridge), Custom V3 split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x Volume, Tone | Lefty: Yes | Finish: Vintage White, Black, Teal Blue, Natural Satin, Raspberry Red | Manufacturer Site: Yamaha

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Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro (Best for Kids)

The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro is the ideal electric bass for children or those looking for a shorter instrument.

The Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro is the ideal electric bass for children or those looking for a shorter instrument. Plus, this Ibanez bass is an exceptional value, friendly to all types of budgets. As we said, it stands out for its short scale, which is only 28.6” with a slim neck profile. This makes it the best candidate for those with small hands or who like shorter scale tones. It has a lot of great finishes available. The setup is excellent, and the B-10 bridge has a simple, solid design that allows for easy intonation adjustments.

With that being said, there’s no question that players of all skill levels and all ages would have a lot of fun with the GSRM20 Mikro bass. Its small scale lends itself to a nice rounded punch, but play around with the pickups and use the EQ on your amp and you can accommodate the Mikro’s tone to most styles.

Pros of the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro

  • Excellent price.
  • Great for kids or bass players with small hands.
  • Many finishing options.
  • Excellent short scale characteristic round tones.

Cons of the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro

  • It doesn’t have the bright tone and attack of a long scale bass.

Introductory Price: $179 / €187 / £179 | Body: Agathis | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 28.6” | Fingerboard: Jatoba | Frets: 20 | Pickups: PSNDP split-coil (middle), PSNDJ bridge | Controls: 2x Volume, Tone | Lefty: Yes | Finish: Starlight Blue, Black, White Pearl, Orange Metallic, Brown Sunburst with Rosewood fretboard, Transparent Red Rosewood, Weathered Black Rosewood, Metallic Violet, Metallic Root Beer | Manufacturer Site: Ibanez

Squier Mini Precision Bass (the Cheapest one)

Squier Mini Precision Bass (Cheapest)

Squier, the second largest brand of guitar and bass manufacturer Fender, cleverly offers a mini version of the most iconic bass model in history, the Precision Bass. Ideal for children who want to learn to play the bass or for those who have small hands or are looking for an instrument that is easier to transport.

The Squier Mini Precision Bass has a comfortable contoured body, and a 28.6” scale neck. It also features a split single-coil Precision pickup. All of this gives you the comfort, ease of playability, as well as a decent amount of tonal weight. While the latter isn’t quite as impressive as a full-size Precision, it does deliver an instantly recognizable growl of bass that will keep you playing.

Squier, to achieve such a low price of $179, uses cheap hardware that doesn’t have the strength of other options. Thus, surely over time they will begin to have problems and require replacement. However, this does not make it a great option for those on a tight budget looking for a small size bass.

Pros of the Squier Mini Precision Bass

  • Kid friendly short scale.
  • Design and comfort of a Precision Bass.
  • Super low price.
  • excellent portability

Cons of the Squier Mini Precision Bass

  • The short scale does not fully achieve the tones of a Jazz Bass.
  • The hardware is flimsy and will need replacement over time.
  • There is no left-handed version.

Price: $179 / €159 / £159 | Body: Poplar | Neck: Maple | Scale: 28.6” | Fingerboard: Indian Laurel | Frets: 20 | Pickups: Precision Split Single Coil | Controls: Volume, Tone | Lefty: No | Finish: Black, Dakota Red | Controls: 2x Volume, Tone | Lefty: No | Finish: black, olympic white, race red | Manufacturer Site: Squier / Fender

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Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q (Best price with active pickups)

Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q, the best price with active pickups.

The Spectra Bass Series shows another side of Jackson, with rounder lines on an offset double-cutaway body and an elongated top horn for comfort and stability when playing while standing.

The Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q features a full two-octave fingerboard, that is, 24 frets. With its active pickup system, it is ideal for those looking for modern sounds. Here you will find a wide range of tones thanks to its three-band equalizer control. The Spectra features thick, warm lows, a springy bounce in the upper mids, and a baritone tone with punchy highs. The string-through-body HiMass bridge makes for a super stable bass.

Finally, it features push/pull control for active or passive performance, meaning you’ll be able to keep playing even when the battery runs out.

Pros of the Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q

  • An instrument with excellent construction, stable and solid.
  • Active pickup system with 3-band EQ ideal for the modern bassist.
  • You can use it in active and passive system.
  • The aesthetics with the flamed maple is excellent.

Cons of the Jackson Spectra Bass JS3Q

  • Price not friendly with limited budgets.

