Best Bass Guitar Under £300

by | Sep 21, 2018 | Audio Gear, Bass

If you’re reading this then you need probably no introduction to the bass guitar as an instrument! From slamming bass-lines to percussive effects that help provide the backbeat alongside the drums, the bass guitar is absolutely integral to any band, and the top rated on our list is the Squier Affinity Precision PJ Bass.

Actually, bass instruments are a staple of modern music. Vocalists, pianists, horn players and even guitarists don’t feature in every outfit but a bass player? Whether it’s a double bass found in most jazz trios or a bass guitarist in a band, it’s difficult for any outfit to go without one. Check out this article from Guitar World on a guitarists guide to playing bass in a band.

Further to that, bassists are in short supply! If you want to play in a band, play a bass and you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Anyway, the chances are that any bassist will at some point own a bass guitar priced under £300. It’s a healthy price point, neither too cheap nor a bank breaker. You can get some seriously good basses for this price and as demands on manufacturers rise, the quality rises too.

Why? Because an influx of quality Chinese guitars are forcing the principles to redress their inventory. From Epiphone to Fender, well known manufacturers are strengthening their cheaper models.

Let’s find the best bass guitar under £300.

Here are the top 10 bass guitars under £300

Fender Squier Affinity Precision PJ Bass

 

Quality affordable bass from the best in the business.

Epiphone Thunderbird-IV Reverse

 

Great bass guitar that just looks fantastic.

Stagg BC300FL-NS

 

A lovely fretless bass with top review scores from Stagg.

Epiphone Toby Standard IV

Our second Epiphone on the list, this time with a great ergonomic shape.

Rocktile VB-1

 

Paul Mccartney style violin bass, great Beatles esque styling.

Epiphone EB-0

 

Completing our trio of Epiphone bass guitars, this time the SG Style.

Ibanez GSR200BWNF

 

Nice bass from Ibanez with Mahogany body.

Hofner Ignition Violin Bass

 

The second violin bass on the list, this time from Hofner.

San Francisco by Gear4music

Great Casino style bass from Gear4music.

Fender Squier Jazz 5 String

 

A top contender for best bass guitar under £300. Squier 5 String beauty!

Fender Squier Affinity Precision PJ Bass

Product Description

This Fender Squier Affinity PJ Bass features a mixture of precision and jazz pickups, both single coil, for that more edgy Fender signature tone.

With classic looks and tone, this bass guitar represents tremendous value for money. Its polyurethane maple body couples with top-load bridge to just add to that Fender tone and playability.

A maple body and Indian laurel neck offer versatility and flexibility to any play style.

An awesome price for a split-style Fender precision jazz, this Squier really defies its price tag, offering something which sounds great for the cash – it’s genuinely becoming hard to tell these apart from the real thing.

Features
  • Two single coil pickups: jazz and precision
  • Top-load Fender bridge
  • Classic aesthetics
  • Well balanced with a superb neck

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Offers versatile tonal control to players

√ Classic Fender sound

√ Two volume controls and master tone

√ Classic olympic white finish

Cons:

× Not available in many colours

  • Design 95%
  • Functionality 98%
  • Cost 92%
  • This Sound Rating 95%

Epiphone Thunderbird-IV Reverse

Product Description

Description: Originally built in 1963, the Gibson Thunderbird was a real head turner, particularly the reverse version.

It’s certainly earned its tag as a classic bass, certainly classic enough for Epiphone to faithfully replicate its shape and playability in the form of this affordable <£300 bass, this certainly runs close to being the best bass guitar under £300.

With a mahogany body and maple neck, it’s pretty light which is an overall positive when compared to the Gibson original. The neck is smooth, fast and easy to get used to, even for those used to fatter necks.

Eye-catchingly finished in sunburst brown or red, the bass certainly remains faithful to the original classic. Lastly, the pickups on this bass are Gibson-designed humbuckers which feature Alnico magnets with waxing to reduce feedback.

Features
  • Mahogany body
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Two humbucker pickups
  • Often comes with extended warranty

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Budget redesign of a classic bass

√ Pick up position great for precise funk, metal and rock playing

√ Looks awesome

√ Quality pickups

Cons:

× Optimised mostly for heavier styles

  • Design 95%
  • Functionality 92%
  • Cost 92%
  • This Sound Rating 93%

Stagg BC300FL-NS Fretless Bass 

Product Description

No self-respecting budget list would be complete without a Stagg. This Stagg bass guitar is fretless and at the price, it’s great for bassists looking to experiment with new styles, genres, tonalities or creative methods of playing.

This Stagg bass includes an alder wood body and maple neck – simple and unfussy.

You might want to replace the strings but other than that, it’s an awesome fretless bass at a budget price.

This Stagg bass isn’t breaking any records but for explorative players, it offers something unique without breaking the bank.

