It’s easy to get a case of option paralysis when looking for a bass in the market today. With many brands now, especially budget offerings, you won’t have limited options, and there’s a bass designed for every musical application possible.
But that doesn’t mean you should grab anything that fits the upper limit of your budget. You want to get your money’s worth, and it’s not all the time the most expensive one is the best. You must explore your options and see which one relates to you the most. You want to get the best value, as your bass is an extension of your musical personality.
So what are the best bass guitar brands in the market today?
Top 12 Bass Guitar Brands In The World 2022
Rickenbacker is an American brand of guitars identified as one of the pioneers of electric guitars in the world. Known for their distinct shape that only a few brands have tried to copy, Rickenbacker produces electric and acoustic guitars and basses.
Rickenbacker basses are known for their more prominent long and short horns on each side and are connected to a squarish body. These basses deviate from the standard bass scale lengths and feature neck-through construction.
The Rickenbacker basses are known to be used for different genres, as it has articulated rounded tone. Notable bassists that have used Rickenbacker include the late Cliff Burton of Metallica, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, and Royston Langdon of Space Hog.
Rickenbacker started from a failed partnership that resulted in George Beauchamp losing his work with another company that was previously working on his ideas. He teamed up with Adolph Rickenbacker and Harry Watson to help him prototype a new amplified guitar.
The trio later formed the Ro-Pat-In Corporation, which later became the Electro String Corporation. Their first guitars, shaped like frying pans, became the basis of the guitars they later marketed as the Rickenbacker. These guitars were initially designed as lap steel instruments but later evolved to cover other guitar designs.
Electro String would later create archtop designs catering to jazz players. They would also diversify to cover amplifiers, as their guitars needed amplifiers to work. For this expansion, they hired Ralph Robertson, whose inventions would inspire other builders, including Leo Fender.
Beauchamp would, later on, sell his shares in the company to Harold Kinney. Rickenbacker also lost interest in the business and sold the company to FC Hall, who would then develop the modern Rickenbackers used in the market today. Their first production model bass, the Rickenbacker 4000, was launched in 1955.
Claim To Fame: Rickenbacker 4001
The 4001 series is one of the most popular models of Rickenbacker when it comes to bass guitars. Taking off from the 4000, the 4001 comes with two pickups. Designed by Roger Rossmeisl, these basses were sold between 1961 – 1981.
The 4001 had different variants, with each model having distinct features.
The Rickenbacker 4001S (S for Special) was a short version of the 4001. Unlike other Rickenbacker basses, the 4001S did not have bindings and came with a padauk fretboard and dot markets. This bass used a horseshoe bridge pickup and a toaster top neck pickup with individual volume controls for each pickup.
For the left-handed players, Rickenbacker came up with the 4001LH. This bass comes the same as the standard 4001, except that it was designed for use by lefties. The 4001 has other versions, including the signature series of Chris Squire and a recreation of Paul McCartney’s Rickenbacker that came with a reverse headstock.
Contemporary Offerings: Rickenbacker 4003S
The Rickenbacker 4003S is known for its slightly metallic tone, which leans towards the mid and treble sides. The bass tones on a 4003S aren’t as thick as what you’d get from a standard precision or jazz bass.
Some bassists using the 4003S use flat wound strings and a rubber mute on the bridge to get an upright bass sound. This setup perfectly captures bass tones prominent in the 60s and 70s.
- Body and Neck
The Rickenbacker 4003S uses maple for the body and neck. Since this bass is a neck-through, this bass gets enough stability and delivers enough punch. The 4003S uses a rosewood fretboard and has a 10-inch radius. Unlike other basses, the number of frets deviates from the 4003S, as it only has 20 frets with dot markers.
The Rickenbacker 4003S has two single coil pickups and individual neck and bridge pickup controls for volume and tone. Each tone control has a push-pull switch for treble control and a three-way switch that lets you choose which pickup to use. The 4003S has a sub-variant that features stereo outputs for each pickup.
