Instrument Insight

How Much Should I Spend On A Bass Guitar? (Proposition, Mindset, And The Final Decision)

Learn actually how much should you spend on a bass guitar in your particular situation with this in-depth guide so that you can make an informed decision.

What’s that sound that gets you dancing? What’s that sound that gets you grooving? It is no other than one of the most underrated and unheralded parts of the ensemble – the bass.

The bass guitar is a standard and perhaps one of the essential components of a full band setup. Think of it as the instrument together with the percussions that lay down the foundation of the music you’re listening to.

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Some of the greatest musicians are bass players; to be one, you’d have to have a deeper understanding of the craft. So, thinking about being a bass player? Perhaps a question that crosses your mind often is how much should I spend on a bass guitar, right?

We’ve subdivided this topic into three major parts, or should we say level. The entry, intermediate, and premium bass levels. The entry being purely for beginners, intermediate for those who are most likely taking it a bit seriously and part of a band or ensemble, and premium for professional-level bass players.

What to Expect From a Budget (Entry Level) Bass Guitar?

What To Expect From A Budget Bass Guitar

Well, what would you expect from non-premium merchandise in general? For a beginner bass guitar, the tone or sound of it won’t be as richer or polished. Expect that the fretboard won’t be as smooth to play, and the action might need to be adjusted based on your preference.

When we say action, we’re talking about the distance between your fret and your strings which would generally affect the intonation and playability of your guitar.

Expect that it would probably have cheap parts and is not as durable nor good looking as upper-level bass guitars. But despite all of these aspects, entry-level bass guitars or guitars, in general, are best for practicing, learning the ropes of the craft, and most of all, won’t hurt your budget that much.

How Much Does a Budget (Entry Level) Bass Guitar Cost?

Entry-level bass guitars would cost you around $100 to $120 for the cheapest ones, but anything under $200 can be considered an entry-level bass guitar price point.

Musician’s TIP

Go for secondhand bass guitars from near stores, a friend, or someone you know; you’d never know what you’ll find. This can be a good choice for your first bass guitar.

Should I Go For A Budget (Entry Level) Bass Guitar?

Go for a budget starter bass guitar if:

  •       You’re just starting out, and this will be your first bass guitar
  •       Still exploring the possibility of playing the instrument
  •       Still don’t know the level of commitment you’ll have for the craft
  •       It’s for your kid(s), and you want them to discover music, or you might think they have the potential for bass playing
  •       Looking to buy a cheaper set (Bass guitar, amplifier, and accessories)

Expert’s Advice

Choose a four-string, short-scale one if your hands are small. The short-scale bass will fit perfectly if you are young and have small hands.

What to Expect From an Intermediate Level Bass Guitar?

What To Expect From An Intermediate Level Bass Guitar

Intermediate level bass guitars are those that are probably most widely used by musicians worldwide. They are great for practicing, whether on your own or with your band, and it’s got the tone and feels that’s closer to pro-level bass guitars than what you might expect.

They are way more enrich by features and materials than the entry-level ones and don’t cost as much.

How Much Does An Intermediate Level Bass Guitar Cost?

You can probably score a good intermediate level bass guitar around the $250 to $450 price point. Anything under $500 would be a great choice.

Should I Go For An Intermediate Level Bass Guitar?

Go for an intermediate level electric bass guitar if:

  •      You’re getting serious about playing the instrument
  •      You know your style of music 
  •      You have a band and are looking to record some tunes or have regular gigs
  •      Want to explore more in terms of tone and playability and want to try out a few models before getting a more expensive bass guitar in the future
  •      You want a good backup bass guitar

Expert’s Advice

A 5 String electric bass guitar can be a better choice in this price range.

What to Expect From a Premium Bass Guitar?

Well, premium bass guitars are what professionals use, and they have all the premium features. These are the signature guitars with premium woods (typically rosewood), tuning pegs, and volume knobs. These will probably have customized body designs to fit any playing preference.

Electronic wise, some features with industry’s top single-coil pickups, split-coil neck pickup while others are Humbuckers. Volume controls feel just right.

Expect these bass guitars to be pricey, but they are head turners in terms of aesthetics and all other aspects you might expect. They are durable, easier to play, and most of all, super great sounding bass guitars.

How Much Does A Premium Bass Guitar Cost?

