The Best of Intermediate Domain: Reviews of Top Bass Guitars Under $500

IMAGEPRODUCT NAMEDRIVER SIZEAMP WALLTAGEPORTRatingCheck Price
Epiphone Viola Bass

Epiphone Viola Bass

AudioRumble rating 98/100

Schecter Stiletto Extreme

Schecter Stiletto Extreme

AudioRumble rating 98/100

Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass

Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass

AudioRumble rating 96/100

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4

AudioRumble rating 96/100

Yamaha TRBX305 BL

Yamaha TRBX305 BL

AudioRumble rating 95/100

When it comes to bass guitars under $500, we’re looking at a very diverse bunch, both in terms of offered products and people who buy them. Everything can be found here, from things that deserve to be right in the beginner bass department, to solid intermediate instruments, all the way to bonafide pro gear. And the same goes for users – some are newbies looking to start on an above-average instrument, some are taking the next step and diving into intermediate stage, and some are top-level players looking for those killer deals.

Therefore, filtering through the best basses is crucial here. We took the liberty of taking that task onto ourselves by diving deep into the market and sifting through the instruments nicely and thoroughly, all in an attempt to find the best bass under $500. Are quest was quire a fruitful one, and we summed up our search results into a concise chart you can find right below. Of course, if additional details on any specific bass are needed, feel free to proceed to the individual reviews section. Off we go now!

The Top 9 Bass Guitars For Under $500:

Epiphone Viola Bass

4.9 Stars
  • Epiphone Viola Bass Review – A Touch of Vintage Class
  • Epiphone Viola Bass Review – A Touch of Vintage Class
  • Epiphone Viola Bass Review – A Touch of Vintage Class

AudioRumble rating 98/100

You can't roar and rawk with this bass, and you probably haven't expected that perk either. But overall, that main goal – achieving the sonic quality of a $2,000 instrument in a $500 package – has been reached as close as it was physically possible. This is a beautiful and distinctive instrument with loads of unique charm.

  • Amazing replica of a $2,000 instrument at under $500.

  • Authentic sound; very, very close to the original vibe.

  • Killer looks.

  • Strong build quality.

  • Can’t roar, limited to more mellow and smooth styles of bass playing

Schecter Stiletto Extreme

4.9 Stars
  • Schecter Stiletto Extreme Review – What modern instruments should be all about
  • Schecter Stiletto Extreme Review – What modern instruments should be all about
  • Schecter Stiletto Extreme Review – What modern instruments should be all about

AudioRumble rating 98/100

From high quality tonewood, to powerful electronics, to cool looks, to amazing versatility – everything is really good here. We don't call many instruments exceptional, and if there was ever one to reach such status in our book – for the listed price, of course – it would be the Schecter boy here.

  • Powerful, high quality sound.

  • Amazing value for money, the sound and build quality are easily worth twice more.

  • Capable of covering any genre.

  • Sexy looks.

  • Don’t consider this one for “vintage” tone.

Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass

4.8 Stars
  • Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass Review – Perfect instrument to meet the extended range
  • Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass Review – Perfect instrument to meet the extended range
  • Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass Review – Perfect instrument to meet the extended range

AudioRumble rating 96/100

If you rocked a four-string from the beginner days and now you crave for more tonal variety, this is one of the best choices you can make for your intermediate and pro stage. The construction is great, we love the body and the neck, the components are more than decent, the electronics are awesome, and versatility is just through the roof.

  • Great value for money.

  • High quality sound, top-level versatility.

  • Quality construction with pretty looks.

  • All the sonic variations at your disposal might be a bit intimidating.

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4

4.8 Stars
  • Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4 Review – Stellar Groove, Stellar Price
  • Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4 Review – Stellar Groove, Stellar Price
  • Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4 Review – Stellar Groove, Stellar Price

AudioRumble rating 96/100

If you are looking for that signature Music Man bass sound at a cheap price, this is as close as it gets, both in terms of low price and high sound quality. The sound is very good, and we can really think of very, very few down points of this bass. Thumbs up for the good stuff!

  • Killer low end, great sound overall.

  • Very easy to use.

  • Build quality of genuine high-end basses.

  • Versatility.

  • Gig bag or casing not included.

Yamaha TRBX305 BL

4.75 Stars
  • Yamaha TRBX305 BL Review – The Single Best Bass Under $500?
  • Yamaha TRBX305 BL Review – The Single Best Bass Under $500?
  • Yamaha TRBX305 BL Review – The Single Best Bass Under $500?

