The Best Bass Guitars In 2023

This is a low (end): MOJO selects the best bass guitars for 2023

by William Lobley |
Updated on

Be it the deft melodic runs Paul McCartney played in The Beatles, the showboating funk grooves of Bootsy Collins or the liquid virtuosity of Jaco Pastorius, a good bassline is the heartbeat of a song, the foundation upon which the melodies and rhythms of electric guitars and drum kits can build.

As a bassist, whether you’re drawn to a Precision Bass’s punchy growl or a hollow body’s smooth warmth, the right bass guitar can bring out the best in your playing, unlock new possibilities and inspire you to reach new heights as a musician.

The Best Bass Guitars At A Glance

Winner: Best Bass Guitar - Fender Player Precision Bass - View on PMT Online
Runner-up - Epiphone Thunderbird ’60s Bass - View on PMT Online
Runner-up - Fender Player Jazz Bass - View on Gear4Music
Best Bass For Beginners - Squier Affinity Jazz Bass - View on Gear4Music

Whether you’re a seasoned bassist or just starting your musical journey, MOJO’s guide to the best bass guitars out there in 2023 provides everything you need to know to find the perfect instrument for you.

The Best Bass Guitars 2023

The best bass guitar 2023 - WINNER


The Fender Precision Bass was introduced in 1951 and was the first mass-produced electric bass


  • Well defined and punchy tone
  • Versatile sound that works across genres


  • Better clarity and midrange drive can be found with the Fender Jazz Bass 

The best bass for a powerful low end


Seen hanging from the shoulders of influential players including John Entwistle, Pete Way and


  • Rich, thick tone
  • Classic aesthetic
  • Affordable


  • Thick tone can’t always cut through the mix

The best bass for a brighter tone


The Fender Jazz Bass is the arty younger brother of the Precision Bass. Landing in 1960, it


  • Perfect for pushing more midrange basslines
  • Versatile tone controls
  • Articulate sound


  • Doesn’t punch as hard as the Fender Precision bass

The best affordable 5-string bass


As you might expect, a five-string bass provides more versatility for bassists, allowing them to


  • Extended range at a reasonable price
  • Excellent control over shape of tone
  • Great playability


  • Five string bass lines are more niche

The best bass for beginners


The Squier Affinity Series Jazz Bass is a nice affordable guitar that delivers a wide range of


  • Versatile tone controls
  • Comfortable neck
  • Great sound for price range


  • Could be considered a jack of all trades and master of none

The best acoustic bass


This Ibanez Acoustic bass is a real gem. It features a grand concert-style body – which is smaller


  • Balanced and rich tone
  • Perfect for folk and country
  • Built-in pickup


  • Prone to feedback at volume
  • Lacks the power of a solid body electric bass

The best hollow-body electric bass


The Ibanez AFB200 is a fantastic hollow-body electric bass, bridging the gap between the warm,


  • Organic, woody tone of an acoustic
  • Punch and power of an electric
  • Excellent variety of tones achievable


  • Prone to feedback

The best vintage-revival bass


The Hofner Violin Bass is of course synonymous with [Paul


  • Pleasing tone and distinct Hofner sound
  • Lovingly recreated replica of the classic Hofner 500/1 model
  • Shorter scale length for those who like it


  • Shorter scale is not to every player’s taste

Bass pickups explored

Single-Coil pickups: Single-coil pickups are the traditional pickup design for bass guitars. They consist of a single coil of wire wrapped around a magnet, typically producing a bright, clear, and articulate tone.

Single-coils tend to have a narrower frequency range and can emphasise the midrange and treble frequencies, which can help the bass push through the mix. They are known for their punchy and twangy sound; they are well-suited to styles that require clarity and attack, such as funk, rock, and reggae.

However, single-coils are susceptible to hum and interference and can lack the low-end depth and warmth found with humbuckers. Humbuckers also tend to have a higher output.

Humbucker pickups: Humbuckers “buck” or cancel out the hum and interference associated with single-coil pickups. They achieve this by using two coils wired in opposite directions, which results in a noise-cancelling effect.

Humbuckers are known for their fat, thick, and powerful tone with enhanced low-end performance and warmth. They offer a broader frequency response and typically have a more substantial output than single coils.

Humbuckers are well-suited for genres like rock, metal, and jazz, where a more robust and full-bodied sound is desirable. Bass humbuckers can be less articulate and defined than single-coils, missing their twang and brightness.

It’s important to note that there are various designs and configurations of single-coil and humbucker pickups, each with their own tonal characteristics. The choice between single-coils and humbuckers depends on personal preference, playing style, and the specific tonal qualities desired for the music played.

Bass guitar woods explained

The choice of wood used in constructing a bass guitar can significantly impact its tone, resonance, and overall character. Here are some commonly used woods in bass guitar construction and their general characteristics:

Alder: Alder is a popular choice for bass bodies due to its balanced tone and excellent resonance. It produces a well-rounded sound with a strong midrange presence and a good amount of clarity. Alder is known for its lightweight nature and chosen for its balanced tonal characteristics that work well across various musical genres.

