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Best Bass Guitars in 2024

Wednesday February 7, 2024. 02:00 PM , from Sweetwater inSync
Best Bass Guitars in 2024
We aren’t afraid to say it: bassists are a big deal here at Sweetwater! Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie pondering a career in the low-end legion, this list has got you covered. We’ve gathered some of the best bass guitars from 2023 to inspire and invigorate you. There are time-tested and remixed models from classic brands — like bold innovations from Warwick and Ibanez, evergreen selections from Sire, Reverend, G&L, and much more! Regarding specifics, we dive into the core advantages that make each bass unique. If terms like “string-through” or “scale length” happen to throw you for a loop, then scroll down the page to where we’ve linked tons of our easy-to-read articles that define these terms.

How did we select the basses for this list? We used a combination of sales data, customer feedback, and the expert opinions of Sweetwater’s staff. We also picked bass guitars that cover a range of styles and sounds.

This list gives players options for incredible basses, no matter their budget. And, as always, if you find something on this list that has nearly everything you’re looking for but is missing a feature or two, then call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for a personalized recommendation. If it doesn’t exist, then we can make it happen. Want to learn how to buy the best bass guitar for you? Check out our Bass Guitar Buying Advice below!

Note: At Sweetwater, we know there’s no such thing as “best” when it comes to music gear. Every player and artist has unique tastes, which is what makes selecting gear so fun! The items on this list feature some of our favorite products from top manufacturers to help you start your buying journey! Explore these recommendations and dive into Sweetwater’s massive collection of gear on our online store. For personalized picks and expert advice, please contact our knowledgeable Sweetwater Sales Engineers at (800) 222-4700!

Ibanez Standard EHB1005F Fretless 5-string Bass GuitarEpiphone Newport Electric Bass GuitarYamaha BB434 Bass GuitarSquier Paranormal Rascal Bass HHSpector Euro 4 LX Bass GuitarSchecter CV-5 Bass GuitarG&L Tribute L-2000 Bass GuitarSterling by Music Man StingRay RAY34HHPB Bass GuitarFender Troy Sanders Precision Bass 4-string Bass GuitarIbanez Bass Workshop SRC6MS 6-string Multi-scale Bass GuitarWarwick Pro Series Thumb BO 4-string BassLakland Skyline Darryl Jones DJ-4 Bass GuitarFender Made in Japan Limited International Color Jazz BassReverend Mike Watt Wattplower MKII BassSpector NS Dimension 5 Bass GuitarErnie Ball Music Man StingRay Special Bass GuitarGibson Rex Brown Signature Thunderbird Electric Bass GuitarSire Marcus Miller P10dx 4-string Bass Guitar

Ibanez Standard EHB1005F Fretless 5-string Bass Guitar

No frets? Don’t fret!

The Ibanez Standard EHB1005F Fretless 5-string bass guitar brings prolific Ibanez Bass Workshop perks to the fretless realm. A perfectly balanced, slim-carved American basswood body delivers a solid 5-string rumble with a next-generation feel. A lightweight headless design is balanced perfectly for long gigs and studio play. Likewise, the neck boasts 5-piece construction made from walnut and roasted maple for lasting stability and perfect tone, even when traveling to gigs skipping from climate to climate. Speaking of tone, dual active, high-articulation Bartolini humbucker pickups provide massive tonal range with focused lows, rich highs, and exceptional clarity for melodies and fills — the world is your oyster! Moreover, the bass’s 3-band EQ features Ibanez’s powerful Vari-mid tool for shaping midrange terrain with scoops, bumps, and everything else. The sky might be the limit with the EHB1005F Fretless, but the price of this bass is certainly down to earth!

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ProductIbanez Standard EHB1005F FretlessNumber of Strings5Body Shape / MaterialBass Workshop / American BasswoodNeck Shape / MaterialEHB5 / 5-piece Roasted Maple and WalnutFingerboard Radius / Material19.685 Inches / RichliteScale Length34 InchesPickups2 Bartolini BH2 HumbuckersPros• Unique and comfortable body shape• Killer tone from 2 Bartolini humbuckers• Fretless neck that allows you to play microtonal notesConsFretless basses aren’t for everyone and can be challenging for bassists who are starting out. For a bass for any skill level, check out this Spector NS Dimension 5 bass guitar.

Epiphone Newport Electric Bass Guitar

The style, the tone — it’s all smokin’!

