Purchasing Your First Electric Bass

“How much should I spend?” is usually the first question that people ask me when shopping for a electric bass.  The answer to that question can have a lot of variables depending on your personal situation. So what I will do here is present a few options for instruments in three different price ranges.

$100-$300 range

  1. Yamaha RBX 170 – ($179) – I have had a number of students own these over the years and I really like them for a first bass.  They are easy to play, have a nice-feeling neck, a two octave fingerboard, and sound really nice to boot.
  2. Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass – ($259) – These are also great instruments for people starting out. They have the classic feel and sound of the Fender jazz bass without the expensive price tag.

$300-$700 range

  1. Ibanez ATK 200 – ($399) – I also have had students who have owned this bass and I really like it.  It is easy to set up, plays great, and has a sound similar to a Music Man bass.
  2. Fender Blacktop Jazz Bass – ($449) – I have had a number of students buy these since they started making them a couple of years ago, and they are really one of my favorite basses in this price range. The pickups sound great and they are easy to set up and play. I know of a number of professional musicians who are using these as well.
  3. Yamaha BB424X – ($499) – This is another one of my favorite basses in this price range.  This bass also plays really nicely, and has great sounding pickups.

$700 and up

  1. Fender USA models – In this price range these are my favorite basses.  They always sound good and are easy to set up.  A Jazz bass or P bass are both excellent choices.  One nice feature of American-made Fender’s is that they hold their value really well and often go up in value over time.
  2. Fender USA Signature models – I personally own the Marcus Miller 5 string, Roscoe Beck 4 string, and the Tony Franklin fretless 4 string.  The signature basses have a boutique quality about them and I really enjoy playing them.

All of the instruments so far have been full-sized instruments. Depending on what age you decide to start playing the bass, you may need to get a smaller sized instrument to start with. If you happen to fall into this category, then I have one recommendation for you.

1/2 and 3/4 sized instruments

  1. Fender Squier Bronco Bass – ($150) – These are short-scale instruments with small bodies. They sound really nice and are easy to play and setup. I have tried a number of these smaller instruments and really think this is the best choice.

Hopefully this article will be helpful to you in picking out your first instrument, or give you some ideas if you are thinking about upgrading. In addition to buying the bass guitar, you will also need to purchase a practice amp, strap, tuner, metronome, and cable if you don’t already have them.

Questions: Do you have any suggestions for instruments that are not already listed here? Have you owned or had any experience with any of these instruments?