Top 10 Best Acoustic Bass Guitars ­ Going Unplugged

Last Updated: Apr-05-2018
It was all-change at the top of our chart of the best acoustic basses as we introduced the sensational high-end Martin BCPA4. Fender also made another appearance with their affordable T-Bucket 300. To make way, we removed the D’Angelico Mott, which is harder to find these days, as well as the Michael Kelly MKDF4SKB.

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.

Which is why we’ve put together this article, which charts the highlights of the acoustic bass market. Below are our top picks from all price ranges – there’s top-class high-end right down to a sub-$100 beauty!

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 10 Best Acoustic Bass Guitars

ImageBass Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Martin BCPA4 Electro-Acoustic Bass Martin BCPA4 Electro-Acoustic Bass

Total of 4.80/5  

A real high-end acoustic bass with sensational playability.

+ - Taylor GS Mini­-e Taylor GS Mini­-e

Total of 4.86/5  

A somewhat unorthodox model that shows why Taylor's one of the best.

+ - Fender Kingman SCE Fender Kingman SCE

Total of 4.80/5  

A great model that fuses the best of what Fender's known for.

+ - Takamine GB30CE Takamine GB30CE

Total of 4.72/5  

A proper workhorse from one of the best brands in the business.

+ - Gold Tone Mbass­25 Gold Tone Mbass­25

Total of 4.52/5  

Short­scale model that packs a mean punch and a well made body

+ - Fender T-Bucket 300 Fender T-Bucket 300

Total of 4.65/5  

An affordable and attractive electro-acoustic bass from Fender.

+ - Ibanez AEB10E Ibanez AEB10E

Total of 4.38/5  

An incredibly attractive acoustic bass guitar that packs an equally impressive performance.

+ - Fender CB­60SCE Fender CB­60SCE

Total of 4.18/5  

Simple but elegant solution that caters to both beginners and advanced users.

+ - Dean EAB Dean EAB

Total of 3.78/5  

An awesome, affordable model that brings quite a bargain to the table.

+ - Best Choice EAB Best Choice EAB

Total of 3.64/5  

A very basic but surprisingly good package for beginners and budget users.

Martin BCPA4 Electro-Acoustic Bass

Martin BCPA4 Electro-Acoustic Bass

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We begin this chart with a new entry and a very high-end one at that – the BCPA4 from acoustic-masters Martin. This made-in-America electro-acoustic bass features a 34” scale length jumbo body with a soft J-style cutaway, with a top made of solid Sitka spruce, and sapele for the back and sides.

It just feels premium to hold and play, especially with Martin’s Plek treatment ensuring it comes ready to go straight from the box. As we mention in the full review of the BCPA4, it sounds beautifully balanced when played acoustically, but just as rich and pure through the Fishman F1 Analog system, which offers simple but effective controls.

A brilliant balance between upright and electric bass tones.

Taylor GS Mini­-e

Taylor GS Mini­-e

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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.

Fender Kingman SCE

Fender Kingman SCE

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If you want a solid and reliable acoustic bass guitar, Fender is definitely one of the brands you can turn to. Then again, if you are a Fender fan, Fender Kingman SCE might be something that will interest you. We are looking at a classic dreadnought body paired with the classic Jazz Bass maple neck.

This odd combination brings that familiar playability we've grown to love, as well as the rich sound of a full fledged dreadnought. Fender turned to Fishman for on board electronics, introducing one of their most tried and tested models.

Overall, this bass is a perfect choice for those who are used to Fender's Jazz series, but need something acoustic. It's all about performance and comfort.

Takamine GB30CE

Takamine GB30CE

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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.

Gold Tone Mbass­25

Gold Tone Mbass­25

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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.

Fender T-Bucket 300

Fender T-Bucket 300

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One of the most eye-catching designs on this list naturally comes from Fender’s California Series – the T-Bucket 300, which is an electro-acoustic bass that’s as good for the stage as it is beginners.

This is largely down to the comfortable playing experience offered by the C-shaped 22-fret mahogany neck. The body itself shows off a beautiful dark cherry-finished non-cutaway shape, made from laminated figured maple on the top with laminated mahogany on the back and sides.