Do bassists deserve retro reboots? The Epiphone Newport electric bass guitar says “yes”! This revival of Epiphone’s lovely but fierce 1961 original boasts a top-notch short-scale laurel fingerboard and a sturdy mahogany body construction for a vintage-inspired tone with lasting sustain. The Newport’s 30-1/2-inch scale makes it a great crossover instrument for guitarists, bassists seeking ease, or even children, teens, and adults with smaller hands. The Newport’s dual cutaways keep those uppermost frets in easy reach, and you’ll absolutely want to explore that tasty short-scale upper register. Factor in the Bass Sidewinder neck pickup’s articulate tone and the TB PRO bridge humbucker’s warm dimensions, and this vintage specimen is ready for rock, reggae, pop, R&B, and more.

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ProductEpiphone NewportNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialNewport/MahoganyNeck Shape / MaterialMedium C / MahoganyFingerboard Radius / Material12 Inches / Indian LaurelScale Length30-1/2 InchesPickupsBridge: TB PRO Humbucker / Neck: Bass Sidewinder Single-coilPros• Iconic and vintage look• Sidewinder single-coil neck pickup that gives you classic warm tones• Comes in eye-popping colorsConsNone to speak of at this price point!

Yamaha BB434 Bass Guitar

Versatile tone and gig-worthy build

That eagle eye for budget buys should find pure gold with the Yamaha BB434 bass guitar. This bass sets lofty budget-friendly standards with a spread of versatile P/J pickups and a thin, gig-worthy build. The BB434 takes cues from California classics — an alder body and rosewood fingerboard deliver a punchy sound and familiar fretwork. However, with offset optimization that’s easy to love, the body’s distinct cutaway features surpass the playability of countless California cousins. The same is true of the BB434’s VS-series single-coil pickups — a vintage-voiced P/J set powered by Alnico V magnets for tight tone. The finishing touch is the BB434’s multipiece mahogany and maple neck. This neck profile is even thinner than the BB-series standard neck carve for stellar speeds; however, its multipiece construction keeps your setup intact, even when traveling from gig to gig across challenging climates!

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ProductYamaha BB434Number of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialYamaha BB Doublecut / AlderNeck Shape / MaterialThinner BB Neck Profile / 5-piece Maple and MahoganyFingerboard Radius / Material10 Inches / RosewoodScale Length34 InchesPickupsBridge: VSC5b Alnico V Single-coil / Neck: VSP5n Alnico V Split Single-coilPros• Replication of a classic bass• Thinner neck for a modern feel• Looks wicked with offset double-cut body shapeConsYou may not need another bass!

Squier Paranormal Rascal Bass HH

The wormiest, squirmiest little green bass ever

A mash-up? A rehash? This unidentified low-frequency object is the Squier’s latest Paranormal must-have for thrill seekers and collectors! The Squier Paranormal Rascal Bass HH remixes aspects of beloved Fender basses; there’s a Mustang-inspired short-scale fingerboard, a poplar body with comfortable curves that nods to the Fender Bass VI, and there are also features beamed in from foreign realms, such as dual Wide Range humbucking pickups, which are an extreme rarity on bass guitars made by Squier. And although the Rascal lends itself to poetic description, it’s a fun bass to play. Short-scale features keep hands and shoulders comfortable during long sessions while energizing movement and speed. We also find Squier’s novel humbucker inclusions a natural fit for the sound of short-scale basses, especially in the neck position where wide, warm lows roll out with tremendous girth that only humbuckers can achieve.

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ProductSquier Paranormal Rascal Bass HHNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialRascal/PoplarNeck Shape / MaterialC/MapleFingerboard Radius / Material9-1/2 Inches / LaurelScale Length30 InchesPickups2 Fender Wide Range Bass HumbuckersPros• An amalgamation of all our favorite Fender basses• Short scale that is comfortable for young bassists and anyone who doesn’t like the feel of basses that have normal scale lengths• 3-way switch for tonal versatilityConsTwo humbuckers may not be the tone everyone is looking for. For more tonal options, check out the Yamaha BB434 bass guitar.

