Today, we bring you a list reviewing the top acoustic bass guitars you can buy right now. We’re covering various price levels for your convenience. That means we’re considering entry-level acoustic bass guitars to start our list, and then climb towards top-tier models.
Acoustic bass guitars are hollow wooden instruments. They are larger than dreadnought guitars, steel-stringed guitars, but they have 4 strings just as electric bass guitars.
Also, like traditional basses, the acoustic bass guitar strings have the same E-A-D-G tuning. The tuning is an octave below that of a 6-string guitar to serve its intended purpose. Naturally, the strings are also thicker and harder to press, although they feel thinner than the ones on an electric bass guitar.
Another thing I should mention is electronics. Most acoustic basses have a pickup system, either piezoelectric, magnetic, or both. That means you can amplify them with a regular bass guitar amplifier.
The reason is acoustic basses don’t have much resonance on their own, and if they do, then we’re talking about another kind of acoustic bass. For example, Mexican Mariachi music features the “León,” a deep-bodied 6-string acoustic bass. They also have the “Bajo Sexto,” which has six pairs of strings for extra output.
Acoustic bass guitars are the go-to for unplugged or acoustic live presentations. They are also popular for genres like flamenco, bossa-nova, and similar.
Acoustic bass guitars buyer’s guide
Before we go on with the list, I think it’s best to list what you need to consider to buy an acoustic bass guitar. An informed buyer makes good decisions.
Here’re the crucial factors to consider when buying an acoustic bass:
Because your budget is the most essential consideration, we’re reviewing bass going from around $100 to $1,500 and higher. When choosing a bass guitar, consider how much are you willing to invest, for what purpose, and what kind of quality are you expecting to receive. Also, sometimes investing a bit more can yield much better results, just as overpaying for a branded instrument might not deliver better performance or sound.
- Body style
Bass guitars might have a semi-hollow or a solid body. Most electric guitars have a solid body, but acoustic bass guitars can only be semi-hollow.
Semi-hollow models have a more classical and more gentle sound. However, with bass amplifiers and pedals, you can further tweak the tone to your liking.
The bass’s neck influences performance, durability, sound, and overall comfort. They may come in various shapes.
First, there’re u-shaped necks, which are great for players with big hands. These necks are rounded and thick, just like a baseball bat.
V-shaped necks are thin at the treble and thicker at the nut. These are rounded and generally comfortable for all players. Also, because they are thinner at the treble, they allow faster playability on the higher frets.
Lastly, c-shaped necks are the most common category. The shape is oval to naturally fit the human palm, and so it lends itself to more playing styles.
- Scale length
There’re short and long-scale basses. The standard or long-scale is 34’’, which is the length of the strings (from nut to bridge).
Long-scale models are the best choice for adult players. They also feature a stronger sound and a more hefty low-end signature.
Short-scale models are 30’’. They are smaller and thinner sounding, generally for young bass players or people with smaller hands. They are also okay for those of you simply looking for a hobby instrument.
Then again, there’re professional 30’’ bass guitars. For example, the Hofner Ignition series features a semi-hollow body, a 30’’ body, and a world-renown reputation as Paul McCartney’s instrument of choice.
Another factor to consider is the tonewoods, which means the woods it uses on the body. Each wood offers different sounds, durability, weight, and tones. We’ll cover further down our buyer’s guide.
- Music genre
Lastly, you need to consider the type of music you’re going to play. Even though acoustic bass guitars don’t feature the same flexibility as electric basses, each model has a genre where it shines the most.
Semi-hollow models tend to lean towards blues, jazz, and other experimental models. However, there are some oriented towards Latin music, flamenco, samba, rock, and more.
Acoustic bass guitars are significantly cheaper than an electric model.
Acoustic bass guitar anatomy
Getting to know the different parts of an acoustic guitar can help you understand how to pick the best one for you.
Here’s the rundown of the anatomy of these instruments.
The anatomy starts on the body, which is where you play the strings. Here, you’ll find the bridge and the saddles, which is the part where the strings are anchored.
In particular, the saddles bring the strings back to their position, tension-wise, every time you play them. You may find individual saddles for each string, which is generally the best option. Otherwise, you’ll find a single compensated saddle for all of the strings.
Then, there’s a pickup, which catches the string’s vibrations to turn it into an electrical signal. The rest of the electronic circuit consists of knobs, typically a tone and a volume knob to control the sound.
There’s also a pickguard, a laminated material protecting the instrument from pick scratches.
You’ll find the output jack on the sides, where you plug the instrument into the amplifier. Lastly, there’re strap buttons on the sides as well for a strap.
