Home > Guides > Best bass guitars under $1,000: Avoid breaking the bank
best bass guitars under 1000

Best bass guitars under $1,000: Avoid breaking the bank

Every bass player loves new gear day. Especially when you can finally go for the next level of instrument, after working tirelessly to build up the budget for something new. In this guide, we dive into 10 of the best bass guitars under $1,000. And while that’s not exactly chump change, it’s entirely possible to get a fantastic quality bass that can remain in your arsenal indefinitely.

Instruments around this price point usually come with better appointments right out of the factory — like aftermarket pickups and hardware than their lower budget counterparts. Additionally, they include better samples of tonewoods. This means you won’t have to get it on the tech bench to make the improvements that can be a necessity with cheaper guitars – like swapping out the nut or bridge for higher-quality alternatives.

What to Look for in a New Bass

What to look for in a new bass is really up to you. Certainly, there are considerations about upgrades to the overall build quality, but you might not just want an upgrade to your current sound. You might be looking for a new sound altogether. Regardless of what your needs are, this guide to the best bass guitars under $1,000 has something for everyone.

Without further ado, here are the best bass guitars under $1,000.

Best overall bass guitar under $1,000: Fender Vintera ‘50s Precision Bass

fender vintera 50s precision bass
Best overall bass guitar under $1,000
Fender Vintera ‘50s Precision Bass
The Vintera 50s Precision Bass offers period-correct specs, colors, and hardware. The thick C-shape maple neck pumps out plenty of low end.
Pros
Period-correct specs
Decade-correct colors
Vintage hardware
Cons
C-shape neck might be too thick for some players

The Vintera series brings period-correct specs to Fender’s classic lineup of bass guitars. The Precision model features vintage hardware (bridge, frets, and tuners), the timeless split-coil pickup and the classic fat C-neck. They nailed the era aesthetics too, with a selection of decade-correct colors. A great deal for under $1,000.

Best Jazz style bass under $1,000: Fender Vintera ‘60s Jazz Bass

fender vintera 60s jazz bass
Best Jazz style bass under $1,000
Fender Vintera ‘60s Jazz Bass
This is a 60’s era correct Jazz Bass with a thin neck that’s easy to play. The classic looks are a great pairing with its classic tone.
Pros
Thin neck is easy to play
Period-correct 60s style
Cons
Jazz bass sound doesn’t work for every genre

First introduced by Fender in 1960, the Jazz bass offered a different sound and feel to the bass world the the Precision. It has a thinner neck and instantly identifiable offset body. Everything about the Vintera is realistic to the 60’s originals, from the pastel colors to the tortoiseshell pickguard. Classic looks complement classic tone.

Best single pickup bass under $1,000: Sterling by Music Man StingRay “Ray 34” 

music man sterling stingray
best single pickup bass under $1,000
Sterling by Music Man StingRay “Ray 34” 
This a great model for getting into the world of Music Man basses. The single humbucking pickup is fat and mean, and matches well with the roasted maple neck.
Pros
Roasted maple neck and fretboard
Humbucker pickup pumps out plenty of volume
Cons
Some players might need more than one pickup

The Ray 34 is a gorgeous step into the world of Music Man basses. It comes with the signature StringRay look and sports a gloss swamp ash body with roasted maple neck and maple fretboard. The single bridge humbucker brings the thunder, while the active 3-band preamp dials in single bridge humbucker.

Best 5-string bass under $1,000: Spector Legend 5 Classic

Spector Legend 5 Classic
Best 5-string bass under $1,000
Spector Legend 5 Classic
This 5-string is a monster for heavier styles. It’s got a three-piece neck made of warm pau ferro and active pickups and preamp.
Pros
Active pickups and preamp
3-piece neck
Great for heavy styles
Cons
Sound might be too heavy for certain genres
5-string basses aren’t for everybody

 The Legend 5 Classic is designed to thump with the best of them. It is rather lightweight for a 5-string with an ash body and maple top. The 3-piece neck comes with a pau ferro fingerboard, bringing the warmth of rosewood but keep it environmentally friendly. Thunderous tone comes courtesy of the custom-wound humbuckers and Spector’s own Tonepump Jr. active preamp. It is also available in a 4-string variation.