Features
  • Fretless bass
  • Two humbuckers
  • Thin body suits some players

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Fretless at a cheap price

√ Unfussy entry level fretless bass suits players looking to experiment

√ Solid alder wood build

√ Full scale

Cons:

× Fretless basses can be tricky to master

  • Design 86%
  • Functionality 90%
  • Cost 90%
  • This Sound Rating 89%

Epiphone Toby Standard IV

Product Description

Description: The Tobias range of guitars are fairly modern, manufactured around 10 years ago. This entry, the Toby Standard-IV, was taken by Epiphone and faithfully redesigned with the same controls and settings as the innovative original.

With a 34” maple Tobias design neck with satin feel, this bass is notoriously easy to play. Epiphone have also gone the extra mile to feature Tobias’ patented tonexpressor which allows the player to creatively change the tone of the instrument.

Capable of both mellow tones and piercing percussive tones, this bass has the fat qualities of an upright with the well-rounded tone of an electric bass.

Finished with Epiphone hardware, the Epiphone Tobias Standard bass guitar offers a pretty extraordinary package for fans of the original.  

Features
  • Tobias guitar asymmetric satin neck
  • Outfitted with active circuitry for tone control
  • Epiphone hardware
  • Awesome Tobias guitar looks

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Offers extra flexibility to players

√ Sturdy and quality build

√ Well designed maple neck

√ Fat tone

Cons:

× Tobias design not for everybody

  • Design 90%
  • Functionality 93%
  • Cost 95%
  • This Sound Rating 93%

Rocktile VB-1

Product Description

Description: Beatles fans unite, this Paul McCartney style bass is priced amazingly at just £146.99. That makes it an awesome choice for collectors looking to add a quirky bass to their setup.

The leading feature of this bass is its violin-style body. With a basswood body and maple neck, this bass produces a homogeneous classic rumble, much akin to the 60s original. If you’re looking for loud and precise percussive tones then it’s probably not right for you but if you want a bit of warmth then it fills the bill.

This bass features a shorter 30.5” scale which is ideal for beginners, those moving from guitar or those who don’t play bass often.

With two humbuckers and 3 tone switches, this bass provides a degree of tonal control that is quite unique for its price point.

Features
  • Violin style Beatles bass
  • 3 tone switches for versatile tone control
  • Two humbuckers
  • Short 30.5” scale

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ A cool bass for collectors

√ Akin to the bass 60s tone

√ 3 tone controls

√ Well built from maple and basswood

Cons:

× Violin design pretty reserved for enthusiasts and collectors

  • Design 95%
  • Functionality 89%
  • Cost 95%
  • This Sound Rating 93%

Epiphone EBO 

Product Description

We all know what Epiphone do best – recreate classic guitars at affordable prices. The EB-0 is unmistakably an SG style bass and in that classic red finish, it certainly ticks the same visual boxes as the original.

Made from mahogany, this bass is neither too light nor too heavy. Indeed, it’s lighter than the Gibson orginal and with its shorter 30.5” neck, it suits fast players, beginners or those moving between guitar and bass often.

This bass features superb build quality and its unfussy 1 sidewinder bass pick up simplifies things further.

Remove this bass from the box, tune up and you’re good to go!

Features
  • 30.5” neck
  • Mahogany body for a good deal of warmth
  • Single sidewinder pickup
  • SG build and aesthetics spot on

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Great build quality for the price

√ Unfussy design suits beginners, guitarists who want to play more bass or those who enjoy shorter basses

√ Epiphone hardware

√ Eyecatching and faithful looks

Cons:

× Shorter scale won’t suit everyone

  • Design 94%
  • Functionality 86%
  • Cost 93%
  • This Sound Rating 91%

Ibanez GSR200BWNF 

Product Description

From their GIO series, the Ibanez GSR200BWNF provides Ibanez style, build quality and tone for a tremendously affordable price. Firstly, this guitar looks great with Ibanez’ classic rounded body and black hardware.

With a mahogany body and rosewood fretboard, this guitar is constructed from quality materials and it even features active circuitry, which is fairly rare for guitars at this price point.

The active circuitry features a phat knob for tone control, the guitar is nice and responsive, ideally suited to any genre.

Slickly and sleekly designed, this Ibanez bass is a must for fans of the brand.

Features

  • Mahogany and rosewood build
  • Active circuitry with EQ phat knob
  • Signature Ibanez looks
  • Full size scale

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Ibanez styling

√ Easy to play

√ Active Circuitry

√ EQ Knob

Cons:

× None

  • Design 91%
  • Functionality 93%
  • Cost 92%
  • This Sound Rating 92%

Hofner Ignition Violin Bass 

Product Description

World famous Hofner put their own name to this inexpensive bass. Another classic violin-shaped bass, this Hofner is billed to offer that signature 70s tone at a cheap price.

This guitar has an authentic hollow body for a creamy, smooth and warm tone that harks back to the era in which it was initially designed.

This bass features two Hofner Ignition pickups. These are controllable with 3 switches ‘bass on’, enabling a fatter tone, ‘treble on’ creating a more piercing percussive tone and ‘solo or rhythm’ allowing players to select between two markedly different tones.

With Hofner build quality and an awesome black body, this bass provides tonal flexibility and classic warmth to the table.