Mention Ibanez basses, and one will equate it to metal. After all, many notable Ibanez bass artists include the late Paul Gray of Slipknot, session player and some-time Suicidal Tendencies bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Brurner, and Mike D’Antonio of Killswitch Engage.
While the modern basses of Ibanez were put on the map at the height of the nu-metal wave, thanks to Fieldy of Korn, one will be surprised at what Ibanez basses offer. While the choice of many metal players, their basses are more than that, as they can also do other genres quite well.
Ibanez started when Hoshino Gakki, the company behind the brand, made Spanish guitars using the Ibanez Salvador brand, which they later shortened to Ibanez. They started making modern electric guitars in 1957 and integrated unusual designs by the Guyatone Kiso Suzuki Violin and the Tama Factory.
As a Japanese brand, Ibanez joined the bandwagon of other local guitar brands copying American designs, which Guitar historians and collectors refer to as the lawsuit-era of Ibanez.
Ibanez produced copies of Gibson, Fender, and Rickenbacker, but at the same time, they also tried developing their designs. Designs created simultaneously in this era include the Iceman, made popular by Paul Stanley of KISS.
The lawsuit era of Ibanez ended after a case was filed at the Philadelphia Federal District Court by the Norlin Corporation, the parent company of Gibson. Hoshino Gakki settled the matter outside the courts and abandoned all models that were copies of existing designs.
By this time, Ibanez had already established its trademark designs and marketed designs of its own, including the SR, ATK, and BTB basses, which have become mainstays for Ibanez basses from the 90s onwards.
Claim To Fame:
The Ibanez Soundgear (SR) offers different models that fit various budgets and preferences. It’s one of the most popular bass series from Ibanez most popular bass series and has been copied by other brands.
The nice thing about the SR bass series is that there’s a model for almost every bass player. This model has different variants, including 4, 5, and 6 strings. You can choose from active and passive circuitry, soapbar pickups, and the standard precision and jazz pickup.
The SR series is known for having thinner necks and could be seen as the bass counterpart of Ibanez’s wizard neck. The thin necks make it easy to move around the fretboard without much effort.
Contemporary Offerings: Ibanez SR305E
The SR305E is a five-string bass that meets excellent performance and affordability in one guitar. Priced at around $400, this bass gives you the essential tones you need to go from pop to metal with a few twists of the tone controls.
- Body and Neck
The SR305E features a Mahogany body with a gloss finish. The bolt-on neck is a five-piece maple-rosewood combination and features an SR5 neck shape. The channel features a 12-inch radius and a 34-inch scale, making it one of the fuller-sized basses of Ibanez.
Each SR305E comes with a pair of passive PowerSpan dual-coil humbucker bass pickups. While these pickups are passive, the SR305E with an active 3-band EQ control that you can bypass. This EQ lets you shape the tone of your bass to help you achieve the needed sound that the song calls for.
When it comes to basses, Fender is perhaps the most ubiquitous and prolific brand available today. You can say it’s a must-have for any working musician and should be the first bass to invest in when starting a bass career.
Fender basses are perhaps one of the most heard bass tones in music today and have been used by bassists of different genres. Notable users of Fender basses include Sting, Nate Mendel of the Foo Fighters, Jaco Pastorius, Duff McKagan of Guns n Roses, and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.
Leo Fender, the founder of Fender Electric Instrument Company, started as an electronics technician who worked on radios and other amplifier systems. As a repairman, he was curious about the technology behind these devices, which led him to design amplifiers that improve existing designs.
He then took this venture to another level with his partnership with Clayton Kauffman and formed the K & F Manufacturing Corporation, which focused on making electric instruments and amplifiers. Their first instruments were lap steel guitars that were sold with amplifiers.
Kauffman and Fender parted ways in 1946, and the latter renamed the company Fender Electric Instrument Company. He then began experimenting with the common guitar shapes. He came out with the Broadcaster, the predecessor of the Telecaster, but had issues, such as bowing during humid weather. Fender then introduced the truss rod, allowing players to adjust neck bowing during humid weather.
