The bass guitar is a truly awesome instrument. It is fun to play, produces a wonderfully low and rich sound, and handles most of those riffs that we all get stuck in our heads. With metal, things are no different.
In fact, bass players in metal bands are pretty much responsible for producing the sounds that we all associate with the genre. That low-end, punchy, heavy sound is all thanks to the bass player.
If you’re looking to get in on the action by learning how to play metal bass, look at the list below. We’ve hand-selected five of our favorite bass guitars that are appropriate for metal.
I have chosen each one according to the quality of its construction, the sound it produces, and the price point.
We know that purchasing an instrument can often be a stressful and confusing experience. That’s why we’ve also included a handy buyers’ guide.
This comprises everything you need to know, from strings to preamps, to ensure that you’re making the most informed decision possible. Check it out!
Best Bass For Metal Bands (Quick Summary)
- New Inlays and Binding
- Basswood Body
- Rosewood Fretboard
We just had to kick things off with the Schecter Hellraiser Extreme. If you’re looking for a top-quality bass that packs a fat and rough sound, this guitar is perfect for you.
Considering how high quality this bass is, it is an absolute steal! The Schecter Hellraiser Extreme really sets itself apart from the others.
It has a 34-inch scale which makes playability easier. Thanks to EMG pickup combinations, it delivers the super solid, refined, and active tone that you would associate with classic metal or heavy riffs.
The overall appearance of this bass is something quite special. It really combines elegance and style with strength and aggression.
The combination of highly figured maple tops, mother-of-pearl binding, and the grainy satin finish makes for a truly stunning look. The walnut and maple neck-through-body ensures an excellent level of stability and playability.
We are also obsessed with the visual appearance of this bass. This guitar is ideal for both intermediate and professional players.
- EMG 35TW pickups – provide great versatility and tone properties.
- 34” scale – helps with playability.
- Appearance – this bass has a unique look that makes it stand out from the rest.
- Walnut and maple neck-through-body – provides excellent stability.
- Not ideal for beginners – this guitar is probably a bit too much for beginner bassists.
- Usage: 5-string electric bass guitar suitable for right-hand usage
- Rosewood Fretboard: Rosewood provides a well-balanced solid tone with a focused mid range
- Accu-Cast B500 Bridge: The Accu-cast B500 bridge features adjustable saddles for variable string spacing by +/- 1.5mm
- Tonal Control: Experience precision tonal control with a switch to choose passive-only operation
- 3-Band EQ: Equipped with the Ibanez Custom Electronics 3-band EQ
If you’re new to the metal scene and want an affordable but good-quality bass guitar to get you started, look no further than the Ibanez SR500E. We ranked this second because it is truly an excellent value for money.
If you’ve been hunting for a bass guitar for a little while, you’ve likely come across the brand Ibanez. Ibanez has really become known as one of the best guitar brands, in part, because of their wonderful range of bass guitars.
The Ibanez SR505E is a five-string bass that packs a powerful punch. If you’re looking for a bass with bold, edgy tones, this is the one for you. It boasts an Okoume body, and a jatoba and walnut neck. This makes for a very strong and slender shape, which isn’t always the case with 5-strings.
This guitar definitely competes with some of the more expensive options on this list. We also love Bartolini BH2 pickups, they make for a wonderful addition to an already gorgeous instrument.
- Ibanez – reputable brand.
- Bold and edgy tones – make for a great metal bass.
- Okoume body, jatoba, and walnut neck – mean the bass is sturdy and slender.
- Design – Brown mahogany appearance might not appeal to everyone
If you’re a fan of playing metal, but don’t really need a bass guitar designed for intensity, the Warwick Rockbass Corvette is ideal. It has a sleek and simple design but definitely doesn’t compromise on power.
Warwick is a pioneer in creating bass guitars with incredible tonal precision, and this model is no exception. The wood used for this bass is ash. This creates a wonderfully fluid tone that works beautifully for metal and rock.
If you’re a keen bassist but you’ve struggled with comfort, the Warwick Rockbass Corvette might solve your problems. Thanks to the ergonomic design, the curves allow for an unencumbered playing experience, whether you’re sitting down or standing upright.
The two-piece bridge allows you to adjust on all points for intonation and comfort. You can easily personalize this bass to suit your playing style. It allows you to access a vast range of low-end tones that are perfect for metal!
- Ash wood – provides a great fluid tone.
- Ergonomic curves – make this bass very comfortable to play.
- Two-piece bridge – means this bass can be personalized to your own playing style.
- Design – the shape and simple design aren’t for everyone.
