I'm a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Bass Guitars for Under a Grand
A bassist looking for the best bass under $1000 has a lot of options, but that doesn’t mean the choice is easy. Different woods, pickups, electronics, and other features mean there are an array of different tones out there to choose from, from dark and resonant to bright and funky.
If you’re ready to spend a grand on a bass you probably know a good instrument when you see one, and you know your own style and preferences. But you probably could use a little help to sort through your options.
In this article, I’ll show you my favorite mid-level bass guitars, and offer a few suggestions on what I’d do in your situation. Take some time to look through the different instruments and compare them, and evaluate them against your needs as a bassist. Then, make the decision that’s best for you.
Hopefully, this will be helpful to you as you search for your new bass, but remember this is all based on my own opinions and experiences. With 35 years of playing behind me, I have my own theories for sure, and when you’re trying to make a big decision like this one sometimes it helps to have another point of view.
On this page, you’ll find some of the best 4-string bass guitars for under $1000, from some of the top bass brands in the world. I’ve also included a section on my picks for the best 5-string bass guitars in this price range. Be aware that prices and specs change over time, so make sure you do your research.
Let’s look at some gear!
Top 5 Bass Guitars Under $1000
Here’s a quick overview of my top 5 bass guitars. You can scroll down to read more about each instrument, as well as many others.
- Ibanez Soundgear SR500: Best for metal and hard rock, with a powerful EQ.
- Fender Player Series Jazz Bass: Smooth and textured tone for Jazz, as the name suggests, but also a solid rock bass.
- Fender Players Series Precision Bass: In my opinion, the best option for rock.
- Schecter Stiletto Studio 4: An excellent all-around bass for any style of music.
- Warwick Rockbass Corvette 4: Based on the Warwick Corvette, one of my favorite bass guitars of all time!
1. Ibanez Soundgear SR500E
The Ibanez Soundgear Series has been around a long time and has made its mark in just about every style of music. Metal and jazz bassists particularly love Soundgear basses for their slick necks and powerful tone-shaping tools.
There are SR basses for beginners all the way up to seasoned pros, but the Ibanez Soundgear SR500E is your best bet if you have a thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket. This bass is a pretty good value, so you'll even get some change back.
I’ve owned a few Soundgear Series basses, including the SR500, and used them in several bands. Coming from a guitar background, I found the transition very easy. They have thin necks and very comfortable string spacing.
As I got better and moved on to basses by brands like Spector, Fender, and Warwick, I always felt like my Ibanez Soundgears held their own against much more expensive instruments.
The SR500 features a Jatoba/Walnut neck, an Okoume body and a 24-fret Jotuba fingerboard with Abalone inlays. The pickups are a Bartolini BH2-2 set. It’s tough to beat such high-quality appointments and tonewoods in a bass in this price range, but Ibanez does it again and again. This is why they have become one of the top names in the bass guitar world.
For me, a big thing that sets Soundgear apart is the electronics, in this case, the Ibanez Custom Electronics 3-band EQ with mid-frequency switch. This is an active bass, and these are some powerful tone-shaping controls, giving you the ability to dial in just about any sound you can imagine.
I think Soundgear basses are among the best basses for metal players, but I used mine for jazz and rock as well. I even played in a bar band, covering classic rock tunes for a while. My Ibanez gear came through again and again.
2. Fender Player Series Jazz Bass
The Fender Jazz is a classic instrument cherished by legions of bassists who won’t trust any other brand name with their tone. If you hope and dream of landing an American-made Fender Professional-Series Jazz Bass it’s not likely anything else will do.
But if you only have a thousand dollars to spend you’re out of luck. An American-made Professional Jazz Bass will push you well over your budget.
Fortunately, the Fender Player Jazz Bass offers the opportunity for bassists who don’t feel like plunking down the cash on an American Jazz Bass to own a real, high-quality Fender instrument. The Players Series replaced the Standard Series in 2018, and while there are many similarities there are a few nice improvements as well.
