The prospect of spending several hundred pounds on an instrument makes you think about a few things before pulling the trigger. Ultimately, you want to ensure that your particular playing style is accommodated for, so that you can express yourself with no hindrances. A bass guitar’s features and construction will therefore be the most important aspects to consider and contemplate.
You can spend literally hours scouring online forums looking for recommendations, or checking out customer reviews on retailer sites. And while they are great sources for information, sometimes it’s nice to have a simple and concise guide that highlights some cream-of-the-crop choices - to ultimately make the process easy and enjoyable!
We touched base (pardon the pun) with Guitar Department manager and ‘All About The Bass’ host Lee Voss, to help us choose some top contenders:
Top 5 Bass Guitars Under £500
Squier's popular Classic Vibe series is comprised of a number of affordable guitars and basses that dip well beneath the £500 price-mark. All inspired by vintage Fender models from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the basses from this stellar range are aimed at players that love that nostalgic, old-school look and sound.
Squier Classic Vibe basses come fitted with vintage-voiced pickups that can convincingly recapture the authentic retro bass tones heard on all of your favourite records. Also featuring period-correct tinted Maple necks that are constructed with time-honoured profiles, Squier Classic Vibe bass guitars are available in a number of era-specific finishes too - ranging from a fan-favourite like Surf Green to classy Olympic White.
There's plenty of variety within the Squier Classic Vibe lineup, with plenty of Precision Bass and Jazz Bass options, as well as more niche models like the gorgeous ‘50s “Telecaster” bass and even the iconic Bass VI.
Best for: Players seeking old-school style and a rich, vintage tonal character. In other words, a true time-trusted classic!Shop All Squier Classic Vibe Basses!
G&L's Tribute series encompasses more affordable versions of its US-made instruments. But despite their far more accessible price-points, G&L Tribute series basses still boast the elegance of their American-crafted counterparts, as well as many of their core electronic and hardware appointments.
For instance, the majority of G&L Tribute basses come installed with high-quality pickups that are wired at the company's main Fullerton factory in California. This includes their innovative and superb-sounding MFD ('Magnetic Field Design') pickups, which are often fitted in the L-2000, L-2500 and Kiloton bass models.
All G&L Tribute bass guitars sport the company's signature 'Saddle-Lock' bridge too, which uses a clever mechanism that prevents the individual string saddles from moving around. The beauty of this design is that it ensures that the strings are evenly spaced apart, while also transferring the vibrations from the strings more effectively through the body for piano-like sustain.
Best for: A wide variety of styles. G&L basses strike the perfect balance between traditional and modern, with their utilitarian looks and forward-thinking features.
G&L vs. Squier Basses on Andertons T.V.
A firm favourite amongst the Andertons Music Co. staff, Sire Marcus Miller Basses have gained significant acclaim over the last couple of years from customers alike. Their popular V7 models are heavily-inspired by Fender's iconic Jazz Bass in terms of appearance, but they are modernised with some top-notch features in order to meet the standards of today's players.
Sire V7 basses sport genuine North American Alder or Swamp Ash bodies that both offer up well-balanced sounds; serving as great tonal foundations for the Sire-designed 'Marcus Super Jazz Advanced' pickups. Able to emit a traditional J-Bass voice, these pickups are wired to project plenty of upper mid-range bite for cutting straight through a dense band mix.
These particular bass guitars also feature bolt-on Canadian Hard Maple necks, which their bright sound able to give notes a snappy and immediate response with finger-style, slap or picking techniques. Shaped to a comfortable "C" profile, Sire V7 necks provide a comfortable feel for both contemporary bassists and old-school aficionados.
But the aspect of these instruments that really sets them apart is their hugely-versatile control set. Featuring powerful 'Heritage-3' EQ circuits, you can manipulate a V7's tone with surgical-like precision; especially with the sweepable middle frequency dual-pot. Passive/active switches can also be found on Sire's V7 basses, allowing you to flick between vintage or modern voices on-the-fly.
Best for: Almost any bassist. Great versatility and featuring a number of high-quality appointments that you’d expect to find on instruments over double their prices.
Sire V7 Basses on Andertons T.V.
The Sire P7 is essentially the P-Bass equivalent of the V7 model. Retaining many of the same features, including the highly-tweakable 'Heritage-3' active EQ circuit, the P7 series gives bassists a choice over which particular aesthetics they prefer.
Looks aside though, one notable difference that the P7 models have is their P/J pickup configuration. With their neck split-coil pickups delivering a thicker mid-range, the P7 can achieve warmer tones that are ideal for subtler styles. However, their bridge single-coils can still project plenty of bark and articulation.
With the same 'Heavy Mass Standard' bridges and natural bone nuts found on the V7 basses, the sustain and tonal depth provided by Sire's P7 basses is practically unmatched - especially when you consider their modest price-points.
Best for: Much like their V7 counterparts, the versatility of Sire's P7 basses is hard to beat with their flexible electronics.
Sire P7 Basses on Andertons T.V.
Jackson has the most modern-looking basses of the 5 contenders that we have selected. Their instruments boast many features that would appeal to more technical and contemporary-minded bassists; those looking for ultimate performance and first-class playability.
With a bunch of remarkably elegant designs, the majority of Jackson's basses feature thin and smooth contoured bodies to ensure excellent playing comfort in sitting or standing positions. Their bodies are also typically made from lightweight Poplar, meaning that they have both a forgiving feel and a balanced sound.
Super-slim, satin-finished Maple necks are fitted on most Jackson basses, which often have a thin nut width to ensure that even guitarists can feel at home playing them. Some of the slightly pricier models over £300 also have graphite reinforcement rods installed, which give their necks extra strength for rock-solid tuning stability.
Much like the Sire models we've looked at, Jackson's basses have sophisticated electronics which can be used to precisely control the sounds of their pickups. For example, some of the X Series Concert basses come equipped with active 3-band EQ tone circuits that allow you to fine-tune their bass, middle and treble frequencies.
Best for: Everything modern. Their super-playable necks and versatile electronics can handle practically any genre and provide real clarity.
Jackson Basses on Andertons T.V.
Want To Learn More?
If you'd like more guidance and advice on these basses or others, please contact us and a member of our Guitar Department will offer assistance! If you're a complete beginner, take a look at our 'Ultimate Guide to Electric Bass Guitars' for all of the bas(s)ics.
There's also a chance that you're looking for a bass guitar that's suitable for beginners. The ones included in this guide certainly qualify, but we've also curated a selection of the best bass guitars for beginners to save you a little bit of time! Don't forget to check out our 'All About The Bass' videos on Andertons TV too: