10 Best Cheap Bass Guitars For Under $300

The world of budget friendly bass guitars became a bit of a riveting place in recent years. The market has significantly expanded and allowed just about everyone to pick up a very good beginner instrument and start jamming along, which is awesome.

However, as the time went by, the beginner instrument market kinda outgrew the pro market in terms of quantity, leading to manufacturers investing more and more into their cheap guitars to compete on the market. This further led to some ingenious innovations and production of genuinely high-quality instruments at fair and affordable prices. We did our best to filter these hidden gems out, resulting with this little rundown.

For user convenience, we decided to present our findings in the form of a chart, with a comparison table featuring a variety of different bass models, their respective ratings and links to extended reviews if you’re interested in more info. Additionally, a set of extra tips and guidelines has been included below the chart so you can know what to expect from these instruments and how much you should invest into them to get the desired results. Away we go now!

Top 10 Best Bass Guitars Under $300

PRODUCT

FEATURES

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PRODUCT

FEATURES

  • One of the most iconic bass guitar designs out there.
  • Classic finish that is true to the original.
  • One of the more unique designs you will see.
  • Great fit, finish and build quality.
  • One of the most comfortable bass bodies on the market.
  • Great set of active electronics in a fairly affordable range.

AR RATING 73/100

  • Great design that is attractive but ultimately functional.
  • Comfortable body that is light enough and well balanced.

AR RATING 73/100

  • One of the best beginner models now with 5 strings.
  • Great build quality and overall fit.

AR RATING 72/100

  • A classic and reliable design that won't disappoint.
  • One of the best Ibanez basses in this price range.

AR RATING 70/100

  • A straightforward design that has been proven.
  • Great build quality considering the price of the bass.
  • A different kind of design that brings a vintage vibe.
  • Good build quality and craftsmanship no matter where you look.

AR RATING 70/100

  • One of the more unique models on the market.
  • One of the best bang for the buck options.

AR RATING 67/100

  • A somewhat unique design that is affordable.
  • Decent build quality all around.

AR RATING 75/100

Music Man is a brand that's well known to those who prefer a more niche sound. With that said, they tend to be quite exclusive depending on what model you want to get. Fortunately for us, Sterling is there to give us a proper Music Man experience at a reasonable price. Case in point Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4.

This bass brings you the conic Sting Ray design that many have grown to love. You get the recognizable round pick guard, an awesome Ruby Red burst satin finish and a single humbucker at the bridge. The pickup they went with is a Music Man designed unit featuring a ceramic core. It's an active unit making the sound quite massive.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most iconic bass guitar designs out there.
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    Classic finish that is true to the original.
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    A massive sound coming from a single active humbucker.
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    Great overall build quality as well as fit.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Not the most versatile bass out there.

AR RATING 75/100

Whenever people talk about Gretsch, chances are that they are talking about their interesting semi hollow or hollow guitars. After all that is what Gretsch as a brand is best known for. However, it turns out that they offer a variety of different instruments, including bass guitars. Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet II is all the proof you could ever need.

The bass iteself features a modified Les Paul body shape, which they call Jet hence the name. The tonewood of choice came down to basswood with a basswood top. Overall, the build quality is quite decent, especially in terms of how everything fits together. Electronics come in form of two soap bar humbuckers, which definitely makes for an interesting tone.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the more unique designs you will see.
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    Great fit, finish and build quality.
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    An interesting but functional set of electronics.
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    Great sound that is hard to beat at this price.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    The all black model is hard to keep clean.

AR RATING 74/100

Epiphone's bass guitars have always been a great alternative to whatever is leading the pack at the time. Toby models specifically have that kind of reputation. Epiphone "Toby" Standard-IV is an awesome bass that features a number of cool solutions that make it highly competitive in its price range, as we're used to. It's a great starter and intermediate option.

What many appreciate about the Toby is its body shape. We are looking at a very minimalist and compact body with deep cuts. It is light to a point where it can't really induce fatigue the way your standard Jazz bass can for example. Best of all, this bad boy packs two active single coil pickups which are a blast.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most comfortable bass bodies on the market.
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    Great set of active electronics in a fairly affordable range.
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    The overall fit, finish and build quality is quite impressive.
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    Sound that is extremely agile and easy to work with.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Lack of inlays may be a turn off for some.

AR RATING 73/100

Dean has been busy lately, especially when it comes to designing great basses for the affordable segment of the market. Their Dean Guitars E10A CBK is an awesome model that has it all. The guitar is best known for its all black design which makes very easy on the eyes. Although truth be told it's a nightmare to keep clean.

In terms of build quality, this dean is spot on. They have used decent tonewood for the modified Jazz body. Surprisingly enough, this bass is light enough and also quite comfortable even for prolonged periods of use. The electronics come in form of two active pickups which really have a massive tone. As it turns out, this bass loves metal.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great design that is attractive but ultimately functional
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    Comfortable body that is light enough and well balanced.
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    Active pickups which have a massive sound and presence.
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    Easy to work with controls that won't confuse you.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Benefits from a decent set of strings.

