|Body And Neck:|
When shopping for the best bass guitars under $200 you have a deep pool of choices to dip into. The Bronco bass from Fender’s budget subsidiary Squier may be just a drop in this pool, but it’s already a strong contender. In fact, it shares many qualities with the 1970's Fender Musicmaster – promising comfort, reliability and classic Fender tones at a price that won’t break the bank. Sounds good to us! Let's take a closer look…
First up, the size and the Bronco has a bolt-on maple neck with a 30” scale length, which makes it a short scale bass. This makes it ideal for beginners getting to grips with this notoriously bulky instrument, although equally a fun model for players of any level.
It features a maple fretboard to match the neck, with 19 medium jumbo frets that are kind to newbies. Pair this with the familiar C shape neck profile and the shorter scale, and it’s a very comfortable bass to play.
The design for a bass under $200 is lovely, as it shares vintage looks with the Fender Musicmaster. There’s a sleek double-cutaway body, with a lightweight agathis body – a cheaper tonewood that allows Squier to keep the costs down. This is finished nicely in either jet black or an eye-catching Torino Red.
There are no major surprises with the hardware here, but it all does its job well enough. Just one single-coil pickup shapes the sound of this bass. For more advanced players, a single stock pickup might seem a little limited, but this doesn't mean poor quality at all. The pickup was specially designed for this bass, which adds some exclusivity.
It also comes with a two-saddle chrome bridge that Squier says offers great tuning stability. We tend to agree with that for the most part. For beginners using this bass, the tuning will hold absolutely fine, although more advanced players really digging in will test this.
As for controls, there is a master tone knob and a master volume knob similar to those of a more expensive Fender P-Bass. The tuning machines are die-cast minis, which are common on a bass guitar of this size. As we said, no major surprises but no complaints either for the price – very nice.
The hardware was as expected… but the sound wasn't. Expecting a limited sound, we found the single-coil pickup actually punches above its weight. It delivers a surprisingly warm, rich tone that lends itself well to many playing styles. You have enough bottom end to let out your inner Bootsy Collins, but it's punchy enough to drive any rock track convincingly. In a way, it's a bit of a jack of all trades, which is fine – an entry-level bass will never be a specialist instrument and you wouldn't expect it to be.
The Bronco doesn't have the depth of tone you get with a proper Fender P-Bass, but it certainly has more than $200 worth.
The Bronco is awesome for beginners or anyone who wants to add a decent little bass to their collection without breaking the bank. With the shorter scale and easy playability, it's perfect for practice and it won't let you down when jamming or practicing with others. Overall, it sounds and looks like a bass that shouldn't be under $200.