If you are a fan of heavy music and want to buy a bass, we have good news for you. This article shows you the top 7 bass guitars for stoner, doom, and sludge metal.
Choosing an instrument can be quite a challenge, especially if you are a beginner and don’t have enough experience. In this article, we have tried to compile options that are suitable for different budgets. You may ask, “what were you guided by when you compiled the list for sludge, doom, and a stoner?” Well, we took into account the ability to play on the low tunings and, of course, cool looks.
Top 9 Bass Guitar Plugins (And 2 Best Freebies)
Should I Learn 4, 5 Or 6 String Bass Guitar & Why? (Complete Guide)
Why Are Bass Guitars So Heavy? Answered & What You Can Do
Buying Your First Guitar: 2 Things To Know (Electric, Acoustic, Bass)
How Often Does A Guitar Need a Setup? (Acoustic, Electric, Bass)
Top 7 Bass Guitars For Stoner, Doom & Sludge Metal 2023 (On Thomann)
1. Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass
Check on Amazon (No Pickguard)
The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass is a premium instrument that will surprise you with its comfort and sound.
Jazz Bass has already become an iconic instrument. In the 1960s, these bass guitars were designed to be comfortable for jazz, as they have rather narrow necks. But over time, they have won the hearts of many musicians, as they have become a universal solution essentially. You can use them for almost any genre, from pop to sludge metal.
The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass has been on the market since 2003 and is still relevant today. First of all, it is quite light and easy to play instruments. But the tonal characteristics of this bass guitar are not standing aside either. You get two different pickups and quite a wide range of possibilities in getting a different sound. Let’s break down all the specifications in more detail.
- Lightweight and Comfortable
This bass guitar weighs about 3 kilograms, making it quite light compared to other models. You get a pretty slim body of basswood, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard. As for the neck, it’s just as thin as other Jazz Bass, which makes the instrument very comfortable to play.
- PJ Pickup Configuration
You will have two pickups at your disposal – a split single-coil Precision in the neck position and a standard single-coil Jazz Bass in the bridge. The P will give you a more round and smooth sound, while the J is different with a midrange bite.
- 3 Control Knobs
The Aerodyne Jazz Bass has only three knobs. The first controls the level of the neck pickup, and the second is the bridge pickup. That is, you can turn off one of them just by setting the knob to 0. And the third knob is responsible for the tone.
- Stylish Look
This guitar has just a great stylish look. The body is made in black with a lacquer finish and a cream finish around it, which also completes the design. As for the hardware, it is made in smoky chrome. In addition, you won’t see any fretboard inlays, which can be pretty cool too.
Character & Sound:
The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass is quite versatile in its sound, and it’s all thanks to the two pickups. You can use the sound with a pronounced midrange with the bridge or get a more round and soft sound at the neck position. You can also get the “best of both worlds” by using them together. In addition, this bass guitar can be good for stoner, doom, and sludge as it will sound great with overdrive.
The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass is a great bass guitar that suits beginners and experienced musicians. It is quite lightweight and will not wear you out while playing. As far as tonal characteristics are concerned, the bass is versatile and has excellent sound quality.
The only drawback may be the lacquer finish, which constantly leaves fingerprints. But if you’re not too lazy to wipe it off all the time, it won’t be a problem.
2. Ibanez SR306EB
The Ibanez SR306EB-WK will be a good option for your wallet if you want your first 6-string bass guitar.
If you feel that a 4-string or 5-string bass is a bit limited for you, perhaps you should consider going with a 6-string. Especially if you play genres like a stoner, doom, and sludge, it might help. As we know, they use quite low tunings. Therefore, an extra B-string might be a good addition to your arsenal.
The Ibanez SR306EB-WK is a budget 6-string bass guitar from one of the most popular manufacturers. In addition to the extra low string, you also get extensive bass tone options thanks to many settings. Also, despite the number of strings, this instrument is quite light and easy to play.
