Buying Guide: Bass Guitars for Beginners (Quick Guide)

The bass guitar is a terrific instrument. It serves up both rhythm and the melody. It is used in virtually every style of music. The bass is comparatively simple, straightforward, and easy to learn. Most importantly, playing the bass is a fun and cool thing to do.


Parts of the bass


Bass Parts


Choosing a look


There are conventional basses and radical basses, but they all basically sound the same. Choose a style and color that appeals to you and has the right vibe for your style of music. Good looks won’t make a bass sound any better, but it can encourage you to play more.


Starter basses


There are many basses to choose from in the $100 to $300 range. Even the lowest priced basses from Music123 are perfectly playable, fully functional instruments that will get beginners off to a good start and make it possible to give bass a try without commiting piles of cash upfront. At around the $300 level, you begin to see basses of remarkable quality—well-designed and well-made instruments you can enjoy for many years.


See some starter basses at Music123.


Keeping it simple


There are different types of basses to choose from--solidbody basses and hollowbody basses, 4-string, 5-string, or 6-string basses; fretted and fretless instruments; basses with short-, standard-, or long-scale necks; basses with active or passive electronics—and a great range in quality of woods, finishes, hardware, and controls. For those just starting out, its best to keep it simple and go for a 4-string bass with a bolt-on neck, passive pickups, and simple controls.


Guidelines for beginners


  • Buy the best bass you can comfortably afford. A better bass makes learning easier and you won’t outgrow it as quickly.
  • If your interest in the bass is casual or you are uncertain about playing but want to give it a try, one of the bottom-priced basses may be the appropriate choice
  • Choose a fretted rather than a fretless bass if you are just starting out. Later on, once you develop some basic chops, a fretless will be an exciting challenge. Many advanced players use both fretted and fretless basses for the different effects.
  • Choose a standard 34" scale bass over a short-scale bass unless the instrument is for a small, young person.
  • For simplicity’s sake, choose a 4-string over a 5-string bass.
  • Opt for simple controls so at first you can focus on the strings rather than on the knobs.
  • Choose a bass in a color and shape that appeals to you and fits your image and musical style.