The neck starts at the nut, a small piece at the start of the fretboard. It lifts the strings away from the fingerboard, and so it influences the open sound and harmonies of the instrument.
Within the neck, some models have a truss rod. This is a steel or wooden piece covering the length of the neck to keep the piece straight and stable.
Typically, you can adjust the height of the rod to adjust the heights of the string with an Allen screwdriver. You’d find the holes on the nut. Otherwise, some bridges offer the possibility of adjusting the string action as well.
Then, the frets are separated with thin metal strips. You find the frets to play a specific note on the fingerboard.
Similarly, the fretboard is the long wooden strip extending from nut to body. The fretboard construction influences playability, as it might be smooth, sharp, comfortable, heavy, etc.
Lastly, the fret markers are dot inlays detailing specific frets, like for example the 5th, 7th, and 12th.
The final part of an acoustic bass guitar is the headstock. Here’s where you find the tuning pegs, which you can use to loosen or tighten the strings to find your desired intonation. The quality of the tuning machines influences the intonation quality.
Also, there’s a string tree on the headstock, which is there to hold the string down.
The tonewoods set the tone, durability, and overall aesthetics of an acoustic instrument. And what you’re looking for on an acoustic bass is a booming, thick, and resonating sound.
If you’re looking for a low-end rumble, some tonewoods can do better than others. However, if you’re looking for a mid-range presence instead, there are other picks for you.
Beginners shouldn’t worry too much, though, as you can simply check a video demo of an instrument and see if you like its sound. Still, here’s what you can learn
- Alder and ash: ash and alter are traditional tonewoods for top-tier instruments. They create bright, rich, and full tones. Particularly, alder creates a more powerful low-end sound, with extra sustain and warmth.
- Walnut: it offers power at the mid-range frequency chart, with some bit, but not as bright as ash or maple.
- Maple: it’s bright, powerful on the high end, and with the greatest sustain. It’s also very heavy, so it’s rarely used on the body. Instead, it works for the fingerboard, arched tops, or laminated pieces at the back and sides.
- Mahogany: it’s a gorgeous-looking wood with a natural open grain. The tone is full, warm, and with significant power at the mid-range. It also offers plenty of sustain. These qualities make it good for electric guitars.
- Spruce: is a standard choice for modern acoustic basses and guitars. It delivers strength, dynamic range, and brightness. It also responds very well to all playing styles.
- Sitka: it’s a different kind of spruce tonewood. It stands out among its kind for its top-tier sound quality and alluring aesthetics. The sound it produces is open, deep, and rich. Moreover, it gets better as time goes by.
- Ebony: it’s an African tonewood with a black color. As for the tone, it’s clear, powerful, and slightly dark, with a somehow scooped midrange.
- Basswood: it’s the cheapest wood of the bunch, offering You’ll find low-end power and lightweight. It’s fairly common for Japan-made instruments.
- Rosewood: it’s the most common material for the fingerboard. It offers rich and stable sounds and, most of all, it delivers smoothness and durability.
- Walnut: it’s another quality tonewood offering dark sounds playing along a ring at the highs. In a way, it mixes the woody sound of mahogany with the depth of rosewood.
Number of strings
Standard bass guitars have four strings, but there are also models with five and six strings.
Five-string bass guitars are better for heavy metal as the thickest string is tuned in low B. That gives you extra low-end power for metal, rock, jazz, fusion, and similar. The same is to say about six-string models but, as you’d expect, these bases are harder to play.
If you’re not going to play these genres, or if you don’t have much experience, I advise you to go for a standard 4-string acoustic bass guitar instead. Learning to play on a four-string bass.
Now, many acoustic bass guitars come with a pickup system. The system consists of either a magnetic or a piezoelectric pickup, an electronic circuit, and a preamp.
The preamp is quite important for acoustic basses, as they offer the flexibility these instruments need. For example, you’d need to tweak the sound depending on the size of each venue or instruments playing alongside you.
That said, you should be on the lockout for EQ options. Equalization knobs offer the ability to enhance or decrease the low, middle, or high-frequency sounds. That allows you to tame a fat bass or power up a bright one.
Also, some pickup systems come with a built-in tuner. This is very handy.
How to pick the best acoustic bass
The biggest reason why acoustic bass guitars are not as popular as their electric brothers is that there’s rarely the need to play acoustic bass. You can simply lower the volume of electric bass and use a proper EQ setup to tame its sound.
Moreover, acoustic basses aren’t loud in any matter. They are fairly underwhelming if you don’t have extra amplification.