AudioRumble rating 95/100

This is a bass everyone from beginners to seasoned pros can use with great results and an instrument you can't go wrong with purchasing. Right now it just comes down to your personal needs and preferences. Jot those down, and if the TRBX305 matches 'em, don't hesitate to make the purchase.

  • Amazing sound, amazing versatility for the price.

  • Quality components and quality build.

  • Great bang for the buck.

  • Gig bag not included.

ESP LTD B Series B-205

4.75 Stars
  • ESP LTD B Series B-205 Review – Creative Title
  • ESP LTD B Series B-205 Review – Creative Title
  • ESP LTD B Series B-205 Review – Creative Title

AudioRumble rating 95/100

Perhaps the best thing about this fella is the wood, but the electronics aren't lagging behind either. We love the power it packs, and of course we absolutely adore those looks. If the listed price range suits your needs and expectations, this is one of those instruments you just can't regret purchasing. Good stuff!

  • Loud and clear, quality sonic attack.

  • Amazing design.

  • Stellar heavy rock performance.

  • Quality components, great tonewood.

  • Action and intonation may be required upon purchase.

  • If you don’t like loud instruments, you might want to consider a passive bass.

Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass

4.75 Stars
  • Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass Review – They say it’s the best beginner bass
  • Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass Review – They say it’s the best beginner bass
  • Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass Review – They say it’s the best beginner bass

AudioRumble rating 95/100

Reliability is the word of the day here, and this series stood out as being able to always deliver the same sonic quality in every environment. If a classic Fender sound at an affordable budget is what you are after, we think you cannot go wrong with this bass. This fella's a great place to kick-off you musical journey.

  • Amazing reliability and durability.

  • High-quality replica of one of the most iconic bass sounds ever.

  • Versatility.

  • Classy looks.

  • Stronger electronics wouldn’t hurt.

  • Gig bag not included.

Fender Modern Player Dimension Bass Guitar

4.7 Stars
  • Fender Modern Player Dimension Bass Guitar Review – The Best of Both Worlds
  • Fender Modern Player Dimension Bass Guitar Review – The Best of Both Worlds
  • Fender Modern Player Dimension Bass Guitar Review – The Best of Both Worlds

AudioRumble rating 94/100

In a nutshell, the Modern Player Dimension Bass is a versatile beast that can cover anything from light pop to heavy metal. It hasn't reached the legendary status of the company's P-bass or J-bass, but that was never the goal. The goal was presenting a modern instrument rooted in Fender's traditional sound and vibe.

  • Great sound, the best of active and passive pickups in one package.

  • Signature top-level Fender craftsmanship.

  • Great value for money.

  • Distinctive looks, high durability

  • Gig bag not included, no extra items.

Jackson JS2 Kelly Bird IV Bass

4.55 Stars
  • Jackson JS2 Kelly Bird IV Bass Review – Everything a Heavy Rocker Needs
  • Jackson JS2 Kelly Bird IV Bass Review – Everything a Heavy Rocker Needs
  • Jackson JS2 Kelly Bird IV Bass Review – Everything a Heavy Rocker Needs

AudioRumble rating 91/100

The sound is very well suited for that style of performance, and seeing that Jackson is a company deeply rooted in the heavy realm, you very much know what you are getting. As for the price, you can get this puppy for as low as $350 from the right retailer, and in our humble opinion, that's the selling point right there.

  • Killer punch, great sound for hard rock and metal.

  • Looks that scream metal without being tacky.

  • Quality craftsmanship overall.

  • Good bang for the buck.

  • Hard rock and metal only.

Tips, Tricks and Guidelines for Finding THE bass under $500

A very valid question, and oh so many answers. As noted in the intro, basses in this price range – which we see as a $300 to $500 domain – is full of surprises, both good and bad, so you can really expect to meet all sorts of instruments.

But as far as what you should aim for goes, we believe that you should strive for the best. There are amazing instruments in this price range that can fit the needs of just about any player out there, and we say don’t be lazy and seek them out. Well, we believe we kinda did that already, so we say check out our list and feel free to do your own research as well.

And what we mean by the best of the best are actually instruments that you can latch on for quite a while. The are musicians out there who have well reached the pro stage and play music for a living still play basses they bought for under $500, simple because they scored a great deal. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t advance past this price range and delve into the high-end registry, but we just think that there is more to these intermediate basses than meets the eye.

