Top 9 Best Acoustic Bass Guitars - Going Unplugged
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Last Updated: November 19, 2019
Attention acoustic aficionados! We have revisited this page to add a few new models to our acoustic bass chart. While we removed the Fender Kingman SCE, we replaced it with its new iteration, the Fender Kingman V2. We also welcomed the equally eye-catching Dean Exotica Quilt Ash Bass.
The world of acoustic bass guitars is certainly a niche one when compared to the electric bass market. Still, acoustic basses are very popular with many players who use them for practice, acoustic jamming and even some performance scenarios.
Table Of Contents
- Top 9 Best Acoustic Bass Guitars
- Understanding Acoustic Bass Guitars
- Why Buy an Acoustic Bass?
- Preamps and Amplification
- Short Scale Acoustic Basses
- The Final Word
If you’ve never considered an acoustic bass before, then hopefully this article will introduce you to something new and inspire you ahead of your next purchase.
Let’s get right into it!
Top 9 Best Acoustic Bass Guitars
|Image||Bass Guitar / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
Taylor GS Mini-e
Total of 4.86/5 [usr 4.86 max='5' ]
A somewhat unorthodox model that shows why Taylor's one of the best.
Fender Kingman V2
Total of 4.75/5 [usr 4.75 max='5' ]
A balanced and bright model from the California legends.
Total of 4.72/5 [usr 4.72 max='5' ]
A proper workhorse from one of the best brands in the business.
Total of 4.18/5 [usr 4.18 max='5' ]
Simple but elegant solution that caters to both beginners and advanced users.
Gold Tone Mbass25
Total of 4.52/5 [usr 4.52 max='5' ]
Shortscale model that packs a mean punch and a well made body
Total of 4.38/5 [usr 4.38 max='5' ]
An incredibly attractive acoustic bass guitar that packs an equally impressive performance.
Dean Exotica Quilt Ash Bass
Total of 4.55/5 [usr 4.55 max='5' ]
A solid acoustic bass with the right features at an attractive price.
Total of 3.78/5 [usr 3.78 max='5' ]
An awesome, affordable model that brings quite a bargain to the table.
Best Choice EAB
Total of 3.64/5 [usr 3.64 max='5' ]
A very basic but surprisingly good package for beginners and budget users.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.7" "Electronics:4.9" "Hardware:4.9" "Sound:5" "Value:4.8" avg='false' max='5' ]
When push comes to shove, Taylor's one of the few brands you can rely on for ultimate acoustic tone and reliability. This is true even when they bend some unwritten rules. Taylor GS Mini-e fits this description rather well. It is a short scale bass that features a solid sitka spruce top, but also layered sapele back and sides.
Despite that, they made it sound better than a large number of 'proper' solid wood models out there. You can write that up to Taylor's experience and their outstanding know how.
When it's time to plug yourself in, you have the simple, but impressive ESB preamp/pickup combo. It's simple, it works and delivers an authentic acoustic tone down the line.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.7" "Hardware:4.8" "Sound:4.8" "Value:4.7" avg='false' max='5' ]
Acoustic axes are a key tool in any gigging bass player’s quiver. The Fender Kingman V2 delivers that warm, unmistakable tone while also offering a Jazz Bass-inspired feel and classic Fender styling.
The Kingman’s spruce top and curved mahogany back and sides offer great tonal projection and handsome looks. The C-shaped mahogany neck, patterned after a Jazz Bass, allows electric bassists to switch onto the Kingman without a significant change in feel or action.
As we highlight in our full Fender Kingman V2 review, the Kingman also boasts warm mids and trebles with tight, focused low end. The Fishman preamp and advanced EQ controls help players dial in the perfect tone anywhere.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.8" "Electronics:4.6" "Hardware:4.6" "Sound:4.8" "Value:4.8" avg='false' max='5' ]
For the most part, many will agree that Takamine is the type of brand which can handle the best of the best, but also offer reasonable prices. When it comes to acoustic bass guitars, Takamine GB30CE is a perfect representation of this reputation.
