2014 will be the first year that we publish a bass guitar buying guide to go along with all our other purchasing resources.
The rules are still the same.
We're pulling together quality, price (less than $1000), reputation and practicality to get a list of bass guitars that would best suit you as the prospective buyer.
All links are Amazon affiliate links, which means they simply take you to Amazon; no strings attached (and no pun intended). If you buy this way, Guitar Chalk gets a percentage and it's a great way to support the site that allows us to avoid posting intrusive banner ads (can't stand those things).
Also if you like our resource, are on board with our mission and would like to donate, that support is likewise appreciated.
At the same time, this isn't just an arbitrary list of bass guitars.
Table of ContentsWhen I used to give lessons, people would always ask, "What kind of guitar should I buy?"
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Fender Standard Jazz
Fender Marcus Miller Signature
Ibanez SR806 6-String
Warwick Alien Deluxe 5-String Acoustic
Lakland Skyline Series 55-01 5-String
Fender Geddy Lee Signature
Sterling by Music Man RAY35-NT 5-String
Fender Troy Sanders Jaguar Signature
Gretsch Guitars G5440LS Hollowbody
Fender Road Worn '50s Precision
Warwick Streamer Rockbass Standard
Warwick Corvette Rockbass Basic
So the purpose of this article is to give you a direction to go in so you know you're not wasting your money.
Once you have some direction, you can focus on getting something you like.
Let's get start with a classic from Fender.
Features: Alder body, polyester finish, maple neck, standard single coil jazz bass pickups, two volume and one tone knob and standard four-saddle vintage-style bridge.
Features: Ash body, rosewood neck, Bartolini pickups and volume, balance, bass, mid and treble controls are all included on the guitar.
Features: Maple neck, ash body, CAP double humbucker, volume, balance, bass, mid and treble controls.
Features: Ash body, 1-piece maple neck, artist signature on headstock, American vintage single coil jazz bass pickups and Fender Hi-Mass bridge.
Features: MK1 Split Coil pickups, neck tongue and on-board EQ.
Features: Fishman preamp with a Piezo pickup, on-board EQ, noise reduction and a laminated spruce top.
Features: 22 frets, ash body, maple fingerboard, maple neck, optional pickguard, Bartolini MK-1 preamp and Bartolini MK-1 split-coil soapbar pickups.Rush's bassist has played this version of Fender's jazz bass for a long time, most recognizable by the square shaped fretboard inlays. The guitar also features a thinner, fast action neck, along with a Geddy Lee High Mass Bridge.
Features: Alder body, maple neck, American vintage single coil jazz pickups, two volume pickups and a Geddy Lee high mass bridge.
Features: Swamp ash body, maple neck, six-bolt neck joint, rosewood fingerboard and three-band EQ (preamp).
Features: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, custom noiseless single coil jazz bridge pickup, split single-coil Precision Bass middle pickup and active preamp with bass and treble thumb wheel controls.
Features: Five-ply maple body, rosewood fretboard, maple neck, three-position pickup toggle switch, adjustable truss rod and four-saddle Adjusto-Matic bridge.
Features: Alder body, one-piece maple neck, one Precision bass single coil pickup and American Vintage Precision Bass bridge.
Features: Carolena body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, MEC Vintage humbuckers and passive electronics.
Features: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, MEC J/J Pickups, dual tone controls (for neck and bridge pickups) and 24 frets.
The Value ThresholdI've come to believe that when buying guitars (bass or otherwise) the $1000 mark is a pretty good target price.
Going much higher usually means you're spending more than you need to, at least for the casual or semi-professional musician.
In most cases people also want to avoid that four-figure jump.
So if you want to spend more and that works for you, go for it. I'm not saying it's a waste of money.
On the other hand, if you want to buy a bit cheaper, but you're not sure which basses are going to give you the best value, this list is a great place to start.
What else should I look for in a bass?Getting good value is often what people don't trust themselves with.
Buying a bass guitar is a big investment, so most of the time people worry about the return, whether or not they're making a "wise purchase" or ending up with a lemon.
But what else should you look for?
You know you want value, but once you have a direction to go in, what should you focus on?
It's alright to just look for something you like or that looks appealing to you.
Style matters, because you're going to have to play the guitar and look at it all the time, so you want to be happy with the shape, color and other aesthetic attributes.
Simplicity or Versatility?
Do you want a plug in and play type of bass, or something that's really going to allow you to customize your sound?
Some players want a simpler solution, perhaps just a volume and tone knob, and one pickup.
Others like to have the EQ options and more opportunities to customize their sound.
Your own preferences in this area are worth considering when making your purchase.
Your Playing Levels
Whether you're just looking to pick up the bass for your own enjoyment or trying to open at jazz festivals for Marcus Miller should have an impact on what bass you buy.
If you're a casual musician, that doesn't mean you can't get something of good quality, but it might have an impact on how much quality you afford yourself.
It also has practical implications for where and when you'll use the guitar - whether you'll use it to record, play live gigs or just jam with your buddies - which matters when you're making such a big purchase.
The point is to find something that suits you and that fits with your own goals and stylistic leanings.
So yes, try and target good quality and value, but once you find out where quality and value are, use what you like to narrow down your choices and find the ideal bass.
Your ThoughtsWhat other bass guitar belong on this list? What bass do you own that's under $1000 but plays like it cost three grand?
We want to hear about it.
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