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10 Classic Bass Guitars

The Electric Bass guitar has been around for over 70 years and has become an integral part in modern music. Whilst there have been a few design changes over the years – the fundamental role of the instrument remains forming the rhythmic, tonal and heartbeat of the music

There are thousands of different basses on the market today but here we list 10 classics of their genre – if your going to get a bass – these are the ones to aspire to.

1 Fender Precision

First introduced in 1951 – this was Leo Fender’s baby that soon became the industry standard. Often called the P-Bass, it’s solid “slab” body with single pickup it has perhaps became the most popular bass of all time.

2 Fender Jazz

Fender’s “other” most popular bass – first seen in 1960 – this one differed from the Fender Precision by having a slimmer shaped neck, two pickups and a countered body design.

3 Rickenbacker 4001

Rickenbacker introduced the 4000 series in the early ‘50’s as competition against the Fender series – there have been a number of variations within the 4000 series – (the 4001 and 4002 etc) – As with their 6 string counterparts the Rickenbacker basses have a unique tone and the 4001 has become the rock bass of choice .

4 Hofner

One name – Paul McCartney – usually seen with a 500/1 model (but this wasn’t the only Hofner bass Paul had). This instrument has become iconic – you picture the Beatles and you picture Paul with his Hofner. Not particularly expensive or superbly made but it’s association with The Beatles makes it a bass players must have.

5 Gibson Les Paul Recording Bass.

Gibson’s iconic model – Bass style – introduced in the late 60’s following it’s 6 string sibling– Manufactured with the traditional Gibson Mahogany – it’s a true design classic and despite various design changes over the years it remains much loved by bassists– great for studio use it’s often referred to as the Recording Bass.


6 Musicman Stingray

This one came on the scene in the mid 1970’s utilizing (at the time) innovate features such as humbucker bass pickups, active circuitry. Reminiscent of the Fender Precision (sharing a designer in Leo Fender) but with features that brought it bang upto date the Stingray has remained a favorite every since.

7 Steinberger Bass

Featuring the classic headstock-less design Ned Steinberger’s guitar company were true innovators – a truly composite instrument (graphite and carbon fibre mix). Steinberger released the Q and M series basses and nothing else looked or sounded quite like them – immensely popular during the 80’s/90’s perhaps less so now – but still a true innovation in bass guitar design.

8 Gibson Thunderbird

Our second Gibson on the list the Thunderbird bass was first released in the early 1960’s – sharing a similar design with the Gibson Firebird 6 string the Thunderbird was the direct competition for the Rickenbacker 4001 – Perhaps Gibson’s most popular bass – it has remained popular with the hard rock fraternity over the last 20 years.

9 Fender V

Although short-lived, the Fender V bass gets onto our list by virtue of being the first 5 string bass to go mainstream, a change in the standard design this 15 fret bass had a high C string to allow bassists access to the higher register of tones. Only a handful of these basses were produced making them collectors items today – and whilst generally derided the V is an important stepping stone to the 5 string basses that are common today.

10 Gretsch Broadkaster

Gretsch Hollowbody – great tone – almost double bass like – first released in the 1960’s – a unique tone all of it’s own – Whilst Gretsch are not renowned for their basses this one’s a beauty – somewhat distinctive from the Fender and Gibson basses - a unique sound drawing on the technology from it’s 6 string Gretsch counterparts.

Bass-Soup.com - a resource for all Bass guitarists and enthusiasts - from articles, free bass guitar lessons through to Bass Guitar Reviews - Bass-soup has it all.

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