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Best Acoustic Bass Guitar

The acoustic guitar is a common instrument, one that you can see in the hands of everyone from that homeless guy downtown who only has three strings to the hands of multi-millionaires who have guitars that cost more than your car. But what if you find that you have a need for an acoustic instrument that can hold down the low end and provide a rhythm, something akin to the bass guitar? Do you just buy an old stand-up bass? 

Best Acoustic Bass Guitars 2018 – Comparison Table

Well, thankfully, you don’t have to (although if you would like to, that’s totally cool, too, it’d be a very country or psychobilly thing to do). You can, instead, buy an acoustic bass guitar, basically an acoustic guitar that is built to have a deeper sound and that is strung with four heavy-gauge bass strings, rather than the relatively light gauge guitar strings. Let’s view a table comparing a few of the guitars competing for the title ‘best acoustic bass guitar’. This list is updated as of February 2018.

NameFretsWood Pickups
Fender CB-100CE Dreadnought Cutaway Bass22Laminate spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sidesFishman Isys electronics
Fender California Kingman Bass SCE20Spruce top and mahogany back and sidesFishman Isys electronics
Takamine G Series GB30CE Jumbo Cutaway Bass21Spruce top and mahogany back and sidesTakamine TK-40B electronics
Ibanez PCBE12MHOPN Bass20Mahogany top and mahogany back and sidesAEQ-2T preamp with under saddle pickup
Ibanez AEB10E Cutaway Bass22Spruce top and mahogany back and sidesFishman Sonicore Pickup
Martin BCPA4 Bass23Spruce top and solid Sapele back and sidesFishman F1 Analog electronics
Alvarez AB60CE Artist Series Bass20Spruce top and mahogany back and sidesLR Baggs Stage Pro EQ With Element Pickup
Dean EABC Cutaway Bass24Spruce top and mahogany back and sideDean electronics

Now, let’s be clear here; the list of acoustic bass guitars is a very limited one. There are plenty of companies that don’t make them at all, because it is so limited a market. This is a short selection of the best ones that you can get hold of without having to order a custom job or something like that.  That being said, let’s take a more in-depth look at the various acoustic basses that were reviewed.

1

Fender CB-100CE Dreadnought Cutaway Bass – The Standard Bass

Fender makes a lot of guitars, especially when you begin to look into their acoustic lines, that are easily described as being a standard or average guitar, and this is one of them, without a doubt. That’s not to say that it’s a bad guitar, but it’s just a very basic acoustic bass guitar, and one that doesn’t stand out in too many ways.

That being said, if you’re looking for a very affordable acoustic bass guitar that still comes from a big name brand company, then this is a good solution to that search. The Fender CB-100CE is a good bass in its own right, to be sure. It is made with the standard spruce top and mahogany back and sides (which seems to be common in almost every acoustic guitar). The size of the guitar, along with the tone of the wood (and, of course, the huge size of the strings) gives the bass a fair amount of projection for an acoustic bass, while also making sure that you are going to be able to manage holding it to play. You need to realize that these things are, in general, going to be a bit bigger than the average acoustic guitar would be, and that’s going to kind of be a running theme here.

Of course, it’s always nice to have a guitar that works when run through an amplifier, too, and the Fender CB-100CE, easily one of the best acoustic bass guitars under 500 dollars, manages to have a good pickup in it. It carries a Fishman Isys preamp and pickup rig, which means that you’re not only getting quality sound from one of the big names in the acoustic pickup game, but you’re also getting a useful preamp that includes an easy-to-use tuner. The tuner, in particular, is something that you will come to appreciate as time goes on, because you can never have enough tuners around, as any musician knows.

All things considered, for a guitar that regularly sells for under four hundred dollars, this is a great option.

PROS
  • Great guitar for a great price
  • Fishman Isys pickup and preamp system (some newer models have the Isys III, which is even better)
  • Sounds great when played acoustically, too
CONS
  • Kind of a plain offering, with nothing special about it
2

Fender California Kingman Bass SCE – The Surfer Bass

A couple of decades back, cashing in on the success of the ‘surfer’ music scene, Fender made the wise decision to advertise their guitar as being something that you could play at the beach. They did a whole lineup of pictures like that, and they were selling a guitar that looked a lot like this bass as a great guitar for going to the beach and enjoying the rocking sounds of the guitar along with the rocking of the waves.

