If you can dedicate $500 for a bass guitar, you can get great quality for that price. This article will present you with the best choices you have on the market. Great design, sounds, and unique features are available for a reasonable price.
Keep reading to discover top choices in this price range. There is a range of brands and styles you can pick from, so it’s an article in which everyone can find a perfect bass guitar.
The Best Bass Guitars Under $500
Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray5
This bass guitar is the most budget-friendly, but it doesn’t mean it lacks anything. This option offers four- and five-string variants, so whether you are a beginner or advanced player, you can get this model.
This bass guitar lacks midrange EQ but is as versatile as other models. Thanks to the narrow string spacing and satin-finished neck, this model is very comfortable to play with.
This bass guitar is the best quality to money choice.
- Relatively low price
- Tonally versatile
- Simple tone controls
- Lack of Midrange EQ control
Yamaha TRBX 305
Yamaha’s famous for quality, and this bass guitar is no exception. It has die-cast nickel hardware that brings the player’s experience to the next level.
Thanks to a laminate neck, it’s comfortable to play. The active EQ gives this modern bass a powerful tone. You can switch it very easily, which gives you flowless changes between styles.
If you’re looking for modern tones and want to practice your style, this model is the best choice.
- Versatile modern tones
- Highly playable
- Available in four- and five-string versions
- Clinical sound
Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Precision Bass
If you are looking for a vintage-style bass, this is your best choice. Squier has a great choice of basses at affordable prices, and this one was refreshed in 2019.
This model features an alnico split-coil pickup and vintage-style bridge that make the bass not only look retro but also sound this way. While this model is simply beautiful, it doesn’t offer a great choice of finishes. There are just two options: Olympic White and Three-Colour Sunburst.
- Recently refreshed line
- Great price
- Vintage look and sound
- Poor choice of finishes
Even though this guitar has one of the lowest prices on the market (you can get it for $400), it is a high-caliber bass. It is lightweight, so it can be a good choice for smaller players. It also has a stop tail bridge and tuners of good quality.
Thanks to the full-length scale, this bass has a clearly defined voice. The playability is going to suit most modern players.
- Retro style
- Robust built quality
- Access to top frets is slightly restricted
- Volume knobs are separate, which makes rendering the selector redundant
Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II
This model is all about great playability enclosed in outstanding vintage styling. Thanks to a smooth punch that doesn’t have too much tonal harshness, the Gretsch G2220 is a great choice for those who play classic rock or punk inspired by the 70s.
If you fancy more modern sounds, this model is not going to meet your needs. Thanks to a short-scale neck, this model is highly playable. If you have smaller hands, this bass guitar might be perfect for you.
- Unique design
- Great price value
- Limited tonal pallet
- Not suitable for contemporary players
Ibanez Talman TMB100
If you still don’t know if you’re into bass playing or have a limited budget, you should have a look into this model.
This Ibanez has two-band active EQ and the classic PJ pickup configuration, thanks to which you don’t have to compromise the sound. You get a good quality bass guitar for a very low price.
It’s more dedicated to traditional sounds. It’s great for warm, but not too lively tones. The 20-fret neck gives a vintage feel. This bass has a rounded body with a rear contour. Even though the top horn only gives a little top-fret access, this model is a good investment.
- Great price
- Active EQ
- Great choice for beginners
- Not many exciting features
- Limited tune scale
What to Look for in a Good Bass Guitar
Buying a bass guitar is no different from picking other products. You have to focus on the features that are most crucial for you and your playing style. In this price range, you can easily find everything you need.
Perhaps you are not going to be able to get rarer materials and hardware, but despite that, you still can get a high-quality, full-featured bass guitar.
Define Your Playing Style
As a musician, you might still experiment with tunings or even play various genres. However, it’s good to know which type of music you lean toward.
Pick the ultra-low-end punch if you are into down-tuned metal or pop. If you are more into more vintage sounds, such as classic rock, or blues, a passive bass should take your music practice to the next level.
A short-scale bass is also a great choice for vintage-style music.
Pick the Design
Remember that features that can help you to get the perfect sound for your songs are more important than the way your bass looks. However, when you have $500 in your pocket, you don’t have to compromise between features and appearance.
Whether you want your bass guitar to suit your other instrument’s style, or you want it to have a bold color, you are going to find something for yourself.