Fender changed the Broadcaster’s name due to trademark issues, and they renamed the instrument as the Telecaster. After the release of the Telecaster, Fender then developed the first electric bass, the Precision bass, which opened the doors for Fender to explore other bass models.
Claim To Fame:
The Fender Precision Bass was Leo Fender’s answer to making the bass more portable. As upright basses were hard to transport due to their sizes, Fender thought of making a more compact bass, which could deliver the right punch needed.
The Precision Bass started a bass movement and was the basis for a different spin-off that Fender did for its basses, including the Jazz Bass. The Precision is a standard bass for many session players, as its simplicity makes it unique. This bass is also one of the most copied designs worldwide, and one is likely to find another brand with its take on the design.
Contemporary Offerings: JMJ Mustang Bass
The JMJ Mustang Bass is an example of modern meets vintage bass that many players will enjoy. Designed based on the preferences of prolific music producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, this bass provides comfort and good tones in a small package.
- Body and Neck
Made with an Alder body and Maple neck, the JMJ Mustang packs a punch, despite its size. The fretboard is made of rosewood to complete the triad of tone woods. The neck is a 30-inch short scale and features a C-shape profile, making it comfortable even for guitar players to use. Notably, the JMJ Mustang also features a road-worn look, making it feel like it was used for years.
The JMJ Mustang features a split Seymour Duncan Mustang pickup similar to a Precision pickup. While split in design, the pickups on the JMJ Mustang are slightly smaller than the traditional precision bass. And like the precision bass, this bass has a single volume and tone control.
Gibson might be as popular as Fender in basses, but it has some diamonds in the rough that offer tones for particular sounds. Their tones are not as punchy as the traditional jazz bass, but they have this rounded tone that makes them ideal for vintage sounds.
These basses might not be popular, but they make a good choice for hard rock and alternative music. Notable bassists using Gibson include Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Jack Bruce of Cream, John Entwistle of The Who, and Gene Simmons of KISS.
Orville Gibson may have started his line of musical instruments by producing mandolins. Still, it was only in the 1950s that the brand he created branched out to carve its niche in the modern music instrument market.
Before creating its masterpieces, such as the Les Paul, Gibson had already made jazz boxes and lap steel guitars and banjos. In the mid-1940s, Chicago Music Instruments bought Gibson and introduced more models. It was under Chicago Music Instruments that the Les Paul was introduced.
The first Gibson bass, the ES-1, was introduced in 1953. Its shape was based on the Gibson SG and featured one mini-humbucker pickup on the neck. The second bass model, the EB-2, was released in 1958 and featured a body similar to the Gibson ES-335. In 1961, the ES-3 was introduced, combining the design of the ES-1 and ES-2.
Later, Gibsons produced bass counterparts of their iconic guitar designs, such as the Firebird (Thunderbird bass), Les Paul, and Explorer.
Claim To Fame: Gibson EB3
While many popular basses try to eat into different frequencies in the sound spectrum, the Gibson EB3 did what a bass should do: stay within the bass frequencies. The EB-3 was known for its round sound, muddiness, and lack of treble.
While the EB-3 didn’t have loud outputs, this bass was good for replicating the upright bass sound. Load it with flat wound strings, and the EB-3 can get you into that upright territory that not even a jazz bass could replicate easily. Because of this rounded sound, stoner and doom bands preferred this bass.
Contemporary Offerings: SG Standard Bass
While the ES-3 may no longer be in production, it has since reincarnated into the SG Standard Bass. The SG Standard Bass features much of the same features found in its predecessor.
The SG Standard Bass features a 30.5 scale, making it a short-scale bass. If you’re a guitar player, this bass is worth having in your arsenal, as you can easily adjust to this bass since it’s not that far from a guitar.
- Body and Neck
The SG Standard Bass uses mahogany for the body and neck. This bass features a set-neck construction, which gives it its tone. This bass also features a rosewood fretboard and a 12-inch radius.