Of course, if you’re a bassist, you recognize this neck. It is an iconic neck from an iconic line from Fender in the bass world. It’s the neck of a Fender Precision bass, put on an acoustic bass guitar body with a single cutaway (which is there to make it a bit more manageable to hit those lower frets with your fingers). The guitar itself is made out of the standard spruce top with mahogany back and sides, of course, but the real selling point here is the neck and the electronics package. To begin with, the neck is good, especially if you’re the kind of person who is looking for a bass that they can use as kind of the practice/out and about/ kicking around bass while they leave their (more expensive) Fender Jazz or Precision basses at home. 

How does it sound when you’re not playing it through the pickup? It sounds astonishingly good, really. Sometimes you get a bit of buzz, but you can do various things to fix that.

But like I said, the electronics package that comes with this bass is something that is absolutely worth talking about. The Fender Isys pickups still perform well, and the preamp that comes along is a great one. It has six bands for controlling your EQ, plus the master ‘volume’ knob, and as always, it comes with a great onboard tuner that is easy to use for anyone of any experience.

If you’re looking for the best acoustic bass guitar under 500 bucks, and you want one that kind of has the ‘surfer’ vibe to it, or you’re just the kind of person who plays a lot of Fender Precision basses and doesn’t want to have to acclimate to an all-new neck design, then this is a great acoustic bass guitar that you should definitely take a look at. If you’re looking for an expensive and high-end bass guitar, then you may want to look elsewhere.

PROS
  • Surfer feel and a beautiful body
  • Fishman Isys system is always appreciated
  • Very affordable
CONS
  • Again, just kind of a plain looking guitar
3

Takamine G Series GB30CE Jumbo Cutaway Bass – The Jumbo Asian Sensation

Takamine (pronounced Ta-kah-mee-nay) is a company that makes their guitars mostly in Asia. The high-end ones are made in Japan, the low-end ones are made in China. They’re a name that isn’t as well-known or respected as American names like Gibson or Martin, but then again, they’re also not trying to charge you three thousand dollars for the name on the headstock.

Their bass guitar offering is a jumbo affair. Now, if you’re a small person who doesn’t want a big guitar, then you probably shouldn’t be playing a bass (I’m just kidding), but seriously, a jumbo acoustic bass guitar is going to be a huge guitar, and if you’re on the smaller side, you may want to look for something that is more in the ‘dreadnought’ size, or even in the ‘mini’ acoustic bass size (I think Martin and Taylor both make a mini acoustic bass, neither of which are reviewed in this post). This is a big bass, and it makes a big and beautiful sound that carries over decent distances. It could easily fill a room just acoustically.

As far as sound quality goes, if you are looking for a bass that will sound good and project that sound far, then you need look no further. This is a bass that can provide great sound quality (what with the spruce and mahogany wood combination, that should be expected, really), and the only problem that I really have with it is that it is just so big.

If you’re looking to plug in and rock, this bass has you covered, too. The pickup and preamp are both Takamine, the Takamine TK-40B system, to be precise. This means that you’re going to be getting a three-band EQ, as well as an easy-to-use tuner that basically shows you what note you’re playing and whether it’s properly tuned or needs to be tuned a bit more sharp or flat. It’s really an idiot-proof system, not to suggest that anyone reading this is an idiot, but if you’re looking for a simple tuner, they don’t get much simpler. The fact that it runs on a common battery, the 9V battery to be precise, is also a good thing.

All things considered, if you’re looking for a good jumbo bass that can project sound wonderfully, here is a good place for you to look. Takamine guitars are a good product, and the fact that most of them are made in China is not the condemnation that it once was. This guitar is absolutely worth a test drive, if not a purchase.

