Bass on a Budget: 9 Basses Under $500

Our third entry in the “Basses on a Budget” series includes basses we’ve covered between August, 2013 and August, 2014, with a price tag of $500 or less.

As we said previously: This is not a “best bass under $500? list – we don’t like those lists much anyway. We’ll leave that up to you decide.

Of course, if you have any experience or feedback on any of these basses, we always love hearing from you. Just drop a note in the comments.

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass V Special

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass V - Three-color Sunburst

Squier’s Vintage Modified series became a little bigger with the introduction of the Jaguar Bass V Special. The new model takes all the features of the Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass and adds a low B string. Similar to its predecessor, the bass features a Jaguar-style body fitted with a Fender-Designed P/J pickup configuration…

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Squier Cabronita Precision and Bass VI Vintage Modified Models

Squier Vintage Modified Cabronita Precision Bass

Squier’s Vintage Modified line of basses had two new additions with the announcement of the Vintage Modified Cabronita Precision Bass and the Vintage Modified Bass VI…

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Squier Vintage Modified Series Precision Basses

Squier Vintage Modified Precision Fretless Bass

Rounding out the 2013 summer’s new models for Squier’s Vintage Modified Series are a trio of P-basses: The Vintage Modified Precision Bass V, Precision Bass Fretless, and Precision Bass PJ…

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Fender and Squier New Mike Dirnt Signature Basses

Mike Dirnt Fender Road Worn Precision Bass

Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt’s Signature basses have gotten a boost with the introduction of the Fender Mike Dirnt Road Worn Precision Bass and an updated version of the Squier Mike Dirnt Precision Bass…

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Fretlight FB-525 Bass

Fretlight FB-525 Bass

Educational instrument maker Fretlight has introduced their first bass guitar, the FB-525. The bass is the four-string to feature the company’s built-in LED learning system that teaches you to play by lighting up dots on the fretboard…

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ESP LTD Signature Series Fred Leclercq FL-204 Bass Guitar

ESP LTD Signature Series Fred Leclercq FL-204 Bass body

DragonForce’s Fred Leclercq has a new bass from ESP’s LTD Signature Series. As opposed to his previous ESP signature, the ESP LTD Signature Series Fred Leclercq FL-204 features bolt-on construction with a maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and a mahogany body finished in Snow White Satin with graphics…

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Squier Eva Gardner Precision Bass

Squier Eva Gardner Precision Bass

Squier has teamed up with Eva Gardner to introduce a new signature Precision bass. Gardner was the original bassist for The Mars Volta and has continued to work with artists ranging from Veruca Salt to Pink…

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Shredneck Z-Series Travel Basses

Shredneck Z-Series Travel Bass

Shredneck, a company that specializes in practice and travel instruments, has introduced the Z-Series of travel basses. At a total body length of 36.25″, the Z-Series bass is approximately 5/8ths the size of a standard bass guitar…

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Ibanez Peter Iwers PIB3 5-String Bass

Ibanez Peter Iwers Signature PIB3 Bass

In Flames bassist Peter Iwers has teamed up with Ibanez to release a third signature bass called the PIB3. Featuring a new blood red finish, the company says the new five-string model’s secret weapon is the EQB-IIID 3-band EQ…

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Be sure to check out our previous editions: 14 Basses Under $500 (July 8th, 2013) and 12 Basses Under $500 (June 23rd, 2012).

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  1. Um, rally? 9 basses and 5 are Squiers? You couldn’t find 9 separate manufacturers making a good bass guitar under $500? No Yamahas. No Schecters. No Sterling. No Danelectro. I don’t know where you shop, but this list is a bit skewed. All good basses under $500 perhaps, but a really terrible list in terms of manufacturing range. Looks a lot like a Fender/Squier ad to me. If it looks like advertorial, and it smells like advertyorial, well, you know…

    • dave

      Schecter shit basses, Yamaha thought their only good at selling Engines lol Danelectro ? Who are they ..

      Fender top of the line even with their cheap European ranges

      • Simon

        Seriously Dave?

      • PhiDeck

        Yamaha RBX170 is a fine starter bass. Got mine new on sale for $153.