Best natural finish bass under $1,000: Ibanez SR650E

Ibanez SR650E
Best natural finish bass under $1,000
Ibanez SR650E
This unique looking bass offers an interesting combination of tonewoods. The split and singlecoil pickups comes with a useful amount of EQ options.
Pros
Unique combination of tonewoods
Versatile sounds from the split and singlecoil pickups
3-band EQ with 3 position mid frequency selector
Cons
Look might not appeal to everyone

With a satin finish and interesting choices of tonewoods (ash body, neck made of composite walnut/jatoba and a jatoba fretboard) the Ibanez SR650E is a class-act. The combination split-coil and single-coil pickup configuration churns out classic, versatile tones suited for every genre. And last but definitely not least the electronics are robust with volume, EQ (3-band), and EQ bypass knobs and 3-position mid frequency switch.

Best active pickup bass under $1,000: ESP LTD AP-5

ESP LTD AP-5
Best active pickup bass under $1,000
ESP LTD AP-5
This sleek, modern looking bass offers active EMG pickups and a three knob active electronics section. A 6-bolt joint neck to body connection offers increased tuning stability.
Pros
Active EMG pickups
6-bolt neck joint offers better tuning stability
Active electronics
Cons
Not all players will like the U-shape neck

Like most of ESP’s product line, the AP bass models are designed to handle the heavier side. With a classic double cutaway body shape, the AP-5 sports a sleek, modern look in a lovely Pelham blue finish. The unique U-shape neck joins the ebony fretboard to the body via a 6-bolt joint which allows for increased tuning stability and better sustain. Active EMG pickups and the three knob active electronics section provide control over volume, pickup blend, and tone.

Most versatile bass guitar under $1,000: Yamaha BB734A

Yamaha BB734A
Most versatile bass guitar under $1,000
Yamaha BB734A
A workhorse bass with split and singlecoil pickups that can be used in passive or active modes makes this the most versatile option on this list.
Pros
Split and singlecoil pickups that can be used in passive or active modes
6-bolt neck joint provides better tuning stability and increased sustain
Cons
None

This workhorse bass is built for the gigging musician. The aesthetics are elegant, with a classic double cut body. Versatility is in no short supply with its V7 custom Yamaha pickups that can be used in passive or active operation. The active 3-band EQ fine tunes the frequencies. And sustain is never a problem with the six-bolt design that joins the 5-piece maple neck to the alder body.

Best maple neck bass guitar under $1,000: Schecter J-4

Schecter J-4
Best maple neck bass guitar under $1,000
Schecter J-4
This maple neck bass offers pickups with two polepieces per string that gives it a unique sound. Custom Monstertone-J pickups provide a pleasing, focused sound.
Pros
Pickups with two polepieces per string gives a unique tone
GraphTech nut gives good tuning stability and intonation
Strings can be toploaded or strung through the body
Cons
Maple neck and pickup combination might be too bright

Quite eye-catching in a matte black finish, the J-4 from Schecter obviously took some inspiration from a jazzy contemporary. The offset alder body and thin, tapered C-shape maple neck/fretboard create a very comfortable playing experience. The Graphtech nut ensures proper intonation and perhaps the coolest appointment is the bridge has string-through or top load options. Custom USA Monstertone-J pickups with two polepieces per string deliver accurate, focused tone. It’s also available as a 5-string.

Best neckthrough bass guitar under $1,000: Paul Reed Smith SE Kingfisher

Paul Reed Smith SE Kingfisher
Best neckthrough bass guitar under $1,000
Paul Reed Smith SE Kingfisher
PRS has stepped into the bass guitar game with a unique spin on the instrument. The ash body gives a clear and balanced tone and Hipshot bridge and tailpiece provide excellent tuning stability.
Pros
Dual humbucker pickups give a big sound
Ash body gives a clear and balanced tone
Hipshot bridge and tailpiece provide excellent tuning stability
Cons
Combination of sound elements won’t work for every situation

Best known for making some of the best guitars in the world, Paul Reed Smith has stepped into the bass world in a big way. The Kingfisher is a double-cut, semi-offset neckthrough design with the distinct PRS look. The ash body provides clear and balanced tone that works well with the dual humbuckers. Rounding out the feature set to provide rock solid intonation is the Hipshot bridge/tailpiece.

