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Best Bass Gear – A Bass Guitar Review & Buyer’s Guide 

 July 14, 2021

By  Zen Chung

Sometimes, the deep crusty sound you need as you play rock, country, or other genres won't be accurate on an acoustic guitar. That's when you know you need the best bass gear for an engaging performance. This post reviews the best bass guitars available and the factors to keep in mind when buying your instrument.

Enjoy!

1. Sterling by Music Man StingRay Bass Guitar

Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar in Walnut Satin
  • Iconic StingRay bass in Walnut Satin finish with black Pickguard
  • Basswood body with Maple neck and Jatoba fretboard
  • Equipped with a Sterling by music Man designed Ceramic pickup and 2-band Active...
  • All Sterling by Music Man instruments receive final set-up and inspection in the...

If you are looking for a bass guitar that can deliver classic tones that add life and vibrance to your performance, you should go with the StingRay Sterling by Music Man. This bass sounds like a timeless instrument that came out of a 70's concert. It's constructed from high-quality materials that make it a great picker for a bass player of any level.

This Music Man product looks great since it features a Walnut Satin finish that gives it a unique and attractive appearance. As such, it's a great choice whether you are headed out for a performance or looking for something to practice your skills on.

It also comes with a ceramic pickup designed by Sterling by Music Man and features an active preamp with treble, bass, and volume control, unlike cheaper bass gear. This means that it allows you to adjust your playing to your specific preferences for a customized music session which is something you want in the best bass gear.

This Ray 4 bass guitar has active electronics thanks to the premium-grade hardware and low noise pickups with a humbucking design. Moreover, since it comes with a "3+1" tuning key arrangement, you can accurately tune this instrument without hassle.

Pros

  • Impressive build quality.
  • High-quality basses.
  • Great sound control.
  • Affordable price.
  • Great for beginner and experienced bassists.

Cons

  • It might require a professional setup.


2. Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision PJ Bass

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ Beginner Pack, Laurel...
  • Slim and comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile
  • Split single-coil P Bass neck pickup, single-coil J Bass bridge pickup
  • 4-saddle bridge
  • Satin finish neck
  • Includes free 3-month subscription to Fender Play, Rumble 15 bass amplifier,...

Another option among the best bass gear is the Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ by Fender featuring P Bass and J Bass pickups which provide a wide tonal range for maximum versatility. The P Bass pickup is a single coil unit providing a powerful tone as the other single-coil J Bass pickup produces a sharp mid to high-end output.

Lucky for you, buying an amp won't be necessary since this bass comes with Fender Rumble 15 amplifier, which can make your jams and practice sessions more lively. This bass gear amp has a Fender speaker, an auxiliary input, a headphone jack, and a three-band EQ. As such, you'll have everything you need to start playing this bass straight out of the box. It's no surprise that many players rank this instrument among the best bass gear.

The package also includes a gig bag, guitar strap, pick pack, and a 3-month subscription to Fender Play. This makes this bass an irresistible choice for beginner players searching for the best bass gear purchase on the market.

Pros

  • Compact neck profile.
  • Two pickups included.
  • Appealing satin finish collar.
  • Several accessories included.

Cons

  • Only available in two colors.


3. Yamaha BL 4-String Bass

Yamaha BB234 BB-Series Bass Guitar, Rasberry Red
  • The Introductory BB234 RR of the hardest working bass in the business: the...
  • Solid alder Body
  • Custom V3 pickups (Ceramic)
  • Vintage style Bridge
  • Lightweight open gear tuners

From the Yamaha BB series of basses, the BL bass is intricately designed to suit the needs of prolific bassists. It's built to produce a penetrating sound that will get the audience into the mood for the setting being put across. This bass guitar can deliver a tone with better resonance and feel thanks to the efficient vibration transmission of the neck joint.