- Very distinctive look via soccer team logo graphic and side paint schemes
- Hum free crushing output are provided by the Seymour Duncan split P Pickup
- Fender designed hi-mass bridge ensures a clear tonal transfer and maximum resonation
- Play for hours with little fatigue due to the modern ‘C’ shape neck profile and his signature Rot sound flat wound strings
- Enjoy the peace of mind due to the Fender Deluxe Gig Bag and Limited Lifetime warranty that is included with purchase
If you’re a fan of Iron Maiden, check out the Fender Steve Harris Precision Bass. The tone it produces is incredibly close to that of Steve Harris, and it has an awesome appearance too.
Thanks to its wonderfully warm and rich tone, this bass can play an enormous range of genres. However, it works best with heavy metal. It packs a huge amount of thumping power and clarity.
The modern ‘C’ shape neck and profile combined with signature Rot sound flat wound strings mean that you can play this bass for hours with little fatigue or discomfort. The hi-mass bridge also ensures maximum resonation and a clear tonal transfer.
Are you a West Ham fan? You might love the addition of the logo on the body. It makes for a unique and distinctive-looking bass. It was also incredibly sturdy to play, and the depth of sound it produced was something quite special.
This model is fairly expensive when compared to others on this list, however, it really is full of style and gritty substance.
- 4-string Electric Bass with Mahogany Body
- 2 Humbucking Pickups – Honey Satin
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Maple/Walnut Neck
- Bubinga Top
We couldn’t finish this list without including the Schecter Stiletto Studio-4. This bass really proves that, with excellent engineering and attention to detail, you can manufacture an awesome yet affordable bass that is sure to satisfy even the most experienced metal musicians.
If you’re looking for a bass that works with all genres, this one probably isn’t for you. Schlecter designed it especially it for metal music. However, this means that if you’re a big metal fan, this guitar will have everything you need.
It has a 35-inch scale length, which provides a little more range with heavy riffs than other guitars. The wood is mahogany, which has all the resonant properties you would want when playing heavy metal music.
Considering the price of some of the more expensive options on this list, it was surprising just how powerful, sturdy, and reliable this model is.
We love the effectiveness of the two EMG 40HZ pickups. It also has a premium appearance thanks to the satin finish. However, the manufacturer aimed this instrument at advanced bass players who are looking to make some noise at live shows. So, If you’re simply looking for a bass guitar to use in your parent’s garage, this one is likely to be a bit much.
- 35” scale length – provides more range than others.
- Mahogany tonewood – has great resonant properties.
- Satin finish – gives it a premium appearance.
- Made for advanced metal musicians – not ideal for people who don’t play live.
The Rickenbacker 4003 bass guitar is a classic choice for bassists venturing into the vast world of metal music. This iconic instrument, renowned for its sleek and timeless design, has carved out a significant place in the music industry since its inception.
Its visually striking body, coupled with a sound that’s become a hallmark in numerous rock and metal tracks, gives it a venerable status in the music world.
Built with meticulous craftsmanship, it boasts high-quality materials like maple for the body and neck, and a robust rosewood fretboard that promises durability and a rich tonal palette.
This bass guitar offers a distinctive bright, growling, and piercing tone, which has the capacity to cut through dense metal mixes with ease.
It facilitates a wide array of tones suitable for different sub-genres within the metal spectrum, ranging from the deep growls desirable in doom metal to the aggressive attacks necessitated in thrash metal. However, while this signature sound stands out, it may lack the profound low-end response favored in some metal genres.
Moreover, the somewhat premium pricing and the relatively heavy build might deter newcomers or those with budget constraints.
- Distinctive Tone: Bright and growly, suitable for cutting through dense mixes.
- Iconic Design: Adds a visually striking element to performances.
- High-Quality Build: Made with premium materials for durability.
- Versatility: Suitable for various metal sub-genres.
- Price: Less accessible for beginners or those on a budget.
- Weight: Can be a bit heavy, affecting playability during fast-paced sessions.
- Low-End Response: Might lack the deep resonances favored in some metal genres.
- Maintenance: Prone to fret buzz, necessitating regular setups.
The ESP LTD F-204 bass comes from a line of instruments that are renowned for their sharp aesthetic and affinity with the metal genre. The F series, in particular, stands out with its aggressive styling and build, designed to meet the demands of metal musicians.
Crafted with a mahogany body and a 5-piece maple/jatoba neck, it promises a strong and sustaining low end that can hold its ground in heavy metal mixes.
With its deep cutaways, it offers comfortable access to the higher frets, enabling bassists to explore a wide range of tones and techniques.
This bass is outfitted with ESP-designed SB-4 pickups and a 3-band active EQ, facilitating a dynamic sound spectrum with notable depth and clarity.
While offering considerable benefits, the ESP LTD F-204 also comes with a set of drawbacks. The active electronics require a battery, adding to the maintenance requirements of the instrument.
Moreover, some players might find the aggressive styling a bit too distinct, limiting its versatility for more subdued or classic aesthetics.
