The Fender Bass VI is this year's best-selling bass guitar thanks to the Beatles

John Lennon
(Image credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Online gear retailer Reverb has published its annual list of best-selling bass guitars, with 2022 being dubbed as the year Fender captured the nation's tone. Of course, the old Jazz-versus-Precision debate is timeless. They're both amazing basses, so what could possibly be more popular?

In a surprising turn of events, the Fender Bass VI has ended up the most sought-after bass of the year, taking the top spot over its Jazz and P-Bass rivals.

The sales upset is being attributed to the success of Peter Jackson's The Beatles: Get Back documentary series, which spurred interest in the band’s Fender Bass VI – during the documented Let It Be sessions, the model was picked up by either John Lennon or George Harrison whenever Paul McCartney was needed for piano duties.

The Bass VI was first produced by Fender in 1961 and is in effect a six-string baritone guitar. Its heavier strings are tuned like a bass guitar, an octave below a regular guitar, and the body shape is similar to a Fender Jaguar.

While these six-string basses had sold moderately well before, Squier's Classic Vibe Bass VI – the only Bass VI currently in production – benefitted from all the extra attention and displaced the Fender Player Precision Bass, which is down to second place in Reverb's list this year.

Justin Norvell, Fender's Product EVP, hinted at renewed interest in the hybrid instrument in an interview with Guitar World at the beginning of 2022. 

“The phone started ringing off the hook for the Bass VI, because it was popping in and out of certain scenes,” he said.

“People were like, ‘You know, I haven’t thought about this in years, but do you have any of those in?’ And luckily we did, through Squier. People who record are always looking for new tools, and the Bass VI can be like this whole new universe of sound.”

Interestingly, the McCartney-inspired Hofner Violin Bass also drops down to 13th spot – it ranked 11 last year – and is displaced by the Squier Affinity Jazz Bass.

Another takeaway is that biggest isn’t always best, with short-scale basses also trending among buyers in 2022. The Fender Offset Series Mustang Bass PJ and the Gretsch Junior Jet II share third spot on the 2022 list, while the Squier Affinity Bronco lands in eight place and the three-quarter sized Gio Mikro from Ibanez takes 10th position.

Other honorable mentions go to the much-loved Rickenbacker 4003 – which holds onto fifth position from last year’s list – plus the Sterling StingRay Ray4 – which makes an impressive debut at 6th place – and the 12th-placed Ibanez SR300E Soundgear Standard.

Overall, Fender and Squier sit comfortably in 9 of the 20 spots, with usual suspects such as the Fender Player Jazz Bass and American Standard Jazz Bass also cropping up. Check out the whole list below.

  1. Squier Classic Vibe VI
  2. Fender Player Precision Bass
  3. Fender Offset Series Mustang Bass PJ / Gretsch Junior Jet II
  4. Squier Affinity Precision Bass PJ
  5. Rickenbacker 4003
  6. Sterling StingRay Ray4
  7. Fender American Professional II Precision
  8. Squier Affinity Bronco Bass
  9. Fender Player Jazz Bass / JB-62 Jazz
  10. Ibanez GSRM20 Gio Mikro
  11. Squier Affinity Jazz Bass
  12. Ibanez SR300E Soundgear Standard
  13. Hofner Ignition Pro Violin Bass
  14. Fender Precision Bass (1970-'83)
  15. Fender Standard Jazz Bass / American Professional II Jazz Bass / Squier Classic Vibe '70s Jazz Bass
  16. Squier Classic Vibe '70s Precision
  17. Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazz 
  18. Squier Classic Vibe '60s Precision
  19. Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ
  20. Squier Classic Vibe '50s Precision 

Joining the best-selling electric bass guitars lists is a round-up of the 20 best-selling guitars of 2022. For more info on all the best-selling lists, head over to Reverb (opens in new tab).

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Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.