The Best Cheap Bass Guitars - All Under $300

The Highest Rated Budget Bass Guitars

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Thanks to online media platforms, talented bassists are reaching more and more people, inspiring many to pick up a bass guitar. This guide is meant to help these first time buyers to pick a good quality starter instrument, by featuring what the market considers as the best in the sub $300 price range.

Our recommendations can also cater to guitarists who are transitioning to playing bass to complete their band, multi-instrumentalists who want an affordable bass for home recording will also find these top rated bass guitars appealing.

You will find both long and short scale basses below, so if you're not sure what that means take a look at the Playability advice in the Things to Consider section.

Ibanez continues to lead the pack in this 2021 edition, with three of their highest rated basses making the list. Squier and Yamaha are tied in second place, both of them securing two spots.

The Best Cheap Bass Guitars

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Bass (Short Scale)

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 1050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short Scale Bass Guitar

Ibanez knows how to make guitars, including affordable bass guitars, play as fast and comfortably as possible. Case in point is the Ibanez GSRM20, which features Ibanez' smooth playability with its flat 12" fingerboard radius and low action setup.

Combined with its short scale configuration, lightweight body, and contoured edges, this super affordable bass is considered by many as one of the most playable basses in the entry level market, as reflected in reviews.

And it's not just playability because Ibanez did not skimp on the quality of the pickups and tonewoods, which are well appreciated by owners.

Features:

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Maple (Bolt-on)
  • Neck Profile: Slim
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 28.6"
  • Nut Width: 1.614"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Frets: 22 Medium
  • Middle Pickup: PSND P Single-Coil
  • Bridge Pickup: PSND Single-Coil
  • Controls: Volume 1, Volume 2, EQ, Tone
  • Bridge: B10
  • Weight: 8.4 lbs.

Pros

The saying "age doesn't matter" easily applies to the Ibanez GSRM20, with its long list of commendations from young players who are just starting out, and older more experienced players who just want an affordable bass that's easy on the hands. As expected, Ibanez' ergonomic and fast neck action get a lot of praise, with many being glad at just how easy and comfortable this bass is. The general sentiment is that this bass guitar has surprising quality for the price.

Cons

There are a few who complained about the quality of the tuning pegs, with a small number of reports of tuning instability. There are also some who complained about fret buzz, one of the drawbacks of having low action. Thankfully, this can be easily corrected with a few adjustments.

Overall

If you're looking for a cheap bass guitar that's easy to play, while still sounding good, then check out the Ibanez GSRM20.

Squier Mini Precision Bass Guitar (Short Scale)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Squier Mini Precision Bass Guitar

The Squier Mini Precision is an affordable and miniaturized version of the iconic P-bass, meant to accommodate younger bassists.

It is around 3 quarters the size of a regular P-bass, which makes for a more comfortable instrument that's easy on the hands, while retaining the familiar P-bass shape and sound.

The body is crafted from poplar and sports the iconic split singlecoil pickup.

It has a maple neck with laurel fingerboard, with satin finish applied, which together with its short scale length makes for a very playable instrument.

Features:

  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Maple (Bolt-on)
  • Neck Profile: C
  • Fingerboard: Laurel
  • Scale Length: 28.6"
  • Nut Width: 1.5"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Frets: 20 Narrow Tall
  • Bridge Pickup: Precision Split Single-coil
  • Controls: Volume 1, Tone
  • Bridge: 4-Saddle Vintage Style
  • Weight: 10 lbs.

Pros

Easy playability is a common thread among satisfied users, most of whom are beginners. Even experienced bassists appreciate it's smooth neck and action, resulting in a very relaxed playing experience. There are also plenty of positive comments regarding its tone, which exceeds the expectations of most users.

Cons

For best results, some recommend replacing the default strings ASAP. There are also a few reports of string setup issues right out of the box.

Overall

The Squier Mini Precision Bass is a great pick for young players, and will also be a great addition for those who want a comfortable beater bass to play around at home.

Ibanez TMB30 Bass Guitar

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$190
Ibanez TMB30 Bass Guitar - Ivory

The TMB30 is an offset body bass guitar which features Ibanez' Talman design with two pickup P/J configuration.

The bridge pickup is a singlecoil Jazz bass style pickup, while the middle position is a split singlecoil Precision style pickup. This pickup combination is well received for its sonic versatility.

This works in conjunction with Ibanez' reputation for playability, which is applied in the design of this bass - resulting in a fun yet affordable instrument.