These guitars, as expected, aren’t cheap. Anything over $500 can be considered a premium quality bass guitar, and they can go from $1000 easy to $2000 or $3000. The most expensive bass guitar ever made was said to be priced at $250000.

Should I Go For A Premium Bass Guitar?

Go for the premium one if:

  •      You’re a serious musician
  •      You are a professional musician who constantly goes on tour or gigs
  •      You need the best quality sound or tone for your upcoming records
  •      You’re a super fan of a certain brand or have the money to spend on that signature electric bass guitar

Entry-Level Vs. Intermediate Level Vs. Premium Bass Guitar: Your Mindset

It’s simple, really. When you’re starting out and still unsure about the craft or instrument in general, try an entry-level bass guitar. If you’re passionate enough about it early on and want a bass guitar for the long run, go get an intermediate level bass guitar.

But if you’re already in the business and have the cash for it, then why not go for premium level bass guitar as they are the most cost-effective of all the categories. That means, if you’re serious about playing bass, then a premium bass guitar will be a solid investment.

Entry-Level Vs. Intermediate Level Vs. Premium Bass Guitar: The Final Decision

Starting out and not sure of the commitment? Entry-level. Pretty passionate? Intermediate level. Are you a pro? Go get a premium one. There’s no best bass guitar overall; it depends on you and your skill level as well as your commitment level.

How Much Should I Spend On a Bass Guitar (For the Entry Level)

How Much Should I Spend On An Entry Level Bass Guitar

How much should I spend on a bass guitar? For entry-level ones, invest $100 to $200.

Entry Level Bass Guitars to Consider

Here’s our hand-picked budget bass guitars to consider for the entry-level:

Our Top 3 Picks For Under 200 (At A Glance)

EDITOR'S CHOICE
Squier by Fender Bronco Bass
Squier by Fender Bronco Bass
9.9
  • Slim and comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile
  • Single-coil Bronco Bass pickup
  • Short 30“ scale length
  • Thin and lightweight body
  • Satin neck finish
PREMIUM PICK
Ibanez GSRM20
Ibanez GSRM20
9.8
  • Neck:  GSRM 4 neck 28.6" neck
  • Neck Type:  GSRM4 28.6"
  • Body:  Mahogany body
  • Frets:  Medium frets
  • Fingerboard:  Rosewood
BUDGET PICK
Donner Electric Bass Guitar (DPB-510D)
Donner Electric Bass Guitar (DPB-510D)
9.7
  • Donner's classic bass pickup
  • AAA Perilla fingerboard, AAA Canadian maple neck
  • “Modern C”-shaped profile
  • Through-body fixed "4-SADDLE BRIDGE"
  • Open-Gear Tuning Machines
  • Gig bag, guitar strap, and cable as gifts

Bonus Tip: Checklist for an Entry-Level Bass Guitar

  •       Neck and Body

o   Beware of premature deterioration of entry-level bass guitars. Be sure to learn how to take care of it.

  •       Fretboard and Finger Bridge

o    They should be playable enough but might not be as smooth as more expensive ones.

  •       Electronics and Pickups

o   Won’t have the best sounding electronics, but it definitely will get you going on the right track.

  •       Hardware and Setup

o   Like its neck and body, learn how to take good care of it and let a pro set it up at least twice a year for better intonation and action.

How Much Should I Spend On a Bass Guitar (For the Intermediate Level)

Go for the ones that are within the $250 to $500 price point without a practice amp.

Intermediate Level Bass Guitars to Consider

Here’s our top-picked bass guitars to consider for the intermediate level:

Our Top 3 Picks For Under 500 (At A Glance)

EDITOR'S CHOICE
Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4
Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4
9.9
  • Mahogany Body/Quilted Maple Top
  • Diamond Active pickups
  • Diamond Bass Bridge
  • Schecter Tuners
  • Limited Lifetime Guarantee
  • Graph Tech Tusq nut
PREMIUM PICK
Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI
Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI
9.7
  • 100% designed by Fender
  • Inspired by original Bass VI models
  • Fender-Designed alnico pickups
  • Vintage-tinted gloss neck finish
  • Nickel-plated hardware
  • Hand orientation: Right
BUDGET PICK
Yamaha TRBX304
Yamaha TRBX304
9.6
  • Perfectly balanced, ultra-comfortable solid mahogany body provides the optimum tonal foundation
  • Solid Mahogany Body
  • Five-Piece Maple/Mahogany Neck
  • Active Electronics
  • Performance EQ Switch for Slap, Pick, Flat, Finger, or Solo play

Bonus Tip: Checklist for an Intermediate-Level Bass Guitar

  • Neck and Body

                  o Great quality neck and body; these guitars feel just right.