The electronics on the SG Standard Bass are pretty straightforward. For its pickups, this bass uses SG Bass humbuckers. The controls feature independent volume controls for each pickup and a master tone control. With individual volume controls, you can quickly mute one pickup in place of a pickup selector.
Jackson might be a popular guitars brand, but it has its share of basses. For the most part, Jackson basses became popular as a metal bassist’s tool.
These basses are known to have strat-like bodies with the trademark pointed headstock. The fretboard inlays scream 80s metal with the Sharktooth inlays.
While known for strat-like bodies, Jackson also used designs similar to the Gibson Firebird. Popular uses of Jackson basses include David Ellefson of Megadeth, Rex Brown of Pantera, and Chris Beattie of Hatebreed.
Jackson started when chief luthier Grover Jackson acquired Charvel. With this acquisition, Jackson launched his line of guitars, with Randy Rhoads as one of its first endorsers. While this takeover put Jackson on the map of the guitar industry, he later on sold the company to International Music Corporation.
The brand became popular with guitars targeted at metal players, but it later introduced its bass guitars. It took a cue from classic designs and made bass versions using these shapes.
Claim To Fame: Jackson X Series Bass
The Jackson X Series Bass is a straightforward bass that can work for different applications. It features Precision and jazz bass pickups that add punch to your tone.
The X Series Bass has two kinds of body shapes: one that is similar to the Precision Bass, and another that bears similarities with Ibanez’s basses. The Precision look isn’t surprising, as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation owns Jackson.
Contemporary Offerings: Jackson X Series Concert CBXNT IV
The X Series Concert CBXNT IV from Jackson combines different classic designs. The body is reminiscent of a precision bass and features a jazz and precision pickup. The pickguard, meanwhile, bares semblance to a Rickenbacker.
Like any Jackson guitar, the CBXNT IV features the same trademark pointed headstock you’ll find on most Jackson guitars. This bass also has a five-string variant
- Body and Neck
The CBXNT IV uses poplar for its body and features a neck though maple neck. Reinforcing the neck is graphite to prevent bowing in humid weather. This bass uses a laurel fretboard with a compound radius of 12 – 16 inches.
The X Series Concert Bass features Jackson-branded Precision and Jazz pickup with a master volume and blend control. To supplement it, this bass comes with an active 3-band EQ to help you shape the sound of the bass.
Like Jackson, ESP isn’t a popular choice for bass guitars. But the brand has its share in the metal scene as one of the specialized tools for the genre.
ESP basses use designs lifted from classic shapes made famous by Gibson and Fender but modified to look more original and metal oriented. Many ESP basses incorporate EMG pickups, making them notable for high-fidelity tones tailored for heavy music. Some notable ESP users include Frank Bello of Anthrax, Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power, and Tom Araya of Slayer.
ESP Guitars started in 1975 as a manufacturer of custom and replacement parts for guitars while making select guitars for Japanese musicians. Its replacement parts were then taken to the US while introducing custom instruments for the US market.
The company also made bodies and necks for brands like Kramer and Schecter. But things went up a notch when George Lynch discovered the ESP shop while on tour in Japan. This discovery led to the ESP Kamikaze, which became the basis for Lynch’s signature series. Soon after, ESP released other models, such as Horizon and Surveyor Bass.
In the early 90s, guitar productions picked up for ESP, which resulted in the closure of their replacement parts line so that the company could focus on its guitar line. Soon after, ESP became one of the fast-rising companies in the guitar industry.
Claim To Fame: ESP Surveyor Bass
One thing that made ESP famous is how it made derivatives of classic designs and made them their own. The company put its spin on shapes like the Precision Bass, Jazz Bass, and Thunderbird and redesigned them with the metal player in mind.
Now, if one bass made a mark for ESP, it’s got to be the Surveyor Bass. This bass guitar was first designed as a Precision Bass in its early days of guitar production. Like its Fender counterpart, the Surveyor bass featured the same simplicity in design. Since then, this bass has evolved to have a Jazz Bass pickup on the bridge, making it a Precision-Jazz Bass in the modern era.
