In this Guide
We’ve done lots of research to find the best acoustic bass guitars on the market! After comparing features and specs of dozens of top models, as well as reading professional reviews from Bass Guitar, Bass Musician and other publications, we put together a list of the best acoustic basses on the market.
Then, we took the time to comb through hundreds of reviews from fellow musicians who have spent time playing and getting to know these basses.
Here on this page, you’ll find in-depth reviews of our three favorite acoustic bass guitars. We’ll talk you through why we think each of them stands out from the pack, and help you decide which one is right for you!
Let’s get started with a quick look at our recommendations:
Why play an acoustic bass?
Acoustic bass guitars have a rich, warm tone which complements unplugged setups of country or rock music.
An acoustic bass guitar is also the natural choice for more organic sounding music like folk, Americana, bluegrass, and roots ensembles.
The best acoustic bass guitars are small enough to be playable, but have bodies which are deep enough to project full tone with clarity.
However, many acoustic basses have weedy tone, or bad projection. After all, they don’t have the size or depth of an upright bass to help them out.
- How do you know which acoustic basses will actually perform?
- What should you look for in an acoustic bass?
We’ll help you out and answer all your questions in this special guide to the best acoustic bass guitars!
Top Acoustic Bass Reviews
1. Dean EAB
This budget-priced acoustic bass from Dean provides all the basic features of a great bass at a very reasonable cost.
It has a warm, clear tone, and impressive projection for such a playable size. We recommend it to beginners who want a more interesting tonal range than a standard “jazz” electric bass, and to more experienced people who want a “beater” practice bass.
It uses all the right woods. The Dean sports a spruce top with mahogany back and sides for a balance of projection and resonance. The neck is made from matched mahogany, and the fretboard is made from rosewood. Those are all the same woods used in the high-end models!
It has a classic guitar shape, but with a deeper, larger chamber for better resonance at low frequencies. The Dean is shaped like a jumbo acoustic guitar, with big curves at the front and rear. It’s a good design for new bassists, or players who are switching over from playing guitar.
Previous buyers said it projects surprisingly well, and can hold its own unplugged with guitars. That’s where the extra body volume comes in handy. Players said it has a nice boom which stands up in a mix with acoustic guitars while blending with the warm tones.
It’s a simple design, and is well-built. Previous buyers appreciated that it was so sturdy,and said they were reassured to have an instrument that didn’t feel delicate. They liked that they wouldn’t have to be particularly careful with this one. The Dean doesn’t have any decorative frills or flourishes, and the finish is a thick gloss. The simple design makes the Dean a great practice bass, as well as a nice first bass for new players.
It plugs in. The Dean is one of the least expensive options on the market for an acoustic electric bass. This gives you some versatility in terms of the different tones you can get, and means you can play in bands through an amplifier. The onboard pickup and preamp combo has basic volume and tone controls for adjusting your sound.
It’s very inexpensive. At well under $200, it’s accessible to players on a budget, and isn’t a hard amount to swallow for a secondary bass. Previous viewers said you get more than your money’s worth. Having played much more expensive instruments, many players said they found that the Dean kept pace handily!
Some reviewers noticed slight blemishes and imperfections along the binding, which is pretty typical at this price point. Quality control on budget bass guitars is fairly mixed. However, we didn’t hear of any issues that affected playing.
The tuners aren’t anything special. They’re Dean in-house designed, but are simple die-cast models. Some people recommended switching them out if you’re going to be playing this model long-term.
The onboard electronics leave something to be desired. Some previous buyers said you’ll want to have an external EQ, or make adjustments on your amplifier when you’re plugging in. This definitely isn’t something we’d recommend to the gigging bassist.
Most previous buyers recommended switching the round wound strings that come in the box with a set of flat-wound strings. This reduces buzz, and gives you more of that warm, buttery bass tone. Round-wound strings are more suited to electric basses.