PROS
  • A great pickup and preamp system
  • Good looking guitar capable of putting out a quality sound
  • Jumbo body means a louder and richer tone
CONS
  • This guitar is huge, even for an acoustic bass
4

Ibanez PCBE12MHOPN Bass – The Martin Look-Alike

Ibanez makes a decent guitar for a decent price, it’s true, but in this instance, the guitar looks a lot like they just copied the look of one of the more well-known acoustic Martin guitars. Make no mistake, though, this is an Ibanez guitar, and you’ll be paying Ibanez prices, not Martine prices, so you don’t need to worry about losing an arm and a leg to get this guitar.

 Hilariously, this guitar, even though it is one of the cheaper guitars on this list, has a mahogany top and a mahogany back and sides. It’s funny because the usual spruce top is usually found to be cheaper (and easier to build on), so why they would go with something that is more pricey, and yet still end up with such a low-cost guitar, is hard to understand. Either way, that mahogany wood on the top gives it a distinctive look that will stand out almost anywhere, and makes it look kind of like the all-mahogany Martin guitars that they’ve made in the past.

That being said, this bass, sometimes known as the ‘Grand Concert Acoustic Bass’, is probably the best acoustic bass guitar under 300 dollars that you will find. They regularly go for sub 300, which is a good price if you’re just looking for a kicking around bass or a bass that you can take out around the campfire and play outside for fun or to show off. Still, it sounds good when you play it without it being plugged into an amp, and that is what is really important here.

Of course, if you want to run it through an amplifier, it also has a pickup and preamp system built in. It uses the Ibanez AEQ-2T system, which is basically a simple preamp and pickup system. Now, it does have a tuner built-in, but this one is a bit more difficult to use than the ones that other companies offer. That’s honestly the only real complaint that I have with this guitar, the tuner system, and if you buy this, you can probably scrounge up the money to buy yourself a clip-on tuner or something like that.

This is a great bass guitar for a beginner, or for someone who is looking for a bass guitar that they are going to end up trashing, either by exposing it to the elements or by using it as a kicking around guitar. Definitely the cheapest on the list, too.

PROS
  • Very affordable
  • Interesting look to it, thanks to the mahogany top
  • Preamp and pickup, with built in tuner
CONS
  • Tuner could be better in quality
5

Ibanez AEB10E Cutaway Bass – The Mid-Range Ibanez Bass

Ibanez guitars, in general, run the gamut from beginner level (and price) to professional. You can get an Ibanez bass or six-string guitar for under four hundred bucks, easily, or you can get one for much more if you want. This is a nice mid-range guitar from the Ibanez lines, but a decent one that can be had for under six hundred bucks usually. 

This guitar, unlike its cheaper cousin up above, has the usual pieces. It’s got the spruce top, with the mahogany back and sides, which is a good combination, and one that sounds good, for an acoustic bass guitar. If you’re looking for a good bass guitar that has a natural look to it, this probably isn’t the one for you; this one tends to come in a ‘sunburst’ finish that conceals the natural beauty of the spruce (of course, if it conceals the natural wood tone, it is also concealing any imperfections in the wood, so that is always a good way to drive down the cost of the guitar). 

It’s a good acoustic bass guitar, and one that sounds pretty good when you play it acoustically. Of course, it also comes with a pickup system. It uses a Fishman Sonicore pickup (which means that you’re not just getting a good pickup, but a great one for picking up acoustic tones) that is run through an Ibanez SST Shape Shifter preamp.  The Shape Shifter preamp has a tuner built in, and one that is a lot easier to use than the one on the AEQ-2T, which is probably why you’re paying more for this guitar.

All things considered, it’s a good bass, and one that looks a little bit fancier than the cheaper offering. It sounds good whether played acoustically or through the pickup, and it’s priced to move, even if you’re buying it just to take it outside with you when you go to the beach or hiking or whatever it is that you may enjoy doing.

PROS
  • Looks good
  • Good pickup and preamp combination
  • Very affordably priced; a contender for the title ‘best acoustic bass guitar under 500 dollars’
CONS
  • Nothing to really complain about; for the price you’re paying, it’s a great bass guitar
6

Martin BCPA4 Performance Artist Bass – The Martin Offering

Martin is one of the longest-running American guitar companies, and their guitars are prized. They’re also well-known and distinguishable for their simplicity. Until you begin to get in the four thousand dollar range for their guitars, you’re not going to be getting a guitar that is ornate or flashy. You’re paying for a guitar that is well-made, with good quality woods, and that is gorgeous in its simplicity. The Martin basses continue that thinking. They’re not built to have huge flashy inlays like some guitars (everything made by Gibson these days comes to mind, for example); they’re simple guitars. They’ve got standard body designs (in this case, the classic dreadnought design with a single cutaway), a simple neck with minimal or no inlays, and finally, they’ve got the usual simple block headstock design with the Martin logo on the top.

