Us humble bass players shouldn’t be excluded from a good round of Wonderwall at a house party just because we’ve got two fewer strings than the guitarist, right? Fear not – we’ve gathered up today’s best acoustic bass guitars so you can join right in.
All party tune clichés aside, an acoustic bass is a great option if you’re doing some traveling and want to be heard, without having to worry about amplification. They’re perfect for writing with other musicians too – you can all grab your acoustics and jam away without things getting too loud, but you’ll still be heard.
The best acoustic bass guitars can also bring a unique texture to a recording. With a tone that’s sort of part-way between an electric and an upright, they’re great for bassists that want to add another tonal dimension to their arsenal of sounds. They’re also good to have to play around the house, as you can just pick it up and get straight to playing.
Best acoustic bass guitars: Guitar World’s choice
With the success of its six-string counterpart, it’s hardly surprising that our top pick acoustic bass guitar is the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa Bass. It’s compact, easy to take around and most of all it sounds great. The Koa makes it sound warm and mellow, but with lots of clarity and detail. It’s also heaps of fun to play, with specially designed strings from D’Addario, a shorter scale and a super comfortable and slick neck profile.
It’s also worth mentioning the Guild Jumbo Junior Acoustic Bass – it’s not too far removed from the Taylor, but it’s a fair chunk cheaper! If you’re after the best acoustic bass guitar and money isn’t an issue, then we’d point you in the direction of the Martin BC-16E.
Best acoustic bass guitars: Product guide
Six-string acoustic guitar players will know all about the Taylor GS Mini range, and now bass players get to experience the quality and superb tone for themselves. The Taylor GS Mini-e Bass is a scaled down version of Taylor’s popular Grand Symphony shape, and packs in a huge sound from its smaller body.
The onboard electronics for the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa Bass ensure your tone will stand up to stage volumes too, while overall levels of build quality and craftsmanship are on-par with what you’d expect from Taylor. Acoustically it sounds amazing too; the solid Koa top offering a rich and dynamic sound.
For the professional player, or anyone demanding a bit more from their instrument, the Martin BC-16E might just be the best acoustic bass guitar bar none. Constructed from solid Sitka spruce, with gorgeous rosewood back and sides, the BC-16E delivers tone and playability in spades.
We particularly like the onboard Fishman electronics, which do a remarkable job at amplifying our tone without flushing it full of high-end raspiness. Yes the Martin BC-16E Acoustic Bass Guitar is expensive compared to most others here, but in our opinion this is a worthy investment if you’re serious about practicing bass on the go and at home.
The Guild Jumbo Junior is, as the name suggests, a jumbo body-shape acoustic bass guitar, only slightly shrunken down. Ergonomically, it’s not a million miles away from the Taylor GS Mini, yet comes in at around two-thirds of the price, making it a superb bargain for advanced beginners as well as experienced players looking for a second acoustic bass.
We love the Guild Jumbo Junior’s tone and what an undeniably comfortable playing experience it serves up. While we adore the Taylor model further up in this list, we would happily recommend this Guild to anyone who’s budget won’t stretch to Taylor-levels of investment.
If an acoustic bass is only ever meant to be an alternative tool to you, or something you break out when you fancy a change, then the Fender CB-60SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar might just be the best acoustic bass guitar for you.
Affordable yet feature-rich, the Fender CB-60SCE Acoustic Bass Guitar delivers a great sound and solid build, and the Fishman electronics are great at piping your sound into a DAW for recording. For the veteran acoustic bass player this probably won’t meet your needs, but for everyone else it’s a great option.
The Takamine GB72CE Jumbo Acoustic Bass serves up a larger body than most other guitars in the list, which helps give it a natural boost in projection and low-end. This is coupled with a surprisingly lithe neck, plus easy access to the upper fret register thanks to a cutaway and dovetail neck joint.
The Takamine GB72CE’s onboard electronics are handled by Takamine’s proprietary TK-40B preamp system, meaning it can handle stage and studio applications exceptionally well. If you’re looking for a workhorse that can handle a range of scenarios, from songwriting to busking, this is the best acoustic bass guitar for you.
As the name behind some of the best-known electric basses in history, you’d expect Fender to have one of the best acoustic bass guitars in its line-up. The Fender Kingman Bass V2 serves up a gorgeous blend of specialist acoustic tones, but with some nice nods to the iconic brand’s more familiar electric models.
