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12 Best Cheap Bass Guitars Under $500

Whether you’re just starting out or looking for an affordable upgrade, there are bunch of great options that will enable you to pick up a great cheap bass guitar for under $500.

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How Much Should I Spend on a Bass for Beginners?

Choosing your first (or even second) instrument seems daunting. There are a lot of options out there, and you've got to immediately familiarize yourself with an awful lot of terms just to know what exactly you're buying. Around the time you've sorted all of that, you'll start to get curious and want to try a lot of different things just to see what they're like.

This is no different in the world of basses. You might not have a huge pedalboard like the guitarist in your band (though you might have a few), so you can at least cut down the constant tweaking there. Even at that, you'll probably be curious to try a few different styles of bass, and perhaps have basses suited to particular jobs.

If you aren't a professional bassist, this can get kind of costly. It isn't hard to spend over $1,000 on any stringed instrument, but basses take a lot of wood, so the price can climb quickly.

Fortunately, there are a number of excellent choices available under $500, a threshold that most hobbyists can generally afford. Both my main guitar and my main bass were around $350 and they've served me well for years.

What Should I Look for In Choosing a Bass?

Quite honestly, the main thing to focus on when trying to choose a bass is comfort. I've seen this sentiment countless times in reading forums and comments. As long as the bass is comfortable, has decent components, and gets a good setup, you can make a lot of magic. You don't need to spend thousands on a bass to get one that sounds great and gives you all the muscle you need to hold down the all-important rhythmic low-end in any band setting.

Having said that, buying too cheap will land you in a world of fret buzz that will make you crazy. The basses on this list may need a setup when they arrive, but once that's done, you'll have an instrument you can use in studio and on stage for many years.

What Should I Upgrade to After a Starter Bass?

Once you've played your sub-$500 bass long enough to get established on the instrument, you might start looking for an upgrade in the next tier up. Here are a few great basses under $1,000:

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