      • I only mentioned those 4 names because I had the room. There are DOZENS of bass manufacturers that make under $500 basses. More people need to think outside the Fender cult – they aren’t the best basses. There’s lots of great basses – even cheap ones. Holy cow. And remember, these aren’t Fenders, they’re Squiers. Note that I have a Squier Jag VM SS that I really, really like, but I spent less that $200 on that, and cheap Fenders will never be under $500 – just sayin’ …

      • By the way you express yourself, one can tell a smart reply can’t be expected on any level whatsoever.

      • By the way, my message is for Dave. Should have made that clear.

      • Have you ever even played a Schecter, Yamaha, or Danelectro bass? I’ve played amazing models from each for under $500. This is definitely not a response anyone should take seriously.

      • Yamaha probably makes the best all-around basses for the money. Period.
        I’d rather have a bottom-line Yamaha RBX170 bass than most of the Squier stuff.
        You could drop $300 on new hardware and a setup and you’d have the best bass here by far.

      • Please tell me that’s sarcasm. Fender’s quality is top of the line?

        • With Fender you get what you pay for. American made? You get the best bass for the $1000 and up price point. Japanese made? The same in the $600 – $1000 range.
          Mexican made? Truly hit or miss but a great deal if you find the right one.
          China/Indonesia/Malaysian made? Get a Yamaha.

      • Well, you know, thats just like uh, your opinion man.

    • Alex

      *prepaid by fender* :DDD

      • True, you never do say “best” – my bad. But even as a recap, or third in a series, I think it still under-represents a rather lively and full market segment. There are many, many basses from several brands on the market for under $500, so why so many Squiers – my original argument still stands, my terminology was a bit off base – apologies for that. (also no pun intended, but funny anyway – off base – ha!)

          • I recently bought a Bacchus Global serie 100% handmade in Phillipines islands for less than 500$, it’s not an ad of course, it’s because you are americans, so you only search in America, asian or european people have a way larger knowledge of brands, americans only know… american brands.

          • Rob Klaassen

            Oh come on. If it isn’t an ad, then what is the idea of presenting this list?

    • Bassopotamus

      My thoughts exactly. I’ve been blown away by some of the lower end Yamahas in particular.

    • gene

      This is “semi-annual” article. There are several other articles on this site for budget basses. I think they just keep current with “new” models that come out, rather than keep telling people about the same budget basses. ESP has some nice ones, Ibanez has some killer instruments these days just a bit higher than the $500 budget. No Treble is definitely not an “advertorial”, they don’t really spend that much time slingin’ Fender merch. Many of the readers however, are very interested to see the current line-up of Fender gear.

    • Exactly Pierre, and if you spend $100 more, just get the Warwick Rockbass Corvette. You will all thank me! Just my two cents.

  2. bob

    Still loving the Epiphone Thunderbird, it was posted in 2012.

  3. Steve Carriere

    Yamaha makes great under $500 basses.

  4. Yamaha BB 414
    Yamaha TRBX 304

  5. SCHECTER !!!!!!!!!! Arguably better than most here. its a Shame this ended up being a Squire Ad !!!!!!!

  6. Izy

    Yamaha TRBX 305

  7. John Zawicki

    Seems like a Squire ad to me?

  8. Brandon T.

    I have owned two Squiers (a Classic Vibe and, currently, a Vintage Modified J-bass), and each have been great instruments. After I had them set up professionally they more than superior to anything else in that price range. I also own a couple of SUB’s by Sterling by Musicman, and those are just unbelievable, too. If the question is “why are there so many Squiers in this list” it is simply this: they’re good instruments!!

  9. Clayton

    Toby Deluxe IV by Epiphone is a remarkable instrument for the price, bought it on the spot. Tried a Yamaha TRBX 304 a few weeks ago, very impressive instrument. If I wasn’t so broke they both would have been owned by this guy.

    • Ben

      I owned a Toby Deluxe IV for about six months. I didn’t care for it much. The controls were a little confusing and I never seemed to get any tone that I enjoyed out of the bass. Also the neck was very unstable and I could only rest it on a Hercules guitar stand or wall hanger.

  10. Nathaniel

    I would have love to have seen the Ernie Ball Music Man S.U.B. Bass on the list. This is what I use to practice with and it sounds fantastic! Stays in tune and it’s comfortable to play!

  11. Washburn. Schecter. Epiphone. Sterling. Samick.
    All have fine basses under five bills.
    I have at least one of each of those brands, as well as the Squier Modified Jaguar.
    Each is different. All fun to play.

