Recommended Bass Guitars Under $500 – Reviews Of The Top 6 Models

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Last Updated: June-22-2017
As we move into this under $500 category you really start to see some fine bass guitars – stage-worthy instruments that both beginners and advanced bassists can appreciate. In this latest update we added the awesome Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV to our chart – an iconic reissue that deserves its time in the spotlight, replacing the more dated ESP Artist Series LGCP4.

Buying an instrument of any sort is always tough when it comes to setting a budget. You always want to get the best you can, maybe squeeze a bit more money in there so you can grab the one with better pickups. This applies to shopping for bass guitars as well. With that in mind, there is that sweet spot where you can find the best balance of price and performance.

Bass guitars in this segment bring the best you can get for your buck, and more, which is why we included some of them on our list of best bass guitars out there. For more info, check out the separate article. We have already talked about some models at the very edge of this category, which you can check out in our separate piece on that subject.

A more comfortable place in this band is right around the $500 price point. Bass guitars you can find here deliver the type of performance you can take on any stage, while also being reasonably priced. On that note, we did some digging and found six models which we think best represent what we are talking about here. If you are hunting for a good model that is still considered affordable but offers a whole new level of quality compared to the entry level selection, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started.

Top 6 Best Bass Guitars Under $500:

ImageBass Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV Bass Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV Bass

Total of 4.82/5   4.82 Stars

Hard to fault this reissued Thunderbird – good-looking, powerful and affordable.

+ - Squier by Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV Squier by Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV

Total of 4.84/5   4.84 Stars

A pretty rare active Squier that can take on competition with ease.

+ - Schecter Stiletto Stealth 4 Schecter Stiletto Stealth 4

Total of 4.88/5   4.88 Stars

An awesome axe built for high speed, precision, and heavy tone work.

+ - G&L Tribute JB2 G&L Tribute JB2

Total of 4.92/5   4.92 Stars

An evolution of the legendary J Bass platform that simply just works.

+ - Yamaha TRBX 304 Bass Guitar Yamaha TRBX 304 Bass Guitar

Total of 4.92/5   4.92 Stars

Advanced features, impressive tone and overall strong core performance at affordable price.

+ - Dean Edge 4 Dean Edge 4

Total of 4.84/5   4.84 Stars

Packed with EMGs, this bass has everything it takes for great performance.

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV Bass

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV Bass

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

A faithful reissue of Gibson’s classic Thunderbird, the Pro-IV from Epiphone is one of our favorite basses in this category. With a solid feel and iconic body shape, this Thunderbird’s wings are made of solid mahogany and features a seven-piece through-body neck, made from alternating walnut and maple. This neck is a joy to play, with a SlimTaper profile, rosewood fretboard, and 20 medium jumbo frets. The Pro-IV earns its name due to the two battery-powered Epiphone T-Pro active bass humbuckers at the middle and bridge positions, offering great power. There are ample controls to allow you to shape your sound as you like. Be sure to check out our full review of the Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV for all the details.

Squier by Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV

Squier by Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV

Body And Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Electronics:4.9 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:5 Stars

Squire is most definitely not the instrument brand the majority of the bass players even consider when their budget exceeds $300. We have covered some of their models in the aforementioned range, and they are definitely rocking. But does this brand have what it takes to duel it out with more expensive basses? The answer is yes. Squier by Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV is all the proof you’re going to need.

A well-built bass guitar that comes with a set of active single coil Jazz Bass pups is enough to make every bassist focus attention your way. In a lot of ways, this bass brings a lot of features that make Fender basses so good. Sure, it’s a simplified version but the tone is definitely there. No matter what you can read online, this particular bass guitar is more than capable bringing you a balanced, quality sound.