Features:

  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Maple (Bolt-on)
  • Neck Profile: TMB4
  • Fingerboard: Jatoba
  • Scale Length: 30"
  • Nut Width: 1.614"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.4"
  • Frets: 20 Medium
  • Bridge Pickup: Precision Split Single-coil Neck, Jazz Bass Singlecoil Bridge.
  • Controls: 2 x Volume 1, Tone
  • Bridge: Standard Bridge
  • Weight: 7.93 lbs.

Pros

Most users agree that the Ibanez TMB30 is an excellent bass for the price. And while many of the reviewers are beginners, there are also many experienced bassists who recommend this as a good affordable shortscale beater instrument. As expected it gets a lot of thumbs up for its playability.

Cons

There are a few who report weight balancing issues due to its shape, while others love its familiar yet distinct offset body style.

Overall

With its combination of playability and visual flair, the Ibanez TMB30 is well worth getting as your first bass guitar, or as your secondary practice instrument.

Ibanez TMB100

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Ibanez TMB-100 Bass guitar

Here's the reality, most bass guitars in this price range probably share similar components, but Ibanez packaged the TMB-100 to not look cheap at all. And this is what enthralls many users, with its distinct retro style offset profile and color options.

Ibanez calls the body shape of this bass as Talman, and to my eyes, it looks like a cross between a Sting Ray and a Mustang.

This bass has two pickups, which you can blend as you please, and it also sports a 2-band EQ. Controls are implemented in a brilliant way, by designing each of the two knobs to have two rotary controls.

Features:

  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Maple (Bolt-on)
  • Neck Profile: TMB4
  • Fingerboard: Jatoba
  • Scale Length: 34"
  • Nut Width: 1.614"
  • Frets: 20 Medium
  • Neck Pickup: Dynamix P Split-coil
  • Bridge Pickup: Dynamix J Single-coil
  • Controls: 1 x Volume/Balancer, 1 x Treble/Bass Boost/Cut
  • Bridge: B10
  • Weight: 8.6 lbs.

Pros

From the sound to the overall feel of the instrument, the general consensus is very positive. Since beginners and students are easily impressed, they make up most of the users who give the Ibanez TMB-100 high ratings. But there are also some experienced bassists who are just as impressed, especially with the range of tones they can get for the price. Mike Brooks of Music Radar concludes his review by saying: "It’s solidly constructed, performs very well and is comfortable to wear."

Cons

There are some negative comments about playability, but they may be due to string action and setup, both of which are adjustable. There are also a few who describe the sound as a little too plain, but it does have reasonable sonic flexibility for its price.

Overall

If you are looking for an affordable bass guitar with a different appeal, then check out the Ibanez TMB100.

Yamaha TRBX174

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Yamaha TRBX174 - OVS

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Bass Guitar Under $300 along with the Squier Affinity Precision PJ.

The Ibanez TRBX174 is a modern looking P/J configuration bass guitar, with a 24-fret neck and a distinct double cut-away design that makes the higher frets easier to access.

The body is crafted from mahogany, and is paired with a 10" radius maple neck topped by a 24-fret rosewood fingerboard. Combining the two completes its modern aesthetics and playing feel.

Its P/J configuration pickup comes with dedicated volume knobs and a single tone knob. This pickup configuration is a hit among bassists who like to easily change tones right on their instrument.

Features:

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Maple (Bolt-on)
  • Neck Profile: C
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 34"
  • Nut Width: 1.57"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Frets: 24
  • Pickups: Precision Split Single-coil Neck, Jazz Bass Singlecoil Bridge
  • Controls: 2 x Volume, 1 x Tone
  • Bridge: Vintage Style
  • Weight: 11.29 lbs.

Pros

As expected from Yamaha, this bass continues to appeal to students, described as a nice looking guitar with equally good tone. Comfortable neck feel gets a mentioned often, along with good build quality. Some experienced users also commended it for being able to handle hybrid string weights used for alternate tunings.

Cons

There are a few who report string action issues right out of the box, which can be resolved by simple setup. Others gave it lower ratings because of shipping related issues - always buy from a reputable seller.

Overall

It's hard to go wrong with Yamaha, especially if you're looking for a student friendly bass.

Fender Squier Affinity Precision PJ

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Fender Squier Affinity Series PJ Precision Bass Guitar

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Bass Guitar Under $300 along with the Yamaha TRBX174.

Over half a century after it was first released, the Precision bass is still among the most copied and top selling bass guitars in the world, a testament to its legacy and longevity.

The Squier Affinity Precision PJ is part of Fender's entry level line of instruments, an affordable version of the popular Precision bass with an extra single-coil pickup in the bridge position. This two pickup configuration is based on the classic Precision PJ design, which combines Precision and Jazz bass electronics.