In essence, these instruments need an enormous body to be present alongside a guitar, or to compete against a tamed electric bass. Think about it: amplifiers need ten times as much wattage to power up low-end sounds, compared to what they need for an electric guitar.
Following this logic, you’d need a similar acoustic power and picking force to get enough acoustic projection. This is another reason why acoustic basses are not the best option for beginners.
That said, we can’t consider acoustic basses with good resonances. Even though the name doesn’t imply it, the best models are the ones with the best pickup systems to complement their construction.
The pickup should amplify the natural resonance of its woods, which is different from how electric basses behave. See, on electric bass, the tonewoods don’t influence the sound nearly as much as we have here.
That means you won’t be using an amplifier to color, distort, or saturate the sound. Instead, you would be looking for an acoustic bass that sounds good without any cables, so then an amplifier can translate its natural qualities into the speaker.
For certain genres such as folk, country, and blues, acoustic basses offer a distinct sound signature and roundness electric models can’t do. That’s because they are rich, woody, and natural, whereas electric basses produce “artificial” sounds if you will.
What’s special about acoustic bass guitars?
Acoustic bass guitars have a hollow body and a soundhole, but the sound they produce is not enough to play alongside a drum, but their natural acoustic sound can keep up with acoustic percussion, guitars, and soft singing.
But because they possess low-end power, they need an amplifier to properly convey the sound. Still, the sound comes out more mellow, rounded, and even muted compared to electric guitars.
As I said, you may not need to worry about plugging the instrument to play. That makes it easier to play around with your friends, write music, rehearse, and carry it around.
A bass guitar provides rhythm through its basslines. Whereas electric bass function like the invisible pillars of a band, acoustic basses offer a distinct sound signature that makes anyone shine.
I can’t describe it completely, but I can try. The sound is powerful at the low-end, but less distorted. So, the presence of bass becomes incredibly apparent.
More so, acoustic bass guitars are extra beautiful when playing on the treble or chords. On the contrary, electric basses tend to lose clarity when playing chords. Even worse, the sound disappears in the mix when playing on the treble.
Acoustic bass guitars don’t sit right with beginner players because they have thicker necks. You’ll Also, the body design is a bit different, which might feel odd to amateur players.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a punchier, stronger sound, the mellow tones of these instruments might not be for you.
Top 7 best acoustic bass guitars
I know electric bass guitars are the best choice for bands and live presentations. But, just like I said, you may want to play acoustically, and that requires a different setup.
See, acoustic bass guitars first appeared back in the ‘50s, and the fuzz began in the ‘60s when early rock bands began using these instruments on their records.
Most notably, Fender’s former technicians George Fullerton and Ernie Ball produced the first acoustic bass, the Earthwood. It wasn’t very good or very popular, but it created the foundations of instruments of its kind.
With the instrument’s history in mind, let’s have a closer look at the best models we’re reviewing. Now, despite what I said about the popularity of these models, most top-tier music gear companies are producing them.
Best entry-level acoustic bass: Best Choice Acoustic Bass Guitar
The lowest you can go is Amazon’s best seller acoustic bass guitar. It’s a simple instrument with a 4-band EQ on its preamp, capable of producing a decent sound and hours of practice.
Its pickup system comes with four knobs, which are bass, middle, treble, and presence. On top of that, there’s built-in volume control.
As for tonewoods, the Best Choice bass mixes basswood on the body, mahogany for the neck, and rosewood on the fret.
Regarding construction, it also has a cutaway on the body to deliver extra access to the upper frets. I need to add the bass has an adjustable truss rod as well.
Finishes come in the form of simple dot inlays, chrome die-cast tuning pegs, and a gloss finish all over the body.
Best Choice is a global retailer creating affordable products of all kinds. You might be wary of its acoustic-electric bass guitar because this is not a proper music gear brand. However, if you’re looking for the cheapest alternatives, this is the one to get.
They don’t produce the items themselves, instead, they rely on manufacturers all over the world. Also, this is an Amazon company, so the Best Choice model is otherwise known as the Amazon acoustic bass.
Best budget: Dean Cutaway Acoustic Bass
I’m sorry to raise the price point from entry-level to budget in such a drastic matter, but there’s simply no other model to cover the gap.
Either way, the extra investment delivers plenty in terms of performance and sound. Dean, as an experienced bass guitar maker, knows how to deliver value for a budget.
Their cutaway bass comes with mahogany on the body, spruce at the top, mahogany at the neck, and rosewood at the fret. As for finishing options, it has natural satin all over the body.