- Pretty Ergonomic
SR306EB’s body is made of nyatoh, and the neck is made of maple and walnut in a total of 5 pieces. Despite this, the bass is quite light and ergonomic. It weighs about 4 pounds, which is not bad enough for a 6-string bass. As for the neck, it’s thin enough that it’s easy for you to play.
- Active Pickups
You get two active PowerSpan dual coils. They are humbuckers, but you can also switch them to single coils. The active electronics also means that you will have a place for the battery on the back of the case, which it is advisable to replace after purchase.
- 3-way Power Tap Switch
Thanks to this small switch next to the knobs, you can switch the voicing of your pickups. In one position, they will all be engaged. In the second position, only the outermost single coils, and in the third position, the single coils are closer to each other.
- 3-band EQ
Another nice feature of the Ibanez SR306EB is a 3-band EQ – the Bass, Mid, and Treble knobs. They all work like boost and cut. So you’ll have plenty of room to manipulate your tone.
- Volume and Balance Knobs
The last two knobs in the list of settings are Volume and Balance, which are closer to the right-hand position. One controls the overall volume of your bass, and the other adjusts the balance between the neck and bridge pickups. You can choose whether both or a particular one will sound with the latter.
Character & Sound:
It isn’t easy to generalize the character of the sound of this bass guitar because there are just enormous possibilities of obtaining different tones. And it’s all thanks to the different voicings of the pickups and the 3-band EQ. You get a round, smooth, and pretty sharp sound with a pronounced midrange. Overall, this instrument is suitable for almost all playing styles, including fingering, slapping, or picking.
The Ibanez SR306EB-WK is a great option for a budget 6-string bass guitar that can give you plenty of options. Thanks to the extra low strings, it is suitable for funky slapping and doom and sludge metal. As for the drawbacks, some users on the internet complained about the rather poor quality of the knobs, as they were rather loose. But hopefully, these were isolated cases.
3. Squier CV 70s Jazz Bass
The Squier CV 70s Jazz Bass will give you the vibe of a classic instrument at an extremely affordable price.
As many people know, Squier is a separate Fender brand that provides instruments at an affordable price. Many musicians have a somewhat different attitude towards them because they are made in Indonesia, associated with low quality and cheap components. Still, many Squier guitars prove that they can do the job quite well. And one such model is the Squier CV 70s Jazz Bass.
The name of this model stands for “Classic Vibe,” and it is not strange because the instrument is an exact copy of the classic Jazz Bass of the ’70s, only with cheaper components. It has two single pickups, passive electronics, only a few knobs, and a stylish natural color look. Let’s break down the features one by one.
- Classic Neck Shape
The neck of this guitar is made of maple, as is the fingerboard itself. Speaking of the profile, it is worth noting that the neck is made in C shape, exactly like the classic Jazz Bass. Therefore, it is slightly thicker than the more modern models. As for the back of the neck, it’s done in a vintage-tint gloss finish.
- Soft Maple Body
Every wooden element here is made of maple, which also applies to the body. And that has quite an impact on the tonal characteristics. For example, if you compare these instruments with those made in the ’70s, you get a more scooped tone here.
- Alnico Single Coils
The Squier CV 70s Jazz Bass is loaded with two Fender-designed Alnico single coils. You will be able to switch between them thanks to the two separate knobs. The neck pickup will be somewhat soft, and the bridge will be piercing and perfect for slap.
- Two Volumes and One Tone
You also get a somewhat minimalistic set of settings. For example, two volume knobs control each of the pickups. There’s also one Tone knob, which allows you to sharpen your sound in more detail.
- Vintage Look
It is impossible not to notice that this bass guitar is made in a cool vintage style. You’ll have the black rectangular fret inlays that are typical of the Jazz Bass of the 70s. They will look harmonious with the black body overlay. As for the body itself, it’s in a natural color with a lacquer finish.