Spector Euro 4 LX Bass Guitar

Euro-contoured for comfort and modern clarity

Luxurious looks, versatile tone shaping, and modern curves — the Spector Euro 4 LX bass guitar packs all that and more! An alder body delivers clarity and traditional tone with walnut veneer and a figured maple top that accents looks and tone. The Spector Euro 4 LX is a favorite for Motown and rock, but the fun hardly stops there. Active EMG P/J pickups and a TonePump preamp with 2-band EQ create a blank slate for expression and rugged versatility. The TonePump preamp is a real catch for bass enthusiasts! The TonePump replaces old-school op-amp circuitry with a JFET design that cuts unwanted noise while singing with tube-like saturation. What results is low-frequency harmonic depth without finicky clipping — an ideal fit for heavy music with crystal clear cleans. Lastly, the Spector Euro 4 LX supplies outstanding gig-ready comfort with a shapely body outfitted with a rosewood fingerboard and a perfectly balanced 3-piece maple neck.

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ProductSpector Euro 4 LXNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialEuro4 LX / Alder with Walnut Veneer and Figured Maple TopNeck Shape / MaterialStandard D / 3-piece MapleFingerboard Radius / Material16 Inches / RosewoodScale Length34 InchesPickupsBridge: EMG J-style Single-coil / Neck: EMG P-style Split Single-coilPros• Production version of the legendary Spector NS bass• Built-in preamp that delivers maximum clarity• Incredible warmth, dynamic attack, and low-end punchConsThis bass may be out of the budget for casual bassists. For a more affordable model, check out the Lakland Skyline Darryl Jones DJ-4 bass guitar.

Schecter CV-5 Guitar

Road-ready and voiced for rock

The Schecter CV-5 bass guitar is a hard-rockin’, hot-rodded 5-string packed with road-ready touches at a great price. The bass captures familiar California design elements with its ash body but drops in two Diamond J-Bucker humbucking pickups that are great for heavy rock and chunky bass lines. But the CV-5 takes that a step further with a 3-way selector and a pair of series/split/parallel pickup toggles. All in all, there are more than 10 pickup options onboard, including single-coil style tones. The CV-5’s low B string makes it a good pick for funk and metal. At the same time, a bevy of high-performance hardware and Schecter’s thin C-shaped neck deliver smooth action with a premium string feel, whether you’re shaking the earth with an open low B or taking solos and pounding octaves above the 12th fret. Our favorite hardware touches include a premium Tusq XL nut for resonance and sustain, adjustable S-Tek bridge saddles for airtight intonation, and a 6-bolt neck joint for incredible stability — a must-have for touring musicians.

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ProductSchecter CV-5Number of Strings5Body Shape / MaterialCV-5/AshNeck Shape / MaterialThin C / MapleFingerboard Radius / Material10 Inches / RosewoodScale Length35 InchesPickups2 Schecter Diamond J-Bucker HumbuckersPros• A rock-voiced alternative to the California classic• Brings the best of the mod shop to a timeless design• Lightweight ash body that hugs the player for maximum comfortConsThe low B string may be unnecessary for some players. Shop this Schecter CV-4 bass guitar for a 4-string option.

G&L Tribute L-2000 Bass Guitar

Tribute knocked — G&L answered!

The G&L Tribute L-2000 bass guitar contains more onboard voices and tone options than any other bass on our list. A descendant of Leo Fender’s 1985 bass magnum opus, the Tribute L-2000’s poplar body is capped with swamp ash for roaring growl and marathon-like sustain. A maple neck and fingerboard with a generous 34-inch scale leave plenty of room to roam intricate highs and lows — and you’ll want to explore this range in full after getting acquainted with the onboard active pickups and Leo Fender’s unforgettable Tri-Tone preamp. Active MFD humbuckers fuel transparent sonics and are easily shapeable via individually adjustable pole pieces for each pickup. The Tri-Tone preamp, one of the most esteemed preamps ever, lets players explore series/parallel selection, a treble boost, 2-band active EQ, and passive/active switching for bypassing the active electronics. Simply put, the L-2000 Tribute offers dozens of pickup combinations and voicings. If you make the Tribute L-2000 your next bass, then you’ll be ready for the stage and for studio work, where perfect tones are only a toggle switch away.

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ProductG&L Tribute L-2000Number of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialTribute L-2000 / Poplar with Swamp Ash TopNeck Shape / MaterialMedium C / Hard MapleFingerboard Radius / Material12 Inches / Hard MapleScale Length34 InchesPickups2 G&L MFD Bass HumbuckersPros• Unlimited tone-shaping options with the Tri-tone control system• Saddle-Lock bridge that improves resonance and sustain• Major bang for your buck!ConsNone to speak of at this price point!

