Which Bass is Best
My Samick 5 string
So you play bass?
Hi bassheads. I was recently at a guitar center while on vacation and I watched as several individuals toiled over a line of bass guitars. They just could not make the selection thay needed. I kind of laughed but then realized I too was pacing back and fourth looking at the same line of four string beauties.
Bass players used to have such limited selections to choose from. It was Fender or some reject brand from a department store. Those days have now faded into the days of using saxes in a rock song. The modern day bass man or woman has a plethora of basses they can get their hands on. Basses now come in 4, 5, 6 and even 12 string models. You can get electric, acoustic, combo and even digital. It boggles the mind a little bit doesn't it?
With so many choices to pull from I felt maybe I could toss out some of my wisdom, after all I have been playing for over a decade. So what you have before you is my reviews of some of the basses I have had the privilege and in some cases extreme punishment to have played on over the course of my career.
The key to picking the best bass for you is try it out. Find a bass that suits you as an individual and run with it.
Good Bass Guitars
Of course all bass players stand behind the brand they love most. I for one am not that kind of bass player at all. I don't look at brand as much as feel and playability of a bass and I suggest you take care to do the same. Basses are like shoes sometimes you are paying for a nice symbol instead of a nice bass.
With that being said I am going to start with 3 of the bass guitar lines I would call good.
The Peavey Milestone
Buy a Peavey Milestone from Amazon
The Peavey Milestone
The first bass we will look at is the Peavey Milestone series. Peavey is noted for it's premium sound gear and their basses are actually really nice. It has a good tone to it and is actually very affordable usually falling below the $300 range. The Milestone has a lot of versatile features as well.
- Lightweight. Most older Peavey model basses are death to a bass players back and can very easily double as a club! This model is actually very well balanced and very much lighter than it's ancestors in the Peavey line.
- Beautiful. We all love great looking basses and this model is just that. The range of colors and paint patterns is vast.
- Playability. The thin neck on this bass makes it idea for serious playing.
- Treble! As with most peavey products the treble is ridiculous. If you prefer that higher sound this is the bass for you.
- Frettage. Most Milestone models do not hit that 24 fret mark meaning you are limited to what you can do on the instrument.
To be honest I like these basses a lot. I have played a few and each one was very top of the line as far as build and design went. As I mentioned though I am not a big fan of the very high treble that is becoming a signature of the Peavey brand.
The Squire in action
For ages Fender has set the bar for musical instruments. Their basses have been played by the likes of Duck Dunn, Lee Skylar and nearly every bass player in between. The Squire models are off shoots of their higher dollar lines and are actually pretty solid basses. They generally come in two effective models, the Precision Bass, or P-bass, and the Jazz Bass. Both are very good models and usually very affordable.
- Affordable. These basses will run you a little over $100.00. They will not break you which is always a plus.
- Color. These basses come in a variety of colors so tailoring them to your own personal style is not all that difficult at all.
- Weight. These badboys can be rather heavy. That is something that needs to be experienced.
- Frets. The average Squire does not go down to 24 frets so you lose a certain amount of range.
I actually own and play a Fender Squire P-bass so I do have a warm place in my heart for these models. The biggest issue I have had is no two models sound alike so the consistency one would come to expect from such a premium brand name seems to be lacking. I like these basses for jazz and blues applications but for heavier rock and stuff they are very much lacking.
Ibanez GSR200 Model
Talk about a tough little bass! This is a great bass for someone who is wanting to do a lot of versatile things on their instrument. I owned one for years and was very pleased with the quality of the bass and the playability it offered me as an aspiring bass player.
Ibanez is famous for it's innovative approach to musical instruments and this bass is no exception to that goal. It is one of those basses that works equally well for beginners and veterans alike.
- Light. Ibanez is great for making equipment that does not kill our roadies! This bass is very lightweight and balanced.
- Versatile Tone. You can easily go from twang to growl on these basses and not miss a beat.
- Affordable. Ibanez does make some expensive models but this little darling is usually below the $300.00 range.
- Colors. Sadly there is not a lot of options for this bass in the color range.
- Easily damaged. Yep, lighter means more fragile so be careful.
I really like these basses. They have a feel that gives you a lot of range to work with and are very good for the player who wants to hit on everything. I loved my particular candy red model but after awhile I needed something a little more road savvy. I would advice a beginner look into this model simply because it does have a smaller base about it making it a little more easily played by novice hands.
These are the bass guitars you should just avoid!
First Act Bass
First Act Bass
The Wal-Mart brand! This is less of a bass and more of a hunk of wood with metal thrown on it. First act basses are made for the young player but to be honest at about $125.00 a pop there are much better basses for the starter than this model.
The bass lacks any real control features. You get either very quite or moderately loud but never a balanced volume with this thing. The tone is so bad that even through a top dollar processor and rig you still can't achieve any semblance of good tonality.
I advise any player to avoid these things at all cost and trust that better investments can be made.
The Axe Bass
The Cort Axe
Don't get me wrong. I love Gene Simmons but this thing is just impractical. It is bulky and let's be honest, where would you use it? This bass is designed with one style in consideration and that is heavy metal. I like the tone of the bass but at the same time it does not lend well to other musical aspects. Try playing jazz on one and you will find yourself cringing at the lack of tonality.
The bass has the looks a good bass should have but it lacks that playable factor that needs to be present as well. I found the one I was able to play at a Spenor's Gifts very lacking in a lot of control. If you are more about flash than finese this may very well be the bass for you to explore.