This instrument is a lightweight model with subtle details that increase playability and comfort while preserving a classic look. It'll come with a standard-sized pickup to ensure you can start playing this bass right out of the box, which is why it's among the best bass gear you can buy. The pickup will deliver a vintage-voiced tone for medium to high output tones while matching the character of the bass.

The bridge and saddle on this model are convertible to two different angles, which reduces the pressure on the strings. This causes a cleaner and more reliable vibration transfer to ensure the tones are more precise.

Pros

  • High-quality construction.
  • Classic appearance.
  • Lightweight.
  • Tonal accuracy.

Cons

  • High price.


4. Ibanez GSR200 Electric Bass Guitar

Another option among the best bass gear is the Ibanez GSR200 Bass guitar which is an affordable option that is ideal for any bass player. It's made with high-quality materials, including a maple neck, a mahogany board, and a rosewood fingerboard, making it a durable and trustworthy option.

This model looks as great as it sounds, and it comes at a lower price while offering the features of a high-end bass. It features two pickups, a Dynamix neck pickup, and a bridge pickup which deliver the range required to make the best out of your bass guitar.

With 22 frets, you can easily move your hand up and down the fretboard to create various shapes and cords without hassle, making it the best bass gear for young players and beginners.

Pros

  • Great look.
  • Impeccable tone.
  • Low price.
  • Durable build.

Cons

  • Poorly designed controls.


5. ESP LTD Spalted Maple Bass Guitar

ESP LTD B-206SM Spalted Maple 6-String Bass Guitar, See Thru Black Satin
  • The ESP LTD B206SM STBLKS has an Ash Body with Spalted Maple Top, and a 5 piece...
  • This bass comes equipped with an LTD DB-6 Bridge
  • It has a Rosewood Fingerboard with a Bolt-On Neck and a 34" Scale, with 24 Extra...
  • The pickups are ESP Designed with 3 Band EQ
  • Nut Type:Molded

Last but not least, we have the ESP LTD Spalted Maple Bass Guitar closing our review of the best bass gear options. It features a unique color and grain pattern, which makes you stand out from other guitarists.

It's also an affordable model with high-quality bass guitar parts that deliver a detailed sound with maximum power. As one of the best bass gear, it is compatible with passive pickups, a band EQ, and nickel hardware to get at an additional cost. The Jatoba neck is smooth and facilitates the easy movements of the hand for a seamless performance.

Pros

  • Unique appearance.
  • Great sound.
  • Long-lasting build.

Cons

  • It might require professional assistance to set up.


Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Bass Gear Guitar

1. Tonewoods

Different types of woods offer varying tonal properties in bass gear to enhance your playing style. At the same time, the tonal characteristics of the wood will depend on the bass guitar parts it's used for. Nevertheless, let's look at the most common woods used to make bass gear.

  • Mahogany

Mahogany is among the most popular tonewoods used to make various bass guitar parts. Basses made from mahogany produce a warm, full sound thanks to the low resonance of the wood. It delivers the lower tones ideal for a bass guitar and has a longer sustain which is why some of the best bass gear is made from mahogany. The only downside of this tonewood is its weight since it feels heavier than ash bass guitars.

  • Basswood

Since basswood is an affordable type of tonewood, it's mostly used in cheaper bass guitars and instruments. It's soft and doesn't resonate that well compared to other tonewoods and produces what some bass players call a flat sound. However, it has a short sustain which can be great for playing advanced techniques.

  • Maple

Maple is another dense wood with unique tone-shaping capabilities for delivering a bright, clean, and sustained tone. Maple bass guitars are mostly used in studio setups because of the detailed sound they produce.

  • Ash

Ashwood has a bright and full tone, much like alder, but there are several species used for different effects on guitar bodies. However, the sound variations are subtle and not that pronounced. Swamp ash is famous among bass players, especially because of the attractive grain it carries.

  • Agathis

Agathis is another inexpensive tonewood that can give a balanced sound that can highlight low-mid tones for detailed output.

