I'm a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Why Choose a Bass Guitar Starter Pack?
Starter packs are a smart way for beginners to kick off their bass guitar music careers. These kits include a bass, amp and all the accessories you need to start playing today.
One of the biggest hurdles to learning a new instrument is cost. The second problem is trying to choose the right gear. If you are a total newbie to bass or the parent of a wannabe bassist, you might not have the first clue about where to start when it comes to looking for a decent instrument. Then you have to worry about the amp, the cables and all the other accessories you’ll need, many which you may not even think of.
Starter packs help to alleviate both of these issues. There are some excellent bass guitars for beginners out there, and there is nothing wrong with choosing each piece of gear individually. But if you want to save some time, and a few bucks, check out some of the best bass guitar starter packs.
The Squier PJ Bass Pack
My top recommendation here is a Squier by Fender PJ Beginner Pack. This is an easy call for me: After over 20 years as a bassist I still own a Squier bass, and even though it isn't up to par with a pro-level instrument, it is a really good bass for the money.
The Fender Precision Bass is one of the classics of the rock world. Because Squier is authorized to make budget versions of Fender’s popular instruments, beginning bassists can start out on a Precision Bass from day one.
The Jazz Bass has a slightly sleeker design and a slightly thinner neck. This may mean beginners with small hands may find it less of a challenge. The real difference is in the sound of the two instruments. The Precision Bass has a punchier, slightly more aggressive tone.
The basic P-Bass design features a single pickup, but for beginners, I'd recommend going with the PJ version. This gives you another pickup to experiment with as you explore sounds.
Squier starter packs also come with the Fender Rumble 15 bass amp, which is not only a great starter amp but can serve as a practice amp even after a bassist has moved on to an intermediate-level instrument and bigger amp.
Again, I feel pretty confident telling you this, because I've been using a Rumble 15 as my practice amp for several years! It's a great little amp and a big part of what makes this kit a smart choice.
Squier is a company under the Fender umbrella, and even if you know nothing else about music you may have heard of Fender. This is the brand responsible for the Stratocaster, the guitar wielded by countless rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
This is what you are looking for in a beginner instrument, and that's what makes Squier one of the top bass brands for beginners.
The Fender reputation extends to the bass world as well. Starting out on a quality bass means a newbie is more likely to practice.
Squier does a good job of capturing the Fender vibe for an affordable price. That means beginners can look and sound good, but most importantly they’ll be inspired to play and practice.
Ibanez Jumpstart Pack
Ibanez bass guitars are among my favorites, and in my time in bands, I played an Ibanez SR400 and SR505. They are intermediate-level basses, but probably too pricey for beginners. Instead, look at the Ibanez Jumpstart Bass Pack. Here Ibanez manages to capture a lot of the good stuff found in the SG line for a super affordable price.
Ibanez basses are known for thin necks, and this makes them good choices for beginners. The other benefit of the GSR190 bass that comes with this kit is the sound versatility. With two pickups you can dial in sounds from rock to country to jazz, and it’s a great way for new bassists to experiment and find the tones that inspire them.
The Ibanez Jumpstart Pack comes with a 10-watt Ibanez practice amp, strap, cable, picks, tuner, gig bag and access to online lessons, so you have everything you need to start playing.
If I were choosing on strength of the instrument alone, I’d go with the Ibanez Jumpstart Pack. I really like Ibanez bass guitars, especially those in the Soundgear mold like the guitar in this pack. It is an outstanding flexible choice for a beginner.
Ibanez is your best bet if you expect to play metal and heavy rock. This is the company that sets the bar in extreme music, so you may as well start off right.
I think Squier and Ibanez are the brands you need to look to for a quality starter kit, and I think the Dummies pack is a solid choice for learning the instrument. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out some of the other great options out there when it comes to bass guitar starter packs for beginners.
Here are a few of my favorites in the Honorable Mention category. If nothing I mentioned above floats your boat, check them out.
- Peavey Max Bass Value Pack: Peavey is another bass builder you should consider when looking for the best bass guitar starter pack for a beginner. The Max Bass value pack pairs a Peavey Milestone bass with the Peavey Max 126 practice amp, two great choices for new bassists.
- Dean Edge 09 Pack: This kit features Dean's popular Edge 09 bass guitar. It's a basic, single-pickup instrument with a slick look and a warm basswood body. The amp is Dean's Bassola 10-watt combo.
- Epiphone Toby Bass Pack: Epiphone is another brand name you can take to the bank. In this case, their Toby pack is based on the classic Toby Standard Bass and Electar 10-watt amp.
Bass Guitar Starter Pack for Dummies
I feel comfortable recommending the bass guitars in this article because I have experience with each of them. Here is one more I am going to recommend checking out, based mostly on price and the strength of the educational material: The Bass Guitar Starter Pack for Dummies
You’re probably familiar with the Dummies series of instruction manuals. You can learn anything from their books, from investing to home repair, so why not bass guitar? All of these starter packs come with instruction books, but this may be the best of the lot.
The best instruction manual in the world doesn’t mean much if the bass is useless, so I was impressed to see Kona instruments featured in the Dummies instructional instrument series. In this case, it’s a full-sized single-pickup P-style bass guitar. Kona makes good beginner and intermediate-level instruments on their own, and pairing a Kona bass with the Bass Guitar for Dummies book and DVD is smart.
I do think the tiny 6-watt amp is the weak point of this setup. It is important to remember that a first bass setup should inspire and encourage new bassists to practice and love the instrument, and I think this pack does exactly that.
If you know nothing about bass and really feel like you want to dive headlong into the lessons, you might want to be thinking about the Dummies Starter Pack. I think it has the best instructional system, and the bass is more than good enough to inspire beginners to practice.
Which Bass Starter Kit to Choose?
By offering preassembled packages that contain everything a new bass player needs to get started, guitar companies are taking the guesswork out of finding, evaluating and choosing a first bass setup. Because they can offer these packs at very affordable prices, they also save you some cash compared to finding and purchasing everything separately.
So how do you choose which starter kit is right for you or your wannabe bass player? Any one of them is a good choice, but here are a few thoughts:
Personally, I’d go with one of the Squier kits. The instruments are solid, but the amp is outstanding. Because I know I’d get mileage out of the amp for years if not decades, Squier would be my choice. However, I already know how to play bass, and have been doing it for a long time, so the decision is easy for me.
Plus, even as a veteran musician I already own a Squier, and I know what to expect. Each bass pack in this review has its strong points, but I’d say the Squier packs offer quality across the board. Each aspect of the kit is solid for getting a beginner started off right.
Ibanez comes in a close second. In fact, if you want to play metal this pack is probably a better choice for you. Even though the Squier Precision does just fine in heavy rock, Ibanez is really the brand name that bassists look to for the tone and punch needed in extreme music.
Does any of that make your decision easier? Hope so! Good luck choosing the best bass guitar starter pack for a beginner!
Poll: Best Bass Guitar Starter Pack
Michael James (author) on September 17, 2014:
Thanks ladyguitarpicker. Hope your grandson manages the grades to get the bass. Of course, if he doesn't study for school very much that just means he'd have more time to practice bass! :-)
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on September 17, 2014:
Nice hub like the way you presented the guitars. I may buy one for my grandson after I see his report card.