Decide on a Perfect Weight
The weight of bass guitars depends on the size and materials. Bassists usually play with a strap around their neck. That means you have to be comfortable with the size and weight of your instrument. According to your body’s possibilities, you can decide on a heavier bass, as the sound is deeper than in lighter versions of the instrument.
Pick the Most Appealing Sound
Depending on materials, electronics, and other various factors, each bass guitar produces different tones. You have to simply listen and then pick the one that sounds the best for you.
Remember that the final tone can be influenced by audio, EQ settings, or amps. The best way to test the sound is to play the bass in person. By doing so, you get the idea of the tone, but you can also check how it feels in your hands. Sometimes, you might not find a particular model in a stationery music store. In that case, you can listen to demo soundtracks.
Decide on the Bridge
The bridge is the place where the strings end on the bass. Basses have three common types of bridges: a string-through-body, a through-bridge, and a mix of the tailpiece and a bridge.
Each of them works well, and the choice is just a matter of personal taste. The most important is to choose the larger, and weightier option of the bridge. Thanks to that, your bass can give better sounds.
Bass Guitar FAQ
Is a Bass for $500 Worth It?
You can easily find a playable bass guitar for less than $200, so it’s not surprising that you wonder if a guitar is worth spending $500 on. Options in the price range up to $200 have rather limited features, yet they are good enough for people who have just started their adventure with the bass guitar.
The bass guitars in the price range up to $500 are definitely worth this money. You can pick from more unique and well-projected designs. You don’t have to settle for a simple, slightly boring look. You can choose from vintage models, classic versions, or even more futuristic aesthetics.
The quality of the wood used in the bass often plays an important role in the sound. In this price range, you can decide on classic or more exotic woods, such as maple. You also have a larger choice when it comes to the materials in which all the details are executed.
While picking a perfect bass guitar, you shouldn’t only focus on the aesthetics. More reliable hardware, improved pickups, etc., are the features that you want. In the range of $500, you cannot expect a premium instrument, but you can get a wonderful quality bass guitar.
Should I Choose a Four or Five-string Bass?
The classic bass guitar has four strings. If you are a beginner, you should pick a four-stringer, as it’s easier to learn.
However, the more strings you have, the more sounds you can get. Because of that, more advanced players decide on five- or even six-stringers. Remember that the more strings you have, the wider the neck. That means you might need to consider your hand size.
The choice of the number of strings should also be based on the type of music you play. Metal players usually choose five stringers to get the low-B string. Rock and jazz musicians pick an extended-range instrument. Thanks to this, they can make chords and playing scales a bit easier.
In most cases, a four-stringer is enough. You can tune down the strings if that suits your needs better. There is no wrong answer to the question of how many strings you should pick. The final choice is yours.
I am a Total Beginner. What Bass Guitar Should I Pick?
If you are starting your adventure in playing the bass guitar, you might not be willing to spend a lot of money. Try to pick a bass guitar that has a good price, but also has a great tone range. If you’re still searching for your musical style, you should have an instrument that allows you to experiment.
If you are already convinced that you’re going to stick to your hobby, pick the bass that can “grow” with you. The Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray5 can be a great choice as it’s beginner-friendly but also suitable for more advanced musicians.
What Scale Should I Pick?
Short-scale guitars are smaller. Thanks to that, they’re ideal for people with smaller hands. If you’re a teenager, have tiny hands, or are a beginner, the short-scale bass might be the best choice.
The regular scale is a better choice for people with larger hands. It can also well serve more experienced players that already have a good grip of the instrument.
Should I Get an Electric or Acoustic Bass Guitar?
This choice is totally yours and depends on what type of music you want to play. If you are playing in a band, you might need an amplified bass. That means you are going to need an electric bass. If you are more into low-fi, acoustic sounds, the other choice is better for you.
The bass guitars that are presented in this article are the best choices on the market. The best part of buying a bass guitar for $500 is the truly wonderful choice. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, you are going to find something that suits your needs best.
Now it’s time to announce the clear winner. Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray5 seems to be the best choice in this price range. It’s suitable for beginners and more advanced players. Thanks to that, you can be sure that even if you are just starting your musician life, this model is going to serve you for a long time.
Thanks to its tonal versatility, you can enjoy various music styles and experiment with your style. Additionally, you can simply control the tones. A unique design makes playing not only entertaining but also very comfortable. Thanks to this, you can enjoy your hobby for a prolonged time, without getting too tired.
It might not be the cheapest mentioned model, but it clearly has the best value to price ratio. With a classic, slightly minimalistic design, it’s going to suit everyone.