Appealing appointments include unique fretboard inlays and an intricate soundhole rosette. The T-Bucket 300 comes equipped with a Fishman Isys III pickup system and 3-band EQ controls, including an onboard tuner. Check out everything you need to know in the full review.

Ibanez AEB10E

Ibanez AEB10E

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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.

Fender CB­60SCE

Fender CB­60SCE

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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.

Dean EAB

Dean EAB

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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.

Best Choice EAB

Best Choice EAB

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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 we think about the absolute best bass guitars out there we are thinking electric. It is either a Fender Jazz or a Music Man or something similar. However, it is necessary to know that there’s another side to this story. Just like there are acoustic guitars, there are acoustic bass guitars. The reason why the idea of acoustic basses is so distant these days is because most see upright basses as the logical choice. As it turns out, those are not really that practical. On the other hand, unplugged sessions where you need more than just a single acoustic guitar, require a bass that has that trademark acoustic vibe.

Why Get An Acoustic Bass?

There are numerous reasons if we are going to be honest. Some bass players get them because they want to try something new, but others have more profound reasons. For starters, an acoustic instrument brings obvious perks to the table. You don’t need an amp to practice and you get instant feedback. You can actually perfect your technique on an acoustic model simply because it isn’t as forgiving, just like any other acoustic guitar. Mistakes show and they are obvious. Additionally, it helps to solve one of the biggest issues that most bass players have to deal with. In short, there is no pickup for you to rest your thumb on. An acoustic bass guitar forces you to either rest that thumb on the E string or rest it on the body. If you are wondering why this is important, just take a look at 4 different pickup arrangements found on modern basses. You don’t want your whole performance depending on where the pickup is located, right?

Another great reason is the familiarity. When you are tasked with playing in an unplugged setting as a bass player, you really have two options. You either find an upright bass somewhere and learn a whole new playing style, or you get something like the models listed above. Chances are that the second option is going to be the one you go for. Acoustic bass guitars are familiar, require no drastic change in your playing style nor your technique. It’s a seamless transition.

Preamps And Amplification

Another great perk of using basses of the acoustic variety is the fact that they almost always come with electronics. In all honesty, getting a model without electronics makes very little sense. This has a lot to do with matching output levels between different instruments. If we take for an example a band that has two or three acoustic guitars and an acoustic bass behind them, going fully unplugged would be rather difficult for that bass player. Fighting it out with two acoustic guitars isn’t as easy as finding your volume levels in a fully electric band. With on­board electronics, this issue goes away.

As you can see from our top 10 list above, some basses come with rather simple electronics, while others feature more advanced systems. Figuring out which one is best for you requires the same type of reasoning as figuring out electronics on an acoustic guitar. If you want to plug into an amp or PA system directly, a more elaborate preamp definitely comes handy. However, if your decide that you want to dial in a perfect tone using all kinds of effects pedals, you can easily get away with a simple set of electronics. Once more, it is a matter of personal preference.

Short Scale Basses

Short scale bass guitars have existed for a long time. They are easier to play for some, without any real drawbacks in terms of sound. At least that is what applies to electric bass guitars. In the acoustic world, things are ever so slightly different. Here, the whole compactness of a short scale bass packs much more weight. If you have ever gone from an electric guitar straight to an acoustic one, you definitely know that it’s a bit more challenging in terms of esthetics. Now imagine if that guitar had a long scale bass neck.

Overall, short scale acoustic basses come with some performance penalties, but they represent a great way to bridge the issue of comfort. As we all know, comfort is a rather important factor for anyone who wants to play efficiently. Since comfort is a subjective thing, the only real way to figure out whether or not a short scale acoustic bass is something you would benefit from, is to go and try one out.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, acoustic bass guitars are an awesome tool to express yourself in a different, more natural way. Even though they’re not as popular as their 6­string acoustic counterparts, there’s 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 to choose from in their catalogs.

So, whether you’re a diehard acoustic bass fan or a beginner considering the best platform to learn on, we hope our chart and guide has given you a little inspiration. Good luck in your hunt for the perfect acoustic bass!


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