Fender continues to silently update this model, introducing slight improvements to the design while retaining the overall look and feel of the original.

Features:

  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple (bolt-on)
  • Neck Profile: C shape
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 34"
  • Nut Width: 1.625"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Frets: 20 Medium Jumbo
  • Middle Pickup: Standard Split Single-Coil Precision
  • Bridge Pickup: Single-Coil Jazz
  • Controls: Master Tone, Volume 1 and Volume 2
  • Bridge: Standard 4-saddle
  • Tuners: Standard open-gear
  • Weight: 6 lbs.

Pros

Most of the positive comments are from beginners and their parents who are impressed with the playabilty and sound of this bass. They are also joined by experienced bassists who are impressed with the overall value and quality of this entry-level bass. While some may say that it doesn't have the feel of a premium instrument, most do agree that it got the look down just right.

Cons

Speaking of playability, there are some who complain about frets being a bit sharp, a common issue with new instruments in this price range.

Overall

There's a reason why so many manufacturers keep on cloning the Precision bass, so if you want one, might as well get the legit version from Fender Squier.

Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet II

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Gretsch G2220 II Junior Jet 4-String Bass Guitar

The Gretsch G2220 II Junior Jet is a short-scale bass guitar, with 30.3" scale length, ideal for younger students of the instrument and for those who want a small instrument that's easier to play.

It sports a single-cutaway basswood body that follows their "Jet" profile, only this one is a bit more compact.

Another distinct feature of this bass guitar is its two mini-humbucker pickups, which gives it a distinct tone that complements the slacker sound of its strings.

Everything else is straightforward, including its volume and tone knob, and pickup selector.

Features:

  • Body: Basswood
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 30.3"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Frets: 20 Medium Jumbo
  • Middle Pickup: Mini-Humbucker
  • Bridge Pickup: Mini-Humbucker
  • Controls: Master Tone, Master Volume, Pickup Selector
  • Bridge: Standard 4-saddle Bridge
  • Tuners: Chrome Die-cast Tuners
  • Weight: 8.375 lbs.

Pros

It gets a lot of thumbs up for its easy playability, many of which are from guitar players who are happy with the minimal adjustment required to play this bass. It's straightforward operation is also well received, along with its simple yet pleasing aesthetics. Many of the positive comments are from non-bassists who want to add the bass guitar into their tool kit.

Cons

There are some comments about the quality of the string that it ships with, but those who replaced the strings report dramatic improvement. There are also a few who complained about hardware issues like loose output jack.

Overall

If you're looking for a nice looking short scale bass to add to your tool kit, then check out the Gretsch G2220 II Junior Jet.

Yamaha BB234

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Yamaha BB234 4-String Bass Guitar

The BB234 is Yamaha's take on the classic Precision PJ design, with some adjustments to the overall design for improved playability.

It sports a modified double cutaway alder body that allows for more upper fret access, and it has a distinctly shaped pickguard.

For the pickups, this one is equipped with Yamaha's Custom V3 passive ceramic set, to give it a tone that's more akin to classic Precision style bass tones.

The neck is crafted from maple, with a thinner profile to accommodate today's players, and it sports lighter tuners for better weight balance.

Features:

  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple
  • Neck Profile: Thin BB
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 34"
  • Nut Width: 1.575"
  • Fingerboard Radius: 10"
  • Frets: 21 Medium
  • Neck Pickup: VSP3n Ceramic Split Single-coil
  • Bridge Pickup: VSC3b Ceramic Single-coil
  • Controls: 2 x volume, 1 x master tone
  • Bridge: Vintage Style Bridge (19mm String Spacing)
  • Weight: 8.8 lbs.

Pros

Comfortable and great sounding nicely encapsulate how most users feel about this bass. Many appreciate its classic precision tone, which works for many styles, from basic chord posts to funky slapping. Students and experienced bassists alike are satisfied with its playability, especially when considering its price tag. Build quality, aesthetics and attention to detail are also commended.

Cons

Other than the few who are concerned about the lightweight tuners, there aren't any notable issues with its tone and playability.

Overall

The Yamaha BB234 offers classic tone with modern playability at a very modest price point.

Things to Consider When Buying a Cheap Bass Guitar

  • Body Shape, Finish and Weight

    First off, bass guitars are notorious for being hefty and heavy, so it is important to set your expectation, especially if you're getting one for a child. This is where body profile, size and curvature helps, the general idea is to get one that will be reasonably comfortable.