I love the option of a maple fingerboard, for one thing. I really like maple for Fender guitars and basses, especially on the Jazz. The other opinion is Pau Ferro (no more rosewood), which, I think, is a tonewood we’re all going to have to get used to in the coming years. It’s not a big deal. It may not look as nice as rosewood, but it sounds good.
These instruments are still made in Mexico, so it looks like the Player Series is our new MIM Fender. Anyone who has read my articles knows I have a high opinion of MIM Fender guitars and basses. I’ve played and owned a bunch of MIM Jazz Basses over the years, and in my opinion, the Player Series exceeds expectations.
3. Fender Player Series Precision Bass
Depending on what kind of music you play, the Fender Precision Bass might be exactly what you need. The P-Bass is the ultimate rock and roll bass, with the power to stand out even in aggressive music.
’m a big fan of P-basses, and I put the Jazz first only because I like it a little bit more. To me, the Jazz Bass is like a fine tool, where the Precision Bass is more of an implement of massive rock power.
When it comes to tone shaping in a passive bass it’s tough to beat the Fender Jazz. It has the subtlety and nuance to go from rock to smooth jazz with the twist of a couple of knobs.
However, the Precision Bass also has a storied history in jazz and, dialed in correctly, you can get a really nice, warm, fat tone. For a one-pickup, passive bass it is pretty versatile.
I’ll also note that there are more expensive versions of the Precision and Jazz bass that still will come in under your $1000 budget. Models like the ‘50s Precision Bass and Deluxe Active Jazz Bass are worth a look, but I think the Players Series is the best bang for the buck.
The Fender Player Precision Bass
4. Schecter Stiletto Studio 4
The Stiletto Series are some of the finest mid-priced basses I’ve ever played, and the Schecter Stiletto Studio, I think, is the cream of the crop. This is a good-looking instrument with some serious specs you might not expect in a bass of this price.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade you know Schecter makes great stuff. Most of the glory goes to their guitar lineup, and deservedly so. Models like their C-1 electric guitars have really captured the guitar public’s attention with awesome tone and good looks. Well, they make some darned good basses, too.
It has a mahogany/Bubinga body with a multi-laminate maple/walnut neck, and neck-thru construction with Ultra Access.
“Ultra Access” means the neck heel is super low-profile and smooth, and the neck-thru build brings excellent resonance and sustain.
What I like best about this bass are the powerful EMG-35HZ pickups and electronics. Like the Ibanez Soundgear above, this is an active bass with a versatile tonal palette, and that’s one of the reasons it will work for just about any genre.
Every Schecter bass I’ve ever touched has felt like a high-quality piece of gear, and the Stiletto I owned has an outstanding instrument. This company, somehow, always add more to their instruments than the price would indicate. For metal and rock players a Schecter bass is a great choice, but I think bassists in any genre will appreciate the sound and style of the Stiletto Studio.
5. Warwick Rockbass Corvette
The Warwick Rockbass Corvette is a gorgeous instrument based on one of the coolest bass guitars ever made. It sounds incredible too, just like its German-made namesake.
Warwick is a premier name in the bass guitar world, and if you’ve ever played one you know why. The problem is, a Warwick bass made in Germany will push you way over your thousand-dollar spending limit. A few years ago Warwick decided it wasn’t fair that only those with big bank accounts got to have all the fun and introduced their Rockbass lineup.
These are great basses with a few cut corners and there are several models under $1000. There are actually a couple of different versions. There’s the Corvette Basic with either passive or active electrics, and there’s the Corvette Rockbass Double-buck with a couple of thick, nasty humbuckers.
I’ve owned a couple of Warwick Corvettes, and they were both incredible instruments. Of course, they were German-made, but if you want to grab something with the Warwick name on it without killing your budget their Rockbass lineup is your ticket.
Hear the Rockbass Corvette $$
What is the best bass guitar for less than $1000?
The Ibanez SR500E is the best bass for under a thousand bucks. It has a a powerful electronics system that lets you dial in great tones and it is super comfortable play. No matter what genre you are into, I think you best option is the SR500E. However, I conditioner the Fender Player Series Jazz a solid runner-up. If you prefer a passive bass, the Jazz Bass might be a better option for you.
