In a world where basses routinely sell for thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, you might be surprised to learn that you can actually get a great bass for less than 300 bucks.
Our review of the best bass guitars under $300 is chock full of bargain instruments built to get your basslines rolling.
It’s a challenge picking the best of the best, but I’m partial to the Yamaha TRBX174.
Its high-quality construction and great-sounding Yamaha pickups bring it several levels above other choices like the simple basswood Gretsch G2220.
Top 5 Bass Guitars Under $300 – Overview
|Ibanez 5 String Bass Guitar, Right, Weathered Black
|Dean Edge 09 Classic Black
|Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II
|Squier by Fender Bronco
Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II
- Body: Basswood
- Back: Basswood
- Strings: 4
- Short 30.3-inch scale for easy reach
- Pickup selector switch helps you dial in your ideal tone
- Flat, narrow neck for fast playability
- Short scale not preferred for full bass experience
Gretsch has been a reliable maker of great stringed instruments for over 100 years, and their G2220 Junior Jet Bass II is no exception.
Crafted from your standard basswood, it starts as a fairly basic budget bass.
But once you factor in its maple neck and responsive black walnut fingerboard, you’ll see that it goes above the baseline for low-cost basses.
This is topped off with a pair of reliable Gretsch Mini Humbuckers for a little bass that can’t be beat.
Due to its small size, the G2220 lacks a bit of the low-end oomph of larger basses, but it’s still a punchy little thing.
What basswood lacks in complexity it makes up for in even response, making this a well-balanced bass.
An unusual feature, the pickup selector switch lets you find your perfect blend between the neck and bridge humbuckers.
Its short scale adds some high-end prominence, but the drive of the dual humbuckers pumps out kicking bass vibes with no problem.
Gretsch reduced the normal bass scale length by almost 4 whole inches in this model.
What that does is greatly reduce the distance between frets, giving the G2220 guitar-like playability.
The dense black walnut fingerboard is snappy and responsive so you can fly up the frets with clear articulation in each note.
This is an amazing bass guitar for small hands thanks to its short scale length and extra-narrow nut width.
With a sound that’s just a little quacky, you’ll find the G2220 Junior Jet Bass II to be a beat-driving machine that’s super fun to play.
Dean Edge 09 Classic Black
- Body: Basswood
- Back: Basswood
- Strings: 4
- Everything you need to rock the bass
- Hot DMT humbucker pushes out driving tones
- Steep cutaways open up the fretboard to the final frets
- Amp is overdriven at low volumes
- Volume pot on bass might crackle a lot
Basswood, walnut, and maple come together in the Dean Edge 09 to form a solid beginner’s bass.
It’s powered by one of Dean’s DMT-designed humbuckers. This kicks feedback out of the mix while giving you a tone that’s surprisingly full for such a low-cost instrument.
You might notice that the volume knob starts to have some static, which is not an uncommon problem in this category of bass.
This can be pretty annoying, but it doesn’t make the bass unplayable.
With only one humbucker pushing your tone, you could expect a lot less from a bass like this, but Dean does it right with their own DMT pickup.
Its voice is actually pretty meaty thanks to the Alnico magnet it uses.
Though the sound isn’t as thick as what you’d get from a dual humbucker StingRay, it’s decent for the kind of bass that comes in a player’s pack.
The Bassola 10 amp included in the package pumps out 10 watts of solid state power from its 6-inch speaker. Headroom is a bit lacking, so you’ll hit overdrive before you max out the volume, but it’s all you need for bedroom practice.
The Edge 09 features an extremely flat fretboard coming in at a radius of 16 inches.
Its nut is a whole quarter-inch narrower than a normal electric guitar, giving this Dean bass fast, smooth playability on its walnut fingerboard.
If you’re in the market for your first bass, the Dean Edge 09 Bass and Amp Pack is a great way to get started.
With a killer budget bass, an excellent practice amp, a gig bag, and all the accessories you need to rock, this is our top choice for beginner bass bundles.
Wanna see more great budget basses? We’ve got that covered here.
