Bass Guitar Buyer's Guide

    It takes top-shelf gear to bring that low end and a bass player's one-stop shopping destination is AMS. If you've never purchased a bass before we will help you find your first. If you've been slugging it out in clubs or on the road we've got the gear you need for that huge live sound. 4 string basses? 5 string basses? 4x10 cabs? 8x10 cabs? Effects pedals? The AMS Buyer's Guide for Electric Bass is the only resource you'll need.

    Advice for First Time Buyers

    Before you start searching for your first bass guitar consider the following:

    Electric Bass Guitar Starter Packages Check out the complete listing of Bass Guitar Packages 1. Price range
    Set an appropriate price range. You can easily filter your search results on AMS using the price range selection filters on the left side of the page or sort by 'Low to High' or 'High to Low' to see all products in order of price.

    2. Size/age of the player
    Bass guitars are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights so it's important to find one that will be the best physical fit for the player. Consider the player's age, height and the size of their hands. Bass players who are younger or smaller in size will do best with basses that have thin necks, short scales and are light weight. Bass players who are tall or have large hands will probably be more comfortable with heavier basses with wider necks and longer scales. In order to properly play your instrument you have to be able to handle it comfortably.

    3. Style of music you want to play
    Rock, Metal, Punk or Jazz the style of music you play requires the right tool for the job. There are a wide range of instruments to choose from: some basses are known for their versatility and are used across several genres of music and some basses have a reputation for being genre-specific. Identify your favorite bands and bass players and research the gear they use: the guy in the jazz trio most likely isn't using the same gear as the guy in the metal band.

    4. Electric Bass Guitar Package - Safe bet for the beginner
    If you're new to playing bass or just need a quality instrument with all the accessories, an Electric Bass Guitar Package may just be the ticket. Available in a variety of styles, these packages feature everything you need to start jamming including an amp, instrument cable, strap, gig bag and more.

    Electric Bass Diagram

    Bass Guitar Diagram

    Types of Basses

    Four String Bass

    Four String Bass
    Standard electric basses have four strings.
    These are the most commonly used basses.
    Standard Tuning:
    From low to high EADG

    Browse Four String Basses
    Five String Bass

    Five String Bass
    Five String Basses have a low B string.
    Players can access low notes not capable of being produced on a standard Four String Bass.
    Standard Tuning:
    From low to high BEADG

    Browse Five String Basses
    Six String Bass

    Six String Bass
    Six String Basses have a low B string and a high C string.
    Players can access low and high notes not capable of being produced on a standard Four String Bass.
    Standard Tuning:
    From low to high BEADGC

    Browse Six String Basses
    Fretted

    Fretted
    The majority of electric basses have fretted fingerboards.
    Fretted basses are used across all genres of music.
    New players are urged strongly to learn on a fretted bass.

    Browse Fretted Basses
    Fretless

    Fretless
    Advanced bass players might be interested in adding a fretless bass to their repertoire. Fretless basses sound closer to traditional upright basses.
    Great for Jazz and Blues.

    Browse Fretless Basses

    Necks & Fingerboards

    Necks
    Maple Neck

    Maple
    Look: Blonde
    Sound: Bright, sharp tone with plenty of sustain.

    Mahogany Neck

    Mahogany
    Look: Light to dark brown
    Sound: Warm sounding tone with good sustain.

    Fingerboards
    Rosewood Fingerboard

    Rosewood
    Look: Light-dark brown
    Feel: Smooth
    Sound: Warm

    Maple Fingerboard

    Maple
    Look: Blonde
    Feel: Hard
    Sound: Bright

    Ebony Fingerboard

    Ebony
    Look: Black
    Feel: Hard
    Sound: Bright

    Scale Length & Neck Setting

    Scale Length

    Scale length refers to the distance between the nut at the guitar's headstock and the bridge at the base of the guitar. This area is where the strings vibrate when strummed. Different scales will create different levels of tension on the strings and effects tone and playability.

    Long/Standard Scale

    Long/Standard Scale
    34"
    Higher tension
    Sharp sound
    The low B string on 5-string basses has more punch on a long scale neck.

    Short-Scale

    Short-Scale
    30"
    Lower tension
    Round sound

    Neck Settings
    Bolt-On

    Bolt-On Neck
    The neck and body are separate pieces with the neck bolted to the body.
    Easy to adjust.

    Set Neck

    Set Neck
    The neck and body are separate pieces with the neck attached permanently to the body.
    Great sustain and resonance.

    Neck-Through-Body

    Neck-Through-Body
    The neck extends thru the length of the guitar with the body attached to the sides of the neck.
    Thru neck construction offers unmatched sustain.

