7 Best Bass Guitars Under $500 – Finding a Midrange Masterpiece

The-Best-Bass-Guitars-Under-500-600x268

Last Updated: May-07-2019
In our latest refresh of this sub-$500 bass chart, we made some changes to our selections to reflect recent changes in the market. We said goodbye to the cool Orange O Bass, as we wanted to make room for the gorgeous ESP LTD B-204SM and the solid Ibanez SR300E SR Standard.

Buying an instrument of any sort is always tough when it comes to setting a budget. You want to end up with the best you can… maybe squeeze a little more from what you can afford, so you can grab one with better pickups or a nicer paintjob.

If you can push up from the entry-level range and into this $500 category, you’ll strike a lovely balance between price and performance. Here, you’ll find bass guitars with awesome designs, sounds and features, at a price that doesn’t make you sweat.

In this article we have highlighted some of the best bass guitars you can find for under $500. These span a wide range of styles and brands, so there really is something for every bassist.

Affordable price AND great quality? Sounds good to us so far – let’s check them out!

Top 7 Best Bass Guitars Under $500:

Image Bass Guitar / Rating Summary Check Price
+ - ESP LTD B-204SM FL ESP LTD B-204SM FL

Total of 4.45/5   4.5 out of 5 stars

If looks could kill, this bass would be extremely dangerous!

+ - Yamaha TRBX 304 Yamaha TRBX 304

Total of 4.92/5   4.9 out of 5 stars

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

+ - Ibanez SR300E SR Standard Ibanez SR300E SR Standard

Total of 4.75/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

An extremely versatile bass that promises a lot and over delivers.

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

Total of 4.92/5   4.9 out of 5 stars

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

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

Total of 4.84/5   4.8 out of 5 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   4.9 out of 5 stars

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

+ - Hofner Ignition Vintage Violin Bass Hofner Ignition Vintage Violin Bass

Total of 4.75/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

If it’s good enough for Sir Paul…

ESP LTD B-204SM FL

ESP LTD B-204SM FL

Body And Neck:4.8 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.3 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.2 out of 5 stars
Value:4.5 out of 5 stars

This bass is one of the best-looking instruments you will find in this category. The spalted maple top is truly stunning. With the B-204SM FL, ESP has gone all out to make a bass that turns heads.

The question is, does it sound as good as it looks? In our complete ESP LTD B-204SM FL review, we find out exactly that. We look beyond the spalted maple top to see why this bass is worth buying.

In short, it's a 4-string, fretless bass that no one will ever assume cost less than $500. It comes with passive pickups, an active EQ, and a string-through bridge. Check out our review to see if this is the right bass for you.

Yamaha TRBX 304

Yamaha TRBX 304

Body And Neck:4.9 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.9 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:5 out of 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.

Ibanez SR300E SR Standard

Ibanez SR300E SR Standard

Body And Neck:4.5 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

Ibanez has been around the top of the bass guitar market for a very long time. With such a strong history it's easy to assume you are in safe hands with the Japanese company, and the SR300E SR Standard is a bass that confirms this assumption.

Straight out of the box you can see this is a very well-built instrument. It offers great pickups and more control functions than any other bass we can think of in this price range.

In our full Ibanez SR300E SR Standard review, we take a look at whether that versatility comes at the cost of quality. However, if this bass delivers anywhere near what it promises, it will be a serious contender.

G&L Tribute JB2

G&L Tribute JB2

Body And Neck:4.9 out of 5 stars
Electronics:5 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.9 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 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.

Squier Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV

Squier Deluxe Active Jazz Bass IV

Body And Neck:4.7 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:5 out of 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 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.9 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 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.

Hofner Ignition Vintage Violin Bass

Hofner Ignition Vintage Violin Bass

Body And Neck:4.7 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

Just like John Lennon and George Harrison made Rickenbacker a household name, Paul McCartney turned Hofner’s 500/1 Violin Bass into the must-have bass of the sixties – and beyond!

While only a rare few will enjoy playing on an original, those with a couple hundred bucks in their pocket can now enjoy this Ignition Vintage Violin Bass from Hofner. Although made in China instead of Germany, it shows off classic retro looks, with the symmetrical violin body made from spruce and flamed maple, along with a 22-fret maple/beech neck.

It includes a set of Hofner Ignition Staple Nickel humbuckers for a warm vintage tone and performs very well for the lower-end of the sub-$500 range – as we mention in the full review.

What to Expect from a Sub-$500 Bass?

Opening your wallet to the tune of $500 will understandably see you wanting a little more for your money. However, as you can find a good quality, playable bass for under $200, why make the jump into this category at all?

Thankfully the basses in this price range do justify the extra money you spend. You will be presented with a wide range of more adventurous designs, whether you prefer vintage styles, classic models, or more in-your-face modern aesthetics.

You will often find more exotics woods, like spalted maple, or more attractive finishes. But it’s more than simply aesthetics, as the pickups improve, controls offer more versatilely, and the hardware become more reliable.

Sure, we are still quite a step away from the premium market, but there is more quality to be had with $500 in your pocket.

The Final Word

The models we have highlighted today are just a sample of what’s out there in the sub-$500 range. The beauty of this market is that it’s packed with quality models that have something to offer, whether you are beginner or an experienced bassist.

We hope you have found this chart and short guide to be helpful in your search for an affordable mid-range bass – whether it’s your first or your fifth!


Reader Interactions

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *