10 best budget bass guitars

17th Nov 2009 | 09:39

10 best budget bass guitars
Vintage EST96
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Thanks to Ask MusicRadar, the power of your axe-buying knowledge and following the search to find, name and honour the best acoustic and electric guitars under £300, we've finally uncovered the best budget basses your money can buy.

This is a gallery of the top 10 as chosen by you. All cost under £300 and are well worthy of your consideration, but we do have one overall winner… scroll through to reveal the very best. First up: Vintage EST96.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The EST96 looks like a Music Man StingRay with a flame top and a brown/’burst finish. Admirably supported by a Wilkinson double coil bass pickup and a powerful three-band onboard EQ, it’s a more serious contender than might originally be thought”.

Why you love it:

"I used to play a Vintage EST96. True, I chose it chiefly because I was young and skint. But, actually, it did me proud for a good few years and looks and plays much better than its low price portrays. I'd definitely recommend one". (From Adam via email, thanks)

Next: Vintage Icon V4

10 best budget bass guitars
Vintage Icon V4
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“With a ‘distressed sunset sunburst’ finish and reliable Wilkinson hardware and pickups, the Icon V4 not only looks very authentic, it sounds the part too”.

Why you love it:

"Vintage Icon V4 - looks good, plays good. And it's cheap as chips!" (Thanks, Chris)

"The Icon V4 deserves a nod in this round-up - gotta love Vintage for the money". (Thanks, Mike)

Next: Squier Affinity P-Bass

10 best budget bass guitars
Squier Affinity P-Bass
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Squier claims that its Affinity P-Bass is the world’s best selling 4-string because of its ‘unmatched value’. We can believe it, too: it feels good, sounds good and it doesn’t look too shabby either”.

Why you love it:

"I've played a few basses in my time and for the money the Affinity P-Bass was pretty impressive". (Thanks, Bob)

"Squier Affinity P for sure. Squier have always impressed my with providing cheap-but-great axes". (From Tom via email, thanks)

Next: Epiphone EB3

10 best budget bass guitars
Epiphone EB3
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“For our money there is a certain something about the EB3 that, in spite of having a full scale neck unlike the original, means it still retains the integrity of the classic it emulates. In fact, it goes one step further by becoming an alternative model in the line of SG-shaped basses rather than a direct clone”.

Why you love it:

“Epiphone EB3, I went to the shop expecting to buy a more expensive Fender but came away with this! Probably the best looking bass around, lovely thin neck and surprisingly versatile tones. Faultless build quality too and can be had for less than £200”. (Thanks, spacehog)

"Epiphone EB3 - anything that looks like an SG is alright in my book!". (Thanks, Simon)

Next: Danelectro Dano '63

10 best budget bass guitars
Danelectro Dano '63
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Available in short and long scale versions, the Dano ’63 bass is affordable, passive, unique and dutifully retro. This one is hard to put down”. (Read a full review of the Danelectro Dano ’63 6-string)

Why you love it:

"Danelectro make exceptionally good guitars for the buyer on a budget. The 63 bass gets my vote". (From Pete via email, thanks)

"Danelectro Dano 63 bass FTW". (Thanks, Mark)

Next: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Precision Bass

10 best budget bass guitars
Squier Classic Vibe 50s Precision Bass
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A great old-style bass, excellent value for money and with some subtle updates: the cool colour, classic feel and surprisingly solid tones”. (Read the full Squier Classic Vibe 50s Precision Bass review)

Why you love it:

"The Squier Classic Vibe Precision Bass 60s, by far!" (From @FelixFlux via Twitter - thanks, the 50s version made the list!)

"You can't really go wrong with a Squier Precision." (Thanks, David)

Next: Ibanez Jet king JTKB200

10 best budget bass guitars
Ibanez Jet king JTKB200
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“If you want something that looks vintage yet comes with modern build and playability advantages, this is definitely worth considering. And at this price, can you really go wrong?” (Read the full Ibanez Jetking JTKB200 review)

Why you love it:

“Ibanez JetKing bass - looks vintage, plays nice. I had one for a few years and got a decent wad of change from £300”. (Thanks, bama)

“Another shout for the Ibanez Jet King. A bit more individual then the legion of copies around. Sticks to the basics and does the job very well. Also looks pretty good”. (Thanks, AJM)

Next: Yamaha RBX 375

10 best budget bass guitars
Yamaha RBX 375
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“With a maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and a solid alder body, if you like your basses modern and pointy, you don’t need to look much further than the RBX 375”.

Why you love it:

“Yamaha RBX375 (£298 from GAK). Playable, versatile, excellent with flatwound strings from Picato”. (Thanks, musophilr)

"I play a Yamaha RBX375 - personally, I love the look of it and it sounds great loud!" (Thanks, Ryan)

Next: Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass

10 best budget bass guitars
Squier Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass
Ask MusicRadar: the results

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“This Classic Vibe model comes with all of the ‘deluxe’ elements its Fender big brother was introduced with in the 1960s! Narrow fast-action neck, two single-coil pickups and individual volume controls - a well-deserved second place”.

Why you love it:

“Squier Classic Vibe Jazz - awesome bass!” (Thanks, taigablues)

“I have a Squier Jazz Bass and it's great for the money. Nicely made, lovely neck, Duncan-designed pickups sound pretty good”. (Thanks, mellowsun)

“Squier Classic Vibe 60's Jazz Bass - Great bridge, stunning looks good feel and sound - what more could you want!” (Thanks, Deluxe_65)

“The Squier Standard Jazz Bass - great neck, good sound and that Fender vibe. A classic design that's suited to most styles of music - it looks cool as well”. (Thanks, Fretwired)

Next: Epiphone Thunderbird

10 best budget bass guitars
Epiphone Thunderbird
Ask MusicRadar: the results

Your top pick - following the company’s gold medal for the ES-335 in the best electric guitar under £300 category, and just pipping Squier’s Classic Vibe 60s Jazz Bass to the post with 20% of the vote - is… the Epiphone Thunderbird.

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Offering a new slant on a classic look, Epi’s Thunderbird is capable of delivering full-on, menacing sounds and traditional tones. All in all, it’s a great rock bass”. (Read the full Epiphone Ltd Edition Thunderbird IV Bass review)

Why you love it:

"In my humble opinion, the best bass guitar (that I know of) under £300 is the Epiphone Thunderbird. It looks great and the one I used to play was perfect for pretty much everything I needed it for. A top notch, versatile beauty." (From Gary via email, thanks)

"Epi Thunderbird, without a shadow..." (Thanks, Dave)

"I'm a late comer to this debate, I know, but I have to big up the Epiphone Thunderbird. Our bassist uses one and it's surely the coolest looking bass around?!" (Thanks, alonetogether)

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