Sterling by Music Man StingRay RAY34HHPB Bass Guitar

StingRay swagger with a riveting finish

The Sterling brand provides a collection of budget-friendly takes on Music Man classics. Chief among those classics is the renowned StingRay with its meaty modern tone and versatile active 3-band EQ. These days, active bass preamps are a well-known popular feature, but the original StingRay broke from tradition and led the charge onward to the precise and refined bass tones that countless die-hard players have trusted ever since. The Sterling by Music Man StingRay RAY34HHPB bass guitar features dual humbucking pickups for impressive low-noise performance, a 5-way pickup selector, and a 3-band EQ for an incredible array of tones at players’ disposals. Often favored for hard rock, funk, and metal, the EQ also makes this StingRay an incredibly versatile instrument that’s easy to sculpt and shape. The resonant nyatoh body construction yields serious mass and sustain, while the roasted hard maple neck delivers ultra-stable performance with refined and unique looks.

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ProductSterling by Music Man StingRay RAY34HHPBNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialStingRay / Nyatoh with Poplar Burl Top (on Specific Models)Neck Shape / MaterialStingRay / Roasted Hard MapleFingerboard Radius / Material9-1/2 Inches / Roasted MapleScale Length34 InchesPickups2 Sterling by Music Man HumbuckersPros• Modeled to match the renowned look and sound of the Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay• Classic bass 21 medium-sized frets and cutaway shape that provide a comfortable playing experience• Loaded with an active 3-band preamp and dual humbucker pickups for extremely responsive tone with little to no humConsThe long scale may be too big for young players or those with small frames. A short-scale version is available with the Sterling by Music Man StringRay RAYSS4 short-scale bass guitar.

Fender Troy Sanders Precision Bass 4-string Bass Guitar

A Mastodon of Fender tone

Meet the 4-string Fender Troy Sanders Precision Bass, the signature Fender bass of Mastodon bassist Troy Sanders. This mammoth, or Mastodon, of Fender bass tone packs a P/J punch with two Tim Shaw–designed pickups. The middle pickup features a split-coil P Bass single-coil, while the bridge features a J Bass single-coil. These pickups conjure up sounds that hit hard and heavy like a P Bass should. The neck profile sports the classic Fender “C” shape that feels incredibly comfortable in your fretting hand, whether you’re making fast runs or pumping out a serious groove. Lastly, it looks incredible. The gorgeous Silverburst finish, painted headstock, pearloid block inlays, and black and silver pickguard make this a ’70s-inspired workhorse of precise tone. 

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ProductFender Troy Sanders Precision BassNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialPrecision/AlderNeck Shape / Material’70s C / MapleFingerboard Radius / Material9-1/2 Inches / RosewoodScale Length34 InchesPickups2 Custom Troy Sanders Noiseless Single-coilsPros• Split-coil pickups that give you a choice between classic and hot, aggressive tones reminiscent of Mastodon• Comes with P Bass and J Bass pickups for unlimited tone-shaping options• Looks gnarly and feels comfortable for any bassistConsThis is a great bass, but it might be expensive for those on a tight budget. Check out the G&L Tribute L-2000 bass guitar for a more affordable bass.

Ibanez Bass Workshop SRC6MS 6-string Multi-scale Bass Guitar

Maximum multi-scale, Mono-Rail impact

If you’ve never played a multi-scale bass, then the Ibanez Bass Workshop SRC6MS 6-string multi-scale bass guitar will revolutionize your low-end life. This masterful multi-scale monster — with six strings for ultimate harmonic range — serves well for bassists who want to play fast and heavy. Its multi-scale fretboard makes simple-to-complex note reaches easier and more comfortable. Meanwhile, its pair of Bartolini humbuckers sets you up for tonal success, outputting warm, complex, low-end depth. Its Mono-Rail bridge system also aids in string isolation, ensuring each note you play rings out without interference from the other strings. Plus, it transfers vibrations to the body with maximum impact.

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ProductIbanez Bass Workshop SRC6MSNumber of Strings6Body Shape / MaterialBass Workshop / OkoumeNeck Shape / MaterialSRC6 / 5-piece Jatoba and WalnutFingerboard Radius / Material15.748 Inches / RosewoodPickups2 Bartolini BH2 HumbuckersPros• Okoume body for delivering a light, bright tone with an articulate high end and a tight low end • Bartolini BH2 dual-coil pickups for delivering clear and open mids with deep and punchy lows • Mono-Rail bridge that ensures complete string isolation and maximum sustain per stringConsNo cons to speak of. This is a great and affordable multi-scale bass guitar for any bassist!