Schecter Stiletto Stealth 4

Schecter Stiletto Stealth 4

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:4.9 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Ever since they’ve blown up all over the world, Schecter has started producing some of the most stylish and capable bass guitars you can find. In the price range we are interested in, one of the bass guitars that really sticks out is the Schecter Stiletto Stealth 4. This axe has the looks, the sound, everything. Best of all? It’s comfortably under $500 at the moment. Some would even say it stands close to some of their bass guitars from the $1000 range. For more info on that price range, check out our special article on that subject.

The only feature that has been brought into question about Stiletto 4 is the choice of tonewood. Schecter went with basswood for this model, and that sits wrong with some people even though basswood has been widely used in both affordable and premium guitars. With a set of active pickups and a pretty potent EQ section, Stiletto packs the type of sound you can do just about anything with. Naturally, this bass feels at home in metal territory, but it is pretty versatile. For the most part, Stiletto 4 punches way above its price range, and that isn’t all that surprising if you consider that Schecter cut down the price from high 600s. By all accounts, Schecter Stiletto Stealth 4 is the value option in this price range.

G&L Tribute JB2

G&L Tribute JB2

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:5 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Most people who aren’t that interested in the history of guitars will tell you that whatever fender offers now is the best Leo Fender had to offer. Needless to say, this is definitely not true. Leo left Fender quite early on only to form G&L – a company where he did some of his best work. The quality of G&L instruments is known far and wide, but so are their high prices.

One of the models that sit comfortably in the mid-range is the G&L Tribute JB2. This bass brings everything we liked about Fender P-Bass, and combines it with Leo’s later ideas. Impressive build quality, timeless design, and bulletproof electronics make the JB2 a true performer. In terms of sound, you are looking at a force to be reckoned with. It brings the thump but also a delicious fat tone on demand. Thanks to its two G&L Alnico single-coil pickups, JB2 comes across as an upgraded version of a Fender P-Bass.

Yamaha TRBX 304 Bass Guitar

Yamaha TRBX 304 Bass Guitar

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Electronics:4.9 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:5 Stars

No list is complete without at least one Yamaha model on it. For this occasion, we have chosen the TRBX304 – one of the best bass guitars in the entire family. What you get with this awesome package is an instrument that works, and works well. There are advanced features, standard high-quality core performance, and pretty much everything that has made the TRBX line so popular in the first place.

The bass sports that all familiar design that spans across the entire TRBX range. This particular model comes with two humbucker pickups which are active and a force to be reckoned with. The tone is very expressive, but also adjustable to your needs. Best of all, the price is simply too attractive to ignore. Whether you are into heavier genres of music or you are simply looking for a bass guitar that does it all, Yamaha TRBX304 is definitely a safe choice at the moment.

Dean Edge 4

Dean Edge 4

Body And Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Electronics:4.9 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Dean’s bass guitars have lately proven to be a safe choice for those who want a simple axe that delivers. This brand has become present in every segment of the market, and is achieving pretty good results all things considered. In our price range, they offer Dean Edge 4, which is definitely among the better choices you can go for at the moment. This particular bass is easy on the eyes and packs enough heat to move some serious air on stage.

You get a capable set of electronics that comes in form of two pups configured in a precision pattern. The tone is rather neutral, especially for an active bass, and it is easily adapted to whatever genre of music you are interested in. Overall, Dean Edge 4 is the type of bass that can do anything you need it to, and easily fits in just about any type of environment. For less than $500? It’s among the best choices you have at the moment.

Conclusion

Finding a decent bass guitar in the $500 range is much easier than finding something cheaper. There are many models to choose from, and the plethora of features is much more complex. The guitars we have talked about today are definitely among the most capable you can find for this type of money. We tried to include a variety of different styles in an effort to help everyone find something they might like.

When putting together our shortlist, the core criteria was performance, with sound and build quality a close second. Our aim was to line up those bass guitars that make you grin whenever you plug them into an amp and turn up the volume. Of course, not everyone will agree with the models we have decided to include here, but everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences. We hope you have found this short guide to be helpful in your search for a mid-range bass – whether it’s your first or your fifth!


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