The Fender Kingman Bass V2 Acoustic Bass Guitar is on the larger side of the scale, yet boasts a Jazzmaster style neck profile which should make electric players feel instantly at home. The Fishman PreSys+ is also a sensible choice, providing a nice but subtle colouration to the amplified tone.
While all the other acoustic bass guitars in this list offer something different to an electric bass, they are all still fairly unwieldy to those with smaller hands. The Cordoba Mini II Bass EB-E Acoustic Bass is therefore the perfect choice for young learners to get to grips with the various techniques they’ll need to progress in their playing careers.
The Cordoba Mini II Bass EB-E is very well made, as we’ve come to expect from this brand, and the onboard electronics mean it handles recording and live performances superbly. One to grow with new players.
A lot of jazz and blues players might love an upright double bass, but they’re not the most practical or easy to transport. This fretless acoustic bass guitar from Aria is a great alternative.
It’s a regular electro-acoustic bass, built with a flamed nato top, back and sides. This helps lend it a luscious, warm and deep sound. It’s nice and responsive, and the pickup is nice and punchy (it’s also got a tuner built in), but can be delicate and dynamic when you need it to be.
The fretless fingerboard enables you to slide between notes that is otherwise impossible on a fretted bass. It creates a totally unique sound that’s perfect for older, traditional styles of music.
It’s built to a good standard, and it’s really well priced. If you’re looking for one of the best acoustic bass guitars for jazz and blues, and you’re on a budget, then this is one to consider.
Best acoustic bass guitars: Buying advice
What’s the difference between an acoustic and electric bass?
eAcoustic bass guitars look very different to electric basses, and they sound different too. Their deeper, hollow bodies mean that they resonate acoustically a lot more, so can be heard without amps more easily. This makes them the ideal choice if you know you’re going to be playing unplugged fairly often. That said, an acoustic bass doesn’t project loads, which is why you’ll usually see them fitted with a pickup.
It’s plugged in that you’ll probably get the most from one of the best acoustic bass guitars. They offer a very different tone to an electric. The bronze strings and the rich, woody construction give them, well, a rich and woody tone! You can get a really nice attack with an acoustic bass, followed by a lovely, warm and mellow sound. They respond really well to fingerstyle playing, though of course you can use a pick if you want.
The actual physicality of an acoustic bass is also probably worth considering. Many of them do tend to be bigger than electric basses, so there’s a lot more body to get your arm around.
Can I use an acoustic bass with effects?
You can use the best acoustic basses with effects too, just like you would an electric bass, though just go easy on the distortion and fuzz. Because they’re fully hollow, if you pile on the gain, or turn the volume up too high whilst getting close to the speakers or your amp, they can – and will – feed back.
Should I consider a shorter scale length acoustic bass?
There are a number of great acoustic bass guitars that have been designed with traveling in mind. Of course, you can get more volume out of one of these than you would an electric bass unplugged, but some have been made to be smaller, making them a lot easier to transport about.
A short scale bass makes the instrument more compact and also makes the distance between the notes on the fingerboard smaller. This can make bass lines with big stretches slightly easier to play. The strings also feel slinkier, which can make them a ton of fun to play!
Solid wood vs laminate wood
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The best acoustic basses may feature either solid or laminate wood. Solid wood moves and vibrates more, so gives a richer and generally better sound – it’s usually more expensive too. As a great compromise, many acoustic basses have a solid wood top – this is like the speaker of the instrument, alongside laminate wood back and sides. This way, you can get a great sound without it costing the earth.
How we choose the products for this guide
At Guitar World, our team of seasoned musicians has played and tested numerous guitar products, including a wide variety of acoustic bass guitars. As avid bass guitar enthusiasts, we understand the importance of achieving the right sound and tone, and we rely on our extensive experience using these products in live performances, studio recordings, and rehearsals to identify the best products for our guides.
To compile our list of top acoustic bass guitars, we utilize a combination of practical experience, user reviews, and in-depth discussions with our editorial team to reach a consensus. We evaluate factors such as pricing, features, ease of use, and durability to ensure we showcase the best acoustic bass guitars currently available on the market.
As bass guitar players ourselves, we appreciate the value of having the right equipment to deliver a memorable performance. Therefore, we are committed to providing reliable and knowledgeable recommendations to assist bass players in finding the perfect acoustic bass guitar to suit their specific needs and preferences. Our ultimate aim is to help elevate the sound of the bass guitar and empower bass players to unlock their full potential with the bass guitar gear out there.
Read more about how we test products and services and how we make our recommendations.