Features

  • Mahogany and rosewood build
  • 3-way switch for awesome tonal versatility
  • A genuine Hofner
  • Full-scale bass

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Hofner build quality

√ Hofner ignition humbuckers

√ 70s tone

√ Classic violin body

Cons:

× Violin hollow body shape won’t suit everyone

  • Design 96%
  • Functionality 82%
  • Cost 97%
  • This Sound Rating 92%

San Francisco by Gear4Music

Product Description

Hollow body semi-acoustic basses have their quirks and they’re not the easiest thing to build. With a maple body and neck, this entry by San Francisco makes a good attempt at providing a hollow-body acoustic bass at a fantastic price.

Known for their classic tone, semi-acoustic basses are warmer, quieter and more full than electric basses. They sacrifice volume and power but for jazz or other quieter dynamic genre players, the San Francisco offers something appealing.

With two covered humbuckers, this semi-acoustic bass blends value with innovation to provide something quite unique at the price.

Features

  • Hollow body
  • Two humbuckers
  • Maple body and neck
  • Full-scale

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ Semi acoustic bass at a cheap price

√ Sounds warm and fat

√ Offers something unique for the price

√ Two decent humbuckers

Cons:

× Quieter than electric basses

  • Design 87%
  • Functionality 89%
  • Cost 87%
  • This Sound Rating 88%

Fender Squier Jazz 5 String

Product Description

One of the pricier basses in the list, this all-maple bass guitar from Fender Squier combines the classic jazz setup with 5 strings for extra low-end thump.

With a lovely raw maple finish, this bass is certainly built to look the part. It features two jazz single coil pickups for that slightly noisier and edgier Fender tone.

The prize of this guitar is its superb build quality, it really feels like the real thing and sounds pretty close, almost too close for comfort from Fender’s perspective!

With a full-size 20 fret maple fingerboard, extra string and all the usual Fender trimmings, this 5 string bass is an extremely popular choice.

Features
  • 5 strings
  • Two jazz single coil pickups
  • Maple finish
  • Fender build quality

Pros and Cons
Pros:

√ 5 strings for extra thump

√ Quality pickups

√ Maple build

√ Fender trimmings and hardware

Cons:

× None

  • Design 94%
  • Functionality 95%
  • Cost 86%
  • This Sound Rating 92%

Which is the best rated bass guitar?

  • Squier Affinity PJ Bass 95%
The classic sound of a fender is brought about by its single coil pickups. These are a little more edgy and noisy than their humbucker counterparts, which suits many players and this bass has a single coil pickup of each type, precision and jazz. With a quality body and Squier hardware, this bass is flexible and faithful to more expensive Fender basses.

This bass offers awesome Fender-levels of build quality and it’s difficult to assess exactly where it becomes a cheap guitar rather than an expensive one. Every guitarist knows that Squier has risen to the forefront of the budget to mid-end of guitar manufacturing, closely matched by Epiphone but blindfold any senior guitarist that has played tons of legit Fenders and give him this Squier and watch confusion erupt on their face as they find it difficult to really work out whether it cost £190 or £1000 – it really is a challenge!

Buyers Guide

Budget basses are higher quality than ever. The only slight issue with basses from some lesser known brands is that they’ll come up with poor quality strings. Basses from Epiphone and Squier set the benchmark and they often surpass their price. Owners of ‘real’ Gibsons and Fenders are starting to feel that buying several Epiphone or Squiers for the price of one authentic model might’ve been the better choice!

When buying a bass there are a few things to consider….

Which wood?
Budget guitars are often made from mahogany, which provides warmer and deeper tones, more akin to Gibsons. They’re also made from maple, which is brighter, more akin to Fenders or alder, which is more flexible between the two. Most budget guitars have the same rosewood or maple necks as more expensive models.
Pickups?
Expensive pickups can cost £300 a pair and arguably, these are the most important components of a guitar. So, how do the pickups on budget models stand up to the real thing? Squier and Epiphone pickups aren’t dissimilar to those found on real models but they’ll feature lower quality magnets and coiling. That said, Epiphone do include Alnico magnets on their guitars.
Extra Features?
Most budget basses feature passive circuitry, which limits how the tone can be shaped. Many guitars here do indeed feature active circuits, which feature tone knobs like Ibanez’s phat EQ knob. Some guitars like the Hofner Violin Bass feature switches for greater tone alteration.

How to change your bass strings

Conclusion

From classic designs to fretless designs, quirky bodied guitars like the violin bass, 5 strings and semi-acoustics, there is a bass for under £300 to fit every want and desire.

Whilst lesser known manufacturers deliver quality for very low prices, Epiphone and Squier lead the budget brigade, flying the flag with great build qualities, faithful reproduction and authentic flavour.

The gap in quality between high-end and mid-end basses is shortening and with that, the competition is pretty hot, driving manufacturer responsibility and pressure to deliver even higher.

Check out our best electro acoustic guitars under £200.

Sam is an audio and music production graduate, he has worked in live audio, studio production, sound design and videography.

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