  12. Grady Patterson

    Seems to be a whole lot of not reading the introductory paragraph – basses included *must have been reviewed this year (August, 2013 – August, 2014)*.
    The question is not whether a bass is available, but whether it has a review in the given time-frame.

    Interesting that last year’s version of this article had 14 basses, of which only 3 were Squier – and there were complaints about the Squiers that *weren’t* included (turned out, for the same reason)!

  13. donald

    I have a Chinese SX 5-string jazz copy that I absolutely love. For the price, you can’t beat it. Put in some new pups and it sounds like an instrument costing 5x the price.

  14. That Peter Iwers 5 string is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in my next bass (I just love the way ibanez’s play). I can’t find it on any Canadian sites though, or seen it in any stores for that matter, anyone know if it’s even available at music stores in Canada?

  15. Here are, in my opinion, the 2 best basses for $500 and under:
    5-String –

    4-String –

    Yes, they’re both Yammi’s. Truly solid playing, sounding, and built basses with good hardware, good factory set-ups, and versatile sound. Pro axes I’d play anytime.

  16. Charles Catlow

    I bought an OLP (Officially Licensed Product by Music Man) MM-20 for under $500 a couple of years ago. Very good value! A pity they don’t make ’em anymore…

  17. hugh

    what about musicman sterling sub ray 4 great great bass 4 the price.

  18. Chris clarksom

    Holy’s an article for christs sake. ENTERTAINMENT. Everyone drop the third degree… You people make it so hard to enjoy anything. I thought it was awesome… Squier is killing it for entry level and low end basses. Kudos.

  19. Gregg

    What I don’t understand is why the Squire Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass (not the special. This one… has never been reviewed. Granted, it’s not active, it’s not the short scale, it doesn’t have 5 strings, but it’s a killer sounding bass that only gets love from people that own it (I guess that’s all the love it needs), but it would be nice to see what the professionals have to say about it. This bass IMO sounds way better than the active and short scale VMJ basses that tend to be constantly talked about.

  20. Mike

    Recently bought two 5 strings – a MIM Fender Active Jazz Deluxe V and a Squier Vintage Modified Precision V. The Squier is at least as good (playability, fit & finish) as the Fender – if not better. Both were bought used – Squier was 1/2 the price of the Fender. I also have a Vintage Modified 70’s Jazz and a Classic Vibe 50’s Precision. Is my American Standard Jazz better? Yes – but $1000 better? – no way.
    Note I also have an old beater Yamaha RBX360 (paid $80 – with a practice amp!) and an Ibanez ATK300 – both great budget basses too.

  21. Mike

    Well if you want a P bass you’re doing fine!

  22. Luc

    Critics about the “Fender only” aspect of this texte are not totally fair as a lot of other basses have been covered in the previous articles.

    On the other hand, these “bass for a budget” articles that can be found everywhere on the web are great, but what would be (IMHO) even greater is a roundup of used basses that could be a good deal.
    As an example I play a Godin SD4, Godin is a higly underrated canadian compagny little know for its excellent guitars and totally unknown for its basses. All Godin basses aren’t great, but the SD series is a gem, quality wise the wood is on par with a MIA Fender , only the mics are not top noch (but it’s easy and cheap to change).

    There are probably other less trendy brands that have produced instrument that are sold for very cheap used and deserve some attention for those on a tight budget.

    My 2 cents


  23. JL

    I love my Hagstrom Viking. $500

  24. It’s great to know there are affordable basses that are of higher quality than in the past. Good stuff.

  25. the peavey grind bass kicks ass !!!! under $500 great tone neck thru passive / w case all natural wood did I say sounds great!!!! I have a music man a fender and a carvin this peavey kicks their ass!!!!!

  26. Adam Jamali

    No Ibanez ATK series? Srsly?

  27. Music Mayes

    Actually heres 5 bass guitars that are really good for a damn good prices!!

  28. Adam

    I would never buy a squire. Some of them play OK, and occasionally one will suprise you, but the quality and consistency is not there. If you have 500 bucks you should try and find a deal on a preowned bass of higher quality. Also 500 bucks is a tricky range.. cause if you find a used bass or spend a liiiitlle more you can find a way more quality product.