Are Bass Guitars Expensive? Analysis of the Most Popular Brands

I’ve been playing guitar for a long time now, and thought about transitioning into learning bass guitar. So, I wanted to know how expensive an electric and acoustic bass guitar is. I did a tonne of research into the most popular brands and how much they cost and here’s what I found.

As a general rule, electric and acoustic bass guitars are not expensive. Both electric and acoustic bass guitars sold by the top brands such as Fender, and Ibanez are as cheap as $100 brand new. But, they have a wider selection of models at the $750 to $1000 price range.

A question I also had was whether they differ in sound quality. So, below I will give detailed info about exactly how much acoustic and electric guitars are, as well as, how the sound differs for bass guitars that are cheap, midrange, and expensive.

How Much Does a Decent Bass Guitar Cost?

There are noticeable differences between the cost of a bass guitar and how it sounds. In general, a cheaper bass sounds OK. But, does have a generic sound, that can sound a bit ‘tinny’. They have a metallic like quality to it, that can be described as a ‘twang’.

A mid range and expensive bass guitar has a fuller, warmer, and more pleasant sound. Some people describe it as having more character.

Here’s a table that shows the differences in sound between a cheap, mid range, and expensive bass guitar.

Guitar CostDifference in sound quality
Cheap – $100 to $300Has a tinny metallic sound quality to it, sounds OK but not great
Mid range – $300 to $750Sounds better than a cheap bass guitar, they have minor sound imperfections especially at the extreme high and low notes. Where they don’t sound as clear, or ring for as long.
Expensive – $750 to $4,000Very good sound quality, virtually perfect, full sound. 
No tinny or metallic sound, and performs well at the extreme high and low ends of the range.
Very expensive – $10,000+These don’t have better sound but have custom finishings, or are collectors items – for example they were owned by famous bass guitarists.

Key Takeaway:
A decent electric bass guitar costs around $750 to $1000. Whereas, a decent acoustic bass guitar costs around $400. Compared to the price of all the bass guitars that the top guitar brands sell they are middle of the range in terms of sound and build quality, as well as price.

With that being said I did a detailed analysis of the price range of the most popular guitar brands which are Fender, Gibson, and Ibanez. 

Interestingly, Gibson sells very few bass guitars. Here’s some tables showing the price range of both electric and acoustic bass guitars for each of the most popular brands.

Fender Bass Guitars by Price Range

Price rangeNumber of electric bass guitars they sell Number of acoustic bass guitars they sell
$100 to $20051
$200 to $30051
$300 to $50051
$500 to $70051
$750 to $1000420
$1000 to $1500320
$1500 to $2000400
$2000 to $3000160

As you can see, most Fender bass guitar models are in the $750 to $2000 range. But, all of their acoustic bass guitars are under $700. 

Gibson Bass Guitars by Price Range

Price rangeNumber of electric bass guitars they sell Number of acoustic bass guitars they sell
$100 to $20000
$200 to $30000
$300 to $50000
$500 to $70000
$750 to $100040
$1000 to $150020
$1500 to $200030
$2000 to $300000

Gibson doesn’t sell any acoustic guitars at all. And sell very few electric bass guitars. The electric bass guitars they sell cost between $750 and $2000.

Ibanez Bass Guitars by Price Range

Price rangeNumber of electric bass guitars they sell Number of acoustic bass guitars they sell
$100 to $20051
$200 to $30051
$300 to $50051
$500 to $70051
$750 to $1000420
$1000 to $1500320
$1500 to $2000400
$2000 to $3000160

The bass guitars that Ibanez sells are very similar in price range to Fender bass guitars. And most of the models they sell are between $750 and $2000. The acoustic bass guitars they sell are also all under $700.

It’s important to note that the most expensive bass guitar that each of the top brands sell is $3000 (source for all of the data).

Should a beginner get a cheap or expensive bass guitar?

Generally, it’s not a good idea to get a mid range or expensive bass guitar if you haven’t yet decided that you’re going to stick with bass guitar. Otherwise, if you find it isn’t for you then it’s a bit of a waste of money.

In my opinion, it can be fairly easy to resell it a midrange or expensive, but because it’s second hand it will be discounted right off the bat. For a beginner bass guitar you should spend $100 to $200. You can even find some as cheap as $70 brand new from lesser known brands.

I wouldn’t spend more than $300, unless you decide that bass guitar is something you’re really into.

You may be interested in how the cost of a decent bass guitar compares to a decent regular guitar. I answered this question in depth in this article about how much a good guitar costs.

Is Bass Easier to Learn Than Guitar?

I’ve played a lot of guitar, and played bass guitar a good amount. So, I thought I’d answer a key question when it comes to choosing between learning bass guitar versus a regular guitar, which is, is one easier than the other. Here’s what I found.

As a general rule, bass guitar is easier to learn. But, bass guitar strings are much thicker and the frets are wider apart so it’s more physically demanding to play. The main reason a bass guitar is easier to learn is that it has less strings which reduces the complexity to learn.

The most commonly played bass guitar has 4 strings. Whereas, a standard regular guitar has 6 strings. But, there are also 6 string bass guitars, and 12 string guitars. However, they are less commonly played and sold.

Interestingly, the top 4 strings of a guitar are tuned the exact same as a bass guitar. So, if you learn to play guitar or bass guitar you can switch between one or the other very easily. But, physically playing it is a different story.

Because the strings are closer together it takes some getting used when going from guitar to bass guitar. And because the strings are thicker and the frets are wider apart on a bass guitar, it takes a bit of time to develop the strength to play a bass guitar really well, when going from guitar to bass guitar.

I recently performed a survey of guitarists, and musicians to find out what instrument they think is the hardest to learn. You can read the results and discussion in this article about whether electric guitar is hard

It compares stringed instruments such as guitars, piano/keyboard, the drums, and wind instruments such as the flute, and clarinet.

Do Expensive Bass Guitars Sound Better?

There’s the old saying that you get what you pay for, but I’ve come to notice that this isn’t always the case. So, I wanted to know whether a more expensive bass guitar sounds better than a cheaper one. Here’s what I found.

As a whole, a more expensive bass guitar does sound better. A cheaper bass guitar has a metallic sound quality to it. It also doesn’t produce clear notes at the high and low ends of the range. However, a cheap bass guitar performs well and sounds OK.

It does reach a point of diminishing returns. For example, a $10,000 bass guitar doesn’t sound better than a $3,000 guitar for example. A guitar over $10,000 for the most part doesn’t improve the sound. But, instead has higher quality finishings that are made of more expensive materials such as silver or gold.

They can also be expensive because they were owned by a famous bass guitarist. And for that reason they are expensive because they’re a collectors item. And not because the have a better sound.

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