Just like the model above, it’s a 34’’ scale instrument. However, the natural sound is rounder, with some extra clarity and bite. It also has a great tone and an even better slap tone.
On the downsides, there’s some fret buzz on some models, but you could send the bass to a luthier to fix the fingerboard with paper sand.
Either way, the Dean bass has some aesthetic touches. For example, it has a vintage-style rosette at the soundhole, a multi-ply binding on the body, die-cast chrome tuning machines, and abalone inlays.
As for electronics, it packs a DMT G03 pickup system, which comes with volume and tone knobs plus a built-in tuner.
Overall, the Dean model is quite decent. It plays nice, it sounds nice, and it sells for a fair price. It won’t do wonders in a studio, but it can be more than enough to play by yourself, with your friends, or in small venues.
Best value: Fender CB60SCE Acoustic Bass
Here’s the top choice for beginner and intermediate bass players. For all of you looking for a perfectly okay acoustic bass for any application that doesn’t break the bank, choose the Fender CB60SCE.
For its price, it accommodates a great construction quality. It features a solid spruce top, mahogany body and neck, and walnut fingerboard.
Particularly, the neck features superb construction. It’s a C-shaped neck with smooth frets and smaller spaces in-between the frets, which makes it more friendly to beginners.
As for the sound, it behaves like a true Fender guitar. The tone is strong, warm, clear, and with an extra presence at the mids. It lacks low-end power, though, but it delivers extra-crisp at the mids.
This acoustic bass comes with a Fishman pickup system with a piezoelectric taper. Fishman is a top-tier pickup manufacturer. In this case, the CB60SCE features a very capable pickup, one that translates the natural sound of the spruce into the amp. It has enough output, clarity, and warmth, and resonance to make you happy.
The pickup system also includes a built-in tuner plus bass, volume, and treble knobs.
Compared to prior items, the Fender model sounds leagues better. The tone signature leans heavily towards bluegrass, jazz, and country, though, so you might not like how it sounds.
Overall, the Fender CD-60SCE offers great quality and sound with its Fishman electronics and tonewoods. It’s good for recording guitar in your home studio or small/medium live presentations.
Musicians needing some extra power might look further. Otherwise, the CD-60SCE offers the best bang for the buck.
Best mid-tier: Ibanez AEB10E 4 Acoustic Bass
For a similar price, you could also get the Ibanez AEB10E. It’s a 22 fret and 32’’ acoustic bass packing the kind of quality and advanced electronics Ibanez offers.
This is the acoustic bass that takes the top spot on most charts, and just like the model above, it comes with a spruce top for a strong sound projection and superb dynamics.
For the neck, Ibanez uses Okoume, which is like Asian mahogany featuring better looks and extra sustain. Additionally, Okoume is lightweight and resonant, common on top-tier guitars from Fender Custom Shop, Epiphone, and PRS.
The amplification comes from a Fishman Sonicore pickup system plus Ibanez’s custom AEQ-SP2 preamp. It packs an onboard tuner plus volume/bass/treble knobs.
The hardware setup offers a great deal of flexibility. Either way, the sound comes out extra strong at the low-end, resonant, and beautiful. The Fishman Sonicore can then translate its deep sound without any distortion into an amplifier.
Compared to the Fender model, the Ibanez is much deeper, and so the sound leans towards rock, alternative music, indie, reggae, funk, blues, and similar.
Also, the Ibanez AEB10E works on AA batteries instead of 9V batteries like the rest. I see this as an advantage, as AA batteries are easier to find and recognize than 9V batteries.
Overall, the combination between the woods, the EQ, and the pickup delivers a warm sound, and incredible performance. Without a doubt, the Ibanez AEB10Es is one of the best acoustic guitars you can buy, and it packs the looks to boast as well.
There’re some downsides, though. For example, the bass is prone to feedback and distortion at high volumes. Also, you may get a bass with sharp frets, but you can improve that with the help of a luthier.
Best upper-tier: Takamine GB30CE Acoustic Bass
Takamine is another top-tier instrument manufacturer. The brand excels at creating acoustic basses and guitars, and their manufacturing process includes plenty of hand-craft.
For their GB40CE bass, they use one of their tried and trusted formulas. That’s a solid spruce body with laminated mahogany at the back and sides. They pair this with a mahogany neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and a deep cutaway design on the body.
The quality tonewoods come with quality construction. Everything feels and fits perfectly, partly because luthiers supervise the creation of these models. Moreover, Takamine uses super-advanced laser-guided technologies to level the fingerboard, hand-craft for the soundhole bracing pattern and fingerboard, and home-grown tonewoods.
