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

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

What We like

  • Amazing replica of a $2,000 instrument at under $500.
  • Authentic sound; very, very close to the original vibe.
  • Killer looks.
  • Strong build quality.

What We don't like

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

I have a bit of a soft spot for this bass. You think that they don't make those classy instruments like they used to and then something like this pops along, making you think about the time when rock was shaping up to become the grand cultural phenomena it is. Gives you chills right down the spine!


AudioRumble rating 98/100

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Schecter Stiletto Extreme

4.9 Stars

What We like

  • 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.

What We don't like

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

I have to say, I like this bass. I also have to say I'm also guilty of expecting a solid metal bass here, yet ended up with a stellar bass for every purpose. For the listed price, which often goes well below $500, this is a steal and a heck of a deal.


AudioRumble rating 98/100

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Ibanez SR306EB 6-String Bass

4.8 Stars

What We like

  • Great value for money.
  • High quality sound, top-level versatility.
  • Quality construction with pretty looks.

What We don't like

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

As an experienced player, I absolutely love this bass. Regardless of which settings I dial in, the tone is immaculate. If you play a variety of gigs, the Ibanez boy here is a dream come true, for under $500 that is.


AudioRumble rating 96/100

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Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. SB4

4.8 Stars

What We like

  • Killer low end, great sound overall.
  • Very easy to use.
  • Build quality of genuine high-end basses.
  • Versatility.

What We don't like

  • Gig bag or casing not included.

When all is said and combined, I like this bass very much. Budget-friendly models of high-end basses sometimes tend to lack quality, but this thing retains the most important sonic aspects of top-notch Music Man basses while significantly stripping down the price tag. Not as good as the original, of course, but budget cuts were made at all the right places here.


AudioRumble rating 96/100

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Yamaha TRBX305 BL

4.75 Stars

What We like

  • Amazing sound, amazing versatility for the price.
  • Quality components and quality build.
  • Great bang for the buck.

What We don't like

  • Gig bag not included.

Personally, this is one of my favorites and one of the items I always bring up when people ask me which bass to buy for under $500 and get the best results. It's versatile, strong and powerful. When connected to a proper amp, there's nothing stopping you from sonic excellence.


AudioRumble rating 95/100

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ESP LTD B Series B-205

4.75 Stars

What We like

  • Loud and clear, quality sonic attack.
  • Amazing design.
  • Stellar heavy rock performance.
  • Quality components, great tonewood.

What We don't like

  • Action and intonation may be required upon purchase.
  • If you don’t like loud instruments, you might want to consider a passive bass.

If you have $500 ready to invest into a bass, and you have a soft spot for pretty looking things, add this puppy to your list of considerations. It has top-quality tonewood, and an extra strong electronic section. If you're a rocker, don't hesitate one minute.


AudioRumble rating 95/100

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Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass

4.75 Stars

What We like

  • Amazing reliability and durability.
  • High-quality replica of one of the most iconic bass sounds ever.
  • Versatility.
  • Classy looks.

What We don't like

  • Stronger electronics wouldn’t hurt.
  • Gig bag not included.

So, is this really the best beginner bass? It's definitely among them. You'll pay a few extra bucks, but you'll get a reliable instrument with a great sound. If you want to start with a proper sonic image of what bass guitar is capable of, this Squier is a great choice.


AudioRumble rating 95/100

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Fender Modern Player Dimension Bass Guitar

4.7 Stars

What We like

  • 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

What We don't like

  • Gig bag not included, no extra items.

In my opinion, the bass here is a versatile beast that can lock in a variety of sounds and cover a vast array of music styles. For the listed price, which is typically around $500, the listed features, tonewood and sound are a bargain. Would I buy it? Yes.


AudioRumble rating 94/100

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Jackson JS2 Kelly Bird IV Bass

4.55 Stars

What We like

  • Killer punch, great sound for hard rock and metal.
  • Looks that scream metal without being tacky.
  • Quality craftsmanship overall.
  • Good bang for the buck.

What We don't like

  • Hard rock and metal only.

I can say that this is a great bass for intermediate and pro metal bassists. The tone really matches the finesse and punchy groove the genre requires without going overboard and acting like a gimmick tool. The price is cool too, so if you need a good metal bass, do consider this one.


AudioRumble rating 91/100

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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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The appropriate research can do wonders if done properly. We are here to help you and save your time and money at the same time. In our website you will see our personal recommendations based on our knowledge and extensive research. What we base our rating using the product details and customer feedback.