    But it's not just about being comfortable, having a bass guitar that appeals to the eyes can spell the difference between forced and inspired practice. So it is important to get the look that you, or your child prefer - right at the start. If you're not sure which style to go for, the safest route is to get one that looks like the bass guitar of you or your student's favorite bassists.

  • Playability

    There are multiple factors that dictate playability for bass guitars, one of which is Scale Length, it is basically the distance that your strings are stretched out, and as such it indicates the tension of the strings. The most common scale length for bass is 34", because it has just the right balance of tension and tone. Other basses can have a scale length that is as short as 30" or a little less, which significantly reduces string tension, ideal for young players or for those who want an instrument that's smaller and easier to play.

    Fingerboard Radius, which indicates the curvature or flatness of the fingerboard, is an important playability specification that you should look at. Although the fret board may look basically flat at first glance most of them are actually curved outwards. Higher radius fingerboards are closer to being flat. Ibanez is known for their 12" fingerboard radius which is one of the flattest, while traditional bases have a lower radius that results in more curve. Flatter 12” and up fingerboards are ideal for beginners and younger players. The Nut Width tells you how far apart the strings are spaced, the narrower the nut width is, the easier it is for smaller hands to reach each string. The Neck Profile describes the shape of the back of the neck, the thinner and flatter, the easier it is to play, but there are some who prefer fatter necks for better grip. A bass guitar with a good cutaway at the neck joint allows for easier access to the upper frets.

    String Action refers to the height of strings above the fretboard. It's a specification that's not always directly given by the manufacturer because it can vary for each instrument. Beginners will want those with low action, but not too low to avoid "fret buzz", which means that the vibration of your string is hitting the frets. Some buyers report "fret buzz" in new bass guitars and although this can be annoying it can be fixed by raising the action (adjusting the strings to be higher off the fretboard). There are those who prefer slightly raised action for better intonation control of each note as you press the strings, and better overall string resonance as well.

  • Pickups

    Being an electric instrument, pickups dictate most of the instrument's resulting sound. Single Coil pickups are the most common, because of their crisp and detailed sound which reproduces classic bass tones as heard on countless tracks from the past. Split-Single Coil pickups are often labelled as "P" style pickups since they were first used in Fender's Precision bass. The other popular pickup type is called the "J" style, which is short for Jazz bass pickups that have two magnetic poles assigned per string. Humbuckers generally sound warmer and fatter, and are widely used for modern rock and metal. If you don't have experience or a particular preference yet, then again just go for the pickup configuration used by your favorite bassists.

    Most of the basses in this price range have Passive pickups and electronics, which means they do not require a battery and have limited tone shaping options. Those with Active pickups and electronics allow for more tone shaping but require a 9V battery to properly function.

  • Bass Amps, Cables and Other Gear

    It goes without saying that the bass guitars we feature here are not stand alone, they require at least a 1/4" cable and a bass amp to get their sound out - so if you want to be able to use your bass, you'll need to have at least these two ready. There are also other gear that you can plug your bass guitar into, gear that can apply effects, improve your sound, and amplify your sound. These include bass pedals, bass preamps, PA Systems, audio adapters and more.

Cheap Bass Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the latest edition was published on June 6, 2021.

We looked at highly rated bass guitars in the sub $300 that meet these criteria: have standard 4-string setup, have fretted fingerboards, come with magnetic pickups, and are readily available at major gear retailers in the USA.

For this June 2021 update, we gathered the most recent reviews, ratings, recommendations, and discussions about the basses that met our criteria. The data we gathered came from over 7,500 sources, all of which were then processed using our Gearank Algorithm to produce a rating score out of 100 for each one. We then used these scores to select the highest rated ones to recommend. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Produced by Gearank.com using a photograph by Roman Voloshyn / Shutterstock.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

So the editor's pick of the

So the editor's pick of the best sub<$300 bass is the bass listed for $400. Fantastic journalistic practices. That's one way to completely ruin an otherwise very good and highly useful comparison review.

The "Editor's Pick" is an

The "Editor's Pick" is an item which we described as "This is where we sometimes present additional options which didn't quite fit into our list above but which you may also find interesting and useful."

But I can see how people would be confused if they didn't read that, so I've changed the title of the section to "Additional Option".

Your demo video on the Toby

Your demo video on the Toby is almost useless, I play bass, not guitar, and your demonstrater seems more interested in pretending he's playing a guitar. That doesn't help me, if I want to sound like a guitarist, I'll plug in a Les Paul.

If you watch the video all

If you watch the video all the way through you'll see that he demonstrates traditional styles as well as the style of play you didn't like - the main thing is that it does demonstrate the different tones you can get from the Epiphone Toby Deluxe IV.

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