Acoustic Bass guitars are beautiful instruments. Everyone loves the sound of acoustic guitar, and who doesn’t love a fat bass?
Acoustic bass guitars are the best of both worlds. With a warm, resonant low end, and the great exciting, twangy sound of acoustic guitars, these instruments should be in every musician’s arsenal, not just bassists.
It’s typical for acoustic basses to come with some kind of electric pickup and preamp system. These acoustic-electric bass models capture the best of acoustic and electric guitars, with the ability to be plugged into an amplifier, PA, or recording gear.
Not all come with pickups, the ones without tend to be a fair bit less expensive. I’d recommend choosing one with a pickup as you’ll often want to amplify the sound of your guitar.
If you’re interested in other styles of bass guitar, check out our general best bass guitar post!
I tested 7 products and found the Ibanez Acoustic-Electric Bass to be the best acoustic bass guitar under $500.
This is a truly fantastic, unfaultable acoustic-electric bass, and with no surprise comes in as the best acoustic bass guitar in this price range. This is one of the best bass guitars in 2021-
The build quality of the body and neck is superior, with a great projection, and an attractive, resonant tone. The unplugged energy of this bass fills the room and your body. Moreover, it has an electric pickup so it can be amplified and gigged professionally.
This guitar would probably be too expensive for beginner players, so we included a few more affordable models in this list. The more affordable models are a great stepping stone for learning until a player decides they want to invest more money in a superior instrument.
Keep reading for my full list of the best acoustic bass guitars under $500!
If you’re looking for the best bass guitar pickups, check out my other post!
Best Acoustic Bass Guitar under 500 in our tests
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ibanez Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
- Fender – CB-60SCE Acoustic-Electric Bass
- Traveler – Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric Bass
- Dean – Acoustic-Electric Bass Cutaway 5 String
- Ibanez – PNB14E Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
- Best Choice Products – Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
- Vizcaya Acoustic-Electric Bass Starter Bundle
7 Acoustic Bass Guitar under 500 reviewed in Details
This solid and mahogany acoustic-electric bass from Ibanez is a fantastic, premium model.
This has superior tone and projection, with a staggering dynamic range. From a whisper to a gunshot, this bass sounds great at any volume. The mahogany back and sides feel fully toned and durable.
Unplugged it has a full, heavy sound. You really feel the bass energy resonating through your body when you play it. It has a warm, rich acoustic sound, with very pure sub frequencies.
This acoustic bass has a built-in Fishman Sonicore Pickup that provides a punchy, fat sound when amplified. The pickup could withstand a loud volume before feedback, making this usable in loud, amplified gig situations. The pickup has an onboard tuner which is a lifesaver when gigging, busking, or even just practicing.
The tuning pegs had fantastic pitch stability, with no slippage or accuracy.
The bound rosewood fingerboard and mahogany neck felt supple and seamless when playing. The binding gives the bass a classy look and gives it that extra swanky feeling to the neck edges. The action was perfect from the get-go, this bass came feeling set up perfectly.
Dark Violin sunburst is the main finish for this guitar, although it’s occasionally available in natural or sunburst. It’s also a little lighter than most acoustic bass guitars which is a nice bonus.
This is a brilliant bass guitar for players of any skill level. It would be great to learn on, but equally capable of a professional lifestyle. This is one of my favorite acoustic bass guitars.
Pros and Cons
- Superior build and sound quality.
- Beautiful rich tone, clear sub frequencies.
- Refined aesthetic and construction.
- Excellent electronic circuit with a tuner.
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The Fender CB-60SCE is a high-quality beginner-intermediate acoustic bass guitar.
This has a much better build and sound quality than instruments from less reputable brands.
It features all the excellent quality control of Fender instruments. Its Mahogany body with a solid spruce top has a very loud, clear projection. The Mahogany back and sides are sturdy, and encourage volume,
The low end is full, the mids and highs are bright and clean, so this guitar has a wide dynamic range. Guitarists will find themselves being able to articulate their bass ideas very transparently with this instrument, with little distraction or interference. It’s suitable for unplugged performances, jams, and recording.
The rosewood fretboard is unbound, which makes it look cheaper than other instruments on this list, but don’t let that fool you, the fretboard still feels fantastic, this bass plays well. It has a playable profile and a decent cutaway. It comes in with a typical full-size bass scale length.
The action was a little high initially, like many instruments in the Fender CD range, but this is easily fixed with truss adjustment.
Overall the Fender CD-60SCE is one of the best acoustic bass guitars for beginners, intermediate, and pros alike. Getting Fender sound and quality is a steal at that price.
Pros and Cons
- Fantastic Fender build quality.
- Excellent, broad, dynamic tone and projection.
- Less frets than some basses
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This is a little different from the normal acoustic bass, this is a Traveler instrument.
This company makes unique, adventurous guitars that are designed to be as portable as possible.
They’ve cut the size and shape down to a bare minimum, with no headstock, a tiny body, shortened scale length, and removable lap support. Though don’t judge a bass by its cover, this bass still has enough power to bite, unplugged, or be amplified.