  • Alder

Alder is also used for guitar bodies and creates a clear, full, and balanced sound with a long sustain.

2. Number of Strings

If you are starting with electric bass guitars, the best bass gear you should go with is a four-string bass. It's the most common bass and is a great pick since it can handle various music styles and has a smaller neck, giving it high playability. As such, they are a suitable option for beginners and intermediate players.

Five-string basses have an extra string, the lower B, which adds to the tonal depth the instrument can achieve. These basses have a wider neck than four-string guitars, making them harder to handle and play. That's why they are generally preferred by intermediate and advanced players.

There are basses that feature six strings, like an acoustic guitar. These include the lower B string and a high C string. They feature a much wider neck than the previous bass guitars and are great for soloing. Most players will find it hard to handle the neck of a six-string bass which is why they are mostly used by advanced guitarists.

3. Scale Length

The scale of your bass guitar refers to the section between the nut and the bridge, and it encompasses the entire fingerboard. The best bass gear could have a scale ranging between 21-35 inches. Most basses have a scale length of 34 inches, but there are several short-scale basses that you can find on the market.

Longer scales can reach up to 37 inches, while the short scale types reach about 30 inches. The longer scales offer more frets and are typically used for five-string and six-string basses. This is because they offer a firmer string tension and reduces off-tuning on the low strings.

4. Bass Guitar Neck

Bass guitars will feature one of three necks; bolt-on, set, or thru-body necks. The most available style is the bolt-on neck which features a neck bolted onto the bass guitar body. When the neck is securely attached to the body, it'll provide a stable and well-sustained sound with a great transfer of string vibrations.

For the set neck basses, the neck and the body are attached using a dovetail joint instead of bolts. This causes the bass guitar to deliver an enhanced sustain and tonal resonance. Unfortunately, they can be hard to control and adjust, which can be discouraging to beginners.

A thru-body neck is popular among high-end bass gear. This is because the neck is one continuous component with the body, eliminating the need for a joint, leading to an improved sustain and response.

5. Fretted or Fretless Bass Guitars

Your typical bass instrument will have a fretted fingerboard with divisions of thin frets splitting the neck into semitones. Since the frets are visible, fretted basses have better playability, which is advantageous to beginner and intermediate players.

On the other hand, a fretless bass features a smooth neck like what you find in a violin. As a result, it's much harder to get the notes right without the frets for guidance which is why it's not popular among beginners.

Advanced guitarists use muscle memory and hearing to identify the notes and the fretless design delivers a smooth, warm sound that can facilitate the execution of complex effects.

6. Pickups

A pickup is a device designed to capture the tones produced by vibrating strings and convert them into electronic signals. Most basses in the guitar world have two pickup sets that deliver a wider range of tones. The ones that sit close to the fretboard carry a smooth low sound while those near the bridge produce an intense middle to high tone.

The pickups you're more likely to encounter include single-coil and humbucker pickups. Single coil pickups are simple and have one magnet and one coil, which results in a bright and controlled sound. The downside to single coils is they can get noisy; fortunately, humbucking pickups were made to reduce the hum. While humbucking types can produce a fuller sound, they can sound muddy at high volumes.

7. Bridges

The strings of your bass instrument end at the bridge, where resonance and tone are created as string vibrations move to the body. Here, the pickups capture the sound for amplification which is how the tones become easy to hear.

The bridge saddles, which look like notches, can move up and down and forward and backward to modify the action and intonation, respectively. Heavier bridges provide better anchorage for the strings, which improves the quality of the output.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best bass gear guitar on the market?

The best bass gear guitar you can buy is the Sterling by Music Man StingRay Bass Guitar.

2. How do I choose the best bass gear?

When choosing a bass guitar, the factors to consider include the building materials, scale length, number of strings, and type of bridge.

3. Which accessories are the most necessary for basses?

The best bass gear accessories you should get include amps, picks, pickups, a guitar strap, and a gig bag.

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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