Contemporary Offerings: ESP LTD B-204SM
The ESP LTD B-204SM is a mid-tier bass that provides users with different tone-shaping tools and features that you’d normally get in a more expensive guitar. Known for its aggressive mids and clarity, this bass is ideal for session bassists who need one bass to do almost everything.
The B-204SM also comes in a satin finish with a spalted maple top. You can choose between a black or natural finish for this bass.
- Body and Neck
The neck on the B-204SM features a bolt-on 5-piece combination of Maple and Jatoba and has an extra thin U-neck profile. The fretboard is made with Roasted Jatoba and comes with a 13.77-inch radius. Its body uses Ash with Spalted Maple for its top.
For its electronics, the B-204SM uses a pair of ESP-designed bass humbuckers. It’s wired with a master volume and panning control to blend both pickup outputs and is complimented with an active 3-band EQ preamp.
Mention Yamaha bass, and you’re likely to turn heads. For many bassists, Yamaha is the perfect melting pot of everything one looks for in a bass. Sounds good? Check. Not expensive? Check. Comfortable to use? Check.
And there are plenty of other good qualities from Yamaha basses that you’ll likely find in almost every bass they have. After all, they’re the choice of many session players like Billy Sheehan, Nathan East, John Pattitucci, and renowned session bassist Lee Sklar. You can say it’s like a multitool of basses, as it can deliver different tones.
Yamaha started creating musical instruments towards the end of the 19th century, but it was only towards the 1940s that they began to explore guitars. They started first with the local market, until the 1960s when they launched for a broader audience in the international scene.
It was in the 1960s when Yamaha ventured into electric instruments. Their first bass, the SB-2, came out in 1966, considered late to the game. Like many other Japanese brands in that era, this bass lifted design elements from existing American instruments: the SB-2 had a body similar to the Precision bass but had two pickups like the Jazz Bass.
The appeal of Yamaha basses caught on for its high-quality build and affordability, which made them the choice for upcoming artists. To up the ante, Yamaha introduced the BB (Broad Bass) series in 1977, which gained popularity. These basses have different configurations and feature a single coil pickup similar to the Precision Bass.
Claim To Fame: Yamaha BB
The Yamaha BB, or Broad Bass, is the company’s flagship series designed for studio and live use. These basses are known for their impressive build but without costing too much.
The ability to get different tones through tweaking the on-board controls is a strength of the Yamaha BB. You can use this bass for various genres, letting you go from pop to metal, thanks to its pickups and, in higher-end models, the preamp circuit.
Contemporary Offerings: Yamaha TRBX 304
The Yamaha TRBX 304 Bass is part of its mid-tier series of basses and comes with an affordable price tag. While it’s not the cheapest among the Yamaha basses, this bass offers a wide range of sounds that is still cheaper than its counterparts.
- Body and Neck:
The mahogany body of the TRBX 304 features deeper cutaways that provide easy access to higher frets. You can easily play chords on the upper register thanks to these cutaways. The neck is made of a combination of mahogany and maple that provides stable tunings without overtones.
The TRBX 304 comes with dual active humbuckers for bass. This bass also features a master volume, pickup blend, and a two-band active EQ. But what makes this bass special is the five-way selector switch that sets the instrument for five playing styles: finger, slap, pick, flat, and solo.
8. Harley Benton
Harley Benton is Musikaus Thomann, one of the largest music retailers in Germany. The brand is known to produce budget offerings and bang-for-the-buck products: you get premium builds without spending as much as their bigger-name counterparts.
If you’re looking for a particular classic design but can’t afford the thousands of dollars that come with Gibson or Fender, chances are Harley Benton has a counterpart for it. Their premium line still comes out cheaper than the big-name brands, but comes with features you don’t usually get at that price point, such as stainless steel frets or special finishes.
Harley Benton started in 1997 when Hans Thomann decided to have a house brand for Thomann, his family’s music retail business. The idea for Harley Benton was simple: offer good quality equipment at a lower cost than the major brands.