With a 30” scale length, it’s shorter than most basses but still longer than guitar. Closer in size to short-scale basses, this is one of the thinnest instruments we’ve seen, when bagged up it could easily be mistaken for a golf club or cricket bat.
It comes in two sexy color variations, a yin and yang style black body and white neck, or reversed, with a solid ebony fretboard and maple neck.
At 3 pounds and 6.5 ounces, this is one of the lightest bass guitars we’ve seen, weighing much less than other acoustic basses. This is easily the greatest bass guitar for traveling.
The sound isn’t going to compete with a full-bodied guitar, but it still has some projection. Its tone, even when plugged in, is still closer to that of an acoustic bass than electric bass.
This is the ideal traveling acoustic bass guitar. If you’re looking for a nifty bass to take touring, on holiday, or stash away in your apartment, this is the best choice.
If the size isn’t your priority, it might not be worth the sacrifice. Even so, this is a fantastic acoustic-electric bass guitar, ready for your musical adventures.
Pros and Cons
- Smaller and transportable than both acoustic and electric bass designs
- Quieter than acoustic guitars when not plugged in
- Still has a loud enough bass sound when unamplified.
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The Dean 5 string acoustic bass guitar is an interesting high quality electrified model.
This is great for intermediate players, or beginners looking to expand their skills by learning 5 string bass. Having the extra high string is not common in acoustic basses, it’s fun to play and adds extra creative possibilities.
The solid Sitka Spruce top and mahogany body have a deep, full resonance with an articulate midrange, natural sound. Thanks to the mahogany it has a broad dynamic range, and excels when played quietly or loud. The solid Spruce top amplifies the bass and treble, giving it a tightly nuanced sound.
This 5-string acoustic bass guitar looks as nice as it sounds, with celluloid binding, decorated rosette, and pearl dot inlays.
The fretboard itself is very well made, with a nice binding, and full access to all 24 frets thanks to the cutaway.
The diecast tuners had excellent tuning stability, tuning barely changes throughout the whole session.
This guitar can easily be amplified or recorded with its Passive Dean Pickup. The pickup lets bass player increase the volume to play with other electric players, with drummers, or for gigging. The pickup offers volume and tone bass controls situated on the side to get the sound to fit right. Overall the amplified sound is very decent.
This is an excellent 5 string acoustic bass model, you’d be hard pressed to find any 5-strings with this quality at the same price. We recommend this for beginner or professional bass players who need a high quality acoustic-electric bass guitar.
Pros and Cons
- 5 Strings, opens up new creative musical options
- Dean Passive Pickup, does not need a battery.
- Great Tuning Stability
- Durable, high quality wood construction.
- Great Fretboard.
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This is a small scale acoustic bass guitar from Ibanez, increasing portability, but retaining volume and tone.
It has a scale length of 24.8”, making it closer to the size of a standard guitar. It has a mahogany neck with a laurel fretboard, 18 frets, including pearl dot inlays. The fretboard has stunning quality, there was some fret buzz at first but this is easily corrected.
The African Mahogany body has a beautifully rich, warm sound, with surprisingly loud projection for its size. This is certainly one attractive looking bass guitar. This musical instrument has a very wholesome tone.
The included Under Saddle Pickup is powered by an Ibanez AEQ-2T preamp, which includes a tuner and equaliser. The quality of the pickup is excellent, very clean, clear and loud. Because the pickup is under the saddle it has a piezo-esque sound, which is resistive to feedback. The volume and tone controls give some extra tonal range.
This short scale bass is one of our favorite acoustic instruments for travel. Not only does it have a gold tone, but this is one of the best acoustic basses for traveling.
Pros and Cons
- Smaller size, closer to a Ukulele bass
- Clean, resonant sound.
- Uncommon string sizes might be hard to replace.
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This is a budget acoustic-electric bass guitar model with a built-in electric pickup. If you’re looking for an affordable acoustic bass guitar with electric capabilities, this is a great place to start.
Unplugged, this has a deep, resonant tone, sounding similar in character to upright basses. It isn’t as rich sounding as better models, but it’s good enough for beginners.
The electronic circuit has a decent solid sound quality too, with a 4 band equalizer for fine-tuning. At this price, it’s more a case of great functionality than stellar quality.
The tuning stability of this acoustic-electric bass was fair, and the bass came mostly well set up, with some minor truss adjustment required to set the action.
3 different eye-catching finishes are available for this bass, natural, blue, and black. It felt very sturdy and would last a few years of heavy use.
Whilst this is basically an unbranded guitar, its quality isn’t to be sniffed at, and for the price, most players will be satisfied with this acoustic bass.
Pros and Cons
- Only one strap pin, so the strap must be tied around the neck. Not a massive issue.
- Decent Electric pickup circuit with 4 band equalizer.
- Very affordable for an acoustic-electric bass guitar.
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This beginner starter kit is a fantastic entry into the world of an acoustic bass. There won’t be any complaints at this sweet price.
You’ll be blown away by the value of the bass alone, not even counting the accessories. This works out as the cheapest acoustic bass on the list.