- Tonal Versatility: Thanks to its active EQ and ESP-designed pickups, it allows for a wide range of sound sculpting.
- Comfortable Playability: The deep cutaways and well-designed neck facilitate easy access to higher frets, providing a comfortable playing experience.
- Strong Low End: The mahogany body and quality construction ensure a strong and sustaining low end.
- Aggressive Aesthetic: The sharp and aggressive design of the F series stands out, especially in metal settings.
- Battery Maintenance: The active electronics necessitate regular battery changes, adding to the maintenance work.
- Distinctive Design: The aggressive styling might not be everyone’s cup of tea, potentially limiting its versatility in different aesthetic contexts.
- Potentially Overwhelming EQ: While offering versatility, the 3-band EQ can be a bit overwhelming for beginners trying to find their preferred tone.
- Weight: Being crafted with a mahogany body, it can be somewhat heavy, which might impact the comfort during long playing sessions.
The Peavey Milestone bass is a well-established contender in the bass guitar market, offering a blend of affordability and quality that attracts many budding musicians, especially in the metal genre. Crafted with a double-cutaway body, it allows easy access to the higher frets, encouraging players to explore the full potential of the fretboard.
This bass comes with a series of customizable options, including different finishes to suit various aesthetic preferences.
Armed with Peavey’s own designed split single-coil and single-coil pickups, it offers a reasonable range of tones that can cater to various metal sub-genres.
While it doesn’t boast the high-end components of premium basses, it does provide a solid foundation for those starting their journey in metal music, with a reliable and fairly balanced sound output. The hardware, albeit functional, doesn’t offer the best in terms of longevity and might require upgrades down the line.
- Affordability: A cost-effective choice for beginners and intermediate players.
- Accessibility: The double-cutaway body design facilitates easy access to higher frets.
- Customizable Aesthetics: Offers different finishes to cater to various visual preferences.
- Decent Tone Range: Equipped with Peavey’s pickups, it provides a reasonable tonal range suitable for metal music.
- Limited Tonal Depth: Might not offer the depth and richness sought by more experienced players.
- Hardware Quality: The hardware, while functional, might not stand the test of time, requiring potential upgrades in the future.
- Setup: It often requires a setup out of the box to ensure optimal playability.
- Not Suitable for Advanced Players: More suited for beginners to intermediate players, and might not meet the demands of experienced bassists.
- 4-string Electric Bass with Contoured Basswood Body
- 2 Humbucking Pickups – Satin Black
- Laurel Fingerboard
- Maple Neck
The Jackson X Series Signature David Ellefson Concert Bass CBX IV emerges as a potent contender in the metal bass guitar scene, boasting credentials developed in collaboration with Megadeth’s iconic bassist, David Ellefson.
Designed with the needs of a metal musician at its core, this bass guitar leverages top-quality components and craftsmanship to deliver an instrument finely tuned for the rigors of metal music.
It exhibits a basswood body paired with a one-piece maple neck and a 12”-16” compound radius rosewood fingerboard that ensures a fluid and comfortable playing experience, fostering swift and complex bass lines that metal music often demands.
The CBX IV houses a pair of EMG pickups (a P/J set) which provide a robust and versatile tonal palette, allowing bassists to carve out tones ranging from deep growls to piercing high ends.
Despite its noteworthy attributes, the CBX IV is not without its downsides. Its potent pickups and complex electronic setup could potentially be a bit too much for beginners to handle.
Furthermore, it carries a signature branding which might not be appealing to every bassist out there, leaning more towards fans of David Ellefson and Megadeth.
- Versatile Sound Palette: Armed with EMG pickups, it offers a wide and versatile range of tones, suitable for various metal sub-genres.
- Playability: Features a compound radius fingerboard, promoting comfortable and fluid playability.
- Signature Endorsement: Developed in collaboration with a renowned metal bassist, carrying a mark of quality and specialty in design.
- Robust Build: Constructed with a durable basswood body and a one-piece maple neck, promising longevity.
- Complex for Beginners: The sophisticated electronics could be overwhelming for newcomers.
- Signature Branding: The signature element may not cater to all tastes, potentially limiting its universal appeal.
- Price: Positioned in a slightly higher price bracket, making it less accessible for budding bassists on a budget.
- Weight: Tends to be on the heavier side, which might affect comfort during extended playing sessions.
Buying an instrument is an exciting experience, especially if you’re hunting for the perfect bass to play in a metal band. However, it can also be a pretty daunting experience.
For bass guitars, there is a huge amount of musical jargon that can make it hard to figure out which one is right for you. To help you figure it out, we’ve created a handy buyers’ guide.
This comprises everything you need to know and consider before purchasing a bass guitar. From the number of strings to the price, we cover it all! If you want to feel more confident in your decision, check it out below!