Squier by Fender Bronco
- Top: Pine
- Back: Ash Wood
- Strings: 4
- A low-cost edition of the bass that started it all
- Addition of Jazz bass pickup for extra tonal opportunities
- Available in 4 different finish colors
- Frequently ships with damage
- Sharp fret edges extend past fingerboard
You can count on Squier to deliver a quality-crafted instrument.
Their Affinity Series Precision Bass gives you the craftsmanship you expect from Fender’s subsidiary in a classic 4-string groove machine.
Its poplar body is bolted to the trademark Fender maple neck where you’ll find the rosewood-like Indian laurel fingerboard.
I’d like to say that no detail was overlooked in the Affinity Precision Bass, but it does often ship with unfiled fret edges.
The original Fender Precision bass usually only has a split-coil pickup, known as the “P” style pickup because of its close association with this flagship instrument.
Squier’s edition gives you both a P-style split-coil as well as the classic J type pickup that debuted on Fender’s second line of electric bass guitars.
The resulting sound is really versatile and well-rounded. There’s a great balance between all frequencies. You can dial back the neck pickup for a more bottom-heavy tone or go full-force on the neck for a peppy, pronounced voice.
In the Squier Precision bass, playability is just about standard for any other bass.
The fingerboard radius is a flat 12-inches for increased speed, and the neck is in the comfortable and classic “C” shape.
Its nut is slightly shorter than average, allowing your hand to easily wrap around the satin-finished maple neck.
Like I mentioned earlier, the fret edges might be sharp. Personally, I hate this problem and would either fix it myself or take it to a tech right away.
The Precision bass was the first electric bass guitar to see mainstream success. It practically launched modern bass playing by taking us away from uprights and into the new, exciting world of horizontal basses.
While an authentic Fender P bass can run for thousands of dollars, you can get your hands on this piece of music history thanks to Squier for well less than $300.
Ibanez 5 String Bass Guitar
- Back: Mahogany
- Strings: 4
- Phat II EQ boosts low-end frequencies
- Rugged B10 bridge improves sustain
- Thin, fast-playing neck
- High potential for electrical issues
- Questionable tonewood composition
The Ibanez GSR205B 5 String Bass Guitar is built a lot like other affordable basses – at least, I think so.
See, the thing is, Ibanez changes what tonewoods they use in this model depending on when and where it was made. It’s not exactly clear which edition you’ll receive when you order this bass, but I’ve detailed the most likely possibility.
It’s (probably) made from a poplar body and a warp-resistant maple neck.
One standout characteristic is its treated New Zealand pine fretboard.
You might know that pine is a soft wood, which seems like a bad choice for fingerboard material since you’ll constantly be grinding steel strings into it.
But the keyword here is “treated”. In this case, that means the wood has been injected with hardening resin, quite similar to Gibson’s Richlite fingerboards.
If this use of pine makes any difference in quality, it’s not significant enough for me to notice.
This Ibanez 5-string bass is one of the few basses under $300 to use an active preamp.
You could think of this as both a blessing and a curse.
On the bright side, these Dynamix humbuckers can be boosted with the use of the Phat II EQ knob, bringing your low-end into the spotlight so you can really fill a room.
But a common issue with guitars at this price is in the wiring. The complexity of an active preamp means that there’s more that could go wrong – and it often does.
It’s an unfortunate fact, but the electronics of the Ibanez GSR205B will probably need some fixing sooner than later.
Impressively, Ibanez fit 5 strings on this bass with only a 1-millimeter increase in average nut width.
They made the neck extremely thin and the fretboard extra flat, staying right in line with the Ibanez reputation for fast-playing necks.
There aren’t many 5-string basses for under $300, so consider this one a great find despite its wiring issues and strange pine fingerboard.
If you need the extra boom of a low B string, the Ibanez GSR205 is here to give you that rumble at a low cost.
- Body: Mahogany
- Neck: Maple
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Strings: 4
- Made with choice tonewoods
- Low action gives a speedy playing feel
- Precision and Jazz pickups give a range of different tones
- Wiring issues are common in the control knobs
A real outlier for this price point of bass guitars, the Yamaha TRBX174 uses a combo of high-quality tonewoods to form the best bass of its kind.
