Top 10 Bass Guitars Under $500 – The Stylish Bracket

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!

10 Best Bass Guitars For Under $500

PRODUCT

FEATURES

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PRODUCT

FEATURES

  • A very authentic tribute to an awesome bass guitar.
  • Impressive build quality even for this price range.
  • One of the most tricked out basses in this category.
  • Awesome build quality and choice of tonewood.
  • One of the most legendary models out there.
  • Build quality that is impressive despite this being a 'Mexican'.

AR RATING 85/100

  • A design that checks all the right boxes.
  • Great build quality and craftsmanship.

AR RATING 85/100

  • Impressive build quality as well as finish.
  • Comes packed with impressive dual coil pickups.
  • One of the most classic bass designs in the world.
  • Great build quality that inspires a lot of confidence.

AR RATING 84/100

  • Great design, fit and finish for the price.
  • Good build quality which definitely inspires confidence.

AR RATING 84/100

  • Classic body that is reminiscent of vintage SGs.
  • Comes with a very playable and well profiled neck.

AR RATING 84/100

  • One of the more unique body styles and setups.
  • Great design that is functional and comfortable.

AR RATING 83/100

  • One of the more unique bass guitars in this category.
  • Great selection of tonewood which adds flavor to the tone.

AR RATING 87/100

Sterling's Music Man inspired basses are slowly becoming a go to choice for a lot of bass players. There's something about these guitars that makes them attractive. . One big part of the explanation is their workhorse reputation. Sterling by Music Man StingRay Classic Ray 24 CA may not be a full blooded Music Man, but it sure feels like one.

What we have here is a quality mahogany slab body that features that classic Music Man look. Following the Sting Ray tradition, Sterling went with a single Alnico humbucker that is linked to a 2 band active preamp. Overall, this thing sounds very close to a proper Music Man StingRay. At this price, it is just too good to ignore.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A very authentic tribute to an awesome bass guitar.
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    Impressive build quality even for this price range.
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    Great selection of electronics which simple but powerful.
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    Sound that is massive and agile.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    It might need a setup on arrival.

AR RATING 87/100

Schecter’s instruments follow a very niche layout. There is a reason why just about everyone agrees that Schecter makes guitars designed for metal. However, that is slowly changing. Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4 is a model that indicates just what kind of change is around the corner. It is a bass that has it all. The looks, the performance, you name it.

Lets start with its slim, mahogany body with a quilted maple top. Right off the bat, it is pure eye candy. The body itself is super comfortable and fairly light. the fit and finish of everything on this bass is impressive to say the least. Electronics come in form of Diamond Active pickups which have plenty of range and potential.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most tricked out basses in this category.
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    Awesome build quality and choice of tonewood.
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    Active pickups that really pack a lot of heat.
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    Sound that can be morphed into anything.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Might be too aggressive for some users.

AR RATING 86/100

Just like they've set the standard for solid body electric guitars, Fender has also designed one of the most iconic bass guitars ever made. It came in two different versions and Fender Standard Jazz Electric Bass Guitar is one of them. If you could choose to have a single bass for the rest of your life, this should be it.

We are looking at a classic standard series body made of agathis. Then there is the unmistakeable C shape maple neck. While they usually go with a rosewood or maple fretboard, this particular model features Pau Ferro fingerboard. In terms of electronics, we are looking at the classic Jazz setup that features improved shielding and a sound that is legendary.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most legendary models out there.
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    Build quality that is impressive despite this being a 'Mexican'.
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    Sound that has captured the world of rock music.
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    Pau Ferro fretboard which is pretty smooth and fast.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Might be too conservative for some players.

AR RATING 85/100

If you're into more modern designs, this ESP LTD B-204SM NS is bound to satisfy your needs. Everything about this bass screams quality. From its finish, to the pickups and finally the neck. Those who need a fairly neutral workhorse that can work with different genres, this is definitely a bass you should look into. It might be the one.

In terms of build quality this ESP LTD offers an ash body that features a spalted maple top. That makes it more than easy on the eyes. The body shape itself is extremely comfortable and pretty good when it comes to fatigue prevention. Combined that fact with a set of awesome active pickups and you have a truly winning combination.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    A design that checks all the right boxes.
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    Great build quality and craftsmanship.
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    Packs a couple of very hot active pickups.
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    Sound that is easy to work with and quite massive.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings are not the best and could need changing.

AR RATING 85/100

Five string bass guitars are becoming more and more popular. Finding a model that fits this description but is a good workhorse used to be very hard. These days, it is anything but. We can thank basses such as the Ibanez SR305E for that. This ax packs a lot of heat in a body that is made to withstand anything.