  • Fretboard and Finger Bridge

                  o Accurate frets and won’t need any maintenance anytime soon.

  • Electronics and Pickups

                 o Great sounding, very few issues with the wirings.

  • Hardware and Setup

                 o Still needs regular setup, but the hardware should not deteriorate anytime soon.

How Much Should I Spend On a Bass Guitar (For the Premium One)

How Much Should I Spend On A Premium Bass Guitar

If you have the money to invest, premium bass guitars around the $500 to $1000 or even $2000 price point will be worth it.

Premium Bass Guitars to Consider

Here’s our premium picks to consider:

Our Top 3 Picks For Under 1000 (At A Glance)

EDITOR'S CHOICE
Ibanez SRF700
Ibanez SRF700
9.9
  • Solid-body bass, AeroSilk piezo system for realistic acoustic tones
  • Throughout the years, Ibanez made fretless versions of this classic for a limited number of esteemed Ibanez artists
  • Now, the Ibanez Bass Workshop makes this much sought after option available to SR players everywhere with the introduction of the SR Portamento
  • The SR Portamento offers a rosewood fingerboard that extends the length of the standard SR neck to a hefty 30-fret length
PREMIUM PICK
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass V
Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass V
9.8
  • Includes deluxe gig bag
  • Two Vintage Noiseless Jazz Bass pickups (middle and bridge)
  • Three-band EQ with treble, mid and bass boost/cut; active/passive switch
  • 5-saddle HiMass bridge for increased attack and sustain
  • 4-bolt asymmetrical neck plate
BUDGET PICK
Schecter Stiletto Studio-5
Schecter Stiletto Studio-5
9.7
  • Mahogany w/ Bubinga Center
  • EMG HZ Pickups
  • Diamond Custom Bridge
  • Offset Dots Inlay
  • Limited Lifetime Guarantee

Bonus Tip: Checklist for a Premium Bass Guitar

  •  Neck and Body

o   Signature design for the neck and body and very durable.

  •        Fretboard and Finger Bridge

o   Great feel and most playable bass guitars.

  •   Electronics and Pickups

o   Superb tone and the electronics won’t give you any problems.

  •        Hardware and Setup

o   Long-lasting hardware but still would need a setup to maintain tone and action.

FAQ

Bass guitars that are too cheap aren’t worth it, and neither a quality instrument. Beware of cheap parts that won’t last long, and so you’ll end up spending on another one anyway. Also, these cheap bass guitars are just not playable enough for you to appreciate it. Also, watch out for hidden defects like in the electronics, yikes!

Most definitely. Smart musicians would tell you that if you’re unsure whether it’s the instrument for you just yet, then go find a secondhand bass guitar instead. Sometimes, you’ll pick up really good ones at a great price.

Knowing how much a bass lesson costs from the very beginning can be handy to be fully prepared. That's why we have added this section so that you can make an informed decision. Professionals usually charge $40 to $60 for a one-hour private lesson. You can also manage lessons at a low price from online music academies, which will vary on a course basis.

The Ibanez TMB100 is the cheapest amongst the good ones.

Final Words

How much should I spend on a bass guitar? We had fun answering that question for sure. Here’s to hoping that you’ll find a great ax – soon. Music is for everyone, and music without bass is just well – blah. So grab one and get the groove on!

Thanks for reading, and if you like the article, consider subscribing to our most futuristic weekly newsletter, Instrument Insight Insider, below (where we sum up the most exciting and trending topics from the industry every week to spice it up) and Get Premium Materials as follows:

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Author | Bass Guitar and Gear Expert at Instrument Insight | Website

Fred L. Robinson is a young man from Mansfield, TX. He has always had a great passion for music and bass guitars in particular. At the age of 28, he is an expert on bass guitars and their related equipment, materials, history, and origins. Fred works as an author and bass guitar expert at Instrument Insight, where he uses his vast knowledge to help people make informed decisions about their bass guitar purchases.

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