The products of Harley Benton were sourced from other established manufacturers and badged as their products. Because Harley Benton deals directly with the manufacturers, it doesn’t need middlemen to facilitate purchases, resulting in lower costs.
This business model of Thomann allowed them to have over 2,000 Harley Benton guitar products, covering electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers, basses, and other accessories. Many YouTubers highly regard Harley Benton, including Patrick Hunter, Henning Pauly, and Glenn Frick of Spectre Sound Studios.
Claim To Fame:
Perhaps one thing to note about Harley Benton is the copies it makes. Aside from having the standard designs, such as the jazz bass or precision bass, Harley Benton has also made their take on the distinctive designs for guitars and basses. Some of the basses they have that are based on uncommon designs include:
The Harley Benton Guitarbass is the brand’s take on the Fender Bass VI, a six-string bass tuned similarly to a guitar. Harley Benton manufactured this bass with the guitar player in mind, who may want to play the bass but have the comfort of a guitar and not spend too much on one.
- HB-60 WB
This bass is Harley Benton’s take on a semi-hollow bass similar to what Ibanez had been doing. These basses feature an archtop, trapeze tailpiece and two vintage bass humbuckers.
- DIY Kits
Aside from that, Harley Benton also offers guitar kits that allow you to build a guitar or bass from the ground up without investing in heavy-duty woodworking tools to craft a body or neck from scratch. While these kits still need some heavy work (e.g., fret crowning and leveling), you get all the necessary parts to build an instrument. Just add paint, and you’re ready to go.
Contemporary Offerings: Marquess Bass
The Marquess Bass is Harley Benton’s take on doing a modern look for their basses. These bass guitars are on the premium side but don’t cost as much as a boutique offering.
The features you get with this bass are often found in more expensive guitars on the market.
- Body and Neck
The Marquess Bass features a Sungkai body with a flamed maple top. Its bolt-on neck is made of Maple and Padauk and uses an Amaranth fretboard. The neck features a modern C profile and a 16-inch radius. A graphite nut comes loaded on the neck, as well.
The pickups on the Marquess bass vary on each model. The four-string version uses a G&B jazz bass pickup on the bridge and precision pickup on the neck. The five-string version, meanwhile, uses a pair of 5ST humbucker bass pickups. Both versions have a G&B preamp with a two-band EQ to control bass and treble, with individual volume controls for each pickup.
Schecter might be synonymous with metal players, but the truth is, they are more than that.
While it’s true that many of their guitar offerings look like a metalized version of classic designs, Schecter incorporates a fusion of sleek design with the classic look to create more modern guitars and basses.
Because of this fusion in design, Schecter can break out of the box of the metal genre and is widely used in other types of music. Notable Schecter bass players include Robert DeLeo of the Stone Temple Pilots, JD Deservio of Black Label Society, and Simon Gallup of The Cure.
In 1976, Schecter Guitar Research started with David Schecter, who opened a repair shop in California that offered replacement parts, including bridges, necks, and other guitar hardware. Three years later, Schecter was offered to sell high-quality assembled electric guitars. These guitars were considered premium level, and only 20 shops in the US sold them.
Unfortunately, Schecter maximized its production limit in 1983, which led to the company being sold to some investors who wanted to bank on Schecter’s reputation. A year later, Schecter introduced its first line of basses at the Winter NAMM, based on existing Fender designs.
Due to the use of Fender designs, Schecter faced lawsuits, which led to their closing in 1986. One year later, Hitsake Shibuya, a Japanese businessman, bought the rights to the name. He has since then owned Schecter Guitar Research.
Claim To Fame: Stiletto Bass
Among the basses of Schecter, the Stilletto series is one of the most popular models from the brand. These basses are known for their versatility and can be used for various genres. You can use these basses to play RnB and not stick out like a sore thumb.
The Stiletto offers options for 4, 5, and 6 strings. These basses also use active circuitry to power the two-band EQ. There are also options for left-handed players, which makes this bass cover as many kinds of bassists as possible.
