Recently I was thinking about how heavy my bass guitar is and that got me thinking - how do kids deal with something so big? I then went on a mission to find the best bass guitars for kids and I was pretty surprised with the results.
The best option for an electric bass for children will be a bass that’s lightweight and something that can be played easily with smaller hands. Luckily there are plenty of options that hit that mark which I'll go over. A cheap short scale bass from a major guitar manufacturer will be the best option for most kids.
- Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short Scale Bass Guitar
- Squier Vintage Short Scale Modified Special Jaguar Bass
- SX Ursa 3/4 Size Bass Guitar Package
What To Look For When Buying A Bass Guitar For Kids
There are basically two types of small bass guitars: ¾ size and short scale bass.
What’s the difference between ¾ and short scale basses?
A ¾ size bass is exactly what it sounds like. It’s just a regular guitar with all components shrunk down to ¾ the size - a mini bass guitar. This means that its lighter and easier to hold if you have smaller hands, and all the proportions are the same as a regular bass guitar so transitioning to a larger one later on shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
A short-scale bass on the other hand is defined as a bass guitar with shortened neck and string length. It’s important to note that the body is still the same as a regular bass guitar and it’s only the neck that has been sized down. This leads to the frets being closer together and therefore being easier to play without having to stretch the fingers as much.
Even though short scale bass guitars are thought of as being for beginners, many professional bassists are gravitating toward them for their unique tone. They tend to have a deeper lower and a more subdued high end.
Essentially, I’d say short scale bass guitars are best for most kids, especially those that are larger/older who can handle the weight and size of a large guitar body. The ¾ size bass guitars are best for very young children who can’t quite handle the size and weight of a real bass guitar body.
Another great option is to get an acoustic bass guitar since they are lighting and easy to carry around.
How Much Should You Spend?
Instruments can get pretty expensive, and you really don’t know how long they will be played before interest wears off.
If you get something that’s too cheap it will be harder to play, break easier, and sound worse which will probably lead to them giving up early on. You want the child to get excited every time they pick up the bass and want to stick with it.
For beginner bass guitars for kids you want to find something cheap, but not something that will fall apart after the first week. The goal is to use this first instrument to see if they have a yearning interest to keep playing and then they can upgrade down the road when they get a better idea of their tastes and style.
Their first guitar will be something that’s going to get dinged-up, dirtied, and left lying around from time to time so not having to worry about protecting a huge investment is a good idea early on.
The best bass guitars for children will generally be somewhere around $200, compared to the thousands of dollars you can spend on high-end bass guitars.
Best Bass Guitars For Kids
Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Short-Scale Bass Guitar
There’s a reason why the Ibanez GSRM20 is one of the best selling beginner bass guitars out there and one of the most recommended for kids. It’s affordable, easy to play, and most importantly it sounds great.
Ibanez is known for their great bass guitars and this one is no exception. The Agathis tonewood delivers on sound, and the shortened rosewood fretboard means that smaller hands can play with ease.
Because the bass is shorter than standard, the string tension is lower which makes for a very smooth sound overall.
As far as pickups go it comes with a Dynamix P pickup in the neck position and a Dynamix J pickup in the bridge position. Using the tone/volume controls and switching between the different pickups can get you pretty much any classic bass tone you want.
The 28.6” long neck means easy reaching for those with small hands, and it’s definitely in the lightweight category so holding it up for long periods of time shouldn’t be much of an issue compared to a full-size bass.
Squier Vintage Short Scale Modified Special Jaguar Bass
The Squier brand was launched by Fender in the early 80’s to provide cheap and affordable alternatives to their top of the line guitars. Since then they’ve continued to refine and expand their options with a multitude of styles and new technology like in this Jaguar.
The Agathis wood used here is pretty standard for beginner bass guitars but it gets the job done.
It features both a J-bass style pickup and a P-style pickup which are suitable for many styles, and the 30” long neck makes it very accessible to play.
The pickups sound good for the price, but they can also be swapped out and upgraded at any time which might not be a bad idea.
It’s a great junior bass guitar for the price and one that will last for many years and still sound great.
SX Ursa 3/4 Size Bass Guitar Package
If you are looking for a complete package for a kid wanting to learn bass from scratch, this is your best option. It comes with everything they need to get started including a guitar, amp, bag, strap, cable, and even an instructional DVD.
Just like Squier makes affordable guitars for beginners, SX basses are made by Rondo Music who also specialize in low-cost gear.
The Ursa looks very similar to the Fender Precision Bass, and luckily they didn’t skimp on materials. Usually cheaper basses will be made with a low-cost laminate material but this one is made from Alder which is the same type of wood that Fender uses on a lot of guitars.
The bass guitar here isn’t quite as good or famous as the Ibanez and Squier up above, but it’s still a great guitar for an absolute beginner bassist and for the very low price.
It’s always good to start on something you don’t mind throwing around, and the fact that this package comes with an amp and instructional material is a huge plus. The instructional DVD doesn’t quite measure up to something like JamPlay online lessons, but it’s still great to have.
What Else Do I Need To Buy?
If you are looking at buying a bass guitar for your kid (or someone else's), you’ll probably want to consider buying everything else needed so they can jump right in and start playing right away after they tune it.
There’s nothing worse than having a guitar but not having any way to play it!
Some things you’ll want to go ahead and get are an instrument cable and a small cheap bass amp. Online bass lessons are also a great idea if you want them to start learning the right way.
There are a few different ways to practice bass without an amp, but for most beginner bassists it would be good to start with an amplifier of some type.
Something like the Fender Rumble 15 v3 Bass Combo Amplifier is a great choice since it’s cheap, portable, and has great reviews. Fender has been making amps for a very long time so you can trust they know what they are doing. They offer different watt versions but the 15w version will be perfectly fine for most cases.
You might want to consider a pickups upgrade if they like a specific style of music.
Conclusion - Best Bass Guitar For Kids
I think the best thing would be for the child to go to an actual music store and hold the bass in their hands to see what is most comfortable in terms of weight and length. Everybody is going to be different and what one kid might like another might find too hard to play.
The kid-friendly bass guitars on this list have tons of great reviews though for a reason. They perform great, aren’t too expensive, and are extremely comfortable for kids and those with small hands.
Starting out with something too expensive can easily backfire if the child loses interest since you’ll essentially be stuck with a huge pricey paperweight, so you can’t really go wrong with any of these 3 choices.
If none of the electric bass guitars on this list meet your needs, consider checking out our article on the best lightweight bass guitars which would also be very suitable for children.