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Best Bass Guitars for Metal

As a metal bassist, finding the best bass guitar isn’t always an easy process. There are countless subgenres of metal and the perfect instrument for one player may not be the best for another.

But we can pinpoint one thing in common that all bass guitars for this genre must have: a heavy tone, a great reception to effects such as overdrive and distortion, and the ability to take low tunings without giving in.

If you’re looking for an instrument like this, keep reading, as we are going to review 9 of the best bass guitars for metal in the market today. We will divide these into three categories: best overall, best budget, and most versatile; As well as give you some tips and tricks for when you go shopping for your dream bass.

Related: Best Bass Guitar 

Ibanez 5 String Bass Guitar

We Tested 9 Products and Found the Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT to be The Best Bass Guitar for Metal

The Ibanez GSR200BK and the Squier Affinity Precision Bass were our Budget and Most Versatile Choices, Respectively

Best Bass Guitars for Metal – In-Depth Review

Table of Contents

  1. Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT
  2. Warwick Rockbass Corvette
  3. Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ
  4. ESP LTD B-205SM
  5. Epiphone Toby Standard IV
  6. Ibanez GSR200BK
  7. Jackson JS Series Concert Bass
  8. Ibanez SRF705 Portamento
  9. Rogue LX200BF

1. Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT

Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT

No products found.

Starting off with Ibanez, a brand loved by metal musicians. The GSR 205SM-NGT has five strings along a fast-action neck and two active pickups with Phat II EQ system. This bass guitar will certainly give you tone for days.

Product Specifications

  • 5 Strings
  • Available in 1 Color
  • 2 Active Pickups

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The active pickups in this bass guitar sound extremely good. There’s also a built-in EQ that lets you quickly tweak parameters.
  • It is an extremely versatile instrument, so you will easily be able to play other genres with it.
  • The color of the wood looks beautiful.
  • Lightweight.
  • The fast-action neck provides an advantage for those who like to play fast. It also has a slim profile so it’s comfortable to hold for prolonged sessions and gigs.
  • Pretty affordable considering the quality and everything that you get from this bass guitar.

Cons

  • None.

Conclusion

Holding a great value for the price, we were really impressed by this Ibanez. You could probably find it for as low as $250 if you search well, so if you want an active bass with a built-in EQ on a budget, this is the way to go.

The instrument shines not only when it comes to tone, but also regarding playability. The fast-action slim neck is pretty comfortable and the size of the body is not extremely large. Not to say that the color looks incredible. One of our favorites on the list for sure.

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2. Warwick Rockbass Corvette

Warwick Rockbass Corvette

The Warwick Rockbass Corvette has a natural finish that looks pretty good at first glance. It is made out of alder and mahogany so it will certainly please the tone purists out there. One of the most interesting things is the Warwick Just-A-Nut III feature, which lets bassists easily adjust their instruments without any prior experience.

Product Specifications

  • 4 Strings
  • Available in 1 Color
  • 2 Active Single-Coil Pickups

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Made out of alder and mahogany, two types of woods of very high quality.
  • The neck is also premium quality: maple wood with ekanga veneer and a Wenge fingerboard.
  • The Warwick Just-A-Nut III feature lets the player adjust the bass guitar on the go, without the need of a luthier. The way it works is that the nut near the headstock has two bolts that can be used to change the height of the strings.
  • The piece break bridge is slightly angled to both sides to provide optimum tone and intonation.

Cons

  • No built-in EQ.
  • The pickups may not be the best for heavier genres of metal.

Conclusion

The Warwick Rockbass Corvette, as we said before, is a bass guitar for the tone purists. Made out of premium tonewoods, your sound won’t get more natural than that. We also like the Just-A-Nut III feature and the well-designed components of this bass guitar such as the angled bridge.

The only con is that, although this bass guitar has a set of active pickups, there is no built-in EQ, and the single-coil style may not be the best suit for heavier metal genres. Regardless, it is an excellent instrument if natural tone is your thing.

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3. Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ

You probably know this classic, the Precision Bass from Fender and Squier, as it is one of the most popular bass guitar models of all time. This instrument can shine on pretty much any genre you can think of, including metal. This particular model also has an extra pickup on the bridge, making it even more versatile.