Introductory Price: $349 / €329 / £281 | Body: Poplar with Flamed Maple Veneer | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Laurel | Frets: 24, jumbo | Pickups: 2x Jackson Medium Output Mini-Humbuckers (Bridge & Middle) | Controls: Active 3-Band EQ, Volume Pickup Selector (Active/Passive Push/Pull) | Lefty: No | Finish: Dark Sunburst, Amber Blue Burst | Manufacturer Site: Jackson

Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s (The best tone for Jazz Bass)

Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe '60s, the best option in our selection of the 11 best cheap basses for beginners.

The Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Bass is an excellent Jazz Bass option at a low price. This is one of the best Squier series with spectacular build quality and tones. Of course, it is not one of the cheapest options in our selection. But if you have the budget and you are a fan of Jazz Bass, this is the perfect option, look no further.

The Jazz Bass Classic Vibe pickups are Alnico, designed by Fender achieve those iconic tones. It should be noted that in low-end musical instruments for beginners, it is really rare to find Alnico pickups; they usually use ceramic magnets on cheap electric basses. These pickups will give you that midrange and bright pop of the bridge pickup and the warm, rounded thump of the classic Jazz Bass neck, as well as plenty more in-between tones.

Although, as we already mentioned, the price is relatively high, the Squier Classic Vibe Jazz Bass is worth every penny of its price. Its vintage look with all the careful details such as the color of the lacquer and the logo used on the headstock, make it one of the best cheap electric basses not only for beginner bassists, but for any level of musician.

Pros of the Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s

  • All the sound of the iconic Fender Jazz Bass at a fraction of the value.
  • High quality construction and components, hard to see in this price range.
  • Excellent price-quality ratio

Cons of the Squier Jazz Bass Classic Vibe ’60s

  • Price not friendly with limited budgets.

Price: $429 / €379 / £399 | Body: Poplar | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Indian Laurel | Frets: 20 tall narrow | Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico single-coil (bridge), Fender Designed Alnico split-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x Volume, Tone | Lefty: Yes | Finish: Daphne Blue, Black, 3 Color Sunburst | Manufacturer Site: Squier/Fender

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Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4 (A Modern Classic)

Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4, a modern classic designed by Leo Fender.

The SUB Bass, or “Sports Utility Bass”, Ray4 is one of the best basses on this list, combining classic tone with modern playability. Leo Fender, after leaving Fender, founded a new company called Music Man. Sterling is for Music Man, the same as Squier is for Fender. This design came from the head of Fender himself, who sought an evolution of his Precision and Jazz Bass. Thus, the SUB StingRay Ray 4 is a true modern classic.

This StingRay from Sterling gives you all sorts of inspiring tones, from the electric bounce of funk to a heavier bass thunder for rock’n’roll, and even that woody jazz tone. The StingRay neck profile offers a taste of the feel of its Music Man bigger brother. The fully adjustable bridge gives you control over string height and intonation. All in all, it feels like a very solid bass.

If you know Music Man basses, you should know that Sterling’s Ray4 has the active pickup and 9V preamp combo with 2-band hi and low cut/boost controls. While the Music Man StingRay 4 flagship models have an active 18V pickup and a preamp with 3-band EQ. Without a doubt, the Ray4 is one of the best cheap basses available.

Pros of the Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4

  • Cheap version of a modern classic bass designed by Leo Fender himself.
  • Robust, complete and stable construction and configuration.
  • Excellent value for money.
  • Option for modern musicians thanks to its active pickup system.

Cons of the Sterling by Music Man SUB StingRay Ray4

  • Price not friendly with limited budgets.

Price: $299 / €369 / £325 | Body: Basswood | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 21 medium | Pickups: 1x H – 1 Ceramic Humbucker (bridge) | Controls: Volume, High and Low Cut / Boost | Lefty: Yes | Finish: Mint Green, Black, Satin Vintage Sunburst | Manufacturer Site: Sterling

Yamaha TRBX174EW (Best Balanced Tone)

Yamaha TRBX174EW with Mango top an exotic wood.

The Yamaha TRBX174EW is an excellent bass option for anyone looking for warm sounds in a 34″ scale. With a super original aesthetic thanks to the Mango wood veneer on the top and pegbox of the instrument. Its design, similar to that of the Jackson Spectra and Ibanez Soundgear basses, gives it ample stability and comfort for playing standing up.