Contemporary Offerings: Stiletto Extreme
The Stiletto Extreme is one of the most popular bass models of Schecter. Like other Stiletto basses, the Stiletto Extreme features high-quality components that ensure excellent tone and stable tunings.
- Body and Neck
The Stiletto Extreme features a bolt-on construction that still provides good tone and sustain. The body features a figured maple top on the mahogany body. The neck is made of maple and comes with a rosewood fretboard. This bass has a C-neck profile and a 16-inch radius.
The Stiletto Extreme comes with active bass humbuckers that provide a punch to your sound. Powered by EMG, these bass humbuckers also feature a two-band EQ to drive power to the pickups. The pickups are controlled by a master volume and a blend control to widen your tonal palette.
10. Music Man
The Music Man basses are another masterpiece made by Leo Fender.
But it wasn’t until the agreement with CBS lapsed that Leo Fender became more aggressive with his involvement in the company.
The Music Man basses are popular for hard rock and pop sounds. Notable Music Man users include Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine, John Myung of Dream Theater, session player Louis Johnson, Tony Levin, Cliff Williams of AC/DC, Flea, and Nick Chaplin of Slowdive.
Music Man started when Leo Fender joined Tri-Sonix, which he renamed Music Man in 1974. Initially beginning as an amplifier manufacturer, Music Man eventually developed guitars in 1976, followed by bass guitars.
The bass guitars introduced had two pickups, but Fender wanted a more powerful bass. He then developed the Stingray Bass, which features a large humbucker for bass that had prominent magnets. These basses, later on, had other features, such as fretless variants and a two-band EQ.
Claim To Fame:
The Stingray Bass is Music Man’s most iconic bass design. This bass, while it only has one humbucker pickup, can provide a low, punchy tone.
Speaking of pickups, the Music Man humbuckers are what made the brand stand out. Among all other bass humbuckers, the Music Man humbucker is known for its distinct large pole pieces. Players looking to modify their basses can change the wiring to have features like coil split or series-parallel wiring.
Notably, when compared to the Mudbucker, another large bass humbucker by Gibson, the Music Man humbucker also has a louder output due to its windings.
Contemporary Offerings: Bongo Bass
The Bongo Bass is a modernized version of the Stingray. Designed to be comfortable to use and effortless when playing, the Bongo has 24 frets with easy access to higher notes with its cutaway. This bass was designed by Music Man’s research and development team in collaboration with BMW’s design team.
This bass has many extra features, including piezo pickups in most models. There’s also an option for 4, 5, and 6-string models, with some modifications to the wiring.
- Body and Neck
The Bongo features a basswood body, maple neck, and ebony fretboard. The neck is a bolt-on and features an 11-inch radius and 34-inch scale. Noticeably, the inlays on the Bongo are half moons, which add more class to it.
All Bongo basses come with a master volume control and blend knob to set the humbucker bass pickups. An on-board active EQ circuit lets you control the amount of bass, treble, low-mid, and high-mid. Unlike other active basses, the Bongo uses two 9-volt batteries to power the preamp.
If there was any brand you could say is the most bass-centric, it’s got to be Warwick.
In fact, among all the brands listed here, Warwick is the only one that offers bass and related accessories exclusively.
Warwicks are known for their distinguishable rounded horns and natural finishes. While they offer colored finishes, these natural finishes are one of the notable characteristics of the brand. Famous users of Warwick include P-nut of 311, Justin Chancellor of Tool, Mike Inez of Alice in Chains, Robert Trujillo of Metallica, and session player Stu Hamm.
The Warwick brand was established in 1982 in Bavaria, Germany, under Hans-Peter Wilfer’s leadership. 13 years later, Warwick moved to Markneukirchen to take advantage of the area’s heritage in building music instruments, as well as revive the Framus brand.
The company initially offered its products in Germany and Austria but later expanded to the whole of Europe and, later on, the US.
Claim To Fame: Thumb Bass
The Thumb Bass is one of the most popular designs made by Warwick and is widely used by many players worldwide. It was designed to be compact and ergonomic so players can have this bass on their shoulders for hours without much inconvenience. The Thumb Bass is also known for its modern tonal take on the Jazz bass, which makes it very popular for various gigs.
