We round up some of the best expensive bass guitars and show you why they’re totally worth it. These are some options that are widely known as the best high-end bass guitars of all time
There’s a reason why some of the best expensive bass guitars are widely regarded as the best bass guitars of all time. Put simply, they offer incredible tone and playability unmatched by budget bass guitar options.
When you’re a professional-level player looking for your next workhorse or you’re about to graduate from beginner to intermediate or professional, you need a quality option that you won’t have to upgrade.
So, today we’ve rounded up some of the best expensive bass guitars of all time, so you know where to go when you’re shopping for the last bass guitar you’ll ever need.
1. Fender Precision ‘P’ Bass
Well, we simply have to include the Fender Precision Bass guitar. Often shortened to “P-Bass” this is actually the first electric bass ever created. Designed by Leo Fender back in 1951, the P Bass quickly became the go-to bass guitar for performing musicians and would become a staple sound in the 1950s and 60s appearing on almost every record with an electric bass guitar – yep it’s THAT good.
Fast forward to today, and it’s still one of the most sought after and widely used high-end bass guitars in the world. There are many different options available, ranging from the budget-friendly Squire versions all the way to the Fender Custom Shop models, but we think the Fender American Professional is one of the best expensive bass guitars around. At over the £1000 mark, they’re not unobtainable by any means, but they’re still firmly in the high-end bass guitars category.
First off you have the classic split-coil pickups which have been updated to V-Mod versions - a great feature. These pickups deliver a high output tone that’ll stand out in the mix but still offer a warmth and crisp tonality usually associated with vintage instruments.
Professional appointments such as the Hi Mass bass bridge with single-groove saddles allow for resonant and reliable sound. The P Bass has also been designed with the legendary '63 "P-Bass" neck profile which is often considered the best bass neck profile ever made.
If you want to upgrade to the big leagues, a Fender P Bass is easily one of the best bass guitars of all time.
Shop all Fender P Bass guitars HERE.
2. Gibson Thunderbird Bass
The Gibson Thunderbird bass is not only one of the best high-end bass guitars, it’s also one of the coolest out there, too. Used by the likes of Jared Followill of Kings Of Leon, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and the late John Entwistle of The Who, you’re in good company when you pick one of these bass guitars up.
One of the key features, and reasons why this is one of the best high-end bass guitars is its neck through body. The neckpiece goes all the way through to the tail and two mahogany “wings” have been added on. This results in a piano-like sustain that other bass guitar simply can’t replicate.
the longer 34” construction takes a little getting used to, but the sustain and snap of the strings thanks to a longer neck, is worth the extra effort when playing.
You also have two high-output, ceramic magnet loaded humbuckers within the mahogany body which in combination produce a nice thick low end.
There’s a lot of charm and finesse to this bass guitar and the fact that it’s been a dominating figure in the bass guitar world since 1963 speaks for itself. Easily one of the best bass guitars of all time and one of the best expensive bass guitars totally worth the money.
Shop all Gibson Thunderbird Bass Guitars HERE.
3. Music Man StingRay Bass Guitar
Since it was first introduced back in 1976, the Music Man StingRay bass guitar has been a revered bass guitar used by professional players all over the world. Most notably, Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine.
The StingRay is actually the first production four string bass to feature on-board active equalization and as it’s around the £2000 mark (and up for an upper-tier version), this is definitely one of the best expensive bass guitars around for pro-level players.
There are a handful of different Music man StingRay bass guitars, notably the Stingray Classic, StingRay Old Smoothie and StingRay5 Classic and the original Stingray 4 Bass.
There are a few subtle differences but the two features shared with all the other versions that players will enjoy are the humbucking bass pickup and the active EQ system. This provides players with a massive sound when they need it and the option to tone it down when they need to.
You also have an extremely reliable massive hardened steel bridge, the classic oval pickguard, 3+1 tuning key configuration and a double-cutaway body shape that makes access to the upper frets a breeze.
A perfect bass guitar for all genres and one of the best high-end bass guitars of all time.
Shop all Music Man bass guitars HERE.
4. Fender Jazz Bass
The Fender Jazz bass guitar was the 2nd bass guitar designed by Leo Fender yet equally as important to the electric bass scene.
One of the main reasons bass players choose the Fender Jazz Bass is down to the brighter, richer mid-range that these bass guitars offer. There’s also two different pickups that you can either isolate or blend depending on what you want from your sound.
The Fender Jazz bass was fundamental in sculpting the sound of disco and funk, but is also widely used in a variety of different musical styles and is a mainstay in the world of music today.
