Bass Guitar Shopping on a Budget

Beginner bass guitar music store reviewWhen last we met, I told y’all of my plan to check out beginner basses. Well, as I’ve dug deeper into the subject, I’m finding that there are a LOT of good basses out there that are very affordable. Yes, they’re made offshore in places that one wouldn’t think of as instrument making Mecca’s, but a good CNC machine really doesn’t give a rat’s behind where it sits.

I wandered into my local mega music store and went straight to the bass section and started lookin’ around. I’m partial to the primary colors when it comes to my bass, with my favorite color actually being no color at all, but natural wood. I spotted a Fender Marcus Miller Jazz Bass. Nice, but for the $500.00 dollar limit of this exercise, not a contender. Then I noticed a natural bass further down the wall. I asked the young gentleman at the counter across the room if it was ok to try out this instrument (ALWAYS ask permission from a store person before just grabbin’ a bass off the wall, they’ll be much nicer to you) and soon I was plugged into a little Markbass combo (another story for another day, but in short, this amp kicks ass!) and moving up and down the very comfortable maple fingerboard.

I played for awhile (I always go to the mega music store during the day, during the week, ‘cause there’s nobody around tryin’ to bang out some “Fear Factory”) and the more I did, the more I was impressed. Nice one piece maple neck with the afore mentioned maple fingerboard (20 large frets and a 34” scale) and a maple body, great fit and finish, way cool black block inlays, a bound neck, chrome hardware, vintage style butterfly tuners, a vintage style four saddle bridge, a 3 ply black/white/black pickguard… this thing was lookin’ a LOT like the Marcus Miller back down the wall.

OK, you’re probably wonderin’ what this great find was. Get ready for this……it’s a Squier Vintage Modified ‘70s Jazz Bass! Yes I said a Squier. And the best part? This baby goes for $299.99!!! Two hundred ninety freakin’ nine, ninety nine.

This little funk machine delivers a punchy tone whether you play finger style, slap-n-pop OR …you’re lookin’ at page one of your beginner’s bass book. Very nice action and the frets don’t slice your hands up as you move up and down the neck. Both qualities very important to ANY player, but especially a beginner. You don’t want to be discouraged by playing a piece of crap! The two Duncan design JB101 pickups with Alnico magnets (controlled by 2 volume and one tone knob) take one back to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Oh yeah, I forgot, it also comes in righty OR lefty configuration. $299.99! How cool is that? Huh?

Squier Vintage Modified ‘70s Jazz BassThe Squier Vintage Modified ‘70s Jazz Bass is a bass for all levels of player. If you’re a young player just startin’ out, you’ll be extremely lucky to have this be your first bass and it’s not one you’ll grow out of anytime soon. If you gig and don’t want to take an expensive instrument on the road, you might just wanna take a look (I’m not kiddin’).

So… the first one out of the box comes on very strong. As I’ve looked around, I’m noticing MANY cool affordable bass guitars out there and the good news? I get to play ‘em! We’ve just scratched the surface and we haven’t even approached the subjects of strings or amps (well ok a little on the Markbass). We’ve got a lot of ground to cover… Stay tuned. Hope you enjoyed this Bass Guitar Shopping on a Budget article!
Until then, read our bass guitar research: Best Selling Bass Guitars

Originally published on: Mar 13, 2010 @ 23:20


  1. It’s amazing how the QC of the entry level stuff is coming along. I bought a Squire affinity P bass about 8 years ago. I just needed to have a bass around to do some rough tracks. It’s OK but the quality of the new stuff is really pretty amazing. Nice article. The kids starting today have a lot going for them in terms of playability of the gear.

  2. i bought a fender squire 5 with active electronics after some set up work, i do all my own, reshimmed the neck, did all the tricks to make it play better/ it might not be my 7 string conklin, or my modulus6 grafite or my zeta 5 fretless uprite, but it cost something over 330 bucks and plays and sounds great. i could have saved a lot of money had i pulled my head out of you know where and jumped on a bass like this first. many of us think more money makes it better when a little time and set up will do the trick. the squire is well finished has a good straight neck and if you have a good amp all the sound 90+% us need. i’ve been trying to learn how to play since 1959, i still have my 1963 ricenbacker i bought new in 63

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