Bass Guitar Buyer’s Guide

Buying a bass guitar can be a daunting thing. Especially if you’re a beginner and you have no idea what you’re looking for.

This bass guitar buyer’s guide will tell you what to look for, what questions to ask, how much to spend and answer all your questions about buying a bass guitar.

And we’ll start off with what you need to look for in your first bass.

What is a Bass Guitar?

Bass guitars come in many shapes and sizes. And yes, there is such a thing as a bass guitar that’s good for beginners. So let’s start by clarifying what types of bass are good for beginners.

Electric or acoustic bass guitar

Acoustic and electric bass guitars may look similar at first glance, but they actually have a few key differences. 

For one, acoustic bass guitars are typically larger than electric basses, with a body that is designed to project sound. Electric basses, on the other hand, are typically smaller and lighter, with a body that is designed for comfort and easy playability. 

Additionally, acoustic basses typically have a fuller, richer sound, while electric basses tend to have a sharper, more focused tone. Finally, electric basses typically have a wider range of sound options due to their more complex construction.

Ultimately, the choice between an acoustic and electric bass guitar depends on the player’s style and preferences.

How to choose a bass guitar

When it comes to choosing a bass guitar, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, think about the size of the guitar. If you’re a smaller person, you’ll probably want a smaller bass. 

Second, take into account the type of music you want to play. If you’re looking to play heavy metal, you’ll want a different bass than if you’re playing jazz. 

Third, consider your budget. Bass guitars can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. 

Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the perfect bass guitar for you.

Jazz Bass Models

These are great all-around basses which will serve most beginners well.

The single-coil pickups offer a wide range of tones which make this bass a great option no matter what style of music you want to play with it.

Even on cheaper models, the bass guitar parts used to make these basses create something that is sturdy and comfortable to play as well as durable and reliable.

Jazz basses fit inside every bass gig bag, so you’ll have no trouble finding a case.

And there are also plenty of cheap jazz basses made by the likes of Squier available online.

Precision Bass Models

Again, like the jazz bass, the precision bass is a staple for a reason.

They sound great, they look great, they’re easy to play, and there are plenty of cheap models on the market.

These two bass styles are the most common for a reason.

You really can’t go wrong with either.

PJ Bass Models

If you can’t decide between a jazz bass and a precision bass, then you can get the best of both worlds with a PJ bass.

As the name suggests, a PJ bass is a hybrid of the two.

The neck pickup is from a precision bass, and the neck pickup is the classic single-coil pickup from a jazz bass.

These two pickups work together to give a unique sound full of thump and bite.

Again there are plenty of cheap models available, and the build quality is often great.

Ernie Ball Stingray

If you’ve ever watched Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, then you’ve seen and heard this bass.

Ever since Ernie Ball took over production of the Stingray bass, they’ve been producing high-quality basses and lower and lower costs.

The bass necks on Stingrays are a little more chunky, which some feel makes them harder to play, but that’s not an opinion shared by everyone.

Try one, and if you like how it feels, then go for it!

The humbucking pickups that are placed near the bridge provide a tone that’s full of punch and power, which makes the Stingray ideal for rock, pop, funk and punk music (all of which are likely very popular with your child).   


When you’re shopping for a bass guitar, it’s important to find one that’s comfortable to play. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time holding and playing your bass, so you want it to feel good in your hands. 

There are a few things to consider when choosing a bass guitar. First, think about the size and shape of the body. You want a bass that’s comfortable to hold, whether you’re sitting or standing. Second, consider the neck. 

You want a neck that’s the right size for your hands and that has a smooth, comfortable finish. Lastly, take into account the weight of the bass. 

You don’t want a bass that’s too heavy or too light – it should be just right. With these things in mind, you can narrow down your choices and find the perfect bass guitar for you.

Build quality

The build quality is very important but you’ll have to accept that there will be a pretty much direct correlation between your budget and the build quality of the bass you’re buying. 

This is why comfort and playability are good ways to measure how good the build quality of your bass is relative to the money you’ve paid for it.

Number of Strings

Bass guitars come with many different string amounts, which give the instrument more or less notes to play.

You can buy a four-string bass, five-string bass and even a six-string bass, but seeing as most educational material for beginners is made for four-string bass, then it’s best to start on a four-string and avoid any unnecessary confusion.

If you are curious about 5 or 6 string bass, then go for it by all means. You don’t have to get to a certain standard before you start on each one.

