Bass Guitars Buying Guide

By Published by
Bass Guitars Buying Guide
. Views . Comments Comment . 2 Votes
Bass Guitars Buying Guide

Beginners and expert players alike can express themselves through deep rich tones and funky riffs with a bass guitar. The simplicity of the bass means that in a short matter of time, a beginner can be good enough to join a band. The bass guitar is an extremely versatile instrument, lending itself to all types of music. When buying a bass guitar,, become familiar with related terminology and various components of the guitar. Buyers should always consider their playing experience, musical style preferences, and budget in order to select the right bass guitar.

Bass Guitar Basics

No band is complete without a skilled bass player keeping rhythm. The bass is a good choice for beginners because it is relatively simple with only four strings to manage. The bass guitar produces rich, deep sounds that are necessary for almost every type of music. There are many variations of bass guitars, but all bass guitars share the same fundamental components. First-time buyers should familiarize themselves with the basic components and parts of the bass guitar. A thorough understanding of all available options will make the selection process easier.

Bass Guitar Body

There is no industry standard for body shape or design when it comes to bass guitars. The most common body type, however, is a solid body. Hollow-body guitars are less common but are used for acoustic or electric-acoustic guitars.

  •     Solid Body: Solid - body bass guitars are made of a solid piece of wood like maple, mahogany, alder, or swamp ash. Cheaper bass guitars of lesser quality can be made of pressed woods, plywood, or even plastic. An electric bass guitar has a solid body, which produces very little sound unless hooked up to an amplifier. All types of music can be played on a solid-body bass.
  •     Hollow Body: Used mostly for jazz and folk music, hollow - body guitars are the acoustic version of the bass. Hollow bodies are lighter but are limited in the volume they can produce. Electric-acoustic bass guitars also exist, which have hollow bodies and pickups that allow the bass to be amplified.

    Bass Guitar Pickups

    A pickup is a magnet that is placed under the strings of the bass. These magnets transmit sound to the amplifier. Bass guitar pickups come in two varieties: single-coil and humbucker.

  •     Single-coil: This is the original pickup, and it produces a bright, clear sound, but it is more susceptible to interference.
  •     Humbucker: These pickups are not as clean sounding, but they are more resistant to interference.
The location of the pickup can impact the sound production. Pickups placed closer to the bridge produce more treble and mid-tones compared to pickups placed closer to the fretboard, which produce bassier sounds.

Bass Guitar Neck

The fingerboard is housed on the neck of a bass guitar. Fingerboards are studded with metal frets. Frets indicate where to place fingers to produce different notes. By holding down the strings in different combinations, chords can be produced. Bass guitars are rarely strummed like an acoustic or electric guitar. Instead, notes are produced by plucking or slapping the strings. While most bass necks are fretted, some are not. There are a few differences between a fretted and fretless bass.

  •     Fretted Bass: All beginners should purchase a fretted base. Frets allow the player to know exactly where to place fingers to produce specific notes.
  •     Fretless Bass: A fretless bass can produce a smooth, fluid sound. There are no frets to impede upon the fingers while sliding note to note. Only experienced bass players should play a fretless bass because players must rely on their ability to audibly recognize the correct notes.
Bass Guitar Bridge

The bridge anchors the guitar strings to the body of the guitar. A good bridge allows players to adjust the strings of the bass guitar individually. High-quality bridges are commonly made out of brass. Invest in a good bridge to give more control over buzz, tone, and string comfort.

Bass Guitar Strings

Most bass guitars have four strings. This is the standard model for a bass. In the 1980s, five-string basses started becoming popular. The fifth string on a bass adds the low B note to the already existing E, A, D, and G notes. The added string gives greater range, which many bassists like when performing solos. The six-string bass adds one more string on the higher end, providing even greater range.

Beginners should start with a basic four-string bass unless they specifically know they want a fifth string to play music that demands lower notes and greater range. More strings can make the learning process more complicated and inhibit certain playing styles like slap bass.

Scale Length

The scale length refers to the length of the bass measured from the nut to the bridge. The length of the strings determine how low the bass will play. The longer the string, the lower the bass sound. Bass scales range from around 30 to 35 inches. The most common bass scale is 34 inches. A 34-inch scale is ideal for most bass players. Longer scales are better for a five- or six-string bass. Children may want to select a shorter scale to make handling and playing the instrument easier.

Choose the Right Bass Guitar

High-quality bass guitars produce a richer tone and are more resistant to damage than their cheaper counterparts. High-quality guitars hold their value well, which means these guitars have a better resale value. There are many brands of quality bass guitars, and some of the most well known include Gibson, Epiphone, Fender, Ibanez, Peavy, Warwick, and Squire. Quality can vary greatly with independent bass guitar manufacturers. Some buy from large manufacturers and repackage the instruments, while others are individual craftsmen with years of experience who hand make each individual guitar. Check the manufacturer’s website for information about how the instruments are made, and consider consulting a bass guitar review website.

Price Range

A bass guitar can cost anywhere from $50 to $5,000. First, buyers should decide upon the maximum amount they are willing to spend on the guitar. When establishing a budget, remember that some accessories are necessary, such as an amplifier, straps, and cables. Factor the price of accessories into the budget.

Starter Bass

Starter bass guitars are a less expensive option for someone just starting out on the bass. The quality of components and sound will not be as good as more expensive models. This is an ideal choice for people unsure about their interest in a bass guitar. As an added benefit, starter basses are sometimes sold as a package with accessories, such as an amplifier, cables, and extra strings. A mid-range starter bass package will cost between $150 and $250.

For those just starting but who are willing to commit to this new hobby, investing in a good quality bass is a wise idea. A good bass will be easier to learn, produce better quality sound, and new players will not outgrow the instrument.

Used Bass Guitars

Before buying a used bass guitar, find out more information. Ask a few questions, like how was it used, where it was stored, and how old it is. These questions should help determine the condition, whether or not the bass is in need of any major repairs, and how long it may last in the future.

When buying a bass guitar, make sure the neck has not been warped. Find out if there have been any splits or if it has ever been repaired. Split, warped, or bowed necks can all affect the sound quality. Bass guitar heads should be firmly attached. The tuning posts should turn freely and be seated well. The nut, which holds the strings in place, should be strong and well maintained. Do not worry much about the condition of the strings. Strings can be easily replaced, so if they are not in great shape, it is not a major concern. When buying online, do not hesitate to get specific information from the seller. Bass guitars are very fragile instruments, and minor defects can have a big impact on the quality of sound production.

Select Essential Bass Guitar Accessories

Buying the bass guitar is just the beginning. As with most hobbies, a few essential accessories are needed. Some accessories are necessary immediately, like cables and amplifiers, while others can be acquired after the player has gained more experience. The table below details several accessories buyers should consider.




Without an amplifier, a bass guitar will not project sound, so it is necessary to purchase an amp in order to play the instrument. There are several types of amps to choose from, including tube or solid state.


Cables are needed to plug the guitar into an amplifier.


A guitar case will protect a guitar and make it easy to carry. Many have compartments that are useful for holding picks or extra strings. There are hard-shell and soft-shell cases. Hard shells offer more protection but are bulky and heavy. Soft-shell cases are light and highly mobile but offer more modest protection.


Guitar strings frequently break. Bassists should always have backup strings. If the guitar does not come with strings or the strings are in very poor condition, new strings are needed to play the guitar.


Unless the bassist plans to only play while seated, a guitar strap is necessary. Straps distribute the weight of the guitar to the shoulders, freeing the arms to play when standing.


A good guitar stand will help protect bass guitars from unintentional damage if they are placed on the floor or angled against the wall. They also can display instruments as decoration in the home.


Electric tuners make it easy to keep bass guitars in tune and on pitch.

Instructional aid

Using instructional books or videos is one way to learn how to play. Even for those taking lessons, books and videos can be a supplemental learning aid.

Find Bass Guitars on eBay

Once buyers know what type of bass guitar they want, they should go to the Musical Instruments portal on eBay, click Guitar,, then Bass,, and start searching for item listings. Make the searching process easier with a few strategies, such as using categories and keywords.


The Categories filter on the left side of each listing page will help narrow listings by item type. This is a tool to help buyers find exactly what they are searching for. Buyers can sort by left- or right-handed basses, condition, string configuration, price, and body type. Select multiple boxes for an ideal search. For example, click "left handed," "fretless," and "four string" to find matches that will fit that exact criteria.

Keyword Search

Search eBay title listings for specific words. For example, to find bass guitars, type "bass guitar"(without quotation marks) into the search box. Click "title and description" if using the Advanced Search function to expand the results. Visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more strategies on searching with keywords. For those having trouble finding exactly what they want, try shopping eBay Stores,, tell the eBay Community what item is wanted by creating a post on Want It Now,, or save a search on My eBay,, and eBay will send an email alert when a match becomes available.

Buy Bass Guitars With Confidence

Before making a purchase, buyers should know exactly what they are buying, research the seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect buyers

Know the Purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings. Figure delivery costs into the final price. For those who are buying an expensive bass guitar, find out if the seller will insure the item when it ships. For more information, ask by clicking the "Ask a Question" link at the bottom of the listing. Always make sure to complete transactions on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now,, or Best Offer)). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs. Never pay for an eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying an unknown seller.

Know the Seller

Buyers should research the seller so they feel positive and secure about every transaction. Researching the seller will give a better idea of others’ experience with them. Ask these questions:

  • What is the seller’s feedback rating?
  • How many transactions have they completed?
  • What percentage of positive responses do they have?
  • What do buyers say in their feedback?
  • Did the seller receive praise?
  • Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?
  • What are the seller’s return policies?
Buyer Protection

In the unlikely event that item is not received or it is not as described, eBay will help resolve the issue. Let eBay know what is wrong with the product or if the product has not arrived. eBay will contact the seller. If for any reason the issue cannot be resolved, eBay Buyer Protection will cover the purchase price plus original shipping.


Whether a buyer wants a first-time bass or an addition to a guitar collection, finding the right bass guitar takes time and research. There is no one bass guitar that is perfect for everyone. Each buyer’s needs and preferences will vary. Buyers should consider what factors are most important, whether is be price, sound production, physical appearance, brand, or size. There are countless used and new bass guitars for sale, which means with enough research and patience, everyone can find the right guitar to suit their needs.

Write a guide
Explore More
Choose a template