This guitar delivers, too, as do most Martin acoustics. The combination of spruce top and solid Sapele back and sides mean that not only are you getting a guitar that can put out a good tone and project it well, but that you’re also getting a guitar that will last and will age well. You have every reason to expect that, too, considering how much money you’re going to be spending on this guitar. 

Continuing with the theme of simplicity and understatement, this humble guitar comes with Fishman F1 Analog electronics, consisting of a Fishman pickup combined with a very simple preamp with a built in tuner. They’re not huge and gaudy, either, but rather small and easily overlooked, so as to not break up the natural curves of the guitar.

All things considered, even though Martin tends to not be considered as a maker of bass guitars, this is a great guitar, and one that is absolutely designed with the professional in mind. If you’re a pro looking for an acoustic guitar, or just someone with a good salary and money set aside to get a nice bass, then this is the bass for you. It may well be the best bass on this list, too, but the price is prohibitive for some.

PROS
  • Martin quality and a beautiful and understated, even simple design
  • Great sound quality
  • Fishman pickups and preamp are a great combination
CONS
  • Very expensive for most people
7

Alvarez AB60CE Artist Series Bass – The Alvarez Artist Series Solution

Alvarez guitars tend to be mostly in the ‘low price to mid-range price’ area in the guitar world, whether we’re talking about their bass guitars or their acoustic guitars. They do have a line for professionals, a line called the Alvarez Yairi line, which is made in Japan and is generally of higher quality than the base Alvarez lines. That being said, if you’re looking for an acoustic bass guitar that you can learn on, or one that you will not have to worry about that much, or one that you will not have to be concerned about taking outside or keeping in your car or otherwise being hard on, then this is a good selection for you.

And just because Alvarez guitars are inexpensive and not necessarily made for the professional musician, that doesn’t mean that you are going to find that they make a bad acoustic bass guitar on their list. They make a decent guitar that comes at a decent price, and the only problem is that they’re not the highest quality guitar and not a guitar that is flashy.

As usual, the guitar is made out of spruce with mahogany back and sides. What really sets this guitar apart, though, and is probably responsible for a lot of the price increase in it, is the LR Baggs Stage Pro EQ With Element Pickup. LR Baggs is pretty much the other big name in great acoustic pickups other than Fishman. If you’re looking for a high-end acoustic pickup, then this is the one that you want to be taking a look at. The pickup and EQ system in this guitar alone makes it a serious contender, and it makes it a great bass guitar for anyone who wants to play through an amplifier, without a doubt.

All things considered, it’s a good guitar, and it’s priced in the range where it’s a good acoustic bass for the kind of person who has just joined a band and begun touring. You know, the person who is just starting their life as a professional musician and is looking for an acoustic bass for the venues where they may not have enough space to get in a bass amp.

All things considered, if you’re looking to start touring, or you just want a quality mid-range bass to play in the house, this is a good guitar for you to consider.

PROS
  • Astonishingly good pickup
  • Classic design
  • Good sound quality
CONS
  • The neck bends easily over time if not taken care of just right
8

Dean EABC Cutaway Bass Guitar – The Acoustic Metal Model

Dean is a guitar company that is mostly known for making electric guitars that look outrageous, with various designs based on things like the flying V or the Explorer. Their guitars are utilized in metal music of all sorts, as well as being used quite often in things like punk, since Dean guitars tend to be on the more affordable side of the spectrum. With that being the case, it is kind of odd to see that Dean would make an acoustic bass, but they made a decent bass for the price.

How good of a bass is it? It’s made of the usual spruce top and mahogany back and sides, which is in keeping with pretty much every other bass that we reviewed today. Where it really stands apart, at least in the physical aspects, is that the guitar has 24 frets. That gives you a slightly larger range to play through than most of these basses, which tend to stay in the 20 to 21 fret range.

