9 Best Acoustic Bass Guitars – Unplug your low-end game
Today we review the best acoustic bass guitars that instantly will boost your acoustic low-end game. Whether you’re an experienced bassist ready to add an acoustic bass to your guitar collection, or you’re a beginner learning how to play bass, you’ll love this review as we cover the best acoustic basses across all price ranges!
Here we go!
At a Glance: Our Pick of the Best Acoustic Bass Guitars
- Editor’s Choice: D’Angelico Premier Mott Acoustic-Electric Bass
- Best Value: Ibanez PCBE12MH Acoustic-Electric Bass
- Best Premium: Martin BC-16E Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Best Affordable: Dean EAB
- Best Travel Bass: Cordoba Mini II EB-E Acoustic Bass Guitar
- Best Under $500: Fender-FA-450CE
- Best Short-Scale Acoustic Bass: Taylor GS Mini-e
- Best Unique Appearance: Ovation Elite TX Mid-Depth
- Best Mid-Priced: Fender Kingman V2 Acoustic Bass Guitar
D’Angelico Premier Mott Acoustic-Electric Bass – Editor’s Choice
The best acoustic bass guitar is the D’Angelico Premier Series Mott model. Most famously known for their hollow body 6-string acoustic guitars, the brand D’Angelico might not be the most household name for acoustic bass guitars. However, this acoustic bass is loved by bass players worldwide and comes in at a surprisingly affordable price tag.
The body is armed with a solid Sitka spruce top that measures 16 inches, with laminated mahogany on the sides and back. The Grand Auditorium shape has a lot of sounds to give and is easy to hold as the bass rest nicely on the shoulders. The single-cutaway makes it easy to play high notes way up the neck without putting your fretting hand around the upper bout.
The C-shape solid mahogany neck is perfect for long sessions, because of the great playability and comfort. It’s super strong and stable and is covered with a 20-fret fingerboard made out of Sonokeling.
The Fishman Pesys+preamp system is the jewel in the crown. It features a 3-band EQ, a chromatic tuner, and a phase filter to help tackle feedback issues. Overall, this is the best acoustic bass guitar available.
- Grand Auditorium shape for maximum resonation and volume
- Grover Super-Rotomatic tuning machines
- Fishman Pesys+preamp system with the phase filter
- No casing or gig back included
Ibanez PCBE12MH-OPN Acoustic-Electric Bass – Best Value
Ibanez has always been known for bringing great quality, performance, and style to their instruments and the Ibanez PCBE12MH-OPN makes no exceptions. This is an incredible bass for its price, as it has many of the same features found in premium models. This 4-string acoustic bass guitar comes with a variety of useful features that meet your needs as a bass player.
This acoustic bass is unique in the way that it uses Sapele exclusively for the top, back, and sides of the body. This is not your typical tonewood, but the result is amazing and reminds you of the more expensive mahogany-built acoustic basses. The tone is balanced and warm with a rich sustain. The Grand Concert body shape offers great playability both while standing and when you’re playing sitting down.
The Ibanez under-saddle pickup in combination with the AEQ202T preamp produces an impressive tone that works perfectly at home, on stage, or in the studio. The onboard chromatic tuner is handy and you can adjust tuning within seconds.
- Great setup and value out of the box
- ‘Open pore’ finish enhances the tone
- High-quality sound with the AEQ202T preamp combined with 2-band EQ
- Unplugged volume could be louder
- Might be too low for heavy-handed players
Martin BC-16E Acoustic Bass Guitar – Best Premium
Martin BC-16E is one of the best acoustic bass guitars if you are willing to spend a little bit more. This bass is considered a premium alternative and delivers a top-notch tone. It’s made of all-solid tonewoods and features a body of Sitka spruce top. The back and sides are East Indian rosewood which produces a mellow bass sound with a smooth mid-range.
The Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT2 pickups deliver a natural bass tone without adding specific sound characteristics after amplification. This is great as you record or perform, and you want uncolored sound entering your signal chain for further processing.
The cutaway body gives you total access to the upper frets which sometimes can be a hassle if you have smaller hands.