Ash: Ash is another common wood used for bass bodies. It’s known for its pronounced grain patterns and bright tone. Ash offers a strong attack and tight lows, making it suitable for styles that require a punchy and articulate sound. It can provide a nice blend of warmth and clarity, and its tonal qualities can vary depending on the specific type of ash used.

Maple: Maple is used frequently for bass necks due to its stability and bright tonal characteristics. It produces a snappy and well-defined sound with enhanced sustain. Maple necks can contribute to a more focused and percussive tone, particularly when paired with brighter pickups. Some basses also feature maple fingerboards, which can add further brightness and clarity to the overall sound.

Rosewood: Rosewood is a popular choice for bass fingerboards. It is known for its smooth feel and warm, rich tone. Rosewood imparts a slightly darker and mellower character to the sound, with enhanced sustain and a touch of sweetness. It can add warmth and depth to the overall tonal palette of the bass.

Mahogany: Mahogany is used for bass bodies or necks. It is a dense, resonant wood that offers a warm, full-bodied tone with a strong low-end response. Mahogany contributes to a rich and thick sound with a nice sustain. It’s popular for basses used in rock, blues, and jazz music.

Poplar: Poplar is a lightweight and affordable wood occasionally used for bass guitar bodies. It generally produces a balanced and even tone with moderate resonance.

Combining different woods, construction techniques, and hardware influences a bass guitar’s overall sound and playability. We recommend playing as many variants as possible to find your ideal choice.

Bass guitar necks explained

Bass neck shapes refer to the profile or contour of the back of the bass guitar’s neck. Different neck shapes can have a significant impact on the overall feel and playability of the instrument.

Here’s a list of the most common bass guitar neck shapes. Note that some manufacturers refer to neck shapes using branded names, but often, they can fit into one of these generic categories.

C-shaped Neck: The C-shaped neck is one of the most common and versatile neck profiles. It has a rounded contour with a slight curve, resembling the shape of the letter “C.” This shape provides a comfortable grip and is suitable for various playing styles.

D-shaped Neck: The D-shaped neck resembles the letter "D" and offers a flat back with more pronounced rounded edges. It can provide a comfortable grip, balancing the bulkiness of a U shape with the slimmer feel of a C shape. The flat back is often liked by those who anchor their thumb.

U-shaped Neck: The U-shaped neck has a deeper and more pronounced curve, resulting in a substantial grip. This shape is often associated with vintage basses and can provide a comfortable and solid feel for players who prefer a thicker neck.

Slim or Thin Neck: Some basses feature necks with a small or thin profile. These necks have less mass and a flatter contour, allowing faster and more agile playing. Players who require quick hand movements can find them useful, like those who play intricate bass lines or perform styles like jazz or fusion.

Compound Neck Shape: Some bass guitars feature a compound neck shape, which means that the profile changes along the length of the neck. For example, it may start with a slim profile near the nut for easy playing in lower positions and gradually transition to a thicker profile higher up the neck for better stability and comfort during extended reach.

​​Plenty of choices exist, so investigate your chosen bass guitar’s construction and play different combinations before making your final pick.

Solid, acoustic and hollow-body bass guitars explored

Solid, acoustic, and hollow-body basses vary in more ways than just their look. Each variant’s construction and tonal characteristics greatly affect whether it’s the right choice for you. Below, we take a quick look at these three bass types.

Solid-body bass: Solid body basses have a solid piece of wood for the body, typically with a cutaway shape, resulting in minimal resonance and feedback resistance. They offer a focused and defined tone with strong sustain. Solid-body basses are known for their versatility, allowing players to achieve a wide range of tones through pickups and electronics. They also offer a focused and defined tone with strong sustain.

They are hugely versatile and heard in all genres, from pop to rock and funk to metal. However, they may lack some of the characteristics and organic resonance found in acoustic and hollow basses.

Acoustic bass: Acoustic basses have a hollow body like acoustic guitars, producing sound naturally without amplification. They usually have a larger body size compared to solid-body basses. Acoustic basses generate a warm and natural tone with a prominent low-end presence and are suitable for unplugged performances and genres like folk, country, and singer-songwriter styles.

Hollow-body bass: Hollow-body electric basses have a fully hollow body, chambered to varying degrees, allowing for acoustic resonance, and increased tonal complexity. They often feature f-holes similar to archtop guitars and produce a rich, complex tone with excellent sustain. They offer a blend of acoustic and electric qualities, making them suitable for jazz, blues, and rockabilly genres.

The advantages of hollow-body basses include their rich and complex tone, acoustic-like resonance, and suitability for various musical genres. Some players will lament, however, that they are prone to feedback at high volumes and when used with distortion effects.

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