If you’re like many, the price of an instrument dictates what you play first. Basses and guitars are popular choices for beginners. But what about costs? Are basses cheaper than guitars?
Basses are neither cheaper nor more expensive than guitars. For beginners, a decent electric bass and a decent electric guitar cost around $200. Advanced bassists and guitarists can spend about $1,000 for mid-high range models.
Various factors determine how much these instruments cost. Whether a guitar is acoustic or electric or whether a bass has four or five strings are just a couple of examples of what may affect the price. Below, we’ll explore how bass/guitar manufacturers determine costs and the best options for every budget.
What Determines an Instrument’s Cost?
When it comes to electric guitars and basses, the costs are similar because the materials are similar.
For example, both require pickups.
To create pickups, companies like Fender use magnets. Magnets contain cobalt and other elements — certain blends cost more to manufacture than others.
Additionally, the cost of wires, coils, magnets, and labor influences price. However, a guitar has a greater pitch range and sound coming from 6 (rather than 4) different strings — often simultaneously. Therefore, guitar pickups may be pricier.
Additionally, both require strings.
Bass strings are thicker than guitar strings — thus, they require more nickel per string. However, guitars (generally) have more strings. Nevertheless, bass strings tend to be slightly costlier to make. However, this is a trivial part of overall production costs. Basses also can come in the 6-string variety, which can drive up costs.
Then, you have the guitar/bass neck and body.
Basses have longer necks, meaning they require more materials. Many models use high-quality wood (like maple) for the fretboard and body. This can significantly influence an instrument’s cost, especially when wood prices soar.
Ultimately, though, guitars and basses end up with similar production costs. Electric basses use more materials because they’re larger. Meanwhile, electric guitars use fewer materials but may require more sophisticated pickups.
Guitar vs. Bass Cost
There is no direct answer regarding the cost of a new bass or a new guitar. If you’re considering price in your decision to purchase your first (or next) musical instrument, don’t let the cost deter you — they’re about the same.
Entry Level Basses and Guitars
For decent level entry models, expect to spend around two hundred bucks. This applies to acoustic guitars, small acoustic basses, and electric guitars/basses. For example, these “starter” instruments include models like:
- Fender Squire Dreadnought
- Ibanez PNB14E 4-String
- Ibanez GRX70QATEB 6-String
- Davison Full Size Electric Bass Guitar
The only notable cost difference is with an acoustic bass. Because basses have larger bodies and rely upon larger sound chambers to be audible, manufacturing costs may be slightly higher (about $50, in this case).
Nevertheless, basses have come a long way from the pricey behemoths before the age of the amplifier. This is also why most acoustic basses come equipped with electronic pickups — the same booming sound, but much more affordable (and easier to carry)!
Intermediate Basses and Guitars
In the intermediate category, expect to spend between 300 and 1,000 dollars. While you can spend even more on high-grade, better-performing electronic hardware, acoustic guitars and acoustic basses don’t get much better.
Acoustic enthusiasts should avoid the “high-end” category below — unless you’re willing to pay for incremental improvements, a limited edition, or something hand-made by a luthier.
So, here are some examples of what you might pay:
These are just a few fantastic options available in the intermediate price range. We explore the best options a bit later, so keep reading.
High-End Basses and Guitars
High-end options have similar costs. I’m assuming that if you’re willing to spend $1,000 + on an instrument, an extra $50 shouldn’t deter you (unlike those in the entry-level/budget camp). Options in this price bracket include:
- Martin Guitar Standard Series Acoustic Guitar, Hand-Built
- Ovation Elite TX
- Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro V
- Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass
While the models above vary enormously in price, they share one thing in common — they’re expensive. So at this level, name your price; you’ll find an impeccable instrument to suit your needs. Don’t let anyone stop you from the very best tones if you have the funds!
Best Inexpensive Bass Guitars
There are many compelling options for affordable bass guitars. Thanks to amplification tech getting better and better, you can fill the room with thunderous bass for less than $300 (including the amp’s cost).
Every bass we’ve explored below is reliable. However, you’ll want to read up on each to determine which is best for you. Ergonomics and sound preferences significantly affect enjoyment among musicians. It’s a very personal decision!
Some great options include:
Squier is Fender’s entry-level instrument lineup. Despite their low costs, Fender doesn’t skimp on delivering great-sounding instruments. This Squier Precision bass has stellar reviews on Amazon.
At 40% of the cost of a Fender precision bass, the Squier delivers about 90% of the sound quality. Plus, there is a markup on products bearing the Fender name for no other reason than that they say, Fender.
While most bass guitar enthusiasts know about Fender and Gibson, Ibanez is a major player. This Japanese company makes exceptional guitars and basses rivaling other big names. As Ibanez products do, this electric bass sounds fantastic when paired with the right amp.
Don’t let the low price deter you — Ibanez has put their full efforts into the components that matter. It sounds great. Read the reviews if you’re skeptical.
Can’t decide between acoustic and electric basses? This Best Choice Products model offers unrivaled value and phenomenal Amazon reviews. It sounds excellent, despite its suspiciously low price. So if you’d like to begin your bass-playing journey A.S.A.P and don’t know where to begin, this is it.
This Best Choice bass guitar is one of the most inexpensive models available. With it, you can explore your options without breaking the bank.
Okay, so maybe $600 isn’t exactly inexpensive for everyone. However, if you’re determined to pursue bass, this 5-string bass by ESP offers plenty of room to grow. The sound quality is on par with models costing well over a grand. Plus, you may never need to buy another bass again.
Just be sure to purchase a quality amp to let this ESP bass shine!
Best Inexpensive Guitars
Remember not to let cost deter you from your dream instrument. The price difference between basses and guitar is virtually nonexistent these days. So if the guitar is calling you, don’t assume you’ll be spending more (or less) than on a decent bass.
If you’re skeptical about cheap guitars sounding, well, cheap, check out this video:
So, what are the best guitars you can buy on a budget? Check these out:
While you may picture their electric Stratocasters when you think of Fender, they make great acoustic guitars, too. This Squier Dreadnought offers a complete learning bundle for beginners. Plus, at 200 dollars, it’s a legitimate guitar — not some gimmicky educational toy.
It’s also predominately made of maple, so it smells good. The scent might not be the #1 reason you buy a guitar, but it’s worth mentioning.
If you like the idea of a complete guitar package like the Dreadnought but want some electricity, this Squier Stratocaster bundle is a great choice. Fender’s Squier line of products is well-made. Furthermore, they sound almost as good as their super-expensive counterparts.
This electric guitar comes with a Fender amp, so you can begin playing without any extra purchases.
Ibanez doesn’t make shoddy products. The Japanese guitar maker has supplied Jennifer Batten (one of Michael Jackson‘s guitarists), Marty Friedman of Megadeth, and countless more with incredible instruments.
The sharp angles and fierce design give this guitar distinct heavy metal vibes.
Basses are neither cheaper nor more expensive than guitars. If you’re willing to spend $200 or more on an instrument and amp, you can own a capable bass or guitar.
Remember that finding the perfect instrument is like finding a perfect piece of clothing. You’ll need to do your research to ensure that you end up with a good fit. Ultimately, you want to choose an instrument that suits your musical style.
There are countless amazing basses and guitars. You can spend as much (or as little) as you wish. So don’t ignore the booming call of the bass nor deny your wishes to deliver chilling guitar solos. Either path you choose may be the greatest investment of your life.