AR RATING 73/100

Five string bass guitars are not generally something budget users are looking for. There are several reasons for that including a few widespread misconceptions. Ibanez GSR205 changes that. It is a budget 5 string that delivers an awesome performance for the money. Not only did Ibanez pick all the right components, but they have also took care of construction right.

What defines this bass is its slim body, the choice of tonewood and the overall build quality. The now famous GSR body has proven its worth in terms of comfort a long time ago. They pretty much kept the original design with only minor corrections applied over the years. The electronics on this bass are active and include two pickups.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the best beginner models now with 5 strings.
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    Great build quality and overall fit.
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    Awesome set of active electronics which pack a punch.
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    Sound that punches way above its weight class.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    May need a change of strings for optimal sound.

AR RATING 72/100

We have seen its five string cousin but now its time to meet the legend itself. Ibanez GSR200SM has got to be the most popular beginner bass guitar on the planet. This series has shaped the lives of many bass players around the globe. It is a affordable, extremely well made and overall versatile bass that just keeps on giving.

This particular model features a spalted maple top over mahogany body. The body comes in that classic Ibanez GSR shape and is super comfortable to play. On top of that, the finish is quite something. In terms of electronics, you have a passive P/J setup that offers the best of both worlds. Overall, it's one of the safest options.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A classic and reliable design that won't disappoint.
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    One of the best Ibanez basses in this price range.
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    Great choice of tonewood as well as an awesome finish.
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    Sound that works with just about any genre out there.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    These sometimes require a setup job out of the box.

AR RATING 70/100

Rogue doesn't enjoy the same type of respect as some of the brands on our list. However, that doesn't mean that they don't know how to put together a good bass guitar. Case in point Rogue LX200B Series III, which represents what a no nonsense, simple design should look like. In that regard, they have created a very satisfying guitar.

The bass features a basswood body that uses a modified Fender Jazz shape. You have a deep bottom cutaway and a fairly pronounced top one. Rogue went with a P/J style pickup setup which is always a safe choice. Despite the pickups featuring covers, they are passive. When it comes to the sound, this bass is more than decent.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A straightforward design that has been proven.
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    Great build quality considering the price of the bass.
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    Powerful set of passive pickups in a P/J configuration.
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    Sound that is fairly versatile all things considered.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings are nothing to write home about.

AR RATING 70/100

It's impressive just how far Squier has come over the years. From a brand that whose only value was the fact that they make cheap Fender copies, to an actual giant of the modern market. Because of that, we have to mention one of their more interesting models whose name is Squier by Fender Vintage SS Modified Special Jaguar Bass.

As you can tell right away, this is another classic Fender design but one that is different from your usual Precision or Jazz bodies. It comes with an awesome agathis body which shows great craftsmanship for the money. On top of that, you get a Precision style passive pickup and a Jazz style single coil. Overall, this bass really rocks.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A different kind of design that brings a vintage vibe.
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    Good build quality and craftsmanship no matter where you look.
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    Good set of electronics that are versatile.
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    A massive sound with plenty of options.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Squire's factory strings are not the best.

AR RATING 70/100

One of the more interesting brands on the bass guitar market is definitely Yamaha. Their higher end models really need no special introduction, however their entry level stuff is not as well known. Yamaha TRBX174 has got to be one of the best bang for the buck choices in this segment of the market. It's a serious bass that delivers.

As always, Yamaha has shown that they value aesthetics every bit as much as performance. This bass comes with an amazing Violin Sunburst finish that gives it a very refined look. The tonewood of choice is pure mahogany and it shows. On the other hand, Yamaha went with a P/J passive setup which gives it a great, versatile sound.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the more unique models on the market.
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    One of the best bang for the buck options.
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    Sound that doesn't disappoint no matter what.
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    Impressive build quality everywhere you look.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    The strings aren't that great for a factory set.

AR RATING 67/100

Dean's Edge family of basses includes some pretty interesting beginner models. One that instantly comes to mind is the Dean E09M Edge. It's a simple guitar that offers straight forward performance but also a pretty unique aesthetic. In a world full of Jazz bass copies, that tends to matter. However, its layout definitely isn't for everyone. It's an acquired taste.

Dean went with their standard Edge body which is nothing more than a modified Jazz. However, the basswood body on this model comes with a natural satin finish. That alone gives it a unique look. Then we have the single soap bar pickup. Overall, the whole package looks odd. Performance wise, it's on point. It takes some getting used to.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A somewhat unique design that is affordable.
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    Decent build quality all around.
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    Good electronics that have a unique sound profile.
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    A different but good kind of sound.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    A single pickup configuration has its limitations.

Tips and Tricks When Buying a Bass On a Budget

First and foremost, we should all be well aware that this is beginner budget, and that means that you should be happy with anything that can be classified as a solid beginner instrument. These instruments rarely use pricier wood and typically utilize standard electronics.

What we look for when sifting through the market are items that stand out in one of these areas, or even both although those are quite rare. So at best, you can hope for an instrument you can use throughout your beginner and intermediate stage. These aren’t basses you’ll play for the rest of your life if you advance to the pro stage, but I’m guessing that the majority of your folks are just fine with that.

But the big thing you should expect from these guitars is playability. Many manufacturers are aware of the fact that these instruments are bought by newbies, and do their best to make them easy to play so they don’t put the player off with hard-to-play instruments.

The thing you should watch out for are poorly placed frets. Many of the basses in this department suffer from fret buzz, and require additional tweaks by pros in order to sound properly. In our experience, the listed fellas have shown the best performance in this department.

In the sonic department, you shouldn’t believe people who tell you that decent sound isn’t something these instruments can offer. They most definitely can, and not just decent, but solid, gig-worthy sound. Your expectations shouldn’t be too high either, but a solid variety of frequencies, warm basses, punchy middles and bright trebles are something you should most definitely expect.

Finally, inspect the instrument and make sure that it’s sturdy and reliable. You don’t want any cracks or holes in there, it will mess up the sound and durability, especially in the long run.

How Much Money To Spend On Related Gear?

That’s an interesting question, and the answer depends on this key factor – what do you intend to do with the bass? If you are just a beginner who wants to learn the instrument, then a small 15 watt amp along the lines of Fender Rumble 15 will suffice, which would be around $100 tops.

Apart from that, you’ll most definitely need a metronome and a tuner, which will set you back another $30, and miscellaneous things like a cable, a guitar strap, and a guitar stand (plus picks if that your preferred style of playing), which should be around another $30 in total. We also recommend changing the strings as soon as you’ve bought the instrument, which is around $20. So in total for necessary newbie stuff, we’re looking at around $180.

But if you want to hit the gigs, well, you’ll need a powerful amp, which is at least $300 if you want a decent sound. And there’s a variety of pedals that can also improve your sound, but that’s a matter of personal preference. The one pedal we say every bassist can benefit from is an EQ pedal. A decent option in this department is the Boss GEB-7, which is around $100.

What Can You Get For A Little Extra?

Well that one would depend on what you see as “a little extra.” If that was $50 – $100, you have two options – a better bass or extra gear.

For $400, you can get a bass that sounds better enough from the $300 instrument, but we could also argue that getting a $100 practice amp could be of better use to you. Also, getting an EQ pedal could make you capable to do live shows if you plug into the proper PA, and that’s also a $100 investment.

But if that “little extra” is more on the side of $50, we say get gear. Get a pack of fresh strings, get a tuner and a metronome, get a guitar strap. You’ll need this stuff and if your budget is tight you better make sure there’s room for it for the essential accessories.

We see the $300 limit as sort of this upper limit on top-notch beginner instruments, and in our opinion the next step of instruments that really make a big difference starts at the $500 basses category, so if you have a bit of extra cash that you’re willing to spend, we’re always more on the side of getting better gear that putting those $100 into the bass.

Other Things To Consider

When it comes to other notable things you should take into the equation, you should first and foremost know that getting a bass isn’t the final purchase. This is an electric instrument, and those can’t work without an amp. And then, the amp can’t deliver the sound unless it’s connected via cable.

And even then, if you’re a beginner there’s no way you’ll be able to tune the instrument by ear, even with the help of online tuners (they only give you the pitch, your ear still isn’t trained to match that pitch just on hearing alone), so you’ll need a tuner. Additionally, having a metronome is crucial for developing accuracy and technique. And then, you’ll probably be standing up while performing, so it’s essential you get a guitar strap and practice standing up, it’s a whole other world to sitting down and playing.

What we’re getting at here is that as noted, you will need to invest around $150 – $200 more to actually start playing on a daily basis and be able to practice for extended periods of time. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it is something you need to be told in order to calculate the budget properly.

New Bass Guitar vs. Used Bass Guitar For $300

OK now that’s a tricky one. First off, getting used models who initially cost under $300 is not that recommended unless you have an expert to take with you and test the bass out. As all the cheaper things out there, these instruments tend to be on the more fragile side, so if someone didn’t treat the thing properly, and that can mean more than just dropped it on a few occasions (storing these dudes in humid rooms can be devastating, for example), you could be looking at a useless bass. And it is far better to get a usable instrument for $300 that something you can throw into garbage for half the price (or three times less or whatever).

But then the other side of the coin would be to sift for basses that initially cost more but are now available for around $300, which is a hit and miss domain, a gray zone and not something we can wholeheartedly recommend or say we’re against. So if you feel like diving in that whole second-hand scene, sure thing and good luck, but if you like to be one the safe side that getting one of the puppies listed here is the way to go in our book.

Conclusion

And that’s about a wrap. If your question is are basses under $300 worthy of buying, the answer from a guy who spend a decade or two playing bass would be yes, absolutely. We are talking about instruments that absolutely hit the sweet spot for beginner musicians and a variety of surprisingly strong instruments.

If you are interested into delving in other areas, you can check out the round-up of best basses or hit the big boys’ league with Best Basses Under $1000.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey, feel free to check the individual reviews for more info and subscribe to The Guitar Files newsletter for constant updates on best deals on the web. Rock steady, roll easy!

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