Character & Sound:
Sure, for three and a half hundred dollars, you don’t get the top-of-the-line sound of a top-of-the-line classic Jazz Bass from the ’70s. Nevertheless, it’s good enough and even surprising concerning that price tag. All in all, this bass has a pretty scooped tone that’s great for most genres, including doom, sludge metal, and stoner rock.
The Squier CV 70s Jazz Bass will be a great option for beginners and experienced musicians alike, especially if you need to travel a lot and are worried that your instrument might get damaged or stolen. It has a good sound, low price, and cool vintage look.
4. Harley Benton MB-5 SBK Deluxe Series
The similarity to the legendary model and no-brainer price is what makes the Harley Benton MB-5 SB Deluxe Series not a bad option if you’re on a budget.
Harley Benton is a fairly young in-house Musikhaus Thomann brand specializing in making affordable guitars for beginners and intermediate musicians. Their products are made in factories in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, but quality control occurs in Germany. You can find many copies of famous guitars and basses among Harley Benton musical instruments at very low prices. And one of those is the MB-5 SB Deluxe Series.
In essence, it is a clone of the famous Stingray model. But the remarkable thing is that for the price of one Stingray, you can buy four MB-5 SBs. It is a 5-string bass guitar with passive electronics and one pickup, which you can split into single coils. It also has a pretty good build quality and nice 3-tone sunburst color.
- Basswood Body
You get a guitar body made of basswood. This material is known for its lightweight and a quite expressive midrange. On the other hand, it has a somewhat short sustain.
- Crowned With Six Bolts
The neck, made of maple, is bolted to the basswood body with six bolts. It promises to give you fairly reliable neck stability and, therefore, string tuning. By the way, as far as the fingerboard profile is concerned, it’s a D, and it’s pretty thick.
- One Humbucker – Two Single Coils
You only get one humbucker on the bridge side. But luckily, your options don’t end there because you can split it into two separate single coils and experiment with the sound that works best for you.
- Minimalistic Controls
The Harley Benton MB-5 SB has a rather small set of settings. You will have one master volume, a balance knob between single coils, and a tone. By the way, as for the hardware, all the parts are in chrome.
- Nice look
This bass is in sunburst color with three tones. The top of the neck is the same color as the body, and the fingerboard is a light natural color. By the way, if you do not like this option, you can find another model made in matte black.
Character & Sound:
You get a pretty beefy sound on the humbucker and a more narrowed sound on the single coils. Also, you’ll have the ability to affect it with the tone knob, removing more treble. However, the single coils can sound noisy compared to a humbucker, but that’s not strange considering the price of this instrument. Still, it might be a good option for beginner doom, stoner, and sludge lovers.
All in all, if you are starting your way in music – Harley Benton MB-5 SB Deluxe Series will be a good option. Sure, you won’t get the legendary Stingray sound, but despite that, this bass guitar is fully usable and will serve you well, both for practice and band rehearsals. It’s quite solid and has a good build quality, which will give you reliability in use.
5. Cort A4 Plus FMMH OPBC
The Cort A4 Plus FMMH OPBC will give you extraordinary playability and ample bass tone sharpening capabilities.
Cort is a South Korean company that has been on the market for over 50 years and produces both budget guitars and basses for beginners and some high-end instruments. It is worth noting that these guys are some of the biggest guitar manufacturers and create them even for other well-known brands. As for the factories, they are located in China and Indonesia.
The A4 Plus is probably not representative of the cheapest bass guitars from Cort. This instrument is in the medium price range. But still, it provides excellent value for its price. First of all, this bass can be either active or passive. It also has a 3-band EQ. But the cherry on the cake is the neck-thru-body, which immediately indicates a higher level of the instrument.
- 5-Piece Neck-Thru-Body
The neck of this bass guitar is made of five pieces of wood, including maple and wenge. It goes through the whole body, which should provide a strong sustain for the sound of the notes. As for the fingerboard, it is made of panga panga.
- Mahogany Body
As for the so-called “wings” that make up the body, they are made of mahogany. As you know, this wood can bring an accented and warm low-midrange sound. It will provide a great tone in combination with the high-midrange of the 5-piece neck.