Warwick Pro Series Thumb BO 4-string Bass

Stunning, moody, and bad to the bone

The Warwick Pro Series Thumb BO 4-string bass is a modern bass masterpiece packed with nuanced harmonics, transparent warmth, and workhorse sustain that rings and rings. This bass prioritizes comfort with smooth contours. Hands and shoulders will relish the luxury, but the Thumb BO is no tonal couch potato. Since the Thumb’s initial 1985 debut, this bass has left many marks on diverse styles with memorable results. Part of Warwick’s appeal is its custom components designed in-house. The Pro Series Thumb BO features Warwick’s active MEC J-style pickups and a 2-band preamp, which you can bypass for passive operation and a simple tone control. Warwick also paid particular attention to the Pro Series Thumb BO’s playing surface. A wenge fingerboard offers 24 premium bell brass frets, a highly musical choice and one of Warwick’s defining signature features. Frets are treated to Warwick’s Invisible Fretwork Technology to eliminate fret sprout and deliver perfectly leveled frets matched within 0.01 millimeters across the board. Factor in an ovangkol neck with a modern C-shaped profile, and you have one of the best-playing bass guitars on Earth.

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ProductWarwick Pro Series Thumb BONumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialThumb/OvangkolNeck Shape / MaterialC/OvangkolFingerboard Radius / Material20 Inches / WengeScale Length34 InchesPickups2 MEC Active J Stacked-coil HumbuckersPros• Handcrafted and beautiful• Impeccable sound quality with its 2 active MEC J-style pickups• Amazing attention to detail and soundConsThis bass might be out of the budget for some bassists. For a more affordable model, check out the Spector Euro 4 LX bass guitar.

Lakland Skyline Darryl Jones DJ-4 Bass Guitar

A 4-string Signature from multi-decade master Darryl Jones

The Lakland Skyline Darryl Jones DJ-4 bass guitar is the epitome of a workhorse bass! Its origins date back to 1985 when Darryl Jones was looking for a customized J-style bass that fit his diverse needs. The DJ-4 elevates usual bass aesthetics with fine touches, including block fingerboard inlays and a coordinated matching headstock. The body is swamp ash for a classic full-bodied tone with lots of articulate sonic punchiness, prized for both heavy styles and mellow music — which is nowhere more apparent than in Jones’s own playing! He has accompanied and collaborated with a diverse cast of major names, including Miles Davis, Sting, Madonna, and the Rolling Stones. But what makes the DJ-4 a “workhorse” bass? For one, its Dual-Design bridge allows both string-through and top-loading setups. Choose string-through for enhanced resonance and sustain, or go top-loading for a slightly softer string feel with a more present attack. For electronics, the DJ-4 boasts two well-respected Vintage Wound single-coil pickups that capture the essence of vintage J-style pickups. With plenty of low-end oomph, clarity, and bite, and the added benefit of enhanced treble clarity, this bass is an exceptional choice for any style heavy on upper-fret accents, such as pop, funk, and R&B.

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ProductLakland Skyline Darryl Jones DJ-4Number of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialSkyline Darryl Jones / Swamp AshNeck Shape / MaterialDJ/MapleFingerboard Radius / Material10 Inches / RosewoodScale Length34 InchesPickups2 Lakland Vintage J Single-coilsPros• An all-around workhorse bass you can use for any playing technique or musical style • Specially contoured swamp ash body that provides a resonant, full-bodied tone • Rounded maple neck with rosewood fingerboard that feels fantastic and delivers excellent sustain and punchConsNone to speak of at this price point!

Fender Made in Japan Limited International Color Jazz Bass

Modern MIJ quality in stunning, rare blue

Vociferus value hunters have had a lasting soft spot for Japanese-made Fenders, but used prices aren’t what they used to be. Thankfully, Fender’s MIJ Traditional series is making a comeback with this Fender Made in Japan Limited International Color Jazz Bass packed with flawless MIJ craftsmanship, modern perks, and a rare Maui Blue finish (check out the entire Fender MIJ Traditional collection for colors inspired by unique locations abroad). Mix-cutting output with hearty, signature J Bass warmth and growl are guaranteed by the classic basswood body construction, one-piece maple neck and fingerboard, and vintage-voiced J Bass pickups. Vintage fanatics will also be pleased to hear that acclaimed ’70s-era J Basses inspired this tribute model’s looks; a vintage-style bridge and thumb rest, vintage-style tuners, and a headstock logo pull together for dignified retro cool without the wear, tear, or price tag of a vintage instrument!