2. Ibanez EAB
This Ibanez model is even more playable than the Dean, thanks to a cutaway design and a sleek, narrow neck. It also features improved electronics and better fittings than the Dean. We love the snappy growl that this one puts out. It’s a bit more precise and tuneful than the Dean’s booming sound. Overall, it’s a better choice for people who play live, or for those who simply want a better instrument for practice.
Like the Dean, the Ibanez uses a spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Spruce gives the bass clarity and projection, while the mahogany delivers rich, deep bass tones. There bridge and the fretboard are made from matching rosewood.
The shorter 32” scale is a bit more playable than the Dean and other acoustic bass guitars. However, the body is just as big as full-scale acoustic basses. This makes the Ibanez easier to play without sacrificing depth of tone or strength of projection.
Previous buyers said it puts out a punchy and warm tone, whether unplugged or amplified. Players loved the woody aspect of it, which is a bit more precise than the low boom that the Dean puts out. This one’s warm and full without losing definition. Overall, buyers said that between the tone of the woods and the quality of the electronics, the Ibanez was a steal for the price.
Even more than the tone, reviewers complimented the Ibanez’s projection. They said it holds its own with several guitars, and some percussion instruments.
The sleek black finish looks great in a band setting. Lots of reviewers raved about the glossy, rich outer coating, and said it felt very high-quality.
The electronics are a bit nicer than the set included on the Dean. The Ibanez uses a Fishman pickup with an Ibanez preamp. It’s a piezo pickup, which emphasizes clarity of tone. The ShapeShifter preamp and EQ combo allow you to choose between several tone settings. This lets you amplify the acoustic sound for warm, buttery tones, or power up the sound for crunchy, rockier bass with a driving tone. It also includes a built-in tuner.
The battery is easy to access and replace.
There are two output jacks. One is a standard bass amp cable, and the other is a larger XLR port for direct lines to a PA system. This makes the Ibanez easy to adjust to whatever setting you’re playing in.
As with the Dean, imperfections and blemishes are par for the course with the Ibanez. Previous buyers recommended giving the Ibanez a thorough test drive right out of the box, so that you can exchange your bass if it has any quality control issues.
While this bass certainly projects, previous buyers cautioned that you shouldn’t expect it to compete with multiple guitars or other instruments unplugged.
3. Fender Kingman
This funky and unique acoustic bass combines the feel and playability of an acoustic guitar with strong low-end tone. It’s richer, cleaner, and sweeter than our other recommendations.
It has a slimmed-down neck design which plays like an electric bass, with a deep body chamber for projecting strong natural tone. The Kingman sounds equally fantastic plugged in or acoustic! With its superior build quality appointments, it’s a shoo-in for our best quality recommendation!
The modified body design maximizes playability. We love it because it feels like an acoustic dreadnought, but with the neck of a Jazz Bass. The cutaway is also superb, and gives you lots of upper range with a neck that you can get your wrist around smoothly. The Kingman’s smaller than the Dean or Ibanez, and sits more easily on your knee for playing sitting down. The body design is also easier to get your arm around, whether you’re standing or sitting.
The maple neck is extra-slim, for better playability and easier fretwork. Plus, the cutaway is wider and more accessible than the one on the Ibanez. We like that even though it’s slimmed down, the neck is still full-scale. This provides a bit more range than other acoustics, and is more similar to electric jazz basses.
The Kingman also has a funky, jazz-inspired look which matches Fender’s electric bass guitars. The headstock and fretboard are the same ones you’ll find on Jazz basses. It uses the same tuners and nut heads as the electric models, as well.
It sounds as great as it looks. The Kingman has a solid spruce top, and has the tone to prove it. The Dean and Ibanez both use only laminated woods, as do most other acoustic basses below $500.
The rest of the woods are high-end, as well. There’s mahogany for the back and sides, and the neck is made from solid maple. The fretboard and saddle are matching rosewood. On the inside, the scalloped x-style bracing provides structure while focusing and clarifying the tone of the bass.
The Kingman really stands out in the quality of its appointments. While the Dean and Ibanez use cheap tuners and have flawed finishes, the Kingman offers a superior level of quality. It has a rosewood and bone bridge and saddle setup, which is compensated for better intonation. There are also pearled inlays on the stock, and intricate binding around the soundhole. All the tuners, pins, and other equipment are better than the budget models.