They went with a great choice of tonewood and a body shape that nicely fits the application. Tone wise, GB30CE packs a rather balanced profile which is full of rich lows, wide mids and clear trebles. On board electronics are of their own design, but include an extensive selection of controls.
On top of a threeband EQ, there's also gain control, bass boost, EQ bypass and more. Overall, Takamine struck a very real note with this one.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.2" "Electronics:3.9" "Hardware:3.9" "Sound:4.1" "Value:4.8" avg='false' max='5' ]
Once you jam your foot into the midrange category of acoustic bass guitars, Fender CB60SCE jumps out as one of the more interesting models. It just barely makes it into this segment of the market by offering great performance for the price.
It features a solid spruce top paired with mahogany back and sides. That alone is enough to hint that there's more to this guitar than it lets on. In addition to its great build quality, CB60SCE also features Fishman's Classic preamp package.
In terms of tone, you get plenty of range along with great definition. This especially applies to the lower end. This Fender is a great choice for bothbeginners and advanced users looking for solid performance.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.5" "Electronics:4.4" "Hardware:4.4" "Sound:4.6" "Value:4.7" avg='false' max='5' ]
The world of acoustic bass guitars is niche by itself, however we can always go deeper. Looking into one of those super niche categories, we find Gold Tone Mbass25. This is essentially a dreadnought body merged with a short scale neck, all of which is made of mahogany.
Using such a hard tonewood works great with what this model was designed to do. Whileit gives you slightly shallower scale to work with, the sharp nature of mahogany makes up for it.
There is also a built in set of electronics that elegantly convey the natural sound of Gold Tone Mbass25. Despite being unusual by standard metrics, this acoustic bass works extremely well no matter what you are looking for.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.4" "Electronics:4.2" "Hardware:4.2" "Sound:4.4" "Value:4.7" avg='false' max='5' ]
Compared to other brands which dominate the acoustic market, Ibanez has the reputation of being a trustworthy choice. If you need a good example of why this is the case, just check out Ibanez AEB10E. This acoustic bass looks like something that belongs to at least one price range above its actual worth.
Best of all, that flashy exterior is backed up by proper performance. It is an acoustic electric model that does both plugged and unplugged extremely well. Ibanez has turned to Fishman for onboard electronics, which only adds to the reliability and consistency of its performance.
This is a great choice for those who want something refined without breaking into the four digit territory. It's a solid option.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:4.5" "Hardware:4.6" "Sound:4.5" "Value:4.6" avg='false' max='5' ]
The Dean Exotica Quilt Ash Bass is a good choice for the budget-minded acoustic bassist that wants to have a little visual ‘oomph’ while also enjoying flexible tonal capabilities.
The quilt ash top is highly figured and certainly is an eye-catcher, either in the natural or trans blue finish options. The D-shaped neck gives you a solid but comfortable feel, making it easy to reach those high notes with confidence (yes, basses have high notes too!).
Sonically, the preamp system on the Exotica alone may be worth the price of admission, thanks to a nice array of features that would be at home on more expensive models. Our full review of the Exotica will give you the complete details!
[usrlist "Body And Neck:3.9" "Electronics:3.7" "Hardware:3.7" "Sound:3.8" "Value:3.8" avg='false' max='5' ]
Dean's track record of providing great acoustic instruments at a reasonable price has been great so far. Same goes for acoustic basses. Dean EAB is a simple yet rather refined model that you can get without breaking you bank account.
The choice of tonewood they went with is great and fits into the tone profile you would want to see in an acoustic bass guitar. Add a very solid set of hardware and a decent preamp to this equation, and you have a great platform to work with.
When it comes to sound, Dean has managed to capture the distinct tone of acoustic bass in all of its glory. With massive lows and refined trebles, this guitar really sings well.
[usrlist "Body And Neck:3.2" "Electronics:3.3" "Hardware:3.3" "Sound:3.5" "Value:4.9" avg='false' max='5' ]
Affordable segment of the acoustic bass market has changed dramatically in recent years.Brands such as Best Choice are all the proof you need for this claim. Best Choice EAB is one of those acoustic electric bass guitars that comes across as too good to be true.