Martin BC-16E is an acoustic bass guitar for anyone who demands a bit more of their instrument. The expensive price should be considered as an investment in both sound, quality, and playability.
- Superb tone
- Built to last a lifetime
- Natural bass sound with amplification
- Pricey for an acoustic bass guitar
Dean EAB – Best Affordable
Dean EAB is the best acoustic bass guitar if you are on a tight budget. It can’t be compared with the more premium models but it provides a lot of value at its price point.
The body is constructed from a laminate spruce top with laminated mahogany for the back and sides. The construction is surprisingly strong and the sound is full compared to other cheap alternatives. The Spruce top provides the Dean EAB with a nice resonance towards the high- and mid frequencies while the mahogany resonates well with the lows. The neck is made of solid mahogany and is covered with a Balsamo fretboard.
The EAB is equipped with a Dean passive pickup, fully equipped with both volume and treble controls. This is a feature you don’t see too often within this price range. You also get a DMT-G03 preamp along with a multi-band EQ, tuner, phase switch and low battery LED indicator.
All the features of the Dean EAB aren’t premium, but they are still useful. The DMT-G03 preamp has similar features found on more premium models. To sum things up, this acoustic bass guitar includes everything that will get you started, and it offers a lot at a very reasonable price.
- Impressive features at a very low cost
- Solid mahogany neck
- Strong string stability
- The nut of the guitar is made of cheap synthetic material which causes some buzz
- The built-in tuner is not accurate
Cordoba Mini II EB-E Acoustic Bass Guitar – Best Travel Bass
A travel guitar is designed with portability and mobility as its key function and the Cordoba Mini II EB-E Acoustic Bass Guitar gives you everything that you need in a travel bass. Cordoba is known for its nylon string, lightweight, Spanish heritage-inspired guitars, and this compact model has the same sound qualities as the rest of the Cordoba family.
The Mini II EB-E sports a bright spruce top and dark ebony on the back and sides. I was pleasantly surprised by the smaller dimension, as it still offers a sound that is both deep and rich. The mahogany neck has a composite fingerboard with 19 frets and the satin polyurethane finish gives the bass guitar a nice stylish look.
The onboard electronics features a Cordoba MB103 pickup that when plugged in, offers a full bass tone instantly without a whole lot of EQing. The onboard tuner is also a great feature when you are on the roads.
Make no mistake: even if it’s small, the Cordoba Mini II EB-E is a legit instrument.
- Feels and sounds enough like a full-sized bass
- Compact and light
- Clear and defined tone
- 19 frets might be too few for some bass players
- Will be easily outgrown
Fender-FA-450CE – Best Under $500
Fender is probably the most famous brand when it comes to acoustic guitars and all their instruments are made from high-quality materials and electronics. Across the board, the FA-450CE acoustic bass is exactly that. Even if it doesn’t have the traditional look of a Fender bass, this bass has some natural tonal qualities combined with a fat sound. The FA-450CE is a 32” scale and one of the bigger acoustic bass guitars available.
Together with the maple top, the FA-450CE is made of mahogany on the sides and the back. On top of the solid mahogany neck, you’ll find a 20-fret Laurel fretboard. The cutaway design makes the lowest part of the neck easily accessible.
Onboard electronics feature a Fishman preamp with volume, bass, and treble controls. This is great for tonal capabilities as you can adjust tonal frequencies to fit your needs. You also get the Fishman brand preamp with a 2-band EQ which sounds great when plugged in and delivers a rich punchy sound. The integrated tuner and battery indicator come in handy if you quickly need to adjust tuning or change tuning completely.
FA-450CE is one of Fender’s budget models but it delivers on all areas, making it the best acoustic bass guitar under $500.
- A lot of bang for the buck
- Stunning flame maple top with sunburst finish
- The Fishman preamp is top-notch
- No protective case or gigbag included
Taylor GS Mini-e – Best Short-Scale Acoustic Bass
Acoustic bass guitars tend to be big and chunky compared to acoustic 6-string guitars. That issue has been tackled by Taylor GS Mini-e which has a scale length of 23.5 inches – 10 inches shorter than the average full-size bass guitar scale.