It’s also beyond the budget models in its electronics. The Kingman is equipped with a Fishman pickup and preamp combo. The piezo pickup provides clarity and definition, while the onboard EQ offers lots of adjustments for finding your perfect plugged-in tone. As an added bonus, there’s a built-in toner.
The upgrades look and feel much better than the budget models. The extra level of quality is also apparent in playing the Kingman, since it holds its tone more steadily and plays more smoothly than the Ibanez and Dean. Previous buyers said that unless you’re prepared to spend over $1000, you can’t do better than this. We agree wholeheartedly!
The Kingman also includes a hardshell case, which makes it more of a bargain. Neither of our other recommendations include a case.
The smaller body does mean you don’t get quite as much projection from the Kingman. In guitar terms, the Ibanez and Dean are both kumbo-sized basses, while the Kingman is more like a deep dreadnought size.
Which Is the Best Acoustic Bass for You?
We strongly recommend the Dean for new bassists, as well as for experienced players who are looking for a solid practice or beater bass for keeping around the house.
While it’s not quite studio quality, it offers strong tone and reasonably good electronics for a very affordable price.
The Ibanez is a good choice for more serious players, who want an acoustic bass they can take onstage or bring to a jam session. It’s more playable than the Dean, thanks to its cutaway neck, and it has a better pickup and preamp system for playing plugged in.
If you’re a serious bassist, we highly suggest the Fender Kingman.
It’s a great combination between the rich organic sounds of an acoustic bass and the playability and streamlined design of an electric Jazz bass. While it’s twice the price of the Dean or Ibanez, it has a solid top, much higher-quality tuners and appointments, and the added bonus of a hardshell case.
How to Shop for an Acoustic Bass Guitar
Look for deep bodies and wide sound holes:
It’s harder for an acoustic bass to project sound than it is for an acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars tend to be strummed, which helps sound ring out from the chamber. When you play one of these instruments, on the other hand, you’ll just be picking the strings. Think of the difference in volume between fingerpicking a guitar and strumming it. You see? That’s why acoustic basses need such bigger bodies to really project their tone.
The other factor to think about is that higher tones resonate more brightly, where lower tones need additional space to amplify. Just think about the difference between a cello and a full bass in an orchestra! To compensate, you’ll want to find an acoustic bass with a larger body. Many acoustic bass guitars are the size of a jumbo acoustic guitar, with big, curved ends. Some models have smaller frames in length and height, but are a bit deeper than acoustic guitars.
Whichever route you go, size is the key thing. The bigger the space your instrument occupies, the bigger it will sound. Bigger, deeper bodies give acoustic basses the resonance they need to be heard among guitars and other string instruments.
Pay attention to the woods:
Bass guitars have an inherently different tone than acoustic guitars. However, they use a similar combination of woods: darker hardwoods in the sides and back for resonance and low-end tone, with the softwood top providing clarity and projection.
Look for mahogany, koa, or rosewood for the backs and sides, with spruce or pine on top–just like an acoustic guitar. You’ll have a similar choice in fretboards as well, with rosewood and maple being the most common woods used.
Think about your budget:
We recommend spending at least $150 on an acoustic bass. Below that mark, you’re looking at junky woods, like agathis or other laminates. These models also tend to be from off-brands or less reputable bass makers. They don’t project well, they have muddy tone, and they just feel cheap.
You’ll want to find affordable models from reputable, well-known companies who also make higher-end basses, to ensure a base level of quality control. Most players should plan to spend somewhere between $150 and $500.
We know most people can’t afford to spend $2,000 on an instrument. That’s why even the nicest of our recommendations costs well under $1000. If you’re a professional, or have the money to afford a professional-grade bass, there are many superb models above the $1,000-$3,000 mark.
If you’re not totally sure about one of these acoustic basses, check out the top selling acoustic basses on Amazon or visit our homepage at http://bestguitar.reviews/