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ProductFender Made in Japan Limited International Color Jazz BassNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialJazz/BasswoodNeck Shape / MaterialU/MapleFingerboard Radius / Material9-1/2 Inches / MapleScale Length34 InchesPickups2 Fender Vintage-style Single-coilsPros• Comes in 3 stunning colors• Classic Jazz Bass–style tones• Comfortable neck and superb playabilityConsFender offers more affordable Jazz Bass options; check out these other 4-string Fender Jazz Basses!

Reverend Mike Watt Wattplower MKII Bass

Unique pickups and flexible hardware with a featherlight feel

When Mike Watt of Minutemen wanted a signature bass, he turned to Reverend, the Ohio-based brand that churns out hot-rodded signature instruments with sensible personal touches. The Reverend Mike Watt Wattplower MKII bass builds on the light and tight maneuverability of the original Wattplower with an expanded alternate pickup scheme. With its neck and body carved from Reverend’s stockpile of reliable korina wood, this is one of the lightest basses on our list. Tonally, korina sounds close to mahogany but tends to weigh less — this makes the Wattplower MKII great for both small players and those who like to be active onstage (a backflip off the bass amp, anyone?). Beyond feel, we love player-minded touches, like the fingerboard’s Luminlay side dots for precise fretting in dark environments. There’s also a Hipshot A Style bridge that adds clarity, attack, and sustain. The bridge can be used as a top-loading or string-through design — two options for the price of one! On the electronics side, the Wattplower MKII has an impressive but unique array of tones on tap. The P-style 2-way, 3-blade bridge pickup offers a large spread of attack-heavy bridge tones, while the neck humbucker is perfect for extra-hefty low-end thud.

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ProductReverend Mike Watt Wattplower MKIINumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialMike Watt Wattplower MK II / KorinaNeck Shape / MaterialMedium Oval / 3-piece KorinaFingerboard Radius / Material12 Inches / RosewoodScale Length30 InchesPickupsNeck: Rio Grande Pitbull Humbucker / Bridge: P-blade Split Single-coilPros• Balanced, lightweight build: a solid korina body and a 3-piece korina neck • Outfitted with 3 Reverend pickups and a 3-way selector for incredible, hum-free, big bass tone • Neck-mounted Luminlay side dots for playing in dark environmentsConsSome players may prefer the streamlined pickup configuration of the original Reverend Mike Watt Wattplower bass.

Spector NS Dimension 5 Bass Guitar

Your 5-string slice of Spector innovation

Spector found its niche in the music biz back in the ’80s, starting with a white NS bass that Sting used during the Police’s Synchronicity Tour in 1983. Fast-forward four decades, and you have the Spector NS Dimension 5 bass guitar, an easy-playing 5-string with a multi-scale neck perfect for down tunings and players who demand precise intonation down to the last hertz. The NS Dimension 5 features a swamp ash body. Swamp ash is typically the lightest species of ash available, and the average NS Dimension 5 clocks in at just under 10 pounds — a rare find for a 5-string! Topping that off is a stunning poplar burl top with marbled wood grain that looks great on display and under stage lights. Dual Fishman Fluence humbuckers deliver a crystal clear, noise-free performance that exemplifies active bass pickups to a T. This bass’s control scheme looks simple. Still, under the hood, there are advanced tone-shaping tools, including 2-band EQ (with a push-pull pot for switching between frequency cut and frequency boost), three pickup voice options (active, active scooped, and passive), and blend controls for dialing in the perfect balance of each pickup.

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ProductSpector NS Dimension 5  Number of Strings5Body Shape / MaterialNS Dimension 5 / Swamp Ash with Poplar Burl TopNeck Shape / MaterialModern D / 5-piece Maple and WengeFingerboard Radius / Material16 Inches / WengeScale Length34–37 Inches / Multi-scalePickups2 Fishman Fluence HumbuckersPros• Multi-scale design ideal for low tunings with excellent clarity• Fishman Fluence active humbuckers that yield a wide range of tones• Durable and snappy 5-piece maple/wenge neckConsNone to speak of at this price point!

Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay Special Bass Guitar

Elegant looks and innovative electronics!