Product Specifications

  • 4 Strings
  • Available in 1 Color
  • 1 P pickup and 1 J Pickup

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Unlike the traditional Precision Bass model which has only one pickup, this version has two: an extra Jazz Bass style one on the bridge.
  • The Precision Bass is extremely versatile and can be used to play all subgenres of metal.
  • The slim C-shaped neck profile, characteristic from Fender, has a very comfortable grip.
  • Vintage-style components.
  • Very affordable price.

Cons

  • You may need a pickup upgrade in the future.

Conclusion

The Affinity Precision Bass by Squier is excellent for the price. The traditional model is already very versatile, but this one is even more as it has an extra Jazz Bass style pickup on the bridge. It also has one of the most comfortable designs on the list, largely due to its all-black slim C-shaped neck profile.

The only drawback is that the most exigent bass players may feel a need to upgrade the pickups in the future, so that could be an added cost. Regardless, it still sounds pretty good out of the box and has a very good price for those on a budget.

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4. ESP LTD B-205SM

ESP LTD B-205SM

It is impossible not to look at this bass and think of metal. The ESP LTD B-205SM feels like it is built for the genre, with a beautiful natural finish and passive ESP Designed SB-5 pickups along with an active ABQ-3 3-band EQ for optimal versatility and tone options.

Product Specifications

  • 5 Strings
  • Available in 2 Colors
  • 2 Humbucker Pickups

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Even though the pickups are passive, there is an active 3-band EQ system that lets you quickly change your tone.
  • This model is available in 4, 5 and 6 string options, depending on your preference. There is also a fretless alternative.
  • The body is made out of ashwood with a maple top and a jatoba neck.
  • Both colors of this bass guitar look extremely great.
  • The neck is bolted on into the body with 6 bolts. This design looks very durable.

Cons

  • The neck may feel a bit chunky, especially if you have small hands.

Conclusion

A beautifully designed guitar with good playability, the ESP LTD B-205SM is less expensive than we thought it would be. It is still not as affordable as other options on the list, but we feel like it’s worth every penny, especially if you’re into heavier metal genres.

The only con we found was that the neck is a bit chunky and could be a turn-off for people with small hands. Regardless, it still offers a great deal of fast and agile playability.

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5. Epiphone Toby Standard IV

Epiphone Toby Standard IV

The Epiphone Toby was designed by the master Michael Tobias, so you know what you can expect from this bass guitar: pure quality. It has a surprisingly low price for an instrument that great so we decided to review it to see if it’s a good fit for metal bassists.

Product Specifications

  • 4 Strings
  • Available in 1 Color
  • 2 Single-Coil Pickups

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Tonexpressor active electronics. This feature will help you shape your sound even more effectively.
  • Ergonomic body shape, comfortable to play for prolonged sessions and gigs and also while sitting down.
  • Tobias SCT bridge pickup and Tobias SCR neck pickup. Amazing quality components for that price range.
  • More lightweight than most other options on this list.
  • Beautiful trans amber color with black metal hardware.

Cons

  • Hard to find on sale.

Conclusion

The Epiphone Toby is yet another bass guitar that offers an amazing value for the price that’s being asked. It has some of the best components on the market for a budget instrument, such as the Tobias SCT and SCR pickups. Plus, its ergonomic body shape was made with comfort in mind. The only con is that it is really hard to find this bass guitar to buy on the internet.

Also Check: Basses for Kids.

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6. Ibanez GSR200BK

Ibanez GSR200BK

The Ibanez GSR200BK looks pretty good with its all black design. It is also one of the most versatile options on the list, as can easily be used for virtually any subgenre of metal with its set of two pickups. It also has a considerably low price: $200, by the time this article was written.

Product Specifications

  • 4 Strings
  • Available in 6 Colors
  • 1 Single-Coil Pickup and 1 Split-Coil Pickup

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Very versatile, as it has both a single-coil pickup on the bridge and a split-coil one on the neck.
  • We like the fact that there are 6 colors available. This isn’t always the case with many bass guitars we review.
  • Fully adjustable bridge.
  • Active EQ with Phat II bass boost.
  • Active pickups.
  • Very affordable as it was only priced at $200 by the time this article was written.

Cons

  • None that is particularly concerning.