- Bartolini MK-1 Pickups
The Cort A4 Plus is loaded with two Bartolini MK-1 humbuckers, which give you a pretty high sound quality with transparent highs and punchy mids. Also, an important feature of these pickups is that they can be both active and passive.
- Preamp and EQ
You also get a preamp and a 3-band equalizer so that you can tweak almost any sound. In particular, there will be three knobs responsible for Bass, Mids, and Treble. So, you’ll be able to sharpen your bass tone in more detail – both for studio recording and live performance.
- Hipshot Bridge and Machine Heads
This model features Hipshot tuners made of zinc and aluminum. It allows for the lighter weight of the bass guitar and stability of the strings. Regarding the bridge, it is also branded by Hipshot.
Character & Sound:
The Cort A4 Plus FMMH OPBC provides good solid low-end, punchy mids, and clean highs. The sound of this guitar is quite clear and transparent. Still, you will have plenty of options to adjust the sound to your liking, thanks to the equalizer. When it comes to the pickups, the passive mode will give you a more old-school sound, and the active will provide you with a more modern one.
The Cort A4 Plus FMMH OPBC is an excellent bass guitar that will do quite well for experienced musicians. You will have plenty of possibilities to customize the tone and quality sound, thanks to this instrument’s components and built method. And the stylish look can perfectly complement you in the context of a band.
6. Harley Benton TB-70VS Deluxe Series
If you’re a Thunderbird fan but don’t want to pay the price of the original one, you might want to take a look at the Harley Benton TB-70VS Deluxe Series.
Perhaps the Thunderbird is one of the most recognizable shapes of bass guitars. The Gibson brand created it in the 1960s. During that time, these basses have managed to win the hearts of many musicians, including Krist Novoselic, Lemmy Kilmister, Duff McKagan, Les Claypool, Justin Chancellor, Gene Simmons, and many others. Now we’ll talk about the most budget-friendly version of these instruments.
The TB-70VS Deluxe Series is another Harley Benton creation that surprises with its low price. It has a classic look and feel, active pickups, and even an equalizer. Also, the creators claim that this bass is just made for rock music. Let’s try to look at all the features in more detail.
- Classic Look
The classic look is the first thing that catches your eye when looking at this instrument. And that’s because it’s made in vintage sunburst. You also get a white plastic pickguard on the body, which references the classic model. As for the neck top, it’s black and reversed.
- Mahogany Body and Neck
The body and the neck of this bass guitar are made of mahogany. Thanks to this, you get a warmer and richer overall tone. But it is worth noting that this wood also affects the guitar’s weight, making it somewhat weighty.
- Blackwood Fretboard
The TB-70VS also has a Blackwood fingerboard with a pretty good dark color. You also get 20 frets, and the overall fingerboard profile is in Class D. This is a somewhat flattened version of the popular C shape, which is quite comfortable to play.
- Roswell GB4 Mini Humbuckers
In this bass guitar, you get two active Roswell GB4 mini-humbuckers. Yes, they are cheap, but despite that, these humbuckers can give you a pretty thick and throaty bass tone.
- Only 3 Control Knobs
The set of settings here is also quite classic – it’s only three knobs. The first one controls the volume, but it also has a push-pull function. The other two adjust the tone. You can use them as EQ with Bass and Treble adjustments, thanks to the active electronics.
Character & Sound:
If you characterize in general, Thunderbird bass guitars have quite a specific sound, with accents on the lower mids, and the TB-70VS is no exception here as well. If you like that sound, the bass will serve you well. In our opinion, the tone that this instrument can produce would be a good option for stoner rock, doom, and sludge, due to its throatiness and massiveness.