Ever since its ’70s debut, the StingRay has been something of a bassist’s bass — and we mean that as a compliment! It’s given us memorable bass lines from Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Rage Against the Machine, and even Blink-182, to name a few. What makes the StingRay the choice of these big names? Namely, rock-solid performance paired with modern active tone-shaping tools. This Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay Special bass guitar model has all that, plus the benefit of weight-cutting innovations, like lightweight tuners, a roasted maple neck, and a revamped ash body that has hit the gym and shed a pound or two compared to its predecessors. More comfortable than ever, this StingRay Special delivers spine-shaking low end with a classic StingRay preamp system and a single massive humbucker made with neodymium magnets. Now updated to 18 volts, this preamp offers more headroom than its 9-volt predecessors, translating into unbeatable clarity, even at high volumes. With dedicated active EQ knobs for bass, treble, and mids, the StingRay Special can accomplish everything from expansive tubby lows for pop, reggae, and metal to punchy mix-cutting highs and mids that are perfect for funk, indie, and more. 

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ProductErnie Ball Music Man StingRay SpecialNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialStingRay Special / Select HardwoodNeck Shape / MaterialStingRay / Select Roasted MapleFingerboard Radius / Material11 Inches / MapleScale Length34 InchesPickupsBridge: Music Man Neodymium HumbuckerPros• A performance-built bass any serious player can appreciate • 22 stainless steel frets that provide exceptionally long fret life and excellent tone • Redesigned humbuckers with 18V preamp and 3-band EQ that give you fat, punchy, and versatile toneConsHigh-end features add up to a high-end price tag. Looking for a budget-friendly model? Check out this Sterling by Music Man StingRay RAY34HHPB bass guitar.

Gibson Rex Brown Signature Thunderbird Electric Bass Guitar

Your key to unlocking thunderous tone

Built for Rex Brown of Pantera fame, the Gibson Rex Brown Signature Thunderbird electric bass guitar is made of pure muscle, brawn, and Gibson magic. The Thunderbird’s shape pairs perfectly with your best power stance. A mahogany body and neck deliver a killer tone and sustain with a balanced feel. Unlike many bass guitars, there’s unfettered access to upper frets, especially those on the low E string. But the hardware and pickups are what set the Rex Brown apart. The headstock features a Drop D Xtender for instant access to drop tunings — no breaks required — with an additional Hipshot bridge and tuners for keeping intonation and string action on point. Two custom, hot, active Rexbucker pickups make a vulgar display of power with the ability to blend each to taste via independent volume controls. To top it off, the push-pull tone knob instantly switches the pickups from active to passive — perfect for channeling a more vintage bass tone or using it as a fallback plan should you be stranded onstage with a dead preamp battery and no backup.

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ProductGibson Rex Brown Signature ThunderbirdNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialRex Brown Signature Thunderbird / MahoganyNeck Shape / MaterialRounded/MahoganyFingerboard Radius / Material12 Inches / RosewoodScale Length34 InchesPickups2 Rexbucker Thunderbird HumbuckersPros• Rexbucker T-Bird active humbuckers that deliver colossal output with a serious low-end punch • Push-pull tone pot that toggles between active and passive operation • Drop D Xtender that enables easy, instantaneous drop tuningConsPremium appointments come at a premium price.

Sire Marcus Miller P10dx 4-string Bass Guitar

A 4-string machine for bass royalty

Sire’s latest stunner offers a boutique look and the invaluable tone-shaping tools that have put this brand on the map with beaucoup bassists. Super P/J electronics, an assortment of EQ tools, and a Marcus Heritage-3 preamp offer quick access to tones ranging from punchy finger funk and slap to thick rhythm fundamentals. When you need a bass that pivots on a dime, this is the one! For all its utility, the Sire Marcus Miller P10dx 4-string bass guitar never spoils elegant looks with cluttered controls. A linear 5-knob layout made for rapid tweaking graces the P10dx’s balanced swamp ash body. This body is topped with flamed maple for custom Sire looks and a snappy tone — perfect pairings for the speed, setup stability, and sound of a gorgeous roasted maple neck and fingerboard. When it’s time to face the music, the Sire Marcus Miller P10dx enhances players’ signature styles and can easily tackle covers. Sporting more than just your average active EQ, a Heritage-3 preamp offers powerful midrange adjustments and serious sound sculpting with just a single sweep of a knob. The preamp can even be bypassed for traditional passive pickup tones, thus proving there’s nothing this Sire masterpiece can’t achieve.

