Getting an affordable bass guitar as a beginner or just a bassist on a budget can be a huge challenge. There aren’t a lot of cheap bass guitars out there. Fortunately, Squier is a brand known for providing quality without a huge expense and we have explored the best Squier bass guitars for you here on Subreel.
This follows on from our post about the best Squier guitars which has been hugely popular.
There is a certain level of ‘snobbery’ in music. Fender owns Squier and as such, it is seen as a ‘budget’ alternative. Don’t be mistaken, these are no cheap knock-offs and although they are made using cheaper components, the Squier basses we’ve reviewed in this article are extremely good quality for the price range.
Since the 1980s, Fender has built these guitars in Asia, Mexico and other parts of the world. It is tough to buy a good bass under $500, and some Squier guitars are on the market for under $200. The quality on offer at these prices is almost unrivaled.
Being owned by Fender means the models of bass available are pretty much the same. If you want a ‘P’ Bass (Precision bass), a Jazz bass, a Mustang Bass, an Affinity bass or a Jaguar bass technically made by Fender without the expenditure, Squier could be your savior. There are compromises, and though I am not saying Squier basses are as good, they’re not a million miles away.
Squier by Fender Vintage SS Modified Special Jaguar Bass
It is hard not to fall in love with any Fender Jag, bass or otherwise. Their SS Modified Jag bass is a gorgeous, sleek design that has become iconic within certain genres of music. The agathis body is a slightly unusual material (for more information, this thread has some interesting thoughts) but does a very good job, and the tone of this bass is hard to distinguish from a Fender. In a blind test, most wouldn’t be able to tell you which cost three times the price.
This has a single-coil Precision Bass middle pickup which is twinned with the iconic Jazz Bass bridge pickup. The three controls on the front consist of two volume controls for each pickup so you can choose your own blend of the two, and the third is a master tone. This has a maple fretboard and C shape neck consists of 20 frets.
Available in black or candy apple, this bass is certainly gorgeous to look at. Being a short scale bass it is perfect for someone transitioning from an electric guitar or not wanting too hefty a bass. This is a popular choice for beginners and it is easy to see why. The price is hard to argue with and even intermediate bass players will probably not feel the need for an upgrade.
Squier by Fender 306800500 Vintage Modified Precision Bass – The “PJ Bass”
This is designed to be a crossover between the precision and jazz bass, with pickups from both. This gives a unique sound which many bassists go wild for.
The look of the PJ bass is very sleek and the tinted gloss neck is reminiscent of its more expensive Fender siblings. The Rosewood fretboard has a comfortable action, is easy to play and let’s face it, it looks great.
In terms of sound, this has been compared to the sound of 1970’s Fender Precision basses a lot, which is some compliment. Being able to blend the sound from Jazz and Precision pickups mean you can create a rich and unique tone, and it is hard to fault for playability and sound quality. The strong mid-range frequencies provided by the pickups make this a good contender for a lot of genres and styles where the bass is prominent, from slap bass to metal.
The reviews for the 306800500 Vintage “PJ Bass” are on the whole pretty exceptional. One reviewer described this as “the best bass guitar under $1000”. That’s quite some claim, and I’m not certain I agree but it is a deserved compliment for the PJ Squier bass.
Squier by Fender Affinity Jazz Beginner Electric Bass Guitar
As you may have guessed from the name, this is definitely a great starting point for someone wanting to learn bass. Squier is a great starting point for anyone wanting to get into bass due to the relatively low investment. People who don’t yet know if the bass is their instrument might not want to spend $500 or more on a Fender. As such, models like the Affinity Jazz beginner bass are great for those getting started (and for intermediate players).
Fender Jazz bass guitars is another musical institution. Thousands are played all over the world and preferred by bassists of all sorts of genres. Don’t let the name Jazz bass lead you astray, though, this bass is played by musicians in rock bands, pop groups, and even metal music.
The Squier Affinity Jazz bass (or “J Bass“) has a sturdy rosewood fingerboard, two J bass pickups, and volume controls for both pickups as well as a tone control. You can get an impressive range of tones out of this instrument. It is comfortable to play and is longer scale than some of the other Squier bass models and comes in lots of different colors and styles. The ‘brown sunburst’ design screams Jazz bass, but some of the other designs look equally cool, it even comes in a futuristic silver!
Fine for the more accomplished player who is looking for all the benefits of a Jazz bass, this is really built for beginners. The reviews online are pretty exceptional, and while this may not be on stage headlining Glastonbury anytime soon, as long as your expectations of this versatile bass are realistic you will more than likely be happy with its abilities. Great for developing your skills and the perfect first bass guitar.
The Squier range is growing, and notable mention should also go to the brand for their Precision bass pack (this comes with an amplifier and is perfect for absolute starters). They also manufacture products like five string basses which could otherwise be hugely expensive.
There is a lot of one-upmanship and snobbery in music. While Fender guitars are wonderful, and of course offer an even better tone and build quality, not everyone can afford to spend the huge amounts their instruments can cost. The brand recognized this and have created products which may not have all the “bells and whistles” but still do a solid job. Think of Fender as the upgraded model of a car, the Squier is still good enough to learn in, and can get you from A to B!
Whatever your preconceptions, a quick look around Amazon and other online retailers will show you a huge amount of consumer reviews, most of which seem to speak very highly of virtually every bass guitar in their range. Affordable they may be, but amateur they are not.