With a mahogany body, whose tones are characterized by being warmer than those of maple and basswood. The Yamaha TRBX174EW will give you a warmer tone without sacrificing the attack of a long scale bass. Ideal for Jazz-fusion style. Its twenty-four frets and super-comfortable neck profile let you hit high notes with ease.

Finally, with two pickups, a Precision Bass type in the middle and a Jazz Bass type in the bridge, they will give you versatility of tones, which will allow you to play a lot with your sound.

Pros of the Yamaha TRBX174EW

  • Excellent value for money like everything Yamaha does
  • Unique aesthetics thanks to the exotic Mango wood veneer.
  • Full comfort and playability.

Cons of the Yamaha TRBX174EW

  • Their passive pickups may not be suitable for modern bass players.
  • There is no left-handed version.

Price: $249 / €220 / £220 | Body: Mahogany with Mango Veneer | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Sonokeling | Frets: 24 | Pickups: Yamaha Single Coil (Bridge), Yamaha Split Coil (Middle) | Controls: 2x Volume, Tone | Lefty: No | Finish: Translucent Natural, Root Beer, Tobacco Brown Sunburst, Black | Manufacturer site: Yamaha

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Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200 (The best medium scale)

Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200, a medium scale bass with a 32" scale.

The Ibanez Mezzo, as its name indicates (“medium” in Italian) is positioned in the low midscale. With a 32″ scale, the Mezzo offers a midpoint for those looking for a balance between the attack of long scales, and the warmth and sustain of short scales. The body shape is very well contoured and very ergonomic, fitting perfectly to the body.

Like a slightly shorter version of Ibanez’s great Soundgear line. The Mezzo’s neck is shorter than its Soundgear siblings, but has the same width and profile. This gives it excellent playability, ideal for bassists who play busy and spectacular bass lines.

The Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200 gives great versatility of classic and modern tones thanks to its classic active P-Bass type pickups with single coil / split coil configuration. It has an active 2-band equalizer and balance control. No matter what style of bass player you are, the Mezzo will suit whatever you want to play, from Jazz-fusion to Heavy Rock.

Pros of the Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200

  • Super versatile P-Bass type active pickup configuration.
  • Excellent playability and comfort.
  • Bass balanced in all its aspects: scale, construction and tones

Cons of the Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200

  • No passive mode.
  • There is no left-handed version.

Price: $299 / €279 / £279 | Body: Poplar | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 32” | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 22, medium | Pickups: Dynamix J Style Single-Coil (Bridge), Dynamix P Style Split Single-Coil (Middle) | Controls: Master Volume, Balance, Active 2-Band EQ | Lefty: No | Finish: Aqua Green, Vintage White, Flat Black, Metallic Sapphire Blue, Metallic Roadster Orange, Matte Candy Apple, Pearl Seafoam Green | Manufacturer Site: Ibanez

Epiphone EB-0 (Best for Gibson sounds)

Epiphone EB-0, the best bass for Gibson sounds at a low price, ideal for beginners.

The Epiphone EB-0 is the affordable version of Gibson’s iconic bass, ideal for beginners. With a mahogany body, a humbucking pickup in the neck position, and a 30.5″ scale, the Epiphone EB-0 will give you a round, warm tone like few beginner basses can.

The Epiphone EB-0 stands out for its simplicity. A passive pickup, volume and tone, your fingers do the rest. This, of course, is a good thing and is by design. Tone-wise, it’s big, fat, and punchy, perfect for playing with an overdrive. Although there isn’t much range here, and it may sound dark to some ears, there is plenty of punch when playing with a pick and if you dial up the treble on your amp you can get a deadly midrange sound.

Pros of the Epiphone EB-0

  • Short scale ideal for beginners.
  • Warm and fat tones.
  • Simple and easy to use setup.

Cons of the Epiphone EB-0

  • It has little versatility of tones.
  • There is no left-handed version.

Price: $269 / €255 / £218 | Body: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany, bolt-on | Scale: 30.5” | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22, medium | Pickups: 1x Sidewinder humbucker (neck) | Controls: Volume, Tone | Lefty: No | Finish: Cherry -red-, Ebony -black- | Manufacturer Site: Epiphone.

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Spector Performer 4

Spector Performer 4, one of the best cheap electric basses for beginners.

Spector’s Performer Series is the entry-level line of budget basses. The Performer 4’s body shape, sense of balance and proportion, and playability make it an interesting choice for beginning bassists.