The design seems to be based on the standard jumbo guitar design with a single cutaway, which means that you’re getting a loud guitar with a deep voice to it. Jumbo bodies tend to allow you to project the music you’re playing more, as well, which is always nice.

As far as electronics, it contains the Dean active preamp. This does include an easy to use tuner, but the fact is that it is not the best pickup in the world. However, you have to remember that you’re getting what you paid for, and in this instance, you’re paying for less than three hundred dollars’ worth of guitar. The guitar still sounds fine when you plug it into an amp, it’s just not as good of a pickup as it could have been, sadly.

But it’s a great guitar for the money, and definitely the best acoustic bass guitar under 400 dollars that you will find on the market. Don’t let the fact that it is made in China be a turnoff; most guitars these days are made somewhere in Asia, and they are still fine in quality.

PROS
  • Low priced
  • Sounds good
  • Looks beautiful and is made from decent materials
CONS
  • The Dean electronics package leaves a bit to be desired

Best Acoustic Bass Guitar - Buyer's Guide

So, you’ve decided that you need your own acoustic bass guitar. Maybe you just want to walk around your house and play it at your leisure, maybe you want to take it outside, whatever the reason, you probably have some questions about making the purchase.  Here are answers to a few of the more common questions.

How Much Should I Spend?

This is more a question of how much you have to spend at the time. If all you want is a bass guitar that you can play around the house to practice without having to set up your amplifier, or if all you are looking for is a guitar that will allow you to play acoustically outside with your friends around the campfire or on the beach, then you don’t need to spend that much. In fact, if you’re going to be playing this guitar mostly outside for fun, I would recommend not spending that much at all, maybe less than five or six hundred dollars.
On the other hand, if you’re a touring professional musician, or you’re looking to record with it or to break into professional music with it, you should be spending seven hundred bucks or more for a guitar. You’ll want a quality guitar from a well-respected company, and one that will sound good and will last you for a long time. If you’re an established musician, you may even want to go out and splurge on the Martin or a comparable guitar.

How Important Are the Electronics?

If you’re going to be playing it through an amplifier, they are very important. If you’re just going to be playing this outside with friends, they don’t matter at all. So, if you need a guitar to play through an amp, it would make sense that you pay a bit more attention to the pickup and preamp packages, but otherwise, it doesn’t matter much at all.

Should I Buy Used?

Generally, buying a used guitar is a good idea. However, if you don’t know much about guitar, or you don’t know much about the world of fake guitars that is out there, then it’s more of a risk than a benefit to buy a used guitar.
If you find a guitar that you like that is used, there can be a lot of problems that don’t show up in the pictures. And we’re not just talking about minor problems, like belt rash or the occasional scratch here and there, but things like mold, patch jobs, and the like. There’s nothing inherently wrong with buying a used guitar, but if you’re going to buy one, it is best that you hold it in your hands before buying it, because some people will sell a used guitar and be dishonest (or dishonest by omission) about the condition that it is in, and then you end up with a guitar that needs repairs which may destroy any savings you found in purchasing used.

Conclusion


Today, we’ve looked at a few great guitars that you can enjoy, and that will serve you well no matter what it is that you’re doing. We’ve looked at guitars ranging from the very cheap to the very expensive, and they are all great guitars for one reason or another. But, as the Highlander films made clear, ‘there can be only one’ best acoustic bass guitar.

It’s tempting to take the lazy way out and say that the Martin is the best, and it is a great acoustic bass, but it’s also extremely expensive, to the point where it’s cost prohibitive for most people. Overall, the best guitar here is the Alvarez AB60CE.  It’s a great value for the money, and it has probably the best pickup system in any guitar that we reviewed. The LR Baggs element pickup is a powerful workhorse that puts out a great tone, and the guitar itself is well designed to put out good tone and volume on its own, even when not run through an amplifier.

So, if you’re looking for a good acoustic bass guitar, here are a few of the best acoustic bass guitars that are out on the market right now. Picking the right guitar, and taking care of it properly, means that you will get literally years of fun and music out of the guitar.