Conclusion

The Ibanez GSR200BK is a great deal for beginners on a budget. It is inexpensive and versatile enough so that you can get a large range of tones from this axe. Some of the features in this bass guitar are often only found in more expensive models, such as the active pickups and active EQ.

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7. Jackson JS Series Concert Bass

Jackson JS Series Concert Bass

Let’s be honest, the Jackson JS Series Concert Bass screams metal. The design of this bass guitar has some unique details such as the beautiful sharkfin inlays and the pointy headstock. It also has a short-scale, perfect for people with small hands or for those who like the improved playability made possible by scales of that type.

Product Specifications

  • 4 Strings
  • Available in 1 Color
  • 1 J Style and 1 P Style Pickup

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • This bass guitar is very similar to the previously reviewed Precision Bass, particularly due to its combination of J style and P style pickups. Could definitely be an alternative.
  • The sharkfin inlays on the fretboard look awesome.
  • Similarly, the pointy headstock also gives it a very “metal” look.
  • This bass guitar has a short scale.
  • This Jackson is excellent when it comes to playability. Both the reduced scale and the radius of the neck make it easier to play faster and with more precision.

Cons

  • The short-scale may not be for everyone.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a short-scale bass guitar for metal, this could be a great option. The Jackson JS Series Concert Bass performs well and provides the player with a lot of versatility. Plus, the design is very unique. If you’re interested in this instrument, we do recommend that you also try a full-scale bass guitar to see which one you prefer.

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8. Ibanez SRF705 Portamento

Ibanez SRF705 Portamento

We decided to include a fretless bass option in our list for the fans of this type of instrument. A fretless bass can have lots of benefits, especially when doing slides, but are definitely harder to play. Let’s see how the Ibanez SRF705 Portamento performs.

Product Specifications

  • Fretless Bass
  • 5 Strings
  • Available in 1 Finish
  • 2 Bartolini MK-1 Pickups

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The Bartolini MK-1 pickups sound incredibly good right out of the box. You probably won’t need to upgrade them.
  • This bass guitar has the AeroSilk Piezo System, which blends with the main pickups to give you a more acoustic and natural sound, and can emulate the sound of a double bass.
  • Hollow body.
  • Fretless.
  • Made out of mahogany and Bubinga wood.
  • Very lightweight if compared to other options on the list.

Cons

  • Fretless basses are considerably harder to play.
  • This bass guitar may not be for everyone. It may not suit heavier or more aggressive types of metal.

Conclusion

While the Ibanez SRF705 Portamento is an amazing instrument, it is a one-of-a-kind bass guitar. It is not very versatile and will not suit more aggressive styles of metal. Rather, it will work best for something that requires a more natural tone, perhaps folk metal.

If you’re into fretless bass guitars and want to check more products of that kind, take a look at our Best Fretless Bass Guitar article. 

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9. Rogue LX200BF

Rogue LX200BF

The Rogue LX200BF fretless bass was reviewed by us in another article and we decided to include it as an option here since it is extremely affordable and has a very great value for the price. You can find it for as low as $100 (at least by the time this article was written), making it an excellent option for beginners who’d rather have a little extra to spend on pedals and an amp.

Product Specifications

  • Fretless Bass
  • 4 Strings
  • Available in 4 Colors
  • 1 Single-Coil Pickup and 1 Split-Coil

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • One of the most affordable fretless basses in the market.
  • Very versatile due to featuring both a J-Bass and a P-Bass pickups.
  • A great value for the price overall considering the reasonable quality this bass guitar has.
  • Quality components despite the price of this instrument.
  • Easily adjustable saddle bridge.
  • Anatomical body shape, comfortable to play especially while sitting down and practicing.

Cons

  • As it is a fretless bass guitar, it is harder to play than a traditional fretted bass.

Conclusion

While it may not be for everyone, the Rogue LX2000BF is the best fretless bass on a budget, that’s for certain. The price is very affordable and the quality is very honest. If you’re a beginner who wants to enter the fretless world without spending too much, this is the way to go.

What to Look For When Buying a Bass Guitar for Metal

There are a lot of factors involved in finding the best bass guitar for metal. Some of them are universally important: the quality of the wood, the components, etc; But some of them will be highly personal: the type of pickups, fretted vs fretless, etc. We will go through some of these points below.