It sports a dense maple neck more than ready for the high tension of bass strings and a gorgeous mahogany body carved with sleek cutaways.
Featuring chrome-plated hardware made to hold your tune, it’s a bass that looks worth much more than its cost.
Outfitted with both P and J style pickups, you can play the TRBX174 in essentially every genre.
It lacks a blend control but replaces this pot with a master tone knob and individual pickup volume knobs to let you dial in your favorite sound.
Mahogany’s warmth, coupled with the brightness of maple and the balance of rosewood, is transferred in full through the pickup pair.
This makes your tone full-voiced, harmonically rich, and beautifully resonant.
The fretboard of the TRBX174, with a radius of 10-inches, has a slightly greater curve than most basses. This lends a firmer feel when you grip the neck, though it might feel a little slower to play than a flatter fretboard depending on what you’re used to.
Whatever your preference for fingerboard radius, I think you’ll love the 1.57-inch nut width, which is a good deal narrower than the average bass.
Compared to the usual lower-quality fingerboard woods of basses at this price, the rosewood on the TRBX174 feels great to play.
You can read all about how Yamaha’s tonewoods affect a bass’ sound here.
Yamaha’s TRBX174 is an awesome value, giving you great pickups, tonewoods, and hardware in a ready-to-rock package.
With smooth playability, rich sound, and quality construction, this is my top choice for bass guitars under $300.
What Can You Expect in a Bass Guitar for Under $300?
Guitars and basses under $300 are still in the budget category of instruments, but they’re on the higher-quality end of the spectrum.
Their general construction is usually pretty good. You won’t find a lot of loose parts or missing pieces.
Everything should work, obviously. You might run into the occasional problem in your pickup wiring or tone and volume controls, but these issues are less common in the Under $300 category.
The tonewood used for affordable bass guitar bodies is usually poplar or basswood. These are low-density woods, so they’re lightweight, making these basses pretty easy to hold.
This has its drawbacks in tone, sustain, and harmonic richness, but these woods still make performance-worthy bass guitars.
You can expect stock pickups or the manufacturer’s own budget-line pups. Although they’re not as dynamic or powerful as higher-end electronics, they’ll drive your tone hard enough to keep up in band practice.
Overall, these below $300 basses are the lowest-cost instruments I’d recommend playing out or recording with. You won’t get superstar tones or playability, but they’ve got all the bottom end your beginning days will need.
Who Should Buy a Bass Under $300?
These basses are perfect for beginners. The short-scale models make great first instruments for children, while all the full-size ones are awesome for any student.
So if you’re just starting to kindle an interest in music, I’d highly suggest going this route. Bass was my first instrument and it’s only led me to greater and greater musical joy.
If you’ve already got some bass knowledge under your belt, these are a good option if you need to upgrade from an under $100 bass. The difference in tone and playability between the two categories is huge.
Now, if you want a bass for professional use, you’re better off looking at higher-priced options.
Really experienced players might not find much of value in these basses unless they’re searching for a sort of “junker” guitar.
Since they don’t cost a lot, they don’t exactly need to be treated like babies. The occasional ding or dent while on the road won’t cause a world of grief like it might on a Gibson Thunderbird.
What Makes a Great Bass Under $300?
The thing that sets these bass guitars apart from the lower-quality budget models is their solid construction.
While mistakes still happen and the occasional bass slips through the cracks of Quality Control, you’ll find much more reliable products in this category.
Crucial parts of guitar construction – bridges, tuning machines, pickups, and pots – these all get upgrades when you move from the under $200 category up to $300 basses.
To say it plain: these basses under $300 sound and play much better (and for much longer) than cheaper instruments.
The Final Word
There’s no need to go broke in order to start busting out some killer bass lines. You’ve got a lot of great basses ready to get you jamming for just a couple hundred Benjamins.
You’re just a few clicks away from owning one of the best bass guitars under $300; all you’ve gotta do is choose which one will give you the most joy to play.
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