Best hollowbody bass guitar under $1,000: Ibanez AGB200 Hollow Body Bass

ibanez agb200 hollow body bass
Best hollowbody bass guitar under $1,000
Ibanez AGB200 Hollow Body Bass
Hollowbody basses offer a sound all their own. Ibanez makes some of the best. The AGB200 offers a unique combination of shorter scale and interesting combination of tonewoods.
Pros
Short scale, semi-hollow design gives a unique sound
Tonewood matching is perfect for this style of bass
Ibanez Classic Elite pickups
Cons
Sound is esoteric and is better as part of a collection versus the only bass for a player

Hollowbody basses might not be as popular as they are in the guitar world, but they provide a unique tone that is a great alternative or complement to the traditional sound. This model from Ibanez offers the classic look of some of the most renowned basses of the category, but in a short-scale format. With vintage vibe and aesthetic you can get the warm, round tone that is synonymous with the style.

It uses an interesting combination of tonewoods to achieve its sound, with a linden body, maple/nyotah neck, and laurel fretboard. The Ibanez Classic Elite Pickups pair perfectly in translation with the hollowbody and are designed to eliminate the feedback that comes with playing at stage volumes.

Best acoustic bass guitar under $1,000: Taylor GS Mini-e Koa

Taylor GS Mini-e Koa Acoustic-Electric Bass Natural
Best acoustic bass guitar under $1,000
Taylor GS Mini-e Koa
If you’re looking to add an acoustic bass to your collection, you can never go wrong with a Taylor. This short scale model offers a preamp with volume and tone controls in an ergonomic body.
Pros
Short scale acoustic bass
Preamp with volume and tone controls
Cons
Acoustic bass sound won’t suit everyone

It’s no secret that Taylor makes some of the best acoustic instruments available. This model is a great sounding, smaller scale acoustic bass. This makes playing it more comfortable, but don’t worry – there’s plenty of low end here.

It’s made of a unique mix of different types of Koa with a mahogany neck, which lends it a unique sound. The preamp has volume and tone controls. There’s no cutaway, but the smaller scale makes the higher frets easy to access.

If you’re looking for a great acoustic bass in a smaller format, this is a great choice. It’s not cheap, but it doesn’t play or sound cheap either.

FAQ

How much does a decent bass guitar cost?

These days you can get a decent bass guitar for a few hundred dollars. Obviously the budget you have to work with the better quality the instrument will be. But even if you’re in the $300-500 range you can find the perfect instrument for your sound.

Is it worth upgrading a cheap bass guitar?

It really depends. If it has good build quality and good tonewood selection, stays in tune, and intonates well there’s no reason investing in things like aftermarket pickups and better quality tuners is a bad thing.

Which bass guitar has the best sound?

This depends on what sound you’re going for. You can never go wrong with a company with good quality control. But the different appointments and how it’s built depends on your playing style and genre.

Post navigation

Best Blues Guitar Pedals

These pedal selections can cover ground from traditional blues all the way to more modern, hybrid sounds. Here are some of the best blues guitar pedals.

Best guitars for beginners

Finding a great guitar can be very daunting if you're just starting out, because of how many options there are. Here are the best guitars for beginners.

Everything you need to know about the new Fender Player series

Fender is entering a new era. The company has announced the new Fender Player series — aimed at replacing the standard series of Mexican-made guitars. It’s not just a name...

NAMM 2021: Fender’s 2021 lineup includes the new Noventa series, and more

Fender has take the wraps off of its 2021 lineup of guitars, including the new Noventa series, new Signature models, and more.