Hammer Slammer Bass Guitar
A crude attempt to capitalize on the Fender P-bass. This bass was bulky and very unbalanced. To say this thing was uncomfortable to play would be a cruel statement at best. It put so much tension on players shoulders most bass players who used it would have to sit down to play the thing.
The slammer lacked a lot of features that made the Fender so popular. it's tone was very lacking and the volume settings were a waste. It went from whisper to roar but no middle ground really existed in the model. I did like how Hammer would use a slightly wider fret base than traditional basses which made jazz and country lines a little more depth-ed but other than that I found these things to be real sparse for quality control.
I have known some players who swear by these things though so they did develop a rather devoted following. The 80s and early 90s was full of these things although even the players who cherished them spoke ill of some of the features. I have a close friend who owns three of these and he will swear to you thay are the best bas in the world for country music. I can't state I agree or disagree but in my experience the slammer was just a bulky hunk of failure.
A direct quote from my pal Jason
"The slammer has all the tone of a tree man. That is what gives it that old school country appeal. It is like going back to the bulk of a stand up bass. Kinda doghouseing it. As for other applications it is just not gonna cut it. It won't cut the wood for rock or swing."
The Attitude in action.
The axe grinded by bass supreme leader Billy Sheehan. This bass is one of those investments that will serve any player well. It offers two inputs for maximum sound and also a wide array of tonal capabilities.
I was honored to play one of these basses at a show several years back and was amazed at how precise it was. The strings rest very well on the fretboard and the sound is unmatched by anything I had seen prior to the experience of playing one.
- Playability. I mean out the wazoo guys and gals. This thing can go from jazz to blues to metal and swing right by bluegrass for a visit if it wanted to.
- Advanced Controls. You will have more on board control over your sound with the way this thing is set up.
- Only one: Price. You will drop a small fortune on this bass.
If you can afford it this is one bass that will add to your sound and give you so much more control; with your musical explorations. It is one of the bass guitars that really set the standard for musical quality. I say go for it. of course not many of us have several grand to drop on one piece of musical equipment so the problems exist that most of us will never have one of these.
Tobias Toby Model
This little fellow has a bite to it! The Tobias lines of basses are always unique and exhibit high grade electronics and wood construction. The Toby model offers bass players a very unique sound for a reasonable price.
One aspect of the Toby I like is it adapts very well to funk and slap style playing. It has a rich tone but not so rich to saturate the music you make with it.
- Affordable. The Toby is not cheap but will not destroy your wallet.
- Playability. A lightweight body and a thin neck make this the idea bass for those interested in high grade tone with ease of playing.
- Lots of freedom. The controls on this thing are very precise so you can scope and dictate your sound
- Fret marking. Sadly most Tobias don't have the frets marked which can be very confusing to a player who uses that as a reference point.
- Lack of color. I have seen red and black and that is about it
I recently played one of these at a guitar center in Delaware and was hooked. The bass has a sound that just screams funk to me. I was shocked at how versatile it actually was. I was familiar with the Tobias Growler which was very much a part of early metal and 90s sound but this thing blew that model out of the water. It has a nice feel and sleek design to boot.
This is my choice for best bass. I actually am proud to say I own a custom shop model of this bass and I love it. This bass features active electronics and a slimline neck that makes blasting lighting quick licks no big deal at all.
What really set this bass off as my all time favorite and how it is so easy to play. the bass is built with the best balance of body and neck weight. I have used it for everything from jazz to metal and really every style in between.
I will not be listing any cons for this model but I can give you the pros for days.
- Weight. it is light as a feather but packs a devastating punch.
- Versatility. As I mentioned I have yet to find a style this thing could not adapt to.
- Full Control. You have tone and volume controls out the yen yang and this bass lets you tailor the sound you desire with ease and precision.
While this model will usually set you back a grand it is worth the investment as the bass will yield years of use and playability.
Wrapping it up.
These are my picks and do not reflect the views of other bass players. When you begin your journey into the world of bass guitar find the bass that best suits you based on how you like the bass guitar not me or any other player. I wish you luck and Godspeed.
Sam Little (author) from Wheelwright KY on November 05, 2014:
They do make a sturdy bass that is for sure.
Kureys Aksu on October 31, 2014:
Nice article, really usful for beginners. Just one thing I'd like to add about the Ibanez GSR200. I've had mine for 9 going on 10 years now, it has its fare share of dings and scratches. But it sounds and plays amazingly.
Sam Little (author) from Wheelwright KY on July 10, 2014:
I like that bass. It has a well rounded sound to it.
Adam on July 09, 2014:
I am beginner bassist I used tribute L 2000 what about it?
Sam Little (author) from Wheelwright KY on June 08, 2013:
Thanks everyone. I am glad it helped and hope you enjoyed it.
Ceres Schwarz on June 08, 2013:
This hub on bass guitars is very informative and detailed. This will be very useful and helpful for all those looking to buy a bass guitar and wondering what kind is the right one for them. It's good how you showcased many different kinds of bass guitars and mentioned the pros and cons for them to further help people choose the best bass guitar for them.
vibesites from United States on June 07, 2013:
Bass is one of my favorite features in a song, especially if it sounds a bit more prominent. I'd love to play the bass! Thanks for your guide about the best (and the worst) bass guitars. Up and useful.
Lucy Jones from Scandinavia on June 07, 2013:
Although I don't play bass, I did find your hub very interesting, informative and very useful. Thanks for sharing -- Voted up.