Contemporary Offerings: Rock Bass Corvette $$
The Rock Bass Corvette $$ is based on the Masterbuilt Corvette $$ but made more affordable. The Rock Bass Corvette $$ delivers the same Warwick tones even with more affordable components. That means getting the same high-fidelity tones that produce crisp and loud outputs that can fit different genres.
The Rock Bass Corvette $$ is part of the Rock Bass series of Warwick, which caters to players who have a limited budget. You can think of Rock Bass as Warwick’s version of the Squier, Fender’s budget-friendly brand.
- Body and Neck
Like its more expensive counterpart, the Rock Bass Corvette $$ features a swamp ash body with a bolt-on neck and wenge fretboard. If there was any difference in the build, the more expensive Corvette $$ uses a US swamp ash body and an ovangkol neck.
The electronic components of Rock Bass Corvette $$ feature two humbucker bass pickups that deliver a thunderous punch to your mix and may be controlled with a master volume, blend and two-band active EQ preamp. Unlike its more expensive counterpart, this bass misses out on the two-way toggle switch that lets you wire the humbuckers in series or parallel.
12. Gretsch Guitars
Lastly, Gretsch Guitars joins the list of electric basses worth looking into. Known for their hollow body and short-scale basses, Gretsch offers a refreshing take on the bass without the added weight associated with bass guitars.
With over a hundred years of heritage, Gretsch has been known for making different instruments, including drums, basses, and guitars.
The Gretsch brand started in 1883 and first made banjos, tambourines, and drums. It was only in the 1930s that they ventured into modern electric guitars, with basses following later on. The Gretsch brand was made famous by many hard rock musicians, including Malcolm Young of AC/DC.
Today, Gretsch offers a few models of basses, notably prominent for their hollow bodies and short-scale necks. They’re a popular choice for rockabilly artists, as these can cop the upright bass sound.
Claim To Fame: Electromatic Bass
The Electromatic short-scale bass is the flagship bass of Gretsch. Known for their short scale, these basses are easy to play and make an excellent compliment to any bass arsenal. Guitar players will love this bass, as the fret spacing isn’t that far from the standard electric guitar.
The Electromatic bass might be a short scale, but it’s known for delivering brighter tones. They can easily cut through a mix, although they tend to lose some of their bass properties. The hollow body design is also a good feature, as it comes out lighter than the standard bass.
Contemporary Offerings: Electromatic Junior Jet Bass G 2220
The Electromatic Junior Jet Bass screams Gretsch in every little way. The body resembles the Electromatic guitar that many rockabilly players use. Unlike other Gretsch basses, this bass features a solid body, which makes it less prone to feedback.
Despite the size and solid body construction, this bass is comfortable and light to use.
- Body and Neck
- The body of the Electromatic Junior Jet features basswood and a bolt-on maple neck. The radius on this bass is 12 inches and features a scale length of 30.3 inches. The Electromatic Junior Jet has 20 medium jumbo frets as short-scale bass.
- Despite its size, this bass can deliver a punch. The Electromatic Junior Jet features two single coil pickups and a three-way switch to activate each pickup. This bass employs a master volume and tone control for simplicity.
There are a lot of good basses in the market today, which makes it hard to choose. You need to set criteria to determine which one is best for you.
If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to steer clear of the Fenders; if you’re looking for a significant investment, then Fender and Warwick might be the answer.
And if you’re still undecided, visit your local music store and see which bass “speaks” to you. Ideally, you should find a bass that impresses you with the least number of notes because that would mean your hands and ears find themselves at home on that bass.
Remember, your instrument is just one aspect of the music; how you play will determine the rest.
John Narciso is a guitar player and music technology hobbyist. He loves exploring guitar effects processors in pedal and plugin format and free music applications. His music preferences tend to be diverse, listening to genres spanning from metal to alternative rock and a little hip-hop.