This is a short-scale bass guitar that gives you all of Taylor’s high-quality features in a smaller package. It is comfortable, playable, and brings you everything you ever need in an acoustic bass guitar.
The GS Mini-e sports a solid Sitka spruce top along with layered Sapele sides and back. The heel, neck, and headstock are also made of Sapele – with an ebony fingerboard with 20 frets. Everything feels durable with no cheap plastics. Sapele is an interesting choice of tonewood, similar to the more expensive mahogany. It has a nice tone profile of pronounced low-end, warm midrange along with well-defined high frequencies.
It is equipped with Taylor’s ES-B onboard electronics, with an ES-B preamp along with an ES2 pickup. The preamp also features volume and tone controls and is powered with two CR2032 batteries.
Overall, this could act as a starter bass as well for those who have children wanting to play bass, or pros that want a portable and fun short-scale bass.
- Legendary Taylor tone with ES-B electronics
- Delivers a surprisingly convincing bass tone from a small package
- High-quality and portable build
- The D’Addario strings are great
- Best results with special short-scale strings with less tension
Ovation Elite TX Mid-Depth – Best Unique Appearance
Ovation is known for its unique appearance in acoustic guitars. The Elite TX Mid Depth acoustic bass guitar shares the same design and features the signature Lyrachord roundback. It has a AA spruce top with shallow composite on the sides and back with textured satin back finish.
The 34” maple neck features a stained rosewood fingerboard and the nice cutaway makes all the high notes easily accessible. The fretboard is actually the only element of the Elite TX Mid Depth that reminds me of a traditional acoustic bass guitar.
Electronics has always been Ovation’s top priority and the Elite TX Mid Depth features the OP Pro series preamp with a 3 band EQ for lows, mids, and highs. The preamp also has an EQ bypass switch which enables easy access to a natural bass sound without processing.
The unique build changes the ergonomics of the Elite TX Mid Depth and the overall sound it produces. The sound is surprisingly loud compared to other acoustic bass guitars I’ve tried and the playability feels more like an electric bass.
- Sleek and sharp aesthetic design
- Lyrachord roundback offers great playability and comfort
- Great tonal capabilities with the OP Pro series preamp
- Have to buy a separate gigbag or hard case
- Ovation’s unique sound might not be preferred by everyone
Fender Kingman V2 Acoustic Bass Guitar – Best Mid-Priced
The Fender Kingsman V2 has a stylish construction and a warm natural tone. The most striking aspect is the slim-taper mahogany Fender Jazz Bass neck. The ‘four-in-line’ headstock design reminds me of the ones featured in Fender’s classic electric guitars.
The Kingsman V2 is made of a solid spruce top with laminated mahogany on the back and sides, with an attractive gloss black finish. The Auditorium shape and its sculpted cutaway make this bass extremely easy and enjoyable to play. The walnut fretboard features 20 frets and feels very soft and comfortable while playing.
Like many other acoustic bass guitars on this list, the Kingman V2 features a Fishman pickup and preamp. When you are ready to plug in, it delivers an outstanding amplified tone. You get great tonal shaping capabilities with the 3-band EQ controls, volume controls, notch, brilliance, and phase controls.
With its classic Fender style and warm woody tone, the Kingman V2 is one of the best acoustic bass guitars available within this price range.
- A thin neck that is smooth for those with smaller fingers
- Great intonation out-of-the-box
- Great flexibilities with the Fishman pickup and preamp
- Small knobs on the EQ
What is an Acoustic Bass Guitar
If you don’t want to be attached to an amplifier, then an acoustic bass guitar might be for you. Just like an acoustic guitar, the sound is produced through the vibration of strings that are “amplified” through a resonant hollow body. This allows you to play and produce sound without electricity. The body is often larger than acoustic guitars and the strings are thicker and heavier.
Just like a traditional electric bass guitar, the acoustic bass commonly has four strings, tuned in E-A-D-G. Most acoustic basses have pickups so they can be amplified
Differences Between Electric and Acoustic Bass Guitars
There are many differences between electric and acoustic guitars as they have different constructions, strings, and outputs. However, if you have the skills to play an electric bass guitar you can easily pick up the acoustic bass and start jamming.