Ibanez went with a mahogany body that features their classic SR arched body shape and contour. The build quality is on point. That is all that we need to say about that. Where things get real spicy are the pickups. You have two PowerSpan dual coil pickups at your disposal with a 3 band EQ and a Power Tap switch.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Impressive build quality as well as finish.
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    Comes packed with impressive dual coil pickups.
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    Active electronics that is loaded with features.
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    Sound capable of morphing into just about anything.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    May need a setup for optimal performance.

AR RATING 84/100

Even though many still see Squier as an entry level brand, they have completely upped their game. Nowadays, they offer a wide variety of instruments. The bass guitar we're looking at today is anything but an entry level model. Squier By Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass V delivers a very real experience that packs a good punch for the money.

As usual, we are looking at a standard Jazz body shape made of agathis. The build quality is pretty good, especially if you go for the maple fretboard and natural finish. The main difference is the number of strings. This model packs five. Overall, the sound and playability is pretty authentic. The pickups supplied really deal a lot of juice.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the most classic bass designs in the world.
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    Great build quality that inspires a lot of confidence.
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    Playability which is nearly the same as the original.
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    Sound that has a lot of range to offer.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Might need a setup on arrival.

AR RATING 84/100

Dean's lower mid range bass guitars are full of surprises depending on which model you go for. Something like Dean E2 5 SM CHB Edge 2 definitely is. As things are at the moment, this Dean stands to be one of the most interesting budget 5 staring bass guitars you can get. There are few reasons why and they're awesome.

For starters, this is a basswood body bass guitar. That makes it fairly light but not too soft. The fit and finish is quite something considering the spalted maple top that gives this bass an expensive look. Looks aside, you're looking at two powerful humbuckers which pack a mean punch. The sound is massive, defined and easy to work with.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great design, fit and finish for the price.
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    Good build quality which definitely inspires confidence.
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    Set of two powerful humbuckers makes this a real contender.
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    Sound which is wide, powerful and full of range.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    The body shape may need some getting used to.

AR RATING 84/100

As most probably know, Epiphone makes some of the best Gibson inspired guitars on the market. Not only that, but they are still the only licensed party that can make Gibson replicas. Epiphone EB-0 falls more within that 'inspired' category. If you're a fan of SG bodies, you will absolutely love this bass. It embodies the style of this legend.

Epiphone went with a mahogany body, which makes this a really solid bass for harder genres. The finish is that classic cherry red which we have grown to love on SGs. The most interesting thing about this bass is the pickup. Instead of the standard P/J type setup, Epiphone went with a single humbucker on the neck pickup position.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Classic body that is reminiscent of vintage SGs.
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    Comes with a very  playable and well profiled neck.
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    Features a single humbucker at the neck position.
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    A very interesting sound profile that is unique.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    The fretboard isn't as fast as we'd like.

AR RATING 84/100

Whichever camp you belong in terms of brands and models, there is no denying that Yamaha's TRBX series are among the most impressive performers on the market. We attribute this to Yamaha's outstanding mass production technologies, which allow them to be very precise with serial production. Yamaha TRBX304 MGR is an underdog that deserves to be in the spotlight more.

The body is a mahogany piece that features Yamaha's unique and original body shape. It is balanced and comfortable to a point where you just don't feel it. The electronics are also out there. Yamaha went with two humbuckers, which means plenty of power behind every note you play. Overall, this is a true workhorse which simply won't disappoint you.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the more unique body styles and setups.
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    Great design that is functional and comfortable
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    Great sound which is packed with power and range
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    Great hardware that allows for accurate key retention.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings are not all that great.

AR RATING 83/100

Going for something truly vintage on the current market is going to leave you disappointed more often than not. However, there are models which are designed to fit this specific niche. Case in point is the Hofner IGNITION SB. It's a true semi hollow electric bass that won't ruin your bank account. On top of that, it offer solid performance.

Hofner went with a maple and spruce combo for the body. These two tonewoods really add some flavor to the tone. The body shape is an old school violin one, with a nice sunburst finish. Then we have the two vintage inspired Hofner Staple humbuckers, which are truly a time machine to the past. Overall, this bass is pretty awesome.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    One of the more unique bass guitars in this category.
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    Great selection of tonewood which adds flavor to the tone.
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    Two vintage inspired humbuckers really build on the whole image.
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    Great build quality overall with decent fit and finish.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Definitely a bass you need to develop a taste for.

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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