Fortunately for us, everything about exceeds most expectations. You're looking at a laminate mahogany body paired with a pretty solid set of hardware and a simple, yet effective preamp. Build quality is more than decent, which is what most potential users are worried about.
In terms of performance, Best Choice EAB delivers a solid sound that isn't as refined as some high end models, but gets you the core of acoustic bass tone.
Understanding Acoustic Bass Guitars
Usually when discussing the absolute best bass guitars out there, it’s an electric bass we are talking about – something like a Fender Jazz or a Music Man.
However, we can’t ignore acoustic basses!
Just as there are acoustic guitars, there are acoustic bass guitars. And, just like you wouldn’t say a Martin dreadnought is ‘only a Fender Strat without electrics’, acoustic basses are also completely different to their electric counterparts.
A lot of people see acoustic basses as a mix between an upright bass in terms of sound and an electric bass in terms of playability. While not strictly true, we are quite satisfied with this definition for the time being.
Here’s a good example of what you can do (with some practice!) on an acoustic bass:
Why Buy an Acoustic Bass?
There are several reasons you may wish to acquire an acoustic bass, although the biggest is the experimentation this instrument offers.
Ultimately, the acoustic bass is a relatively new instrument without a clearly defined purpose. This actually appeals to many bassists, as they can experiment with playing new styles and techniques, without any preconceived ideas about what they should or should not be doing with it.
As for more practical applications, acoustic basses bring other perks to the table. For example, you don’t need an amp or cables to practice and you get instant feedback. Because of the raw nature of an acoustic bass, it’s a good instrument on which to perfect your technique. As it isn’t very forgiving, mistakes are clearer – so you really focus on nailing that technique.
Additionally, playing an acoustic bass can help train you to use your picking hand correctly. In short, there is no pickup for you to rest your thumb on, so you are forced to rest it on the E string or the body.
Why is this important? Take a look at four different pickup arrangements found on modern basses. You don’t want your whole performance depending on where the pickup is located, right?
As well as practice, acoustic basses are also great for performing unplugged. When you are tasked with playing bass in an unplugged setting, you can now play on something with a familiar style, similar to an electric bass. The other option is finding an upright bass and learning a whole new playing style and technique… that’s not ideal!
Preamps and Amplification
Another great perk of using basses of the acoustic variety is the fact that they almost always come with electronics. Now, of course, we are contradicting ourselves a little, as we have just sung the praises of the advantages of playing unplugged.
However, if you are playing bass as part of an acoustic set with three acoustic guitars, going fully unplugged would be rather difficult – you would struggle to be heard by your audience and fellow musicians. With onboard electronics, you are able to match the output levels with different instruments.
As you can see from our chart above, some basses come with rather simple electronics, while others feature more advanced systems. Which is best for you? If you want to plug into an amp or PA system directly, a more elaborate preamp with more onboard tone shaping capabilities definitely comes in handy.
However, if you decide that you want to dial in the perfect tone using all kinds of effects pedals, you can easily get away with a simpler set of electronics. Once again, it is a matter of personal preference.
Short Scale Acoustic Basses
Let’s quickly touch on short scale acoustic bass guitars. For many players, making the jump from electric bass to acoustic is quite uncomfortable, due to the extra demands on both the picking and fretting hand when playing. Throw a long neck into this mix and you can see why some seek out shorter scale models.
The only problem is that not many brands make them, and even those that do are rarely on sale on most marketplaces as the demand isn’t that high. So, if you want to try a short scale acoustic bass, prepare yourself for a bit of hunting around – look on the usual sites like Amazon or Guitar Center, although eBay may be your best shot at landing a short scale acoustic bass.
The Final Word
At the end of the day, acoustic bass guitars are an awesome tool, allowing you to express yourself in a completely different way to an electric bass. Even though they are not as popular as their 6-string acoustic counterparts, there is still a lot of worth in these instruments.
As you’ve seen in the chart above, there is also a growing range of acoustic bass models to choose from, with most big-name brands offering at least a few models in their catalogs.
So, whether you’re a diehard acoustic bass fan or just fancy adding one to your collection, we hope our chart and guide have given you a little inspiration. Good luck in your hunt for the perfect acoustic bass!