Acoustic bass guitars have the same body construction as 6-string acoustic guitars – with a body made of a big wood ‘box’. When a string is plucked its vibration is transmitted from the bridge and resonates with the air in the body. The soundhole enhances the vibrations and enables the acoustic guitar to produce a sound that is pleasing to the ear.
Acoustic basses usually have the neck attached to the body using some sort of glued-in dovetail joint. They also have a thicker neck compared to electric bass guitars which can be a challenge for beginners. Many electric models also use multi-ply laminate construction while acoustic bass has solid necks that feel more stable. This also increases the overall vibrations and resonance which is beneficial to get a rich acoustic sound.
Acoustic Bass Strings
Bass strings are a science in itself and what strings to choose will all boil down to your personal preference. Bass strings sets come in different thicknesses, also known as string gauges. Lighter gauges are easier to play but they don’t carry as powerful tones as heavier gauge strings.
Acoustic bass guitars use heavy string gauges as acoustic instruments require much more sustain and volume compared to electric bass guitars.
Electric bass guitars usually have two pickups mounted directly to the body. You can control the output by a set of knobs that vary from master volumes, blending controls, tone controls, and EQ setups.
Acoustic bass guitars are different and usually don’t offer as many tonal capabilities as electric basses. Often you’ll find what’s called a ‘piezo’ setup that’s mounted between the bridge and the body of the guitar. The piezo configuration turns the string vibrations into electric signals that go straight into the onboard preamp, usually mounted on the top side of the bass. The onboard preamp usually has tonal controls like EQ, volume, and tuner.
Choosing the Best Acoustic Bass Guitar
Choosing the best acoustic bass guitar is a matter of personal preference. It probably goes without saying, but with cheaper alternatives, you sacrifice some high-end features and qualities found in premium alternatives. Buy the best acoustic bass guitar you can afford!
The basses listed in this post are the most valuable and preferred choices, across all price ranges. You can probably find a perfectly capable beginner’s model that doesn’t have all the advanced features.
However, listed below are some features that I think you should consider when buying an acoustic bass guitar.
A Solid Top
The top of the acoustic bass guitar can be made of either solid wood or laminate. Laminates are thin pieces of plywood and the main advantage is that they are cheaper. However, many times the tone of the instrument will suffer. Therefore the best acoustic bass guitars are made of solid wood. They are a bit more expensive but the enhanced tonal qualities they bring are totally worth it.
For example, The Ibanez PCBE12MH-OPN is exclusively made of Sapele for the top, back, and sides of the body, and it won’t leave a huge hole in your wallet.
Preamp With Basic Tone Shaping Options
Every acoustic bass guitar in this review has some sort of preamp device installed. Why is this important? Because it gives you the ability to shape the sound. Some are more advanced than others, with multi-band EQ, a chromatic tuner, or phase filters.
If you are an experienced bass player, you probably want some advanced tonal shaping capabilities, found in more premium models. All you need at the beginner level is a volume knob and a tone knob.
Sure, it’s nice to have a built-in tuner, but you could get by with a separate bass tuner, designed for tuning bass guitars.
Playability and Comfort
All features, tonal shaping options, and materials aside – the most important thing in every instrument is playability and comfort. It doesn’t matter how great sound your acoustic bass guitar has if you don’t enjoy playing it?
Is it smooth and comfortable? Cheaper alternatives can have the edges of the frets stick out past the edge of the neck. Not very comfortable.
Some acoustic bass guitars have such a high string tension that you’ll need the hand and finger strength of Superman, just to be able to play the notes properly.
Every item in this review has great comfort and playability, including the most inexpensive model Dean EAB.
And there you have it, the best acoustic bass guitars available today! The D’Angelico Premier Series Mott model is the top contender, as it features qualities found in models that cost twice as much.
The C-shape solid mahogany neck is solid and offers great playability and comfort. With the Fishman Pesys+preamp system, you’ll have all the tonal shaping capabilities at your fingertips.