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ProductSire Marcus Miller P10dxNumber of Strings4Body Shape / MaterialMarcus Miller P10dx / Swamp Ash with Flame Maple TopNeck Shape / MaterialC / Roasted Flame Hard MapleFingerboard Radius / Material9-1/2 Inches / Roasted Flame Hard MapleScale Length34 InchesPickupsBridge: Marcus Super J-style Revolution Single-coil / Neck: Marcus Super P-style Revolution Split Single-coilPros• Unlimited tonal options• One-of-a-kind look and sound• Built to Marcus Miller’s specsConsNone to speak of at this price point!

Bass Guitar Buying Advice

Part rhythm, part melody — there’s simply no denying the importance of the bass guitar in modern music. This Sweetwater buying guide covers critical information to help you choose the right bass guitar. There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a bass guitar, so please don’t hesitate to call your Sweetwater Sales Engineer at (800) 222-4700 for personal assistance.

The Anatomy of a Bass GuitarTonewoods Compared4, 5, or 6 Strings?Short-scale vs. Long-scaleFretted vs. FretlessAcoustic Bass GuitarsPassive vs. Active PickupsBolt-on vs. Neck-throughPrecision vs. Jazz Basses: Which Is Right for Me?What to Look for in a Bass Guitar

The Anatomy of a Bass Guitar

Tonewoods Compared

Several factors determine the tonal properties of wood. Most luthiers believe that the wood chosen for the top is the most critical factor in determining the quality of the tone of the instrument. It is also interesting to note that the wood takes on different characteristics depending on where it is on the bass guitar. But wood species can be responsible only for certain aspects of the tone of any guitar. Equally important are design, the skill of the maker, and the quality of the wood used. Tonewood selection can be a determining factor in creating a special bass guitar or a bass guitar designed for a specific purpose.

Ash & Alder

Since ash and alder are incredibly similar, both provide sustain and produce an evenly balanced tone that is resonant and rich in harmonic overtones. The most common reason guitar makers choose ash is because of its more attractive grain, which is apparent under a transparent or semi-transparent finish.

Agathis

Many wonderful entry-level basses are made from Agathis since it is relatively inexpensive. Tonally, it is a medium between ash/alder and mahogany, resonating with a rich tone that emphasizes the lower midrange over the upper.

Mahogany

Mahogany basses are best generalized as warm-sounding and full-bodied. The medium density and low resonance of mahogany give the lower register of the bass guitar a pronounced emphasis and roll off the snappier string attack that you get with an ash/alder body.

Basswood

Basswood is a favorite body wood for bassists who play a wide range of music. An interesting quality of basswood is its extreme softness, which readily absorbs vibrations. It has a shorter sustain, making it ideal for fast or more complex playing techniques.

Maple

Maple is a very dense wood, producing phenomenal sustain and a bright, crisp tone. Many bassists and recording engineers swear by maple because of the clarity and definition it gives bass guitars.

4, 5, or 6 Strings?

It’s tempting to say that if you need to ask, then you’re better off sticking to a traditional 4-string bass. Regular 4-string basses have, by design, narrower necks than 5- or 6-string basses and are tuned in standard E-A-D-G format; this makes them easier to learn to play on. However, there are some styles of music that favor 5-string basses. Modern worship music and country seem to have more songs that root in B; therefore, its B-E-A-D-G tuning is ideal. Regardless of style, 5- and even 6-string basses give bass players more room to expand creatively. A 6-string bass tuned B-E-A-D-G-C will let you pull off some fancier tricks, particularly if you perform a lot of bass solos.

Short-scale vs. Long-scale

Basses come in numerous scale lengths (the distance between the nut and the bridge). The most common scale length, long-scale, is 34 inches, as popularized by classic bass models like P and J Basses. Short-scale basses are basses with a scale length of fewer than 31 inches. Short-scale basses are ideal for young players, players with small hands, and guitarists who have picked up the bass as a second instrument. Scale length does influence the tone of an instrument. Long-scale basses are more versatile, with plenty of growl, punch, and bite, while short-scale basses are dark and rich in tone, with a pronounced low end.

Long and Short-scale Bass Differences Explained!

Fretted vs. Fretless

There are two fretboard layouts to choose from when looking for a bass guitar: fretted and fretless. A fretted neck is the standard guitar n
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