If you’re dreaming of getting a budget Thunderbird, the Harley Benton TB-70VS Deluxe Series would be a great option. This guitar is very cheap but sounds quite normal. Plus, you’ll have features like 2-Band EQ, which will give you even more control over the tone. Also, the cool classic look of this instrument deserves special attention. However, if you’ve never used the Thunderbird, consider that it’s pretty uncomfortable to play sitting down because of its shape. But you can get used to it.
7. Marcus Miller M2 5 TBL 2nd Gen
The Marcus Miller M2 TBL 2nd Gen would be a good option if you want a modern-looking bass with many features.
It is a product of the American company Sire, which is relatively new. These guys have set themselves the goal of producing quality-sounding instruments at an affordable price. That’s why their guitars are made in Indonesia. Sire decided to team up with some famous musicians to project their experience in making instruments. It is how the Marcus Miller basses, created in collaboration with the jazz musician of the same name, came into being.
The Marcus Miller M2 TBL 2nd Gen is a custom-shaped bass guitar loaded with two active humbuckers that can also be passive. It is quite light in weight and comfortable to play. Also, it has some interesting features that will help you sharpen the bass tone you need. Let’s break them down together.
- Slim Neck & Stylish Body
The neck of this bass guitar is made of maple as well as the fretboard. Speaking about the fingerboard profile, it is a C, which is still quite comfortable to play. As for the body, it is made of mahogany and has a rather original, even somewhat aggressive look thanks to its curves.
- Marcus Blue Humbuckers
The M2 has two active Marcus Blue humbuckers that give you a round and nice sound. Their main feature is that you can select whether they are passive or active and thus choose between an old-school or more modern sound thanks to a special switch.
- Preamp and EQ
If you use active electronics, you have the opportunity to use a preamp with EQ. Specifically, to adjust the bass, midrange, and treble. This instrument gives you the ability to get almost any bass tone.
- Mid Sweep
Notably, this is not a simple midrange control but a selector. With the corresponding knob, you can sweep between low midrange and high midrange and determine which area is best for your sound.
- Tone & Pickup Blender
Of course, on top of all this, you’ll still have the more familiar bass guitar controls. For example, the Tone knob and the Pickup Blender let you choose which pickup you want to hear more.
Character & Sound:
It is one of those basses that won’t limit you in your choice of tone. Thanks to the advanced EQ active and passive pickup modes, you can open up almost any tone – whether it’s more old-school or massive and modern. On the one hand, such variety is useful, but on the other hand, if you are not experienced enough, you can get confused. All in all, this bass has enough capability and a well-articulated sound to be your main tool for genres like sludge or stoner.
The Marcus Miller M2 TBL 2nd Gen is a great instrument at an affordable price designed to meet today’s bassists’ needs. It will easily suit beginners and more experienced musicians who want maximum quality and benefits at an affordable price. You will have ample opportunity to sharpen your bass tone and extraordinary ease of playing.
As you can see, there are enough bass guitars to suit stoner rock, doom, and sludge metal. And this is only our subjective opinion. There are a lot more options. And remember that the best one will be the one that suits you best. Nevertheless, let us give you some useful tips based on our list.
If you have enough resources for a quality instrument of a well-known brand, perhaps you should pay attention to the number 1 Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass. If you want to get maximum sound quality for an affordable price, #7 Marcus Miller M2 TBL 2nd Gen is a good option. And, of course, if you are a beginner and do not want to spend a lot of money on your instrument, take a look at the number 4 Harley Benton MB-5 SB Deluxe Series.
It is best to try it out in person when choosing an instrument. It is the only way you will know if it will work for you in the future. So, if your friends or acquaintances have a model you are interested in, ask them to let you “feel” it. Or just go to your local music store and play them.
Listen carefully to what a particular bass guitar can and feel if it is comfortable in your hands. And if you have a teacher, be sure to consult them about your choice of instrument. Good luck with your creativity!
Ilarion Ivanenko is a remote mixing and mastering engineer from Ukraine, a musician with more than 15 years of experience. Specializes in rock, metal, progressive and the other genres. He can’t imagine his life without music, as it is the biggest passion in his life