With a single-cutaway Basswood body, this acoustic bass has a decent unamplified projection, which will suffice in jams with acoustic guitars and singers. Its unplugged sound won’t compete with amplified instruments, but thankfully this acoustic bass comes with a built-in pickup circuit.
This circuit had a pretty good quality. It comes with an active, 4-band adjustable equalizer so you can fine-tune the frequency response of the instrument. The eq had quite a strong effect, although did sound a little weaker when pushed to the limits.
This features a bound fretboard; a nice touch which isn’t usually seen on guitars this affordable. Although the action was a little high on the rosewood fretboard which may need adjusting, and the tuning was occasionally off.
This starter bundle includes a gig bag, picks, a strap, and a clip-on chromatic tuner. The player will need to buy a bass amp and cables if they intend on playing with electric guitar players, but this beginner acoustic-electric bass guitar is a great starting point.
Pros and Cons
- Starter Kit contains everything you need to rock right away.
- The cutaway style gives easy access to all the frets
- Built-in pickup with 4-band equalizer.
- Tuning stability and sound weak compared to superior models.
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Do acoustic bass guitars sound good?
Yes, acoustic basses sound fantastic, they have a lovely warm low-end resonance, their wooden bodies can feel very satisfying as they vibrate and transmit sub energy.
All basses were originally acoustic, with the Cello, and double being invented in the 16th century.
Acoustic basses have a very unique sound, somewhere between a standard acoustic guitar, and upright and electric bass.
What is the difference between an acoustic bass and an electric bass?
There are several differences between acoustic and electric basses.
Primarily the construction.
Acoustic basses have a large, hollow body, much like an acoustic guitar. An acoustic bass needs this hollow body to act as a resonant chamber for amplification and sound propagation.
Acoustic basses can produce audibly loud sounds without the need for electronics or amplification.
Electronic bases differ in that usually they have a solid wood body. The body is much smaller and more compact than an acoustic as it doesn’t need a hollow resonant chamber for amplification. Instead, electric bass guitars rely on their pickups and an amplifier to transmit their sound energy.
The pickups convert the mechanical vibration energy of the strings into an electronic signal, which gets sent to an amplifier. The amplifier adds more energy to this signal, increasing its gain, before sending the increased signal to a loudspeaker cone, to transmit this loud signal to the air, thus creating the amplified bass sound that we hear.
What to Look for in an Acoustic Bass guitar?
What to look for when buying this type of product
There are a few things to consider before you buy an acoustic bass.
Electronics: whilst an acoustic bass guitar can produce sound on its own, it’s often worth purchasing a model that contains an electric pickup. An internal pickup is useful for several reasons.
Firstly, it makes it massively easier to record and amplify the acoustic bass guitar. Any acoustic bass guitars that don’t contain a pickup, must be recorded or amped using a microphone. For on-stage performances, the mic won’t suffice and is at risk of producing feedback. This is where the pickup comes in useful, as it allows the player to plug their acoustic instrument directly into an amplifier, mixing desk, or recording interface.
Acoustic bass with an electric pickup can also be plugged into effects pedals, for creating new interesting sounds.
Types: Beyond the typical sideways bass design, some acoustic basses come in an upright position. The upright bass design is closer to a double bass or cello in style, where the bottom of the instrument rests on the floor, and the neck runs nearly parallel to the player’s spine. The best choice depends on your personal preference. Some players who come from the classical backgrounds of a cello or double bass may find the upright bass style to be more suitable.
There are also some fretless acoustic bass models which are great for playing bass in a slide style, and closer to a double bass or cello in feel.
Tensions, Truss Rod: Make sure you choose a bass guitar that has a truss rod. Bass strings produce a huge amount of tension, which can warp and misalign the delicate, thin wood of a guitar’s neck. Having a truss rod inside the neck offsets this tension, which is important for both the longevity of the instrument and its playability. If the tension is too high, strings can be pulled too far from the neck, which makes it hard to play.
Strings: Bass strings tend to be a little harder to find than guitar strings. Particularly if the bass is an unusual size. Some of these guitars use atypical dimensions and gauges, so if you can find replacement string packets, stock up on them while you can!
Overall my favorite acoustic bass guitar under $500 was the Ibanez Electric-Acoustic Bass.
This is a magnificent acoustic-electric bass guitar model. Not only is the unplugged sound fantastic, but the built-in pickup and electronics are excellent with a great bass control circuit. It has volume, tone, a built-in tuner, and 4 bands of EQ, that’s more than you get on most acoustic basses!
This came at the top of our best acoustic bass guitars list because it had the most superior quality amongst the others. From the neck to the body’s dark violin sunburst finish, to the fretboard binding, it’s instantly apparent how much effort has gone into the production of this acoustic-electric bass.
The Ibanez Electric-Acoustic is easily one of the best acoustic bass guitars under $500.
If you’re interested In 5-strings, then the Dean Acoustic bass is another great choice!
Check out the Ibanez Electric-Acoustic bass today!
Noah is an accomplished audio engineer with several years of experience producing music for major companies and independent artists. He enjoys sharing his vast knowledge of audio engineering topics to help musicians and music producers create great music.