The Best Bass Guitar Brands
Not all bass guitars were created equal, however that hasn't stopped our experts from naming the ultimate bass guitar brands.
We selected the top bass guitar brands based on popularity with musicians, influence, historical significance and quality.
Some might argue that many of the boutique bass guitars out there are better, but Fender still rightfully sits at the top as the best bass guitar brand. This is because of Fender's popularity and significance, as well as quality. The Fender Precision Bass and Fender Jazz Bass continue to be staples in many a bass player's gig bag, and continue to be popularly used in many song productions. Fender has achieved iconic status, and other manufacturers continue to use these classic Fender basses as their foundation for improved designs.
Fender '50s Precision Bass
The Fender Precision Bass was introduced in 1951 and was the first mass-produced electric bass guitar. It became popular with musicians and has become an industry standard ever since. The Fender P-bass continues its bass guitar legacy because of its simple yet effective design.
Another favorite from the Fender brand is the Fender Jazz Bass or "J-bass". It features more tonal flexibility with its two single coil pickups. Many legendary bass players have chosen to use the Jazz bass including Jaco Pastorius, Mark Hoppus, Marcus Miller and many more.
The Classic '50s Precision Bass is available at a from Amazon.com. The sought after Jaco Pastorius Signature Fretless Jazz Bass is a bit pricier at often selling for more than $1700, also available from Amazon.com. You can read about the different variations of the Fender Precision Bass and Jazz Bass at Fender, they are available in a wide range of accessible prices.
The Höfner company started way back in 1887 and became the largest manufacturer in its country. During the '50s, it became accessible to musicians in the UK and became a well known "starter" instrument maker. Their association with The Beatles, specifically Paul McCartney has launched the brand into international recognition. Being affordable and being used by iconic artists, the Hofner bass guitars were etched into the hearts and minds of many musicians. Up to this day, Hofner continue their legacy of classic design and priority on reasonable value.
Hofner H500/1-CT Contemporary Series
The Hofner H500/1 bass guitar model is what made Hofner really famous. It is the same left handed Bass guitar that Sir Paul McCartney used for most of the Beatles songs. Although Paul has tried other brands, he continues to use the Hofner 500/1 today.
Another classic favorite among the Hofner bass guitars is the rare 500/2 Club Bass, which was re-created by Hofner due to demands. This bass guitar is favored for its vintage looks, double-bass like amplified tone and ease of use.
Both Hofner bass guitars are available from Amazon.com, with the Hofner H500/1-CT usually retailing for under $900, and the H500/2 Club Bass LTD for about $2,800 . For more information about the Hofner bass guitars, you can visit Hofner.
Rickenbacker is another guitar manufacturer that is backed up with years of electric guitar and bass manufacturing experience. They were the ones that introduced the "neck through body" construction, which they employed on their iconic bass guitars. This neck through body design has now become a premium feature in many guitar and bass manufacturers.
The Rickenbacker 4001 series is a modernized recreation of Paul McCartney's original 4001S bass guitar. It is known for its ringing sustain, trebly tone solid bottom end. This precious bass is identified with progressive rock bassists like Chris Squire and Geddy Lee. It is said to be have been discontinued at Rickenbacker's site, but some are still available for sale in major retailers.
The Rickenbacker 4003 is another bassists' favorite. Aside from its aesthetically pleasant and distinctively Rickenbacker looks and shape, reviews for it have been consistently favorable in terms of durability and tone.
The Rickenbacker 4003 has a retail price of about $2159 while the Rickenbacker 4001C64S is a bit harder to find, with an MSRP of $3839.00. You can get more information about them from Rickenbacker.
Music Man is a company built by two disgruntled former Fender employees while they were under CBS management. It has produced produced the popular StingRay bass which was the first bass guitar with active electronics. They have also gone to make other basses and guitars that caught the attention of musicians from various genres.
Music Man Classic Stingray Electric Bass Guitar
Together with Leo Fender himself, the founders of Music Man designed the StingRay bass which first appeared in 1976. Although it looks quite similar to the Fender Precision bass, it had features that went above it. Its active pickups gave the StingRay a unique and powerful tone that up to now is still being used if not copied by other manufacturers. The StingRay is identified with the Funk style but it is a versatile instrument.
Another popular Music Man bass is the Sterling Ray34 which features a solid swamp ash body. This bass is designed for percussive lows, subtle mids and expansive highs. The lightweight swamp ash body combined with its active 3-band preamp brings out the nuances of your bass playing.
You can get the Sterling Ray34 for about $611.15. The Classic StingRay model is also available from Amazon.com for about $2000. You can get the complete specifications and details on these at Music Man.
If you are looking for a premium workhorse that employs exotic materials and woods, then you have to check out Warwick bass guitar brand. Notable players that use Warwick include Jack Bruce, Ryan Martinie, James Lomenzo, Bootsy Collins and many more from various genres. The main reason musicians go for Warwick is to get unique bass tones from exotic woods and original builds.
Warwick Thumb Bass 5-String Bass
The Warwick Thumb Bass is the flagship model of the brand, which also equates to being expensive. It features a small, neck-thru bubinga body that is designed to be conveniently carried and played. The MEC active pickups and electronics are designed to be studio-quiet and flexible. It has a 5 piece ovangkol and bubinga neck which provides both unique tones and stability.
Warwick also has affordable options, like the Rockbass Corvette which features the characteristic low growl of Warwick while using standard materials and woods. The Rockbass Corvette is equipped with passive MEC JJ pickups that provide tonal flexibility.
The Warwick Rockbass usually costs about $520, while the Warwick Thumb Bass 5-String is usually about $2900. More information about Warwick and their bass guitars are available through their Website.
Other Bass Guitar Brands
Those above are the top 5 brands.
Some might question why popular bass manufacturers where left out like Carvin, Alembic, Tobias, Gibson, Schecter, Yamaha, Ibanez among others - but we had to pick only five.
If you're just starting out then take a look at the Musical Pros Guide to Bass Guitar for Beginners.
Please feel free to give your own list in the comments below and mention the basses that you feel should be part of the list.
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