Quality of the Wood

The quality of the wood is obviously equally related to the price of the bass guitar. You can’t expect the best wood tone from a budget instrument. The good news is that if you’re a beginner or intermediate player, this will hardly be a concern. You just gotta make sure that the material of the body is durable

Most budget and intermediate price bass guitars nowadays are made from wood types that are sufficiently sturdy. Tone-wise, a more expensive wood will give you a better sound, but this improvement hardly exceeds 10%. It is only a matter of concern if you’re a tone-purist or very advanced player.

Quality of the Components

It is important to make sure that all of the components in your bass guitar of choice have great quality. You can always upgrade them later with the help of a qualified luthier, but having great components right out of the box will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Type of the Pickups

The pickups are the component that will affect your tone the most. There are several different types on the market. The most common ones are single-coil, split-coil, and humbucker.

Single-coil and split-coil pickups will usually have a sound that is more focused on the midrange, making it great for subgenres of metal with busy instrumentation, as they can easily cut through the mix.

Humbucker pickups have a heavier, fatter sound. Excellent for heavy metal, they can take overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pretty well without having any noise or interference. The choice, however, is largely personal and we suggest that you listen to all of the existing types before making a commitment.

Playability

Playability is a term that can include a whole range of factors and possibilities. The most important one is the neck. Bass guitars with a slimmer neck profile may give you an advantage regarding speed and agility while playing. The finish on its back is also important, as it will determine how easily you can slide your thumb behind it.

Next, we have the weight of the instrument. A heavy bass may take a toll on your shoulders, posture, and even performance if you’re not used to it, especially when playing on gigs and while standing up. Lightweight basses don’t have this problem. Other factors are easily adjustable, such as the height of the strings and the action.

How Well it Fits your Style of Playing

Last but not least, metal is a genre with lots of variations and subgenres. You must consider how the instrument fits your style. The best one for heavy metal may not perform as well with speed metal, for example. Regardless, art is meant to be creative so don’t be afraid to break the norms.

FAQs

What is the Difference Between Fretted and Fretless Bass? Which One is Better for Metal?

We included 2 models of fretless bass on our list so we must speak about the differences between this kind of instrument and the most traditional fretted option.

A fretless bass doesn’t have any frets across the fretboard. This has some benefits: smoother slides, more attack on the sound, etc. However, this type of bass is considerably harder to play than fretted ones.

We recommend that you search for some YouTube videos to understand better the difference of tone these two types of instruments have.

Which is Better for Metal: Single-Coil/Split-Coil or Humbucker Pickups?

There is no definitive answer. Like we said before in our previous topic, the choice will largely depend on your style of playing and what subgenre you’re into. We recommend that you try or have a listen to both types before picking one.

Is a Short-Scale Bass Easier to Play?

It will vary from person to person. Normally, short-scale basses require less effort of the hands to reach different frets and will give you more speed and agility. But for people with larger hands, this may be the opposite.

Conclusion

In this article, we reviewed 9 different products suitable for different musicians and different styles of playing. As we said before, there are a lot of factors that go into choosing the perfect bass guitar for you, and a lot of them are completely personal, such as the type of the pickups and the shape of the body.

Among the list, we picked a favorite that we think is going to be a great choice for most metal bassists regardless of their sub-genre or style of playing: the Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT. We also chose a budget and a versatile option. Keep reading to learn more.

Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT

Ibanez GSR 205SM-NGT – Overall Best Bass Guitar for Metal

This particular model from Ibanez has an excellent build quality and a price that isn’t so expensive if we consider all that it offers. It also has 2 active pickups with a built-in EQ system, meaning you can get pretty much any tone from this axe.

Ibanez GSR200BK

No products found.

Ibanez GSR200BK – Best Budget

The Ibanez GSR200BK was priced at around $200 by the time this article was written. If you can get it for that price, this will be an excellent bass guitar on a budget, especially if you’re a beginner.

Squier Affinity Precision Bass

Squier Affinity Precision Bass – Most Versatile Option

The classic Precision Bass is already well-known by many players. However, this particular model is even more versatile than the traditional PBass, as it features two pickups. It will work for pretty much any subgenre of metal.

How to Buy

If you were interested in any of the products reviewed on this list, you can find their link on their respective titles. If you have the chance, try them on a physical store and see how you feel about the playability and the sound. We hope this article helped you find the best bass guitar for metal for your particular case!