The Spector Performer 4 features a passive P+J pickup configuration, with independent tone and volume controls on each pickup that let you dial in your own combination of the two. Thus, it offers a wide variety of musical tones that allows you to cover practically any style.

So the Performer 4 you can play it with slap and play funk. You’ll also find the thunder rock bassists are looking for. The super contoured body is very comfortable and its three-piece, 24-fret neck is stable, fast, and comfortable enough to help you through some epic jams.

Pros of the Spector Performer 4

  • Excellent build quality.
  • Versatility of shades.
  • Great playability.

Cons of the Spector Performer 4

  • It doesn’t have active pickups like the more expensive Spector basses.
  • There is no left-handed version.

Price: $399 / €394 / £369 | Body: Nato-wood | Neck: Maple, bolt-on | Scale: 34” | Fingerboard: Amara Ebony | Frets: 24 medium-jumbo | Pickups: Spector J style Single-coil (bridge), Spector P Style Split Single-coil (middle) | Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone | Lefty: No | Finish: Metallic Red, Glossy Solid White, Metallic Blue, Glossy Solid Black | Manufacturer Site: Spector

Buying advice for your first electric bass

Scale length: short or long?

The scale length of a stringed instrument is the distance between the nut and the bridge. Long scale basses are the industry standard and are 34”. This scale may be a bit long for some, but if you get used to a large scale bass, you will have much more options when choosing.

Short scale basses typically have a scale length of around 30″, or even shorter in the case of the Ibanez Mikro or Squier Mini Precision Bass which are 28.6″. These are sometimes preferred for their rounder, warmer bass, which works well when played with other instruments as well. But they are definitely a great option for kid bassists or those who want a smaller, lighter bass for easier portability. You will notice that the short scale basses have their frets a little closer together and the neck a little more playable. These basses are also a good choice for guitarists who want to get into the electric bass.

You may prefer something in the middle, mid scale basses are usually 32”. Midscale basses are less common. In this selection of the best cheap basses for beginners we include the Ibanez Mezzo.

Squier Precision Bass JP from the Affinity line, one of the best cheap basses for beginners.

Low active or passive?

Passive basses capture the sound of your electric bass without adding anything to the signal, but you can cut frequencies. So the tone pot on a passive bass cuts the treble, but doesn’t add bass. Instead, active basses feature a built-in preamp, usually powered by one or two 9V batteries. These can cut or add frequencies to the signal, so you can cut or add the bass, mid and treble, if you have a 3-band equalizer. In case of 2-band equalizer, you can adjust bass and treble.

Which are better passive or active pickups?

Neither is better, per se. They are different, and they sound different. As general characteristics, those who prefer passive basses argue that these are more dynamic, allowing nuances to be highlighted in their interpretation; Plus, you don’t have to worry about the battery dying in the middle of a concert or rehearsal.

Bassists who prefer active basses prefer them for the ability to shape your sound with the preamp EQ, because they are less noisy since they have hum cancellation; and finally, some prefer a more compressed tone.

Active basses are more expensive than passive ones. Therefore, it is more difficult to find an active bass for less than 400 dollars. Regardless, we’ve included several options like the Jackson Spectra, the Sterling SUB StingRay Ray4, and the Ibanez Mezzo SRMD200.

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Tone woods

Another critical factor to consider when choosing a bass, both for beginners and advanced players, is what tonewoods they are built with. Mahogany-bodied basses, like the Epiphone EB-0, tend to have a warmer tone and slightly less treble than those made from alder, basswood, or ash.

Just as mahogany evokes Gibson, alder-bodied instruments are always reminiscent of Fender guitars, with full-bodied clarity and solid lows, while basswood offers a typically well-balanced tone with decent weight in the low end.

Other tonewoods you can find here include poplar, which is largely balanced, but doesn’t have a particular tonal bias. To many, that means a lack of poplar character. However, for others it can be a great platform from which to shape their tone.

Fender Precision Bass, the most iconic bass of all time.

The most important thing: try and play

Regardless of the short, medium or long scale, active or passive circuit, or tonewoods, what rules is your ear and how you feel when playing your electric bass. That’s why the first and last step should always be to try and play as many basses as you can. This way you will know what you gain and what you lose by choosing each of the options.

What kind of bass player are you? Long or short scale? Passive or active bass? What tonewoods do you prefer?

For more information visit the manufacturers’ websites: Squier/FenderYamahaJacksonIbanezEpiphoneSterling and Spector.

Check out more gear reviews at GEARanking.

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