More Great Bass Guitars Under $1000
So, that was my top 5 bass guitars under $1000, but I’ve got more! They didn’t make the shortlist for one reason or another, but they are still outstanding instruments I suggest checking out.
Like those listed above, these are intermediate-level basses. They walk the line between affordability and pro-level features.
Remember this list is based on my own opinions and experiences, and you may come to a totally different conclusion.
Fender Special Edition Deluxe PJ Bass
Having trouble choosing between the smooth J-Bass bridge pickup sound and the punchy P-Bass split-pickup sound? The PJ is the best of both worlds, wrapped in a Precision Bass body and ‘70s Jazz Bass neck with one-piece maple fingerboard, complete with black block fret markers.
Lakland Skyline 44-01 Standard
Lakland basses are amazing, and through their Skyline Series, they are affordable too. The 44-01 Standard features an ash body, Bartolini pickups, and active electronics, not to mention that cool body style Lakland is known for.
Spector Legend Standard
This is another of my favorite bass brands. I played a 5-string Spector NS as my main bass for a while and it had a wonderfully deep, woody sound. USA-made Spectors won’t fit under your $1000 budget, but if you like Spector look to the Legend Series for more affordable ideas.
I dig Yamaha basses, and I think they are kind of underrated. They’re well made, sound great, and they feature some outstanding tonewoods and electronics. The TRBX604 is an exceptional instrument for this price range, so check it out.
ESP LTD B-4E:
he B-4E is another well-made, versatile bass with some really cool specs. It has a neck-thru body with a gorgeous mahogany body with an ebony top, and a 5-piece maple/mahogany neck with an ebony fingerboard.
The Yamaha TRBX604FM
Best 5-String Bass Guitars Under $1000
Here's my list of the top 10 5-string bass guitars for under $1000:
- Ibanez SR505
- Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass V
- Schecter Stiletto Studio 5
- Lakland Skyline 55-01
- Warwick RockBass Corvette $$ 5
- Spector Legend Standard 5-String
- Sterling by Music Man Ray35
- ESP LTD B5E
- Yamaha TRBX605
- Jackson CBXNT V
If you’ve read this far and checked out some of the basses I’ve suggested you've probably realized that most of them fit quite comfortably within your budget. One reason for this is because I wanted to choose instruments that were not just affordable, but offered good value.
The other reason is that I know some bassists prefer 5-stringed instruments, and I wanted to make sure, in most cases, you could get a similar model 5-string.
I supposed I could have written a totally separate article on fives, but I don’t see the point. Not every model in this review has an analogous 5-string model, but most do, and those are the instruments I’d point you to.
Choose Your New Bass
These bass guitars are some of the most amazing options out there. So, which should you choose? You’ll have to decide that for yourself, but here are some final thoughts.
The Fender basses are classic designs with passive pickups and a sound that has stood the test of time since the creation of the first electric bass guitar. I think they are some of the best bass guitars for classic rock, country, blues, and jazz.
The Ibanez Soundgear Series are my favorite bass guitars for metal. I also suggest metalheads check out the Warwick RockBass, Spector Legend, and Schecter Stiletto.
As for versatile basses, I think the Ibanez Soundgear SR500, Schecter Stiletto, Yamaha TRBX604, and ESP LTD B-4E are great choices.
Ultimately, it comes down to you and what you need out of your instrument. A metal player may not be happy with a Fender Jazz Bass. A country musician may not be feeling it with an Ibanez. Match your needs with the abilities of the bass and you have a winner.
Good luck with your decision, and I hope you found this article on the best bass guitars under $1000 helpful.
Best Bass Guitar Under $1000
gonx on August 03, 2017:
Great article, just what I needed to read.
Michael James (author) on October 30, 2014:
I agree they are worth mentioning here, John! I love the StingRay design and those Sterling versions are pretty good quality for the cash.
John on October 29, 2014:
I'll add to this top the Sterling by music man Ray 35, 34 and SB14 basses.... they are amazing for the price, as the same way than the Spector Legend Series (around 700 Bucks)