This is definitely one of the best expensive bass guitars ever made and the new American Professional series (pictured) build on that legacy by adding V-Mod pickups a modern slim “C” shaped neck for added comfort.
One of the key improvements that Fender have made here is the addition of Posiflex graphite support rods that run the length of the neck. This add stability and resists against warping that can sometimes occur if you change your string gauges or store your guitar in rooms that aren’t set up for optimal humidity and temperature levels.
Try one of these amazing bass guitars out today and see why they’re used by professional players across many genres – you won’t be disappointed.
Shop all Fender Jazz bass guitars HERE.
Fan of Jazz bass guitars? Check out our best Jazz bass guitars blog.
5. Gibson SG Standard Bass
Played by Jack Bruce, Bill Wyman, and John Entwistle as well as a host of other famous bass players, the Gibson SG Standard Bass guitar is a classic, hard rocking bass guitar that makes our best expensive bass guitars list with ease.
This high-end bass guitar is yours for just over £1000, making it an easy stretch for those who budget accordingly, but an incredible investment that pays off. We love this bass as it features two humbucking pickups; a Rhythm SG bass in the neck and a Lead SG bass in the bridge. You can blend or isolate these pickups via the 2 x volume pots and adjust the overall tone thanks to the single master tone pot making it simple to use but effective.
The Mahogany body is warm and resonant and the classic SG body shape is comfortable to play whether you’re stood up or sat down jamming. A comfortable rounded neck profile finishes the guitar off nicely and ensures your hand doesn’t feel like its going to fall off after those long jam sessions.
Shop all Gibson bass guitars HERE.
6. Rickenbacker 4003
Any best high-end bass guitar blog would be incomplete without the Rickenbacker 4003 bass. This iconic instrument has been seen in the hands of world class bass players from all genres including Paul McCartney, Lemmy from Motorhead and Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath.
The two iconic single coil pickups offer a classic Rickenbacker sound that punches right through the mix. One of the key sonic features can be found in the louder bridge pickup. This offers a throaty bark that really stands out. The neck pickup provides the punch and warmth you need for those big chorus runs and the pickup selector lets you use them independently or in unison.
Another key feature is the dual output jacks. This feature lets you send the pickups to separate amps independently of each other. This means you can send the clean tones of the neck pickup to a standard bass amp and the bridge to a distorted amplifier for a massive sound.
Finally, the classic thin Rickenbacker neck is comfortable to play, but be warned – once you play one of these you probably won’t want to put it down.
Pictured: UK Exclusive Rickenbacker 4003 Ltd Edition Electric Bass, Pillarbox Red
Shop all Rickenbacker bass guitars HERE.
7. Sandberg California Bass
We love the Sandberg California Bass guitars here at PMT as they are premium grade bass guitars put together by hand by the luthiers in the Sandberg factory, Germany. Furthermore, these are custom made, and it’s rare that you ever get two of the same finish options.
The Sandberg California TM4 clocks in at just under £2000, and the premium tonewoods and electronics justify the higher price tag. The familiar style J shape has been loaded with a set of Delano single-coil and humbucker pickups for tonal variety. These offer a combination of Jazz style sounds (single coil) and Stingray style (humbucker) sounds which is perfect for when you want to switch between growling fat tones and smooth, punchy articulation.
You can also choose a passive or active path via the push/pull volume control and blend the pickups thanks to a Balance control.
These are bass guitars designed for performers who demand more from their sound and we highly recommend trying them out.
The Sandberg bass guitar range can be completely customised. Contact us today to create your very own Sandberg Bass guitar.
Shop all Sandberg bass guitars HERE.
G&L CLF L1000 Bass Guitar
The G&L brand was co-created by Leo Fender and George Fullerton, offering a way for Leo to perfect his craft and create the musical instruments he always wanted to. You can read more about the G&L brand here, but we simply recommend picking one up and trying them out.
We love these bass guitars and think they’re some of the best high-end bass guitars available today as they feature a refined design for the modern musician.
The G&L CLF L1000 Bass Guitar in particular features a Magnetic Field Design humbucker which provides a louder output but overall quieter experience – no horrible noise creeping in!
A slim “C” neck profile provides a very comfortable playing experience and the medium jumbo frets ensure you have plenty of room. We also love the Leo Fender-designed G&L Saddle Lock with chrome-plated brass saddles as it provides a really resonant sound and helps your strings stay in tune – perfect for performing musicians.
Shop all G&L bass guitars HERE.
Want more? Watch our Best Expensive Bass Guitars video below!