The acoustic bass guitar is a rather unique and somewhat eclectic instrument. Although very similar to the more familiar electric bass guitar, the acoustic bass hasn’t worked its way into popular music at nearly the same level.
Regardless, the distinctive tone of an acoustic bass and the versatility it affords for practicing have made it a favored second instrument among many bassists.
Quick Look: Best Bass Guitar
For acoustic music, the acoustic bass can provide a warm low end that doesn’t violate the soulfulness of an acoustic jam. For the bass player on the road or without easy access to amplification, an acoustic bass is an ideal solution for practicing without worrying about a ton of extra equipment. Just pick it up and play!
Let’s take a look at what goes into making a good acoustic bass guitar.
Table of Contents:
- An Acoustic Bass Guitar Primer
- Best Choice Products Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Fender CB-60SCE Beginner Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Ibanez PCBE12MHOPN Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Fender Kingman SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Takamine GB30CE Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Taylor GS Mini-e Acoustic-Electric Bass
- Martin BCPA4 Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Let The Low End Inspire You!
An Acoustic Bass Guitar Primer
If you’re unfamiliar with acoustic basses, a fair way to think of them is just as a big, bulky acoustic guitar. They have a wide hollow body with a soundhole, just as an acoustic guitar might.
In order to get those nice low bass tones, acoustic basses tend to be pretty heavy. Not to mention bulky.
This is one of the first big things to think about when purchasing an acoustic bass. Just how much bass do you want? And how “acoustic” are you hoping for?
The truth is, most of the sounds we associate with the bass guitar rely quite heavily on amplification. To actually get that thump, to have that commanding low end, you really need big speakers to move a lot of air.
So when it comes to an acoustic bass, the only way to move enough air to even get into that register is by using huge thick strings and having a beefy body with a lot of room for it to resonate.
That means you’ll be holding quite a bit of wood as you play your acoustic bass! The larger models with thicker wood offer a lot more acoustic tone that can create a pretty pleasing low-end completely unplugged.
Despite their “acoustic” nature, the majority of acoustic bass guitars come equipped with some kind of pickup which allows them to be plugged in. Some of the smaller, more lightweight and portable acoustic bass guitars seem to have this in mind more than trying to be a true acoustic instrument.
Keep in mind when you’re looking at acoustic bass guitars that scaling them down for portability or easy handling comes at a real cost of the “acoustics” of the instrument.
Fender is perhaps the most recognizable brand in all of guitar playing. Their basses are no slouch, either. Fender’s electric Precision Bass and Jaguar Bass are some of the most played bass guitars ever produced.
With those credentials alone, their acoustic basses are surely worth a look.
Enter the Fender FA-450CE Beginner Acoustic Bass Guitar. As the name suggests, this is an affordable acoustic bass targeted at beginners. Although marketed towards newcomers, this is an instrument that musicians at any skill level would find enjoyable to play.
Pretty bulky, Fender hasn’t pulled any punches for portability with this instrument. As a result, it has a great acoustic sound and gets decent volume while playing unplugged.
Should you decide to plug it in, the built-in Fishman pickup and pre-amp offers bass, treble, and volume controls, along with a built-in tuner for quickly checking your pitch.
Featuring a gorgeous solid spruce top highlighted by a light mahogany back and sides, this bass has a classic acoustic guitar look finished off by the distinctive Fender logo emblazoned on its headstock.
A great value instrument that beginners and veterans alike can enjoy.
Ibanez is a world leader in guitars and basses. Even though they are much better known for their electric instruments, their acoustic offerings are nothing to shake a stick at.
This acoustic bass is a prime example of Ibanez’s continued innovation. It has a very attractive look featuring a dark mahogany body and rosewood fretboard. Under the hood is an included pickup and Ibanez AEQ-2T preamp with equalizer and on-board tuner.
A little on the small side for acoustic bass guitars, this Ibanez doesn’t have a lot of volume when playing unplugged, but it does pack a decent tone. It is also immensely playable, offering responsive action and doing a great job at holding its tuning.
This is a decent instrument for someone who just wants to have a decent mid-level acoustic bass without breaking the bank. A great place to start for someone familiar with other stringed instruments, or a great first instrument that will serve an aspiring bassist for years to come.
A few steps up from the Fender Beginner bass we looked at above, the Kingman is something aimed at the more seasoned player.
The Fender Kingman is a very unusual looking instrument. That’s because it features a Stratocaster-style neck and headstock attached to a massive Dreadnought-style acoustic guitar body. Just to distinguish it even further, Fender finished off the Kingman with beefy chrome fret markers.
Even more unique is the Kingman’s tone. For the price tag, it’s almost like buying a high-end bass for a mid-range value. The Kingman sounds great unplugged and has enough heft to really get some volume and projection. It’s a great instrument to put to work in a purely acoustic jam, as it can muster enough volume to find its place in the mix.
Should you prefer to plug it in, the Kingman is decked out with Fishman pickups and electronics. The preamp includes the equalization features you’d expect like bass, middle, and treble, but also features some interesting additions: Notch, Brilliance, and Phase, to give you even more tone sculpting options right from the side of the bass.
If you’re looking for a quality acoustic bass but don’t want to go too crazy on the price, the Kingman is a must-see.
When you’re browsing mid-range acoustic bass guitars, there are several Takamine models worth investigating. While this GC30CE has a rather unassuming look with its solid spruce top and Indian mahogany sides, it’s in the tone and playability that this instrument comes to life.
While not on the cheaper end of the spectrum, the price is quite a bargain. That’s because this Takamine plays like a much more expensive instrument. It offers great volume without forcing you to dig in too hard and creates a lovely tone both acoustic and amplified.
If you’re looking to use the GB30CE with amplification, Takamine has included their own proprietary electronics system on board. It gives you a three band equalizer with options for a bass boost and the ability to adjust the Q of the mid-range knob. Helpfully, the system includes the ability to bypass the built-in equalizer completely, letting you run your signal directly into the amp.
There is even a handy built-in tuner!
If you’re a professional looking for something decent to experiment with, or an up-and-coming player seeking a decent mid-range instrument, this Takamine is certainly worth a play or two.
In the GS Mini-e, Taylor has done something quite remarkable. Although the GS Mini-e is a short scale bass and quite a small instrument compared to some of its competition, it manages to have a remarkably warm bass tone and a decent lower register.
At first, the size of this acoustic bass guitar is quite deceptive. It looks like one of the little acoustic bass guitars which have been made only with their pickup in mind and unplugged sound like little more than your electric bass unplugged might.
Instead, the Mini-e brings a satisfying low-end even completely unplugged. Plugged in, the built-in pickup offers a whole new palette of sounds to experiment with.
Plus, this acoustic bass is rocking the classic Taylor acoustic guitar look. It features a beautiful Sitka Spruce top, a dark ebony wood fretboard atop a Sapele neck, with the back and sides also composed of layered Sapele.
Should you decide to go electric with it, the built-in ES-B electronics provide a pickup, tuner, as well as volume and tone controls, right on the side of the bass.
Martin is perhaps the most distinguished name in acoustic guitars. It might be surprising to learn that they have dipped their toes into the waters with producing acoustic basses, but it should come as no surprise that they truly knocked it out of the park.
The BCPA4 is a truly beautiful instrument. It brings all of the style, playability, and prestige of a high-end Martin acoustic guitar to the world of acoustic basses.
Expertly balanced between producing a distinct and driving low end without being too unwieldy in its bulk, this is one of the most “acoustic” of any acoustic bass guitars on the market. With no amplification of any kind, it produces a clear and undeniable tone perfect for rounding out the bottom end of any acoustic song, be it a delicate folk ballad or a raunchy acoustic blues jam.
The look and feel of the BCPA4 is dripping with the classic Martin aesthetic. An immaculate Sitka Spruce top is offset by a classic pickguard and the elegant rosy colors of the Sapele wood used for the instrument’s sides and back.
If you prefer to plug in your Martin BCPA4, it’s equipped with Fishman Matrix VT Enhance N2 pickup and pre-amp system. This is a more professional, no-nonsense electronics system than is found on many other acoustic basses. It doesn’t include bells and whistles like an onboard tuner, instead of focusing on audio fidelity and precision tone control.
This is a beautiful instrument ideally suited for the needs of a professional musician.
Let The Low End Inspire You!
The acoustic bass can be a whole lot of fun. It frees you up from a lot of the challenges of playing the electric bass. It’s much easier to spontaneously pick up your acoustic bass and have a little jam than it is to fire up the whole electric rig.
At a party or at a gig, the acoustic bass is an intriguing instrument that many people are not familiar with. It can lend a satisfyingly mellow element to an acoustic mix or create something entirely its own. It evokes a sound somewhere in between an old-school stand-up bass and a modern electric.
Even if you’ve never played the bass before, an acoustic bass can be a great tool for experimentation which encourages new ideas and inspiration to mature.
Give it a try! You can pick up an inexpensive acoustic bass and see how it suits you. It’s easier than ever.