Apart from that, you should most definitely expect a playable instrument with good components, quality wood, quality electronics and a sound that can meet your personal needs (with the assumption that those needs and requirements are grounded in reason, of course). If anyone tells you that you can’t get a great sound from an under $500 bass, don’t listen to ’em, because you most definitely can. It’s all about doing your homework and jotting down your preferences, once those are clear you can single out the type of bass you want and cherry-pick the finest one.

How Much Should You Spend On Related Gear

Well now, this is significantly different to questions we answered on this topic in rundowns of cheaper basses. With these instruments, we are guessing that you are a performing musician and/or a songwriter. So now there’s really a whole lot of extra gear to buy here.

First off, there’s the amp. In our estimate, you’ll need at least $300 for an amp you can take to gigs. At the very least, a practice house amp is $100. Then, there’s the effect pedals. A good one costs at least $100, and there are quite a few useful stopmboxes to get. An EQ pedal is always a valid choice, chorus is a great effect, overdrive is also cool, there’s wah-wah, volume and expression pedal is nice, a full-on processor is also neat, the choices are really limitless here.

And then there’s the recording software. We support getting legitimate recording and production tools, and those can go anywhere from $50 to several hundreds of dollars. As far as these go, we say test things out through legal demos, and then proceed to make the big purchase.
Overall, it turned out in many cases that additional investment costs as much as the instrument itself. With pricier basses comes pricier gear, it’s just the way of the world it would seem.

What Can You Get For a Little Extra

You can get some pretty neat stuff with every additional investment here. We’ll say that by little extra you mean between $100 and $200, and that money can get you some pretty solid instruments or gear. For example, $600 is a typical price of Fender’s iconic Jazz and Precision bass models, and those are always a great pick. For $200 extra, you can get an even stronger instrument; that would bring us to a figure of $700, which is very much in the domain of Best Basses Under $1000, a list we also have and recommend checking out.

In case you want to use that money for gear and not the instrument, you have plenty of available choices. As noted, a good pedal costs around $100, and we think that an EQ stompbox is never a bad decision. Additionally, investing in software is not a bad decision either.
So when all is combined, there are always nifty and practical things to invest in here, and they will all improve your musicality. This is not a cheap hobby, but it’s also a very rewarding activity as well.

What Is There If You Want to Spend Less

If you are interested in spending less money, we can recommend the domain of Best Basses Under $300. Within this realm, there are still solid instruments that can serve you well throughout the intermediate stage, although unlike $500 basses these can’t be used in the pro stage.

The $400 – $500 price range is a kinda a threshold where you step into more serious equipment, so it is a rule of thumb that anything significantly below that in general is of lower quality. Hence a line needs to be drawn – if you want a beginner instrument, go under $300; if you want an intermediate bass, step it up to at least $400.

We’ve done our best to single out the best models in a variety of price ranges, feel free to sift through the site and find your perfect match.

Things To Consider

The thing we believe everyone should consider when buying an instrument of any price range is the fact that the expenses never stop at just the bass guitar. You’ll need an amp to make that guitar work and you’ll need a vast array of additional equipment, such as cables, a metronome, a tuner, a strap, extra string, and a whole lot more. So what we suggest is that you pinpoint your spending budged not based on how much you want to spend on just the instrument, but on how much you are looking to invest into the whole pack.

Then, see what options are there and which full package you can get for the money you have. This creates a much more realistic image and allows you to actually start playing and experiencing music, rather than buying an instrument and keeping it in the corner while saving for the other gear.

New or Used $500 Bass?

This is always a tricky question, and we have to say that for $500 you can score a solid deal with used guitars some of which can be found among the top basses under $1000. There are many options out there and you can most certainly score a very good second-hand bass for the listed price. However, we were never too keen on getting used stuff because of the higher risk factor.

This applies for used basses of any price range – get an expert, do your research online and test those things out as good as you can and test things out very, very thoroughly. The guy selling you the instrument will hardly point out the bad sides, so it’s up to you to investigate and make the right decision.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little journey here, and we hope that you found our tips and tricks at least of some use. We can proudly say that each of the listed fellas qualifies for the flattering title of the best bass under $500, and these are all most certainly instruments worthy of buying. Now it is just a matter of jotting down your personal needs and preferences and finding the bass on the list that suits your needs the most.

Take your time, look around, and treat yourself with one of these bad boys as early as today. To keep track of the best deals online, make sure to subscribe to The Guitar Files newsletter. Rock on!

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