Just know that it’s most common for beginners to start with a four-string.

Tonewoods compared

The term “tonewood” is used to describe woods that have an impact on the sound produced by musical instruments. For bass guitars, the tonewoods of choice are typically hardwoods like maple or mahogany. 

These woods are known for their ability to produce a rich, full-bodied sound. In contrast, softer woods like cedar or spruce tend to produce a lighter, brighter sound. The type of wood used can therefore have a significant impact on the overall sound of the bass guitar. 

When choosing a bass guitar, it is important to consider the type of sound you want to achieve. If you’re looking for a deep, rumbling tone, then a bass made with hardwood tonewoods is likely your best bet. 

However, if you prefer a brighter, punchier sound, then a bass made with softer woods may be more suited to your taste. Ultimately, it’s all about personal preference and finding the right tonewood combination that works for you.

Types of electronics


A bass guitar preamp is a small, portable amplifier that is used to boost the signal of a bass guitar. It is typically used by bassists who play in small venues such as clubs or bars, where the sound system may not be able to provide enough amplification. 

A preamp can also be used to shape the sound of the bass, by adjusting the EQ or adding effects such as distortion. Some preamps also have a built-in tuner, which can be handy for keeping the bass in tune. 

Overall, a preamp is a valuable tool for any bassist who wants to get the most out of their instrument.


Bass guitar pickups are essentially just like any other guitar pickup – they provide a way to convert the vibration of the strings into an electrical signal. The main difference is that bass guitar pickups are designed specifically for low frequencies. 

This is because the low frequencies produced by a bass guitar are much more difficult to reproduce than higher frequencies. 

As a result, most bass guitars have at least two pickups, which helps to ensure that the final sound is as accurate as possible. There are a wide variety of different bass guitar pickups on the market, so it’s important to choose one that will work well with your specific instrument.


Bass guitar pedals are devices that allow bass players to modify the sound of their instrument. The most common type of pedal is the overdrive pedal, which gives the bass a distorted, “dirty” sound. 

Other common pedals include the envelope filter, which creates a “wah” effect, and the octave pedal, which adds an octave to the bass’s range. There are also a variety of more specialized pedals, such as the fuzz pedal, which gives the bass a fuzzy, distorted sound, and the talk box, which allows the bass player to “talk” through their instrument. 

Bass guitar pedals can be used to create a wide range of sounds, from subtle effects to radical distortions. Ultimately, the choice of pedals depends on the style of music being played and the preferences of the bass player.

The anatomy of a bass guitar

Fretted v. fretless

No bass guitar buying guide would be complete without mentioning fretless bass guitars.

First of all, what are they?

If you look at the neck of a regular electric bass (like a fender jazz bass, for example), you’ll notice a series of small metal bars running across the neck.

These are the frets. And when you press down on them, they help produce the different notes on the bass. They also make sure that you play in tune the whole time.

A fretless bass (as the name suggests) has the frets removed.

This gives the bass a much more vocal-like quality (a sound you’ll recognise if you’ve ever heard “Black Velvet” by Alanah Myles) 

However, this vocal-like quality comes at a cost.

A fretless bass is really hard to play in tune. As such, it’s often not a good choice for beginners because you need a great ear to play it well, and beginners haven’t developed that yet.

If you’re after a good first bass, then a fretless bass may not be it.

Body style

The two most common types of bass guitar are a p bass model (or precision bass) and a j bass model (or jazz bass).

Both of these are electric basses, and over the last seventy years or so, they have carved out a unique space as staples of almost every style of popular music.

You can spot a jazz bass by the fact that it has two pickups in the body. One near the neck and the other near the bridge.

And you can tell a precision bass as it only has one pickup placed halfway between the neck and the bridge.

Both of these basses will give you many classic tones and sounds from Motown right through to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.


The neck of a bass guitar is the long, thin part of the guitar that extends from the body. It is made up of wood, metal, or a combination of materials, and it typically has a row of metal tuning Pegs at one end and a plastic nut at the other. 

The neck also has a steel truss rod running down its length, which helps to keep the neck straight. The strings are attached to the tuning pegs and run over the nut and down the length of the neck before being attached to the body of the guitar. 

The neck is an essential part of the bass guitar, and it plays an important role in how the instrument sounds.


The fingerboard of a bass guitar is the long, narrow strip of wood that runs along the neck of the instrument. It’s also sometimes called the fretboard. The fingerboard is where the player presses their fingers down to create different notes. The frets are the raised metal strips that run across the fingerboard. 

They’re spaced out at regular intervals so that when you press your finger down between two frets, you create a note that’s one step higher in pitch than the note you would get by pressing your finger down at the first fret. 

The distance between each successive pair of frets is called a half step. So, if you press your finger down at the first fret, you’ll get a note that’s one half step higher than the open string (the string that’s not being pressed down at any fret). 

If you press your finger down at the second fret, you’ll get a note that’s one half step higher than the note you get at the first fret, and so on. You can also press your finger down on multiple strings at once to create chords. 

The fingerboard is an essential part of the bass guitar, and it’s important for players to understand how it works in order to make beautiful music on their

Bolt on or neck through

The neck of a guitar is the long, thin piece of wood that extends from the body of the instrument. A bolt-on bass guitar neck is attached to the body using screws or bolts, while a through-neck bass guitar has its neck extending through the body. 

There are several key differences between these two types of necks. First, bolt-on necks are easier to repair if they become damaged, while through-neck necks can be more difficult to fix. 

Second, bolt-on necks typically offer better sustain, meaning that the notes will ring out for longer before fading away. Finally, bolt-on necks usually give the guitar a brighter sound, while through-neck necks tend to produce a warmer tone. 

Ultimately, the type of neck you choose is a matter of personal preference. Some bassists prefer the ease of repair offered by a bolt-on neck, while others prefer the improved sustain and tone of a through-neck neck.


The final part of this bass guitar buying guide will focus on accessories.

Let’s keep this short and simple. 

You’ll need a decent case, some leads, a bass amp, a tuner, some spare strings, a string winder and a strap.

All of these will make it easier to care for your bass guitars and to get the most out of them.

See the links at the bottom of this article for suggestions on what to buy!


No matter how much research you do, it will be decision time sooner or later.

As I mentioned before, you should aim to try before you buy, but you should try to buy online if you can to get the best price.

Most modern retailers now set up their physical shops with this in mind. If anything, they only have the shop so that customers can try things out first.

They know perfectly well that most people shop online to save money these days, so don’t worry about offending a shop assistant by trying something you have no intention of buying.

And if they do get upset, then frankly, they need to get with the times!

Just remember that you’ll have to live with the bass that you buy. Not the shop assistant, the magazine author whose column you read last night or even your school friends who think they know best.

If it sounds good, feels good and looks good to you, then it is good. 

End of!

Squire Jazz Bass

Best for: beginners

Price: £200/$250

Ted Score: 9/10

Purcahse: One time

Designed for: Beginners

Features: Great build quality and good tone.


  • Good tone
  • Good all round bass
  • Affordable


  • Not that unique

Fender Rubmle 40 Bass Amp

Best for: beginners

Price: £250/$320

Ted Score: 8/10

Purcahse: One time

Designed for: Beginners

Features: Great build quality and good tone.


  • Good tone
  • Good for home practice and small gigs
  • Affordable


  • Not that unique
  • Not great for larger gigs

Polytune 3 Tuner Pedal

Best for: beginners

Price: £75/$90

Ted Score: 10/10

Purcahse: One time

Designed for: All levels

Features: Accurate and very reliable


  • Clear display
  • Accurate tuning
  • Affordable


  • None


What should I look for when buying a bass guitar?

A good bass is a bass that feels comfortable to you. Not the shop assistant or the author of the magazine article you read last night. If it feels easy to play, then that’s always a good thing.

A bass guitar that doesn’t sound good to you is never a good purchase. How do you know what’s good? Use your ears and follow your gut. 

Sure, the shop assistant might chew your ear off talking about the single-coil and split-coil pickups or famous bass players that used a certain type of electric bass, but none of that is as relevant as you liking how your bass sounds.

How much should I spend on my first bass?

For your first bass I wouldn’t recommend spending more than £300 tops. If you get serious about playing then you can get a better model but if it doesn’t turn into a passion you shouldn’t waste your money.

How do I pick my first bass guitar?

Trust your sense. Pick something that you like the sound of, that feels good to play and that looks good. You have to live with your decision so follow your gut!

How many bass guitars do you need?

A beginner will only need one. However, if you become a serious student or even a professional you will need upwards of three good basses.

What Bass Guitar Should I Buy?

A trusty jazz bass or precision bass is always a good bet for any style of music. Or why not get a PJ model and have the best of both worlds?