    Body Wood

    A major part of a guitar's tone is shaped by the wood used to create the body, neck and fingerboard. The most commonly used woods include Alder, Ash, Mahogany, Maple and Rosewood. Each type of wood has its own color, grain and density and creates its own unique tone.
    Body Wood Alder

    Alder
    Look: Light blonde
    Feel: Light
    Sound: Alder creates a full sound with a balanced mix of high, middle and low frequencies

    Body Wood Ash

    Ash
    Look: Light blonde
    Feel: Ranges from light to heavy depending on the type of Ash
    Sound: Ash creates a bright sound with good sustain

    Body Wood Mahogany

    Mahogany
    Look: Light to dark brown
    Feel: Medium to heavy
    Sound: Mahogany creates a warm sounding tone with good sustain

    Body Wood Maple

    Maple
    Look: Blonde
    Feel: Heavy
    Sound: Maple creates a bright, sharp tone with plenty of sustain

    Pickups & Electronics

    Pickups
    Single-Coil Pickups

    Single-Coil Pickups
    Specs: Each pickup has only one coil and one set of magnets. The narrow magnetic field produces a very focused tone that cuts through a mix well, making it perfect for recording.
    Sound: Bright and clear.

    Humbucker Pickups

    Humbucker Pickups
    Specs: Humbucker pickups are comprised of two single-coils. The two coils are wired out of phase, reducing the hum that is sometimes produced by single-coil pickups.
    Sound: Warm and full.

    Passive Pickups

    Passive Pickups
    Specs: The majority of basses come with passive pickups which generate a signal from the string vibrating over a magnet wrapped with a coil, producing a minute voltage that is amplified externally.
    Sound: Traditional and vintage.

    Active Pickups

    Active Pickups
    Specs: The pickups are powered by a 9-Volt battery. Functionally the same as passive pickups with a higher output and wider frequency range.
    Sound: A fuller range of tone, very modern.

    Electronics
    Passive Electronics

    Passive Electronics
    Specs: The majority of basses come with passive electronics: Basic Volume, Tone (high frequency attenuation only) and switches.
    Sound: Vintage, traditional.

    Active Electronics

    Active Electronics
    Specs: Active electronics are powered by a 9-Volt battery making them capable of boosting or cutting frequencies.
    Sound: Extra bass, treble and overall output.

    Passive/Active Electronics

    Passive/Active Electronics
    Specs: Players are able to switch between passive and active electronics on the fly.
    Sound: The best of both worlds.

    Bridges

    Standard Through-Bridge

    Standard Through-Bridge
    The strings are fed through the back of the bridge over the saddles. Each string can be adjusted for height and length.

    String-Through Body

    String-Through Body
    The strings are fed through the back of the body over the saddles. Each string can be adjusted for height and length.

    Bridge & Tailpiece Combination

    Bridge & Tailpiece Combination
    The strings are fed through the tailpiece which is separate from the saddles. With this two-piece set up the string length can be adjusted individually but string height cannot.

    Fender American Standard Precision Bass Maple with Case
    Fender American Standard Precision Bass Maple with Case
    Fender Standard Jazz V 5 String Electric Bass Guitar Black
    Fender Standard Jazz V 5 String Electric Bass Guitar Black
    PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Kingfisher Bass with Gig Bag
    PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Kingfisher Bass with Gig Bag
    Gibson 2016 ES Les Paul Bass Faded Darkburst with Case
    Gibson 2016 ES Les Paul Bass Faded Darkburst with Case
    Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV PRO Electric Bass Vintage Sunburst
    Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV PRO Electric Bass Vintage Sunburst
    Hofner HCT5001 Violin Electric Bass Guitar with Case Sunburst
    Hofner HCT5001 Violin Electric Bass Guitar with Case Sunburst
    Epiphone EB3 Electric Bass Guitar Cherry
    Epiphone EB3 Electric Bass Guitar Cherry
    Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI 6-String Bass Guitar
    Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI 6-String Bass Guitar
    Ibanez SRFF805 Fan Fret 5 String Bass Guitar Workshop Black Stain
    Ibanez SRFF805 Fan Fret 5 String Bass Guitar Workshop Black Stain
    Ibanez BTB676 NTF 6 String Electric Bass Guitar Natural
    Ibanez BTB676 NTF 6 String Electric Bass Guitar Natural
    Warwick German Thumb Bass Guitar with Case Black Oil
    Warwick German Thumb Bass Guitar with Case Black Oil
    Steinberger Spirit XT25 5 String Electric Bass Guitar with Gig Bag
    Steinberger Spirit XT25 5 String Electric Bass Guitar with Gig Bag
    Jackson David Ellefson CBXV 5 String Electric Bass Guitar
    Jackson David Ellefson CBXV 5 String Electric Bass Guitar
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