Four-String Vs. Five-String Bass Guitars
The number of strings you need depends on how high or low you want the sound to be. With a four-string bass, you will have access to a pretty normal range.
These can also be a little more simple to play, as navigating your way around a five-string fretboard can be a little confusing.
For metal, a four-string bass is definitely enough. However, you don’t get as much access to the low-end notes as you would with a five-string.
In fact, if you want the sound you produce to be fat, we recommend opting for a five-string. Five-string basses give you a little more versatility, especially when you experiment with the tuning of your instrument.
Active Vs Passive Preamp
Understanding the difference between active and passive preamps is important as a bass player. Passive bass works well for most styles, including rock and jazz.
In fact, traditional bass guitars have passive preamps, as they help produce those fat bass lines that we all know and love.
However, for extreme styles of metal music, an active preamp might be more appropriate. This is because an active preamp allows for more control of the sound.
An active preamp enables you to boost or cut the frequencies, and the output is significantly stronger. If you’re looking to be creative and experiment with the sound, we recommend looking for a bass with active preamps.
Saying that, you will need to keep in mind that you can only enjoy the benefits of active preamps if they are being powered by a charged battery.
It is important to always unplug your bass when it isn’t being used, to avoid unnecessarily draining the battery.
What is a good price for a bass guitar?
One reason that purchasing a bass guitar can intimidate is because of their very high price tag. Now, if you’re an advanced musician looking for the best-of-the-best, you’re likely to expect a hefty price of at least $500.
Whereas, if you’re a less experienced musician who wants to explore a new genre, these prices might be enough to put you off.
However, we promise that there are some more affordable products available. If you’re new to metal, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need an expensive piece of equipment.
Ultimately, you need something that is basic, sturdy, easy to figure out and sounds decent.
We recommend exploring the options by brands such as Ibanez, as they have a wide range of more simple (but still effective) models on sale.
If these are still above your price range, you can always look at second-hand options. When people progress, they often sell their old instruments for a fraction of the price that they bought them for.
How do the quality of strings impact my bass playing?
Finally, it is necessary to mention the importance of strings. The type and quality of the strings that you use are important in the genre of metal, as playing aggressively is often necessary.
Manufacturers usually made bass strings from nickel, stainless steel, or cobalt. If you’re looking to produce a bright sound, opt for nickel strings.
If you want a more crisp sound, stainless steel strings are a good option. If you’re looking for strings with a wide dynamic range, cobalt strings will be ideal.
Besides the material of the strings, thickness is also a necessary factor to consider. For heavy metal, you will want to use heavy gauge strings.
However, light gauge strings will cause less pain in the fingers. If you’re a complete beginner, give the latter a try first.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Bass Useless In Metal?
Absolutely not! The role of the bass guitar in metal is the same as in any other genre. You need the bass to provide a solid foundation, produce low melodies, and hit the lower notes in harmonies.
They are also useful for filling the space between other instruments. In fact, the bass is important in metal music. The sound produced by the bass is absolutely key to the metal sound.
Metal music wouldn’t sound heavy if it wasn’t for the low-end notes produced by the bass guitar.
Can Any Bass Be Used For Metal?
Technically, yes! If you’re a total newbie to playing metal, don’t think that you’ve got to swap your Jazz bass guitar for a super intense metal one.
They can still provide the metal sound that you need from a bass guitar in a metal band, and they also add a bit of extra interest to the overall sound.
Saying that, if you are looking to explore what a bass can do in extreme metal genres, it is probably necessary to purchase a bass made with these activities in mind. Any of those listed above will make for the perfect metal bass.
Is Metal Hard To Play On Bass?
Some people will argue that playing bass in a metal band is boring and easy. However, we argue that those people just aren’t doing it right. The job of the bass guitarist is essentially to make the band impressive.
Bass players in metal bands require laser focus, and they produce the sound that gets the walls shaking and the crowd head banging. Arguably, the bassists in metal bands determine whether a show is amazing or whether it is subpar.
Why Can’t You Hear The Bass In Metal Songs?
This is because of distortion. To produce a heavier sound, metal basses often rely on distortion. This, by itself, wouldn’t mean that the bass is harder to hear.
However, it is very common in metal music for the other instruments to be distorted as well. It can be very difficult to distinguish one guitar from the other, as they all sound fairly similar when distorted.
Are Bass Guitars Heavy?
Compared to other guitars, bass guitars are longer and heavier. It is also worth noting that bass amps also are larger and heavier as well. It can be more effort to transport your equipment as a bassist when you need to.
Is The Bass Guitar Easier To Learn Than The Guitar?
Yes! The bass has four strings, so there is less to get your head around. However, it isn’t necessarily easier to play properly. It requires different techniques and a unique style.