It doesn’t have a big body, though, so the natural resonance or deepness is not very impressive. However, this acoustic bass is incredibly clear and twangy.
This issue is cleared by the top-tier TK-40B pickup system. It comes with volume, bass boost and mid-shift controls, a 3-band EQ, and a bypass switch. That amounts to greater flexibility than the models above.
On top of that, it has quality tuners, bridge, and nut to retain the intonation as much as you’d like.
So, playing through an amp, it almost sounds like a real electric bass. It’s still rounder, more natural, and smoother – the acoustic feeling. And by messing with the knobs, for example, the bass-boost, you can get extra low-end power, mid-presence, or whatever you want.
Overall, it’s a classy instrument, and it’s hard to beat. However, without an amplifier, it’s nearly unusable.
Best premium: Taylor GS Mini-e Maple Acoustic Bass
If you’re looking for a small instrument packing powerful electronics, the premium-tier Taylor GS Mini is the go-to choice. It’s one of the most popular acoustic bass guitars you can buy, and there’s a reason for it.
It’s a 23.5’’ scale bass with Sitka Spruce for the body, a maple neck, and an ebony fingerboard. And despite its small body, the sound is huge and even better if you have an amplifier.
The body is simple and yet elegant. Because of its shorter size, it’s quite easy to play and friendly to players of all levels and ages. In particular, Taylor uses their popular Grand Symphony guitar shape, which is capable of producing a great output on shorter bodies. That’s because of the soundhole design, the bracing pattern within the soundhole, and tonewoods.
However, the Taylor Mini acoustic bass guitar offers a scaled-down version of this shape. It’s so small that it looks like a bass ukulele. Don’t worry, though, this is not a toy. Instead, it’s a practice and recording instrument.
The Taylor GS Mini offers a superb tone thanks to its onboard Taylor Expression System 2 Piezo d. The sound is deep, mellow, and round. It’s acoustic, though, so the GS Mini bass is not the kind of instrument you’d want to play alongside electric instruments.
Its onboard electronics rely on a built-in tuner, volume control, and tone control. It’s easy and convenient.
Another highlight of the bass is its dual-pin patented bridge, which assures the intonation and sustains. Moreover, it makes the strings easy to change. On the other side, there’s a quality set of die-cast chrome tuners and, on the body, you’ll find a tortoise pickguard plus a three-ring rosette.
Lastly, the bass has custom D’Addario strings with a special nylon core. The set of strings handle the tension this short bass needs perfectly.
Overall, the Taylor GS Mini offers more volume than most acoustic bass guitars, so you can hear it without any amplification.
Best overall: Fender Kingman Acoustic Bass
If money is not a problem, then why not get the most elegant acoustic bass guitar there is?
The Fender Kingman is a striking bass coming with a black body, a light brown fiberboard, and gold accents. The materials are mahogany on the body, mahogany on the neck, and walnut on the fingerboard.
Additionally, the neck has the same shape as a Fender Jazz bass, which represents maximum playability. The shape is known as the “slim-taper C-shape,” and it means it’s quite slim and easy to play with. In this case, though, the fret is a little smaller than a Fender Jazz bass.
Also, the body features a cutaway on the lower bout to offer access to the upper frets. The body is made to Fender’s exclusive Newporter acoustic bass shape.
For these reasons, the Fender Kingman is an easy transition from electric bass guitars. Even its headstock, with four-in-line tuning pegs, looks familiar to Fender’s electric basses.
This is still an acoustic-electric model nonetheless, even though it uses a smaller 30.3’’ body scale. It doesn’t feel like a toy, though. It’s just slightly bigger than an acoustic guitar.
A Fishman pickup system takes care of the tone. It comes with volume, treble, middle, bass, brilliance, and phase. There’s also a notch control to keep the feedback at bay, plus a built-in tuner.
The sound offers the quality, power, and crunch you’d want on a rock band. It sounds like the real deal, like the best an acoustic bass would sound. More importantly, it sounds huge.
Its tone signature is deep, full, rich, and resonant. It packs the acoustic feel to it, but it could also pass as an electric guitar if you’re not looking.
The high-end hardware rounds up the features. It has a Graph Tech NuBone nut, 20 frets, Grover tuners, and a walnut bridge.
Overall, the Fender Kingman is attractive, professional, and expensive. It’s smooth, fast, and powerful, everything a professional player could need.
I hope our reviews of the top 7 acoustic bass guitars help you find the right model for you. Remember to balance your needs against your budget to find your ideal candidate.
For anything else, please leave your comments down below.